Campus Feels Effects of Budget Cuts, Welcomes Students
||Speakers at New Student Convocation included, from left, Chancellor Henry T. Yang, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young, and A.S. President Charlie Arreola.
By George Foulsham
Students, faculty, and staff returned to campus last month feeling the effects of massive cutbacks to the University of California budget by the state legislature. The UC system has been forced to cut more than $800 million out of its budget this year following the July agreement between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the legislature on how to deal with California’s massive $26 billion shortfall.
Furloughs, layoffs, and other budget reductions have had a wide impact throughout the UC system, and UCSB has been no exception. On Sept. 24, the first day of fall classes, an estimated 250 people gathered at The Arbor for a protest rally featuring speeches by faculty, students, and union members. A one-day strike was conducted on the same day by members of the University Professional and Technical Employees union.
During the summer, the campus held a series of Town Forums to share information about the budget cuts and resulting furloughs and layoffs, and to allow those attending to provide feedback to Chancellor Henry T. Yang, Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas, Academic Senate Chair Joel Michaelsen, and others. Those who spoke up included faculty, staff, union members and students.The chancellor heard a variety of suggestions and recommendations and used the information to prepare reports he presented at the UC Board of Regents meetings in July and September. At the September meeting in San Francisco, Yang was one of two chancellors invited to speak to the Regents about the issue. He told the group:
“What are the two things I am hearing most frequently on campus that our colleagues and students would like us — the chancellors, the President’s Office, and Regents — to do now? First, end the furlough program in the summer of 2010. Second, send strong messages to reaffirm to our political leaders the value of the University of California, the importance of ensuring its quality, and the need to keep higher education affordable for Californians.
“The future of California depends on investing in UC, rather than cutting UC.”
Later, speaking at New Student Convocation on Sept. 21, the chancellor told the assembled students: “We have been working very hard to absorb the budget cuts, while protecting our core mission of teaching, research, and public service. Our top priorities are to preserve the excellence of our outstanding teaching and research programs, the diversity of our campus community, and access and affordability for our students.”
Several of the speakers at the convocation ceremony touched on the budget and its impacts on the campus, but the overall mood was festive, as an overflow crowd of students gathered on the Faculty Club Green. David Marshall, executive dean of the College of Letters and Science, served as master of ceremonies. Other speakers were Michael Young, vice chancellor for student affairs; Charlie Arreloa, president of the Associated Students; and the keynote speaker, Diane Fujino, chair and associate professor of Asian American Studies. They were among 60 faculty members and campus officials in full academic regalia who joined the chancellor on stage.
Yang welcomed the students and encouraged them to make the most of their opportunities at UCSB.
“Today we celebrate an important milestone in your lives,” Yang said. “This is the beginning of a new intellectual adventure. … We are here to support you, to guide you, and to take this journey together with you. But the experience will be your very own.”