Facing budget crunch, Berkeley plans to cut 500 positions

The reductions are expected to save the university $50 million annually

Facing an ongoing budget deficit, the University of California, Berkeley plans to cut about 500 staff positions over the next two years—equal to a 6% workforce reduction, Nick Anderson reports for the Washington Post's "Grade Point."

According to university officials, Berkeley's expenses are projected to exceed its revenues in 2016 by about $150 million, or 6% of its operating budget. From 2014-2015, about 13% of the university's operating budget came from state appropriations.

Berkeley's financial troubles are similar to those at many other public colleges, particularly in California, such as:

  • Declining state funding;
  • Flat tuition rates; and
  • Increasing pension and health care costs.  

However, Berkeley's situation is unique in some ways, compared with other schools in the system. The university does not operate a medical center, which is a common source of revenue for public institutions, and also faces capital expenses for earthquake safety because of its location and aging infrastructure.

Staff, not faculty, targeted for cuts

The cuts, which are projected to save Berkeley nearly $50 million annually, will only affect staff members. Dirks says he will use "normal attrition and position control" to implement the reductions. However, it is still unclear whether there will be any layoffs.

"The resulting staffing levels would be consistent with those we had in the fairly recent past; hence, we are confident that these represent a feasible target," Dirks says.

Besides staff reductions, Dirks says the university also plans other measures to offset the budget deficit, such as academic realignment and fundraising (Anderson, "Grade Point," Washington Post, 4/12).

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