As UC-wide budget cuts begin taking root at UCSB, departments and student services are bracing for the $16 million shortfall.
To compensate for the deficit, the UCSB administration has called for upwards of 12 percent cuts from various divisions on campus. The current California budget crisis marks the fifth time in six consecutive years that the UC budget has been slashed system wide, and the cuts have top campus administrators concerned about UCSB’s future.
As a consequence of the university’s financial woes, Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said students will soon begin witnessing major changes across campus.
“In the classroom, we’ll see fewer TA’s, fewer classes and probably bigger classes will be offered, so the workload on the faculty will go up,” Lucas said.
Michael Young, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, said the current fiscal crisis confronting the university has the potential to be the ugliest wave to hit UCSB thus far.
“Since I’ve been Vice Chancellor – and this is my 19th year now – this is possibly [the] worst set of budget cuts we’ve experienced,” Young said.
According to Lucas, the Division of Student Affairs – which oversees the offices of Student Health, Career and Counseling Services, Educational Opportunity Program and the Office of Student Life, among others – will be one of the most impacted sectors on campus.
In addition to the impact the new budget strain will have on students, Lucas said the university’s hiring policies will drastically change.
“We’ve slowed down faculty hiring,” Lucas said. “Basically we’ll authorize no new searches for anybody for the next three years. If people retire, we’re not going to replace them.”
Young said the leadership of his division would try to meet the cuts in a manner that protects the university’s student services.
“We’re going to have to get somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million out of the Division [of Student Affairs],” Young said. “What we’re going to try to do is do it in a surgical and thoughtful way to minimize the impact on students and the staff that provide those services.”
Young said Student Affairs, like departments campus wide, will do everything possible to preserve the jobs, but may have to resort to layoffs.
“As a division, we instituted a hiring suspension and discretionary travel suspension as ways to aid departments to pull back to meet these cuts,” Young said. “The problem and concern is that the targets that we are looking at are so big that ultimately, there’s a reasonable chance that it will impact jobs. I think even though it is our intention to not have to resort to that, we are looking at the possibility of layoffs.”
Despite the seriousness of the fiscal climate on campus, Young said he is optimistic UCSB will recover.
“Yes, I am very worried that this will be a big problem for our society and campus,” Young said. “This is the worst financial crisis in my lifetime. Yes, I’m concerned for the future of campus and higher education. Do I believe we’re going to make it? Yes.”