My August newsletter

August 4, 2015

Dear friends and colleagues,

It has been a busy summer with a lot of exciting things happening, so let’s jump right in with some highlights.

As you may know, Gov. Brown recently signed a final State budget that provides UC with significant increased levels of financial support, consistent with the multi-year funding framework agreement between UC and the State I wrote you about in May. Among other things, the budget agreement allows us to:

  • Hold undergraduate resident tuition at current levels for the next two years, with moderate increases pegged generally to the rate of inflation beginning in 2017–18, which helps students and their families accurately plan for the cost of a UC education;
  • Expand programmatic innovations that support student success, such as eliminating course bottlenecks, improving academic advising, and developing ways to decrease students’ time-to-degree;
  • Reduce our unfunded pension liability, which helps to ensure the long-term fiscal health of the UC Retirement Plan;
  • Budget for annual pay increases for faculty and non-represented staff over the next several years, and also make merit-based pay a more regular component of our systemwide salary programs, so colleagues can be more appropriately compensated for their contributions.

This budget agreement marks the beginning of an era of increased financial stability for UC, and I want to again thank the many of you who helped advocate for our funding needs. Your voices have been critical in helping us achieve this historic agreement and I am deeply grateful for your partnership.

Earlier this month we launched Transfer Pathways, a new academic “roadmap” that simplifies the process of transferring to UC from a California community college by providing a single set of courses students can take to prepare for admission in a given major across any of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses. Approximately 30 percent of UC undergraduates begin their education at community college and this new process is a big step toward creating a simple, straightforward process that supports students in pursuing a UC education.

July marks the one-year anniversary of the UC Global Food Initiative. We have made real progress since last year, from launching food security efforts on every campus and appointing more than 50 student fellows to pursue projects, to convening statewide conferences on such topics as sustainable fisheries and food justice. We have a lot more work to do, but we’re off to a strong start. See our first-year accomplishments for more detail.

I am proud to say that 13 UC sustainability projects received statewide recognition with awards at this year’s California Higher Education Sustainability Conference Best Practice Awards. The awards recognize innovations at UC and the California State University that further campus energy efficiency and sustainable operations. Some of the UC programs recognized include:

  • Installing low-flow showerheads and creating a reusable dishware program at UCLA
  • Improving waste collection practices and reducing contamination of recyclables at UCSB
  • Instituting a new food supply chain program at UC Davis that supplies campus food services with sustainably grown tomatoes and wheat
  • Employing a Web-based water management system and other measures at UC Santa Cruz that has saved 27.8 million gallons of water in just eight months
  • Replacing inefficient metal halide bulbs with energy-saving LEDs in laboratory microscopes and other devices at UC Berkeley

Many of the UC projects are being conceived and led by students, and it is inspiring to see the passion our young people bring to the issue of sustainability and in actively working to improve their campus environments.

Speaking of awards, three UC professors were recognized last month with prestigious 2015 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. The awards honor young scientists for their research and outstanding promise. This is the first time in the history of the awards that a single university system swept all three awards, which is a testament to the talent of our people and our continuing excellence in research.

Finally, last week I announced a new minimum wage plan for UC employees. This plan guarantees that any UC employee hired to work more than 20 hours a week be paid a minimum wage of $15 per hour by October 2017. The plan also requires that outside contractors providing services to UC pay their employees a wage that meets or exceeds the new UC minimum wage. As the State’s third largest employer, how we support our workers and their families impacts Californians, and I believe this is the right thing to do given our values and mission as a public institution and the critical role staff play in the University’s success.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to share an idea or comment, feel free to email me at janet@ucop.edu. And please pass this note on to friends and colleagues you think might be interested. If they like it, encourage them to sign up for future newsletters.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano
President