Tuesday, December 27, 2011
UC Berkeley: "One employee mows the entire campus"
UC-Berkeley and other ‘public Ivies’ in fiscal peril (Washington Post)
Across the nation, a historic collapse in state funding for higher education threatens to diminish the stature of premier public universities and erode their mission as engines of upward social mobility.
. . .
Not even the nation’s finest public university is immune. The University of California at Berkeley — birthplace of the free-speech movement, home to nine living Nobel laureates — subsists now in perpetual austerity. Star faculty take mandatory furloughs. Classes grow perceptibly larger each year. Roofs leak; e-mail crashes. One employee mows the entire campus. Wastebaskets are emptied once a week. Some professors lack telephones.
“The issue that’s being addressed at Berkeley, fundamentally, is the future of the high-quality public university in America,” said Robert Reich, the former labor secretary, now a public policy professor at Berkeley.
. . .
In academia, there is particular concern for the sector leaders known as “public Ivies.”
These top public universities (a group that includes Berkeley, UCLA and the universities of Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia) educate many more students than their Ivy League counterparts. Berkeley alone serves roughly the same number of low-income students — measured in federal Pell grant data — as the Ivies do together.
Nowhere are the stakes higher than Berkeley. Anchor of the nation’s most prestigious public university system, Berkeley boasts a constellation of graduate programs rivaled only by Harvard. The university consistently tops academic rankings of public institutions. Its campus has parking spaces reserved for Nobel laureates.
Berkeley’s 25,885 undergraduate and 10,257 graduate students are famously opinionated. It doesn’t take much to get them talking about the many ways their state and their school are letting them down.
“If you pay more, you want to see more, and we aren’t getting anything more,” said Bahar Na¬vab, a graduate student and president of Berkeley’s Graduate Assembly.
Today’s Berkeley seniors pay half again more in tuition and fees than when they were freshmen. But the number of students for every faculty member has risen from 15 to 17 in five years. Many classes are oversubscribed, leaving students to scramble for alternatives or postpone graduation, a dilemma more commonly associated with community college….
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But now, the California economy is paralyzed, and the plan is in tatters.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) this month announced an additional $100 million reduction to the $2.3 billion University of California annual budget, already pared by nearly a billion dollars in the downturn….
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