By Carolyn McMillan
University of California President Mark G. Yudof presented the Board of Regents Wednesday (May 15) with a report that charted the significant changes of the past six years and offered a candid assessment of how UC is performing today.
Yudof, who will step down in August after serving five years, said he had prepared the data-driven "white paper" to offer an overview of the significant trends and policy choices that might await the next president.
"To the best of my ability, I've tried to outline the good, the bad and the ugly — and there's some of each," Yudof said.
On the bright side, the University of California continues to shine when it comes to serving first-generation and low-income Californians.
The report notes that four out of 10 UC students are eligible for Pell Grants, meaning they come from families with annual incomes of $50,000 or less. That's nearly double the average of other members of the Association of American Universities. And four UC campuses — Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego and Davis — each enroll more Pell Grant recipients than the entire Ivy League.
"The numbers do underscore the university's rare and defining ability to serve vast numbers of disadvantaged students, while still producing research of world-class quality," Yudof said. "Many universities can achieve one of these two results. But it's quite rare to achieve both."
The paper also details the steep drop in state financial support since 2007-08, and the reverberations that has had on tuition levels, faculty hiring and lagging salaries. Over the past six years, UC's state appropriation has dropped by 27 percent, while mandatory expenditures have gone up by 15 percent.
Yudof said that even though the university's financial outlook has improved slightly for the coming year, the "fiscal and societal ground has shifted" when it comes to support for funding public higher education — and is unlikely to return to the heyday of earlier years.
"More and more, the value of an education is seen as a private good, bestowed on those individuals who receive it, as opposed to a public good that nourishes society at large," he wrote in the report.
Regents welcomed his assessment, and said it would prove valuable as they looked ahead.
"It's candid, it's complete, and in many ways, it's a road map for our future," said Regent Russell Gould.