The Governor and the Chancellor

at 11:35 PM

As my professors always told me, analogy is the worst form of argument but here goes anyway.

This debate between Governor Brown and UC Chancellor Napolitano reminds me of when the governor was Mayor Brown of Oakland. Then-City Administrator Robert Bobb, an experienced manager brought in to turn around a bumbling city, advocated using public funds for a ballpark in downtown Oakland. Mayor Brown, elected on a strong-mayor platform, was unalterably opposed to the idea. Not willing to spend public dollars on a private stadium, the mayor instead supported 10,000 housing units in downtown Oakland to attract business, services and nightlife to the area. Brown won the argument, Bobb moved on and so ultimately did the mayor to Sacramento. 15 years later, anyone who's been to Oakland knows there's a "there there" now, due in large part to Governor Brown's foresight, and with a little help from skyrocketing San Francisco rents. Oakland is now hip, "the next Brooklyn", so maybe team owners will build that downtown stadium. It worked for Brooklyn.
 
So how does analogy relate to the current debate between the governor and the chancellor?  After years of cuts and reduced state funding, the chancellor wants to raise tuition 5 percent for the next five years. The chancellor says the raises are needed to stay competitive with other world-class universities. The governor says more cost-control is needed and questions whether UC needs to follow the path of spiraling tuition and salaries of those other universities. Again, the Governor takes the "long view", addressing the core problem rather than going for the quick fix.  
 
Truth is they are probably both right. The UC system can't rely on state funding alone to maintain its excellence if for no other reason than uncertainty in state revenues. But UC, do your homework. Explain to Californians how much tuition increase is needed to cover costs for the next generation of students, not just the next five years. And Governor, the UC system is more important to California than trains and tunnels -- work with the Legislature to increase state funding for UC.  

With a Perspective, I'm Garrett Keating.

Garrett Keating is an environmental scientist living in Piedmont with his wife and three children.

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