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Strategic Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC)
Strategic Budget Advisory Committee

University of California, Santa Cruz, Plans for Budget Cuts

February 6, 2009

By David Goll - Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

Vicki Thompson Photo
University of California, Santa Cruz could face a $4 million funding cut next year if the proposed state budget is adopted. UC Santa Cruz provost David Kliger said construction on major campus projects should continue as planned. (Photo by: Vicki Thompson)

Public universities in Silicon Valley are planning cuts in everything from student enrollment and management salaries to staff and faculty travel as the lengthy state budget stalemate in Sacramento drags on.

If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget is adopted, the University of California, Santa Cruz would face a $4 million budget cut next year. The proposal would reduce state funding to the 10-campus University of California system by $65 million and to the 23 campuses of the California State University by about $66 million for 2009-10. The state faces an estimated $40 billion deficit over the next 17 months.

The 44-year-old Santa Cruz campus has complied with UC President Mark G. Yudof’s Jan. 14 edict to reduce undergraduate enrollment and freeze top management salaries. Eighteen senior management personnel have had their salaries frozen, and the university will accept no more than 3,620 incoming freshman in the fall, a decrease of 335 from fall 2008, according to Jim Burns, a campus spokesman.

UC Santa Cruz, with an enrollment of 15,000 and a 2007-08 budget of $522 million, is the system’s second-smallest college next to the newest campus in Merced.

David Kliger, provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Santa Cruz, said though no one knows specifically how deep the cuts may eventually have to go when a budget is adopted, he and other UC officials are not sitting idly waiting for the ax to fall.

“Last week, all of the vice chancellors met to figure out how to firm up our numbers, although no one knows exactly how things will end up,” Kliger said. “We are working cooperatively with other campuses to meet our targets, including sharing (student) waiting lists.”

Kliger said these cooperative efforts have been done “informally” in the past but now are being pursued more vigorously to help each campus shoulder the burden more equitably and assist students in getting accepted into the UC system — even if they may not get into their first- or even second-choice campus.

Kliger said it’s unlikely that reductions in state funding will affect construction on two major campus projects: a stem cell research center and the W.M. Keck Center for Nanoscale Optofluidics. Private funds are making the difference. The stem cell center — an interdisciplinary program involving faculty from five departments — has received a $7.2 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, while the Nanofluidics Center, a joint program of the university’s Jack Baskin School of Engineering and Division of Physical and Biological Sciences, received a $1.5 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation.

San Jose State University also has to clamp down. The university already had to absorb a $6 million reduction in state funds this year and must reduce its enrollment by 3,000 students during 2009-10, according to Pat Lopes Harris, the university’s media relations director.

Considered one of the CSU system’s heavily “impacted” campuses in enrollment, San Jose State will give greatest priority to retaining continuing students, then consider junior transfers and incoming freshman from Santa Clara County, Lopes Harris said.

The campus, with a budget of $500 million, has also frozen the salaries of all managers at the vice president level and above, she said. During the current academic year, the CSU system endured cuts totaling $99 million. Lopes Harris said the governor’s proposed 2009-10 budget would leave San Jose State and the CSU system “in pretty good shape” because it would restore a $33 million cut made in October 2008, though not an additional $66 million extracted a month later.

In the meantime, the financial uncertainty is taking its toll.

“This is very difficult,” UC Santa Cruz’s Kliger said. “You have to make contingency plans for different levels of cuts. In the past, it seemed like budget problems were more on a year-to-year basis, but this time, I’m concerned our budget problems are for the longer term.”

David Goll can be reached at 408.299.1853 or dgoll@bizjournals.com