UC Berkeley announced Tuesday the launch of a new crowdsourcing website intended to gather ideas on raising its revenue from the campus community.
Because of its current annual budget deficit of $150 million, UC Berkeley has been seeking out innovative revenue solutions and cost-cutting measures. William Rohrer — a community engagement specialist in the Office of New Revenue Initiatives, which was created about two months ago by the vice chancellor for administration and finance — spearheaded the development of the crowdsourcing site, called Ideaction, and said the students, staff, faculty and alumni of UC Berkeley had valuable ideas to offer.
“The idea with this site is that we have this great big (UC) Berkeley community,” Rohrer said. “They’re leaders and experts in every field, both on campus and off campus. Their experiences are so much more vast than anything our small department could know or come up with.”
After making an account, UC Berkeley community members are allowed to submit ideas for raising campus revenue and vote on other potential solutions. Some ideas that have been submitted already include expanding housing for faculty and staff, as well as renting out excess residential hall space in the summer through an organization such as Airbnb.
Rohrer said he does not know whether such excess space exists in the summer, though he added that the idea brings up other options such as renting out campus facilities that become vacant at some point in the year.
Other UC Berkeley departments are working on raising revenue for the campus through intellectual property, research, UC Berkeley-owned real estate and alumni giving, according to Rohrer. He noted there are some campus departments that are looking into raising revenue independent of the rest of campus.
“One of the cool things about our initiative is we have an open-door policy,” Rohrer said. “We can act as an office to connect ideas.”
UC Berkeley recently dissolved the Office of Strategic Initiatives, which was created at the beginning of the year to support comprehensive economic and structural planning for the campus amid financial challenges. In order to cut costs, the campus had also considered reorganizing programs such as the College of Chemistry and may cut staff by 500 positions in the next two years.