The University of California Board of Regents approved UCSB’s Long Range Development Plan as well as changes to the UC’s retirement policy after their meeting last week.
The LRDP — UCSB’s comprehensive expansion plan to welcome an additional 5,000 undergraduate students and 1,400 faculty members on campus by 2025 — calls for an additional 1.8 million square feet of academic space and a significant increase in university housing. The new retirement policy, on the other hand, seeks to augment employee and university contributions to the UC system-wide pension plan.
UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang said he attributes much of the LRDP’s success to cooperative effort between the university and surrounding community.
“The plans that we presented to the Regents are the culmination of an extensive process of consultation and collaboration — both within our campus and with our partners in the community,” Yang said in a statement.
After it was amended to incorporate the environmental concerns of the community at large — the boards considered more than 60 community presentations — the LRDP was unanimously endorsed by the Goleta City Council and Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors earlier this month.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Paul Desruisseaux said the university’s dedication to pleasing all the parties involved has made the plan more comprehensive.
“One of the things [Chancellor Yang] is most proud of is the cooperative way in which the campus has worked this plan through all the agencies and jurisdictions,” Desruisseaux said. “The Chancellor has emphasized that the plan has been improved as a result of all these interactions with groups like Sustainable University Now, the city of Goleta, the county of Santa Barbara and many other people who have weighed in on this throughout the process.”
Every UC campus is required by the UC Office of the President to develop a novel development plan almost every 15 years. According to a press release, the UCSB campus plan — dubbed Vision 2025 — has been in its planning stages for several years.
While the Regents’ approval is a significant step toward the LRDP’s execution, the plan must also be approved by the California Coastal Commission before it can be implemented.
Additionally, in an attempt to remedy significant shortfalls in the UC retirement budget, the Board also voted to increase both employee and university contributions to the pension fund.
According to the plan laid out by the UC Post-Employment Benefit Task Force, contributions will rise from 2 to 3.5 percent for employees and from 4 to 7 percent for the University by July 2011. Additionally, payments will increase to 5 percent and 10 percent, respectively, the following year. Union employees will negotiate their rates through collective bargaining.
While some are concerned that the policy change will affect the UC’s competitive edge in recruiting faculty and staff, UCOP Media Relations Director Peter King said the fact that the UC even offers a retirement plan is significant.
“They have to contribute a small amount, but if you look at the big picture we are still an attractive employer and will continue to be,” King said. “This is a forward looking step to make sure [employees’ pensions] remain secure in the future. We want to ensure they will be as healthy in 50 years as they are today.”
Although the retirement fund was overfunded a mere three years ago, King said demographic changes, market losses and decline in state funding have yielded a shortfall. King also said the UC and its employees will need to contribute a combined 17.6 percent of their annual payroll to the pension program in order to make a dent in the deficit.
“One of the things they did was they rearranged the time schedule of paying the program back into health so that the operating budget is affected less,” King said. “And we’re confident that everybody who has a pension and benefits will be secure.”
Other policy amendments regarding the UC retirement plan will be considered by the Board during their upcoming meetings.