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Davis, California

Monday, June 17, 2024

Students and administrative panel discuss budget cuts

Despite the university’s expected $107 million shortfall, administrators emphasized their aim to make cuts where students will not be able to feel them.

Chancellor Linda Katehi, along with multiple vice chancellors, professors and student government officials, headed Tuesday night’s “Making Education Affordable” panel.

Despite any solutions presented, Katehi and other panelists echoed cuts will have to be made. The goal at hand is to minimize the impact of financial struggles on student learning.

“You say things like, ‘you’re going to protect student learning.’ And in fact as we go through the numbers, the magnitude of the cuts is such that we really can’t protect anything,” said Kelly Ratliff, associate vice chancellor of Budget Resource Management. “But we absolutely can and do have a principle to minimize effects on student learning.”

Katehi, along with other panel members, made it clear that the main focus of decreasing the effects of budget cuts on education was to maintain the classes required for students to graduate. The desire was to keep the number of sections consistent in lieu of larger class sizes. The most important aim would be to preserve the process of graduation, Katehi said.

Along with the preservation of student learning, the panelists assured students that they would attempt to minimize the number of faculty cuts – an estimated 450-500 positions. Cuts have been made in places where students don’t see it or feel it; the administration has lost positions and combined different units as well, said Fred Wood, vice chancellor of Student Affairs.

“We have been asking one person to wear multiple hats,” he said. “The purpose of this is to protect the folks that actually meet with students – the ones that interact with students in the various departments and units.”

Other solutions included increasing the number of out-of-state students that attend UC schools. This marginal increase in respect to the total number of students on this campus is minimal, however, the revenue that is produced because of such measures is essential, said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Ralph Hexter.

Katehi and Hexter also spoke of the academic advantage of more out-of-state students in terms of global perspective.

“We cannot provide a global perspective with only students from the same high schools and same places; we need people from out of state to gain global perspective,” Katehi said.

Other panel members suggested alternative methods to provide funds for the shortfall. Professor Steven Ybarra said that campus administrators could ease the impact of financial cuts on students if their salaries were cut. He emphasized that many of these administrators make more money than Gov. Jerry Brown.

“If we reduce the salaries of individuals that make more than the governor, then we would save $9 million,” Ybarra said.

Along with proposals for solutions to the issues, there was a push for more student involvement.

All panelists agreed that quarterly panel meetings about the budget were necessary and that the opportunity for students to learn about the university’s fiscal issues was key for the problem to be solved.

“Tomorrow there needs to be 10,000 of you at the state capitol and in Republican offices,” Ybarra said.

Campus groups such as the Student Services and Fees Advisory Committee and the Campus Unions and Recreation Board are among the organizations that allow students to get involved, said Joey Chen, former ASUCD Controller.

AMIR BEGOVIC can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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