Chancellor's Friday Letters

Unite our voices behind University for California

Unite our voices behind University for California

January 21, 2011

Dear Friends,

I returned last evening from the Regents meeting.  You will not be surprised that the dominant topic was the deteriorating state budget support for UC’s core activities.

The state general funds that support primarily our core teaching and learning enterprise are slated to decrease by $500 million across the UC system.  Additionally, several obligatory costs that support all faculty and staff are increasing next year, in addition to inflation, increased energy and healthcare costs, etc.

So the harsh reality is the total impact across UC is not $500M, but rather almost twice that amount.

The UCR portion of the cut approximates a $37 million decrease, which is approximately 18% of UCR’s existing state appropriation.  Add to that our obligatory cost increases, and we are looking at $50 million to find by next year in either cuts or increased revenues from means other than the state.

The Governor is understandably serious about these cuts as a pathway forward for the long-term health of the state.  And if the public doesn’t support continuing some temporary taxes, as best I can tell today the negative impact on the UC will then dramatically increase further.

Clearly we have a significant issue to manage through, and as I mentioned in my Friday Letter last week, people across the campus are discussing and creating budget reduction plans for my review and approval.  This will be painful.

At this time, the Regents have not shown interest in further raising tuition for next year (already they have supported an 8% increase starting in fall 2011).  But I wouldn’t be doing our students and families any favor if I didn’t let you know I think this question will be revisited in the months ahead.  I say this only out of respect for you and your financial planning going forward — I hope I am incorrect.

As we think about the seriousness of our times, I remind us that there is both a personal gain and a societal gain that comes from a college degree.  We cannot be shortsighted here…the proverbial penny-wise and pound-foolish.

The personal gain comes because graduates are able to access higher paying jobs, enjoy lower rates of unemployment, and generally have a higher quality of life.

Regrettably, rarely mentioned in the public discussions is the importance to society writ large that comes from an educated citizenry.

College graduates earn more and thus contribute more to society in taxes. They “pay back” society through their taxes for the state costs of their K-12 and college education by the time they are in their thirties.  All taxes paid after that time is a return on investment to the state!

Graduates fuel the knowledge economy and become engaged with their communities in such things as school boards and parks and recreation.  Graduates typically endorse and support the arts and humanities, libraries, serve in civic organizations, donate to charities, and participate in local governance.  College graduates are less likely to become a burden on the criminal justice system, or to rely on other expensive social programs.

In addition to the human capital that emerges from research institutions like UCR, society is advanced by the research and intellectual property that make it into the marketplace.  Such things as producing advances in healthcare, transportation, communication, the entertainment industry, safe and nutritious foods, environmental quality and sustainability, and alternative energy production benefit us all.  And these advances allow us to compete in the global economy.

The personal gain derived from higher education is covered by the significant user fee (i.e., tuition) that students pay. So it is only logical for us to value the societal benefit as well, and demand of our elected officials that proper funding be sustained in a sufficient and predictable fashion.

I am relentlessly committed to finding solutions that improve the excellence of our programs, and provide as much affordable access as is humanly possible.  But I need your help — 100,000 voices are better than 1.

I seek your help in getting the word out to all who will listen, and even some who won’t: UCR is part of the University for California, for its people, economy, environment, education, nutritious and safe food supply, healthcare, safety, cultures, arts and humanities, social progress and quality of life.

The University for California is for the hopes, dreams and promise of first generation immigrants and multi-generational Californians.

The University for California is for our future…and it is under one of its gravest challenges.

Add your voice to the UCR 100,000 by contacting the legislature and Governor in Sacramento before mid February.  Today would be even better. An easy way is: http://www.ucforcalifornia.org/riverside/home/.



Tim White, Chancellor

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An  Irishman in the Bathtub
Eamonn Keogh, a UCR professor of computer science, has a brilliant idea to use inexpensive lasers to track disease-carrying insects. A long profile in the Chronicle of Higher Education tells the story of how perseverance in the pursuit of your dreams can mean leaving your homeland and protecting time for thinking big ideas – even in the bath.

Two Chancellors at UCR
We are so very proud of Poet Juan Felipe Herrera, professor and holder of the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair in creative writing, who has been elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.  He is in good company, as previous recipients include poets Marianne Moore, W.H. Auden, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman, Robert Penn Warren and James Merrill.

Thank You Marcia McQuern and Stan Morrison
After six years at UCR and 40 years in newspapers, today we are marking the retirement of a local icon, Marcia McQuern. A longtime editor and publisher at The Press-Enterprise, Marcia has served in Pulitzer prize juries and on boards and commissions advising state and local government agencies. She is an important citizen of Riverside and a stalwart booster of this campus and the region at large. We have been fortunate to have her as our associate vice chancellor for Strategic Communications.

This upcoming summer Stan Morrison will retire after 12 years at UCR and almost 50 years of service to collegiate student-athletes as a coach, athletics administrator, and academic mentor.  He is nationally known for his work on the prestigious NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee.  At UCR Stan provided leadership for a transition of Highlander Athletics to NCAA Division I, and brought the campus to a total of 17 intercollegiate athletics programs in men’s and women’s competition, as well as several athletics facilities.

Find out what else is going on at UC Riverside: http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

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