With the latest cuts, the state of California spending per student enrolled at the University of California is half what it was twenty years ago, even after adjusting for inflation. This year my full professor salary at U.C. Berkeley is about 5% less than my assistant professor salary in 2000 when I joined (after accounting for furloughs and adjusting for inflation). Meanwhile, student tuition keeps going up, and substantial further increases are expected in the next couple of years.

The distinction of UC Berkeley is to be a public and affordable university of quality comparable to any top private research university in the country. Neither the quality nor the affordability can survive indefinitely if the next twenty years are anything like the past twenty — or even if the next ten are like the past ten. The point is that every university is having a bad year this year, but, in the past ten years nearly every year has been, financially, what would be considered a disastrous year nearly everywhere else. This means that, when the economy recovers, we shall be back to having a merely disastrous financial situation, and we shall never be able to climb back from whatever hole we are digging ourselves into right now.

An organization of U.C. Berkeley faculty has been making these points and I completely agree.

Notably, the mission statement mentions the larger point of the California budget system and Proposition 13. In part, the University of California underfunding is a matter of priority; the legislators are not as interested in spending on higher education as they are in spending to incarcerate people after three petty offenses. But, in part, it is a reflection of the larger budget crisis of the state, and of the inconsistent mandates coming from popular initiatives.

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