Chancellor's Friday Letters

Fee Hikes, Fee Support

Fee Hikes, Fee Support

November 20, 2009


There was a collision in Los Angeles this week.

A collision driven by a cacophony of solid, unpleasant and inconvenient facts about finances and fees, rigorous analysis of policy options, roiling emotions, wrenching decisions, genuine worries, vitriolic accusations, and responsible and irresponsible behaviors.

From this collision comes a growing alignment of effort among the Regents, President, Chancellors, faculty, students, staff, friends, constituents, and stakeholders to not allow this great University to be diminished further. For example, the Regents supported raising the family income threshold to $70K for the Blue and Gold program, meaning students from these families will not pay fees. The Regents endorsed with enthusiasm the “You Can” scholarship drive, which will raise $1B across all ten campuses over the next four years.

It is not possible for me to capture the essence of this week’s Regents’ meeting in a short Friday Letter. But I have a churn in my stomach that I won’t soon forget, and a deeper resolve to cut unnecessary costs, raise efficiencies, and increase revenues from multiple sources to support our students, faculty and staff.

Maybe this is so for me because I have a deep sense of ownership and pride in UC, as I have been formally associated with the university for three significant intervals in my life since 1972, and forever transformed by each of those associations.

Maybe it is because numerous clear financial and policy analyses revealed no other credible paths than significant fee hikes for undergraduate, graduate and professional students to maintain the strength of this grand institution.

Maybe it was the raw emotion and vulgar epithets displayed inside and outside the Regents’ meeting. Beneath the genuine fright, anger and despair about whether they can afford to continue their education was genuine concern by students about whether their younger brothers and sisters, who have worked all their lives to be UC eligible, will now be able to enroll.

Maybe it was because of the naivete at best, and mistrust and misinformation at worst, about the stark realities of California’s and UC’s public finances… a lack of coherent reconciliation when protesters pressed the Regents to not raise fees and in the same breath vehemently criticized them for reduced class offerings, temporary reductions in pay, layoffs, and diminished hiring of faculty and staff.

Maybe it was my pride in a group of UCR students who sought to occupy Hinderaker Hall overnight on Wednesday, but instead accepted a middle ground when I asked them to engage that evening, and throughout the year, in thoughtful advocacy with leadership in Sacramento.

Let me finish by paraphrasing some comments made by others:

Students -

‘My 61-year-old father works from 7 am to 7 pm 7 days a week to pay my way. I am struggling by without financial aid. I am my sister’s only hope; I will work 12 hours a day at a menial job like my dad’s or, if I am lucky, will work 8 hours a day as a successful attorney to help her go to school.’

‘I am seeing UC die before my eyes… I ask for affordability and equal opportunity for all students… My parents are immigrants, and I serve as a role model for my nieces and nephews.’

‘What am I supposed to tell my little sister? She has worked so hard to get here.’

‘We ARE the University. We need your support.”

Regents -

Sherri Lansing – ‘I have been a Regent for 10 years and this is the most difficult time I have ever been through. I have often felt I should be on the other side with our students because so much of what you say makes sense to me. The saddest thing that came through is the lack of trust on both sides. That is something that really pains me. Ironically, we have the same goals but we seem to be fighting with each other. We all believe in diversity; we all believe in outreach; and we are all committed to making this the best public university in the world. Our voices need to be heard together.’

Eddie Island, Regent since 2006 – ‘I want to say to these students that I understand their passion, their difficulty, their angst. And we understand the burden these fee increases place upon the students and their families. As we consider fees today, I know we will make a departure from the core values of our university. We believe in diversity, access, and affordability. Student fee increases take us in the wrong direction of those values. But I believe student fee increases are now necessary… I will close by saying I will vote yes. My vote is reluctant. It will be the first time I have ever voted to increase student fees; I had hoped to never to do so. I am left without any other alternative.’



Tim White


I admire the dedication of students, staff and faculty from the Bourns College of Engineering who organized and judged a robotics competition last Saturday. It means a lot for the students from the middle schools to see young, diverse up-and-coming engineers serving as judges.

At 3:30 p.m. Monday, join moderator Steve Cullenberg and a distinguished faculty panel for “The Arts: WHY?” a discussion about the purposes and the importance of the arts. http://events.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?comp_id=30731:20091123153000

This weekend is your last chance to see “Metamorphoses.” Presented by the departments of Dance, Music and Theatre, this performance retells the classic Greek myths of Midas, Orpheus and Eurydice. Plus, it all takes place in a swimming pool.

Wondering what else is going on at UCR? It’s all listed at http://happenings.ucr.edu

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