Thursday, January 21, 2010

Connecting the Dots: UC Regents Meeting 2010

One of my favorite assignments for students is that I give them several headlines from the day's news and ask them to connect the different stories together. The idea behind this exercise is that people need to overcome the fragmented nature of our information society. So, let us take a look at the top five headlines from the January 21st UC Regents meeting: 1) UC approves bonuses for hospital execs; 2) Waiting lists to be established at most UC campuses, regents say; 3) UC regents approve Cal stadium retrofit; 4) Regents to back UC students protest at Capitol ; 5) UC leaders wary of governor's budget promises

At first these stories appear to go in different directions, but there is an underlying logic that connects the dots: The UC system is continuing its recent push to increase the compensation of its highest earners and embark on expensive construction projects as it limits undergraduate enrollment and attacks the state for not supporting higher education. While the UC administration says that it has to raise student fees and limit access because state funding is down, it also argues that it must pay top administrators higher salaries in order to keep them from going elsewhere.

The new twist to this old tune is that the regents and President Yudof are trying to co-opt the recent protests by students, faculty, and unions. We now have to imagine the regents and President Yudof locking arms with students marching through the streets of Sacramento demanding that legislators fully fund the UC system. In response to this fake claim of solidarity, several unions have released the following statement:

“To Defend Education, Reverse the Hikes and Cuts:
Open Letter to UC Regents and the People of California

The UC Regents claim to be on the side of students, staff, and faculty in defending public education, but their actions speak otherwise.

On January 20, UC President Mark Yudof and other UC Regents announced to the press that they support the March 4 Strike and Day of Action to Defend Public Education. Yet at that very meeting they awarded $3.1 million more in executive bonuses.

This is a cynical publicity stunt, and we do not buy it.

If the UC Regents were serious about supporting the students, staff, and faculty of the UC system, they would immediately reverse the 32% fee hike and roll back the catastrophic layoffs and cuts they have imposed. The future of public education in California for all working people and communities of color is at stake.

The UC Regents claim that the University of California is broke and therefore they argue that "we must work together to pressure Sacramento." But if the UC is broke, why are the Regents giving out millions in executive bonuses? If the UC is broke, why did the Regents recently loan the State of California nearly $200 million dollars? And if the UC Regents are "on our side," why have UC police consistently been sent in to repress peaceful protests?

Independent analyses of the UC budget testify to a simple and disturbing fact: the fee hikes and layoffs in the UC system are a result of a priorities crisis, not a "budget crisis." Indeed, the UC made record profits last year. The conclusion: UC Regents can and must use their millions of dollars in reserve funds to reverse the fee hikes, cuts, and layoffs.

Furthermore, we do not accept that the UC system be funded at the expense of pre-K, K-12, Community Colleges, the CSUs and adult education, as well as other public services. All levels of education must be fully funded and quality education must be equally accessible to all Californians and immigrants.

On March 4, 2010, tens of thousands of students, teachers, and workers and their organizations in all sectors of public education and across the public sector will organize mass strikes and protests against the priorities crisis of both Sacramento and the UC, CSU, CC, and K-12 administrators.

Until the UC Regents and Sacramento reverse the fee hikes, cuts, and layoffs, we pledge to continue to deepen this growing movement. We refuse to let this struggle be co-opted.”


  1. I'm really grateful for your research, interpretation, and analysis. I couldn't figure all this out on my own.

  2. Current Threats to University of California Don’t Come From the Outside - $3 Million Extravagant Spending by UC President Yudof for University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau to Hire Consultants - When Work Can Be Done Internally & Impartially
    During the days of the Great Recession, every dollar in higher education counts. Contact Chairwoman Budget Sub-committee on Education Finance Assemblywoman Carter 916.319.2062 - tell her to stop the $3,000,000 spending by Birgeneau on consultants.
    Do the work internally at no additional costs with UCB Academic Senate Leadership (C. Kutz/F. Doyle), the world – class professional UCB faculty/ staff, & the UCB Chancellor’s bloated staff (G. Breslauer, N. Brostrom, F. Yeary, P. Hoffman, C. Holmes etc) & President Yudof.
    President Yudof’s UCB Chancellor should do the high paid work he is paid for instead of hiring expensive East Coast consults to do the work of his job. ‘World class’ smart executives like Chancellor Birgeneau need to do the hard work analysis, and make the tough-minded difficult, decisions to identify inefficiencies.
    Where do the $3,000,000 consultants get their recommendations?
    From interviewing the UCB senior management that hired them and approves their monthly consultant fees and expense reports. Remember the nationally known auditing firm who said the right things and submitted recommendations that senior management wanted to hear and fooled the public, state, federal agencies?
    $3 million impartial consultants never bite the hands (Chancellor Birgeneau/ Chancellor Yeary) that feed them!
    Mr. Birgeneau's accountabilities include "inspiring innovation, leading change." Instead of deploying his leadership and setting a good example by doing the work of his Chancellor’s job, Birgeneau outsourced his work to the $3,000,000 consultants. Doesn't he engage UC and UC Berkeley people at all levels to examine inefficiencies and recommend $150 million of trims? Hasn't he talked to Cornell and the University of North Carolina - which also hired the consultants -- about best practices and recommendations that eliminate inefficiencies?
    No wonder the faculty, staff, students, Senate & Assembly are angry and suspicious.
    In today’s Great Recession three million dollars is a irresponsible price to pay when a knowledgeable ‘world-class’ UCB Chancellor and his bloated staff do not do the work of their jobs.
    Pick up the phone and call: save $3 million for students!

  3. Here's what I found out while doing a little digging:

    Top 10 Things the Regents Don't Want You to Know

    10) Since 1960, UC fees have increased 7,000%.

    9) From 2000 to 2008 alone, they doubled.

    8) Since then, they've gone up another 45%.

    7) From 1997 to 2007, the number of UC executives went from 11,163 to 25,949.

    6) 3,650 UC employees make $200,000 or more. In the CSU, 1,000 fewer people make even $100,000.

    5) Between 2006 and 2008, payroll increased 17%; the number of positions . . . 4%!

    4) UC payroll was $10 billion in 2008; ALL CSU expenses were $4 billion.

    3) The CSU has 2x the number of students; the UC 4x the number of workers.

    2) The highest paid employee in the CSU makes $421,000; UC President Mark Yudof makes $900,000—and doesn’t crack the top ten!

    "Will you throw in Air Force One and the White House?"
    --Mark Yudof on reducing his salary.

    1) The UC spends $22 billion—$3 billion goes to classes.

  4. UCB Chancellor Birgeneau Loss of Trust
    The UCB budget gap has grown to $150 million, and still the Chancellor is spending money that isn't there on expensive outside consultants. His reasons range from the need for impartiality to requiring the "innovative thinking, expertise, and new knowledge" the consultants would bring.

    Does this mean that the faculty and management of a world-class research and teaching institution lack the knowledge, impartiality, innovation, and professionalism to come up with solutions? Have they been fudging their research for years? The consultants will glean their recommendations from interviewing faculty and the UCB management that hired them; yet solutions could be found internally if the Chancellor were doing the job HE was hired to do. Consultant fees would be far better spent on meeting the needs of students.

    There can be only one conclusion as to why creative solutions have not been forthcoming from the professionals within UCB: Chancellor Birgeneau has lost credibility and the trust of the faculty as well as of the Academic Senate leadership that represents them. Even if the faculty agrees with the consultants' recommendations - disagreeing might put their jobs in jeopardy - the underlying problem of lost credibility and trust will remain.

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