Regents review long-range planning, salary issues

By Marina Dundjerski, UCLA Today

25 September 2002 | In the first of a series of discussions on planning and policy issues that will shape the University of California’s ten-campus system over the next two decades, UC administrators identified for the Board of Regents, meeting in San Francisco Sept. 19, several key “warning” areas they are monitoring closely.

During a four-hour discussion on how to maintain excellence while undergoing exceptional growth, administrators cited “green” areas in which they felt UC was performing well. These, they said, include undergraduate and graduate enrollment, financial aid, research funding, and rankings of departments and programs. Among “yellow” areas they marked for caution were faculty hiring, staff salaries, facilities, and graduate and academic support.

No areas are yet in the “red” zone (calling for immediate evaluation), said Larry Hershman, UC vice president for budget — but facilities such as research laboratories and classrooms are in danger of falling into that category.

“If future bond measures fail and future state capital funding is reduced, our instruction and research space will drop to 78 percent of the standard necessary to support increased enrollment levels,” Hershman said.

Between 1995 and 2025, California is projected to be the fastest-growing state, with its population jumping by more than 56 percent. By the year 2025, it is expected, 33 percent of the state’s residents will be under age 20. That translates into many more individuals of college-bound age in California.

“The challenge here is another period of dramatic growth,” Hershman said. “Are we going to not only be able to sustain that quality of excellence but improve that quality? That’s the challenge for all of us.”

Already, the UC system has enrolled 4,000 students over budget, Hershman said. Said Regent John Davies, “After 2020, it sounds like we’re going to have to start talking about the 11th campus and what effect that has on the allocation of our resources.”

Another major concern brought before the regents: faculty and staff salaries falling behind market levels.

While the university has done extremely well in the quality of its faculty hires, UC has fallen 7 percent behind the faculty salary average of the Comparison Eight institutions, said C. Judson King, UC provost and senior vice president. That is a critical point, he said, at a time when the university expects to hire hundreds of faculty annually to accommodate growing student enrollments.

A survey of “first-offer” faculty candidates who declined appointments to UC in 2001-02 found that the top reason for going elsewhere was salary, followed, respectively, by spousal employment, family/geographic considerations and housing problems.

Faculty who resigned in the same time period cited salary, family/geographic considerations, housing problems, spousal employment concerns, and lack of research money as their reasons for leaving.

Fortunately, said UC President Richard Atkinson, most private universities — with which the UC competes for faculty — will not be expanding as much as UC. “We’ll be the research institution that will be hiring the most,” Atkinson said. “I think the supply will be out there, and the supply will respond. But it’s an issue to keep in mind.”

Staff salaries are also falling behind and are a “very high priority” as UC officials look ahead, Hershman said. On a positive note, UC’s turnover rate for career staff is lower than that of other large employers in the West, according to data from the Bureau of National Affairs.


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Copyright 2002, The Regents of the University of California.
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