UC regents discuss 6% tuition hike for next fall

University of California regents Wednesday discussed the possibility of a 6% tuition increase for next fall but pledged that they would lobby hard to avoid such a $732-per-student hike.

With such money worries rippling through the 10-campus system, the regents approved the hiring of a new chancellor for UC San Diego at a $411,084 salary, which is 4.8% higher than his predecessor, Marye Anne Fox.

In addition, Pradeep Khosla, now the engineering dean at Carnegie Mellon University, will receive a relocation bonus of nearly $24,700 annually for his first four years. The raise will come from non-state funds and Khosla’s overall package is reportedly less than what he now earns, but some critics said any UC raise is unwarranted in today’s brutal fiscal situation.

UC administrators were pleased that Gov. Jerry Brown did not propose any immediate cuts to the university this week although Brown warned that UC could lose $250 million if voters do not approve his proposed tax increases in November.

Still, officials said they hoped to persuade Brown and legislators to give UC about $125 million extra to avoid an increase that would cost undergraduates $12,924, not including other campus fees, room and board. Regents are expected to vote on tuition in July.

The regents met Wednesday in Sacramento so they and students could lobby lawmakers. UC President Mark G. Yudof did not attend because his wife was hospitalized. But in a statement, he said that the budget is “fluid and at times turbulent” and that his efforts to avoid an increase were complicated by rising costs for retirement plans.

Regents Chairwoman Sherry Lansing said that she was working “every single day” to obtain more state funds but that the regents in July nevertheless should start examining potentially radical changes to save money, including whether campuses should offer a full range of academic programs. “It does call into question whether each campus can be all things to all people,” she said.

UC regents defended Khosla’s pay, and additional car and housing stipends, as necessary to attract such top talent and added that Fox has not had a raise in nearly five years. “Chancellors make a difference and presidents make a difference and we have to recognize that,” said George Kieffer, who is vice chairman of the regents’ compensation committee. He said a good leader’s success in fundraising and management far outweigh the salary increase.

However, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and student regent Alfredo Mireles Jr. cast votes against the salary. Newsom noted that pay for new leaders at Cal State universities triggered anger statewide and added that it didn’t matter that the 4.8% salary rise at UC San Diego would not come from taxes. “I just don’t think this is the right time to be doing that,” he said.

Angry about another possible tuition hike, student protesters briefly disrupted the meeting, forcing the regents to temporarily change locations. No one was arrested.