UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau remained cautiously optimistic about the campus’s future at a back-to-school news conference Thursday.
At the conference, Birgeneau, along with senior campus administrators, reviewed last year’s successes including saving $30 million through the campus’s Operational Excellence program, the construction of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing and ranking fourth on the 2012 Academic Ranking of World Universities by Jiao Tong University in Shanghai.
But, if Proposition 30 — Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative — fails at the polls in November, Birgeneau cautioned it would be a “very dark day” for students. The campus would incur a $50 million cut, and students could see a 20.3 percent midyear tuition increase.
Should the proposition fail, the campus plans to carry over reserves to mitigate some of the short-term impact of the cuts.
But Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance John Wilton said this could only be a temporary solution and that the campus must separately reconcile the structural deficit caused by plummeting state funding.
Previously the largest source of revenue for the campus, state funding now brings in less money for the campus than research contracts, philanthropy or tuition and fees and currently constitutes about 11 percent of UC Berkeley’s budget, down from 52 percent “seven or eight years ago,” Wilton said.
To cope with these reductions, the campus plans to continue expanding its philanthropy program, which raised about $395 million last fiscal year — a 25 percent increase in donations from the prior year. Since 2008, the program has raised $2.6 billion and is on track to reach its $3 billion goal within the next 18 months, according to Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations David Blinder. Of the funds already raised, $323 million have been put toward undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships and $317 million toward faculty support.
The campus may also expand online education course offerings to develop new revenue sources, Wilton said.
Despite these efforts, further drops in state funding would still be detrimental to the campus, according to Birgeneau.
“Education is a public good, not a private good, and it should be supported by the public,” he said.
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