Acknowledging ‘New Normal,’ Berkeley Announces Broad Plan to Shore Up Finances

Citing a “new normal” of diminished state funding, the University of California at Berkeley is launching a “strategic-planning process” aimed at shoring up its finances. In a message to the campus on Wednesday morning, the university’s chancellor, Nicholas B. Dirks, laid out several broad areas for change the university will consider.

Specifics about the “strategic-planning process” are scarce. What is clear, however, is the university’s harsh financial outlook. According to a financial summary provided by a university spokesman, Berkeley faces a $150-million deficit for the current fiscal year, representing 6 percent of its operating budget.

“Every aspect of Berkeley’s operations and organizational structure will be under consideration,” Mr. Dirks wrote in his message. Among the changes he spelled out were:

  • Raising revenue through the use of the university’s “‘brand,’ land, and other assets.”
  • The “realignment” of some of the university’s academic parts — by bolstering some units and combining others to “capture intellectual synergies.”
  • Better supporting teaching and research “while also redesigning many of our work processes in order to achieve greater efficiency.”

“This endeavor must not be interpreted as an abandonment of our commitment to a public mission,” Mr. Dirks wrote, “nor to our efforts to advocate for increased public funding for higher education.” He added that shared governance would be “the basis” for the changes the university decides to make.

Berkeley, like many public universities, has received an ever-declining share of its funding from the state in recent decades. Last year the University of California system’s president, Janet Napolitano, struck a deal with Gov. Jerry Brown to give the system a 4-percent increase in funding in each of the subsequent four years. The deal also froze tuition for undergraduate residents for two years.

Read Mr. Dirks’s message in full.

For more, see this Chronicle article.

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