The UCLA Anderson School of Management’s plan to gain more autonomy and financial self-sufficiency is coming under fire from critics on campus.

The executive board of UCLA’s Academic Senate recently voted unanimously against the plan. Board members did not want to approve the proposal in its current form, saying it needed wider consideration across the campus.

The recommendation, if accepted by UCLA’s leadership, could stymie the graduate business school’s hope of phasing in the program starting in the 2011-12 academic year.

Senate Chairwoman Ann Karagozian said committees that have reviewed Anderson’s proposal to forego state funding in exchange for greater autonomy want a campuswide task force to study the plan and suggest possible alternatives – a process expected to take between six and nine months.

“This plan has profound implications for UCLA, and as currently proposed has a number of issues of concern,” said Karagozian, a professor of engineering, noting that her group reviewed feedback from several faculty committees on campus before making the recommendation.

A majority of Anderson’s faculty backs the proposal to eliminate public funding.

In response to the University of California system’s budget crisis, Anderson unveiled a plan in September that would give it greater power to raise its tuition and fees, which are much lower than many top private schools. The school would also launch increased fundraising to beef up its endowment. If authorized to begin the transition next year, annual tuition for full-time master’s students would increase gradually from its current $41,000 to about $53,000, including a $5,000 discount for California residents.

The move was part of Anderson’s effort to remain competitive with other top-tier public and private graduate business schools and retain star faculty by paying as much as institutions that have been able to offer richer deals.

Greater autonomy

In order to get greater autonomy, the school would stop accepting state funds. Currently, about 18 percent of Anderson’s $96 million budget comes from the state, with the rest covered by tuition and fees for degree and nondegree programs, plus some alumni and other private support.

Still, if Anderson turned away the $17.9 million it currently receives from the state, it would only have to make up a $5.6 million shortfall. The school would keep $8 million in tuition and fees that now go to UC for reallocation back to the campuses. It also would be paid $4.3 million for administering UCLA’s undergraduate accounting minor.

Anderson’s budgets and programs would continue to be subject to review by campus leadership.

The plan is contingent on the UC system continuing to send the current amount of state funds to the campus based on UCLA’s total student count. The university would channel the money not used by Anderson to cash-strapped undergraduate programs.

UC Regents last week approved an 8 percent fee hike for undergraduate students, which follows a 32 percent increase implemented last year. Graduate schools have seen similar increases recently as years of underfunding by the California Assembly have left the UC system with a budget shortfall of more than $800 million, about $200 million at UCLA.

Critics of the plan fear that if Anderson revenue fell short of projections, there might be a financial risk to UCLA. They also are concerned that prospective Anderson students already are being priced out of attending the school.

“Retaining the differential between the privates and publics is a principle worth preserving for the citizens of the state who have already invested substantially,” Paul Davis, chairman of the UCLA Council on Research, said in a letter to the Academic Senate.

Anderson’s plan requires approval by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. After that, it goes to University of California President Mark Yudof for his approval.

Anderson Dean Judy Olian said the next step in the process is a review led by Provost Scott Waugh. She said she did not believe there was a need for the wider review that the Academic Senate recommended.

“We certainly respect the senate’s opinion, and we’ll respond to some of the concerns that we feel are misinterpretations of what we are proposing,” said Olian.

She said the school was not attempting to privatize itself. In the most recent vote, 69 percent of Anderson’s faculty endorsed the plan.

The Academic Senate is not necessarily opposed to Anderson’s goal.

“Could self-sufficiency ultimately be appropriate for Anderson or another school? The senate isn’t closed to that,” said Karagozian. “But a larger group needs to look at all the issues.”

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