Monday, June 29, 2009

Reforming the U.C. System: Saving 170 Million Dollars

California funding for U.C. research projects is $675 million dollars a year. Even as the state budget has collapsed, the spending of real U.C. research dollars has increased. Much of this "research" shows little evidence of fiscal or moral profit for the citizens of California. War with this behemoth could save CAL Grant aide for California's students. This is a prize fight worthy of the governor's most Herculean efforts.

In an age in which Six Flags Magic Mountain seeks bankruptcy protection and California is already twenty billion in debt, the U.C. research budget should be pared back to its historic roots. The proposed 2009-2010 U.C. research budget was $653,045,000 (item #10). This is an increase (in a year of real cuts) of ten million dollars over the estimated 2008-2009 expenditures. A conservative goal for real streamlining would be to reduce spending by 10% from the 08-09 heights. That would be 65 million dollars in taxpayer savings. Hence, even conservative cuts in the U.C. research expenditures would result enough savings to keep the Parks and Recreation funding in place for 2009-2010 (70 million dollars, see a May proposal–p.2). In fact, some of the research grants seem to be little more than a taxpayer sponsored study of a day in the park. Consider, for instance, The Studies of Food and the Body Multi Campus Research Group, that "brings together faculty and graduate-student scholars in the humanities and social sciences …who are exploring the relationship between food, the body and culture." I hear they even serve wine.

Whatever the relative merits of an increased awareness of food, body, and culture by the smartest people in California, the elimination of less critical research may, in turn, focus some of the mostly highly trained research minds in the state to more immediate issues. Though, in real dollars, the state funding for U.C. research increased in 2008, the legislature reduced the growth in all "line item research projects" by 10% (page 67 column b). Obviously, if a 10% reduction resulted in a ten million dollar increase in funding, at the very least the legislature must reduce the 09-10 "line item research projects" by more than 20%.

However, Governor Schwarzenegger plainly feels that the time for conservative budget cuts has passed. Is it possible to generate the $170 million in savings the Governor seeks through the elimination of Cal Grants (page 12) simply by streamlining the U.C. research budget? The list of multi-campus research programs reveals that the dead weight in U.C. research funding is considerable. Instead of seeking across the board cuts, the legislature and the governor should evaluate every U.C. research project and seek to terminate each one. The list of recommendations for project terminations should be part of the rationale presented to the U.C. when the total dollar amounts of U.C. research savings is sent to the governor. This emergency invasion into the province of the Board of Regents should be done with clearly articulated and legislated principles.

The first principle should be that, since all acknowledge that the historic charter of the U.C. system in California, including its research, has been the envy of the free world: all research should be conducted according to the U.C.’s own historic models. According to this principle new research programs, programs begun since 2005, that are not directly related to breakthroughs in math, science or medicine should be completely eliminated. All research programs begun after 2,000 that are not related to math, science, or medicine, should be evaluated according to their specific contributions to the wealth of the citizens of California. For instance, did the study of ancient cultures make new archeological finds in which Californians received benefits? A cost benefit analysis of the research program should then be done. The profitable research programs (if there are any) should continue and/or the least unprofitable twenty-five percent should be kept on budget. All other non-historic U.C. research programs should be terminated.

Governor Schwarzenegger set an excellent example for what it means to terminate a non-historic research project when, in 2005-2006, he terminated ILE (Institute for Labor and Employment) first instituted in 2001 (page 68). Even the toned down version of the research findings still available on U.C. Santa Barbara’s website shows that "research" can be added to the list of earthly words that have almost lost all meaning (see "California’s Excessive Liberty…"). Suggesting that such a propaganda program is "research" suggests that members of the U.C. board are in league with the forces of ignorance.

Applying the idea that U.C. current research should be reduced to its historic charter results in this list of multi-campus research projects that should be terminated.

African Studies

Asian American/Pacific Islander Policy Initiative

Institute for Research on Climate Change and Its Societal Impacts (Website has vanished: perhaps some one is listening? If not, great minds think alike)

Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC) 1997 This project would be not be cut according to Principle 1. Funding, however, has already been suspended. Perhaps based on 9/11/2001 and Principle 2, (Historic Accountability) this is appropriate.

Japanese Arts and Globalization

International Performance and Culture (Sure doesn’t sound like research).

Labor and Employment Research Fund (what’s left of ILE –2.4 million in savings) – out!

Pacific Rim Research Program (no history given – savings $800,000)

Tranliteracies Project 2005

UC Digital Arts Network (UC DARNet) Notice how the colorful and carefree acronym seems to disparage responsibility.

UC Initiative in Human Rights (spring 2005) The image of the girl sticking her finger in her own eye says it all about this project.

Transnational and Transcolonial Studies

Transnationalizing Justice

UC All-Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (UC ACCORD)

UC Committee on Latino Research (see the unfunded recommendation from state senate)

UC Cuba Academic Initiative (2006?)

UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute (2006) – $ 950,000 dollars in immediate savings from suspending new funding is available.

Studies of Food and the Body

UC World History Workshop. This doesn’t sound new but based on available information – terminate.

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