UCSB is facing one of the worst financial crunches the campus has seen in years, administrators say.
Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas estimates that the university must cut about $12 million this year to deal with the paltry budget handed down by the state last month. The budget cuts, which were finalized by the University of California yesterday, will affect almost every corner of the campus, Lucas and other administrators said.
This “budget redistribution,” which amounts to about a 6.5 percent cut across the board, will cap off a decade full of budget woes for the campus. Since 2003, divisions throughout the university have had their budgets slashed year after year. Student Affairs, for example, has seen its budget cut by 18.5 percent in the last five years, Vice Chancellor Michael Young said.
And while UCSB has rolled with the punches in the past, administrators say the current situation is distressing. Typically, Assistant Chancellor for Budget and Planning Todd Lee said, the university needs five to six years between budget cuts to absorb the financial sting. This year, the campus will have only one.
“What’s happening this year is essentially no recovery,” Lee said. “This is going to be very difficult for us.”
Students will likely feel the burn this year, too, Lucas said. Students can expect fewer classes and TAs, a lower hiring rate for professors, and shorter administrative hours across campus. The campus will get dirtier, Lucas said; repairs will be deferred and the quality of instructional equipment will continue to decline.
As in years past, the real brunt of the cuts will fall on campus employees. Individual workloads are up and hiring is down this year, Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Donna Carpenter said. The entire division of Student Affairs, for one, has initiated a hiring freeze Young said, and others are selectively filling empty positions. And while administrators said every effort was being made to retain jobs, they made sure to note that nothing is certain.
“We’ve used up all the easy and medium solutions — so now we face some really terrible ones,” Lucas said.
Moreover, because the school does not distribute budget cuts evenly, some departments on campus will inevitably take much deeper cuts this fiscal year.
In the past, divisions light on research and heavy on personnel took the cuts on the nose. Both the divisions of Student Affairs and Administrative Services have had their budgets cut by about 18 percent in the last decade, Young and Carpenter said.
Carpenter, whose division has not yet recovered from previous cuts, said if this year’s reduction is much larger than anticipated, her staff would pay the price.
“If the cut is 10 percent, then absolutely there will be layoffs — there’s no way around that,” Carpenter said.
To make matters worse for the campus, the UC received its budget from the state almost three months late this year. Thanks to partisan squabbling in Sacramento, the UC spent 85 days in limbo this summer, waiting for a tentative budget.
When the state funding finally came, it was about the same as 2007’s; however, $3.356 billion doesn’t stretch as far as it did a year ago, and with climbing enrollment and inflation on the rise, the UC system effectively took a $100 million cut.
To top off the $100 million, UC will also be taking $33 million in mid-year cuts, Lucas said.
UC President Mark Yudof was not optimistic in a press release, warning that the UC was not out of the storm yet.
“It is evident that the turmoil in the international and national equity, housing and credit markets will cause continuing erosion in the state’s economy,” Yudof said. “As such, we must view this budget as just the beginning of potential further state budget reductions this year or next year.”
UCSB’s campus-specific budget will be finalized in the coming weeks, but Lucas said he was not certain of its finality. He feared the potential of another mid-year cut in the UC’s 2008-09 budget.
Lee, lamenting the strained budget, said that without any years to recoup losses and with mid-year cuts ever looming, there are few ways to combat the crisis.
“You go from being proactive to fighting fires all the time,” he said.