UCDC Faces Budget Cuts, Reconstruction

The University of California, at D.C. (UCDC) program which offers students a chance to travel to Washington, D.C. and participate in academic internships while earning school credits is today under the axe as financial pressures force a reevaluation of the program’s budget.

UCDC is a program that helps students find internship and educational opportunities in our nation’s capitol. During the summer, the program offers internships in the nation’s capitol, and during the school year these internships are supplemented by regular classes and electives taught by faculty from UC campuses.

An ongoing budget reevaluation, however, might fundamentally alter the way the program is structured. According to the Annual Executive Report for the Washington Center in 2008-2009, published online by Executive Director Bruce Cain, the UC Washington center will “have to operate in the near future with fewer resources.”

The “decline in state revenues and resulting cuts to the UC system as a whole has affected the Center” he wrote,  “as well as the separate campus UCDC budgets.”

“It’s all up in the air,” said Iris Johnson, a student coordinator for UCDC and former participant in the internship program, “the future of the program is coming gradually.” Johnson, who interned for the Peace Corps through UCDC in 2008, says that the program is “involved in your future career.” As to the future of the program, however, she says her office has received little information. She is not worried about the future of the program, which she is confident will not be shutting down.

Sharon Parks, associate director of the Capitol Internship Programs, said about the cuts that, as of right now, she doesn’t anticipate “any negative changes affecting students.”

“Most likely, there will be no major fee changes,” Parks said, “a major change is that the program might be consolidated.”

Instead of each campus having its own UCDC program, curriculum and faculty, the programs may be brought together and unified as a single UCDC.

“We will be phasing in a curricular change,” said Parks. We will focus more on internships, and our staff and faculty will be more focused on student internships. Over the next year, we will still have electives, but the number of electives offered may be cut down.”

If the program is consolidated, there will be one course offering for all the colleges, instead of a program segregated by campus, as exists right now.

In the past, UCs have been able to send faculty to UCDC to teach classes and seminars to students in the program. Under the new budget, that option may not be available.

“The issue of sending faculty is still being decided,” Parks said, “we are not recruiting faculty for next year at this time.”

Instead, Parks said, future UCDC faculty may be hired to work exclusively at UCDC, staying in Washington full-time and teaching only to students in the program, instead of being hired on an itinerant basis through the colleges.

A UCOP task force is currently deliberating over the future shape of UCDC. According to Parks, most of this deciding body is “very familiar with the DC program.”

Though the academic program faces budgetary changes, the summer internship program offered under the same name will be minimally affected.

“We’re not as directly hit as the academic program,” said Bob Gomez, Assistant Director of the UCDC Internship program at UCI. “In tight budget times, we have to prioritize costs.”

“The future of the program is in the hands of UCOP,” Gomez said.

Gomez warns, however, that costs may continue to go up.

“Students who are interested may be challenged by the cost of the internship program,” Gomez said “but you have to pay to play.”

Still, however, the priority of the UCOP task force is to “keep student rates low.”