UC President Salutes Day of Action

By Jessica Greene
|  Thursday, Mar 4, 2010  |  Updated 4:06 PM PDT
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Students at UC Berkeley carry signs as they march through campus.

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University of California President Mark Yudof said Thursday that he supports students who are staging a statewide "Day of Action" against cuts to education funding.

In a statement, Yudof said, "My heart and my support are with everybody and anybody who wants to stand up for public education. I salute those who are making themselves heard today in a peaceful manner on behalf of a great cause."

"Our public institutions, from kindergarten to the doctoral level,  have shaped our nation's course and are an essential piece of the American fabric," Yudof said. "Here at UC, through the Master Plan for Higher Education, we have created a model emulated throughout the world. It's time that model started receiving the support it deserves in the place of its birth."

Yudof continued, "As my predecessor Clark Kerr often said, higher education should never be regarded as a cost, but rather as an investment.  The university is an investment, not only in an individual's well being, but also in the public good."

Yudof has been a big target in the education cuts. Last year, campus police were forced to temporarily halt a UC Regents Board meeting during a discussion about the cuts. After public comment time was over, upset protesters exploded with emotion.

For more than 10 minutes, they hollered "Whose university?" then answered, with cheers and fist-pumps, "Our university!" The crowd then began chanting "Lay off Yudof!" while UC President Mark Yudof sat at a table about 50-feet away.

After meeting in Sacramento on Wednesday with Yudof and other education leaders and students, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he expects today's rallies to be peaceful.

Asked at a news conference if he was concerned that the protests would spawn unrest like that seen at the University of California at Berkeley last week, Schwarzenegger said, "I think that I have enough faith in our students that they're going to go and rally and let their voices be heard but they do it within the law."

Schwarzenegger said it's "terrible" that the state has had to make cuts in education funding but he said it's been forced to do so because it faces a $20 billion budget deficit.

The governor said, "We have had great discussions here about the funding mechanism" and that he's making it a priority to find permanent funding sources for higher education in California.

"We've got to start thinking not only about this year, when we are in this year of crisis, but to think in the future about how do we guarantee  that there is enough funding available for education," Schwarzenegger said.

He said California should reform its tax system to insulate it  from dips in the economy.

"Our economy went down by 2.8 percent and we had a drop in  revenues last year of 27 percent, so that is a dysfunctional tax system," he  said.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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