Sunday, October 22

Chancellor Gene Block targets five areas for long-term improvement to make UCLA more financially self-sufficient


Olivia Anthony

Even before the UC Board of Regents proposed an 8 percent fee increase, UCLA was considering ways to make the university more financially self-sufficient.

Chancellor Gene Block identified five areas the university will target to help offset an unpredictable state budget.

Under Block’s five points, UCLA is working to reduce academic costs, increase nonresident enrollment, secure more philanthropic donations, offer more self-supporting degree programs, and expand intellectual property.

“The state is not going to have substantial resources to invest in education … for quite some time,” Block said in a Nov. 5 meeting with the Daily Bruin editorial board.

The UC also faces several cost increases associated with an underfunded retirement plan and increases in staff salaries.

“We are keeping our heads barely above water,” said Judi Smith, vice provost of undergraduate education. “Students now have to bear problems they had not had to bear when the state was in good health. I don’t know how the state will be in the future.”

UCLA’s response to budget cuts over the past 20 years has been to take on the costs as they come rather than offset them in advance, said Scott Waugh, executive vice chancellor and provost.

“That’s what ties all of (Block’s) five points together,” Waugh said. “(We are finding) a strategy for trying to cope with what’s really a terrible position and come out on top.”

But some of Block’s points conflict.

For example, the university plans to save money by replacing faculty at a slower rate.

Administrators, though, do not want to jeopardize UCLA’s research quality, and fewer faculty researchers could impede efforts to expand intellectual property, Waugh said.

“There are many, many factors that inform the decision to hire more faculty, and we are all quite cognizant that we need to hire good faculty,” Waugh said. Still, “it’s prudent not to hire as many.”

One of Block’s other points involves increasing the enrollment of nonresident students, which could be a problem because UCLA students have already seen course offerings shrink and class sizes increase.

The benefit of higher tuition paid by nonresident students is that it will fund positions for faculty and lecturers, Waugh said.

The university will have to find a balance between these elements, Waugh said.

Degree programs for people not enrolled in undergraduate or graduate schools also present a way to generate new profits.

Some academic departments offer degree programs to members of the community. Waugh said this provides broader access to UCLA’s educational resources and so serves an important purpose.

“We’re not just selling degrees,” Waugh said.

With reports by Shoshee Jau, Bruin reporter.

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