Among their actions last week, the UC Board of Regents reviewed the state's Master Plan for Higher Education Jan. 19 and then, on Jan. 20, voted to pursue continued management and operations of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Regents also discussed the importance of graduate education in keeping California competitive.
M.R.C. Greenwood, UC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, told the board that the 1960 Master Plan -- a framework of policies outlining the structure and responsibilities of California's public higher education system -- continues to provide important guidance. She also noted a number of ongoing challenges at UC associated with the Master Plan, including maintaining its promise of affordability and fulfilling its commitments to quality and access amid state budget cuts.
The Master Plan provides UC with a specific role as the state's primary research and doctoral degree-granting institution, in addition to its other responsibilities in teaching and public service. With that in mind, the regents also discussed the importance of graduate education in fueling innovation and economic development in California.
As UC undergraduate enrollments have grown to meet the demands of population growth, enrollments in UC graduate programs have stayed largely flat in recent decades, with the exception of an uptick in the last few years.
Graduate students represent about 23 percent of UC's total enrollment.
The regents also granted UC President Robert Dynes the authority to submit a competititve proposal for Lawrence Berkeley lab to the federal Department of Energy by the department's Feb. 9 deadline.
Under the proposal, UC will be the prime contractor and will propose that the lab staff remain UC employees and part of the systemwide pension and benefits program.
Dynes informed the regents that the university's proposal for the use of Department of Energy fees, which come with the management contract, would maximize the benefit to scientific programs and continue the university's policy of allocating funds for administrative and operating needs while returning the excess fee funds to the laboratory for additional research by its scientists.
The current contract to manage the laboratory is set to expire on Jan. 31.
Congressional action in 2003 mandated that DOE conduct a competition for management of any laboratory contract that had been in place for 50 years or more without competition. Five national laboratory contracts, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, were affected by this action.
Berkeley Lab performs research in nanoscience and advanced materials, the life sciences, computing, energy and earth sciences, physics, and cosmology. It also operates a homeland security office dedicated to fundamental scientific research to develop methods for ensuring the safety of the United States.
More than 250 Berkeley Lab faculty and scientists hold joint appointments with UC Berkeley and other UC campuses.