A Post of Firsts, Futures, and Commission on the Future

This is a Post About Firsts

For instance, this is the first time (I’m hoping) that any of the UC Regents have had a blog.  This is the first post of that first blog of a UC Regent.  What you just read was the first line of that first post..and so on and so forth.

This is definitely not the first time Kanye West has gone buckwild at the VMAs.  It’s a good thing then, that this post is not about Kanye West.

This post is about the UC Commission on the Future, which had it’s first out of eight meetings this past week, at the UCSF Mission Bay campus.  I was there.  Student Regent Bernal was there.  UC President Mark G. Yudof was there.  We partied.  We talked.  And for thousands of future UC students, we may have begun to change the path of their lives.

Commission on Whatnow?

The Commission on the Future is like the start of a bad breakup between the State of California and the UC system.  It’s like when you get all your BFF’s together for coffee and decide how to break it to your poor partner that he/she is just not the one.  That it’s been too long since you two have had a good time, that he/she just doesn’t provide for you like they used to, that it’s time for you to move on.  That’s what the Commission on the Future is.

The Commission is charged with figuring out a model for a UC system that recieves no state funding.  Over the course of several years, the UC Regents have discovered that the State of California is an unreliable fiscal partner to the UC – its inability to come up with a working budget on time and that prioritizes higher education has seriously hurt faculty, staff, students, and UC institution as a whole.  And the UC just can’t take it anymore.  It’s moving on.

And just like a couple who has lived together for 100+ years, and suddenly decides its time to split ways, figuring out how the UC is supposed to function without state support has suddenly brought up a lot of questions.  Particularly five main questions, that have all been formed into working groups: size and shape of the UC, access and affordability of the UC, the educational curriculum of the UC, new fiscal strategies for the UC, and research strategies for a UC with little state grants.  Over the next couple weeks, we’ll be highlighting each particular working group, who is in charge of them, and what they are thinking.

It’s hard figuring out a whole new life.  For motivation, I would recommend the following breakup song to President Yudof and Regent Gould.

The First Commission on the Future Meeting

Nothing too exciting was done during the First Commission on the Future meeting, it was an introduction to the Commission and a chance to evaluate the issues which each working group would discuss.  But there were some highlights:

  • Dean Edley of the Boalt Law School was particularly interested in how the Commission on the Future was going to outreach to the CA public for input.  A lot of attention was put on the Commission on the Future website, and how it will be used as a gateway for input from the UC community.  Also, input from faculty, staff, and students was greatly emphasized – something that we all should look out for in the future.
  • Jane Wellman, of the Delta Project, was the keynote speaker for this meeting.  Her and President Yudof had a short and vibrant discussion about differential fees between majors and disciplines.  Jane Wellman stood against it, saying that it would discourage people from entering the hard sciences, and President Yudof said fairly that he had “seen it done before”.
  • Regent Lozano asked a question to Jane Wellman about the proportion of students that are supposed to attend the UC according to the Master Plan for Higher Education (the plan calls for 12.5%), and whether that was still appropriate.  The answer was yeah, yeah it actually is.  To be real, I was surprised.

More Information

For more information – look towards the Commission on the Future website at ucfuture.universityofcalifornia.edu.  Right now it’s kinda basic, Web 1.0 stuff, but UCOP has made strong claims that they are going to update and enrich that website to be interactive and a strong source of input from the UC community.

I also recommend a quick Google search of Commission on the Future – the stuff I’ve written here have all been pretty positive of the Commission, cuz I do think it’s a good thing.  However, I think some faculty in the UC have some really strong, productive critiques of the Commission and they are worth hearing out as well in the academic discussion that surrounds the future of our university.  I’m going to strategically not link it here, because I fear the political well-cooked kabob that I will become if linked to those articles, but I definitely encourage readers to do some digging!


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