Friday, December 31, 2010

According to Herodotus They Only Needed 300

“I do not know of any organization that achieves budget discipline from the bottom up. We need to be sufficiently top-down to get the job done. Nobody’s going to volunteer to make the kind of changes that are required.”
                  Christopher Edley (94)

Some of the discussion on Chris' post regarding the letter from the 36 in defense of their pensions has focused on the number of those affected.  Part of the problem in calculating this number has to do with the lack of clarity about what constitutes "covered compensation."  I cannot clarify for individual cases but the official program description for UCRP (for members with Social Security) indicates on page 26 the following definition of Covered Compensation:

Covered Compensation 
The gross monthly pay that an active employee receives for a regular and normal appointment, including pay while on sabbatical or other approved leave of absence with pay. Not included are:

pay for overtime unless in the form of compensatory time off;

pay for correspondence courses, summer session, intersession and for interquarter or vacation  periods or University extension courses, unless such employment constitutes part of an annual or indefinite appointment;

pay for a position that is not normally full time except if paid on a salary or hourly rate basis;

pay that exceeds the full-time rate for the regular, normal position to which the member is appointed;

pay that exceeds the base salary as negotiated under the General Health Sciences Compensation Plan or Medical School Clinical Compensation Plan;

pay that exceeds the established base pay rates, including nonelective deferred compensation, honoraria and consulting fees; payments received as uniform allowance, unless included as part of compensation for a regular and normal appointment;

pay that exceeds the IRC §401(a)(17) dollar limit.

For Plan year 2009–2010, the earnings limit is $245,000. (For those who were active members before July 1, 1994, the earnings limit for Plan year 2009–2010 is $360,000.); and payments received as housing allowance beginning with January 1994 earnings.

Covered compensation does not include pay from sources other than the University of California.

Now I have to admit that some of these categories make no sense to me but others may know better.

I would also point out that if you run the ucglobalpay and use the category of professor (you can do tis for the system and not for any single campus), put in a base salary of $245,000 (just for a test)  not only do the numbers drop considerably (you get 403 total but only 219 for professors in the 2009 year)  but they are overwhelmingly located--surprise!--in the medical schools and to a lesser extent in the professional schools.
Just for the record if you put $245,000 in the line for "gross pay" (although I suspect that gross pay is not the correct category given the covered compensation definitions above) you get total 2124, for Professors 851.  Similar patters about medical schools and professional schools seem to apply (although I did it quickly)

That is where the financial action is on this issue.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just Trying to Say that We Don't Care

UC"s latest image disaster came in the form of what I dearly hope is UC's final 2010 appearance in the California press.  Today's San Francisco Chronicle headline reads, "Highest-paid UC execs demand millions in benefits."   This refers to a demand by 36 senior executives that the Regents authorize UC to "calculate [their] retirement benefits as a percentage of their entire salaries, instead of the federally instituted limit of $245,000. The difference would be significant for the more than 200 UC employees who currently earn more than $245,000."

The salaries and the payouts are explained in this graphic. A $400,000 salary with the cap yields a pension of about $184,000 a year, but is bumped to $300,000 a year without.

I have never seen comments on any SF Chronicle story like the ones prompted here. There were 750 when I started this post. There will be over 800 before I finish.  I would guess that 740 of them are negative, except that I haven't found a supportive one yet.  Hundreds are furiously hostile. In the poll, only 5% think that the higher pensions should be granted if the university incurred a legal obligation to pay them.  Nearly two-thirds take option 3, which is that the letter writers be fired.

The symbolism of the pension spike is way beyond the actual money: UC's top officials, the ones who set the policies that affect the state, display selfish greed, total oblivion to the public mission, and a tight focus on lining their already bulging pockets. It confirms the majority suspicion that universities like UC care much more about the "bottom line" than about education (Question 6).  People don't see anything in this kind of effort that universities are supposed to be about.  There is in the background a sense of the university's abandonment of the state's suffering middle class, and of course nothing for the poor who still want to send their kids to college. Tuition has tripled over the decade, debt goes up incessantly, public pensions are under attack exactly because of $300,000 payouts,  thousands of students show up to UC every quarter with nothing but borrowed petty cash, and yet what they see senior executives spending their time on is maximizing their personal take.  As one commenter said, "oink oink oink. I know this is a dumb question but what happened to the UC system's mission of educating students?"  And these aren't even the commenters who are angry that UC has good pensions to begin with.

You can read the letter of the 36 to judge for yourself whether they have a legal case. My own reading is that their real argument is what they term the "ethical" one: in 1999 the Regents said they would remove the cap on salary eligible for pension accural if the IRS allowed it, people decided to stay at UC for that reason, the IRS granted the request, and now they are owed extra back pension. President Yudof, in contrast, defines UC's position as saying that the 1999 resolution was never implemented and the cap on the contribution level was not eliminated.  Both of these statements seem to be factually true.  The other argument of the 36 is that UC needs to pay market-level salaries and benefits, and this will only happen if UC removes the cap.

This latter argument is factually false.  UC has been proving for years that it doesn't has to pay market rates, and does so by paying sub-market wages to most of its faculty and staff.  More importantly, this argument displays an ignorance about the status of a public university that drives many people nuts. The 36 want market-level salaries, i.e., a top-end salary at a wealthy private-sector institution.   They at the same time want public-sector defined-benefit pensions, which historically developed to protect employees who made much less than their private-sector counterparts.   Public-sector pensions were never meant to support private-sector executive lifestyles.  The public has absolutely no obligation to pay for them. Hence the logic of the $245,000 cap.

There's a deeper stupidity in all this, which is the energy of this letter on behalf of a tiny group of executives that they have never directed at political and business leaders who've let the University go to hell.  They threaten to depose former Regents and UC Presidents.  When did they ever threaten the Schwarzenegger administration during their endless rounds of fee hikes and general fund cuts?   The 36 are brilliant, passionate advocates for themselves. With one known exception they have done no public advocacy for the university.  All 36 signers are non-instructional executives, and at least half are non-academic, but this is no excuse.  For much of the public, a University still stands for collective betterment, mutual development, enlightenment, progress for all, solidarity, and some kind of common life of knowledge. The wage and benefit inequalities deepened by this pension spike suggest an executive class that is comfortable with the inequalities that are damaging millions of individual lives and the future of the state as a whole. When they stand for the university, the university stands for nothing.

Ditto this sorry lecturing about public funding from the Dean of the UC Irvine Law School, which is actually a clarion call for no caps on executive salaries.  Somehow, the educational activities of UC come down paying senior professors the same that they get at Yale.
One proposal being discussed is freezing or decreasing executive and faculty salaries. But this is no answer. If the University of California is going to retain and attract high-level faculty, it must pay the same as comparable schools across the country. Over the last few weeks, I have negotiated salaries with superb professors we are attempting to recruit who are currently teaching at Harvard, Northwestern and Yale. The University of California must match their current salaries or they will not come. As much as I love living in Southern California, I could not have afforded to leave Duke University if it meant taking a substantial pay cut.
Count the comments on the SFC article calling for exactly that - substantial pay cuts for UC executives, and the rapid return of the discontented to whatever elite school they came from.  The Dean's final sally is this: "To limit tuition increases without increasing state funding, or to prevent the university from paying administrators and faculty at rates similar to comparable schools, would inevitably destroy a great university."  The university's greatness is here defined through its unfettered ability to raise both tuition and executive pay. 

These terrible appeals must come to an end, and here are two simple things that should be done instead. President Yudof should
  •  affirm the $245,000 pension calculation cap, giving as his reason the second-tier pensions recently allotted to all future generations and the financial sacrifices that regular UC employees have made for the university.  He should bring this to the Regents for endorsement at their March meeting.
  • announce a freeze on new non-instructional administrative hiring.  Even replacement non-instructional hiring should be centrally reviewed.   In addition, President Yudof should announce that given UC's 74% administrative proportion, all new hiring for two years will be instructional, and thus directly involved in the University's core mission of teaching and research.
There are 816 comments on the SFC article.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cal State Budgeting

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Academic Freedom

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The LAT, The Regents, and The Conventional Wisdom

By Michael Meranze

With so extensive a demand, it follows that a very large part of our social comment--and nearly all that is well regarded--is devoted at any time to articulating the conventional wisdom.  To some extent, this has been professionalized.  Individuals, most notably the great television and radio commentators, make a profession of knowing and saying with great elegance and unction what their audience will find most acceptable.  But, in general, the articulation of the conventional wisdom is a prerogative of academic, public, or business position.  Thus any individual, on being elected president of a college or university, automatically wins the right to enunciate the conventional wisdom.
                     John Kenneth Galbraith

The Los Angeles Times responded with remarkable alacrity to the news that California legislators--concerned by the continual fee hikes and the size of executive compensation at UC and CSU--might begin to demand greater oversight over how state monies are spent in higher education.  Indeed, I can't think of a more rapid response to an educational issue from the Editorial Board in recent years.  One day we hear that legislators are considering certain steps, the next day we get a counter-blast from the state's leading newspaper.  But is this abstract possibility really the most pressing issue for the LAT to weigh in on?  What is the fuss all about?  The editorial gives clues about what is really at stake--and it gives a glimpse into the conventional wisdom of California's elite opinion makers.

Entitled "The Road To Mediocrity," the editorial opines that "The Legislature should not be allowed to micromanage the UC and CSU systems."  While I, too, am wary of the legislature intervening in the everyday operation of UC and CSU (recent developments in states like Texas and Washington are enough to give one pause) there is a problem here: even according to the LAT's own reporting no one is proposing "micro-managing" the two systems.  Instead legislators are contemplating placing limits on executive pay and student tuition and demanding greater transparency.  I can understand why UCOP and the Regents might not like these ideas, but the LAT?

To be sure, this refusal to look hard at the Regents and upper-management is not out of character for the paper.  After all, the only person at the LAT who was willing to say anything about Dick Blum's apparent conflict of interest regarding online education was Michael Hiltzik

But to be fair the real action is elsewhere.  The issue of micro-managing is actually about market forces.  After shedding symbolic tears on behalf of students whose tuition was raised the Editorial Board moves onto its concrete gripe with the legislature: it didn't raise fees high enough on community college students.  Let's forget that CC college fees more than doubled between 2003 and 2005, let's forget that more and more students are being driven from the CSU and UC system into the Community Colleges (already overburdened) because of the rising fees at the universities, the micro-management that the LAT apparently fears is that the legislature will get in the way of letting universities charge students as much as they can.

Despite its claim to defend the Master Plan and the multiple functions of the UC, the Editorial Board is unable to see any source of income other than students.  Increasing Community College fees may seem like a small step to the LAT, but the Community Colleges already serve the poorest students, many part-time as they work to support themselves and their families.  Given that they are the essential entry point to higher education for many it is absolutely central that they be as open as possible.  Funding needs to come from somewhere besides the students.  And while the Editorial Board is  worried that the UCs and the CSUs will price themselves too high the only alternative they imagine is cutting labor costs.  While they now claim that the University needs to stay in the race for "top managers and star professors" they previously suggested that the furloughs be extended a year because most professors wouldn't actually leave because of the pay cuts (since most, I suppose, had nowhere to go).

The LAT should be taking the lead in calling for a more equitable tax system to address the structural problems that we face.  At the least they should push for ending a tax structure designed to shield corporations and commercial real estate or and argue that the power of finance capital (on the Regents and beyond) be curbed.  Instead they, like the austerity mongers in Washington and elsewhere, are calling for the burdens of the economic crisis to be borne by those who are already burdened the most. 

The play of the market, rather than any shared vision of a common good, drives the vision of the Times--and the history of the last few years has done nothing to shake it.  And in this belief they replicate the conventional wisdom of those who benefit from today's plutocracy, i.e. those who have created the economic crisis in the first place.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Debt Crisis and the Austerity Trap

State officals are caught in a mental loop, and it is nicely visualized by state treasurer Bill Lockyer's forlorn op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.  Arguing that "California Isn't Broken," and anxious to head off implausible suggestions that the state could default on its debt, Lockyer and coauthor Stephen Levy write,
During the current fiscal year, general fund revenues are expected to total $89.4 billion. Education spending under Proposition 98 will total $36 billion. That leaves $53.4 billion available to pay debt service on bonds — more than eight times the $6.6 billion the state will need.
Thus is raised the specter, in its very denial, that the state might spend the entirety of its non Prop 98 money on servicing its own debt.

The article goes on to debunk the myths that California has lost more jobs and businesses than other states, that its decline is worse than that of the country's, and that its structural budget deficit is caused by runaway spending:
Thirty years ago, general fund expenditures totaled about $7.43 for every $100 of personal income. In the 2009-10 fiscal year, that ratio was almost $2 less, at $5.52 for every $100 of personal income. In the current fiscal year, per capita general fund expenditures will total $2,246, less than the $2,289 spent 10 years ago and roughly equal to the inflation-adjusted level of 15 years ago.
But then what? The obvious question is, "so what's wrong with spending less"?  The next obvious question is, since we still have a deficit, why not spend still less than we do right now?  These are entirely rational questions for our austerity culture, and they need direct and concrete answers. Nobody is going to care about cuts in general unless Lockyer, Jerry Brown and the new Sacramento order can rekindle belief in a causal connection in which cuts in public investment causes economic decline.  But how will they, and who will help them?
Jerry Brown is the original small-government Democrat: in the 1970s he was already running as an austerity governor for the "era of limits" he later proclaimed in Cedar Rapids during his presidential campaign tour in January, 1976.  His promise this month to cut the governor's budget was first made in his inaugural address in January, 1975.  Circumstances have not given Brown much reason to change his mind.  He has said, "The depressing spirit of the age ungratefully feeds off the boldness of the past.  Where there should be saving for the future, I see frantic borrowing."  Thee occasion was his second inaugural address in 1979.

Arnold Schwarzenegger built his governorship around repeated calls to cut state spending. Brown just recently promised to do the same, only worse.   Arnold's version was more "blood makes the grass grow."  Or "throw mama from the train."  Jerry's version is "Curb Your Enthusiasm."  But the implication is very Arnoldian: Brown may propose mid-year cuts in all sectors of state government. He assured K-12 that this would happen to them.  We may be facing the same thing at UC and CSU: general fund cuts mid-year, perhaps the return of employee furloughs to make up for them, possibly mid-year tuition hikes, who knows?

What is Brown going to offer that's different from Arnold?  In his presentation, he moved from budget basics to an illustration of persistent deficits (slide 7), to a clear portrait of declining expenditures (slide 10), to a conclusion that stressed that California is a Bottom-5 state in major public sector measures, including ratio of state employees to population (slide 16) and student-teacher ratios (slide 17).  The strategy seems to be what driver's education courses used to call Red Asphalt: show the 15 year olds pictures of bloody car wrecks so that we are scared into driving well by seeing the deadly consequences of our careless acts.  Show the causal connection between budget cuts and lowered educational resources.

Educationally and democratically this is the right strategy: don't tell the people the answer you already have, but lay out well-organized analysis that allows them to reach their own conclusions.  Others have tried this before on this same topic of California's public spending being low rather than high.  Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik made an excellent short case using LAO data in May 2009.  It will help to have the state's governor pulling in the same direction.  But what about the causal case between public funding cuts and economic decline -- not just less government but less economy?  How to work in personal hardship and stunted hopes?

The discussion raised a vital issue, but a different one: the burden of debt.  Lockyer did most of the lifting here.  He showed that during the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state's debt nearly tripled from $34 billion in 2003 to $91 billion in 2011  (slide 1), and that debt service has tripled as well, to over $6 billion a year or nearly 7% of state general fund revenues (slide 2).  The pace of this increase has caused the state's bond rating to fall to A1 (slide 5), and has added over 1 percentage point (110 basis points) to the interest California needs to pay on this interest (slide 8). 

These numbers reveal the extent of the disaster for the citizens of the state.  The increase in annual debt service during the Schwarzenegger administration of about $3 billion is about the same as what the state spends on all programs for the developmentally disabled, and what it spends on the University of California.  In other words, during the Schwarzenegger era, the state came to pay the annual costs for an entire second University of California entirely to the holders of its new public debt.

The Brown-Clinton tradition of Austerity Democrats has a history responding to "check" by taking pieces off the board.  Some members of their party are trying to head this off by painting the demand for austerity as a Republican trick:  the Republican right creates public insolvency on purpose so it can cripple government and "drown it in the bathtub," in right-wing activist Grover Norquist's famous phrase.  Progressives also point out that this is happening on the federal level with the extension of the Bush tax cuts, whose stimulus effect will be far outweighed by the nearly $1 trillion in new deficits it will create.  The same is true in Europe, particularly in bastions of Anglo-American-style financialized capitalism like Ireland and Britain, where a crisis of private debt that threatened massive bank insolvency led to simultaneous 100% bailouts of private investors and simultaneous cuts in the public sector to pay for it.  Ross McKibbin summed this up in a piece on Tory strategy in the UK by saying, "the crisis allowed the Conservatives to transform a crisis of the banks into a crisis of the welfare state."  This is precisely the crisis that Brown is inheriting in California, and it is important to point this out.

But the cure depends entirely on ending the current Hoovermania with countercyclical policies. My claim here is that we need Red Asphalt 2 - the movie that shows not what happens when you don't slow down and pay your debt, but what happens when you don't repave the roads where you might be tempted to drive too fast. There's one slide in the Brown budgetfest that gets at this.
This chart suggests that given current policy -- the continuation of Arnold Schwarz- enegger's program of borrow and cut, , the state will not get back to its 2007 employment level until 2015 - with a significant larger population. Given how young the state is, and how poor our public services are, this is a death-spiral that leads to social unrest sooner rather than later, and to the end of California as an advanced society.

This is the theme Brown needs to lead with: Rebuild or Die.
 Rebuilding - specific versions, prominently including higher education - requires spending.  Hence, and only hence, there must be spending.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Arts and Letters in Universities

Thursday, December 16, 2010

UC Autonomy: Is that Campus Closing?

The Los Angeles Times reports that there is a growing sentiment among legislators in Sacramento that they should have greater oversight and influence not only in the amount of money that UC gets but in how it is spent.  Strikingly, the three points that seem to have mobilized the greatest concern are the size of executive pay and perks, the continual fee increases, and the move by UCOF and UCOP to push towards more out-of-state students.  As the LAT puts it, "Lawmakers say the combined actions threaten a fundamental promise of life in the Golden State: an affordable, high-quality public college education."

You can read the entire story HERE.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rethinking the UC Future (2): the UCOF Report's View of Revenues

Whatever message the Regents wanted to send by passing the Commission on the Future recommendations, the cuts message is what came through. UC officials are promising less to future students - that's what the reporters picked up.

The sacrifice might go somewhere if it were done in an atmosphere of fairness, intelligence, and mutual attention and respect.  The UCOF process did not increase trust or communication -- the Regents, with the exception of the student Regent, did not appear at any of UCOF's listening meetings.  We'll talk about fairness in a later post on pension reforms. Then there's intelligence in planning: this would involve major educational goals for the University and a revenue plan to support it.  One may not expect major educational insight from the Regents, but revenues are their central responsibility.

The Recommendations I didn't get to in Part I take a shot at these. How do they do?
We'll start with Recommendation 14: "Expedite Implementation of UC’s Initiative on Systemwide Administrative Reforms, with the Goal of $500 Million in Annual Savings."  Yes it's true as the Report says that administrative costs are 25-30% of the core budget (perhaps much more) and need to come down. The overall figure is the same as last May's flotation of the unanchored number of $500 m, which had an obvious political purpose but no basis in disclosed calculations.   If UC had $500 million to spend on new IT and a complete overhaul of its procedures on everything from contracts to work-study payroll processing, It could maybe save $500 million.  Nothing like this is going to happen.  There is ample precedent for failure in the business world that many UC officials believe does everything better.  See James Kwak's tale of "Telcom Hell," in which he reminds us,
the business world runs on software, and most of it is bad software. The back end of just about any major company is a tangled mess of archaic, poorly coded, worse maintained, incompatible software programs written over the past forty years.
UC won't fix this any faster than Verizon has, with its vaster monopoly money.

Recommendation 15 is to "Accelerate Development of Self- Supporting Programs and Increase to $250 Million per Year in Five Years the Income Derived from these Programs."  I read the statement and I don't see how they can improve by a factor of 10 on the net proceeds of programs that make the most when tied to business-school executive training.  But say they did through a heroic effort net $250 million.  That's about 3-4% of UC's core campus budgets. These are worth pursuing, but it would take enormous effort to turn them into programs that could help support core education.

Recommendation 16:  Raise UC-Wide Ambitions for Private Fundraising.  This section says something important:
Only 2 percent of all gift support in recent years is unrestricted, even less for endowment. To put this in context, of the $1.3 billion in funds raised in FY 2008-09, just over $25 million could be characterized as unrestricted.
That's pretty much the level where self-supporting programs are right now. A billion of unrestricted money raised each year would add $50 million to UC's budget.  (The Futures Report calculated to to replace the $1.35 billion that had been at that time lost during the decade for the UC budget, the university would need to raise an unrestricted endowment of $30 billion (p. 23)). Even a billion in unrestricted would require a revolution in fundraising - no fame and glory for carefully targeted and leveraged marqué achievements means, right now, no money. UC fundraising has been running flat out for years -how many undone asks are still out there? Which reminds me: we also need figures for the net on fundraising - what it costs to get those revenues, and not just the revenues.

Finally, we get to some real money:

RECOMMENDATION 9: Redouble Efforts to Obtain Full Cost Recovery from All Sponsored Research, with a Goal of
$300 Million Annually."  This would be a very good idea.  The annual loss UC found was $720 million, and more than 50% of the shortfall should be pursued. The Academic Senate, however, did not endorse this goal, and its resistance signals the political quagmire that lies in wait.  Scientists with federal grants will fight this because they will assume that the higher ICR will come out of their direct costs, meaning that even more of their actual grant money will go directly into the accounts of administrators. Scientists with industry grants will fight this because they believe, often rightly, that industry sponsors university research so that it can pay much less than it would pay in-house; full indirect cost recovery would reduce those margins.  This one is worth fighting for, but it needs a set of officials ready to champion it in the teeth of major internal faculty opposition.

And that brings us to our foolish friend, non-resident tuition:

RECOMMENDATION 8: "Increase and Cap Nonresident Undergraduate Enrollment."  Nothing against out of state students. Some of my favorite students are out of state.  They just shouldn't be lined up and milked.  They don't have that much milk to give. And their milkstall does in fact take over the parking spot of some in-state student, without an expensive expansion of facilities.

On the quantity of milk,  the report reads:
Currently there are approximately 7,600 undergraduate students who pay nonresident tuition. During 2010-11, each nonresident undergraduate pays tuition and fees that are about $22,900 higher than the fees paid by California resident undergraduates. Also in 2010-11, the State is providing enrollment growth funding of about $10,000 for each California resident student to help cover instructional costs. Thus, each nonresident undergraduate contributes about $12,900 in resources above the level of funding generated through student fees and State support for California resident students. Each 1-percent increase in nonresident students would generate almost $1 million.
This means that $1 million in new revenues comes in units of 77 out-of-state students. So working from this UCOP table, we can calculate as follows for the best case example of the strategy, Berkeley:

            Out-of State and Internatoinal
2008              1957                               /77    = $25.4 million supplemental tutiion revenue
2009              1759                               /77    = $22.84
2010               3455                              /77     =$44.87
2011     not included in campus report

So out-of-state students have added about $20 million to UCB's campus revenues. This fits pretty well with last year's estimates done by me and by Andrew Dickson.  For an extra $20 million, Berkeley has raised the question of its loyalty the citizens of California, which in turn raises the question of why state taxpayers should vote more tax-based funding.  The additional $20 million adds about 3.5% to Berkeley's instructional budget of around $550 million, and is about 1% of the campus budget of going-on $2 billion.  Try the same thing at the other campuses and you have even less in percentage terms -- and with the opposite of goodwill from the public they are trying to court.

To make matters worse, "The Commission further requests that campuses establish targets for nonresident enrollments that do not displace funded California residents and that the President monitor enrollment to ensure that these students are fairly apportioned among the campuses."  If the nonresident students don't displace instate students, then they will need new facilities. And if they get new facilities, then every penny and more than they bring to the table will go into building their new nonresident lecture seats, lab benches, rowing machines, and so on.  The only way to make money on NRT is of course to use it instead of instate tuition, as profit rather than a source of investment, and in so using it to displace instate students.  The great out-of-state plan doesn't yet make arithmetic sense, and looks more like a hail mary pass.

I note a certain irritation in Bob Samuels's recent post on the meeting, The title gives it away: "Regents Rubber-Stamp Fake Future." He lays out a couple of examples and remarks on the Reports'  "failure to grasp basic math and accounting."  I feel his pain. How can we build the better university with imaginary money?    When I add all the numbers for the UCOF revenue reforms, I can't honesty get past $200 million a year, for the system as a whole, and even that is going to take some time.

We've had the same funding model for thirty years - extramural funding and philanthropy mixed with declining state funds only partly replaced by rising tuition, with varieties of the backroom leveraging of the public money proceeding much as before.  Perhaps disappointment with the UCOF Report can send people to the Delta Cost Project and other sources of better models.

Educational Dimensions of Italian Riots

A UC colleague writes from Italy:
The riots broke out after Berlusconi's government – which is, among other things, attempting to pass a massive and massively impopular overhaul of the Italian universtity system, under the name of lega Gelmini – obtained a vote of confidence (fiducia) in the Chamber, amidst much manoeuvring, with Berlusconi thus managing to remain in power. The riots went on all afternoon and were extremely violent – in fact, by far the most violent Rome has witnessed in decades.

For further information, please see :
– a recent NYT article,  offering a reasonable (though very partial...) introduction to current student protests in Italy:
– The Guardian on the fiducia vote saving Berlusconi's head today and the subsequent student riots in Piazza del Popolo, in Rome
La Repubblica on today's riots in Rome,  and other student actions throughout the country
– The International Herald-Tribune's blog on the Rome riots, with plenty of links to videos of the events

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Student Cost Issues