UC Berkeley budget measures aim to avoid permanent reductions, job loss

Photo of Chancellor Carol Christ speaking at a meeting
Emma Drake/File
Chancellor Carol Christ reflected on the year and further discussed the state of the campus budget during a Campus Conversations series virtual event. Christ added that the budget will be addressed through revenue in the long term.

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To address current and anticipated budget issues, UC Berkeley announced measures Tuesday aimed at minimizing job loss and preventing long-term damage to campus programs.

After the announcement, Chancellor Carol Christ and other campus administrators reflected on the year and further discussed the state of the campus budget Wednesday during a Campus Conversations series virtual event. The budget-related measures include a furlough program for nonrepresented staff in addition to employee time reductions for represented staff.

From March 2020 to June 2021, UC Berkeley will have suffered $340 million in losses, according to Christ. Campus also faced a total of $65 million in budget reductions, including a $42 million reduction in state funding and a $15 million reduction, resulting from an enrollment drop of about 800 students this semester.

“I became convinced that a second set of budget reductions to all the units would be really damaging to the campus, would really start to compromise our programs,” Christ said during the event. “I’ve chosen a bridging strategy, rather than a second set of permanent budget reductions.”

One of the measures is a year-long, tiered furlough program that applies to nonrepresented employees who make more than $59,000 a year. Employees will receive a maximum salary reduction of 3.83% and ten furloughed days throughout the year.

The program will save about $27 million and 250 jobs, according to Christ.

Represented employees will face time reductions, which increase progressively with higher income levels.

In response to a question about the furlough program not progressing beyond the 3.83% cap for individuals making more than $234,000, Christ said individuals or units within the Campus Salary and Time Reduction Program can voluntarily choose to have their salaries reduced. Christ added that she has taken a voluntary 10% reduction in salary alongside other highly compensated employees.

“The most highly compensated employees on campus are faculty, and we compete in a very competitive market for faculty for both recruitment and retention,” Christ said during the event. “The last thing I want to do is impose a salary reduction on faculty that will motivate faculty to leave us because it’s the very heart of the institution.”

Christ added that the long-term approach to addressing the budget is through revenue, which can come from increases in philanthropy, enrollment, monetization of intellectual property and extramurally funded research.

Campus is also considering other measures as part of the budget strategy, including drawing from the endowment, liquidating investment gains, promoting units to use more of their reserves and further slowing down capital projects.

The administrators also discussed plans for future semesters. The upcoming spring and summer semesters will be offered remotely, but concrete plans have not been established for fall 2021.

Contact Emma Rooholfada at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @erooholfada_dc.