Basic Facts

The University of California is a $19 billion, 180,000-employee institution spanning ten campuses and five medical centers.

On July 15, 2009, the UC Board of Regents voted 20-1 to cut $813 million from the budget, granting UC president Mark Yudof 'emergency powers' to determine how the cuts will be made.

According to Yudof, the cuts affect only the UC 'core funds' budget (28 percent of the total, or $5.23 billion), consisting of state funds, student fees, and UC general funds (mostly non-resident tuition and overhead from state and federal contracts and grants).

The $813 million cut represents 15 percent of this total.

Yudof plans to distribute the cuts as follows:

  • Campus reductions (40 percent, or $325 million): The 10 campuses have begun cutting programs, courses and employees.
  • Furloughs/pay cuts (25 percent, or $203 million): Pay cuts range from 4 to 10 percent, and unpaid days from 11 to 26.
  • Student fee increases (25 percent, or $203 million): Student fees were raised by 9.3 percent in May.
  • Systemwide belt tightening (10 percent, or $82 million): This includes debt restructuring.

Immediate Questions

Poorer students and workers will be most affected by these cuts.

Since 2001, tuition for resident undergraduates has increased by 200 percent (including the most recent hike). This is on top of state cuts to the Cal Grant program, which helps 46,000 students afford a UC education. And even though the pay cuts and furloughs are distributed among workers in a minimally progressive fashion, they still hit the poorest workers the hardest, workers who make no where near living wages.

There will be fewer courses and larger classes. UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said it will take many students an extra half year to graduate. UCB has already reduced library hours, barred access to qualified students, shrunk research budgets and quit recruiting faculty.

UC employees are protesting the handling of the cuts. Why can’t the $19 billion university system handle $813 million in cuts from the state without ordering top-to-bottom pay cuts? After all, state appropriations are only 19 percent of the university’s total revenue.

There is something fishy about the fiscal crisis: Yudof demanded emergency powers to solve the crisis but refuses to use those powers to redistribute funds between sections of the UC budget:

  • UC has $5.3 billion in unrestricted reserve funds, not tied to the pension or endowments.
  • UC has already received $268 million in federal stimulus relief funds and expects more.
  • UC could redirect money from medical centers to campuses: clinical medical centers generated $1.4 billion in 2008.
  • UC execs and administrators earning over $200,000 tripled in recent years ($390 million in bonuses were paid to top executives last fall).

The Essential Question

Yudof says the UC has to save reserves for ‘an even worse scenario in fiscal year 2010-11.’ But it is clear what is really at issue. As Yudof states:

‘Markets are a reality. The University needs to be able to pay market wages to attract and retain quality people ... All groups deserve respect and a competitive wage, but the University will need to pay more for certain jobs than it does for others.’ (emphasis added)

According to Yudof, then, our hands are tied. The UC is a ‘flagship institution’. In order to remain a flagship institution, it has offer ‘competitive salaries’ to privileged members of the UC community. Those salaries are set by the market, and so they are out of our hands.

From the point of view of the administration, putting the salaries of some above the lives and educations of everyone else is the right thing to do.

We have to decide what we think: what should stand above all else?

  • Is it the ‘reputation’ of the university, or is it the health and happiness of the people who day in and day out make the university?
  • Is the university a business investing in ‘human capital’ or is it place where people come together to learn and work in common?

If we think that the health and happiness of the people who make the university is more important than our ability to offer competitive salaries to executives and other high earners, then we have to propose a truly different way of handling the budget crisis.

Get Involved

This website is a place to collect information about cuts from members of the university community. If you would like to post information, please contact and you will be added as a collaborator. Please send along any news to the same address.