Shifting tactics in a difficult budget situation, University of California President Mark G. Yudof said Tuesday that he would seek enough additional state funding to avoid a tuition hike next year and increase enrollment by 1%, or about 2,100 students.
Yudof's statement was a tactical retreat from a controversial plan floated in September in which UC said tuition could rise 8% to 16% annually over the next four years if state funding did not increase enough to offset increasing costs. Reaction from students and families in September was vociferously negative, and UC regents shelved the idea, at least for now.
On Tuesday, the UC leader focused on a new proposal to seek a state funding increase of $411 million, or 8%, for the 10-campus system in the 2012-13 academic year. He acknowledged, though, that persuading the state to appropriate nearly $2.8 billion in total funding for UC may be difficult given the continuing recession.
If the funding comes through, Yudof pledged not to raise tuition next school year, to add course sections and professors across UC, to increase enrollment and extend library hours. "And we would throw a large pizza party," he added lightheartedly.
But he declined to specify the effect on tuition if the Legislature and governor give UC less than the proposal, although he said UC's regents would consider more modest tuition hikes.
The regents are scheduled to vote on the budget request at a meeting in San Francisco next week. Yudof acknowledged Tuesday that his earlier proposal, aimed at warning the public and the regents about unstable state funding for the university, had provoked significant anxiety.
"I was trying to get them concerned about where we are heading. And I got them a lot concerned," he said.
UC this year received $2.37 billion in state general revenue funds, down $650 million from last year, and the university may also face midyear cuts if the state budget situation does not improve. After back-to-back tuition boosts totaling more than $1,800 for this fall, UC's undergraduate tuition for California residents stands at $12,192; room, board and campus fees can bring a student's total costs to about $31,000. And for the first time in UC's 143-year history, the total amount of money from tuition this year exceeds the total in state funding.
The new proposal would include $36.6 million to enroll the additional 2,100 students and $310 million more to help reverse recent cuts in faculty hiring, class offerings, library hours and equipment purchases. It also seeks $87.6 million for employee pensions, an effort to change a long-standing arrangement in which the state helps to pay for pensions at Cal State and community colleges but not at UC.
Also Tuesday, UC announced a tentative five-year contract agreement with the union that represents 12,500 clerical workers at the university. Members of the Coalition of University Employees are scheduled to vote on the proposal this month. Details of the agreement were not immediately available. UC officials said they were deferring to the union to release specifics; union officials could not be reached.
The settlement is the latest in a series that is bringing a measure of labor peace to the 10-campus system after years of nasty disputes. In recent months, UC reached agreements with custodians and hospital service workers, nurses, university police and academic lecturers and librarians.