Part 1: Response to previous and current cuts
I am a faculty member in a research unit receiving a large amount of extramural and especially federal funding. We are primarily a graduate department, and only about a third of our teaching is currently at the undergraduate level. Since we offer few service courses, we have few TA positions available to provide a stipend and tuition remission to our graduate students. Instead, most graduate students are funded by federal grants and fellowships of various sorts. In fact, every grant proposal submitted out of our research unit is expected to include a request for graduate student funding. The graduate students in our unit not only do research for us, but they are the primary constituents of the courses we teach. The PIs in our research unit also support through extramural funding a very large number of postdocs, project scientists, and technicians. The majority of our budget comes from federal research grants, and core UC funding is only 14%. Unfortunately, it is this 14% that produces 90% of our headaches.
The more selective cuts that occurred during the previous recession hit our research unit harder than the rest of UC, so we are coming into the current crisis with scant buffer. Many staff members have already been laid off, and most institutional lab support has already been eliminated. The remaining UC funding is devoted to long-term matching commitments to federally-funded research infrastructure (which must be paid to maintain our central programs), salaries of support staff for core academic and business office functions (which cannot be reduced any more), and salaries of PIs. The last category, in fact, makes up the majority of our UC funding, so there is probably no way to accommodate further cuts without reducing faculty salaries even more than is the case with the current furloughs.
The suffering from budget cuts has been disproportionate across our research unit. Those PIs who were already supporting their research staff and lab facilities exclusively from extramural funds were not hurt when institutional support was removed. Those people paid 100% from extramural funds were unaffected by the furloughs. Those faculty members with enough funding to pay themselves on furlough days (two thirds of us) have not experienced any salary reduction. The availability of extramural funding may explain why faculty in the sciences have not been as upset about the handling of the UC budget crisis as faculty in the humanities. In fact, I heard a colleague state that it was a victory for shared governance that we were able to prevail upon UCOP to spare extramurally funded people from the furloughs.
to be continued
6 hours ago