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Davis

Davis, California

Monday, September 20, 2021

UC Commission on the Future visit details plans for the system

A working group of the UC Commission on the Future visited UC Davis for feedback at the Walter A. Buehler Alumni & Visitors Center this Monday.

Representatives of the commission described the body’s purpose and its working groups. The commission and its working groups will meet through March to consider issues, such as the size of the system and alternative revenue sources, which are relevant to the budget of the UC.

The working groups each represent the size and shape of UC, education and curriculum, access and affordability and funding and research strategies. UC Board of Regents Chair Russell Gould created the commission in July to assess the future of the system in light of its financial troubles.

Representatives said they are considering methods to maintain the quality of education with given resources. Peter Taylor, chief financial officer of UC, said the system is also exploring four strategies to increase the availability of funds.

The representatives noted that their efforts will not aim to control the affairs of specific campuses but will have a systemwide relevance.

“We have no intention to micromanage the affairs at a campus,” said Keith Williams, an exercise biology professor and co-chair for education and curriculum. “But we have recommendations that are on a campus-to-campus basis.”

At the end of their presentation, the commission representatives turned to comments. UC Davis Academic Senate representatives asked the commission to proceed slowly on building an agenda for reform.

“We urge great caution in your work,” said John B. Oakley, Vice Chair of the UCD Academic Senate and law professor. “We haven’t failed.”

The Academic Federation voiced its concerns over issues of declining state support, changes in class sizes and increasing faculty income in comparison with other universities.

The UC Davis Staff Assembly said declining funds risk personnel shortages in helping provide services to students and faculty.

“In the same speech with furloughs, budget reductions and centralization,” said Peter Blando, business services manager. “We need to understand what is possible for the future.”

Undergraduate, graduate and professional student representatives gave their comments with a presentation that outlined their concerns and solutions to the commission’s stated questions. They said issues such as diversity should be considered and maintained when the commission examines its agenda.

“A decline in diversity is not an option,” Anne Lee said. “As students at a public university, we contend that diversity is necessary because the UC produces leaders on a local, national, and global scale and it is essential that we students understand the wide array of California life experiences.”

The public was given 40 minutes for the remaining comment session.

Police officers guarded the building while protestors gathered outside, banging on the doors and chanting “No cuts, no fees, education must be free,” and, “Let us in or bring it out.”

Some of the speakers on the public comment list expressed their opposition to student fee increases and the salaries of UC administrators.

“Think of a building,” Lula Ahmed-Falol said. “If you cut half of your ninth floor because you can’t afford to have it, it’s not going to have as much of an effect than if you have cut half of the first floor.”

Others disapproved of the venue and questioned as to why none of the UC Regents attended.

“The commission creates the guise of dialogue between the campus, the administration and the regents,” said Catherine Fung, an associate instructor in the English department. “But not a single member of the Board of Regents was in attendance.”

“The choice of venue, the Alumni Center, was also highly problematic,” Fung said, “The space is small, and the event was so highly controlled and guarded, that students could not attend to make their voices heard.”

Commission members said they valued the public input and welcome additional feedback in their future deliberations.

LESLIE TSAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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