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Yudof at KPCC 3Systems Summit Jan 13

Yudof at KPCC 3Systems Summit Jan 13

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Published by Chris Newfield
The heads of the three California higher ed systems discuss the future with KPCC's Larry Mantle
The heads of the three California higher ed systems discuss the future with KPCC's Larry Mantle

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Published by: Chris Newfield on Feb 14, 2013
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02/14/2013

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Larry Mantle:
Going back to the 1960’s, California’s Master Plan, tiers of public higher education, were the model to which everyone aspired. For extremely low, or even no tuition,students had access to one of the three systems. Community colleges took anybody. Stateuniversities educated most of the state’s teachers, and provided four-year degrees to millions of residents studying a wide range of subjects. The university of California provided the highestechelon education to the state’s highest performing students. Now, it’s much more challenging.Community colleges are overwhelmed with more students than they can handle, CSUs can’toffer enough courses to get students out in four years, and UCs like the other two systems, haveseen large tuition fees and increasing numbers of out of state students, who subsidizeCalifornians by paying full freight. How will these systems weather the years to come? I’m joined by the President of the University of California, Mark Yudof, the Chancellor of theCalifornia State University system Timothy White, and the Chancellor of the communitycolleges Brice Harris. Gentlemen thank you all for coming, we appreciate it very much.So let’s start with tuition. Is the historic California promise of a cheap, quality college educationnow impossible to afford? President Yudof, let’s start with you.
Mark Yudof:
Okay, I, there’s a lot of concern about tuition. I was at the governor’s (State of the State address?) and he got a standing ovation when he said he didn’t want tuition increases.We did not have tuition increase this year, we probably won’t next year. My perspective is alittle different. We had a billion dollars in reductions and 38 percent of it was made up in tuition.This tuition is 12,000 dollars a year. Almost half of our students are poor, or they receive PellGrants. A large numbers of languages other than English is [sic] spoken in the home. We do a better job of educating low-income students, I think, than just about anyone out there, and theaverage tuition is less than 6,000 dollars – that is what people pay. The debt, upon graduation, is19,000 dollars, and we have some of the highest graduation rates of any public university in thecountry. But it’s a problem; it’s a big problem particularly for the middle class. So we’re tryingto modulate it, we’re going to try to keep the tuition down, frankly we’re going to have to re-engineer how we to deliver some of our educational services, and this year for the first time sinceI’ve been president, we have a modest uptick in state support, so I’m hoping we can get thatdone.
Mantle:
Okay, so you’re saying in some sense you think this is still possible, but obviously it’snot the extraordinary value it was in the past.
Yudof:
Well I’d argue it’s still a great value, but, you know, free is better than 12,000. Even
 I 
can understand that.
Mantle:
Well then what percentage has it increased in the last five years?
Yudof:
Very substantially. But the problem is it’s like a drug store. You go to the drug storeand you have a co-pay of 20 dollars, and all of the sudden it goes to 40 dollars. Your cost hasincreased 100 percent. That doesn’t mean the price of the drug has increased – it means that theinsurance company doesn’t want to pay. And our problem is the state of California didn’t wantto pay. So, it’s going way above the rate of inflation, and it’s going up much more rapidly thanI’d like, but there’s a fundamental underlying problem – it’s not costs; we are not healthcare,
 
that’s not the issue. Fundamentally, the cost problem is the disinvestment of the stategovernment.
Mantle:
So, when you say costs aren’t the issue (and both you gentlemen please jump in onthis), is, are you saying that the cost per pupil – the real cost of educating the students, it’s gonedown?(One of the other men (White?) jumps in and says that the cost of UCs and Cal States has gonedown, and that Community Colleges have stayed the same – it is that students and families whoare paying a might higher proportion.)
Mantle:
So how is that possible, with cost of living increases for faculty, with the cost of research being greater than in the past, how do you do that?
Yudof:
I’ll tell you how it’s possible. You don’t pay for the research. You get five milliondollars in outside research money; you get 2.6 billion from the state of California, almost twicefrom other services. But it’s easy. When you go from a 16 to 1 student-faculty ratio to a 25 to 1student-faculty ratio, then your costs go down, because the faculty, essentially, has not grown.
Mantle:
But has the quality suffered in doing that?
Yudof:
Well I’m worried about that, and I think we need to be more self conscious about howwe deal with large classes. My view is we’ve hit a wall – we’re going to have to deal with thelarge classes, we’re going to have to deal with online learning. I don’t see any sort of restoration. And by the way, our costs have gone up some; I want to say that, but largely because of the pension issue. When I arrived in office we contributed zero to pensions, as didthe employees. But the pension system was in great danger, and today we make hugecontributions to the pension plan. That’s been our primary cost driver over the last five years.
Mantle:
What about professors’ salaries though? Because my sense is, at least for star faculty,maybe this doesn’t apply across the board – there’s been a kind of race to getting the top talent.UC wants to get the very best and the brightest, as professors you’ve got to compete with private,as well as other really public institutions. So, has the cost of faculty salaries not risen faster thanthe rate of inflation? What used to be a very middle class job, hasn’t that become a verydistinctly upper middle class job?
Yudof:
There are a lot of parts to that question, Larry.
Mantle:
But they’re all related.
Yudof:
The first question, I don’t know exactly, in relation to the inflation. Second point iswe’re a solid 10, 15 percent below our peers, both public and privates. So I would say we have avery public-spirited faculty. If you teach at UCLA, to me, or Berkeley, or certainly Riverside or where [former Chancellor] Tim [White] was, you are reaching, half your kids are poor; you arean agent of economic mobility.
 
Mantle:
I’m not disputing the mission.
Yudof:
So I think people accept lower salaries – that’s what I’m saying. I mean, we’re notwholly competitive, but they have gone up, I don’t deny that. And it is a star system. We have60 Nobel laureates. I’d prefer they not leave our campuses.
Mantle:
But someone has to pay for that. It’s a wonderful thing you’ve got them, but they costmoney.
Yudof:
That’s true, and some of it’s private. Remember, the state is paying $2.6 billion on a 24 billion dollar budget. And the research funds are not coming from the state of California. Andthen there are gifts and other things. So, it’s a complicated question to answer. Yes the salarieshave gone up, yes we need to be competitive, but we’re really not competitive in salaries withthe Ivy Leagues and other places like that.
Mantle and Tim White discuss, Mantle and Brice Harris discuss, a break.Mantle:
University of Texas, your former system, President Yudof, has been ground zero in this battle between those who believe that maybe some of these elite public universities have becometoo elitist, and no longer affordable for states to fund them in this age of belt tightening. So, isthis question over whether we can still afford a University of Texas or a University of Californiawith all of its overhead, with all of what goes on – is that a legitimate debate in your mind tohave? Or are things just great, these institutions need to be protected as is?
Yudof:
I don’t think they need to be protected as is. I think there’s an old Chinese proverb thatin life you should be like bamboo – you should bend, but not break. And I think the idea thatyou’re accessible, that your [sic] wonderful graduate program, that you have pathbreakingresearch in medicine and elsewhere, is important. But we can’t stick with the old model. We’renot going to have a 14 to one student faculty ratio. And I don’t know what this elitism charge is;these are fine educational institutions and Wisconsin and Michigan and Texas and Florida andCalifornia, and Washington have wonderful public institutions, in my judgment. And we need to preserve them. And we’ve got a lot of simple minded solutions, like it’s easy to say a 10,000dollar degree, but how many years will it take to get, what will the quality of the instruction be,do you get those cognitive skills, are you prepared for the labor market?
Mantle:
You’re talking about the Florida proposal, from Florida and Texas.
Yudof:
Yes, Florida and Texas both have that. And I do know Rick Perry I think I’ve metGovernor Scott – I think they’re writing a book on the governors I have known. ArnoldSchwarzenegger, and Governor Brown, and Jessie Ventura . . .
Mantle:
That’s right, the University of Minnesota and the Ventura administration.
Yudof:
That’s right – I can give one chapter to each and have a best seller. But I do think weneed the change. I don’t want to be in that camp because I do think the world is different.People come to my office every day and say “You’re the envy of the world at the University of 

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