Regents to discuss budget, campus climate at meeting this week

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The UC Board of Regents will convene Wednesday for its second meeting of the year to discuss the university’s 2014-15 budget, campus inclusivity and student protest response policies as well as to vote on the construction of a new UC Berkeley building to replace the aging Tolman Hall.

The meeting, a two-day session set to run through Thursday, will be held at the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

Budget

In addition to providing updates on Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget proposal, UC financial officers will brief the regents on the Legislative Analyst’s Office’s February budget recommendations. Brown’s proposal, which would expand state funding for the UC system by $142.2 million if it keeps tuition and fee levels frozen for the 2014-15 academic year, still left the university short $120.9 million in additional funding that the regents requested with their preliminary budget in November.

Although the LAO recommendation eclipses Brown’s funding proposal by providing an additional $44 million to the university, the plan would split costs between students and the state to the tune of $78 million in total tuition hikes.

Campus climate

The regents will discuss Wednesday the results of a series of campus climate surveys that asked more than 104,000 people across the UC system to gauge their level of comfort with campus culture, diversity and inclusivity. The surveys, originally commissioned by former UC president Mark Yudof in 2012, were conducted during the 2012-13 academic year and released to the UC Office of the President this month.

Student protest response policies

The regents will also turn their attention Wednesday to the implementation of student protest response policies recommended by the September 2012 Robinson-Edley report, requested by Yudof after violence between police and protesters erupted during protests at UC Berkeley and UC Davis in November 2011. Subsequent initiatives to implement the report’s recommendations have attempted to protect free-speech rights and preserve a peaceful convergence of political views while ensuring campuses remain safe, academically focused institutions.

Most recently, UC President Janet Napolitano was protested against during her Feb. 13 visit to the UC Berkeley campus, when up to 150 students and activists rallied against her record on immigration as former head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Some protesters temporarily blocked the entrance of the Blum Center for Developing Economies on campus.

Tolman Hall

Finally, the regents will discuss whether to approve a funding plan for a new building to replace the seismically unsafe and aging Tolman Hall at UC Berkeley. Originally constructed in 1962, Tolman Hall has been rated as a seismically “poor” building since the late 1990s. The proposed new structure would be located at the intersection of Hearst and Shattuck avenues, with construction costs being split between the UC Berkeley campus and the state.

Connor Grubaugh covers higher education. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ConnorGrubaugh.