Chancellor addresses staff town hall
March 23, 2012
By Dave Jones
Budget cuts, retirement, transitioning to the Shared Services Center, Occupy protests — this is what’s been on the mind of staff members and, likely, why many of them participated in the March 22 town hall with Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and other campus officials.
Administrators opened the 90-minute session by acknowledging the difficult times of late at UC Davis, and voiced appreciation for staff efforts. Indeed, Katehi said, UC Davis perseveres “because of the work that you have done for so many years.”
Nearly 150 people attended the town hall in the Activities and Recreation Center Ballroom, and more than 550 clicked open the live webcast. The administrative panel took questions from the ballroom audience, and Staff Assembly Chair Rob Kerner relayed questions that the assembly gathered before the town hall.
Here is a brief recap of the main themes:
Budget — Associate Vice Chancellor Kelly Ratliff made no promises, but said the campus could get by in 2012-13 without further cuts to departmental base budgets.
Her optimism stems in part from Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget (which, if adopted, could bring an additional $8 million to UC Davis), and in part from the campus’s success in making operations more efficient and in bringing in new revenue.
With efficiencies, new revenue and cuts, the campus erased all but $19 million of its 2011-12 shortfall of $119 million, Ratliff said. The campus will use the same three-prong approach in 2012-13, she said.
At the same time, the campus will deploy a new budget model: offering incentives for efficiency gains, plus greater transparency and the opportunity for great teamwork.
Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor, described the new model as “more of an evolution, not a revolution … to allow units to look at their operations and take advantage of opportunities they might have to increase the amount of monies that would flow to them.”
Hexter also spoke about the 2020 Initiative, under which UC Davis is considering enrollment growth of some 5,000 students — offering the possibility of greater fiscal stability, higher quality and new opportunities.
To people who are legitimately concerned about the campus’s growth, he reminded: “If we did nothing, the current structural deficit in our situation would only get larger. … You might be able to cut your way to solvency, but you couldn’t cut your way to excellence.”
He said three task forces — academic resources, enrollment management and facilities planning — are hard at work analyzing the proposal from every angle.
“We’re certainly not going to go down any path that doesn’t present better opportunities than the ones we’re faced with today,” he said.
Shared Services Center — The center is up and running (as of Feb. 14), handling finance, payroll and human resources transactions for the campus’s administrative units, with information technology work soon to come.
“This has been a huge, organizational transition,” said Karen Hull, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources.
In the two-year planning process, she said, the campus reengineered about 200 processes across nearly 150 departments.
“When you undertake a change of this magnitude it doesn’t come without some pain and suffering,” Hull said.
She said new systems are in place to measure the center’s efficiency, and how the center is meeting the expectations of its customers.
Occupy protests — Vice Chancellor John Meyer described the campus’s patient, measured responses to the brief occupation of the former Cross Cultural Center and the almost daily blockade of the U.S. Bank branch in the Memorial Union.
“We think we’ve engaged an approach this quarter that is measurably positive,” Meyer said.
The campus’s new Engagement Team – several campus employees from different departments who have negotiating and mediating skills – has had regular contact with the protesters, talking with them, listening to their points about “real issues” such as budget cuts and rising tuition; and trying to develop relationships.
In addition, in the case of the bank protest, the campus handed out notices to protesters explaining their rights and responsibilities — advising that blocking people from entering or exiting the bank “is an illegal act,” Meyer said. Eventually, the campus forwarded six cases to the Yolo County district attorney’s office, for possible prosecution as misdemeanors.
Retirement — At this time, there is no incentive program — as there was in the 1990s — for early retirement. Instead, the university is working on the UC Retirement Plan’s financial stability (in part by resuming employee and employer contributions, after a 20-year holiday).
Return to the previous page