Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Budget Cuts Hammer University of California Star Faculty Retention

I thought about this recently, having traveled to UCLA for both the Noam Chomsky and David Horowitz events, not to mention my coverage of Students for Justice in Palestine.

The Westwood campus is awesome. Too much construction, but it's a great feeling being on a research campus again. It feels so promising. And I was a little surprised at the vitality, since there's been so much talk of decline at the UC system. Anyway, certainly things aren't going as well as state leaders would like, and that's keeping in mind that UC is more insulated from budget crises than both Cal State and the community colleges. But this report at Los Angeles Times shows a real drag on maintaining quality and prestige. See: "UC fears talent loss to deeper pockets: The departure of three star scientists from UC San Diego has officials worried about a possible brain drain tied to budget cuts."

Read the whole thing at the link. I found fascinating the salaries of the three UCSD scholars lured away to Rice Univerity:
[Jose] Onuchic, who is co-director of UC San Diego's Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, said he was drawn to Rice mainly for the research funds and new building, along with the chance to work with cancer experts in Houston. "The opportunities were spectacular," said Onuchic, whose research focuses on protein movement and chemical reactions in gene networks. His UC salary, including summer grants, is $265,000; he and his colleagues said Rice would give them 40% increases.

The three scientists are expected to take with them much of their National Science Foundation grant, which has paid $6.6 million since 2008 and is expected to provide several million more over the next two years. At Rice, their funding will also include a $10-million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, created with a $3-billion state bond issue approved by voters in 2007.

[Herbert] Levine, 55, who has been at UC San Diego for 25 years and earns $187,000 a year, said Rice's new and larger lab space and extra administrative support was too good to turn down. Another factor is that Rice, which has a fifth of UC San Diego's 27,417 students, is much less bureaucratic, he added.

[Peter] Wolynes, 58, is a 10-year veteran of UC San Diego and earns $330,000 a year. Moving together keeps the team intact — it's a "Three Musketeers situation," he said — and the Texas cancer money will mean less hustling for grants. He still greatly admires UC, he said, but believes its "period of expansion" may be over.
These are accomplished scholars, and well-compensated. And it's no surprise that they'd be able to make much more money elsewhere. There's a market for top academics. And public universities struggle to stay competitive in tough economic times.


Bartender Cabbie said...

Now if Rice could just lure a good football coach.....