Letter to Legislators Considering the Governor's Latest Budget Proposal

June 5, 2012

Members of the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees

Re: When Considering the Governor's Latest Budget Proposal

The accumulated effect of years of budget cutting has been to erode the pillars of the University of California and the Master Plan for Higher Education. As the state cuts funding to UC, UC pressures the state to reduce oversight, while, at the same time, the University considers changes that would weaken its public mission. Protecting access to quality higher education is more important than ever, and State government must maintain its oversight of California’s investments in the University.

The Master Plan was designed to reduce wasteful incoherence and destructive competition by unifying each of the segments and endeavoring to provide comparable quality across the campuses of each segment. Within UC, the goal is to bring each campus to the same high level of achievement in teaching, research, and service. Great progress has been made. Six of the University campuses are now members of the prestigious Association of American Universities. This view of one university with ten campuses and comparable quality across the system is part of the genius of the Master Plan. It benefits the state and the students, faculty, and staff of each campus.

Unfortunately there are perverse financial incentives that favor breaking up the system, that disadvantage California students in access to the University, and that erode the quality of a UC education. New University policies to restructure the allocation of funds within the University have been adopted, and others are currently being finalized. They incentivize the campuses in pursuing independent strategies to maximize their separate revenues without providing constraints to ensure that the system meets its obligations to California while maintaining unity and overall quality.

These circumstances necessitate continuing oversight. California will be well-served if the Legislature:

1) Sets enrollment targets for California resident students and states its intention to hold the University accountable for meeting those goals.

2) Monitors quality indicators including student faculty ratio, class size, courses offered, and graduation rates.

3) Provides incentives for the University to refrain from further increases in tuition.

Each of the above items emphasizes a key element of the mission of the University. Only if the State and the University maintain their appropriate commitments to a partnership will the University continue as a great public institution. 


Joe Kiskis
Vice President for External Relations, Council of UC Faculty Associations and
Professor of Physics, UC Davis