After more than two decades of state disinvestment, the University of California faces significant challenges and misunderstandings regarding its operating costs, its wide array of activities, and its mission. Reduced funding from the state for public higher education, including UC, has essentially severed the historic link between state allocations and enrollment, altering the incentive and ability for UC to expand academic programs and enrollment in pace with California’s growing population. “To grow or not to grow?,” that is the question. This macro management and major modification in UC’s historical social contract with the people of California confronts the new president, Janet Napolitano, and, more generally, the UC academic community and Californians. On the positive side, there are signs of an improved economy as well as a governor and legislature dealing with fundamental budget issues, such as better controlling public pensions and reducing exorbitant incarceration rates. If California, under a revised Master Plan, floats toward an attempt to recreate a suitable funding and organizational model for public higher education, Napolitano is potentially a powerful political figure who could help drive it to a successful conclusion. To truly reach a solution, public leaders will need to work with lawmakers, not the other way around.
December 1, 2013
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
TO GROW OR NOT TO GROW? A Post-Great Recession Synopsis of the Political, Financial, and Social Contract Challenges Facing the UC by J. Douglass CSHE.15.13 (Dec 2013)