Facing the largest budget cut in recent history, the California State University faculty union is deciding today whether to accept proposed furloughs for next year. The furloughs could last up to 24 days, adding up to a possible 10 percent pay cut for full-time faculty. The faculty union has over 23,000 members, including everyone from part-time lecturers to tenured professors. The hope is that by instituting furloughs, the Cal State campuses would avoid having to make any staff cuts.
However, there's no promise that voting for the furloughs will actually prevent layoffs, as they would only cover $275 million of the $584 million budget gap. Other university services, funding and even individual classes are already being cut, and students are feeling the belt-tightening on every campus. Various individual campuses have even had to cap the number of acceptances offered to students, which goes against the system's mission of universal access. While the furloughs may only postpone layoffs, they may help save other valuable academic resources and opportunities.
The California State Universities aren't the only ones feeling the effects of the state's economic crisis. The University California system lost 20 percent of its budget, as the state cut funding. While the UCs receive a lot of money from alumni and other private donors, the state funding covers the faculty costs and much of the "student experience" expenses. To deal with the budget gap, the UC system announced earlier this week that they will probably be cutting jobs, instituting furloughs and raising tuition for students. Pay cuts are also in the works, which administrators fear will cause high-quality faculty members to abandon the UCs for jobs at other leading universities. Another proposal even suggested closing the system's three youngest campuses. Let's hope things don't come to that, though the situation is certainly pretty dire already.
To read more, Inside Higher Ed is running an article series on California's budget crisis and how it's affecting the state's public universities. Worth reading!
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