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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's the Matter with UCOP?

On the use of furlough days, all UCOP had to do was keep quiet. Why couldn't it?

Faculty around the system spent weeks discussing whether 6 or 10 or some other number of their up to 26 days of furlough might be applied to instruction, and Academic Council's August 5th statement on furlough implementation recommended that 6 furlough days be assigned to days of instruction and that up to 10 be allowed. Council's recommendation rests on longstanding faculty obligations to partition their workload among teaching, research and service according to their own professional judgment in formal consultation with their department, the Senate, and immediate administrators (faculty are responsible for "approval of course content and manner of instruction" APM-015). Council's recommendation was also in compliance with APM-005 (via President Robert Sproul in 1935), which states that the planning and committee supervision and reporting of an individual's workload does not violate academic freedom if the plan is "reasonable" and "the plan has come into being through the democratic means of discussion and mutual give and take, within the Faculty, rather than arbitrarily imposed from without."

But then UCOP declared that the number of instructional furlough days would be zero. They would all occur on research and service days, or could be used to make money outside the university via consulting.

I believe this is the first direct intervention by UCOP into faculty teaching decisions since World War II. Please send information to the contrary, if any exists. It rests on the President's new emergency powers (paragraph 2), granted less than six weeks before this use.

We get a fair amount of email, and haven't yet heard a good word about this decision. Many faculty had been opposed to canceling lectures - we try desperately to cram in material and hate to cut even five minutes of class, and we do fret about our alleged unpopularity with taxpayers - but these faculty were still in favor of faculty choice. Other faculty members describe the decision as a challenge to shared governance, as an assault on the mission of public universities, as "authoritarian" and "Stalinist." Note the general tone of the comments on each of these posts. The decision adds the insult of an order about teaching to the injury of pay cuts and budget cuts, and it shows.

The problems go on. The decision is more draconian than that at CSU, explicitly rejects an Academic Senate position about teaching (the heart of faculty authority), and puts PR concerns ahead of faculty's stated preferences and of their professional autonomy. It increases the gap between UCOP and the campuses by building on its summer precedent of overriding formal faculty bodies, unions, and the majority views of those who speak out (the UCI petition for delay and better thinking that attracted 2800 signatures in 5 days, UC Berkeley Professor George Lakoff's letter which received 1000 signatures in the same period, the 2:1 preference for a rethink expressed in a poll on this modest blog). It replaces calls for "university-wide open dialogue" with old-school top-down control. It increases the gap between Berkeley and the other campuses (to its credit, Berkeley used a preexisting calendar reform as a partial furlough workaround -- 6 days converted to teaching duty without lectures -- and backfilled lower-end professorial pay with the help of Senate research funds). It hardens the status gap between the science faculty, who mostly can top-up via extramural grants, and the non-science faculty, who mostly cannot, for it invites the former to engage in outside consulting, and the latter to spend more unpaid time with their students, which it implies that state-paid faculty would, absent a UCOP prohibition, be happy to harm.

None of this fits with the fundamental principles of a university, based on free exchange, collaborative co-governance, dialogical testing of all ideas, full evidence for major claims, and mutual accommodation. So why does UCOP act this way?

Much of the answer is that it is now a business center with little contact with academic activities. For years now, many of UCOP's administrative functions have been duplicated and surpassed on the campuses - technology transfer, capital projects planning, collaborative research support. Even the Education Abroad Program, with its complex systemwide and international infrastructure, had lost much of its enrollment to departmental and campus alternatives. In the absence of a meaningful daily role in the system - and deep knowledge of the campuses - UCOP seems to have become closer to outside political constituencies, particularly the Regents, associated donor circles, and the Governor than it is to the campuses. In the process, it lost the political clout to exert a unifying and balancing influence within the system, and seems also to have lost its intellectual and ethical vision of what ex-President Bob Dynes called "One University." That vision had been egalitarian, oriented towards top-quality education for all, and also towards the highest evolution of each of UC's campuses. But for years campuses have mostly approached UCOP to cut the best deal for themselves, and to placate them in ares like bond funding, state general fund distribution, indirect cost recovery, and legislative relations where UCOP has final say.

UCOP has been sliding for some time towards replacing service with authority (see the UCPB restructuring memo for a detailed discussion). It has also focused on top-level state political and business affairs, with particular loving devotion to the Governor's office. Some of us have long criticized this imbalance. I got more proof of it during a trip to Sacramento with a faculty group in early 2008: several leg staffers complained that UCOP cuts deals with the Governor behind the legislature's back, asks for less than the leg would give it, and was unable to resolve the compensation scandals that had lingered for several years.

We have a new president in UCOP, and yet the biggest surprise is how little has changed. President Yudof's most visible public statements are a defense of executive compensation, his least temperate comment was reserved for a legislator concerned with accountability, and he has been entirely silent on a deeply unpopular Governor Schwarzenegger's inflicting of the largest cuts on California higher education in its modern history.

President Yudof has better graphics and more tweets than this predecessor - 100% more tweets - but the strategy of deference to a destructive executive remains largely the same. So does the disproportionate attention to senior management needs that alienates the legislative majority and increases the chances for public funding cuts.

This is where we get back to the furlough question. The point of the faculty taking some of the furlough on instructional days was not to shortchange our students: we know them, care about them and teach them. The point, as many on this blog, Option 4's page, and elsewhere have observed, was to "make the cuts visible." Instructional furloughs were to be a useful teaching tool. And yet they also implicitly posed a challenge to UCOP, in three ways.
They said, implicitly, "your years of silence on the damage the cuts do has failed."
They said, "we are now going to address the public ourselves, through our own workplace."
They said, "the 'new normal' for state funding your mistakes helped create is not acceptable to us."
UCOP's reply to the people most affected by the state funding cuts that UCOP silence had helped produce - campus classroom teachers and related staff - is now this:
you'll take these cuts in silence too
.

UC to UCOP: we can't afford your strategies anymore. We need to try our own.

58 comments:

California Prof said...

Very well said, Chris. It is time for meaningful action.

Anonymous said...

Where in my employment contract does it say that, even with "extraordinary powers", UC has the authority to unilaterally furlough me on certain days?

I simply can't find the authority for this, and therefore don't see why I should go along.

(UC professor who plans to vote with his feet)

Anonymous said...

I fear that UCOP is playing us, the faculty, to get us to fight over the furlough days, with the result that public attention may well focus on the faculty in a negative light.

Here is an alternative:

Rather than fighting on the furlough, fight UCOP on every program that is trimmed or cut, and point out how many programs for students can be saved by eliminating administrative positions.

At my campus several programs, perhaps many programs, are about to be shut down or rolled together. Each one has a constituency of students - sometimes a large constituency - that will be angry about the loss of the programs and often the course that made up the program.

If frame the issue as paying for administrators vs paying for programs, we can get large numbers of students and their families to demand cuts at the top to save programs.

If we fight to get teaching days counted as furlough days, exactly who will be on our side?

catherine liu said...

Thank you Chris, for this beautifully written post. Your level of knowledge about faculty governance is awesome.

catherine liu said...

Thank you Chris, for this beautifully written post. Your level of knowledge about faculty governance is awesome.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris,
While I agree with almost all of your analysis, there is an additional (and peculiar) effect present within the campus responses to the question of whether or not furloughs should lie on instructional days. Specifically, there is a small but significant fraction of faculty that markedly oppose taking furloughs on instructional days. On the campuses that have kept track (including my own), these faculty invariably are very senior and lie at the highest end of the payscale. A substantial fraction of them also have fairly minimal (by most folks' standards) undergraduate teaching loads. That's not to say that all such faculty oppose taking furloughs on instructional days; simply that virtually all that do fall within this demographic.

The importance of this generational and payscale opinion gap is that EVC's absolutely fall within this demographic; and the EVC's, as I understand it, unambiguously opposed taking furloughs on instructional days--and OP bought into their opinion.

Therefore, while OP's decision is among its stupidest in recent memory (and that's saying a lot), the campuses did play a role through a group of folks (the EVC's) that fall on the vast minority side of a generational and fiscal divide. This does comport with your notion that the decision was driven by folks who are out-of-touch with the campuses. But the tragic part is that it's partly driven by local administrations being out of touch with their campuses, as well--and the problem is thus administratively systemic, rather than confined to OP.

Chris Newfield said...

I agree that furloughs is not the issue to fight over, and that operating cuts ARE.

My point was more that it's worth fighting for "voice" so we don't have to resort to "exit." The commentor who is going to vote with his/her feet is responding in a logical way to a situation in which faculty or staff "voice" is overriden on an issue that is core to professional function, like the ability to spread the imposed furlough over the three areas of work activity that are required by the Academic Personnel Manual.

The most relevant J1 language is "The President further shall have the authority, during the pendency of the Declaration and consistent with applicable legal requirements, to suspend the operation of any existing Regental or University policies otherwise applicable to furloughs and/or salary reductions that are contrary to or inconsistent with the terms the President deems necessary to the proposed implementation." That includes the overriding of APM-015 that grants faculty authority over teaching functions.

Using emergency powers to stop some specific budget bleeding is one thing. To use it to curtail "voice" increases "exit" (both literally - leaving UC for another job - and psychologically - demoralization, withdrawal, reduced creativity in the service of the institution). It lower's UC's collective intelligence.

It's interesting to hear about the role of the EVCs. My sources had suggested that it was largely Chancellors who had met some fearful parents of new students.

I asked a couple of participants in the decision whether UCOP had any actual evidence of public backlash. The answer was no.

Many thanks for the comments!

Bronwen Rowlands said...

Dear Folks, UCOP's furlough edict is a lot more crass than you seem to realize, and it isn't even about faculty. UCOP in its current configuration doesn't give a rat's backside about reasoned discourse. Systemwide, one third of UC employees are represented by unions, and those unions are still in negotiations with UC. The "furlough" days are meant only to be positioned to make the unions look bad so that their membership will insist that they go along with the salary cut/furlough program, and UC rakes in more cash.

It's time for direct action. There is now a very effective union coalition which has organized a Vote of No Confidence in President Yudof for all UC employees. It begins today. For the voting schedule on your campus, see the "Action Items" sidebar.

It's way past time to attempt to reason with Mark Yudof. He's only a hired gun.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most clarifying assessments I've read of what's happening now at UC. Thanks for writing this. The question is: where can we go from here? Are there any mechanisms by which we can reign in UCOP? They and the regents live in a bubble and seem to be just congratulating each other all the time on what a great job they are doing under difficult circumstances, rather than facing the deep anger and frustration that has been voiced by all kinds of UC workers and students at the erosion of the quality of UC. It has become clear Yudof and company will not listen to anything faculty say and will contravene their will, however it is expressed. What are our options?

Anonymous said...

Unionize.

andrew scull said...

Chris,
You are absolutely spot on when you point to the growing gap between UCOP and the faculty, and the utter disregard for shared governance that Yudof is exhibiting. UCOP has failed us repeatedly over a very long period. The disastrous budget compact Bob Dynes "negotiated" with the Governor is one example. The repeated willingness to damage the faculty by unreasonable increases in executive compensation, heedless of the catastrophic impact of that greed on the university's funding (a position Yudof continues to embrace even in the midst of this crisis) is another. The complete inability to make the case to the public about the systemic risk to the future of this great institution is a third. And the utter spinelessness of various presidents in the face of Regental actions that damage the university is still another. Most importantly, the new commission on the future of the university has virtually no faculty representation, and is weighted towards regents and administrative bureaucrats from UCOP, plus newly arrived top level administrators beholden to Yudof. Who can have any confidence whatsoever that such a body, working under deadlines that virtually preclude adequate consultation with the faculty (presuming, which I doubt, that they have any interest in such a thing), will comprehend what the problems are, let alone come up with wise solutions? We are being sold down the river. I think we shall see a great deal of "exit" int he near future: many faculty will literally exit - to retirement or to join other institutions; others will sharply reduce their institutional commitment as morale plummets. Chancellors at the various campuses seem to be cowed into silence. My sense is that faculty confidence in our administrators at all levels is at an all-time low. The future looks bleak and bleaker. What, to quote a now discredited historical figure, is to be done?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of discredited figures, surely faculty confidence in Andrew Scull is at an all-time low.

Assistant Professor in the Humanities said...

- I wonder if unionizing is the answer (I wished it were). Staff and CSU faculty are unionize and are not better off.

- It is a fallacy that six fewer days of instruction "damages" students. With six fewer days, the UC is still ahead of all the ivy leagues in terms of "days of instruction." Other campuses should follow Berkeley in adjusting the calendar to the country's top university average - because as it is (without furloughs), we are teaching more hours/days than our colleagues in comparable universities (and, those in the humanities, making considerably less).

- I wonder why are there not legal and court challenges to these procedures; particularly forcing us to take furlough time during holidays. Other state employees are not working certain fridays, and the public knows the DMV is closed that day. Why are we any different? It seems to me that this, along with many other procedures, should merit a law suit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a fallacy that a few less instruction days will damage students.

And the UCOP's actions on the furloughs and rules about how to take furlough days makes a
travesty of "shared governance."

And it is a regressive policy toward labor that will hit assistant profs the hardest.

But fighting the furlough days head-on is a losing battle.

I am glad Chris Newfield - who does us all a marvelous and invaluable service with this blog - believes that the battle to be engaged is over cut programs vs administrators' inflated salaries . . . so let's go there and stop talking about the furlough days.

Let's start to assemble a list of programs going on the chopping block on each campus, and then start a list of poitnless administrator salaries and salary increases that, if rolled back, would save the programs.

That is what will have traction with a mobilizable public. That is what will restore shared governance . . . not by complaining about UCOP's violations, legitimate as those complaints are, but direct demonstration of faculty muscle applied strategically).

I'm willing to stop being anonymous and start contributing information about programs being clipped at my campus, if that becomes a larger collective project.

Complaining about the furloughs? I hate the furloughs and I'm angry about the cut to my salary and the whole state budgeting process . . . but I want to fight where I can win.

andrew scull said...

Not to deflect attention from the real issues at hand, but re the anonymous comment a few posts up, at least I don't hide behind a pseudonym. I am surprised by how many correspondents on this blog choose to remain anonymous. If you are untenured, I do understand. If not, then surely you ought to be willing to put your name out there (as Chris has done, and as I do). Anonymous complaints surely carry less weight. I fear that next year's budget is going to be still worse than the current awful one. Then the problems Chris rightly spells out will become still more pressing. Firing administrators, removing bloat, and reducing excessive salaries (which don't, by the way, seem to attract the right sort of people to university administration) is a bit like cutting waste and fraud as a solution to budget problems: worth doing for many reasons, and easy to support. But unfortunately, not something that will really solve the massive budgetary shortfall. I would be delighted to see some fresh and genuinely promising suggestions from the faculty about how permanently lost state funds can be made up. Absent new funding sources, the picture looks grimmer and grimmer, and our prospects are unlikely to be improved by the vacuum of leadership at the top.

Aldo Antonelli, UCD said...

Andrew -- there is a suggestion well worth pursuing already on the table, it Assembly Bill 656 introducing an oil severance tax.

lhajjar said...

Chris, Yudof has emergency powers that enable him to suspend or alter policies. But what realistic capacity does UCOP have to "punish" faculty who take their furloughs on instructional days? I would advocate that departments and divisions just ignore Pitts' memo and furlough themselves on instructional days, at least a few.

andrew scull said...

Aldo - a wonderful idea. Even Texas has one, and it seems astonishing that California has ignored this revenue source. But, like all other proposals on the revenue side, it runs up against the seemingly immovable Republican minority who, thanks to the two thirds rule, can block even the most sensible of changes along these lines. That helps to explain California's ungovernability, but it suggests that we are unlikely to see much relief from the state - indeed, our problems on that front seem likely to increase. Hence the dilemmas we confront and the awful choices that may eventually have to be made.

Anonymous said...

Let's cut funding for sociology departments that are not in the top 30. What's UCSD? 31. Maybe UCSD Sociology should focus on teaching instead.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, signing your name does not make your views any less creepy.

Anonymous said...

Andrew

Juxtaposing administrative bloat against cut programs won't solve the whole budget crisis. But it can do two things. 1) It can save some programs, and 2) It is our best shot at changing the leadership at the top and asserting faculty power and student power from below.


As for anonymity, the quality of an argument or strategy stands on its own merit, and not on the name of its author . . . if we are interested in common goals.

Using anonymity in conjunction with personal abuse is another matter. I disagree very strongly with Andrew Scull's proposal for tiers within the UC system. No need for abusiveness.

Davey Balaban said...

For Lisa H.

As far as I understand all responsibility for the identification, investigation and punishing of dereliction – which I suppose is what self-furloughing profs might be accused of doing– rests solely with the individual campuses and their chancellors following an elaborate and lengthy process. This is my understanding of our APM here at UCD. I pasted the procedure from our chair handbook below.

One way to think about the Pitts memo – with the lack of any capacity for enforcement in mind – is that it is merely a strongly worded suggestion masquerading as policy. Put more colloquially, it’s a bluff.

On the other hand, one would need to know if “emergency powers” suspends all elements of the APM including disciplinary procedures? It just might. This would make an interesting “rule of law” case study.


Keith Watenpaugh (UCD)

(3) Failure of Senate Faculty to Meet Responsibilities
The procedures for dealing with Senate faculty who are alleged to have violated the Faculty Code of Conduct are outlined in APM 015 (pdf), UCD 015, APM 016 (pdf), and UCD 016. Any faculty member, University employee, or student may lodge a complaint with the Chancellor charging a faculty member with violation of the Faculty Code of Conduct -- i.e., failure to meet responsibilities of instruction, discrimination, violation of University policy, entering into a romantic or sexual relationship with a student for whom the faculty member has (or would be expected to have in the future) academic responsibility; intellectual dishonesty including research misconduct; unauthorized use of University resources, discrimination against University employees, etc. The chair is obligated to promptly report all suspected/alleged violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct through the dean to the Chancellor. The Chancellor reviews such complaints and may request a full investigation before making a decision on the complaint. If the Chancellor decides on discipline and the faculty member chooses not to accept the discipline, he/she is entitled to a hearing before the Committee on Privilege and Tenure. However, the final decision on discipline is made by the administration – by the Chancellor for written censure, reduction in salary, demotion, suspension, and/or denial /curtailment of emeritus status and by the Regents (upon recommendation of the Chancellor) for dismissal (UCD 016).
• In all such matters, it is prudent for the chair to deal with allegations as soon as they become known, so that unsubstantiated allegations do not fester for years, with nothing done to resolve them.
• The use of a mediator should be considered, if at all possible, during the early stages of a matter.
• The department should consult with the dean to be sure that appropriate procedures are being followed, that the right investigative questions are being asked, and that all informal ways of resolving the issues have been attempted.
• Appropriate precautions should be taken to safeguard the confidentiality of investigative and disciplinary proceedings.

Chris Newfield said...

In addition to agreeing that we shouldn't personalize this, especially anonymously, I also think we should comment on what Andrew Scull says now rather than what he said then, and what's actually in his comments in front of us. His summary of our interconnected leadership problems is quite apt, even - especially - to someone like me who believes in One UC of ten complementarily equal campuses.

Thanks to Bronwen for the reminder of how central "staff" are to instruction. I do think that faculty were especially targeted in the Pitts memo, and linked with staff in a way that I hope wakes more of us up.

There's real faculty-staff convergence on the problem of UCOP, and I think there would be even more if faculty knew more about the UCOP-union negotiations. On the issue of executive comp, I notice that it's not number one on my own list as it is for most of my staff colleagues. But it shouldn't be downplayed as a sidelight: Jeffrey Bergamini's analyses have yet to be fully addressed, and there are so many huge financial anomalies - Charlie Schwartz's missing $331 million is another - that unless we all create the conditions for clarification and remedies the legislature isn't ever going to refund the kind of UC we all want.

I also think lhajjar is right - the cuts still need to be made visible.

many thanks again for these comments

Anonymous said...

There's nothing creepy in pointing out that Merced was not a good idea and that the system should cut its losses. People should go and tour Merced, and decide if that is a research institution and a top university, and if it will ever be. The argument that it is serving an undereprestend rural population is not true. Few locals go to UC Merced. Rather, it has become a dumping ground for those students not admitted anywhere else in the UC system.
By the way, I would like to know how many faculty from any campus other than Merced has been to Merced.

Aldo Antonelli, UCD said...

Andrew, I am well aware of the 2/3 majority requirement, but AB 656 might be narrowly targeted enough to have a chance. Contrary to income or sales taxes it is not aimed at the general public, so it might not encounter as much opposition, and in fact maybe even draw support.

In any case, it's our best shot, since nothing else is going to improve budget-wise next year and it might in fact get worse,

Assistant Prof said...

The problem is not the budget crunge, it is how resources are allocated. You can give the state all the money you want, they'd still use it in something else. The UC is not a priority, and within the UC, faculty satisfaction. There is a total devaluing of our role, and of the role of universities as center of intellectual thought - this is not new, the Bush era is in full swing in California. They want us to be teachers who teach following a textbook. Not thinkers. So it seems to me that proposing new sources of revenue for the state does not mean that the UC will be treated any better (except, of course, for the high administrators).

Aldo Antonelli, UCD said...

Revenue from an oil severance tax would be earmarked for higher ed -- UC, CSU, and community colleges, just like in Texas.

lhajjar said...

Chris's presumption (in response to my comment/question above) that the Pitts memo is a "bluff" (i.e., prohibiting furloughs on instruction days) because it can't be enforced without a bigger PR crisis for the UC should be kept in mind as depts, divisions and campuses plan their own furlough policies. While it seems that UCSD (post of article on this site) has conceded to or agreed officially with the no-furlough-on-instruction days position, UCB's seems to take a different stance on the matter. At UCSB, there are moves afoot in a few (hopefully growing number of) departments to plan furloughs on instruction days. I don't see a realistic risk in doing so, and the advantages are fairly obvious for those who think that visibility is essential.

Anonymous said...

I know of at least one dept planning to schedule fewer classes so if people teach less they are not disregarding their assigned duties

Kevin said...

Anonymous asked By the way, I would like to know how many faculty from any campus other than Merced has been to Merced.

I've been to UC Merced to give a talk. The campus was small and not (yet) a world-class research institution, but I think it has some promise. Certainly the focus of the undergraduate biology program (on quantitative biology) was a refreshing change from the rather old-fashioned curricula at the other campuses.

catherine liu said...

Tuition hikes damage students' economic and educational prospects. We should, in our actions and statements make clear that we are against any more tuition hikes. California has to make good on its role as a public institution. Chris has said this elsewhere and more eloquently, public universities are a great example of successful public institutions...

Anonymous said...

but in the meantime without tuition hikes, the UC is utterly dead in the water. and we know the voters are not approving any taxes

catherine liu said...

It's about a strategic alignment and articulation of interests, especially in light of the question of "harm" as it has been raised by the admin with regard to instructional furlough days.

Kirsten said...

I've also been to UC Merced to give a talk, and will testify that the graduate program was full of committed, smart, interesting students, and the undergrads were definitely paying attention and studying up a storm in the one little study/social center they have. This is way off topic and the discussion should go no further, but since we have this rare opportunity to share experiences across campuses, ranks, and disciplines here, I hereby put in my plug for remembering that *Merced is not the problem. UCOP is the problem.* Whatever retrospective judgment you may apply against the decision to open that campus (or to convert former ag schools into full-fledged UC campuses, back in the day) is by now irrelevant.

Bob Crane said...

Given that UC Merced adheres to the same standards for hiring and promoting faculty as the other UC campuses, and that it only admits UC eligible students, it should not be a surprise that it is a pretty good place, even four years after opening.

I know this will sound like a personal attack against Andrew Scull, but, seriously, what a creep! He wants to shut down three UC campuses. He distributed a letter "from" faculty chairs even though several have denied agreeing to the letter. Creepy.

andrew scull said...

This is absolutely false. ONE chair was inadvertently included as a signatory to the original letter (John Moore of the Linguistics Dept.). He had asked me to modify a passage in the letter, which I did, sending the revised draft to him and everyone else. Not hearing from him, I assumed the revision had successfully dealt with the concerns he had raised. Weeks later, he contacted me to say the changes still left him unhappy. I apologized unreservedly to him. ALL the other chairs who signed, many of whom had contributed to the letter, continue to support its contents.

It is also false to assert that I want to shut down three UC campuses. We advanced several suggestions to deal with the looming catastrophe. The last, and least preferred of our alternatives was to modify the mission of one or more campuses, or, if literally all else failed, to shutter one or more of them. This is not something any of us WANTS. It is a something the system may be driven to if the budget continues to worsen, and the alternative is the collapse of the very best parts of UC. We shall see what next year's budget (and the one after that) brings. I fear it will not be good news. UC Merced is presently admitting 99.5 per cent of UC eligible students applying, and is still unable to meet its targets. This fall, a grand total of 276 students from the Central Valley will be part of its freshman class. It is far short of its targets for faculty recruitment. Every campus is being taxed to keep it afloat. Were we operating in reasonable times, where the long-term commitment of the state to higher education, and to UC in particular, was unquestioned, one might accept this as the price of a start up. Are those reasonable assumptions? What is the price to be paid for pretending that those assumptions still hold good? And how extraordinary that an attempt to raise those reasonable questions (a stance endorsed by every independent expert on higher education I know) is met by personal abuse and claims that such ideas are "creepy."

Bob Crane said...

What creepy lies. That makes four department chairs who denied association with the original letter. It's all in this blog. I'm sure that other department chairs have been silent out of embarrassment.

Andrew Scull should win an award for wasting Academic Senate time. His plans to shut down three UC campuses were serious enough that the Academic Senate had to draft a memo dissociating itself from this abhorrent plan. His own campus voted to repudiate him.

With regard to UC Merced, the only people being taxed are the largely non-white students at UC Merced, who are being given less funding, to support the largely white students at UCSD. How creepy to dismiss the education of students of Central Valley students as if they are less worthy than La Jolla residents. "Far short of its targets for faculty recruitment" and not meeting targets for student recruitment are just creepy twisting of the truth. More faculty and students would require more funding, which is instead going to UCSD.

Andrew, with every post, you reveal more about your creepy agenda. I hope you crawl back under the rock you came from.

Anonymous said...

I find it strange to defend of Andrew Scull here, I am a physics professor on one on the campuses that were singled out for downgrading/closure in his letter.
I have many other issues with the letter itself: it appears very self-serving, for example. I am particularly bothered to see that it has been signed by Brian Maple, the chair of the the UCSD physics department, who should know full well that the UCSB physics department is head and shoulders above his own. Yet, if I understood the letter correctly, it advocates giving UCSD (and by extension their physics department) a sweeter deal, based on what? The US News & World Report's overall ranking which, as we all know, is of dubious value? The fact that UCSD has a medical school while UCSB does not? I find such arguments, particularly in the case of Brian Maple, intellectually indefensible.
However, aside from being self-serving, what the letter proposes is quite thought provoking and should not be brushed off by initiating personal attacks or throwing sound bites like "non-white students" etc. as Bob Crane just did. If we can't have a reasonable debate on intellectual merits of the proposal even here, at this blog, we are doomed. Neither Marc Yudoff nor CA politicians will do it for us. In fact, the beginning of this thread is precisely about the amount of respect that Yudoff personally & UCOP in general have for us mere academics. The fact that Yudoff finds closing of campuses politically unpalatable right now is a week protection: we have all just saw how reliable the guy is and where his allegiances lie. He is a pure politician, and from what I have seen so far, not even a good one: I am yet to sense any vision on his side, beyond the empty words and political soundbites, of how to protect and improve the UC system in the long run.
So let's have a meaningful discussion among ourselves on where we the UC system heading, short of some financial miracles. I do not think that closing any campuses, my own including, should be off the table for the purposes of such a discussion. Graduating underrepresented minorities is an argument that can be sold politically, but not really a strong one. It is not clear to me at all that those undergraduates are served better on the unfinished Merced campus than they would be in Goleta or La Jolla. In fact if anything, I would advocate that those students get to experience the world outside of their home Central Valley. Surely, the path to UC will become harder (in fact, it's becoming harder as we speak due to reduced enrlooments), with more students having to start in the community colleges or CSU and then trying to transfer. However, could it be in their interests to be able to transfer to a better UC?
Contrary to Bob Crane's soundbites, I tend to agree that Merced is a clear drain on the system. For the amount of money thrown into it (for mostly political reasons -- see e.g. http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/08/10/merced) more than 300 additional students could perhaps be accommodated elsewhere in the system. Now, a lot of that money is already spent and cannot be recovered. But shouldn't we be able to pause and see whether the losses can be cut or continued indefinitely without immediately being labeled "creeps" by our fellow academics? Just like Andrew Scull, I am afraid that the state support of the UC system is not coming back in the foreseeable future. Given that *all options* will be bad. But let us at least be able to discuss them on their merits, without immediately resorting to personal attacks.

Aldo Antonelli, UCD said...

I am not quite sure where my own campus would be in Andrew Scull's ranking, but I agree with Anon above. No option should be off the table on principle. The problem, rather, is there seem to be few good options altogether.

Anonymous said...

UCSD gets 15 times as much State general funds as UC Merced. So which one is a drain on the system?

Anonymous said...

15 times more per student? I'd like to see the numbers. By the way, is the cost of continuing construction included?

Anonymous said...

That was just the operating budget. San Diego's state-funded capital budget is about 1.5 times Merced's state-funded capital budget,and San Diego also has quite a few more existing state-funded buildings.

Anonymous said...

Not 15 times more per student, no. 15 times more state general funds.

Anonymous said...

And UCSD has about 10 times the enrollment of UC Merced.... The math to do funding per student is not pretty, but you get the idea....

Anonymous said...

The point about UCSD being largely white is not a sound bite. UCSD has been heavily criticized by the Regents for its non-diverse student body.

Anonymous said...

OK, so the state funded operating budget per student is lower at UC Merced than it is at UCSD. This sounds like a valid response to Andrew Scull & Co (instead of just calling him a creep). By the way where do you get these numbers? I'd appreciate a link.
What is not clear to me, however, is that the capital budget should not be thrown into this calculation (perhaps tipping the scale in the opposite direction?). The fact that UCSD already have state funded buildings is irrelevant for our discussion - we are debating the wisdom of investing into UC Merced *now*, during the severe state budget crunch. It is precisely because other campuses already have buildings in place, they may be better suited to educated students *now*. In other words would it be cheaper to shut down UC Merced (at least for the time being) while not cutting the enrollment at all other campuses? I would appreciate any links to the relevant numbers.

Anonymous said...

It's all on ucop.edu. Both the state-funded operating budget and capital budget are higher at UCSD, so one cannot tip the scale in the opposite direction of the other. In fact, UCSD gets about 1.5 times the rate per student as *most* of the other UC campuses. Now who is a drain on the UC system?

Anonymous said...

I would say the lesson of these last few posts is that the entire UC system needs more funding and that UC Merced needs way more. Instead of debating which institution is more of a "drain" on the system and can therefore do with less, perhaps we should all be sticking together in pointing out that all the campuses need more. Otherwise the fighting among ourselves divides us, as Scull's letter already has, and makes us less effective in strategizing how to respond to the state and our own administration. The last angry post implies that maybe all the other campuses really can do with less, since UC Merced does. I believe that is an unwise and untrue position: UC Merced is here and is not going away and needs MUCH more funding to fulfill its core mission. So do all the campuses.

UC Science PI said...

I guess I don't see the big deal here - do we think UCOP is going to show up at each of our classes to make sure that we are teaching? It's not uncommon for faculty to have to go out of town for a PI meeting or conference during the teaching term, so if one is furloughed 8% and happens to take off 8% of one's teaching days, who will know? You could just say you had to go to a conf and get someone to sub for you. In a ten week quarter this is 2.4 teaching days which is small enough one could probably just do it. You all have PhDs surely you can figure out how to take 8% of your furlough days on teaching days without making it "look" so obvious. Frankly I think a more effective walkout would be if people actually quit to work for a non-UC school rather than a furlough walkout. We should ask each departing faculty member to report the extramural funds they will likely take with them to show the voters the hard $$ that is lost when a top faculty member leaves UC for greener pastures.

Chris Newfield said...

The idea of non-secret, visible furloughs is to expand faculty voice in UC governance so that we don't have to exercise "exit," as you rightly note is at the moment is a very rational response.

I'm not clear why more science faculty aren't signing on to some version of overt pushback. I assume that the large majority of faculty from all disciplines would rather fix UC (and its budget) than leave it.

SIO prof said...

Chris, I think the reason why there isn't more pushback from the science faculty is that UCOP has largely responded to their requests -- no furloughs for externally funded people and the opportunity to pay themselves from grants on furlough days. In fact, I've heard a colleague refer to that as a victory for shared governance.

Kevin said...

While I agree with SIO prof that "the reason why there isn't more pushback from the science faculty is that UCOP has largely responded to their requests -- no furloughs for externally funded people and the opportunity to pay themselves from grants on furlough days", I think that there is more to the story.

One is that the science faculty are not in the habit of fighting the administration---when they need something, they've always had to look to resources outside the university to get it.

Protesting for the sake of protest with no hope of any real change (which seems common among the humanities) does not appeal to the more pragmatic science and engineering faculty. The science and engineering faculty do generally think that UCOP has been mismanaging the crisis, but mismanagement is the normal condition for institutions the size of UC---if someone had a reasonable proposal to fix the problem, rather than just rearrange the chairs on deck, there would be more support from science and engineering faculty.

It is summer time---the only chance most science and engineering faculty get do do some research. Things might change when all the UCs (not just Berkeley, which has privileged funding in UC already) start the school year.

Science and engineering faculty are among the more likely to be recruited away from UC by other institutions. I think that many feel that if UC can't get its act together, they'll go elsewhere. Fixing UC's problems is something that the faculty who claim to know something about how institutions and people work should od.

Chris Newfield said...

SIO Prof and Kevin esp - your explanation of the position of a lot of science profs seems right to me. The original deal with indirect costs was that the feds would deliberately underpay unversities like UC because they expected the state to pick up the tab on the grounds that the state got a lot of the benefit of the investment (better student training, local U jobs, etc.) The states have been shorting this for years, leaving science, social science, and hum/arts fac with a common grievance: deteriorating infrastructure, insufficient funds, and an opaque, frustrating rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul ethos. I keep hoping someone else will update and extend the research I've already done, but no luck so far. If you had time to look over one web version I prepared and comment that would help my inspiration - http://utotherescue.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-equity-fair-soft-money-salary.html . but in any case thank you for your input on this.

SIO prof said...

Sorry, Chris, but I can only provide perceptions held by me and my colleagues -- hard numbers aren't readily accessible at our level. My colleague, AndrewD, probably knows more than anyone else. Nevertheless, I'll try to provide some input on your soft money post when I get a chance.

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