As the University of California grapples with massive budget reductions, the youngest institution in the 10-campus system is once again being forced to defend its very right to exist.
Furloughs, program cuts and layoffs now plague the system, and those draconian measures have many asking whether the university can afford to nurse along the Merced campus, which was born into controversy and still struggles to attract students.
The summer headlines had private college trustees sweating. The bottom had fallen out of the economy, tightening credit markets spread fear about the availability of student loans, and students’ parents were getting pink slips in record numbers. As concerns grew about the prospect of faltering enrollments, many small, tuition-driven colleges decided to ratchet up a tried and true strategy: tuition discounting.
Few think the clock will be turned back to the Berkeley of the 1960s, but the protests planned across the University of California today mark a return to the tactics of another era. This time, however, the cause isn’t free speech or an end to war, but instead a response to the university administration’s budget-cutting proposals.