The University of California San Francisco is considering severing some of its ties with the nine-campus UC system. UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann says the school is sending more money to the UC system than it’s getting back in benefits. We talk to Chancellor Desmond-Hellmann about the proposal.

UCSF May Step Away From UC System 25 January,2012forum

Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor of the University of California San Francisco and former president of product development at Genentech

  • Pikachu

    This is just another instance of the rush to profits, the symptoms of which are a rejection of societal duty and a rationalization of unethical choices. They can claim all they like it’s about UC being a burden, but in truth what’s happening is a stealth privatization, which is to say a hijacking of public assets by wealthy players. Perhaps UCSF has already been hijacked from the inside by corporations like Genentech. If so, time to reform the institution by rejecting corporate influence, not by enabling it.

  • Guest

    Maybe she can explain how UCSF can plead poverty when the campus is receiving more than 5 times the amount state funding per student than any other UC campus.

    • Pikachu

      When the people with dollar signs in their eyes flood in, you see what Steve Jobs called a “bozo explosion” — people who care 90% about their careers, mortgages, cars and goofing off while everyone else does the hard work. Desmond-Hellmann’s dropping the name JP Morgan should be a red flag, as banksters want to enslave the world with debt.

    • guesttoo

      What type of state funding are you referring to?  I think you are mixing up the facts.  If you mean that UCSF faculty bring in 5x the state funding (aka contracts and grants) to conduct services or research for the state, funds that are designated for specific work that is required by the contract or grant because our faculty get the job done, you’re general vague statement might add up but a blanket statement like that is very misleading.


      -Focuses exclusively on health sciences.-Enrolls about 3,000 graduate students and no undergraduate students.-Receives only 1 percent of revenues, net allowances, from tuition.-Receives only 5 percent of its revenues from the state; only 15 percent of faculty receive any support from state funds.-Generates about 80 percent of revenues from its clinical and research enterprises.-Operates a large, not-for-profit medical center in a highly competitive market.

    • Kirstjarv1

      Not true, the SF Chronicle did not do its homework!

  • R …

    Hmm, is this about a private corporation robbing a public university? There are some amongst us that want “zero government” … Take over the schools, roads, parks and forests … why not take over the UC system one unit at a time?

  • Danielayer

    I am a graduate from UC Davis, and I received an amazing education there.  The question I had then and have now is whether UC is primarily an educational, research, or profit seeking organization.  Not that these are mutually exclusive aims, but which is the primary focus of the institution.  As a public university receiving public monies for all these purposes the focus should clearly be on education above all.  What does your guest feel is the primary focus of UC overall, and UCSF specifically?

  • Sam

    Has greed become a higher virtue than solidarity? All UCs, not only UCSF, are facing a huge cash shortage, so to fix its own cash shortage the wealthiest of the UCs will quit the system instead of fighting alongside the others for more public funding. In the process, the public nature of California’s leading medical university will be compromised. All UCs should fight together instead of each letting the others sink.

    • Pikachu

      Notice how the high level executives at UC aren’t offering to forgo their salaries to help save the system, as Steve Jobs did for Apple. Their response is to pepper spray anyone who takes a stand against their self-interests.

      In this UCSF plan, is there any hint that any spun-off companies, which benefited from taxpayers’ largesse, will be owned in even a tiny percentage by the taxpayers? No. Companies will work on the crony capitalist model instead. That is the “vision” employed here.

  • My husband is a second year at UCSF Medical School. We are both the first of our family to go to college. It is both refreshing and powerful to hear a chancellor NOT balancing the budget on student tuition. The Chancellor is asking the right questions with the right attitude. We believe in her and support her solutions. 

  • Sam

    I agree with the caller who says that the UCs should not use commercial entities to distribute their discoveries. There is no reason why the UC could not do this itself, aside from the free-market dogmatism which has corrupted our society and has already undermined many of our public universities.

  • Gabriel Roybal

    As you know UCSF was one of the first universities in the county to establish a program to financially support Postdocs who want to teach at minority serving institutions while training at UCSF. I am currently a 2nd year UCSF ISIS postdoc in this program at UCSF.  How do you see UCSF expanding it’s relationship with schools such as SFSU and City College?

  • I really wish she would have said something about the ethics of taking tax-dollars to do research and then locking up the research with patents only available for those who pay gigantic sums of money through an office of technological transfers (OTT).
    1) OTTs tend to lose money
    2) OTTs poorly price patent licenses which means a lot of research just gets locked away forever benefiting no-one
    3) Even when patents do get purchased or license, often no more than one company will get the license which gives them a monopoly driving the prices up
    4) It is just plain unacceptable to use tax-payer dollars to make something and then tell taxpayers that they can’t use it without paying for it again. It’s the equivalent of having the police only investigate crimes for a fee or the military being hired out to the highest bidder. It is not acceptable!

    • Livegreen

      My guess is Universities will say they need the OTT’s to profit off their IP.  In that case, IF they’re profitable, where are the profits going now?  & Why are the Universities still having such financial challenges?  

      And, to PrometheeFeu’s point, if they’re not profitable, why this system?

      Either way broader society should benefit and the positives should be shared with both the Universities & the American Public.

      • Kirstjarv1

        UCSF is serving the public by finding cures and prevention to costly disease…So of course the University serves the public. Hello?

        • Of course they are. In the same way that GM is serving the public by making cars, that Apple is serving the public by making iPods and that Wallmart is serving the public by selling low-priced goods. Of course, the big difference is that when UCSF finds the cure for a drug, patents it and sells/licenses the patent, we pay twice for the drug. First as tax-payers and then a second time as consumers.

    • Kirstjarv1

      PrometheeFeu that is your state government not from UCSF.

  • pakre68

    I have a personal love/hate relationship with UCSF that I would like to share. My husband’s life was saved by USCF and the paramedics in 2005. And my husband lost his life weeks later as a result of MRSA that he contracted while back in the hospital for treatment for pneumonia. Thus the love/hate. I had a month with him that I wouldn’t have had without UCSF but the spread of that virus in the hospital killed him. The ironic footnote is that he was the project manager for getting the first Mission Bay building built, Genentech Hall. He would be ecstatic at the progress the Mission Bay Campus is making and such a shame he can’t see those early plans realized.

  • Babs

    You reap what you sow. President Mark Yudof brought in Desmond-Hellmann to privatize UCSF. She’s doing just what she was brought to do, turn a profit. She was never brought in to stimulate research, only to fund it with private corporate sponsorship; this is also why Yudof was brought in, to slash and burn. Yudof has wanted to turn all of the campuses into private industry research facilities. If people are fine with that, so be it, but please do not dress it up as anything else than selling out. The UCs were one of the last, great research institutions that had a modicum of separation of research from industry and the Office of the President is using the economic crisis as a smoke screen to validate selling off the campuses to industry. The only way any of this will stop is by the faculty, en masse, passing a “no confidence” vote. But most are probably so overwhelmed with teaching more classes, having fewer TAs, writing more grants, and applying for a job elsewhere to give a damn about the UCs anymore.  

    • Kirstjarv1

      Its sad you think that Babs because your life will probably be saved by one of the innovations UCSF creates. UCSF will not be privatized. As a graduate student there, I serve people who cannot afford high cost medical system. We are innovating so we have a sustained business model so we can provide the best in care. UCSF aspires to train and teach the future healthcare leaders for our state, nation, and the world.  

      If you want to cut costs look towards Yudof and his salary because and how is he serving the community.  I know I have paid back my tuition back in service. We are taught to give back, we are grateful as students. When your State government Mr. Jerry Brown and company makes cuts, it is the students who suffer with higher tuitions, do they care? No because it does not effect them.  I question what the Regents do…UCSF does have obligations, we cannot have a 10 University system to lower the expectations we have the talent and opportunity, UCSF should demonstrate how do we think about innovation, access, and make our financial plan with the state to allow us to benefit the entire UC system.  The innovation does not come from the top it comes from our generation, right now with the patients needs. The techies like myself to provide better cost effective care that benefits you and improve health. Personalized medicine will become real and save billions and trillions of dollars in driving change that benefits patients. Its about you… Turn your anger towards Sacramento and their lack of flexibility…

      Thank you for listening, but its about you, my parents, my friends, I want to help cure and prevent disease. It is more cost effective!!!

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