A modest proposal for the University of California

UC schools shouldn't count on state funds for financial stability, as California barely balanced its just-passed budget. Here's a proposal for keeping UC schools great.

Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / File
UCLA, shown here in a file photo from October 1997, looks like an Ivy League school, but if University of California wants to package itself as one of the best universities in the country, it needs to conduct and finance itself the same way, featuring alumni donations, high tuition, a geographically diverse population, rigorous PhD programs, and more.

Here is the recently released master plan for keeping the University of California great. The short version is posted here.

Permit me to offer my alternative plan for keeping the University of California great.

1. Given that Stanford and Harvard are UCLA's peer group, we will charge a tuition that is 25% lower than their tuition. From a student's perspective, UCLA will continue to be a bargain.

2. Out of state students will be 40% of the entering class each. This will allow us to continue to attract excellent students and attract new blood to California.

3. Given that faculty are the intellectual center of research and teaching at the UC, funds will be used to recruit and retain excellent faculty of all ranks. The university will make a serious investment in offering more PHD student stipends to attract excellent students.

4. The UC will recognize that Sacramento will no longer be an important source of revenue for the University. The University will mimic private universities such as USC, Dartmouth and Princeton and begin a a major effort to connect with successful past graduates.

5. The University will commit to each Department to a five year planning horizon so that each Department knows exactly how many faculty slots it will be allowed to fill each year. Smoothed Budgeting will be implemented to insure departments against wild "boom and bust" cycles that lower morale and lead to anger and frustration. This consistent planning will send clear signals to risk averse faculty concerning the direction for their Department.


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