Budget Message, October 2009

Financial Stability

Chancellor Block provides a budget update.

Across campus, faculty, staff and students are experiencing the consequences of an unprecedented reduction in state support to the University of California system. The effects include larger class sizes, reduced library hours, and faculty and staff salary reductions; student fee increases are looming. These are difficult times, and I am deeply grateful for your patience, understanding and dedication as we make the often painful decisions necessary to ensure UCLA’s continued excellence.

The measures we have taken are helping to close a 2009-10 budget shortfall of more than $150 million. But we still must make long-term, structural changes so that our academic programs and campus operations align with new funding realities. While we continue to advocate strongly for state funding, we must face reality and plan for a future that relies less on volatile state support, which is not expected to improve next year.

Currently, we are conducting a thorough review of our academic programs. Led by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh, working closely with the Academic Senate, the review is intended to streamline majors, reduce unnecessary units and courses, and focus on helping students graduate in a timely manner. Preliminary reports from the deans are due in January. The result will certainly be some shrinkage of UCLA’s academic programs.

At the systemwide level, the Commission on the Future of UC is looking at long-term issues. The commission’s charge is to develop a new vision for the university that affirms its core values of excellence and access while addressing financial challenges from declining state funding.

The issue of student fees is especially emotional. As you know, President Yudof has proposed two fee increases, one effective winter quarter and another effective in fall 2010. The UC Board of Regents is scheduled to act on the proposal at its November meeting at UCLA.

While I don’t like the idea of raising the cost of education, I believe fee increases are necessary to maintain UCLA’s academic quality. Without the additional revenue generated by higher fees, our academic programs would suffer irreparably. It’s important to emphasize that approximately one of every three dollars in new fee increases would go toward financial aid programs to assist the students and families most in need. At UCLA, generating revenue for scholarships and fellowships is our top fundraising priority. The goal of our Bruin Scholars Initiative is to raise $500 million for this purpose by June 2013.

Many of you have expressed frustration, and even anger, about these circumstances, as well as your concern about the future of UCLA. I share your concern; this is a difficult process for all of us. As we work together, it’s important to remember that we all want the same thing — to maintain academic excellence and the access that our mission as a public university requires of us.

I am grateful for the sacrifices you are making to help the campus through this process, and my administration is committed to sharing information as it becomes available and consulting with you during the decision-making process.

As I’ve stated in earlier communications, I firmly believe that UCLA will emerge from this challenging time stronger and of even greater benefit to students and society.

  • Gene D. BlockChancellor