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UC Berkeley Goes on Offensive Over Proposed Budget Cuts

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Hoping to influence upcoming budget debates in Sacramento, administrators of the prestigious UC Berkeley campus issued unhappy projections Thursday for class cuts and service reductions next year and pleaded with state lawmakers not to make matters worse.

“When you tear apart a great university program, you cannot rebuild it overnight. It will take decades to restore,” said Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien.

Under Gov. Pete Wilson’s proposed 1993-94 budget, the nine-campus University of California system would receive $138 million, or 7.3%, less in state general revenue funds than it did this year. If Wilson’s plan passes the Legislature, cuts at the Berkeley campus will include dropping at least 335 courses and sections (4.5% of the total), including beginning Spanish classes, and suspending admissions into the graduate programs in library science and two arts programs, Tien and others said.

But officials are worried that state spending on the UC system will drop by as much as $300 million more than Wilson has proposed. So at a campus news conference, Tien and his top aides warned that such reductions could cripple teaching and research.

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“This choice is quite clear: Shall this be the generation that decided that the key engine of state growth would be cannibalized, or shall Berkeley continue to be a world leader in teaching and research?” asked Michael Teitz, a regional planning professor who is chairman of UC Berkeley’s faculty senate.

All nine UC campuses are planning for various budget-trimming scenarios, although the Legislature may not make final decisions until summer. UC Davis is expected to close its geography department, merging those courses with other programs. UC San Diego is shutting its year-old architecture school. UCLA is considering cutting 560, or about 5%, of the courses and discussion sections in its College of Letters and Science. Systemwide, student fees are being hiked $995 next year and most salaries temporarily cut 5%.

Yet that Tien spoke out so forcefully at this point reflects tensions between UC Berkeley and the other UC campuses, officials around the system privately explained. Because it has the most senior faculty, UC Berkeley lost a disproportionate share of professors through early retirement the last two years. Now, UC Berkeley badly fears another offering of early retirements, although other campuses want the program as a way to save money. The UC regents are waiting to see the final state budget before deciding on details of the next golden handshakes.

“We’ve got to stop the train racing down the street,” one UC Berkeley official said of the other campuses’ push for more early retirements.

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Many Berkeley officials say the school’s national reputation for distinguished scholarship deserves special budget consideration. Asked about that, Teitz replied: “The issue is not fairness, the issue is smartness. Is it smart to cut equally a department that’s No. 1 in the country and a department that’s No. 46? . . . That’s the issue.”

Berkeley faculty are debating the decisions to suspend graduate school admissions in the School of Library and Information Studies and in studio art and dramatic art and dance. Some undergraduates are angered by the move to drop Spanish I next year; officials say they need to reserve money for advanced Spanish courses for majors and contend that beginning students can take courses at local community colleges or in the nighttime extension that serves mostly non-students.

Times education writer Larry Gordon reported from Los Angeles and correspondent Michael Arnold from Berkeley.


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