By Lisa Cisneros | January 19, 2012
UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, proposed to the University of California Regents on Jan. 19 that a small working group be formed to help UCSF explore options to secure its financial future so it can realize its vision to become the world’s preeminent health sciences innovator.
She emphasized that UCSF must create a financially sustainable enterprise-wide business model, one of five goals she and her leadership team set as part of a three-year plan outlined by the chancellor in her October State of the University Address.
While raising tuition to address revenue shortfalls caused by continued cuts in the state’s funding of higher education aids UC campuses with larger undergraduate populations, “tuition increases barely make a dent in our fiscal plan,” Desmond-Hellmann told the Regents’ Committee on Educational Policy at UC Riverside.
Desmond-Hellmann said that she and her leadership team believe that UCSF needs to “make changes to UCSF’s business model to reach our aspirations of preeminence.” UCSF is looking at options that include:
“We feel that we would like to operate with maximum flexibility to tap into expertise and operate in a way that allows us to respond to the changing environment,” she said, with members of her leadership by her side.
The chancellor said the charge of the working group would be to explore alternate financial relationships between UCSF and the UC system, as well as alternate governance strategies that reflect UCSF’s status as the sole UC campus with a scope that is limited to graduate health sciences.
Desmond-Hellmann recommended that she submit a list of proposed working group members to Regents Chair Sherry Lansing and UC President Mark Yudof and that the working group present its findings to Regents in July 2012.
Lansing, who says she has an open mind to the proposal, gave approval for UCSF to take the next step and she thanked Desmond-Hellmann for her presentation, which had been delayed due to protestors that interrupted the meeting.
“I don’t assume we have all the questions answered that’s why we need a working group to dig into the details,” Desmond-Hellmann told the Regents.
Simultaneously, UCSF will continue to focus on reducing its administrative and operational expenses – an Operational Excellence initiative launched in early 2010. UCSF also will continue to explore ways to increase existing revenue, she said, and raise new revenue.
Outside the Regents’ meeting, Desmond-Hellmann said UCSF has no interest in privatizing or seceding from the UC system. “Let me be clear, we are strongly united with UC and our nine sister campuses. What I am proposing is that we explore all options for creating a financial model that enables UCSF to best position itself to meet the challenges of a 21st century academic medical center.”
She stressed that UCSF would still operate within the framework of the UC system and would continue to pay for services, such as employee pension and benefits, legal services and presidential initiatives.
“What is at stake is our ability to deliver on our public mission and serve the people of California,” she said before the Regents’ meeting. “To meet our public mission, we must aggressively confront our financial challenges. A successful and sustainable business model will allow us to strengthen our excellence in education, research and patient care.”