Declining state funding and skyrocketing tuition at the University of California may lead some to believe that the university is losing its grip on its long-held prestigious status. But despite its many challenges, the university is still an indispensable state resource. As highlighted by Onward California, the university’s campaign for private donations, UC innovations and research findings make important contributions to the state economy, as do the thousands of UC-trained leaders who enter the workforce every year.
Onward California is an admirable effort to gain more funds by appealing directly to the university’s main constituents: the state population at large. The campaign promotes pride in the university through a bus tour and advertisements seen everywhere from airport terminals to newspaper websites that illustrate how the university affects daily life for state residents. It should remind all Californians — including state legislators — how crucial it is to financially support the university.
Although some may criticize Onward California as a push to further privatize the university, the campaign’s target audience is not large corporate donors, whose interests may lie more in what is profitable than in what serves the public. Rather, the campaign is focused on the greater populace — stakeholders who should be directly supporting the university.
And the university is only spending about $3 million — which does not come from state funds — on the campaign. That is a relatively small price tag, considering that the campaign is advocating on behalf of all 10 campuses. Furthermore, any lobbying effort of this kind requires an investment — the university needs to spend a little money if it wants to make more.
The university community should have some hope that the investment in Onward California will pay off. The University of Colorado Boulder launched a similar campaign and raised $110 million from its fundraising arm last year. The University of California will have even greater urgency to achieve similar success if Proposition 30 is rejected by voters, triggering a $250 million midyear budget cut. Even if that doesn’t happen, the university still receives significantly less state funds than it did a few years ago, so private donations are becoming increasingly important.
Potential donors must recognize that the university doesn’t only benefit students and their families — the UC system can improve the quality of life for all Californians. Onward California should remind the public that there is something at stake for all state residents in the future of the university. Hopefully, lawmakers get the message as well.
Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regard to the readers, writers and contributors of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Click here to read the full comment policy.