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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

UCOP on Furloughs: We're the Deciders!

Commentary shall be forthcoming.

CHANCELLORS
ACADEMIC COUNCIL CHAIR CROUGHAN

Colleagues:

After speaking at length with all of you and a number of other people with an interest in the issue, we have decided that faculty furlough days will not occur on instructional days (days for which a faculty member is scheduled to give lectures, lead classes or workshops, have scheduled office hours, or have other scheduled face-to-face responsibilities for students).

The furloughs that have been necessitated by the severe University underfunding by the State are causing significant problems for faculty who have restrictions on research and service as well as increased teaching workloads; employees who have fewer days to do their work and sometimes fewer colleagues to help them; administrators who have reduced staff and budgets to accomplish their complex tasks; on top of lower salaries for everyone. Students too will suffer the effects of the underfunding--larger and fewer classes, and increased fees, as were imposed for this fall instruction period, among other burdens. In such difficult times, I believe
that we must do everything we can to ensure that the students continue to receive all of their instruction. Asking the faculty to carry a full teaching load during furloughs is a large request, but in my mind is justified by the University's paramount teaching mission. Research is permitted on furlough days, but for many faculty this extra research will not be remunerated unless they have grants in which there are funds that can be reallocated to pay for increased effort. And since furlough days are not "service days", they can be used for outside professional activities that may be remunerated.

We understand that the furlough plan will cause hardships for the entire University family. As such, the President and the Regents are committed to do everything possible to ensure that the plan ends after 12 months.

We will continue to work closely with faculty, students, staff and administrators to find the most efficient and thoughtful way to address the problems that will arise this year. You have my pledge that we will make the University as effective and productive as we can under the current budget problems, after which we will help you all plan for better times ahead.

Best wishes,


Lawrence H. Pitts
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President
Academic Affairs

cc: President Yudof
Executive Vice President Lapp
Senior Vice President Dooley
Vice President Lenz
Vice Provost Greenstein
Interim Executive Director Price


This memo was distributed to some Senate committee chairs with the following explanation from Senate Chair Mary Croughan

Dear Council Colleagues



I have received word from Provost Pitts regarding the decision as to whether furloughs can affect instructional days. As you will see below (and attached), the decision was made to not have faculty furlough days take place on instructional days (days for which a faculty member is scheduled to give lectures, lead classes or workshops, have scheduled office hours, or have other scheduled face-to-face responsibilities for students).

This decision was made after Provost Pitts and others developed a proposal on the pros and cons of having furlough days taken on instructional days. I want to take this opportunity to thank Helen Henry, Steve Plaxe, and Bob Powell for their extraordinary work on the proposal; they ensured that the proposal maintained the sentiments expressed at Council. The proposal was then discussed with the EVCs, Chancellors, State Government Relations, and Public Affairs. With the exception of our Council statement endorsing the concept that furloughs should affect instructional days, nearly all other groups expressed very strong concerns that the public would perceive that the students were receiving less education following several years of fee increases and anticipated additional increases. The "optics" with the public and legislature regarding potential future fee increases proved a driving factor in the decision to not have furloughs taken on instructional days.

I know that many of you have been awaiting this document; I'm sorry not to be bringing you news in line with Council's recommendation. But the President and Provost look forward to discussing their decision with those of you present at the September Council meeting.

All the best,

Mary

10 comments:

xicano said...

"Asking the faculty to carry a full teaching load during furloughs is a large request, but in my mind is justified by the University's paramount teaching mission."

Is it just me or don't faculty reviews in the UC system turn almost exclusively on research? If teaching is our "paramount mission," why is it virtually a non-issue at review time and why are many of our colleagues only teaching one or two classes a year? Since the mission now has shifted to teaching, should we be taking time off from our research to compensate for the pay cuts?

AndrewD said...

"You have my pledge that we will make the University as effective and productive as we can under the current budget problems, after which we will help you all plan for better times ahead."

It might be best to plan now! The "current budget problem" is unlikely to disappear like magic.

Gerry Barnett said...

The blimp keeps its politically cautious trim as it descends.... The message: take the instructional pain off by consulting or doing research. What's the advice for the students?

Now, if there are more cuts mid-year, and the feds don't come up with $600m to repeat the stimulus support as with this year, and the economy doesn't just zip, then what?

What would an administration do if it really thought this problem was long term, and instructional quality was being affected in unacceptable ways, and that the uncomfortable trim-keeping happening now would result in significant downstream damage?

Julie Van Camp said...

Let me add my complete surprise at this UC decision to prohibit faculty from designating instructional days as furlough days.

One irony is that at least some CSU campuses are closing down on six instructional days at the direction of campus presidents (e.g., CSU Long Beach and CSU Los Angeles), and faculty can pick additional instructional days as furlough days, although they must be "reasonable". The CSULB campus president (King Alexander) said early in the summer that he wanted the furlouughs to be highly visible to the community, and a complete campus shutdown on instructional days was his idea for accomplishing that.

Complementing xicano's comment above, CSU faculty are expected to publish peer-reviewed scholarship for tenure, but it's widely understood that this is not a UC-standard of nationally recognized original scholarship which changes the discipline (at least, that is how the standard has been explained to me by UC faculty).

Given the widespread discontent I'm hearing from CSU faculty over furloughs for 2009-10, I'll be surprised if they are approved in summer 2010 if we are once again asked to approve them. As we are a unionized faculty, the CSU Chancellor will have to ask us to vote again before they could be implemented for a second year.

It will be interesting to see whether these different UC and CSU strategies on furlough implementation make any difference with the legislature in the coming year.

Julie Van Camp
Professor of Philosophy
CSU Long Beach

George Dutton said...

I strongly object to this decision, even as I wonder about its enforceability. I am touched by the concession that we are "permitted" to conduct research on furlough day (I was afraid I was going to have to conduct it in clandestine manner), but more significantly, I find the suggestion that faculty might use furlough days for outside, and remunerated activities, laughable. While it is possible that some faculty in certain fields/schools might well be able to earn extra cash by consulting, etc. there are many of us to whom this is hardly a possibility. I am open to suggestions as to how to convert my specialty in eighteenth-century Vietnamese history into some kind of a lucrative consultative sideline on days when I am furloughed. In short, this strikes me as poorly reasoned and politically short-sighted strategy whose overall import is to erode the strength and morale of the UC faculty.

George Dutton
Associate Professor
UCLA, Dept. of Asian Languages and Cultures

Anonymous said...

Professor Van Camp's information on the comparatively enlightened path chosen by the CSU administrators is enlightening. UC faculty have always been lukewarm about the union model, but our cherished "shared governance" is in shreds now. Let's hope CUCFA can marshal some alternative through appeals to labor law (through the Santa Cruz Faculty Association, CUCFA has limited powers to bargain over terms and conditions of employment at UC). I'm watching their website for updates and suggest everyone do the same.

xicano said...

"We understand that the furlough plan will cause hardships for the entire University family."

And please Provost Pitts spare us the "family" analogy (unless you concede the UC's current dysfunction as an increasingly abusive and authoritarian family structure).

Anonymouse said...

"We will continue to work closely with faculty, students, staff and administrators to find the most efficient and thoughtful way to address the problems"

That's funny, I don't remember anyone asking me to work closely with them. In fact, I'm pretty sure we're being ignored.

How about the administration accept that we *will* take furloughs on instructional days, and rather than fretting over the potential negative "optics", they do their job and get out there and *advocate* for the university -- including its faculty? Why foist all the blame on us?

This is the best of both worlds for the administration -- we can't interrupt teaching because it's the public face of the university; but we're still encouraged to do research, since that brings in the money and the R1 status. Meanwhile, we're being played like violins.

There's absolutely nothing stopping UC faculty members from organizing amongst themselves and using furloughs on instructional days.

Anonymous said...

Yep, they really gotta stop with this "family" shit. Total HR-speak. And we all see right through it. Please stop insulting us, "Dad."

Anonymous said...

It's now time for us to say that UCOP owes us this:

All Committees on Academic Personnel must now respond, before the semesters/quarters begin, with concrete, legally-binding statements specifying exactly how they will reduce our research and service expectations and how those reduced expectations will be quantified and taken into account in promotion and advancement.

And note: since teaching commitment apparently cannot be reduced, according to UCOP, research and service must be reduced even more. Thus, for example, a 9% salary reduction will result in a reduction of research and service by, cumulatively, MORE than 9%.

We have to DEMAND this from the administrations. Otherwise, this is all just a Great Lie. (Even more so than it already is.)

I don't WANT to teach less. I don't WANT to do less research. (Service, yes, I could do without.) But I refuse to play along with this crazy fiction, especially since it'll only embolden them to do it to us again next year.

Of course the students should get less: they and the state are not paying enough!!!! We don't want that; we want them funded by the state. But don't try to take that out of our hides; take it up with the Legislature.

This approach from the administration does, indeed, set up any of us who objects as the enemy of the students.

Finally, it's time to think about a vote of no confidence in Yudof, Pitts, the Regents, and those other senior administrators who are advancing and enabling this insane policy. Mary Croughan, supposedly our advocate and representative in all this, offers us a sad, meek, bland letter that's heavy on the thank-yous, heavy on the "we look forward" promises of "discussion," heavy on the message that we must submit because of the "optics," and without a hint of outrage.

I am outraged. And if were tenured, I'd be raising hell.

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