UC Berkeley journalism school faculty favor $7,500 a year supplemental fee

Edward Wasserman, dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, gives this update on his $10,250 per year supplemental fee proposal:

“On Thursday we took two votes: The first over whether to have a fee at all, the second over how much it should be.BERK The vote on whether to have a fee was 12 in favor, two opposed. Then, given six fee levels to choose from, six faculty members voted for $4,000 or less and eight voted for $7,500.”

The dean says he’s going ask the University Regents to change the fee proposal to $7,500. Here’s his letter:

October 7, 2014
To: J-School Community
Subject: Professional Development Fee Update

Last week the School’s Senate faculty met to decide whether to endorse, reject, or modify the proposal I made to the University’s Board of Regents that would add a supplementary fee that master’s students would begin paying in the ’16-‘17 academic year.

The proposal raised fierce opposition from students, alums, faculty and lecturers – and for good reason. A price hike is never welcomed, but should be considered only when absolutely necessary./CONTINUES

The faculty gave voice to that opposition when we gathered in North Gate Hall on Thursday, and some faculty members expressed intense concern that a fee would deter meritorious applicants and damage the School’s traditional reputation as a haven for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. On the other side was the argument that a vigorous commitment to more grants and fellowships could keep that tradition strong, while the decline in public funding compels the School to move ahead on all financial fronts: fundraising, revenue-generating operations, and pricing our instructional offerings to reflect more fully their costs.

On Thursday we took two votes: The first over whether to have a fee at all, the second over how much it should be. The vote on whether to have a fee was 12 in favor, two opposed. Then, given six fee levels to choose from, six faculty members voted for $4,000 or less and eight voted for $7,500.

The faculty vote, coming as it did at the end of several weeks of passionate debate involving a wide swath of the J-School community, represents a powerful argument in favor of a lower fee than I for one thought necessary. It also came with a number of suggestions about ways to mobilize the community to make the higher fee level unnecessary, as teachers, staff, and alums join in seeking imaginative solutions to a financial constriction that is all but certain to continue.

I take that commitment and dedication seriously, and I believe that by putting financial sufficiency on the front-burner of School concerns we can see to it that the exceptional quality of the J-School is not just maintained, but continually exceeded.

Accordingly, I’m going to ask the University Regents to modify the fee proposal we submitted some weeks ago, and to lower the amount we’re seeking from $10,250 per year to the $7,500 level where the faculty’s judgment coalesced. We estimate the actual average financial impact of this fee per student—once financial aid and other offsets are factored in—will be $4,083 per year in-state and $1,226 for non-residents. (The apparent break for non-resident students is because they will benefit from an additional offset, since a surcharge they currently pay will be reduced if the fee is introduced.)

I understand that even at this lower level many of you will consider this additional cost too high, and I join with you in hoping our aggressive money-raising will reduce its actual impact to even less than the estimates in the previous paragraph.

And I’m equally hopeful that this affair will put the School on the sustainable path it isn’t now on, in part by opening the door to a community-wide outpouring of energy, fund-raising, and innovation directed at making sure that the Graduate School of Journalism remains a world leader in technologically sophisticated, and socially engaged, journalism education.

I look forward to convening a group of teachers, alums, staff, and students to turn that hope into a continuing reality.

Regards,

Ed

Earlier on JimRomenesko.com:
* UC Berkeley j-school dean proposes a $10,250/year supplemental fee
* Journalism students: Why we oppose the supplemental fee proposal


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