by Fernando Quintero
Following the Sept. 18 Board of Regents meeting in which plans for faculty and staff salary increases were discussed, the regents endorsed a proposal for raises effective Nov. 1.
In other action, a plan by UC President Richard Atkinson to make health care benefits and student housing available to same-sex partners was stalled after Regent John G. Davies announced that "Gov. Wilson has conveyed serious concerns" about the plan for domestic partner benefits.
Funding for salary and merit increases for all eligible faculty totaled 7 percent, including a 3 percent parity raise to bring their salaries closer in line with colleagues at comparable research universities.
The funding pool made available for salary increases for eligible staff is up to 4 percent, but may vary by campus. (See next week's Berkeleyan for details.) It includes a 2 percent range adjustment.
This summer, state legislators and Gov. Wilson approved a UC state budget of $2.18 billion, a 5.9 percent increase, or $121.4 million in state general funds over that provided last year.
However, as part of an effort to balance the state budget, UC must make a one-time $12 million undesignated cut in its operating budget.
Restoring the funding will be sought in UC's 1998-99 budget plan.
Larry Hershman, UC budget director, told the regents at the Sept. 18 meeting in San Francisco that a one-month delay in salary increases-until Nov. 1-would save the university $6 million.
Another $6 million could be saved by withholding half of the $12 million available for deferred maintenance.
Hershman added that a bill currently up before Gov. Wilson would add $2.5 million to help make up for the undesginated cut.
"Overall, I'd say we're in pretty good shape," said Hershman. "Given our relatively healthy economy, the future looks promising."
Pay increases for UC staff would essentially catch up with increases previously provided to state employees. Faculty increases would bring them to within 1.6 percent of the average pay at UC's eight comparison institutions.
The regents also approved a 4 percent increase for UC President Atkinson, whose salary will increase to $263,500 from $253,300.
The chancellors received merit increases averaging 3.9 percent.
In addition to merit raises, some senior management employees received salary increases to correct market-related salary inequities where UC pay lags significantly behind comparable universities.
When the issue of benefits for domestic partners came up later at the Sept. 19 meeting, Regent Davies urged others to wait until the November meeting to consider the change in policy.
"I'm concerned about the effect this would have on budget negotiations in Sacramento," said Davies.
But Regent Ward Connerly urged his fellow board members to "act now," he said. "Every day we delay this matter, we are saying to somebody, 'Your circumstances don't matter that much.'"
Regent Roy Brophy, a supporter of the domestic partners plan who chairs the Board Finance Committee, ended his committee session by directing Atkinson to proceed with the plan.
But about 45 minutes later, at the end of a closed session on UC's contracts with the U.S. Department of Energy, board Chair Tirso del Junco said the matter was being placed on the agenda for the next board meeting in November.
The politically charged Thursday session began with testimony from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and several members of his Rainbow Coalition.
They called for the recision of the regents' July 1994 decision which ended affirmative action policies in admissions and hiring.
Assembly Speaker Cruz Bustamante (D-Fresno), who made an appearance at the regents' meeting and was recognized by the board for his legislative efforts on behalf of the university, joined in the call to revoke the university's new admissions policy.
Regent William T. Bagley, among others, expressed regret over the controversial decision which has already resulted in dramatic drops in minority admissions at UC's professional schools.