University of California 2010 Accountability Report

About the Report

About the University of California 2010 Accountability Report

  1. Introduction
  2. Key Themes and Trends

PART I - INTRODUCTION

Background and purpose

This second University of California Annual Accountability Report is part of the comprehensive framework announced by President Yudof in July 2008 to ensure greater accountability across the UC system. It measures campus and Universitywide performance in meeting core goals that reflect UC's teaching, research and public service missions.

The measures or "indicators" that are used in this report cover a wide range of topics, from undergraduate access, affordability and success, through research and the University's budget and finances. Because coverage in any one area is necessarily limited, nine accountability sub-reports are published periodically to take up specific issues in greater detail. Together with other progress reports that are routinely produced by the campuses, the Academic Senate and the systemwide administration, these accountability reports will be used to understand how well—and at what cost—the University is meeting its goals, and how much its core functions are affected by changes in internal and external environments. They also will support strategic planning and inform budgetary decision-making; help ensure responsible stewardship of the institution; and promote and reflect the University's commitment to be open and accountable to all Californians.

Audience

As a management tool, this report is written to be used by system leadership, Senate and campus administration, faculty and staff. But it also is intended to be a public document, written for the broad range of University stakeholders, from state legislators and prospective donors to the parents, teachers and counselors who routinely coach, encourage and mentor the next generation of UC undergraduates, and for current and former students worldwide. And it is written for California's taxpayers, who ultimately contribute so much to the maintenance of this institution. All of these groups have a need and a right to know how well UC is performing. Accordingly, the report is written for a general audience.

Scope

The report assesses the University's performance achieving key Universitywide goals that are distilled from several sources: the California Master Plan for Higher Education; the Board of Regents' policies and budget priorities; the Academic Senate; the campuses' strategic and academic plans; and the ongoing discussions of the Board of Regents. It also provides baseline metrics that will enable the University to assess the impact of state budget cuts. The report has evolved somewhat from last year:

Just as UC's second annual accountability report reflects growth and development over its first report (May 2009), each annual accountability report will continue to evolve with the University's understanding of its own goals, the impacts of internal and external environments upon its processes and increasing sophistication with the use of accountability measures.

Methodology

This report is divided into three parts: the Introduction (Part I); Key Themes and Trends (Part II); and standardized graphs, charts and data and related narratives that describe the University and its 10 campuses in relationship to each other and to comparison institutions (Part III). Part III includes 14 sections, each of which begins with an introduction describing the goals for that area, related metrics and next steps. Indicators are introduced with brief descriptive titles. In most cases, additional background information is supplied for each indicator, typically in bulleted form, in order to provide new or essential context that assists in the data's comprehension.

Three kinds of data are used in Part III: longitudinal data that tracks campus trends over time; systemwide data that compares the UC campuses collectively to averages for the 34 public and 26 private U.S. research universities that in 2009-10 belonged to the American Association of Universities (AAU); and individual data that allow each UC campus to be compared to one another and to eight research universities—four public (Illinois, Michigan, SUNY-Buffalo and Virginia) and four private (Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Yale)—that UC historically has used to benchmark faculty salaries. To ensure neutrality, comparative data are presented for the UC campuses and comparison institutions are arranged alphabetically.

A number of conventions were adopted for Part III to ensure the report's accessibility to a general audience as well as its integrity and internal consistency:

Although the campuses share common values, they differ in size, scope and complexity depending upon their programmatic mix, their funding structures, their founding date and other factors. A common scale highlights these differences and is a first step toward developing understandings about why campus differences exist and what they mean.

For consistency, repeated use is made of a small number of standard graph and chart types. Because it can be difficult to figure out exact percentage differences from charts and graphs, a web-based version of this report is being developed that will link directly to the underlying data. As much as possible, trend data for both UC and its comparison institutions are preferred over snapshot data for a single year.

A final note to readers

Institutional assessment is an inexact science. Comparable data are difficult to come by for good and legitimate reasons. In addition, there are no national databases or reporting conventions for certain kinds of data—transfer students or faculty teaching workloads are two examples—so comparative data in these areas do not exist.

Even where data are seemingly robust—a university does or does not receive $550 million in federal research funds in a given year—their interpretation is rarely beyond dispute. Some federal research funds, for example, may be sub-contracted to another university and thus double-counted in national statistics.

Finally, the report is limited by the data that are available. A key challenge is the tendency for reported indicators to lag behind policy and environmental changes. For example, the effects of state budget cuts on the University's operating budget may affect student access, enrollment, diversity and faculty retention, but these effects may not be apparent for several years to come. We can report only data that are available, but the available data, however valuable, cannot convey the full complexity of what students learn, the value of the University to the state or the impacts of environmental changes upon the University.

For these reasons, the reader is urged to not read too much about the University into any single measure. Rather, use indicators in combination with one another to gain a feel for the University as a whole.

Part II: Key Themes and Trends >>