Budget Update From The Chancellor

September 30, 2009

To UCLA Faculty:

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to update you on the California budget crisis and its impact on UCLA. However, since the situation is fluid, the precise impact will not be fully known for a few weeks.  What we do know is deeply distressing. I want to share with you the information we have and the steps that campus leadership is taking to address the situation.

As you may know, in Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget revision on May 27, he proposed reducing the UC budget by nearly $510 million for the two-year period of 2008-09 and 2009-10. UCLA’s share would come to roughly $100 million or 15 percent. This number represents an extremely severe reduction that, if sustained through subsequent budget negotiations, will result in deep and significant cuts to every part of our campus.

For perspective, consider the budget process so far. The budget passed by the legislature in February 2009 reduced UC funding by $115 million. This budget, however, depended on the passage of Propositions 1A through 1E, which were defeated, in the May 19 special election. Before the election, the governor proposed further reductions totaling $321 million for the UC, or about $55 million for UCLA alone.

Clearly, the state budget has deteriorated since then, and the governor’s revised figures are a response to the election failure, a fall in state revenues and the state’s inability to borrow. The final budget figures for the UC and UCLA will depend on three levels of decision-making: the state, the UC Office of the President and the campus.  Although the final state budget figures are not yet known, they will certainly represent very steep reductions to the UC budget, as indicated by the governor’s proposal.

The Office of the President is exploring a range of responses to the proposed cuts, including increased student fees, borrowing for bridge funding, furloughs, salary reductions and elimination of earmarks.  President Mark Yudof has summoned the chancellors and executive vice chancellors to meet jointly on June 3 and July 14 to discuss the crisis.  Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh, Vice Chancellor Steve Olsen and I are actively involved in systemwide discussions and will keep you informed.

At the campus level, before the May election, I asked the deans and vice chancellors to proceed with implementing our planning target of a $33 million or 5 percent reduction. Soon we will receive new — and much higher — figures from the Office of the President. As a result, actions at the campus level may include reductions in undergraduate and graduate students, eliminating research funding for programs and centers, reducing the number of courses and majors, and severely curtailing faculty and staff hiring. We will work closely with the Academic Senate to ensure that changes in academic programs are carried out responsibly. We will have to significantly restructure our business and academic practices.

As part of our planning, we recently convened three budget task forces that explored possible actions related to costs and efficiencies, revenues and academic programs. The reports of those task forces are available on the EVC’s website.  Scott and I urge you to read the reports, discuss the options and offer your recommendations.  You can e-mail your responses to Scott at evc@conet.ucla.edu.

The impact of the proposed reductions on UCLA academic programs could be profound, and the impact on students could be especially damaging. Like my colleagues in the Office of the President and on the other UC campuses, I am deeply disturbed that the governor is proposing the potential elimination of the Cal Grant program, whose purpose is to support undergraduate students. Without that support, a university education will be unattainable for many of our undergraduates. You can be sure that we will aggressively advocate against these measures in Sacramento.

Fortunately, we entered this crisis with discipline and reserves that can help to mitigate the impact of the reductions so that we can address our most critical priorities. We also expect to receive increased research funding as a result of the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

But the seriousness of the budget situation threatens to overtake prudent planning. It is certain that we face difficult and painful choices in the coming year. Our most important goal is to ensure that UCLA continues to provide outstanding education and research, and I am confident that together we will rise to this challenge.


Gene D. Block