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May 26, 2003

Chancellor urges support for governor's proposed budget

By Scott Rappaport and Jennifer McNulty

Although the University of California was spared from additional cuts in the revised May budget recently announced by Governor Gray Davis, UCSC must still be vigilant in the fight for financial support from the state Capitol, noted Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood.

At the third annual staff breakfast, Chancellor Greenwood, standing, visits with staff members (left to right) Greta Gil, Jude Pipes, and Paul Bauman. Also standing is Ben Webb; Marcia Marquardt’s back is to the camera. Photo by Louise Donahue

"It is important that we continue to educate our legislators about the critical necessity of supporting our university," the chancellor urged at the third brown-bag staff forum of the academic year, on May 19.

Greenwood expressed cautious optimism about the May announcement, but noted that given the uncertainty of state politics, the budget could still be cut by as much as $400 million. She pointed out that in the past three years, UC's enrollment has grown by 18 percent while its state-funded budget has decreased by 6 percent.

"We are very anxious that the governor’s revised budget will hold," she told the capacity audience at the Earth and Marine Sciences lecture hall. "But there is still an $8 billion structural deficit in the state of California budget, assuming that all of the governor’s budget proposals are implemented."

Campus Provost John Simpson provided a brief update on UCSC’s response to the state’s economic crisis, estimating that the campus is facing approximately 15 percent in designated and undesignated cuts. He emphasized that UCSC is approaching budget planning in a manner that is unique among other major universities around the country, emphasizing priorities and operational improvements rather than making across-the-board percentage cuts. Simpson then turned the floor over to Scott Nostaja of AVCOR Consulting, an organization hired by UCSC to assist the campus in the long-term budget planning process.

Nostaja gave a 20-minute overview of the status report prepared for the Executive Budget Committee (EBC), which has been appointed to serve as an overall advisory body to the chancellor and campus provost on budget issues and priorities. The report detailed the kinds of initiatives that three campus working groups have been exploring in response to the budget crisis. (The working groups are described at: http://planning.ucsc.edu/ebc.)

Nostaja noted that from January through March, members of these working groups have met with more than 700 members of the campus community and received 200 suggestions through a campus web site. During that first stage of the project, 180 ideas were examined and analyzed. These ideas were narrowed down to 49 for the second stage which will run through the end of May.

Ideas ranged from using better technology to modernize Human Resources and Payroll Services to redesigning the freshman experience and the delivery of core courses. Other suggestions have included reexamining key academic leadership positions, as well as exploring new areas of revenue growth such as a cell tower commission and setting up a campus business to sell cell phones to students.
Nostaja said that the third stage, in June, will involve prioritization of ideas, and the final phase will entail developing detailed plans and approaches for implementation.

The chancellor spent the last half hour of the forum fielding questions about such issues as the campus policy on severance pay, the START voluntary time-reduction program, and new housing for faculty and staff. She observed that the campus is working to collaborate with the city of Santa Cruz on providing future housing for faculty and staff.

"We are hoping that the city and university can join together to build affordable housing, particularly on the West Side," Greenwood said. "For the first time in a long while, the city has begun to understand that we are part of the economic recovery plan."

Two days later, an overflow crowd packed the Stevenson Dining Hall for the third annual staff appreciation breakfast sponsored by Greenwood and the UCSC Staff Advisory Board (SAB).

Nearly 1,000 staff members RSVP'd for the "Pancakes and Jazz with M.R.C." event, according to University House events coordinator Jeff Rockwell.

Live jazz by the Kevin Mitchel Quartet contributed to the festive mood, which was further enhanced by the chancellor's announcement that each staff member will receive a $210 bonus to recognize his or her commitment and service.

The crowd lingered to have a chance to win raffle prizes that included a dinner for six prepared in her home by psychology professor Faye Crosby, a $100 gift certificate to the Shadowbrook Restaurant contributed by Social Sciences Dean Martin Chemers, $100 at the Crow's Nest contributed by Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor John Simpson, kayak trips, personal training sessions at the Wellness Center, gift baskets, and more.

"I think people just really like this kind of venue," said Ed Titus, outgoing chair of the SAB, as he gestured to the courtyard where dozens of staffers enjoyed the sunny spring morning as they devoured pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit.

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