uc.jpgThe University of California at Berkeley’s chancellor said today he’s “cautiously optimistic that we’re turning a corner” in dealing with funding problems that have forced tuition hikes and staff and faculty layoffs in recent years.

In a briefing with reporters on the first day of fall classes at his campus, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said last year “was the most dire economic situation UC Berkeley has faced in its modern history.”

“We still face considerable challenges, but we have a much more known and secure situation than last year, when it was pretty grim,” he said.

Birgeneau said the university has been able to stabilize its financial situation by having everyone contribute. Student fees were increased by 32 percent last year, and faculty and staff members have had their pay cut.

UC Berkeley also collected $313 million in donations from alumni, parents and other supporters for the fiscal year ending in June, which was nearly $7 million more than the previous year, he said.

The state Legislature, however hasn’t yet passed a budget, which Birgeneau said is “really challenging” for the school because it makes planning difficult.

But he said he feels reasonably confident there won’t be any more major cutbacks in state funding because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently assured him there wouldn’t be more reductions.

“We’re on track for the short term and the long term as long as there aren’t any more draconian cuts,” Birgeneau said.

He said he’s had hundreds of conversations with students at back-to-school events this week.

“Almost no one has complained about our fees,” he said.

Instead, students have mainly wanted advice about what they should major in, Birgeneau said.

UC Berkeley also began increasing the number of foreign and out-of-state students it accepts this year because they pay higher tuition rates, Birgeneau said.

He said that means the student body has a greater geographical diversity and a broader mix of cultures and perspectives, and the extra money they bring in is providing “resources to help us address our needs.”

At the same time, the university has a record number of low-income students who pay lower fees, he added.

The percentage of low-income students has generally been in the high 20s in previous years, but this year an estimated 37 percent of undergraduates are from families who earn $45,000 per year or less, Birgeneau said.

“We have more low-income students than all of the Ivy League colleges combined, plus Stanford,” he said, saying that he’s proud that UC Berkeley is “a conduit for people from all incomes.”

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  • Cal Cal

    Almost no one has complained about the $3,000,000 left on the table by UC President Yudof for UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau to hire consultants to do the work of the Chancellor and his hand picked team including VC Frank Yeary…here are the details…Sorry Tale of UC Berkeley Chancellor?s Office: easily grasped by the public, lost on University of California?s President Yudof. The UC Berkley budget gap has grown to $150 million, & still the Chancellor is spending money that isn’t there on $3,000,000 consultants. His reasons range from the need for impartiality to requiring the consultants “thinking, expertise, & new knowledge”.
    Does this mean that the faculty & management of UC Berkeley ? flagship campus of the greatest public system of higher education in the world – lack the knowledge, integrity, impartiality, innovation, skills to come up with solutions? Have they been fudging their research for years? The consultants will glean their recommendations from faculty interviews & the senior management that hired them; yet $ 150 million of inefficiencies and solutions could be found internally if the Chancellor & Provost Breslauer were doing the work of their jobs (This simple point is lost on UC?s leadership).
    The victims of this folly are Faculty and Students. $ 3 million consultant fees would be far better spent on students & faculty.
    There can be only one conclusion as to why inefficiencies & solutions have not been forthcoming from faculty & staff: Chancellor Birgeneau has lost credibility & the trust of the faculty & Academic Senate leadership (C. Kutz, F. Doyle). Even if the faculty agrees with the consultants’ recommendations – disagreeing might put their jobs in jeopardy – the underlying problem of lost credibility & trust will remain. (Context: greatest recession in modern times)
    Contact your representatives in Sacramento: tell them of the hefty self-serving $?s being spent by UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer

  • Cal Cal

    Public universities like are into a phase of creative disassembly where reinvention and adjustments are constant. Even solid world class institutions like the University of California Berkeley under the leadership of Chancellor Birgeneau & Provost Breslauer are firing employees, staff, faculty and part-time lecturers through ?Operational Excellence (OE) initiative?: last year 600 were fired, this year 300. Yet many employees, professionals and faculty cling to old assumptions about one of the most critical relationship of all: the implied, unwritten contract between employer and employee.
    Until recently, loyalty was the cornerstone of that relationship. Employers promised work security and a steady progress up the hierarchy in return for employees fitting in, accepting lower wages, performing in prescribed ways and sticking around. Longevity was a sign of employer-employee relations; turnover was a sign of dysfunction. None of these assumptions apply today. Organizations can no longer guarantee employment and lifetime careers, even if they want to. UC Berkeley senior management paralyzed themselves with an attachment to ?success brings success? rather than ?success brings failure? and are now forced to break the implied contract with Cal employees ? a contract nurtured by management that the future can be controlled.
    Jettisoned Cal employees are finding that the hard won knowledge, skills and capabilities earned while being loyal are no longer valuable in the employment market place.
    What kind of a contract can employers and employees make with each other? The central idea is both simple and powerful: the job or position is a shared situation. Employers and employees face market and financial conditions together, and the longevity of the partnership depends on how well the for-profit or not-for-profit continues to meet the needs of customers and constituencies. Neither employer nor employee has a future obligation to the other. Organizations train people. Employees develop the kind of security they really need ? skills, knowledge and capabilities that enhance future employability.
    The partnership can be dissolved without either party considering the other a traitor.
    Let there be light!