ARCHIVE: UC Commission on the Future seeks new vision

This article originally was published Sept. 9, 2009.

Regents Chairman Russell Gould at the first meeting of the UC Commission on the Future called on members to do "nothing short of reimagining" the University of California.

At the Tuesday (Sept. 8) meeting, co-chairs Gould and UC President Mark Yudof laid out the scope and process for the group, which in forming its recommendations will reach out to the UC community, experts inside and outside the system and the public. A website where readers can make suggestions was launched at

The commission's goal is to develop a new vision for the university that affirms its core values of excellence and access while addressing financial challenges from declining state funding, currently a two-year $813 million budget cut.

"The candid truth is that the state of California has become an unreliable partner and has been an unreliable partner for years," Yudof said. "The commission is designed to take an integrated, holistic look at all of UC's priorities, knowing that we do not have the financial resources to maximize all of those values."

In today's budgetary climate, Yudof said, UC's policy decisions must be coordinated so that its educational, research and public service missions do not become competing interests fighting for the same resources.

"We cannot go on making budgetary allocations and endorsing programs one at a time without considering the impact on other priorities that we deem important," Yudof said.

At Tuesday's meeting, guest speaker Jane Wellman, executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability, said UC is grappling with issues facing universities across the country.

"The problems occurring in higher education are public policy challenges" that universities alone cannot solve, Wellman said. There's no silver bullet, but there are some innovative strategies in other states that UC can study and emulate.

"Recognize there's a greater opportunity than there may seem as you're sitting here this minute," she said.

The commission formed and named co-chairs for five working groups that will help define balance among the UC priorities.

The working groups are:

  • Size and shape of UC, chaired by UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal and UC Santa Barbara professor and commission member Cynthia Brown, will look into the appropriate enrollment levels and program offerings for the university going forward.
  • Education and curriculum, chaired by UC Berkeley School of Law Dean and commission member Christopher Edley and UC Davis professor Keith Williams, will look at whether there are alternative delivery models that will both maintain quality and lower costs.
  • Access and affordability, chaired by UC Student Regent Jesse Bernal and UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake, both commission members, will look into how UC can best meet the goals of providing an accessible and affordable education to a diverse student population in a climate of diminishing resources.
  • Funding strategies, co-chaired by UC Santa Barbara Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas and UCLA Vice Chancellor Steven Olsen, will study how to maximize revenue from traditional and alternative sources.
  • Research strategies, chaired by Academic Senate Immediate Past Chair Mary Croughan and UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang, both commission members, will look at how UC can utilize new models for research practices and collaboration, within and outside the system.

Members of the working groups will be drawn from commission members, UC Regents, faculty, students, staff, alumni, administration and others not affiliated with the university. Yudof is taking nominations from Academic Senate Chair and commission member Henry Powell, UC Student Association President and commission member Victor Sanchez and UC Staff Advisor to the Regents and commission member Edward Abeyta.

"It is crucial that we have the full engagement of the entire UC community and the broadest possible consultation," Gould said.

Members of each working group will be named later this month, and meetings will commence in late September or early October.

The commission plans to spend most of the rest of the year exploring the issues and will begin framing recommendations in early 2010. A review of recommendations is set for February, and the commission is scheduled to present a final proposal to the Regents at their meeting in March.

"With the talent, creativity and expertise assembled in this room, I have every confidence that we will succeed," Gould said.