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California Public Universities Announce Devastating Cuts

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
July 13, 2009

Both the University of California and California State University last week announced major cutbacks in an effort to compensate for what is expected to be the largest state support cut in decades.

The New York Times reports that the University of California will cut back on academic programs, enforce furloughs and defer hiring--the result of an $813 million reduction in state financing. "The impact of this cut is devastating," remarked Mark G. Yudof, president of the school. "There is no way that we are going to be able to look every student in the eye and say, 'Tomorrow, the University of California will be just the way it was yesterday.'"

The cuts will be significant on all of the university campuses, where most will defer at least half of their planned faculty hirings. At the Berkeley campus, faculty recruitment is likely to be reduced from the typical 100 annual positions to 10.

At the Irvine campus, class size is expected to increase as much as 20 percent next year, while faculty and staff is expected to decrease by at least 10 percent over the next five years. At the Davis campus, 44 courses and sections are likely to be eliminated in the division of humanities, arts and cultural studies, while the Medical Center is expected to do away with its liver transplant program. At the Los Angeles campus, freshman enrollment for the 2009 year may drop by as many as 500 students.

Meanwhile, faculty and staff will be furloughed from seven to 26 days per year, amounting to a salary cut of 4 to 10 percent. The new plan will decrease the institution's faculty compensation to about 20 percent less than comparative institutions.

"We're going to really have to work hard to come up with creative means to retain the excellent faculty that we have now and to further recruit people," said Mary Croughan, who chairs the university's Academic Senate and was quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

At Cal State, officials announced last week that tuition would likely be raised 15 to 20 percent this fall, and enrollment would be cut in 2010-11 by 40,000 students--the largest single-year net loss of students in the system's history and the largest percentage loss since World War II. The changes come as CSU seeks to trim $584 million from its annual budget, and according to Chancellor Charles B. Reed, will likely be accompanied by faculty layoffs and employee furloughs.

In an effort to cut enrollment, the institution announced that for the first time in its history, no new student applications would be accepted for its spring semester. According to CSU spokesperson Claudia Keith, who was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, the institution will attempt to reduce enrollment by another 9 percent over the next two years through methods such as shorter application deadlines.

"What's happening now is terrible," said Steve Dixon, an economics student at Humboldt State University and president of the California State Student Association, who was quoted in the Chronicle. "It's a straight-up denial of access."

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