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 four primary work streams involved in the initiative are the Central Ledger, Academic Funding, Academic and Support Unit Funding, and Comparative Utilization and Efficiency Studies.
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 Financial Sustainability Initiative is a major undertaking, which, to be successful, will require a great deal of analysis, planning, and consultation. To that end, we have appointed a Steering Committee, led by the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Ben Hermalin and Vice Chancellor Rosemarie Rae, to manage and provide guidance across the FSI’s multiple workstreams.
The Steering Committee will also establish 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 Steering Committee is supported by the Dean’s Advisory Group, which represents the interests of the schools and colleges and liaises with the Steering Committee and the Council of Deans to provide updates, feedback, and counsel on the work as it progresses.
The Analytical Team conducts the planning and analysis for each workstream, and develops recommendations for how to move forward. The Analytical Team is composed of financial and administrative leaders within our academic and administrative units who possess the subject matter expertise in finance and other disciplines essential to the success of the FSI.
Please send any questions about FSI to firstname.lastname@example.org
Benjamin Hermalin, Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost
Holly Doremus, Chair, Committee on Academic Planning and Resource Allocation (CAPRA)
Lisa García Bedolla, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies
Rosemarie Rae, Vice Chancellor of Finance and CFO
Chris Stanich, Associate Vice Chancellor, Financial Planning & Analysis
- Katherine A. Yelick, Vice Chancellor for Research
Deans Advisory Group
David Ackerly, Dean, Rausser College of Natural Resources
Erwin Chemerisnky, 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
- Financial Sustainability Initiative Deans Advisory Group Charge Letter - January 24, 2023
- 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
- Monica Porter, Senior Assistant Dean of Operations, School of Optometry
- Nicole Cernok, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis, University Development and Alumni Relations
- 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
Finance Reform (2018-2021)