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Spring 2003
Going After the Best
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Given these circumstances, UCLA might consider an approach that offers more local autonomy, not just for the upper echelons of the campus but for each school and department. “We are relatively decentralized,” says Ouchi, “but the best of the private universities are much more decentralized than we are, and they are responding very quickly to the financial pressures we are all facing.”

Among the remedies that Ouchi offers is streamlining of staff not at the front line — that is, employees other than professors, physicians, student-aid officers and people in charge of student admissions and placement. “We’re coming off 20 years of largely prosperous times, when staff was added,” he says. “Now we need to trim back some.” The push for that has to come from the top, adds Ouchi — “the decisiveness to say we have to achieve some economies here.” The only catch is that “you have to let people at the lower levels help you figure out how to do that.”

It also is essential when endeavoring to generate greater support to better educate the public about critical issues at the heart of UCLA’s budgetary crisis. Millions of Californians, including many decision-makers, prospective students and their parents, have no clue what life is actually like inside the campus, let alone what it takes to keep the place running. The results of a focused education campaign will not, of course, be evident overnight. But when the financial fortunes of the state of California bounce back in the years to come, any strong public backing for UCLA is bound to result in better state funding for the campus.

“These are the citizens who provide direct support through taxes, and indirect support in that they will or will not be intellectually supportive of UCLA,” says Executive Vice Chancellor Neuman. “Only if they value what a world-class university can provide will we have the political support needed for increased resources.”

Ajay Singh is a freelance writer in Los Angeles. He last wrote for UCLA Magazine about the late philosopher Rogers Albritton.

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