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Audit Focuses on UC Staffing

Education: The system increased state spending on nonteaching staff more quickly than on faculty from 1997 to 2001, study shows.

July 26, 2002|ERIKA HAYASAKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A report released Thursday by the Bureau of State Audits found that the University of California system is increasing its spending of state revenues on nonteaching staff faster than on academic faculty.

From 1997 to 2001, total salary expenditures of tax dollars increased by 28% for nonteaching support staff, including researchers, secretaries and janitors. At the same time, overall spending on faculty salaries increased by 18%, according to the report.

Jeremy Elkins, president of the University of California Council of the American Federation of Teachers, said the audit proves that the university used too much state money to hire administrators and relies too heavily on less-costly lecturers instead of professor-level faculty to teach.

But the system contends that the audit findings simply reflect what it takes to run a complex, modern university, especially the explosive growth in staff needed to keep new computer and Internet systems running.

The system also stressed that only about 30% of the $11.57 billion it spent last year came from state funding. The rest came from tuition, donations, endowments, hospital fees, federal research grants and other sources, some of which support faculty salaries.

The report also found that, over the five-year period, the number of people hired in four support staff categories--management, fiscal and staff services, student services and administration--grew at rates much higher than faculty hiring. Those four nonteaching groups increased staff by between 26% and 67%, compared to a 9.5% rise in tenure-track faculty.

In 1995, the state directed the nine-campus UC system to improve student access to undergraduate education, hire more teachers and improve the academic experience.

Elkins said California is not spending enough money on teachers and is not living up to the state's requirements. "It does seem to be a failure of the public trust, and it raises a question about the university's accounting system," he said.

Paul Schwartz, a UC spokesman, said the audit does not draw any conclusions that the university is not meeting its goals to improve undergraduate education.

The auditors "didn't find any reason to express concern in the report that we were not spending state funds consistently with the [goals for which] they were provided," Schwartz said.

Nevertheless, he said, the UC system has recently decided to reallocate $10 million over the next two years from instructional support and academic administration to the instruction program to hire more faculty and improve undergraduate education.

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