At first blush, you might think the University of California Commission on the Future consists of a group of academics sitting around debating when jet packs will hit the market, or what year the apes will finally replace humans as rulers of the planet.

But no, it’s actually a panel of five working groups, each given the charge of considering a different aspect of how the “University of California (can) best serve the state in the years ahead and maintain access, quality and affordability in a time of diminishing resources.”

Students who have experienced all the unrest and hardship caused by a series of steep tuition hikes will probably be heartened that the very existence of the Commission on the Future implies that someone important thinks that there is a future for the university.

On Monday, the group released its final recommendations for generating revenue and sustaining itself fiscally. You can read the full list of recommendations or the full report.

And for a real trip down fiscally-sound memory lane, browse the evolution of the California Master Plan for Higher Education from 1960 on.

UC Commission on the Future: Final Report 7 December,2010Jon Brooks

  • Record of UC Berkeley Chancellor wothout leadership. UC Berkeley’s Leadership Crisis
    Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians in Sacramento, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.
    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies in the system and then crafting a plan to fix them. Competent oversight by the Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on problems and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies….until there was no money left.
    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies in the system. Faculty and staff have raised issues with senior management, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3 million) consultants, Bain & Company, to tell him what he should have been able to find out from the bright, engaged people in his own organization.
    In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. An opportunity now exists for the UC president, Board of Regents, and California legislators to jolt UC Berkeley back to life, applying some simple check-and-balance management principles. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary. The faculty, Academic Senate, Cal. Alumni, financial donors, benefactors await the transformation.
    The author, who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way the senior management operates.


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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