Confronted with an unprecedented $800 million budget deficit for the 2009-10 school year, University of California officials are considering salary reductions and furloughs to compensate for this overwhelming financial gap.

The UC Office of the President recently sent out a letter and memorandum to all UC employees, in which UC President Mark G. Yudof outlined three options for reducing spending on each UC campus: an 8 percent salary decrease from August 2009 through July 2010; 21 unpaid days (a combination of holidays and scheduled furloughs); or 12 unpaid days plus a 3.4 percent salary reduction. Each of these proposals would translate into $195 million net savings for the UC system, which would cover roughly 25 percent of the 10-campuswide $800 million budget reduction.

According to a statement from Yudof released June 17, 2009, approved student fee increases totaling $211 million will account for about one quarter of the budget deficit. This amount, in addition to the above estimations for pay cuts and furloughs, will account for roughly half of the budget shortfall.

“The remainder of the projected cuts will fall to the campuses, and likely will affect course availability, class size, student services and other aspects of the educational program. … Campuses have already begun eliminating positions, imposing severe restrictions on faculty hiring and eliminating or modifying programs,” Yudof said.

UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang said President Yudof is encouraging campus officials to respond to the letter with comments.

“The salary cuts and furloughs now being discussed are among the options the University of California is consulting thoroughly about and carefully considering in addressing the unprecedented budget shortfalls in the 2009-10 state budget,” Yang said in an e-mail. “UC President Yudof recently shared with all the UC campuses and our faculty and staff members a summary of possible options to help achieve significant budget reductions, and he has asked for comments on these possible approaches.”

Yang said UCSB expects a $40 million budget decrease in the coming fiscal year from the $800 million systemwide deficit.

“The final UC budget will not be approved until after a budget has been adopted by the state of California,” Yang said. “While the legislature and governor continue their deliberations, we now have a better understanding of the magnitude of the budget problem at the campus level and we must begin to address those needed cuts immediately.”

Yang said UCSB officials are working hard to avoid layoffs during this unparalleled budget crisis.

“Our campus has a Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy…[and the] principles that guide its work make it clear that every effort should be made to avoid layoffs or furloughs by taking advantage of normal attrition, planned retirements, voluntary reductions and all other possible means of budget reductions,” Yang said. “They also state that we will do all in our ability to protect the quality of the instructional program and to ensure that any budget reductions cause minimal disruption to student academic programs.”

Professor Joel Michaelsen, co-chair of the UCSB Coordinating Committee on Budget Strategy, said even with the proposed salary reductions and furloughs, he anticipates layoffs will occur.

“Salary cuts are a way to avoid more layoffs,” Michaelsen said. “I think there certainly will be some layoffs, but not nearly as many as there would be if we weren’t looking at these salary reductions.”

Michaelsen said the options discussed in President Yudof’s letter will likely be decided on by late July.

“The salary reduction will probably be applied uniformly across all campuses and I believe President Yudof hopes to propose a financial plan to the Regents in July,” Michaelsen said. “As far as a total budget cut for the [2009-10] year, our target will depend on when the state legislature gets the budget passed, but hopefully sometime later this summer.”