Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef held his first quarterly brown bag chat for the 2008-2009 academic year on Wednesday in the Memorial Union to discuss the budget, the campus community book project and UC Davis‘ search for a new chancellor.
“To say [the budget’s] sobering is probably an understatement,” Vanderhoef said.
Despite increasing costs from inflation and growing enrollment, the UC system was given a budget identical to what it received the previous year.
A major focus of the budget discussion concerned the likelihood of a mid-year cut.
“I’m pretty sure the president won’t do anything general across the campuses,” Vanderhoef said. “He’ll let each campus deal with this on an individual basis.“
UCD began the 2008-2009 year with a shortfall of $29 million, which has been addressed in the budget through cuts and a variety of “short-term” solutions. However, given the possibility of a mid-year cut, it is likely that this shortfall will be extended by $14- to $15 million for the Davis campus, said Barbara Horwitz, interim provost and executive vice chancellor.
Vanderhoef cited factors influencing the shortfall as a rising student population, rising health care costs, an underfunded retirement system and the state of the economy in the nation at large.
“Right now we’re trying to establish committees to look at how we can proceed with the budget in the long term and how to deal with the expected shortfall,” Horwitz said. “These are permanent cuts in the budget, the campus is in for tough times and when the cuts are done they will affect everybody,” she said.
The chancellor also announced that for the first time in 18 years it will be necessary for UC campuses to contribute money to the pension fund for UC employees, which is currently underfunded due to market setbacks.
“[The pension fund status] is dependant in large part on the stock market,” Vanderhoef said. “It’s been a gift that ours has been doing well enough to manage without any additional contributions for so long.“
Vanderhoef discussed the possibility of putting forth a proposal to the president to extend the management of the pension fund to faculty and staff, which currently is completely controlled by the regents.
He expressed optimism for UCD’s ability to overcome the fiscal challenges.
“In the early ’90s we had the same kinds of meetings and bit by bit, piece by piece, we worked it out,” Vanderhoef said. “It was agony, but I’m convinced by what we’ve done in the past that we can work [the budget] out.“
Vanderhoef also praised the community service of the campus, citing specifically the campus community book project and the emerging school of global health. In the upcoming quarter there will be 19 talks and seven film and book discussions addressing issues of global health and poverty across the campus.
Members of the advisory committee to choose a new chancellor will be announced next week, he said. A date will be set for an all campus meeting to address concerns about the search for a new chancellor.
“The nominee should be selected sometime in the spring, April or March, and take over either July 1 or Aug. 1,” Vanderhoef said.
AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) issues largely dominated the open discussion that comprised the second half of the brown bag chat. A member of the audience requested that in order for the open forum to be more accessible to the entire university workforce, the public discussion period should be held at the beginning. Vanderhoef agreed to look into this request
Concerns over the conduct of the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh!’s recent activities were addressed by Janet Gong, associate vice chancellor of student affairs.
“We take these matters seriously and don’t condone the behaviors cited in the article,” Gong said. “The band has set policies and they have been reviewing these with our assistance.“
CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached at email@example.com