Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing of the California state budget the morning of July 28 confirmed University of California, Davis a $114 million cut.
The grand UCD total is just a fraction of the $1.15 billion the UC must cut systemwide. Eighty point five million dollars has already been cut from the UCD budget through academic and administrative cuts, an increase in student fees and employee furlough days. This leaves an additional $33.5 million yet to be cut.
At the UC Board of Regents‘ July 16 meeting, a plan to implement systemwide furlough days – effective Sept. 1 with the exception of student employees – was approved, forcing UC employees around 13 to 15 unpaid days off.
An area that students will most affect in: the classroom.
The psychology department, the most popular UCD major, will be one of many departments that will see an increase in class size, as well as a decrease in class availability.
“We don’t have the money to have as many lecturers,” said Debra Long, chair of the psychology department. “Our cut back will be handled by increasing the size of some courses and canceling others.”
Long spoke about how the department will look to find larger classrooms to better accommodate the extra students that will be shuffled around. Wait lists will be common, she said, and professors won’t be able to accommodate as many students.
“What’s happening now is taking us a step back. Psychology is the largest major on campus and the student increases is very visible,” said Long. “We’re going to have to do more with less for a long time.”
The UC Davis Academic Senate took a survey from faculty members that suggested possible ways to implement furlough days. One option is to shut the campus down during holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas so that students will not be affected by their professors‘ absences.
“The ultimate authority comes from the Office of the President,” said Robert Powell, chair of the academic senate. “This whole thing can change in a week. There’s lots of work going on to see what is going to be possible and what isn’t to get some agreement with administration and faculty.”
Powell confirmed that classes will be harder for students to enroll in and faculty will be difficult to contact or meet with due to increases in class sizes.
“I have a hunch that it will take longer to make appointments with staff advisors. We’re hoping it won’t affect how long it takes for students to get degrees,” Powell said.
Lower division classes will also see a major hit, Powell said. Teaching assistants or lecturers who may teach these courses will not be hired as frequently.
“These are temporary positions that have to be cut in times like these, which is unfortunate because they enrich our curriculum,” he said.
Currently, there are no definite plans for layoffs, though the people who retire or leave positions won’t be replaced, Powell said. He mentioned that around 350 positions since January were left vacant.
“We have to reorganize to get along with the same amount of work with less people,” he said.
Other UC campuses like Berkeley are also facing cuts around $100 million, while Irvine is looking at a $77 million cut.
The total UC cut of $1.15 billion breaks down to $813 million cut from the general fund with an additional $335 million in costs not funded by the state. Twenty-five percent will come from student fees, another 25 from UC employee pay cuts and furlough days, 10 percent in systemwide savings and the remaining 40 percent divided among the campuses.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at email@example.com.
Correction: August 10, 2009 – The original article stated that the University of California was facing a systemwide shortfall of $1.5 billion. In fact, the budget shortfall is $1.15 billion.