The UC Board of Regents approved an 8 percent tuition hike in a 15-5 vote Thursday. Student fees will be, starting in Fall 2011, $11,124 per year – an $822 increase.
However, the regents also voted to raise the ceiling of full tuition coverage (those who do not have to pay anything) from families making $70,000 to the new high of $80,000. Also, for the first year, families making up to $120,000 will be covered from paying the increase with grants. According to numbers provided to the regents, this means that 55 percent of undergraduates will be sheltered from the hike.
According to UC Vice President of the Budget Patrick Lenz, the university faces a $451.2 million shortfall on top of the $250 million in cuts they have faced over the past year.
“The university is not out of the woods,” said Russell Gould, chairman of the regents, in a statement. “We face the threat of mid-year state cuts and certainly cuts next year. The faculty, staff and students all have to work together for solutions.”
Voting against the increase were regents Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, Odessa Johnson, Darek DeFreece, Charlene Zettel and Student Regent Jesse Cheng.
At UC Davis, reaction to the hike resulted in protests on Thursday, including a rally on the Quad at noon and a sit in at Mrak Hall.
Marisol Ornelas, a senior Chicano/a studies and international relations major, has worked in advising, tutoring and empowering youths looking to continue onto higher education. With tuition continually increasing, she said that even with financial aid, public schools are becoming more and more unaffordable.
“I think it’s becoming a really big obstacle for underrepresented students at the university,” Ornelas said.
Also approved at the meeting were a few new hires, including a new Vice Chancellor of Research at UC Davis. The vice chancellor, Harris A. Lewin from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be set to make a base salary of $370,000.
“Mr. Lewin is an accomplished researcher and an entrepreneurial leader who will foster partnerships and collaborations with government, industry and other research enterprises,” according to the minutes from the interim actions of the regents. “He has 14 years of experience in research administration and has consistently maintained an externally funded research program that has averaged approximately $1 million in direct costs over the past eight years despite his full-time administrative responsibilities.”
In addition to his salary, Lewin will receive a hiring bonus/relocation allowance of $111,000. The prior employee in this position made a salary of $237,400.
UC Irvine’s new Vice Chancellor of Research John Hemminger will receive a salary of $300,000, 9.2 percent higher than his predecessor. Nathan Brostrum, executive vice principal of business operations for UC, said that UC sets compensation by looking at the market, not previous employees’ salaries.
“If you look at our senior management, they’re grossly underpaid relative to the market,” he told KQED.
The market median base salary for Vice Chancellors of Research is $329,220.
With the budget situation being the way it is, Ornelas has a hard time seeing why administrators are making such high salaries.
“I understand that sometimes different positions require different pay, but I think some things are really outrageous,” Ornelas said.
Earlier this year, the university raised fees by 32 percent. In order to signal how much fees have risen, however, the regents voted to change the name of the costs from “fees” to “tuition.”
CECILIO PADILLA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.