We Afford Excellence?
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alumni serving in the state legislature talk about what’s
necessary to maintain quality, preserve access and achieve greatness.
Marina Dundjerski ’94
Photography by Kevin Graft
GOV. GRAY DAVIS AND THE STATE LEGISLATURE grapple with
how to address California’s severe budget shortfall, expected
to hit roughly $34 billion by the end of the next fiscal year, the
University of California is faced with one of its most significant
fiscal crises ever.
budget has been cut dramatically — cuts this year and next
are expected to total $373.3 million. To counter cuts targeted at
instruction, the UC Board of Regents voted in December 2002 to raise
undergraduate student fees $135 per quarter, and UC is considering
an additional increase of $270 per quarter for the 2003-’04
the same time, an estimated 700,000 additional students are projected
to seek enrollment at California’s public higher-education
institutions by the end of this decade. For UC, that means an influx
of an additional 64,000 students — the equivalent of a combined
UCLA and Berkeley campus — as the system fulfills its obligation
under the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education to accept
the top 12.5 percent of California’s graduating seniors who
meet the minimum requirements for enrollment. For UCLA, the increase
would be an additional 4,400 students.
growth, however, far outpaces increases in education spending. Over
the past several decades, state support for UC, as a percentage
of the university’s budget, has been on the decline. Today,
22 percent of UCLA’s $2.7-billion operating budget comes from
will these cuts affect the overall mission of UC in general and
UCLA in particular? Can California, in a time of serious economic
downturn, afford a top-quality system of higher education? In conjunction
with UCLA’s Government and Community Relations, UCLA Magazine
invited Bruins now serving in the state Legislature to talk about
what they believe is necessary, under these circumstances, to maintain
quality and achieve excellence.