Election Results and Our Campus Financial Picture

The passage of California's Proposition 30 lends a measure of sorely lacking stability to state funding.

By now, you likely have heard
that Proposition 30, the governor’s tax measure on the statewide ballot, has
been approved by voters. This is good news, as it lends a measure of sorely
lacking stability to state funding.

While UCLA is deeply
appreciative of Gov. Brown and all the Californians who turned out to vote for
Proposition 30, we all must remember that it does little in the short term to
alleviate the effects of past funding cuts and unfunded cost increases. State
support has fallen 44 percent since 2000, even as we have absorbed numerous
cost increases, such as health insurance premiums, collective bargaining
agreements, pensions and utility rates.

To adjust to new funding
realities, UCLA has cut expenditures, streamlined operations and developed new
non-state revenue streams. The campus-wide search for savings must go on, and I
will continue to work with senior administrators, academic leaders and student
representatives to protect academic programs. Reflecting that priority, in the
past, we have made contingency funds available to ensure that there are enough
seats in the high-demand classes that students need to graduate in a timely
manner, and that’s something we will again consider.

The disinvestment in public
higher education has created a structural problem that can’t be fixed easily
and requires long-term strategies. As I explained in a recent
Time magazine essay
, by chronically reducing funding, California and other
states are jeopardizing our nation’s future by forsaking the young minds and
the research we need to fuel the economy. In today’s New
York Times
, Thomas Friedman predicted that preparing the future workforce
and ensuring a middle class will be a key issue over the next four years. “The
answer to that challenge,” Friedman wrote, “will require a new level of
political imagination — a combination of educational reforms and unprecedented
collaboration between business, schools, universities and government to change
how workers are trained and empowered to keep learning.”

I couldn’t agree more. At UCLA,
we have many partnerships with other universities and both the public and
private sectors to help prepare our youth and further our research mission.
We’re on the road toward a new financial model, ramping up fundraising efforts,
bolstering intellectual property licensing, accepting more international and
out-of-state students, and taking other actions to increase revenues. But we
need leadership from Washington and business leaders if we are to create an
aggressive national strategy to save public higher education and preserve our
nation’s future.

While I’m discouraged by
long-term funding trends, I’m optimistic about UCLA’s future, and the passage
of Proposition 30 shows that voters are willing to increase taxes to pay for
important programs. We are a vibrant community with inspiring ingenuity and
resilience. We will meet these challenges and secure our promising future
together, guided by our overriding priority to maintain and enhance the broad
excellence, rich student experience and affordability that attract the world’s
top students and scholars.


Gene D. Block


November 7, 2012