Regents discuss nonresident enrollment cap, elect new chancellor for UC Berkeley

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SAN FRANCISCO — At its Thursday meeting, the UC Board of Regents discussed a nonresident student enrollment cap and the efficiency of the university’s operating model and unanimously approved Carol Christ as the new chancellor of UC Berkeley.

Christ, the campus’s interim executive vice chancellor and provost, was unanimously approved to be the 11th and first female chancellor of UC Berkeley in a special meeting of the board Thursday morning. She will succeed Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who will step down June 30.

“I believe she is the right person to lead what is widely regarded as the best public university in the world,” said UC President Janet Napolitano before the vote.

The regents also discussed a new policy that, if approved, will put a 20 percent enrollment cap on UC nonresident enrollment. In 2017, all UC campuses will enroll more in-state students than their pre-Great Recession levels. The new enrollment proposal would increase in-state student enrollment by an additional 2,500 students. Additionally, the enrollment proposal would allow for an increase in nonresident enrollment at every UC campus except UC Berkeley, UCLA and UC San Diego, where enrollment would be capped.

Nathan Brostrom, UC chief financial officer, said at the meeting that the amount of university funding being covered by nonresident state tuition is more than $70 million. According to a presentation by Brostrom, the proportion of nonresident students at UC campuses is 16.5 percent, compared to an average of 27.9 percent at most other major public universities.

Several board members expressed concerns about a state funding shortfall during the meeting. Brostrom said the new policy would ensure that extra tuition from nonresident students fund resources across UC campuses.

Brostrom emphasized, however, that the new policy would not ignore the university’s commitment to California residents. Nonresident students would be enrolled “in addition to and not in place of Californian students,” according to David Alcocer, interim associate vice president of the UC Department of Budget Analysis and Planning.

UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said at the meeting that nonresident tuition has become an integral part of UC San Diego’s operating budget. According to Khosla, his campus is building new infrastructure for arts and humanities with “zero state dollars” — the funding comes in part from nonresident supplemental tuition.

During the meeting, Brostrom also emphasized the positive impact of the new policy on in-state students.

“Merely reading about different cultures and perspectives is no substitute for actually engaging with students from diverse backgrounds,” Brostrom said at the meeting.

Some board members, however, expressed doubts about the motives behind the policy. Regent Gareth Elliott said he thought the plan seemed like a direct response to funding needs introduced by last year’s state budget.

“My concern … is us adopting a policy significantly above where we are today and calling it a cap, and then hoping and expecting that when there is an agreement with the legislature on something … we expect them to want to make a deal,” Elliott said at the meeting.

The board will formally vote on the nonresident enrollment policy at its May meeting.

During the meeting, the board also discussed the university’s operating model. According to Rachael Nava, UC executive vice president and chief operating officer, the university has annual revenues of more than $30 billion and the leadership structure to run 10 small cities.

“I would challenge you all to use … the momentum of the scale we have to benefit (our programs),” said regents chair Monica Lozano in her closing remarks.

The board will next meet May 17 to 18 at UCSF Mission Bay.

Contact Azwar Shakeel at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @azwarshakeel12.