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Spring 2003
The Price of Excellence
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WHAT OPTIONS, THEN, might the UC consider to help in its mission to maintain excellence, accommodate increased enrollment, stay affordable and provide access to all qualified Californians? Meeting these goals will require more adequate and stable funding. Michigan can perhaps be an illustrative model of what could be done to establish a more stable funding platform for the university.

Like Michigan, California’s constitution guarantees its public universities a high level of autonomy: “The University of California shall constitute a public trust … with full organization and government … and be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence in the administration of its affairs.’’ And the regents have for decades set fees as deemed warranted, raising them from $25 in the 1920s to $4,408 today. To raise them to levels commensurate with what Michigan has done, one must acknowledge, would require political will. And any such discussion likely would occur within a broad context that includes other critical issues such as the preservation of the university’s historical commitment to access and ensuring appropriate levels of financial aid for qualified resident undergraduates, and with the clear understanding that it would not be done as a way to offset reductions in state support but, rather, as an enhancement to that support.

Other issues also might have to be addressed to establish a more stable funding platform for the university. But with today’s disturbing financial outlook, it might be a propitious moment for the UC to explore some long-term solutions toward assuring its continuing academic preeminence and service to the people of California.

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2005 The Regents of the University of California