Berkeley: Privatized public university?
A year ago, when the University of California announced sharp boosts in tuition, staff furloughs and other measures to cope with declining state funding, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis and other UC campuses seethed with protests.
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Since: Jan 11
#1 Feb 14, 2011
Just how widespread is the budget crisis at University of California Berkeley? University of California Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau’s ($500,000 salary) eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.
A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies in the system and then crafting a plan to fix them. Competent oversight by the Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on problems and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.
It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies in the system. Faculty and staff have raised issues with senior management, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau ($500,000 salary) engaged some expensive ($3 million) consultants, Bain & Company, to tell him what he should have been able to find out from the bright, engaged people in his own organization.
In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. Merely cutting out inefficiencies will not have the effect desired. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. An opportunity now exists for the UC President, Board of Regents, and California Legislators to jolt UC Berkeley back to life, applying some simple oversight check-and-balance management principles. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary. The faculty, Academic Senate, Cal. Alumni, financial donors, benefactors await the transformation of senior management.
The author, who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way senior management work.
(Cal.(UC Berkeley) ranking tumbles from 2nd best. The reality of UC Berkeley) relative decline are clear. In 2004, for example, the London-based Times Higher Education ranked UC Berkeley the second leading research university in the world, just behind Harvard; in 2009 that ranking had tumbled to 39th place.)
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#2 Feb 14, 2011
I agree. In olden times, Californians could afford the luxury of bearing the cost of maintaining a world class University system. Then the 60s 70s revolutionaries seized control, not only of academia, but much of California's political element as well. The result was that California Universities - such as Berkley - lost their place among the highest "world class" institutions. As a result of their influence in the sphere of social research, academia's influence in restructuring society turned much of California into what has been described as "a looted third world nation".
What faces our failing, but expensive, University system today is that the California taxpaying minority who they helped impoverish can no longer afford to carry these burdensome institutions around on their backs. It's time to abandon failed 60s 70s era social thinking that has been promoted by those now in control of the University system and begin thinking outside the box.
#3 Feb 17, 2011
I agree they should all be privatized. In fact all state jobs should be privatized. Just look at the paid holidays they get off. No wonder our deficit is going through the roof.
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