Search Currents Currents Archives Contact Currents UC Santa Cruz Home Page
Currents Online


Acting Chancellor Martin M. Chemers shares a light moment with Staff Advisory Board Chair Patt Takeuchi before the forum begins. Photo: Jennifer McNulty

October 25, 2004

Chemers talks frankly with staff at Fall Forum

By Jennifer McNulty

Although salary increases are on the horizon, Acting Chancellor Martin M. Chemers made clear at last week's lunch forum with staff that there's no turning back the clock to an era of lower student-faculty ratios and higher staffing levels.

If the state honors its agreement with the University of California, staff and faculty can look forward to salary increases next year, with additional increases the following two years, said Chemers.

“Hopefully the bleeding has stopped now,” said Chemers, referring to nearly $30 million in budget cuts that UCSC has absorbed over the past three years.

But the erosion of state funding over the years has forced the university to beef up private fundraising and “be more creative” about everything from streamlining business practices to offering online courses, said Chemers.

“We’re not going back to the 1970s,” Chemers said in response to a question about class sizes and student access to faculty. “There’s not that kind of money in the system.”

Although the UC systemwide student-faculty ratio has nudged up from 17:1 to about 20:1, UCSC still places a greater emphasis on teaching than any other UC campus, and maintaining a high-quality undergraduate experience is a top priority, said Chemers. One strategy under consideration is increasing enrollment in classes with more than 70 students--the threshold at which classroom discussion and essay exams become impractical, he said.The savings could then be directed to retaining small classes in cases where interaction is vital.

More than 200 people filled Kresge Town Hall for the Chancellor’s Fall Forum with staff. Chemers offered an update on numerous campus initiatives before fielding questions from the audience, one of which was about the hiring of a permanent chancellor.

“They’re down to the short list of possibilities, and I’m still in,” Chemers said to enthusiastic applause.

Among other highlights:

• UCSC enrollment is expected to increase about 2 percent next year.

• Undergraduate fees will go up 8 percent next year; graduate fees will increase 10 percent.

• No layoffs will be associated with the restructuring of business services--including staff human resources, financial transactions, purchasing, and workers’ compensation--which is on schedule with full consolidation expected next fall.

• A new traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of Hagar and Coolidge, and the campus is weighing a proposal to extend the hours of parking enforcement to 8:30 p.m.

• About 60,000 square feet of office space is “just about ready” at 2300 Delaware, the building formerly owned by Texas Instruments, and a task force is assessing the remaining 173,000 square feet of production space.

• 13 units at Laureate Court will be offered for sale to faculty and staff beginning October 25.

• The search for a University Librarian will get under way this fall or winter quarter.

Chemers urged the UCSC community to vote in the November 2 election and to participate in the annual United Way fundraising effort, noting that UCSC faculty have the highest per-capita United Way giving rate in the UC system.

In other news, Chemers noted that a senior management team has been appointed to oversee Information Technology, the Academic Information Systems (AIS) will be fully functional in January, and the campus is pursuing legal action regarding construction of the new Physical Sciences Building.

UCSC representatives are participating in four or five task forces with the city of Santa Cruz to address issues such as tourism, housing, and traffic, added Chemers. “The traffic task force is looking specifically at finding an alternative way to access campus--not a road through Pogonip,” he quickly added.

Online education would also help alleviate campus-bound traffic, said Chemers, who lauded online courses as much more than “videotaped talking heads.”

As numerous campus units grapple with new computer systems and organizational structures, Chemers acknowledged that “morale suffers in times of change.”

“Uncertainty is difficult--at all levels,” he said in a lighthearted reference to his own assignment as acting chancellor. “I know it’s hard. During these times of stress, take care of yourselves. Get rest. Relax. When you’re sick, don’t come to work. Stay home and rest.”

Chemers also acknowledged that staff workloads have increased as positions have gone unfilled, and he encouraged staff to prioritize the services they deliver. “We need to rethink what we need to do,” he said. “Don’t despair. Hang in there. Our problems are solvable, they’re not impossible. We just have to hang in there.”

Return to Front Page