Faculty unites to fight fee hikes
If the message was not clear before, the department heads of the
UCLA College are making sure their message about UCLA’s
graduate programs are now heard loud and clear by the
administration: The governor’s proposed cuts without adequate
compensation from the university is unacceptable.
Faced with a graduate fee increase of 40 percent in the
governor’s proposed budget, department chairs collaboratively
sent a letter to Chancellor Albert Carnesale and Executive Vice
Chancellor Daniel Neuman on March 31 that, in a tone of urgency,
pleads for additional funding for the graduate program.
Authored by Professor Roger Waldinger, chairman of the sociology
department, on behalf of 30 department chairs, the letter asks for
“an immediate commitment” for a permanent $2 million to
graduate funding in the 2004-05 academic year. The letter also
calls for additional commitments of $1 million per year for the two
following academic years.
The department heads said the future of UCLA’s reputation
depends on the quality of its graduate programs, and without the
much-needed funding, the university will be unable to compete with
other universities for top graduate students.
“We must emphasize that we are in a crisis. The gravity of
the situation requires your immediate action; it demands that you
be willing to take unusual measures,” Waldinger wrote.
The letter also states that these additional funds should be
made without any reduction in the support of recruiting and
The letter was sent after both Carnesale and Neuman met with
many of the chairs in a March 24 meeting to discuss the issue.
In a response addressed to Waldinger, Carnesale acknowledged the
problem at hand but said the requests are impossible to meet.
“I understand the attractiveness of allocating additional
funds to graduate student support without decreasing funding for
anything else. Unfortunately, this is not among the options
realistically available to us in the near term.”
Still, Carnesale added that some positive steps will be taken to
remedy the situation.
“Before the end of this academic year, we will announce a
special fundraising campaign focused solely on endowed
professorships, graduate student fellowships and undergraduate
scholarships,” Carnesale wrote.
Some administrators say steps that are being taken to solve the
problem will include difficult trade-offs between other much needed
“Immediately and in a significant way, the campus is going
to have to put money toward graduate support. This is going to
involve taking money from other places, but this hard decision is
going to have to be made,” said Jim Turner, assistant vice
chancellor for the Graduate Division. “How much money and
where the money is coming from is the question.”
Faced with the budget crisis, professors believe that the only
way to continue to appeal to quality graduate students is to cover
the cost of fee increases. The requested funds will only cover a
portion of the fee increases for some graduate students.
Department chairs say quality graduate students will only be
attracted to UCLA if the faculty remains at its same quality. But
they also believe that if the same quality of graduate students are
not attending UCLA, the faculty will also leave.
Many chairmen said the issue of graduate funding will cause a
“snowball effect,” which will in turn affect the
quality of education undergraduate students receive in years to
Professor Timothy Tangherlini, chairman of the Scandinavian
department, said the only way to attract the most qualified
graduate students is to offer them the same amount of money
competing schools are offering them.
“We wanted to make absolutely clear that you can’t
have a great research university without graduate support. We need
a recruitment and retention fund for faculty because if we
don’t get this, we won’t have strong graduate
fellowship packages. Without the best graduate students, you
won’t have the best faculty,” Tangherlini said.
“UCLA has done a fabulous job of building an elite
reputation; however, this reputation can be damaged very
quickly,” Tangherlini added.
Turner, like many professors at UCLA, has acknowledged that UCLA
has fallen behind other universities in terms of how much support
the university awards each graduate student.
“Our competitors are offering three to four thousand more
dollars than we are offering, yet the cost of living here in Los
Angeles is so much higher than anywhere else,” Turner
College department chairs collaborated for the first time in
January, sending an unprecedented letter to the University of
California Board of Regents, urging the regents to reject the
governor’s proposed budget.