Strategic planning forums let faculty, staff address pending growth issues

By Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs

25 April 2001 | As one of the steps in responding to Berkeley’s share of the expected tidal wave of new undergraduate students facing the UC system, the newly appointed Strategic Planning Committee met with faculty, staff and students in a series of forums this month to solicit feedback on three growth scenarios.

The scenarios under consideration are:
• Limiting the growth of academic programs and research facilities to stay within the footprint of the central campus.
• Expanding programs, research facilities and classroom space to contiguous space adjacent to the core campus and integrating growth with the revitalization of downtown.
• Developing satellite campuses at the Richmond Field Station, Oakland and San Francisco to accommodate enrollment and new research facilities for a broader array of academic and programmatic needs.

“These scenarios are planning tools, ways of thinking about the consequences of our expansion plans, so that we can sharpen our choices and develop a plan for academic and physical growth that matches our goals, but that also conforms to our choices of growth constraints,” said Vice Provost William Webster, co-chair along with David Dowall of the Strategic Planning Committee. “We are soliciting feedback from you to help us choose the best strategy.”

California is experiencing an unprecedented growth in college-bound students. As a result, UC has mandated that all campuses in the system grow to accommodate this demand, which has been dubbed Tidal Wave II. Compulsory enrollment growth, compounded by campus space and facilities constraints, as well as the SAFER seismic upgrading program, will challenge the campus’s ability to sustain the quality of its academic programs.

Campus planners and administrators will be involved in work to develop a new blueprint for strategic expansion of Berkeley’s academic programs, programmatic emphases and physical growth during the next year. In the next several months, Webster said, the Strategic Planning Committee will circulate a request for proposals to solicit new programmatic thrusts and select one of the scenarios now under consideration to use as a guide for development of the campus.

The committee will also work closely with Capital Projects to develop recommendations for the New Century Plan and Long Range Development Plan, which will guide growth over the next decade. A final report from the committee will be formally submitted to the Academic Senate and Chancellor’s Office in May 2002, Webster said.

To maintain academic excellence while accommodating approximately 4,000 new students in the next several years and strengthening programmatic goals, the campus is considering three ways of revamping the academic calendar:
• Retaining the semester system, but reducing it to 140 days of instructions — two 15-week semesters beginning after Labor Day and having a 10-week summer session
• Moving to a quarter system aligned with other UC campuses
• Moving to a trimester system with three 14-week teaching terms.

The first option is being seriously considered as the best way to restructure the academic calender, Webster said.
Concerns expressed most often by staff preparing for the increase of students centered on two issues: adding more employees to keep up with the workload; finding ways to ensure that the workload is reasonable and can be carried out in a 40-hour week.

Webster assured the audience that planners are addressing the need for additional staff. A redesign of the staff compensation system is being drafted as one way to attract more job-seekers to the university.

Other considerations are also being addressed as the campus plans for expansion. Some of the issues involve the future of online learning, lifelong learning and continuing education programs; the programmatic mix between the College of Letters and Science and the professional schools; the role, structure and status of interdisciplinary programs; and space availability for existing and new programs.


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