UC Initiative Seeks Greater Efficiencies
AT THE MAY meeting of the Board of Regents, senior UC administrators described a new regimen of administrative and financial efficiencies that so far has allowed the university to redirect hundreds of millions of dollars to its core academic and research mission, and promises to yield even greater savings in the next several years.
“Every dollar we save in operating costs is a dollar that can go toward preserving the academic and research mission,” said Nathan Brostrom, UC’s executive vice president for business operations. “We’ve done a lot in the past few years to cut costs, and now we’re looking more broadly.”
Regents Chair Russell Gould and UC President Mark G. Yudof directed Brostrom and Peter Taylor, chief financial officer, to work with the campuses and return to the Regents in two months with a fully developed initiative that will set a timeline for greater savings.
“It is essential we operate as efficiently as possible, and I am 100 percent behind this initiative,” said Yudof. “But it is imperative to understand that this will defray only a small portion of our shortfall. There has been a decline of roughly 50 percent in state-appropriated funds per student since 1990, resulting in higher student fees, furloughs and stagnant salaries for faculty and staff, as well as reductions to the academic program.”
Gould noted that the efficiencies push is a top priority, not only for the Regents, but also for UC’s Commission on the Future.
Administrative restructuring first began in fiscal year 2007-08, when the Office of the President underwent downsizing and a reorganization that resulted in annual cost savings of roughly $55 million. Other streamlining efforts — including the deployment of new financial, procurement, and risk management tools — resulted in another $177 million in annual cost savings, as well as $388 million in avoided costs and new revenues.
Individual campuses also engaged in restructuring efforts, have begun looking at ways to share administrative resources among multiple locations, such as shared research computing, regional data centers, and the creation of service clusters where multiple campuses can avoid duplication of student services and other administrative functions.
“We want to harness all the innovation going on at the campuses for the betterment of the whole,” Brostrom said.
Despite administrative cost savings, UC faces revenue shortfalls of nearly $237 million for the current fiscal year, even with the most optimistic revenue projections, including restoration of $305 million in state funding, cut in 2009-10.