TO THE CAMPUS COMMUNITY
I am writing to give you a status report about our budget situation and to propose a process of consultation to seek more of your input. This budget problem is of deep concern to all of us. Your opinions, suggestions, and questions are extremely important to me and our administrative colleagues, our Academic Senate leadership, and our Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy, to help our campus develop the most thoughtful and sensible approach to this most difficult budget situation. Your input is also extremely helpful to us as we prepare to convey our campus position to UCOP and the Regents.
Size of the problem
As we are all aware, in the past few weeks the California budget situation has continued to worsen. The Governor and the State Legislature are grappling with ways to deal with an estimated state budget deficit of at least $24 billion. All scenarios under consideration include substantial cuts for higher education and the University of California. Today, we face likely budget reductions that were unimaginable just two months ago.
In February 2009, the state adopted a budget that covered both FY 2008-09 and FY 2009-10. That budget included funding reductions for the University of California. For our Santa Barbara campus, in addition to the $16 million in permanent cuts this fiscal year, another $12 million in cuts for FY 2009-10 was projected at that time.
However, in May 2009, the Governor unveiled new plans to address a growing state budget deficit, which included a proposed 20% reduction to the University of California budget. Based on these plans, our campus is now projecting a FY 2009-10 budget shortfall of at least $40 million, with a real possibility of this increasing to closer to $45 million or more. While the Legislature and Governor continue their deliberations, we now have a better understanding of the magnitude of the budget problem at the campus level.
Process for solution
On June 3, President Yudof called a meeting of all the chancellors and executive vice chancellors of all the UC campuses, along with UCOP leaders, to discuss the unfolding budget situation. On June 17, President Yudof sent a letter to the UC community outlining options under review for systemwide furloughs and/or salary reductions for UC faculty and staff as one component of a multi-component approach to addressing the budget crisis, and seeking input and opinions on these options. (His letter and the three options are posted at http://atyourservice.ucop.edu/news/general/0906-reduction_info.pdf.) On June 30, President Yudof sent out a follow-up letter with an update on the furlough/salary reduction options in response to the thousands of communications and comments he has received; this letter is posted at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/budget/?p=454.
On our campus, we forwarded President Yudof’s June 17 letter to our campus community and asked for your feedback, with Cindy Ponce, Director of Academic Personnel, collecting input from our academic colleagues, and Cynthia Cronk, Director of Human Resources, collecting input from our staff colleagues. They received comments from 135 academic colleagues and 350 staff colleagues. In addition, many have written directly to President Yudof, EVC Gene Lucas, Academic Senate Chair Joel Michaelsen, and me. I want to sincerely thank those who have written, and I have benefited from reading all of these letters. Your input is an essential and indispensable part of this process. You have addressed not only furlough/salary reduction issues, but also other issues and potential approaches to our budget problem. All this input is now being studied as part of our campus budgeting process. We have also forwarded all of your comments and suggestions to the UC Office of the President for consideration in its development of the proposal that will be presented to the Regents for their decision at the upcoming Regents Meeting on July 15 and 16.
Town hall budget forums
As part of our efforts to seek input and to consult broadly with our campus community, we held a town hall forum on the budget in Corwin Pavilion on May 27. EVC Gene Lucas and Assistant Chancellor Todd Lee made presentations on behalf of our Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy regarding our budget plan. I want to thank everyone who participated for your thoughtful questions and comments. As I listened, I was especially touched by the sincerity and dedication so vividly exhibited during the discussions.
Following consultation with the co-chairs of our budget strategy committee and a number of our colleagues, I am proposing that we hold more such town hall forums as we move forward with the budget process. The next one will be held on Thursday, July 9, from 3-5 p.m. in Campbell Hall, a week before the July Regents Meeting.
I have invited EVC Gene Lucas, Senate Chair Joel Michaelsen, Assistant Chancellor Todd Lee, and Human Resources Director Cynthia Cronk to join me for this public forum to discuss the current budget situation. We will share with you a summary of all the campus input we have received so far, along with a report on the latest budget plans and proposals being considered on our campus and at UCOP. We will then devote the forum to questions, comments, and discussion. We will convey your concerns and suggestions to the President and Vice Presidents of UCOP, other Chancellors and EVCs, and the Regents during the following week, with a Council of Chancellors meeting scheduled on July 14 and the Regents Meeting on July 15 and 16. At each stage, as the Regents make their systemwide policy considerations and decisions, we will go through our campus process to make our budget plans and keep you consulted and informed.
This is an unprecedentedly difficult time for our campus. Every time there is a campus crisis, it is the collective wisdom and passion for our university coming from our consultation and shared governance processes that have made a critical difference. This open and deliberate process always makes our campus stronger.
Even during such a difficult time, I am still optimistic that through the wisdom and strength of our processes of consultation and shared governance, and through our care and support for each other, our campus will patiently and confidently climb out of the budgetary crisis and emerge as an even better and more resilient institution.
I invite you to join us for our town hall budget forum on July 9. Please also do not hesitate to e-mail or call me or the members of our budget strategy committee if you have any comments or questions.
Henry T. Yang