California's Public Universities to Cut Salaries and Enrollment in Budget Crunch

July 10, 2009

San Francisco — California lawmakers are still deadlocked over a plan to close the state’s $25-billion budget gap. But the state’s universities released plans this week to slash faculty and staff salaries, sharply cut enrollment, and raise tuition in the expectation of the largest cut in state support in several decades.

Faculty and staff members at the University of California will be placed on furlough starting in September for seven to 26 days per year, according to a plan released today by the system’s president, Mark G. Yudof. The plan, which is expected to be approved by the university’s Board of Regents next week, will amount to a salary cut of 4 to 10 percent, with the highest-earning employees facing the largest cuts.

The temporary furlough will push the university’s faculty compensation to about 20 percent behind comparative institutions, university officials said at a news conference. “We’re going to really have to work hard to come up with creative means to retain the excellent faculty that we have now and to further recruit people,” said Mary Croughan, chair of the university’s Academic Senate.

Leaders at California State University said this week that they were preparing to raise tuition by 15 to 20 percent this fall and to cut enrollment in the 2010-11 academic year by 40,000 students, which would be the largest single-year net loss of students in the system’s history and the largest percentage loss since World War II. As part of the plan to cut enrollment, Cal State announced that it would not accept applications for spring admission next year for the first time in its history.

Cal State’s chancellor, Charles B. Reed, is also engaged in a heated public battle with the system’s largest union over his plan to furlough all employees for two days per month. About 21,000 of the system’s 47,000 employees have agreed to the proposal, but the California Faculty Association has resisted the furloughs without guarantees that they would prevent future faculty layoffs.

The union attacked Mr. Reed’s plan, calling it “half-baked,” and accused Mr. Reed of “pre-recession management policies” and “self-interested leadership” for his positions during budget discussions. The union’s members are set to vote on the furlough proposal next week; if it is rejected, university officials said they would resort to layoffs instead. —Josh Keller