Few ideas start with a light bulb turning off, but at Thursday’s Brown Bag Chat with Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, all it took was the flip of a switch to mobilize the university’s stance on energy conservation.
During the topic of the energy crisis, attendees turned off the lights in the MU II room, gesturing toward the conservation of energy in the coming years.
Aside from energy conservation, Vanderhoef expressed his remorse over UC Davis affiliate Robert Mondavi, who passed away earlier this month as well as his approval of new UC president Mark Yudof.
“[Yudof] will be very busy working on the budget as soon as he hits the ground,” Vanderhoef said during the chat. The new president will begin his term on June 16 and plans to downsize the office of the president and transfer programs like the Continued Education of the Bar, a program for graduated lawyers, to local campuses.
In addition to the loss of an expected $100 million in state funding, UC also faces the largest graduating class ever. Vanderhoef insisted that UC Davis take the same number of students regardless of the funds available.
“We can’t pull the rug under these students who thought that if they worked in the top 12 percent of their class they’d get into UC Davis,” he said.
Vanderhoef also briefly discussed UC Davis’ decision to transition Sodexo employees to UC employees in the coming months while still upholding affordable student housing fees.
Over 70 people attended the brown bag chat, the majority of whom was administrators. Approximately four students attended, despite the efforts of coordinators to draw in the student population.
“[Vanderhoef] tailors his discussion around the audience,” said Poonam Dayalji, a junior political science major and attendee. “Had there been more students he would have talked about the issues important to us.”
Although the lack of student attendance disappointed her, Dayalji said she was still pleased with the topics of the chat, most notably the budget issue, something Vanderhoef recognized as the top issue facing UC Davis.
“Students from families of $60,000 or less will get financial aid,” Vanderhoef said after the chat. “The fee increase does not increase these ‘poor’ students at all. UC provides a grant.”
Dayalji and more than 222,000 UC students face a tuition increase of 7.4 percent next year.
The quarterly hour-long meetings are designed to be informal chats with Vanderhoef shared over brown bag lunches.
“[The brown bag chat] is one more vehicle the administration is using to make sure people understand the full budget picture and how it relates to campus and human resource issues,” said Janet Gong, associate vice chancellor of student affairs.
Vanderhoef created the brown bag chat in 1992 when he was executive vice chancellor and provost. Back then, the initial reason for the chat was to ease tension and discuss a budget dilemma similar to the one UC Davis faces now.
The chancellor hopes to continue the chat in the fall to discuss the respective issues. Until then, he and administrators will be working on what was brought up at the chat.
“I think the school is doing the best it can do, given its current situation,” Dayalji said. “Clearly they know where their priority is.”
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