The headline was stunning. “UCD plan calls for 450 layoffs,” read the words in bold, doomsday type over Cory Golden’s in-depth piece in this very newspaper.
Conventional wisdom has always been that here in Davis we are both isolated and insulated from the problems of the world, the state and even our own struggling county. Never mind that Yolo County lost a greater percentage of its jobs last year than any county in the nation, Davis was safe. Not any more.
“UC Davis plans to lay off 450 to 500 workers, increase nonresident student enrollment, shut programs and reduce services,” Golden writes. “Faced with an estimated $107 million budget shortfall, Chancellor Linda Katehi and Provost Ralph Hexter outlined those and other steps in a budget plan submitted to University of California President Mark Yudof.”
And, the story warns, this might be only the beginning.
“Further reductions,” note Katehi and Hexter, “whether driven by additional state cuts or our structural deficit, will no doubt lead to additional positions being eliminated. While we will rely on attrition and re-deployment of employees to other fund sources on campus to the extent that we can, these cuts will be particularly painful.”
Oddly, though, part of the cost-saving plan is to INCREASE out-of-state enrollment, which seems contradictory until you realize those non-Californians pay considerably higher tuition than in-state students, even though it doesn’t cost a dime more to educate them. To be sure, non-residents will continue to pay those high fees — that’s the whole point — which means rich kids from Phoenix will have a leg up on poor kids from Fresno.
Maybe it’s just me, but when the taxpayers of this state realize that non-resident enrollment will increase while resident enrollment remains flat, this plan will be so unpopular it’ll be scrapped altogether. Trust me on this.
If the plan stays in place, well-heeled Californians will move out of state — or at least come up with an out-of-state address — to gain preferential admission.
Gone are the days from not so long ago when residents of California were guaranteed a “tuition-free” education at the state’s premier university.
Worse yet, those increasing numbers of non-resident students, combined with deteriorating budgets all around, “will cause students to have more frequent difficulties in getting into the courses they need and want,” according to Katehi and Hexter.
In fact, things are likely to get so bad that it might one day be almost mandatory for students to stick around for summer school just to get all the classes they need to graduate.
Clearly, though, there are some solutions the university has yet to consider.
Like selling the entire campus to Bill Gates, who could put his name and brand on every building around. Berkeley has its Sather Gate and we’d have our Bill Gates. Many of them. Heck, they could even sell Microsoft-serve ice cream at the Coffee House.
We also should immediately begin to charge for the privilege of serving as Picnic Day parade marshal. No more honoring a famous alum or dedicated staffer. Nope, leading the parade should go to the highest bidder.
Rather than play limited-revenue games against the likes of South Dakota, South Alabama, Southern Utah and Southern Comfort, have the Aggie football team schedule 12 body-bag games every season with million-dollar guarantees for each one. There are plenty of folks out there with 80,000-seat stadiums ready, willing and able to welcome our helmeted warriors to town.
Or, if things get too difficult for UC Davis in its present location, contact Joe and Gavin Maloof and see if you can hitch a ride on their moving van to Anaheim, towing the whole campus behind you.
Come to think of it, if we’re so enamored with those well-heeled students from out of state, maybe we ought to just move the whole campus outside the confines of California. A UC Las Vegas no doubt would have all sorts of interesting financial opportunities.
And speaking of Las Vegas, if all else fails, simply take the entire UC Davis budget and your very best professor of statistics to Sin City and play one quick hand of blackjack.
If we lose, you close the campus.
But if we win, let the good times roll.
— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected] Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com