Dean: Deficits Compel Extension Cuts
By Vic Cox
Extended Learning Services’ recently announced planned reduction in Extension programs and concurrent cuts in teacher and staff support are largely due to a growing budget deficit and falling student enrollments, said Loy Lytle, dean of ELS.
To halt the hemorrhaging of an average of $1 million a year over the last five fiscal years, UCSB Extension will discontinue eight academic programs as of March 31, relocate classrooms and administrative offices to the main campus, and institute a “restructuring plan” that Lytle believes will result in a stronger, more streamlined operation. Unfortunately, one of the results will also cut Extension’s total staff from 41 to 23 employees, he notes.
Student enrollment over this same period has fluctuated, as have course offerings, from a high of 8,348 enrollees in 2004-05 to last year’s 7,020.
“Some of the reductions in our courses and programs (in recent years) constituted one of our administrative efforts to reduce our operating expenses,” said Lytle. Some reductions “have been associated with our ongoing efforts to update, streamline, and/or improve our certificate programs to better meet the educational needs of students…”
The decision to apply radical surgery to Extension fell to Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas, who had convened a task force last fall to identify his options. “Extended Learning was running a significant deficit despite numerous—and imaginative—attempts by Dean Lytle to turn the financial situation around,” said Lucas.
“I value Extended Learning,” continued Lucas, “and it is my sincere hope and expectation that the steps we have taken will lead to its success in the Santa Barbara region.” Lytle noted that earlier plans to save money—Extension operates on a self-sustaining basis—by consolidating classrooms from the Hollister Research Center to the administrative center on Storke Road, which mostly serviced international students, failed in 2002 when a zoning variance was not granted by the City of Goleta.
Currently, he said, more than $500,000 is paid each year in rent and utilities/maintenance costs. Since these charges have contributed “well over half of the cumulative financial deficit,” he hopes that moving on campus will contribute greatly to trimming back the deficit.
As a self-supporting unit, Extension receives no money from the state of California and relies on grants and enrollees’ fees for its income. “No state money has been or will be used to cover the losses,” said Lytle.
The ELS service area covers four counties—Santa Barbara, Ventura, Kern, and San Luis Obispo—and more than 2 million people.