The University of California Office of the President may cut expenses by up to 50 percent following a report published by a consulting group.
The Huron Consulting Group Inc. recommended overhauling UCOP’s structure by taking steps such as moving management of the UC medical systems to a statewide network, relocating programs to other campuses, eliminating postdoctoral fellowships and cutting funds for some departments. They also suggested UCOP cut up to $50 million from its $883 million budget and eliminate up to 110 of its 1,790 positions.
The firm also recommended UCOP save costs by moving UC Press, the University’s academic publisher, to UCLA, the UC Education Abroad Program to UC Santa Barbara and the Division of Agricultural and National Resources to UC Davis.
UCOP commissioned the report in September following calls from state legislators to reduce costs. A state audit released last year criticized UCOP for misleading budgeting practices that resulted in an undisclosed $175 million surplus.
UC spokesperson Dianne Klein said UC President Janet Napolitano commissioned the report to find ways to more efficiently run the office, and added it was not mandated by the state. She said although the state has pressured the office to make changes, the Huron report is more extensive than state audits because the office wants to make full use of its limited resources, as opposed to cutting them.
“From Huron’s view, it’s what makes sense, what will increase efficiency. This is not an exercise necessarily for cost savings,” Klein said. “Though they believe, as do we, that there will be savings down the line.”
Klein said UCOP may have to cut staff in certain areas as programs are reorganized or outsourced to the UC campuses, but added the office has not made any official decisions on which programs to cut.
“As certain tasks are no longer relevant to what we are doing, maybe that function goes away and another replaces it,” she said. “The goal of this was not to cut, it was to optimize and to look for efficiencies and to streamline, with reason.”
UCOP will announce potential changes roughly around the regent meetings in March and May, Klein said. She added the first round of decisions will focus on minor budgetary changes and accounting.
Student Regent Paul Monge said he thinks the public wants to make sure UCOP is held accountable for spending tax money efficiently.
“From my understanding, part of the motivation is for UCOP to show a good faith effort of exploring cost-saving options within its budget,” he said. “At least it will show UCOP is serious about lowering costs of the office.”
He added he wants to make sure critical programs UCOP funds, including those that support undocumented students and students struggling with food insecurity, are not affected by budget cuts.
Devon Graves, the student regent-designate, said he thinks the review will help the office make sure its programs truly benefit students.
“It would make sure funds are used efficiently to provide students with the best campus resources possible,” he said.