Update about the campus budget, voting and COVID testing

To: Campus community

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive

Dear campus community,

As we watch the numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths rise across the nation, I reflect with a heavy heart on the tragic personal toll the pandemic has taken on so many families. The economic impacts of COVID are also sobering, for families and our country. The University of California system is not immune to these realities.

To be open about UCSC's financial picture, I am writing to provide a brief budget update. This message follows town hall meetings hosted by the Academic Senate and the Staff Advisory Board. For those who would like additional details, the slides from our recent presentations are included in the 2020-21 University Budget on the Budget Office website.

Prior to COVID, we anticipated a permanent campus budget of $830 million for the budget year that began July 1, 2020. Today, a more realistic budget estimate is $671 million, reflecting a projected revenue loss of $159 million for fiscal year 2021. The two main components of this revenue decrease are a $20 million reduction in state funding to our core budget, which supports teaching, research and campus infrastructure, and a projected revenue loss of $130 million in campus sales and service operations, including auxiliary operations like housing, dining, transportation and parking, and other units that generate their own revenue. Similar reductions in revenue are being realized across the UC system with each campus addressing this challenge with approaches unique to their circumstances.

At UCSC we plan to make up the $20 million reduction in state funding using one-time funds rather than making permanent cuts. The campus entered this crisis in a sound financial position, and we have taken important steps to adapt to the evolving budgetary situation by limiting hiring and controlling other expenses. We have proposed a plan that would take $12 million in cuts centrally and distribute the remaining $8 million across the divisions. Importantly, these are not permanent budget cuts and divisions can address their target using a combination of savings from unfilled positions, foregone travel and operational costs or uncommitted year-end cash balances. By choosing to absorb this revenue loss with one-time funds, we can better support the academic experience and services provided to all students, consistent with our mission as a student-focused research university.

Though the projected revenue losses for the campus sales and service operations are substantial, we expect that the financial picture of most auxiliary units will rebound when we are able to repopulate campus, so our focus is on stabilization. In addition to the budgetary impacts, as campus operations have adjusted to fewer students, no in-person events, reduced travel, and a host of other changes in response to COVID-19, many units are facing service-level impacts and a reduction in workload. Our guiding principle continues to be to keep as many staff members as fully deployed as possible and to keep indefinite layoffs to a minimum throughout this pandemic.

To help keep staff whose work has been reduced, we have launched a redeployment program. This program is designed to offer staff who receive temporary layoff notices the option to be reassigned temporarily to other work on campus, while we anticipate recovery from the pandemic. The initial response from units across the university to identify such opportunities includes a number of possible projects including deep cleaning, sanitization and maintenance, document scanning, data or financial analysis, communications, IT and more. We expect additional projects will be added over the coming weeks. The way that the redeployment program works is that an employee who receives a temporary layoff notice due to service level reductions can express interest in temporary redeployment through June 30, 2021. Staff Human Resources will help match employees seeking a reassignment with redeployment opportunities.

Office of the President curtailment proposal

We continue to receive information from the President's Office about its curtailment and salary reduction proposal. The most recent communication was received Tuesday night and can be found online. If you haven't already, please respond to the linked survey by Nov. 2. We are monitoring these developments and will report back as we learn more.


As the days grow shorter, I am anticipating the time change on Nov. 1 (after all, who doesn't need an extra hour of sleep at this point in the quarter?) and I find myself thinking often about the election. I have already cast my ballot by mail. If you haven't voted yet, know that the campus has posted election and voting information online, and that UC Santa Cruz will again have a polling location at the Merrill Cultural Center open for in-person voting and ballot drop-off. The hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3. There is also an official ballot drop-off box in front of the Bay Tree Bookstore. While the pundits warn that we may not know the outcome of the presidential race on Nov. 3, I am confident that our democracy is sufficiently robust that the will of the people will prevail.

COVID-19 testing

UC Santa Cruz has shown extraordinary resilience in adapting to the unexpected challenges and rapidly changing conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am especially proud of our faculty, staff and students who stood up the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory to provide COVID-19 testing for our campus and to meet the needs of our greater Santa Cruz County community. It was heartwarming to learn last week that the lab was recognized by the Santa Cruz County Volunteer Center with a Be the Difference Award.

I am also proud of our students and employees for their commitment to the well-being of our community by participating in COVID-19 testing, as we know that along with wearing masks and avoiding gatherings, testing and contact tracing are key to controlling the spread of the virus. Students living on campus are required to be tested. Free asymptomatic testing is also available on a voluntary basis to students living off-campus and to employees. Last week our team performed 1,487 tests of 1,360 students and 127 staff, with ZERO positive results for the third week in a row! This is a great tribute to our Banana Slugs who have taken to heart our Principles of Community by following our Slug Strong habits.

Wherever you are living right now, please stay safe, stay well and stay connected.