Tuesday, June 22, 2010

HD Video: California Higher Education in Peril

California's higher education system is facing severe financial strains, challenging its ability to provide widespread, high-quality education.

On June 16, 2010, the Commonwealth Club of California hosted an expert panel at its San Francisco headquarters. Club President and CEO Dr. Gloria C. Duffy moderated a panel that included Charles Reed, chancellor of California State University; Jack Scott, chancellor of California Community Colleges; and Mark Yudof, president of University of California.

Together, they gave a candid look at the problems facing the public higher education system here. "It's not raining; it's storming," said Dr. Reed.

Watch the video above to see a fascinating discussion about what the schools do well, how they're funded, what the options are, and what the higher education system means to the people, politics, and economy of California.


Moravecglobal said...

UC Berkeley's Chancellor's decisions place Cal. into peril UC Berkeley’s recent elimination of popular sports programs highlighted endemic problems in the university’s management. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians in Sacramento, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.

A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies in the system and then crafting a plan to fix them. Compentent oversight by the Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on problems and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up….until there was no money left.

It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies in the system. Faculty and staff have raised issues with senior management, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3 million) consultants, Bain & Company, to tell him what he should have been able to find out from the bright, engaged people in his own organization.

From time to time, a whistleblower would bring some glaring problem to light, but the chancellor’s response was to dig in and defend rather than listen and act. Since UC has been exempted from most whistleblower lawsuits, there are ultimately no negative consequences for maintaining inefficiencies.

In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. An opportunity now exists for the UC president, Board of Regents, and California legislators to jolt UC Berkeley back to life, applying some simple check-and-balance management principles. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary. The faculty, students, staff, academic senate, Cal. alumni, and taxpayers await the transformation

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