Local impacts of Governor Jerry Brown’s budget cuts earlier this week are already being felt. According to word from Leslie Dawson, Education Coordinator for the Valentine Reserve in Mammoth, which is part of the UC system, on Tuesday the White Mountain Research Station in Bishop, also a part of the UC system, said it would soon close for six months to “reorganize.” Dawson said her understanding of the situation is that WMRS staff has either been laid off, or is going to part time. The station will be closed for research and class use “until the reorganization is complete.”
According to WMRS Director and UC Faculty Advisor Dr. Frank Powell this scenario was a possibility from early on in the budget tug-of-war. “Who knows how the new triggers might make things worse,” Powell observed. “You’ll recall that in the first round UC and CSU took huge cuts, and some of this was recovered in student tuition. Tuition can’t be used for research facilities like WMRS, however.” Likening it to a high stakes game of poker, he opined that the state has essentially been gambling when it comes to cutting institutions such as UC. “I think we’ve lost this battle,” he said. “Citizens simply don’t trust government to use taxes for things they think are important versus wasteful.” Powell expressed his concern that UC stands to lose valuable faculty and students, who are key elements in both education and UC’s world-renowned research institutions.
“WMRS is an irreplaceable resource for both the national science community and the University of California, commented Valentine Reserve Director Dan Dawson. “Despite [the UC budget cut] constraints, many of us are working hard to resolve these issues. I am optimistic WMRS will be reorganized and emerge from this challenge even stronger.”