Students chatted with a few UC Regents, administrators and representatives Monday afternoon, voicing their various concerns about the University at its first student-focused online forum.
The web chats allowed students to contribute to the UC 2025 planning process launched by UC President Robert Dynes. The UC 2025 plan and its committee hope to identify the opportunities and challenges that will face the University in the future.
“President Dynes has launched a long-range planning initiative looking at what UC will need to look like in order to serve California well 20 years from now, and we want that effort to be informed by the perspectives of people throughout the UC community,” UC spokesman Brad Hayward said.
Faculty and alumni participated in similar online exchanges in November and December 2005, respectively. Hayward said the University hopes to gather a diverse group of individuals to comment on UC issues. Complete transcripts of the chats are available on the University’s website, at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/uc2025/webchats.html.
Another chat for staff members will be held on April 18 from noon to 1 p.m. Participants can sign up at the UC website 15 minutes before the chat starts.
Those unable to participate in the web chats are encouraged to submit their questions and comments through the site. According to the UC website, all comments will be forwarded to members of the UC 2025 committee.
Discussion topics in yesterday’s and other chat sessions included concerns over California’s aging population, telecommuting, diversity and tuition costs.
Student Regent Adam Rosenthal responded to questions in yesterday’s student chat, including a query about the high cost of registration fees.
“Fees in general have climbed due to the level of state funds available to UC coinciding with the state’s economic downturn,” Rosenthal said. “Despite the increase, UC has continued to commit itself to providing access for low-income households by tying fee increases to increases in financial aid.”
Meanwhile, UC Senior Vice President Bruce Darling answered a similar question about how to keep UC student fees within the same range as other public schools, such as the University of Michigan.
“The University has responded [to the rise in fees] by establishing the most significant student financial aid program in the country,” Darling said. “We would like to work with [students] to raise the awareness among our elected officials about the need to keep UC affordable to lower and middle-income families.”
In several exchanges during yesterday’s forum, chatters inquired over the potential of UC offering online courses. In the faculty chat last fall, Academic Council Chair Clifford Brunk said the UC offers many courses and course supplements online and that online involvement is expected to increase in the future.
However, Academic Council Vice Chair John Oakley said in last fall’s chat that he believes people still value face-to-face learning.
Hayward said the chats have a simple format.
“To keep the chat as easy to follow as possible, the moderator selects individual questions and comments to which the leaders of the chat will respond,” Hayward said. “Both the question, comment and the response is posted each time.”
UC 2025 planning co-chairs Darling and Active Provost Wyatt Hume moderated each chat.
The UC mediators assured participants that the UC is committed to keeping tuition lower than at private schools. They also said the UC strives to raise salaries to attract top-notch faculty.
Hayward said there was no firm count of participants in previous web chats, but he estimated a few dozen participants in each. He said he hopes for greater participation in the upcoming chats.