UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal and Campus Provost Alison Galloway gave audience members a detailed update about potential future cuts and a brief history of past reductions, at a campus budget forum on February 27 that drew more than 160 people to the Music Center Recital Hall.
Blumenthal, Galloway, Academic Senate chair Susan Gillman, and Staff Advisory Board chair John Steele also discussed ways to advocate for the university.
While Galloway expressed concern that the "rough ride is not over," she also provided some words of encouragement. "I want you to leave here today knowing that in spite of all the budget cuts, this is still an amazing place," Galloway said. "Faculty and staff have rallied together … We have to think creatively and hold on tightly and dearly to the things we cherish on campus. This is the time to be an advocate for higher education."
In the past four years, UCSC’s budget has been reduced by $49 million. Since 2008, the total number of faculty and staff employees has been reduced by 17 percent. Staff levels have been reduced 21 percent.
The number of undergraduate classes with a size of more than 100 students has increased by 33.3 percent, while the percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students has diminished by 25.7 percent.
The unknown fate of several proposed state ballot initiatives makes 2012-13 budget planning in the UC system and on this campus very challenging, Galloway said. Under one relatively “optimistic” scenario, the UC system will still have to withstand a $100 million ‘trigger cut’ that would include a $4.5 million reduction to UCSC.
However, if a tax initiative that could offset deeper cuts does not make it to the ballot, or is not approved by voters, the UC system could face a $200 million cut including a much larger reduction to UCSC’s budget.
In light of this uncertainty, Blumenthal appealed to audience members, asking them to bring their concerns straight to the state Legislature.
"We should not lose sight of the bigger picture," Blumenthal said, referring to the “long-term degradation” of state support since 1991.
The speakers encouraged students in the audience to be outspoken in their support of UCSC and for access to education. Blumenthal urged young scholars to direct their concerns to the state government and to the voters of California.
Galloway said students would be most effective if they provided stories and specifics about their concerns to the Legislature.
"Legislators really like anecdotes about why your education is important and how it is being hurt," she said. "Those are stories they need to hear directly from students. We also need to hear from alumni on why their college experience was so important."