How to grow the campus budget? Think big

California Memorial Stadium’s Field Club overflowed with entrepreneurial spirit last week, as 130 invited guests — campus administrators, faculty, staff and students, representatives from the UC Office of the President and business-savvy supporters of UC Berkeley — spent the morning exploring new ways to ensure the campus’s financial sustainability.

Bob Lalanne, Gail Kaufman

Bob Lalanne, Berkeley’s new vice chancellor for real estate, and Gail Kaufman, deputy director for the campus Center for Educational Partnerships, bounce ideas around at the Revenue Generation Symposium. (Winston Li photo)

“We have an enormous amount of talent spread out through the whole of the university, and we need to tap into it and enable it,” urged John Wilton, UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for administration and finance, setting the tone for the campus’s third Revenue Generation Symposium. Staged at the edge of the Cal Bears football field, the meeting served as a kind of kickoff for what Wilton framed as a new campus focus on financial growth.

“You can’t maintain Berkeley by cutting expenses only,” he said. “If you look at the math, it just doesn’t add up that you can make the place financially sustainable and grow it simply by looking at one side of the ledger.”

That, in effect, could serve as the current mission statement for the OE Program Office, which Wilton said has pivoted from focusing only on efficiency projects to adding a new focus on fostering growth to support Berkeley’s educational mission as one of the world’s elite public universities.

John Wilton

John Wilton, vice chancellor for administration and finance (NewsCenter photo)

The Operational Excellence portfolio of projects is expected to generate more than $75 million in annual savings while also making university operations more effective and efficient. Now, Wilton said, “the OE Program Office has been asked to be a supporter, an enabler” in turning bottom-up revenue-generating ideas into reality .

The OE Program Office can support units by providing marketing and financial analysis to validate new revenue generating concepts. The office has also assembled two groups of advisers to assist units in strengthening their ideas: on-campus functional experts, and alumni business advisers who bring outside expertise not found on campus. Ideas that make it through the approval process can also receive startup funding in the form of a loan from the OE Program Office.

First, though, come the ideas. And that’s what the symposium was all about.

“It’s about connecting together… in ways that we have never come together before,” said Herman Gyr, a founding partner of the Enterprise Development Group who has consulted with the OE Program Office and was on hand to provide a strong dose of inspiration. His exhortations to “think big” and “build big” were buttressed by talks from a lineup of campus speakers that included the OE Program Office’s director, Peggy Huston, and its faculty head, Vice Provost for Graduate Studies Andrew Szeri, as well as the campus’s new vice chancellor for real estate, Bob Lalanne.

Then, beneath blue-and-gold balloons that floated from eight discussion stations scattered around the room, representatives from across the campus floated ideas — brilliant, promising or not-ready-for-prime-time — on ways to collaborate on creating revenue streams in everything from events and visitor services to academic and intellectual conferences.

The point, Wilton stressed, was to “bounce ideas around and build them,” and to begin the process of helping Berkeley units develop new resources.  The revenue-generation program has been designed so that all net revenue, after paying back any start-up loans, remains in the sponsoring school or department.

The OE Program Office is available to assist your school or department to develop new revenue-generating ideas and strengthen and evaluate your existing ideas. For more information, contact the office via email at or visit the Operational Excellence website.