In an effort to cut costs and potentially increase student housing options, an internal reorganization of UC Berkeley’s real estate and student affairs divisions — including Residential and Student Service Programs, or RSSP — will consolidate some of their similar services, according to a Thursday announcement.
The plan aims to transition functions related to custodial, facility maintenance and design services from within RSSP to the real estate division. Additionally, the realignment positions the campus to better prepare for future partnerships with private third-party entities should the school pursue expanding university housing, said Claire Holmes, associate vice chancellor of communications and public affairs.
“The thinking was really around preserving functions (of RSSP) that are most student-facing and (taking) out the facilities and operational parts,” where there can be overlap with the division of real estate, Holmes said. “Demand (for student housing) is high already, so we’re really trying to look towards the future to really address the student needs.”
Though there are no set plans “on the table” regarding what specific future construction for new student housing will look like, Holmes said university-owned land could potentially be leased to private investors to develop. The campus would receive money from the lease yet face no risk or debt from building and operating such facilities.
Still in the initial stages, the restructuring of the two campus offices will increase student housing capacity while allowing the campus to “contain the cost burden to students,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele.
According to the announcement, the internal reorganization will make UC Berkeley “more efficient and contain costs,” an increasingly pressing responsibility the campus faces because of impending budget cuts.
“The basic problem is, given that we can’t expect increase in revenue and funding in those areas, what can we do to ensure we’re going to be able to maintain the same quality of services?” Steele said.
Other UC campuses — including UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz — have already established public-private partnerships, according to the announcement.
The plan includes an 18- to 24-month transitional period that Steele said is “designed to be realistic about the period of time and amount of attention required” for the restructuring of the two offices.
“We’ll be engaging with staff in both areas, the (Graduate Assembly) and ASUC to make sure everything comes together in the best way possible with as little impact as possible,” Holmes said, adding that a team will be created specifically to manage and supervise the plan’s implementation.
Holmes could not comment on whether the plans for restructuring would result in job reduction but said the campus would adhere to all guidelines and policies governing the administration’s decision-making process.
“Change is hard for a lot of people,” Holmes said. “We certainly want to support people though the change.”
A previous version of this article quoted Claude Steele as saying the restructuring of offices would maintain the cost burden to students. In fact, Steele said that the restructuring of offices is intended to contain the cost burden.