The Financial Sustainability Initiative seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our financial operations and to devise new ways to allocate the resources we do have to ensure their highest and best uses.
UC Berkeley has contemplated various ways to improve our financial operations. These efforts have sought to respond to the multiple challenges we have faced as a campus, including the depletion of centrally held reserves, historical inequities in funding across academic divisions, concerns about the adequacy of administrative and academic support services, and a financial system that has created incentives at odds with our goals, strategies, and values. The Financial Sustainability Initiative is addressing these challenges by reviewing our budget as a whole and creating a framework for how we will approach the necessary changes we will need to make to improve our financial operations.
The goal of the financial sustainability initiative is to develop a finance and budget system for the UC Berkeley campus consistent with the principles of equity and fairness. To do this, the team will:
Develop a campus budget model that is greater in terms of simplicity, predictability, and transparency and better aligns resource allocations to institutional goals, academic activities (e.g., instruction), and costs.
Work to preserve the quality of the exceptional programs and services available at UC Berkeley.
Allow for adequate resources at the center to fund new programs, improve our infrastructure, and strengthen our financial and operational sustainability.
Develop realistic implementation plans to provide units adequate time to plan and prepare for long-term changes and that may include subventions to address changes in the short term.
The three primary work streams involved in the initiative are the Central Ledger, Academic Funding, and Academic and Support Unit Funding.
The Central Ledger
The central ledger supports many activities that are core to maintaining our status as the preeminent public institution for teaching, research, and public service. These include the funding of faculty salaries, startup and retention packages, and academic support via temporary academic support (TAS), utilities, debt service, capital expenditures, and student support services. However, revenues that flow into the central ledger are inadequate to pay for all these activities, which has led to the rapid depletion of centrally held reserves in recent years. Unless we correct this issue through the FSI, once reserves are depleted, we will have to begin reducing the general allocation to campus units and severely curtailing in-year commitments in order to balance the central budget.
An academic funding model was developed during the previous finance reform initiative; its objective was to rationalize the distribution of limited resources to colleges and schools using both qualitative and quantitative criteria. On the qualitative side, planning and funding for faculty (i.e., FTE, salaries, start-up, retention) were to remain under the auspices of the departments, colleges, schools, the Senate’s Committee on Budget & Interdepartmental Relations (the Budget Committee), the Vice Provost for the Faculty, and the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, to ensure that the academic goals and excellence of Berkeley are maintained. On the quantitative side, funding, largely for staff and operations support, was to be allocated based on instructional and research activity levels. As noted, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the implementation of this funding model, the basic components of which we believe remain important to achieving fair and equitable funding among the colleges and schools. That noted, we’ve also had two years to reflect on issues that might warrant rethinking certain aspects of that funding model.
Funding for Academic and Administrative Support Units
During the last finance reform initiative, a great deal of analytical work was conducted to understand the breadth of our academic and administrative campus support, as well as the costs associated with that support. In addition, discussions continued as to how we might develop an allocation model that would financially assess colleges and schools in order to fund these critical support services. It is understood that it would be impossible to impose certain assessments on colleges and schools without first increasing the resources available to them; in a way, certain funds may simply be passing through the colleges and schools, but in a way that creates incentives that lead to greater efficiencies. While we will need to revisit many of the assumptions behind previous analyses, we hope to build on them as we develop a new system of assessments.
Comparative Utilization and Efficiency Studies
As we move toward an allocation model where the costs of essential administrative and student support services are distributed across the campus, we need to have confidence both that they are adequately funded to meet campus needs and that those services are delivered as efficiently as possible. We also need to be certain that the services provided represent core needs, because our financial reality means we anticipate making difficult decisions about the services we provide versus those we can consolidate or eliminate. Given this, we plan to conduct a series of comparative utilization and efficiency studies for key academic support and administrative services to provide the analysis essential to the accountability and transparency needed to secure the support of the units — largely the colleges and schools — that will be paying for these services.
Additionally, as part of this work, certain aspects of governance (e.g., how decisions are made about the funding needs of “cost centers”) will be discussed and potentially revised. With regard to certain support services, a review of those services with an eye toward better understanding the current efficiency of their operations and funding needs will be conducted. This will be of use in determining the level of funding for those units, as well as possibly the method of funding.
The FSI Advisory Group
The FSI Advisory Group is composed of representatives from each decanal subgroup (Council of College Deans; Council of Science & Engineering Deans; Council of Arts, Humanities, and Social Science Deans; and Professional School Deans), the Vice Chancellor for Research, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and the current CAPRA chair.
The FSI Advisory Group will also support establishing a plan for communication to, and the solicitation of input from, the broader campus community, particularly leadership groups such as the Cabinet, the Council of Deans, the Academic Senate, and the Chief Administrative Officers and Divisional Finance Leaders.
The Analytical Team
Benjamin Hermalin, Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost
J. Miguel Villas-Boas, Chair, Committee on Academic Planning and Resource Allocation (CAPRA)
Lisa García Bedolla, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
Daniel Feitelberg, Interim Vice Chancellor of Finance and CFO
Chris Stanich, Associate Vice Chancellor, Financial Planning & Analysis
Katherine A. Yelick, Vice Chancellor for Research
David Ackerly, Dean, Rausser College of Natural Resources
Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean, School of Law
Sara Guyer, Dean, College of Letters and Science, Division of Arts and Humanities
Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, Executive Dean, College of Letters and Science
Tsu-Jae King Liu, Dean, College of Engineering
- Andrea Lambert-Tan, Assistant Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff to the EVCP
- Aaron Smyth, Assistant Director, Revenue and Strategic Initiatives, Financial Planning & Analysis
- Chris Stanich, Associate Vice Chancellor, Financial Planning & Analysis
- Rita d'Escoto, Executive Director, Budget and Financial Operations
- Rosemary Kim, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff to the Vice Chancellor for Finance
- Sara Tecle, Chief of Staff & Strategic Project Manager, Financial Planning & Analysis
- Amy Robinson, Assistant Executive Dean, College of Letters and Science
- Dat Le, Assistant Dean, College of Engineering
- David Castellanos, Budget Director, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
- David Covarrubias, Finance Director, Division of Student Affairs
- Holli Griffin Strauss, Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration, College of Letters and Science, Division of Social Sciences
- Loretta Ezeife, Chief Financial Officer, Haas School of Business
- Marissa Gardner-Saraf, Senior Assistant Dean of Administration, College of Chemistry
- Monica Porter, Senior Assistant Dean of Operations, School of Optometry
- Sereeta Alexander, Executive Director, Office of Planning and Analysis, Division of Finance
- Terence Phuong, Executive Director of Business Operations and Chief Financial Officer, Berkeley Information Technology
- Financial Sustainability Initiative Analytical Team Appointment - February 24, 2023
- Charge to Assess the Fixed/Overhead Costs of an Academic Department - September 1, 2023
Finance Reform (2018-2021)
Key Documents: Statement of Purpose and Scoping Document - July 3, 2023