21 June 2009

LA Times weighing in

An Op-Ed piece in today's LA Times discusses the bone-headed proposal of State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) to wrestle control of the University of California away from the Board of Regents and bring it under direct control of the Legislature. A bad idea if I have seen one. Never mind that this would require a constitutional amendment (art. 9, sec. 9 of the Constitution gives the BoR administrative control of the University), it's not like the Legislature has proved very well disposed towards higher-ed in the state.

In related matters, the UC Faculty Association has sent a letter to the BoR protesting their sparse meeting schedule during these difficult times for the University. Of course, both the Regents, the Office of the President, and the Chair of the System-wide Senate have rejected any such accusations.

The borader picture is that the State has given up its support for the University, and not beginning with the current crisis, either. The per-student amount the State has been giving the University has consistently declined over the last few decades, turning what used to be the fines public university in the world into a mere semblance of its older self.

It seems to me that either the State lives up to its commitment to the University as one of the original land-grant institution, charged with providing affordable education to the people of California (as reiterated in the Master Plan), or it should let the University loose, free to set its fees to the level appropriate for carrying out its mission.

Notice that, in the present further shortfall over the Governor's proposed January Budget, it would not even take that much. The proposed salary cuts would yield savings of only $200M, about 1% of the University $20B overall Budget. It is remarkable that such small savings should come at such a high price for California faculty and staff.


  1. As a administrative track faculty it is clear why you would want to maintain the UC's autonomy, there is a big pot of gold at then end of that rainbow. But that is why the people need a voice to prevent the pigs from eating at the trough. All of the double dipping administrative staff, huge golden parachutes, insane perks, contract prefernces for friends and families of UC Regents and administrators and bloated salaries. All of that cannot be ignored and the fox cannot guard the henhouse.

  2. Nobody was more outraged by the compensation scandal and the "golden parachutes" than the faculty. Yes, the administrators get the pot of gold, but the faculty are historically underpaid with respect to the faculty at peer institutions.

    And, by the way, the Regents are appointed by the Governor and they do not (to my knowledge) get a salary for their service.