Investigation of University of California system’s finances

A new two-person committee will investigate the University of California (UC) system’s finances in order to determine how much state funding it should receive.

The two committee members, California governor and UC Board of Regents President Jerry Brown and UC president and former governor of Arizona Janet Napolitano, have vowed to work together in an effort to agree on issues such as state funding, tuition increases and staff pay.

The newly formed council, the Regents’ Select Advisory Committee on the Cost Structure of the University, was originally proposed by Governor Brown in November to avoid raising costs for university students.

Brown believes in a more conservative approach for the UC system, urging students to graduate as soon as possible (optimally in 3-4 years), paying staff less and putting more emphasis on online education. Brown also wants to connect the California State University and California Community College programs with the UC establishment more closely.

On the other hand, Napolitano favors salary increases, more money from the state and raising tuition by 28 percent in the coming five years. Tuition is already expected to jump five percent by 2016.

Currently, the state of California grants $3 billion annually to UC schools, providing 11 percent of the total yearly budget. Recently, the 2015-2016 state budget raised university funds by $119 million due to pressure from the UC system.

Though Brown and Napolitano have differing views regarding financial policy, their agreement to work together will unite two influential California figures and give the committee proper recognition and press coverage.

UC’s Board of Regents formally approved the committee on Jan. 21, and the two members will begin meetings on Jan. 26 to map out plans for the future.

Regent Sherry Lansing is in favor of the new committee.

“I believe they are going to come to a conclusion that is going to be very beneficial for all of us,” Lansing said.

In addition to state funding, tuition cost and staff pay, Napolitano and Brown, along with their respective office staff members and members of the Department of Finance, will research university costs, course structure and UC workers’ benefits.

“We are going to be engaged deeply and holistically in looking at the university and its future,” Napolitano said.

The committee will have gatherings where experts from around California and the United States will present information pertinent to Napolitano and Brown’s studies.

Facts from the expert hearings will be subsequently analyzed and used in Brown and Napolitano’s reports, which will be presented to at a meeting of UC Regents.

Meetings will not be public due to the higher efficiency of private conferences.

Concerning the committee’s studies, Brown says that he wants to be firmly in touch with reality.

“I would like to look at this, not at a rhetorical or abstract level, but at a concrete level,” Brown said

As of now, the first report is scheduled to be presented at a regents meeting from March 18 through 19 at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay Campus.

Though the committee has the approval of the UC Regents, not all Paly students are thrilled by the current size of the board.

“I think a bigger board would be able to make better decisions,” sophomore Alec Cohen-Schisler said.

“Students wishing to apply to the UC system might be discouraged by rising prices.”

Whatever the future for the UC system may be, the new council for finance has established one clear goal: changing current policies.