“This” being saddling Orange County’s UC-system campus with a serious long term financial disaster, in the form of an extraordinarily expensive and radically underfunded law school.
UCI’s law school is now in its seventh year. This past fall it pretty clearly threw in the towel in regard to Erwin Chemerinsky’s idiotic goal of creating a “top 20” law school ex nihilo, as it admitted a class with a median LSAT a full four points below the entering classes at UCLA and USC. UCI is now the sixth-most selective law school in California, and the notion that any prospective student would consider going there at any point in the foreseeable future rather than to UCLA or USC (let alone Stanford or Berkeley) at anything like a comparable cost is as dead as Jacob or Bob Marley.
UCI has found itself in a situation where it has to offer big discounts off its preposterous sticker tuition (nearly $45K for CA residents and $51K for non-residents) to more than 90% of its matrics, even as it continues to cut enrollment standards. Its latest 509 disclosure reveals that the school will be pulling in around $9.5 million in net tuition this year, which, given Chemerinksy’s willingness to continue to expand UCI’s stupendously well-compensated faculty (most particularly including himself and his wife) means that the school’s tuition revenue might just barely cover the costs of faculty compensation this year, although it probably won’t. Note that’s just faculty (not including staff) compensation, which at the typical law school accounts for somewhere around 40% of operating costs.
Since the seven year old law school doesn’t have an endowment or an alumni base, tuition money is pretty much the sole source of income, which means this absurd enterprise is bleeding off somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 to $15 million per year from the campus budget, and will continue to do so, even if central administrators finally come to terms with the grim facts and put the kibosh on any further empire-building by the last king of Irvine.