Chancellor's Friday Letters

Special Edition: Advocating for Funding

Special Edition: Advocating for Funding

June 2, 2010

Dear Friends,

“One lap to go, running on empty and someone bearing down on his tail.”

This quote illuminates the status of the University of California’s quest for the upcoming year’s state funding. Fiat Lux, indeed.

In actuality the quote above is from an Associated Press story about the victor of this past Sunday’s running of the Indianapolis 500, Dario Franchitti; this race is a fitting metaphor for us.

I write this Friday Letter Special Edition seeking your involvement as advocates for the University once again, because the stakes for California’s future are too high if we come up short in our race for adequate resources.

Higher education’s advocacy efforts are, so far, paying off in the state budget process as the University of California is today in a favorable position for the remaining laps. Rather than having to weave our way through traffic we find ourselves toward the front of the pack – just as Franchitti was when started in Row 1 on Sunday – as a key contender in the race for scarce state resources.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s May revision of his 2010-11 budget request to the legislature proposes restoration of $305 million that was cut from the University’s operating budget on a “one-time” basis in 2009-10. It requests $51 million to cover a portion of our unfunded student enrollments. The Governor also proposes full funding for the Cal Grant program, which is critical to preserving affordability for many of our students.

On the capital building side of the budget, the Governor proposes $355 million in capital construction bond funds for facilities projects on several UC campuses. These projects would stimulate private-sector job creation and take advantage of current low construction costs while also addressing a number of pressing facilities needs.

In order to close a $19 billion state budget gap, however, the Governor’s revised budget includes cuts in many other areas of the state budget. UC is competing for scarce resources in a field of worthy and important programs.

This is where your advocacy comes in.

The May Revision is only one lap – albeit an important lap – in the state budget process. The Legislature must develop its own spending proposal, and the Governor and Legislature must agree on a final budget. Already, some members of the Legislature have expressed their opposition to some of the deep cuts in social services proposed in the May Revision.

It is up to us to ensure that lawmakers continue to have, top-of-mind, the compelling evidence that an investment in UC is an investment in the people and programs that drive the state’s prosperity, now and in the long term. We must continue pressing the case for supporting the quality and competitiveness of the University of California.

Returning to the race metaphor, UC has launched an e-advocacy campaign – a campaign that today has us in the front row of the Governor’s priority list. Indeed, over the 94 years in the Indy 500 the race winners started in the first two front rows 63% of the time. Now it is up to us to ensure that we stay at the front. UC’s advocates need to be part of a well-trained pit crew, contacting legislators, writing letters to the editor, and having honest discussions with their neighbors and friends about the value UC brings to California.

A successful finish in the budget race would result in providing access to all qualified Californians, limiting future fee increases for our students, and sustaining the Cal Grants program for students with economic need. It would allow us to provide sufficient classes to meet demand, so that students can graduate in a timely fashion. And it would allow us to recruit and retain our world-class faculty and staff by ending the hurtful furloughs, temporary layoffs, and reductions in time for our employees.

It also means UC can continue to play its vital role in creating jobs, advancing technology, and serving as a key economic driver for the state of California.

A win for UC is a win for all of us.

I encourage you to become involved in advocating, as a private citizen, for the University of California’s budget needs. Please join the UCR advocacy network at http://www.ucforcalifornia.org/riverside/home/ . This site provides a way of communicating your support for public higher education to your elected representatives in Sacramento.

In addition, yard signs encouraging support and advocacy of UCR have been generously donated to help spread the message. Ask for your sign by calling 951-827-5184.

Thousands of you answered my last call for help several months ago. I ask your indulgence to do so again.

When the checkered flag drops, we want higher education to be in the winner’s circle.

My many thanks,


Tim White, Chancellor

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