This week I am pleased to share some good news as well as update you on our budget process.

First the good news: UC has arranged for state bond funding for previously approved projects at eight campuses, including UCSC. For us, it provides funds to equip the soon-to-be-finished Digital Arts Research Center and to construct the Biomedical Sciences Facility.

Voters authorized state bonds for these capital projects in 2006, however the state's fiscal problems delayed the issuance of bonds.

While it's great to have secured funding for these important projects, we continue to struggle with the reality of 20 percent less state support for instruction and academic support, imminent pay reductions for most campus employees, and the need to make immensely difficult choices about our future priorities.

Chancellor Blumenthal and I recently hosted two campus budget forums for administrative and academic personnel. We heard many insightful comments, questions, concerns and suggestions. We knew going into these forums - and acknowledged in our comments - that many questions wouldn't yet have answers. For example, details on how the furlough program will affect some employee groups await decisions by the Office of the President.

Still, it is important that we hear from you. Your questions and observations are helping us focus on the most critical decisions and choices we all face. The chancellor and I look forward to continuing these conversations in the fall. Complete video and audio from the recent forums are accessible at the campus's budget update page.

We've made progress on our long-range budget planning process. Three planning retreats in July involving Academic Senate, administrative, and student leaders clarified six core areas requiring study in advance of fall consultations with the Senate. Teams are now working on each area of study. I will share updates on these efforts in coming weeks.

Lastly, a proposed outline of the campus's plans to implement the UC furlough/salary reduction plan is nearly ready. We are looking at increasing the number of campus-wide "curtailment days," better known as campus closure days, in order to minimize the impact of furlough days on operations and employee workload, and to maximize other cost savings where possible.

Thank you again for your concerns, dedication, and ideas as we move forward.