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UC administration, regents discuss strategies for weathering financial storm

With the state budget still uncertain, the University of California Board of Regents on May 18 discussed short- and long-term options for how UC will cope if state financial support for public higher education continues to wane.

Since January, the university has been developing strategies to absorb a $500 million cut in state funding for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Those cuts come on top of the exhaustive cost-saving measures the university has enacted over the last few years to cope with dwindling state support.

President Mark G. Yudof told the board that he and other senior administrative leaders are trying to develop a five-year plan to return fiscal stability to the university, and he walked through a set of values and goals that he said would inform the process.

First and foremost, the university must preserve excellence in instruction, research and public service, he said, which it cannot do without continuing to attract and retain top-flight faculty.

“We have to maintain this world-class faculty,” Yudof said. “We have to keep them here and recruit others of the same quality.”

UC also must work to keep its doors open to all qualified California students, including finding ways to extend financial aid to middle-income families, if fees continue to rise, he said.

“It’s very hard to keep the university on an even keel when the financial stability isn’t there,” Yudof said. “We need to make long-term commitments to our students, our faculty, our staff. And we need to do all we can to keep our doors wide open to the students of California.”

Patrick Lenz, vice president of budget and capital resources, told regents that there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the final state budget and how UC will be affected. The university has crafted a plan for enduring the proposed $500 million cut that does not raise fees or reduce enrollment.

If the final state budget includes a cut larger than the currently proposed $500 million, Lenz said, the university may need to consider increasing student fees to protect academic quality.

Read Carolyn McMillan’s full report on the UC Newsroom website.

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