Provost George Breslauer: ‘Don’t let public higher ed in California be destroyed’

At a UC rally in Sacramento on Nov. 16, UC Berkeley’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer offered these remarks to students and members of the press:

I want to speak from the heart with you. I’ve been a Berkeley for 40 years and on the faculty in the dept of political science. I arrived in 1971. I’m now in the senior administration, trying to wrestle with the difficult tradeoffs that we wrestle with every day. It breaks my heart to see what has happened to the master plan for higher education, to community college education, the Cal State system and the UC system as a result of the budgetary travails and the budgetary gridlock that have gripped this state. 

I’ve been through many downturns. I lived through the downturns of the 70s, of the early 90s, of the early 2000s, of the late 2000s. This last decade was the only decade in my recollection in which we had two major cuts to the universities’ budgets.  That’s unprecedented in my experience here.  I’ve seen the beauty of higher education in this state. I’ve seen what it means to the people of this state to not only educate a broad citizenry, but give them a top quality education, and then see them become the drivers of innovation — whether it’s innovation in creative arts, or innovation in engineering and technology. All across the board, they become drivers of innovation in this state, and California became as powerful of an economy as it has become, and as vibrant of a society as it became, only because it had these engines of education and upward mobility that kept re-feeding the innovative creativity and energy of this state.

I’m not usually a passionate speaker. I don’t do well at rallies. But I’m speaking from the heart. It is a beautiful thing to have observed for 40 years, how this community college system and CSU system and UC system created together the glory of this state.  It takes 100 years to build that. It takes 10 years to destroy it. Please, whatever it takes, please don’t let it be destroyed.