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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tuesday, July 19, 2016
As you may have seen, the Regents will vote July 20th on a proposed revision to their By-laws and the University's Standing Orders.  An original presentation was made at their May 12 meeting; tomorrow's discussion will be about a modified version of that proposal.  You can find the modifications here. Commentary on this has been provided by former Regent Velma Montoya (here and here), Hank Reichman at the Academe Blog has commented here, and the California Association of Scholars has sent a letter reprinted here.  I urge you all to read the various documents and commentaries but I wanted to clarify some of the important issues quickly.

The proposal combines two major sets of changes.  The first is a dramatic alteration in the Regents committee and meeting structure--an alteration that could reduce both public debate and oversight in important ways.  And second, the proposal begins a process that will likely result in the elimination of the Standing Orders of the University.

These proposed changes have led to a wide range of criticism. The weakness of the arguments in favor of these changes suggests more fundamental problems with the current status of the Board of Regents.

1) At present the Regents have 10 Standing Committees.  The proposal reduces this number to 6 and vests important internal power to the Governance and Compensation Committee.  In addition, the Chair of the Board, Chairs of Committees, and the President of the University are being given the authority to determine the scheduling of discussion whenever an individual Regent wants an item added to an Agenda (3).  Importantly, although Committee meetings are traditionally held sequentially under the new system, different Committees will meet concurrently during the 1st day of the Regents meeting, making it more difficult for newspapers, members of the University community, and members of the public to attend all the meetings they are concerned about. Interestingly, there will no longer be a Long-Range Planning Committee.

It is, of course, impossible to know how these changes will actually affect the Regents practice.  But having listened to the discussion at the May meeting, I am not confident that they serve any purpose other than the centralization of power.  In discussing the origins of these proposals, proponents suggested that they grew out of a Regents retreat and were a response to the sense that too much time at meetings was spent listening to reports from administrators.  I have a great deal of sympathy for anyone forced to suffer through an administrative filibuster.  But there is a simple way to avoid that--demand that all reports be in writing, sent in advance, and then read them before the meeting.  That way you can push back against the filibuster by asking intelligent questions or raising objections. If the individual Regents are too busy to do that then they should just decline the honor of serving on the Board.

Reducing the number of Committees and dividing up Committee presentations will not solve the problem of too much transactional activity--all it will accomplish is reduce the possibility of public oversight and also increase the specialization of Regents even if the second day has a long plenary session.  As with their reorganization of the Health Care Committee--where a report indicating a problem of communication internal to the Health Sciences enterprise led to an expansion of central power under the Regents--the Regents have identified one problem and proposed a solution to something else.

2) The Governance Committee is also proposing that the Standing Orders be absorbed into the newly drawn By-Laws.  Although I don't agree with the CAS that the Standing Orders function as some sort of legislative record, they are correct that they should not be folded into the By-Laws.  (It is the fact that they are not a legislative record that gives them their importance).  The Standing Orders as they stand now have been infrequently changed and they are extremely detailed.  It is their public detail that makes them so important.  To give only one example, when the Regents determined that they wanted to give President Yudof special furlough powers they needed to make explicit changes under public scrutiny--scrutiny that produced a great deal of debate.  To be sure, the Regents did what they wanted to do--as is their wont--but they needed to do so publicly and with their responsibility marked out. If you want wider input, then publicity is important. Of course if you don't, then having vaguer rules will have that effect. The new By-Laws are in fact much vaguer than the Standing Orders, which will allow for changes with less scrutiny. One argument made in favor of this change is that the By-Laws take a 2/3 vote to change while the Standing Orders only require a majority vote. But the simple answer to that is to make the Standing Orders require a 2/3 vote as well.

In a nutshell, the Regents are considering a set of changes that may make it more difficult for the public to see what they do at their meetings and allow for policy changes to proceed along vaguer than usual lines. At a time when UC administrators are under increased scrutiny and the University itself is viewed with greater suspicion of being out of touch with the State, the Regents are proposing a major overhaul of their organization and relation to the public without real justification or careful university wide discussion.  That one likely result will be greater control in the hands of fewer Regents is a cause for alarm. The whole process highlights fundamental problems with the practice of Regental governance.
Posted by Michael Meranze | Comments: 0

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016
Although overshadowed by North Carolina's recent HB2 (forbidding transgender individuals from using the bathroom of their choice), the state's Republican majority has proposed a bill that could seriously undermine the colleges and universities that have traditionally served North Carolina's minority population.  Despite its proclaimed aim to address the problem of student debt, SB873 likely will exacerbate the state's inadequate funding of Higher Education in general (a reduction of over 23% in State funding between 2008-2015) and potentially devastate the finances of four institutions that historically focus on African-American and Native American students. It would also encourage them to increase the number of their out of state students and overturn decisions made by students about projects they wish to support with their fees.

Although notable for its explicit emphasis on institutions that serve primarily minority populations within the state, the North Carolina proposals are simply the latest in a series of legislative interventions into the decision making of public universities.  These interventions combine a reduction of state funding with increasing micro-management in the name of the interests of students.  As with recent cuts in Wisconsin and Illinois, North Carolina's Republican legislative majority has assumed a populist mantle while pursuing policies that would have their greatest negative effects on those colleges and universities that have the fewest resources and that serve the poor and people of color.

SB873 has several key elements:

First, the law institutes a regime that would ensure that tuition prices and student fees are held constant for students who complete their program in 8 semesters (10 for those in 5 year program), and for a time to be determined for transfer students.  There is no provision about tuition raises for each entering class nor any indication of increased state funding, so one likely result is that institutions will expect those who enter later to subsidize those who have entered earlier.

Second, it would simultaneously force a cut in student fees, starting in 2018. Strikingly, the law requires that student fees be cut between 10 and 25% below 2016 fee levels.  Apparently this would all but prevent the construction of a new student union at NC Central in Durham--a campus and location known for its traditions of political activism, especially around civil rights.  It may be a coincidence.  I'll leave that to you.

These first two elements--in the context of North Carolina's reduced funding for higher education--threaten to further undermine the overall quality of the state's higher education system. On the question of fees, which are often voted on by students, it represents the legislature's continuing intrusion into university life and their undermining of the University System's autonomy.  On both questions it remains unclear how Margaret Spellings, recently appointed as President of the University System, will react.

But the real heart of the Bill is in the sections dealing with the colleges and universities that have traditionally served North Carolina's minority populations.

1) SB873 lowers the tuition per semester for 5 institutions to $500 per semester. 4 of these institutions have made it their mission to serve historically under-represented groups (the fifth, Western Carolina University, has not had the same mission).  To give an example of the effect, one of the institutions (Winston-Salem State University) currently charges $1619 per semester.  So the law would reduce tuition revenue by over 2/3.  Although the prime author of the bill has indicated that the legislature might raise funding to compensate, there is no such clause in the bill or anything on the horizon. The University's Faculty Assembly estimates that this clause of the bill will cost the four minority institutions roughly 60 Million dollars annually.

2) At the same time as the bill would cut tuition revenue from residents, it also encourages the 5 institutions to increase their reliance on non-resident students. Currently, there is an 18% cap on non-resident student populations.  The Bill urges the campuses to reconsider this cap and to consider seeking more out of state students if it would "increase the number, academic strength, and diversity of student applications at those institutions." (3)  The likely result, as the Faculty Assembly notes, would be "non-minority students displacing minority students in the admissions applications pool." (4)

3) The Bill also encourages the University System to consider changing the names of these institutions.  This suggestion is a real puzzler unless the purpose is to ensure that people no longer connect these universities with their historic missions.

4) The Bill does include new funds for merit scholarships to help a small number of students to attend either North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and North Carolina Central University (40 in-state and 10 out of state students at each institution).  These are the State's other two HBCUs and they are currently on a stronger footing. By providing some increased incentive to attend NCA&T and NCCU while cutting tuition at Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Winston-Salem State University it appears that the State intends either to push the latter four institutions from their tradition mission of access or into financial insolvency.

Jelani Cobb has suggested that North Carolina's efforts to control access to public bathrooms is a haunting return to the late 1950s and early 1960s battles over civil rights--including the conflict between federal and state authority, and the declaration of state's rights and God's morality against a minority seeking equal access to public facilities.  SB873 is more than an echo.  After all, passed it threatens to undercut access to higher education for North Carolina's minority population while prompting targeted institutions to shift their demographics to out of state students or to students with less connection to the Universities' traditional missions.  Although done in the name of populism, it is a reactionary populism.

If North Carolina's legislators are really concerned with ensuring access at low prices to all of the state's students then they should fund the freeze, as Nicholas Fleisher has argued regarding similar developments in Wisconsin.  Otherwise their professed concern for students is simply empty rhetoric.

You can find the proposed law HERE

Analysis by the University's Faculty Assembly is HERE

UPDATE:  In response to criticism from the University of North Carolina System and the individual universities, the lead sponsor of the Bill has withdrawn the 3 Historically Black Universities from his proposal of a dramatic tuition cut although UNC Pembroke will still be covered..  Inside Higher Education has the story HERE.


Posted by Michael Meranze | Comments: 2

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016
The simplest political question posed by the ongoing Katehi crisis is, "Can state government trust the University of California to clean its own house?"  The non-firing of Linda Katehi says, "No."  It's hard to imagine a better targeted confirmation of UC's reputation in Sacramento for poor management. If we didn't have the Katehi Affair, Jerry Brown would have had to invent it.

Yes she deserves due process, yes women chancellors deserve it as much as male chancellors do, and yes the campus view should be decisive rather than UCOP's.  But UC's bureaucracy should have prevented the chancellor's "mistakes" before they happened, or an internal investigation should have caught them before the Sacramento Bee did, or President Napolitano should have completed her investigation before she tried to fire Chancellor Katehi, or she should have succeeded in firing her on the basis of the preponderance of the evidence she already had.  None of these things happened.

Dense corporate controls entangle every regular UC employee on a daily basis. It takes dozens of person-hours in a half-dozen offices to set up a post-doc contract.  A researcher can wait 6 months--at least I once did--to get final approval on an outside vendor contract when there is a wrinkle, like a specialized foreign researcher who doesn't carry liability insurance.  The Katehi affair tells the public that senior managers live by different rules. It says the same thing to UC employees.  

This fragmenting of the university polity goes deep.  It's an effective short-term managerial technique, since it divides and demobilizes.  It does enormous long-term damage.  We can't measure that with existing metrics.

One type of damage appeared in CHE coverage of faculty views, where the faculty seemed not just divided but individually ambivalent and unclear.  The title of the piece could have been, "What's Going On?" The interviewees were not working from an explicit standard of management behavior that they felt they should enforce.  Contrast these views with the UC Davis students whom Amy Goodman interviewed and aired on Friday.  Seniors Parisa Esfahani and Kyla Burke (pictured above) produced precise, detailed explanations of the conduct they were protesting. They tied that to their big picture policy issue, "the normalization of the privatization of the university," which they said was subordinating education to money making.  They offered an integrated analysis of the range of Katehi "mistakes" as symptoms of a worldview that they did not accept.  The sense of belonging to the university, and the right / obligation to establish principles to which its leadership would be held to account, has come from the undergraduates.

I thought Linda Katehi should have resigned after the pepper-spray incident in 2011. I thought this not because it "happened on her watch," but because she was unable or unwilling to fix it afterwards. The officer in question, John Pike, earned global fame for the casual contempt with which he doused seated protesters with pepperspray, marking them as outside of the universitas, outside of society. Chancellor Katehi didn't rush to the students' defense, and/or condemn the act (even with the using "pending a full investigation"), and/or discipline wrongdoers in a direct and forthright way. Her eventual reaction became her trademark: slow, calculated, and unsatisfying.  This helped spread the damage through the system, as UCOP hired celebrity chief Bill Bratton's then-firm Kroll Security, with its own conflicts, to investigate UC overall.  She seemed not to take hold of the real issue--obvious police misconduct leading to the violation of the civil rights of the protesters, and of their human dignity. "These are our students, or our neighbors. And this is a university," she did not say.   She did not convene the university as a community with the permanent, historic obligation to understand itself.  My gut feeling was that she presided over "UC Davis" without connection to it.  I was struck by her walk through the silent crowd of students, at night, surrounded by bodyguards, unable or unwilling to speak, as though enfolded in a martyrdom of her own making.

I won't rehearse her current errors--they have received much attention, including Angus Johnston's definitive anatomy of the inane Internet scrubbling contract.  But I will note that her board service was not like that of the other chancellors.  She accepted positions at institutions that are directly opposed to UC interests. King Abdulaziz University games rankings with cash payments to prominent researchers for quasi-no-show jobs in exchange for sharing their citation credit, in order to leapfrog universities that have built reputations over decades. Wiley thrives by overcharging universities and their students for their own research results. DeVry prospers more when UC's public funding is less.  Such board payments are not invitations to internal critique--these institutions get abundant external critiques for free--but to use public servant stature to legitimate for-profits. Chancellor Katehi has shown serial poor judgment, and to me all the incidents flow from the same failure to understand how people think and feel when involved in public service.  She's not a bad person. She just doesn't get it. 

My diffuse but fundamental concern is the general aura or ethos that Linda Katehi has helped sustain. It's not so much the petty self-dealing, culminating in putting her reputation ahead of that of the entire university's, as it is the short selling of what a university is.  The university should stand for justice, enlightenment, and the continuous reconciliation of our private interests with the general welfare.  It should constantly trace great teaching and research back to open communication.  It should benefit student finances rather than hurting them. It should be a public good in the existential sense, where, for starters, regular citizens feel like the university is on their side.  It should model democracy, starting with managers possessed of generosity toward the role of student protesters in having prompted the investigations, and of enough epistemological humility to learn from critics.

This is the university I want. I'm convinced the wider public wants it too.  We have already learned what happens when we don't deliver it.

Posted by Chris Newfield | Comments: 7

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
President Napolitano has placed UC Davis Chancellor Katehi on "investigatory administrative leave." This action follows weeks of debate about the Chancellor's decision to serve on various corporate advisory boards and reports that UC Davis had hired media consultants to "scrub" the internet of reports on the UC Davis Police Department's infamous use of pepper spray on non-violent student protesters in 2011.

Here is some of the news coverage.

From the Sacramento Beehttp://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article74181532.html

From the Los Angeles Timeshttp://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-uc-davis-chancellor-20160427-story.html

From Fox40.comhttp://fox40.com/2016/04/27/uc-davis-chancellor-linda-katehi-placed-on-investigatory-administrative-leave/

From Davis Enterprisehttp://www.davisenterprise.com/?p=647883&preview_id=647883

We will add information to this post as it becomes available.

UPDATES:

President Napolitano's letter to Chancellor Katehi: http://www.sacbee.com/latest-news/article74371162.ece/BINARY/UC%20President%20Janet%20Napolitano%20letter%20to%20UC%20Davis%20Chancellor%20Linda%20Katehi

From Inside Higher Educationhttps://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/04/28/uc-davis-chancellor-placed-leave-over-employment-daughter-law-and-son

From The Chronicle of Higher Educationhttp://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/uc-davis-chancellor-is-placed-on-leave/110781

From the New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/29/us/uc-davis-chancellor-accused-of-violations-is-removed-from-post.html?hpw&rref=education&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0

UPDATE ON CHRONOLOGY:

From the Sacramento Beehttp://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/the-public-eye/article74801327.html





Posted by Michael Meranze | Comments: 0
by Linda F. Bisson, Former Chair, Davis Division of the Academic Senate, 2006-2008; 2011-2012
Rachael E. Goodhue, Chair Elect, Davis Division of the Academic Senate 2016-2018


Dear President Napolitano:

We want to express grave concern over a pattern of negativism in the press and social media regarding women Chancellors and senior administrative leaders. 


There are strong parallels between the singularly intensive criticism of our Chancellor Linda Katehi and that previously of Chancellors Fox (UCSD) and Denton (UCSC), and of UC Vice President Greenwood. Yet, the activities that are being criticized clearly fall within the standards of UCwide practice.  This pattern is exemplified by a 2006 LA Times article that criticized compensation practices for senior UC executives: those singled out for criticism for “extravagant pay practices, perks and privilege for top executives” are all women. 

The intensity of the criticism at the time ended in tragedy for Chancellor Denton. Chancellor Fox’s term was equally framed as fraught with turmoil, turmoil apparently not experienced by her male colleagues who were facing identical issues due to budget cuts and lack of diversity and inclusion. In an article in the San Diego Union Tribune written on Chancellor Fox’s decision to step down, she is described in terms steeped in implicit gender bias, including the quote ascribed to former President Richard C. Atkinson:  “She handled that as well as she could have handled it” – not as well as anyone could have handled it or as well as it could have been handled.

Women in leadership positions are often the victims of intense implicit bias and, as a consequence, of the phenomenon of “single storyism” - the reduction of their actions to a simple narrative that appeals to the biases of a broad section of society, in this case implicit gender bias and women being incompetent for their position. Whatever they say or do in response is twisted to fit the “single story.”  We think the LA Times article listed above illustrates perfectly the problem of the single story experienced by senior women administrators at UC.  If the LA Times story were rewritten today, Chancellor Katehi’s name is likely the only one that would be added to the list.


All of UC is richer because of the participation of women and underrepresented groups at all levels. We know you and your leadership team share this belief. We are concerned that UCOP does not recognize that senior administrators who are identified with an underrepresented identity vital to our diversity are subject to vilification in the press simply because of that identity.  We are also concerned, as recent press regarding our Chancellor Katehi demonstrates, that Chancellors and other senior administrators are not well-equipped to deal with single storyism, nor is there the recognition that others, such as UCOP, must step in to address the criticism as well.


The absence of factual information on UC policies and practices with respect to external compensation for all senior administrators has led to speculative and negative public debate regarding a single senior woman, when the practice of external involvement is widespread. We would like to request clear articulation from UCOP of both the formal policies and the informal practices as they pertain to executive compensation (e.g., have senior managers been encouraged to participate in activities outside UC). We note that legislators are calling for the same review. UCOP's understanding of the broader issues involved is essential to informing these external discussions. The need for UCOP to take action is urgent.
 

We thank you for considering this request.
 
c:  AndrĂ© Knoesen, Chair, Davis Division of the Academic Senate
     Dan Hare, Chair, Academic Senate
     Linda Katehi, Chancellor, UCD
Posted by Chris Newfield | Comments: 10

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016
We post two faculty responses to the letter that the University of California's president--in the company of all ten campus chancellors--sent to the American Anthropological Association to express their "concern about the Association's proposed resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions." The AAA membership vote on the resolution opened on April 15th. Materials on the Association debate can be found at AAA Resources Regarding Engagement with Israel/Palestine.

Letter 1, from Professor Fogu to Chancellor Yang, has been endorsed by the UCSB Faculty Association.

LETTER 1

To: Chancellor Henry Yang
From: Claudio Fogu, Dept. of French & Italian, UC Santa Barbara


I am writing to express my concern for your signing—along with the nine other UC Chancellors—a letter drafted by UC President Janet Napolitano, dated April 19, 2016, urging members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) not to ratify a proposed boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I am fully aware of the fact that along with many other universities, the University of California, in the person of its president (Policy 1300), has already expressed its opposition to “academic boycotts” in the past, and has the right to do so. I question, however, both the inclusion of chancellors in signing this letter, the lack of any consultation with UC faculty about its content and/or the wisdom of sending it, and, most importantly, the timing of it.

If Policy 1300 does give our President the right “to speak for the University,” this right comes to her from the Board of Regents, and it presumably refers to all matters of administrative and public representation of the University as an institution. On the other hand, the University of California also has a long-standing tradition and commitment to shared governance, especially when it comes to questions impacting academic matters. The two principles are clearly at odds with each other and it is therefore a delicate matter of interpretation and political acumen for a President to decide when it is appropriate to speak on behalf of the University. The fact that President Napolitano asked all ten chancellors to sign her letter indicates to my mind that she was not certain of having the authority to send that letter and therefore sought to buttress her right by involving the chancellors. At a time in which shared governance has been eroded for several years in the system, it is particularly disturbing to witness this instrumental use of authority and lack of consultation with UC Senates and faculty on matters of great concern to the faculty.

I am not referring to the actual merits of the academic boycott under consideration by members of the AAA, but to the very serious interference with the voting of a resolution by members of a scholarly association who are employed or may be employed by our university. It is one thing to speak for or against resolutions taken by scholarly associations in favor of the academic boycott of Israeli universities, as it was the case with the American Studies Association in 2013. The protest came after the vote had taken place, and, whether one agrees with it or not, it did not interfere with the actual voting procedures. To send a letter that explicitly claims that “the University of California believes that an academic boycott is an inappropriate response to a foreign policy issue and one that threatens academic freedom and sets a damaging precedent for academia,” and therefore “urge(s) Association members to consider the boycott’s potentially harmful impacts and oppose this resolution,” is not only misrepresentative of the percentage of UC-system scholars who support the boycott, but also a far cry from the right to public critique and from the defense of academic freedom invoked in the letter. For an institution that hires the members of an association to urge them to vote one way or another is at best interference, and at worse intimidation.

With all due respect I hope you will consider consulting at least with the head of the Academic Senate next time you are invited by UCOP to sign a letter on behalf of UCSB.

LETTER 2

To: President Janet Napolitano and Chancellors Dirks, Katehi, Gillman, Block, Leland, Wilcox, Khosla, Hawgood, Yang and Blumenthal
From: Mark LeVine, Dept. of History, UC Irvine


I am writing to express my strong concern and anger at your April 19, 2016 letter to the American Anthropological Association regarding the ongoing vote of the organization's membership on whether to endorse the Academic Boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Let me begin by pointing out that when the ten chancellors of the UC system and its President can't even remember the correct name of the organization they are writing to criticize—you called the AAA, one of the oldest and most prominent learned societies in the United States, the “American Association of Anthropologists”--it does not auger well for the accuracy and cogency of the arguments that follow. Sadly, this fear was confirmed by the contents of the letter. As has already been expressed by colleagues at UC Berkeley after former Chancellor Birgeneau and EVC and provost Robert Breslauer attempted to interfere in the AAA vote late last year, it is “unacceptable that [senior UC Administrators] would lend their voices to the organized intimidation of critics of Israeli state policy, and we particularly worry about the effect of such intimidation on our junior and more vulnerable colleagues.”

Far from being the private opinion of academics concerned about the potential actions of colleagues, you are speaking directly and officially for the University when you declare that “the University of California believes that an academic boycott is an inappropriate response to a foreign policy issue and one that threatens academic freedom and sets a damaging precedent for academia.” Before even offering a critique of your arguments I find myself compelled to point out that while you have come together to take a highly public, united stand against a boycott of academic institutions complicit in a five-decades long occupation, you have shown nothing close to this level of attention or unified voice to condemn the very real violations of academic freedoms associated with the ongoing systematic sexual harassment (and worse) suffered by women at UC, dozens of new cases of which have come forward in the period between the Regents' much condemned attempt to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism in its March 23 policy statement and your present letter. I would like to know, How can you justify the amount of time and energy spent coordinating this letter when no similar collective letter from all of you has been issued surrounding the clear and ongoing dangers faced by women at UC, not to mention the harassment experienced by various minority communities on campuses across the University? (In fact, such collective letters on issues not directly related to the University are an unusual occurrence.)

Turning to the letter, I would like to ask, by what right and upon what evidence can you, without a vote of the Academic Senate, make an explicit declaration of what the “University of California believes”? As far as I can tell, whenever members of the UC community have expressed their collective opinions on the issues of academic boycotts or BDS more broadly, large percentages of those participating in such discussions have endorsed them, as evidenced by the votes of the Associated Students of UC (ASUC), the system-wide student Senate, as well as several campus AS Senates, in support of divestment resolutions. Moreover, the publicly available evidence clearly shows that substantially more UC professors are on record either endorsing BDS or at least refusing to label it as anti-Semitic then are their colleagues offering the criticisms outlined in your letter. This was most recently made clear by the overwhelming opposition to the Regent's universally condemned attempt to classify anti-Zionism (and particularly BDS) as a form of anti-Semitism. Nowhere does your letter mention the diversity of opinion at UC on the issue you are making such a definitive pronouncement.

While as individuals you have every right to speak your views on BDS or any issue, you clearly do not have an imprimatur to speak on this issue on behalf of the UC community on the issue of BDS, never mind adopt a position that is clearly at odds with the majority of its publicly expressed opinions. Your letter can only be understood as reflecting a troubling disregard both for shared governance and for academic freedom and honesty as well. By using your power as the senior leadership of UC to declare an official policy that is in opposition to the expressed opinions of a significant share of the UC community without any discussion of the issue by Academic Senate, you are potentially causing significant harm to members of our community. This is especially true of students, staff and junior or non-Senate faculty who might feel intimidated by your declaration of official policy into silencing their constitutionally protected opinions.

Your letter is also extremely troubling because it seriously distorts the nature and meaning of the BDS call under discussion by the AAA and other professional organizations and, as important, utterly ignores the disastrous situation faced by Palestinians during half a century of Israeli occupation. Beginning with the latter, as the newly released State Department annual report on human rights once again makes clear in its second paragraph (and which is supported by the regular reports of every major global, Israeli and Palestinian human rights monitoring organization there is), Israel systematically denies Palestinians the right to education and more broadly “discriminates against Palestinian [citizens] in almost every aspect of society,” while engaging in “unlawful killings, use of excessive force, and torture” against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. And these actions are merely an addition to the mundane brutality and crimes associated with the massive ongoing settlement enterprise whose perpetuation and intensification is the Occupation's acknowledged goal.

Indeed, your description of the Israeli occupation as merely a “foreign policy issue,” as if it was a trade dispute between WTO members, betrays a particularly shocking ignorance and disregard—I do not know which is worse—of the brutal realities of the Occupation. How, may I ask, can you write a letter expressing such concern over a well-established protest strategy with a long and proven history while saying nothing about the world's longest occupation and all the very real harm it does? I would like to invite all of you to come to the Occupied Territories and experience life as a Palestinian, particularly a student or professor routinely and systematically denied the right to pursue her or his education, research or teaching, and then explain to the UC community how this debate is merely over a “foreign policy issue.”

Turning to Paragraph 2, you argue that “free expression, robust discourse, and the vigorous debate over ideas and principles are essential to the mission of academic institutions worldwide.... These freedoms enable universities to advance knowledge and to transmit it effectively to its students and to the public. The University of California has a strong tradition of free speech and the free exchange of ideas, and it is our responsibility to defend academic freedom and our scholars’ ability to choose their research and colleagues. Limits to the open exchange of knowledge and ideas between our universities stand in direct opposition to our values and goals.”

This argument is riddled with empirical flaws and inaccuracies that are quite frankly inexcusable coming from senior academics in your positions of administrative power and public prominence.. To begin with, as all the debates over BDS in professional associations such as the AHA, ASA, MESA and now AAA make clear, in no way does the call for an academic boycott entail restrictions on free expression, robust discourse or vigorous debate. In fact, just the opposite is true. The very act of bringing BDS before our professional organizations has stimulated unprecedented debate around the Occupation and the larger conflict.

Moreover, in no way does the BDS call advocate restrictions on “our scholars' ability to choose their research and colleagues” (to speak for myself, I continue to do research, write and otherwise collaborate with many Israeli scholars). What it does do is suspend institutional cooperation and collaboration with Israeli institutions that are in any manner complicit in the Occupation, which sadly most Israeli universities clearly are. Yes, this policy demands a sacrifice by scholars, both Israelis and their colleagues; but this is a small price to pay to highlight the incredible suffering endured by Palestinians because of the Occupation, including the large-scale destruction of the Palestinian education system during the half century of occupation, systematic thefts of funds and equipment, and prevention of Palestinians from even leaving the Occupied Territories, never mind establishing anything close to the level of collaboration with foreign colleagues and universities that Israel enjoys (please check your records and report to us how much UC has spent collaborating with Palestinian compared with Israeli higher education institutions and scholars).

What's more, the present policies of uncritical collaboration itself exacts a very high price, on Palestinian education, about which you have nothing to say. Indeed, these realities have led upwards of two dozen Israeli anthropologists to support the BDS call. Did you consult with them or their colleagues in other disciplines in Israel who support BDS to understand the varieties of opinion within Israeli academia on this issue before making your pronouncement? Isn't that what scholars are supposed to do? Should you, as the most senior scholars at UC, be setting an example in this regard?

Even more troubling, you do not mention in your letter that UC is one of the top 5 institutions receiving “BSF” (US-Israeli Bi-National Science Foundation) grants, with campuses engaged in multiple projects with Israeli universities involving significant research funds. My own campus, Irvine, established the “UC Irvine/Israeli Scholar Exchange Endowment for Engineering Science Program,” whose $2 million endowment supports collaborations with Israeli universities, such as Tel Aviv University and The Technion, which are deeply and publicly implicated in the machinery of the Occupation. A 2014 MOU between Governor Brown and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the legislative resolutions supporting it, have further “unfettered collaboration between Israeli and California Universities.” Unfettered for Israelis, yes. Impossible even to dream of for Palestinians, however, as they have no comparable collaboration, and very often are illegally prevented from leaving the Occupied Territories by Israel when they do. I do not recall the last time the President or chancellors have spoken with one voice about these issue. Do Palestinian students and academics not matter in any meaningful way?

Finally, in your third paragraph you argue that “an academic boycott goes against the spirit of the University of California, which has consistently championed open discourse and encouraged collaboration with scholars and peers from international institutions of higher education.” This too is highly inaccurate. The University of California has never made an official pronouncement condemning or even calling attention to the systematic violations of Palestinian rights to education (never mind all the other even more basic violations they are subject to). How is engaging in long-term collaborations worth untold millions of dollars with a country engaged in an illegal occupation while remaining utterly silent about its actions against the occupied population in any way equatable to a “championing of open discourse and collaboration” in a fair and balanced manner? Of course, it is not.

You conclude you letter by “urg[ing] Association [of American Anthropologists] members to consider the boycott’s potentially harmful impacts and oppose this resolution.” Again, you make no mention of the harsh conditions faced by Palestinians as part of their daily existence attempting to participate in their education system. No discussion or even recognition of the incredibly “harmful impact” that clearly exists because of Israel's actions, and nothing that suggests you are in any way interested in offering a balanced view that actually takes into consideration the very real and substantial issues that the call for a boycott is intended to raise. Let's be clear: the merits of the BDS strategies certainly warrant discussion and debate. But this letter engages in neither; choosing instead to make what are essentially partisan political pronouncements based on assumptions that do not bear even the slightest scrutiny.

President Napolitano, you have stated that “UC is the gold standard. Together, we must ensure that this standard is upheld.” This letter violates the spirit and letter of this pledge, as it is ethically and empirically flawed, engaging in a misleading attack on a specific strategy of non-violent resistance that has a long history of successful deployment by oppressed peoples around the world (including African Americans), misrepresenting the opinions of the UC community, of the AAA, and ignoring the large-scale injustices suffered by the people on whose behalf the BDS movement is acting. All of this done on UC letterhead acting in your official capacities as the leadership of the University. I urge you publicly to withdraw your ill-conceived attempt to interfere in the democratic deliberations of a learned society and consider how the leadership of UC can better reflect, or at least not interfere with, the diverse opinions of our community, while using the immense power of the University to help advocate both for those suffering and fighting against injustice and oppression, not just in Israel/Palestine, but globally.
Posted by Chris Newfield | Comments: 3

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016
I only skimmed the content of the decree because my eyes were drawn to the mighty list of signatures, at left, that took up half the page.  Had I ever before seen the UC president and all ten campus chancellors joining their signatures to support a cause? I racked my brain for this kind of Senate memory of the 2000s. It came up empty.  All eleven signatures.  UC united! It's the UC United Front.

My mind began to wander. I thought of the audiences at the lectures I've given at universities this year.  They seemed generally to agree that the current public university system is broken, and that the fixes I propose should be developed. But they usually don't think that we--faculty, staff, and students--can do anything to implement them.  One reason is that only senior managers speak for the university to the political, donor, trustee, and executive classes. At UC, it's the president alone.  So what can the rank-and-file educators actually do?

Here was an answer: UC's Eleven! Perhaps they came together to speak out on the Big Four features of the broken paradigm we can't get past.  Still gazing at the signature list, I mused:

  1. Perhaps they grew tired of the "cost disease" fixation that obscures quality issues with false expectations for cost reduction. Maybe they read the UCSB memo saying "curb your enthusiasm" about teaching the surge, and realized that without further ado the Committee of Two deal would hinder instructional progress. So they wrote to demand 21st century quality for all UC undergraduates--and in solidarity with CSU and the CCCs.  Their short letter might calculate the increased cost of individualized instruction for all, and quantify state increments that would get us there without increasing tuition and student debt.  The Eleven call for Active Learning for All!
  2. Or maybe they were noting that UC had put all its eggs in the STEM basket, although at least half of its degrees are awarded in the arts, humanities and social sciences (SASH), and although all global problems have sociocultural as well as technological dimensions. Perhaps The Eleven were writing to call for new cross-disciplinary hybrids, and for campus funding rebalances to build the first adequate SASH research infrastructure.  UC's Eleven call for funding for Quant-Qual Syntheses for Global Problem Solving!
  3. At the same time, universities have oversold the commercialization of STEM research. Perhaps The Eleven had become concerned that federal agencies, state legislatures, and their own campuses were slighting the great basic STEM research that had no future revenue potential. Perhaps they saw a connection leading from the long-term businessing of science to the stagnation of federal funding, to their own ever-growing internal subsidies (10.2.3), and to the regular voter's doubts about whether universities are on her side.  So the Eleven were calling for Multiple Technology Pathways, in conjunction with Full Costing of Research by all extramural sponsors!
  4. Possibly UC's Eleven were worried that the state still didn't get that only the full reset of public funding would enable the required educational quality without high student debt.  The state Master Plan had created free public universities when the state was 90 percent white.  Universities started raising tuition around the time that more students of color were arriving.  They then really jacked up tuition during the state cuts when Gov. Pete Wilson was whipping up anti-immigration sentiment and getting the UC Regents to eliminate affirmative action. No doubt this was a coincidence, but The Eleven could be putting all that behind us. They were calling for a Full Funding Reset to serve Post-Anglo California!
Well, I thought, maybe any one of these calls is too much to ask of a three-paragraph diktat.  Perhaps they would be pledging new vigilance in rooting out sexual misconduct on campus, or agreeing to address administrative bloat, or reigning in non-resident enrollments, or capping executive compensation, or expressing commitment to employee and student privacy in electronic communications, or declining ever to serve on boards of companies that directly compete with (while being parasitic on) the University of California. 

Or perhaps they would be supporting Jerry Kang, UCLA's Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, who has defended the right of "members of our Bruin community" to express support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) without being individually named "as a murderer or terrorist." The Eleven might have been endorsing VC Kang when he wrote, "the recent Statement of Principles Against Intolerance adopted by the UC Regents encourage quick and forceful response (Principles i and j)" to attempts to harass or intimidate someone or some group on the basis of "religious and cultural identity" or "political commitments."   

I ended my reverie and re-read the actual letter.  In reality, UC's president and all ten campus chancellors had come together to instruct a professional association that voting in favor of BDS is incompatible with academic freedom.  (The American Anthropological Association's Resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions is here.) The eleven senior managers spoke in the name of the University of California ("The University of California believes that an academic boycott is an inappropriate response to a foreign policy issue . . ."; "An academic boycott goes against the spirit of the University of California.)  As far as I can tell, the authors consulted with no one, may have breached the "Consultation with Faculty" requirement of Regents Policy 1500, and decreed the right answer in an ongoing national debate in which one side sees BDS as defending academic freedom, not abridging it.

On top of the letter's improprieties, what a waste of the UC Eleven.
Posted by Chris Newfield | Comments: 3

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

After approximately eighteenth months of unsuccessful negotiation, the Non-Tenure Faculty Association at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign has gone on a two day strike. Since 2014 the Union has been seeking a formalized system of multi-year contracts, guarantees of academic freedom protection, improved grievance proceedings, access to promotion and reappointment, and increased compensation. These goals are similar to those recently negotiated by NTT faculty at the University of Illinois, Chicago. As of this point the University has not agreed to most of these demands. As of this morning hundreds of strikers and their supporters were on picket lines at the campus.

As part of a press release announcing the strike, Union leaders explained their decision to engage in a work stoppage this way:

“This is a fight to force the administration to recognize the valuable work that non-tenure-track faculty have done at the University of Illinois for decades–work that needs to be supported through a union contract,” stated Union President Shawn Gilmore, a lecturer in the English Department.

Dennis Dullea, a senior instructor in English, and Vice-President of NTFC Local #6546, added, “Currently most of our members exist on temporary, nine-month contracts. Many of us have been ‘temporary’ faculty for over twenty years! It’s time to prioritize our students’ learning experience. Multi-year contracts mean faculty are able to focus on teaching and preparing their courses rather than on wondering if they will have a job in the fall. These contracts will bring stability to the faculty, to our students, and to the campus community at large.”

After more than eighteen months of attempting to resolve these issues at the bargaining table, the union has decided that a strike is necessary. “Our door is always open,” said lead negotiator Kay Emmert, “but after twenty-nine negotiating sessions, with little to show for our efforts, our members are telling the administration: Enough is enough!”

“We have continually tried to negotiate a contract that would support our work as educators,” said Christina De Angelo, instructor in Spanish and Portuguese and chair of the NTFC Strike Committee. “Having a fair evaluation system in our contract would allow us to expand our teaching strengths to make sure that all of our students receive the quality education they deserve. We say ‘Education First,’ and the administration’s only response is ‘No’. Their constant refusal to act on these important issues has forced us to take these steps and to demonstrate how serious we are about improving campus life at UIUC.”

You can get more information on the strike at the Union's website.
Posted by Michael Meranze | Comments: 0

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016
Is there a post-crisis recovery for UC and its university kin?  So far, not so much.  At this blog, we've been forced to chronicle permanent austerity.  The long-term problem was confirmed this week by a Public Policy Institute of California report that reviews the public funding cuts of the past several decades at all three segments of higher education in the state.  (If you are just tuning in, Hank Reichman has a helpful overview of the PPIC and State Auditor reports, and of editorials decrying the long-term state disinvestment.)  There's no news in the PPIC report for our readers, and the Senate "Futures Report" on the UC budget identified the same trends ten years ago.  But it's good to know the cuts word is now spread around.

So the question is, what are Sacramento or Oakland or local campus administrations going to do about it this time?   How about some focused goals for rebuilding?  Could we set some goals?  For example, could we say, "no students sitting on the steps in any lecture hall anywhere at UC by Fall 2018?" This is the first step towards where UC needs to go.

To end bottlenecks and then get to the real upgrades, we're going to need to end our current UC spin cycle.  The cycle is Problem--Kludge--Drift--Crisis--Pushdown.   Push the crisis down to the lower levels.  And repeat.  The cycle isn't addressed but is enabled by the marketing and public relations crusades to which UC has become so prone (e.g., Prof. Reichman and Bob Samuels on the recently-revealed UC Davis effort to scrub the pepperspray incident from Internet search results.)   Some of our problem is money. Some of it is how we bury our problems as fast as we can.

Step 1 is to face the fact that we can't just keep postponing the repair jobs.  Our time is up.  We have been watching the cram down of publics to a lower functional level for a couple of decades, and have long watched the cuts widening the gap between them and their private university cousins.   Chronic underfunding has seriously damaged the public research university core, which is Instruction and Research.  As the same problems stay unsolved year after year, the public on whom we count to fund the rebuilding decreasingly believes in the quality of the former, and has been blinded to the costs of the latter. Polls show that large majorities of the public want strong public universities (80% in the March PPIC poll, page 21).  But they are not convinced that public university quality has been maintained, or that research is a major cost in which state taxpayers must share.

I see declining faith in UC quality in occasional media reports and in the comments of UC students, particularly those who have friends or family at comparable private colleges. I see it in low take rates of UC admits.  Systemwide data show that all non-flagship campuses need to admit five students for every one that actually comes.  We often focus on the gigantic and growing number of UC applicants or on the proportion of UC applicants who end up on some UC campus (43.5%).  But if we look at each campus as a distinct university, we might wonder at the low percentage who think that specific UC campus is the best educational choice for them.  The non-flagship UC may be serving as the world's biggest safety school for the top 1/8th of high school graduates.

In addition to public skepticism, universities face powerful commercial and political forces that want to unbundle them into training pathways that can be separately monetized.  This would mean dumping the infrastructure that integrates the curriculum--and that supports research.  This week's ritual Chronicle of Higher Education query, "should universities exist?" appears as an interview with the economist Tyler Cowen, who ponders whether universities are different from anything else and why professors aren't more like bloggers.  In reality, the answers to such questions aren't that tough. Universities do integrative instruction across disciplines and methods like nothing else. They conduct indispensable, money-losing research like no other institution is willing to do.  With teaching, public universities need to show Active Learning + Individual Feedback --> Cognitive Gain.  I'm being simplistic, but you get the direction.  And yet our publicity hides the problem rather than inspiring progress.

Step 2 is to anchor every single institutional change in a clear positive goal.  We have an unfortunate wealth of examples of not doing this.  Nearly eight years after the financial crisis hit, Berkeley's chancellor described a structural deficit that would force permanent restructuring on top of the continuous search for savings of the past decade (see Section 4).  This week, he announced that 500 jobs would be eliminated, totaling about 6% of the campus workforce. Faculty, who are excepted from these reductions, attended a forum in which bad news was stirred but no gains were imagined. One gain from "realignment" would be to move staff from the managerial peripherals back to the educational core. But unless there's a goal to do this, kludging and drifting will mean more pushing of cuts down to students and faculty and frontline staff.

This history can be seen in Charles Schwartz's recent update of UC costs, based on new detail from UC's Corporate Personnel System  He found that even after 2008, the main growth areas are "Senior Professionals" and "M10-Managers," particularly in functions that appear to be controlled by the higher administration ("Institutional Support").   (Individual campus charts are here;  Prof. Reichman discusses the Auditor's different claim that aggregate administrative costs were flat between 2006 and 2012.)  Drift and pushdown place the cuts in frontline Instruction and Research, and spare the upper-middle categories that have grown the most.  I'd love to be proven wrong, but so far realignment is destined to offer more of the same.

All change must include the upgrade, though this isn't easy to do.  Another example comes in the form of a UCSB memo issued by the Executive Vice Chancellor and divisional Senate chair and bearing the subject line, "Planning for Increased Enrollment, 2016-17" (Attachment 1).  It noted the additional resident students President Napolitano had agreed to accept (5000 systemwide next year via a 15% increase in UC-wide admissions, and a possible 5000 in the two years following).  It said that UCSB needed to find an additional 2700 seats per quarter starting this fall, and asked faculty to be more flexible than ever in accepting non-prime time assignments for their courses.

So far so good. I'd already gotten a registrar notice about their failure to place 50 courses by the third draft of the fall schedule.  I'd heard about a plan to give incoming students better pass times so they wouldn't be shut out of lower-division courses by juniors and seniors.  These are examples of important operational problems that need solving.  But I was optimistic: since I've been teaching large lectures on the swing shift for years, I assumed the registrar could find the classrooms and offer enough sections--especially if the deans granted our full TA budget requests, which they had not done last year.  And it's always good for faculty to learn more about the back-office issues faced by staff.

But by the time I read the memo, I'd received a dozen irritated reactions to this memo from faculty across campus.  Most referenced this paragraph:
Departments should consider such strategies as offering multiple iterations of impacted courses, deploying lecturers and graduate student instructors strategically to cover the maximum number of needed courses and sections, and experimenting with innovative formats for lectures and sections. There may be opportunities (consistent with Academic Senate policies and contractual obligations governing workload) to organize instruction in alternative formats, including the further integration of on-line components. In select cases, when appropriate and within policy, student peer review and the judicious use of some advanced undergraduate instructors might supplement instruction by faculty and graduate student instructors. It also may be possible to recall some emeriti to teach high-impact courses.
This was an alarming list of the "innovations" of the miserable year of 2009, in which most departments were forced to teach lectures without sections, to convert essays into multiple-choice exams, eliminate senior seminars from their requirements, cut smaller courses even if they were intellectually central, and so on. These were mostly abandoned as soon as we could afford to do so, since faculty felt they lowered quality and students gave them bad reviews.  As for online teaching, hybrid courses --mixtures of online and face-to-face--can be very good, but versions that raise quality don't save money at all.  (Read online pioneer Candace Thille on the subject, or my analysis of the costs of the Georgia Tech-Udacity online masters program.)   Colleagues from all disciplines were especially annoyed at the idea of peer-grading for undergraduates.  Peer-to-peer learning is of course central to the seminar format and is quite valuable, but only in the context of faculty-structured courses that include expert review of student work.  From the student perspective, if going to UCSB grading will mean your paper is reviewed by the student sitting next to you, you might as well start UCSB Co-Op College in Isla Vista and get your student-graded higher learning for free.

Why such a dismal message?  Was the enrollment "surge" going to wash us away?  I decided to check. UCSB has just under 11% of UC's resident undergraduate total (using pulldown menus), which puts its share of the New 5000 at about 550 new students.  UCSB's Long Range Development Plan already called for adding 5000 students on a 2010 base of 20,000 over 15 years (page A-4; UCSB already had 22,218 headcount students in 2010). Adding 5000 students over 15 years means adding an average of 333 students in every year. So the "surge" means the campus will bring 220 additional students beyond what its LRDP had been planning for anyway. Or maybe we were taking 675 students, based on the 2700 seats, which would be an additional 340 students beyond our LDRP.

How hard would this be? I looked at the enrollment increases of previous years.  I have folded in non-resident students since they didn't increase as dramatically at UCSB as at other UC campuses.

Figure 1: Annual Changes in Undergraduate Enrollment, UCSB, 2008-2015

Year
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
Total Ugrad
18892
19796
19186
18620
18977
19362
20238
20607
Year On Year
904
-610
-566
357
385
876
369

In 2009, UCSB added 900 students in one year.  In the two-year period 2009-2011, it lost nearly 1200 undergraduates, which created some infrastructure headroom.  After 2011, the campus has added at somewhere between 350 and 400 undergraduates per year, and nearly 900 in 2013-14.  This is a bit above the growth rate planned in the LRDP. The Napolitano 550 (or 675) for UCSB is 150-350 beyond recent average increases, and less than the campus handled the year before last.  It is also in the neighborhood of the 300 Nonresident International students the campus enrolled in each of the last two years.

In other words, we could see the surge as getting us two years of LRDP growth in the space of one. We could focus on translating it into a quality upgrade.  The memo noted the Santa Barbara campus's popularity with applicants.  More students won't overwhelm us. They won't burden us.  All our campuses do need to fix big things: senior managers need to keep president Napolitano from making bad deals and pushing the costs down.  They need to get full costs for new students and not the current $5000.  But in the process, UC needs to keep focused among other things on how desperately it needs to be raising the quality of learning. It needs to be building its popular base by giving UC students the education they way they want when we actually ask them-- the ability to get into the courses, and later, individualized advising, sequenced, coherent majors, coordinated distribution requirements, and exposure to research.

So the problems are obvious, but we can only fix them with the continuous creation of full-scale rebuilding goals. The subject line should be, "Planning for Better Instruction and Research, 2016-17."  It should note, wow we're in such a healthy sector of endless demand: let's do some new fun things with the surge.
Posted by Chris Newfield | Comments: 1