Before heading into the Capitol building, University of California President Mark Yudof was realistic about his chances of influencing Governor Jerry Brown.
"You can't be optimistic that I'll be so persuasive I'll bring tears to his eyes and all will be well. But you never miss an opportunity to make your case to your elected leaders."
That case is "no more cuts". Governor Brown has already signed bills reducing the UC, CSU and community college budgets by $1.4 billion to cope with the state's deficit.
With threats of an "all cuts" budget looming, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed says the governor and lawmakers should be doing the opposite - investing in the state's future.
"Rather than looking back and becoming a third world country. It'll just spiral out of control."
Reed says any more cuts would mean higher education is no longer affordable and accessible to all Californians.