The UCSB Academic Senate’s Faculty Legislature met yesterday to discuss the university’s future.
Members representing all five working groups of the UC Commission on the Future — a systemwide organization consisting of faculty, staff and student representatives from every campus who share their opinions on the University’s path in the face of increasing budget shortfall — claimed the main share of the meeting. Topics of discussion also included newly released application data for UCSB and a variety of budgetary concerns.
According to Chancellor Henry T. Yang, the number of freshman applicants for 2010-11 has risen significantly over last year. Student applicants to UCSB’s undergraduate programs have increased by 4.5 percent, climbing up to 46,672 applications.
This year’s pool of potential freshmen also boasts higher academic marks than its 2009 counterpart. Yang said the average GPA is slightly higher, up from 3.71 to 3.74, while the average SAT score has increased from 1739 to 1752 from last year. However, the most unprecedented change is the 22 percent boost in transfer applicants, totaling 12,320 students this year.
In light of the unprecedented influx of applicants, representatives discussed the upcoming budgetary constraints the university faces.
Despite calling for $913 million in state funding, Gov. Schwarzenegger announced that the state will only be able to fund $370 million of the UC’s budget request. To his trepidation, Yang said, the governor usually introduces a revised budget cut in May, which could go either way.
“This could result in either increases or decreases in state funding for UC,” Yang said. “This is our most urgent task in the near future.”
The legislature also heard detailed reports from representatives of the groups examining the UC’s future — in fact, four of the UC Commission on the Future’s co-chairs hail from UCSB. At yesterday’s meeting, professor Cynthia Brown led the “Size and Shape” group discussion; Yang headed “Research Strategies;” Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas directed “Funding Strategies;” and Student Regent Jesse Bernal represented “Access and Affordability.” Joel Michaelson, the Academic Senate Chair and geography professor, spoke for “Education and Curriculum.”
Although Yang said his group was optimistic for the university’s future, they also expressed concern about the source of funding for a number of proposed projects from fellow working groups.
Brown said the “Size and Shape” committee is about to launch its most important phase but is unsure where the money for its projects will come from.
“Maintaining excellence and quality is the priority,” Brown said. “But we’re not at a stage right now where we can discuss those issues. Faculty are speaking well and being heard well.”
When talk turned to UCSB’s role as a research institution, Italian professor Claudio Fogu said that since UCSB is a multi-dimensional school, research funding should be evenly distributed among all disciplines — an ideal, he said, that has not been upheld.