December 1, 2011
Robert J. Birgeneau, Chancellor
University of California, Berkeley
AACHO - Chancellor's Immediate Office
Berkeley, CA 94720
Dear Chancellor Birgeneau,
Thank you for your time yesterday. I appreciated the opportunity to speak with you about the
issue of appropriate funding for the UC and the related budget challenges plaguing California.
Thank you also for your interest in forging a partnership to address these issues. I'm confident
your University can play a role in pursuing solutions.
It was apparent from our discussion that we share a mutual interest in doing whatever possible to
preserve public education and fulfill the Master Plan's commitment to provide access regardless
of a person's ability to pay. Economic forces beyond our control have created a global recession,
which has forced very difficult budget choices in California, especially as it pertains to higher
education. In fact, we face the greatest threat to public education in our history.
Our current circumstance requires a different way of thinking about how your institution, or any
institution for that matter, interacts with the Legislature and Administration. We cannot problem
solve the way we have in the past because the fundamental and structural obstacles have become
too significant. Everyone in this State is affected by these obstacles and we require an all hands
on deck approach to overcoming them.
In respect to the spirit of collaboration we discussed at our meeting, I am requesting that you
seek key faculty to devote time devising and proposing solutions for these fundamental
challenges such as California's tax structure and its budget process. I am happy to help conceive
with you a structure for this process. I also request you use your position as Chancellor to help
educate students, faculty, parents and Bay Area residents about our grave situation and the need
for each person to make a positive contribution to its resolution.
Our peerless system of higher education is facing unprecedented challenges and we must take
extraordinary measures to ensure its preservation. It is still an exceptional system, albeit with
challenges, but I think you will agree we cannot forsake it by finger-pointing and complaining
while decay takes hold. There is too much at stake.
I look forward to a follow up discussion to explore how I can assist facilitating a UC Berkeley
task force to preserve California higher education as we know it. Thank you again for your
dedication to this challenge and to the students of California.
KEVIN DE LEON
Senator, Twenty-Second District