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Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009
by Anonymous, continuing Part 1

Response to future cuts

The leadership of our research unit is responding to UC budget reductions by seeking to increase revenue and cut costs.  Beyond what has already been done, one near-term cost-cutting plan is the elimination of all non-SOE lecturers, thus requiring ladder-rank faculty to teach more (a rumor suggests faculty will be allowed to "buy out" from teaching).  Another strong possibility is that research-series faculty, who currently receive half of their salaries from institutional funds and half from their own grants, will have the institutional component of their salaries cut.  A third cost-cutting measure is stronger encouragement for older faculty to retire (and go RTAD if they are still productive).  We may also expand our small and technically self-supporting professional masters program since that returns some money directly to our department.  Obviously, anything and everything that can possibly be charged directly to extramural sources will no longer be supported by institutional funding (except for short-term start-up packages for new appointees).  In the long term, our leadership expects to substantially reduce the number of faculty in our unit (primarily through attrition of research faculty) since faculty salaries are the largest part of our continuously decreasing core UC funding.

Apart from a restoration of UC core funding, the most desired revenue-enhancing measure is to have a greater fraction of the indirect cost recovery (ICR) we generate from extramural funding returned to us rather than diverted elsewhere in the UC system, but this plan has met with little success with the campus administration and UCOP.  Since we do get a third of our ICR returned, we are nonetheless striving to increase the amount of our extramural funding to an even higher level.  Private fundraising makes a small contribution, although this has fallen off in the current economic climate.  The leadership of our unit also plans to increase the faculty teaching load and is encouraging professors to develop new large-enrollment undergraduate classes.  Considered alone, these actions would be revenue enhancing because we receive funding through the campus partially on the basis of the number of undergraduate students taught and the number of graduate students enrolled.

It remains to be seen, however, whether any additional teaching pays off since we may merely cannibalize students from our current courses.  Moreover, every hour spent by a professor on teaching is an hour not spent on preparing a grant proposal.  In terms of incentives for individual faculty and payoff for our unit, additional extramural funding is much more remunerative than additional teaching.  This is the case even though only a third of our ICR is returned and only about 30% of grant proposals in our discipline are successful (a percentage nevertheless higher than that for almost any other discipline).  Our leadership has acknowledged that the faculty cannot indefinitely continue doing more with less, but they hope we have not yet reached the breaking point.

While we have been able to temporarily substitute federal funding for some of the shortfall in state funding, this is only a short-term solution.  Start-up packages still need to be offered, matching funds from the institution may be required, and maintenance of facilities cannot be directly charged to a grant.  Science faculty may ride out a brief crisis by paying themselves from extramural funds, but in the long term they will leave and go to an institution that provides more hard-money support.  Extramural funds cannot replace core funds; they merely leverage core funds to support a greater amount of research.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The folks at Keep California's Promise have written an important Working Paper on fixing public funding for California higher ed. Its results are shocking -- and pleasantly so, for a change.

The authors, Stanton Glantz of UCSF and Eric Hays, CUCFA Director of Research, take 2000-01 as a baseline, and quantify subsequent fee increases and state funding cuts for all three segments - the Community College system, the California State University system, and the University of California. (Disclosure: Glantz and I were two of the authors of the Futures Report, and have worked together on various Academic Senate projects involving university budgets and funding.)

Glantz and Hays then calculate how much it would cost in taxpayer funds to return all three segments to 2000-2001 levels of (inflation-adjusted) educational resources. They also calculate the fee levels required to recover 2000-01 funding levels. This is important because higher ed officials haven't actually raised fees enough to avoid cuts to operations, so they have been raising fees and cutting education at the same time.

There are a couple of interesting twists.  Glantz and Hays return to a 2000-01 pathway that includes fee rollbacks to their earlier levels.  This is a kind of worst case for taxpayers - who then don't get to have high student fees subsidizing their lower public investment - and a best case for students and their families.

The real breakthrough here is that Glantz and Hays move the budget discussion beyond aggregate amounts by calculating the cost to the median individual California taxpayer of an advance toward a near- Master Plan level of affordability.   The results are amazing.  To have 2000-01 levels of investment in students, with reduced 2000-01 level fees (increased for inflation) would cost the median taxpayer . ..  thirty-two dollars ($32).  That's about the same as a holiday bottle of single-malt scotch.

They also provide an income calculator to identify the cost at different income levels.  At the $70,000 cutoff for UC's Blue and Gold plan, which is close to the median family income in California, the tax outlay would be about $200 a year, or about a third of the mid-year fee increase at UC.

The crucial point here is that the Working Paper adds further evidence that robust public higher education is affordable.  We don't need to shrink it or privatize it or water it down because California has no money. Most Californians have 32 dollars. They also have no way of arguing that they don't individually get 32 dollars of annual value from all three segments of California higher education put together. 

I'm tempted to expound on the miracle of mutualization that spreads risks and costs and makes public funding more efficient than private funding for most kinds of goods.  Similar arguments could be made for other sectors of California's public infrastructure so that taxpayers could see what they get for their money.  I'm also tempted to link this report to the excellent commentaries on the Schwartz Plan, transparency projects, and other ideas for internal university improvement and reform. But I will restrain myself and simply say:
  • please read this report
  • if it seems sound to you, please write the head of your California public university and ask him or her to critique, revise, endorse, adapt, and distribute the Working Paper to the public.
This is a good holiday present - getting statistical proof that public higher ed's decline is fiscally unnecessary, and that its recovery is within our means.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
by Gerald Barnett, University of Washington

Here is my summary of Charles Schwartz's plan. It is worth considering. I apologize if I bungle stuff here. I’m aiming to draw out some of the points in the plan that recommend it to my thinking. I recast the plan’s points under 3 major heads and rearrange the parts somewhat to help me get it clear.

Open Budget
Make budget and policy discussions open
Use language proper to education and scholarship
Lead the Regents and nation on these matters

Undergraduate Commitment
Account separately for undergraduate education costs
Cap total resident undergraduate fees at the total undergraduate education costs
State subsidizes undergraduate costs for the needed, and generally as it is able

Research & Administration Reassessment
Justify or eliminate $600m/yr in recent administrative growth
Cap executive compensation at 2x average the compensation of full professors
State commits to reliable funding for core research (faculty, grad students, and overhead)

This approach opens two dialogues with the state--one for undergraduates and one for research/graduate education /administration. Doing so allows UC to argue for funding elements separately that may have different bases of political support. If there are state concerns about one of these elements but not the other, then the problematic one is holding the other one hostage. Disaggregating the two will allow UC to see if this is so. This step might be iterated for elements in the research dialogue as well, giving the state an opportunity to show where the support is stronger or weaker for various elements. This step ought to be done regardless of anything else. If both funding streams lack support, there will be no difference in the overall outcomes of state funding. But if undergraduate education has the stronger support, then at least the undergraduate component can be taken care of, and attention turned to what is needed, politically, to make a case for the rest of the funding.

Following Prof. Schwartz’s analysis, undergraduate fees appear to cover their costs. If this is the case, then there is no cash flow problem for undergraduate education but for UC administration *making it part of the problem*. This would be an expected “budget trick” for working the legislature in typical times. UC doesn’t have that now, however, so a new approach is called for. A clear, open accounting by UC would confirm or qualify whether undergraduate fees cover the costs of undergraduate education. The state is asked to help needy students and provide a general subsidy for undergraduates as it can. That's something the state can do within the present funding to UC. This approach makes a clear proposal for the state: will you support these talented students? Whatever the state comes up with is “on the margin” and is passed on as a direct benefit to students, both needy and generally. It’s the best proposition UC can offer the legislature with regard to undergraduates. Certainly it is better than raising tuition by 30% now, and no doubt more later, in some sort of crisis-bound administrative lupus attack on students and families.

The bargain over research and graduate education is a separate issue. This is a deeper challenge. There is more going on here than with undergraduate education, with a greater range of budgets and inter-relationships. Also, it is where the status of UC would appear to rest, where the strategic importance to the state in training graduate students gets sounded out, and with it the distinctive position UC has within the California higher education scheme in the conduct of research. The plan takes the form of a bargain. It is a true bargain, not just “compact” that UC will have business as usual and the state will throw money at it, but that each must commit to something of value to the other. Whatever happens, a plan with a bargain in it—one that UC can show to the public—provides traction. For this bargain, UC must first account for its own administrative growth in terms of positions and compensation. At least $600m is in play here. Without a complete, open, intellectually honest accounting, one might argue that UC supporters in state government have little leverage to work on UC's behalf. There will have to be cuts for this bargain to work—of positions, of salaries, of layers of organization. One might even expect that the more UC trims, the more likely there will be support for what is strategically important to the state in what’s left. Again, there is an easy “budget trick” of threatening to lop off something valuable or noisy (a journalism department makes good noise this way, historically), or both, and then use that available rallying energy to bring the legislature around. This budget trick also has to go. The stuff to trim off is the stuff no one really needs in a time of crisis. It’s not faculty or academic programs. At least not until the administrative part is made right. I do not know of anyone outside of UC administration that is willing to make the case that UC administration is hunky dory and its something else that has to go. That’s a political reality, whatever the self-rationalizations that might go on. If there’s going to be a fight, let’s have it be over what parts of administration we don’t need in a crisis, rather than pitting science faculty against humanities, or core faculty against professional programs, or campuses with higher rankings in some Chinese university or popular magazine-compiled list against campuses that are lower on such lists. The Schwartz plan brilliantly ends these skirmishes and places the burden on administration first.

If there is to be UC contraction, it must start with administrative positions, organization, and compensation. If there is less of UC—and there already clearly is that—then there needs to be a lot less of the administrative component. This is sad for individuals involved. I don’t wish anything ill on them. We are talking about tails and dogs, however, and honestly, administration is nearer the tail end. In a time of crisis, that’s what needs to go. If various administrative positions are unproductive relative to the new economic realities of UC, then these need to go first, not be drawn into an extra administrative burden of deciding what academic programs to cut and how to manage, say, faculty furloughs and respond to student protests. Finally, if UC compensation is a problem, then if there are going to be losses due to reductions in salary as people take better offers elsewhere, these should start with the administrative side of the house. If these adjustments are unacceptable, then new leaders should be identified. If there is going to be a brain drain, then it will start with the administrative brains. One might add: administration is not management. Management is not the brains of the operation; faculty are not the labor. Administration serves the faculty in the proper order of things, and in a financial crisis it serves the faculty by sacrificing its convenience and privileges. The public expects this. The public is waiting for UC administration to admit it. There will be no leverage in the legislature until it is done. ‘Twere good that it is done quickly, then.

The state support for this core budget beyond undergraduate education also opens up a discussion of the role of UC in providing research for the state. It’s one thing to have a generally wonderful world stature. It’s another to be able to show a direct interest in the research needs and advanced degree training needs of California communities, industry, and local governments. This is a key part the land grant ethos, as well as part of the founding instruments for the University of California. In assessing priorities for funding, UC might expect that the general reputation of campuses (such as “rankings”) might not be nearly so compelling to the people of the state as showing that UC expertise and significant research efforts the state is asked to fund have direct benefits for the state. Perhaps an open, intellectually honest accounting for these efforts would also go some way toward giving the state reasons to argue for funding the state component of the research budget, especially if the university has cleaned house with regard to multiple layers of administration.

These are not easy things to do, but then nothing is these days. Contraction of administrative and state research elements rather than contraction of the whole at the expense of undergraduate education appears to have a lot of merit as the place to make the bargain clear. Make a commitment to the undergraduates, the most vulnerable of people in the whole arrangement. Then work out how the rest of the state supported work will be funded. For that, there won’t be any movement without a miracle or a bargain, and as the former does not admit of planning, one might think the latter has much to commend it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009
by Ákos Róna-Tas, UCSD

Here are several charts.

The first shows the number of ladder rank faculty vs. senior managers at UCSD. This ratio dropped from 5 to 2 to 1 to 1 in the last 15 years.

The second shows the same trend systemwide.

The third shows the size of UCOP over time. (It is not UCOP that caused the enormous systemwide rise in the size of the senior administration.)

The fourth shows that the drop is uniform across all campuses.

Therefore it is unlikely that anything unique to UCSD (such as its large medical establishment) would explain this. Campus specific factors may explain the differences in a given year across campuses but not the change for a particular campus across time.

The numbers of the senior administration that UCOP reports include two groups: the Senior Management Group (SMG) and the Management and Senior Professional (MSP) group.  I have just received an email from UCOP that says that the SMG group has been fluctuating between 275 and 305. So, it seems that most of the growth is due to the MSP group. MSPs are no small fry (most MSOs are not MSPs but Professional and Support Staff or PSSs).  MSPs have a pay-scale that stretches from 100K to 248K (207K if you exclude Medical Centers), so my guess is that the average MSP pay is probably above the average pay of the ladder rank faculty (albeit keep in mind that they are paid on an 11 month schedule).  This MSP group grew faster not just than ladder rank faculty, but faster
than most other categories.

further detail here

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Laurie Monahan, UCSB

Wouldn’t it be nice to think that we have really made some progress after the many struggles against the budget cuts and the ideological agendas issuing from UCOP? That our demands and our questions have not fallen on deaf ears? While this isn’t quite going to deliver what we have in mind, I wanted to share a couple of observations that have made me feel a little less steam-rollered – and just in time for the holiday season!

I serve on a couple of Academic Senate committees at UCSB and as many of you know, a lot of time is spent reviewing documents that are circulating throughout the system. Over the last few months I have been somewhat heartened by the materials that have been coming out of the UC-wide Academic Senate. When particular projects like on-line learning, Edley style, or learning assessment programs, Yudof’s special pet, are reviewed by our colleagues, they come up sorely wanting. The bottom line is the bottom line, after all, and basically none of these things are going to improve the budget situation based on the reports produced by the committees tasked to address them. UCOP, which has been crowing about cost savings should some of these programs be implemented, has offered not one dollar amount to account for existing budgets, the places where savings would be made, and the profits they imagine. This makes perfect sense. Because, of course, one need barely scratch the surface and our colleagues – researchers, after all -- immediately discover that any potential savings would be negligible or simply non-existent, thus leading to the obvious conclusion: the proposals are untenable or deeply flawed.

We can all wonder whether this will be enough to convince UCOP or the Regents to give up on their pipe dreams, but these reports are actually documenting the fact that they are not going to produce any savings and in some cases, will actually be prohibitively expensive to implement. I think that once UCOP really has to put facts to the fantasies, it will be a challenge to get these things implemented (the “through-put” just isn’t there). I take heart in this, not because I’m surprised at the outcomes (most people don’t need a task force to tell them that instruction without a body in the room is not going to produce the desired “learning outcome” in a liberal arts education). Rather, it means that once UCOP’s “ideas” start grinding through the system, our representatives and the UC structure delivers. This is something that Yudof and others at UCOP seem to have overlooked (or perhaps by firing a good portion of the informed UCOP personnel, they simply don’t know they have to contend with it). We have all had occasion to drive up our blood pressure thanks to the bureaucratic hoop-jumping required in the UC system, but this may well be what delivers us from the worst of these putatively forward-looking plans. It’s a slow process, so it’s difficult to sense that our protests have had an effect, but I believe our efforts are being backed up by the system itself. Shared governance has taken a terrible beating this last year, but UC’s structure requires certain kinds of information and assessments before UCOP can imagine itself king of infinite space. So far the committees have found what we already know, and they’ve got put official stamp on their reports. The devil is in the details, Mr. Yudof. Happy holidays.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009
By Michael Meranze

“And what is wrong, again, is the whole system of values—the entire ordering of human priorities—of this insistent managerial propaganda. It is sad to see even the scholars themselves hesitate in their work and wonder about the use of what they are doing. Even they begin to feel, defensively, that a salesman or an advertising executive is perhaps a more important and productive human being than an actor, or a designer, or a teacher of English.”
--E.P. Thompson

The November regents meeting revealed many things. It demonstrated, once again, the fundamental lack of connection between UCOP and the Regents on the one hand and students and the Campuses on the other. It demonstrated a growing if still relatively small student movement within the UC. And it also demonstrated that the relationship of faculty to that movement remains profoundly unclear and ambivalent. This ambivalence is clearest regarding tactics like the occupations of buildings (a tactic that obviously splits the faculty itself) but that also has to be confronted on the terrain of our understanding of what the University is, what it should be, and what possibilities there are to protect it. I fear that in the day-to-day planning and responding we are losing sight of what “university” we are talking about in the chanting of “Whose University, Our University?”


Bob Samuels has recently suggested that there are two narratives struggling for dominance in understanding the University’s fiscal crisis. On the one hand, are those who want to insist that the crisis is in Sacramento and that the struggle should focus there, while on the others there are those who insist (as does Bob) that the first struggle should be against UCOP and the Regents because they have more resources than they admit and the problem is a question of priorities. Bob is being provocative here—he knows perfectly well that there is a third narrative: that there is a crisis of state funding and that the Regents and UCOP have contributed to that crisis by their willingness, in some cases eagerness, to allow the funding basis of the University to shift from the State to students and private sources. This last narrative is, of course, more pessimistic than Samuels’ (we would need to prepare for a longer-term transformation of the University and we would have to acknowledge that without a change in the state we will be dealing with budget pressures for a long time).

But despite this pessimism, I would argue that not only is the third narrative the most persuasive but that it is the only narrative that will allow us to raise a crucial additional issue: what do we think, outside of the argument about the fiscal crisis, the University really is? The first narrative presumes that the state is simply at fault and all we need to do is to get funding back. The second narrative, unintentionally of course, mirrors President Yudof’s language about the centrality of UC “businesses.” The first narrative allows the faculty to avoid accepting responsibility for what UC has become; the second narrative effectively reduces it to its money flows and money management. The third narrative on the other hand will force us to decide what we think that the University should be as a university in order to resist the efforts by UCOP and UCOF to remake the University on managerial terms under the pressure of the budget crisis.


I would also argue that the same dichotomy present in Bob’s two narratives is also a part of the confusions over protest tactics. Clearly, if you accept that our problems are all Sacramento’s fault then there is no real point in protesting against UCOP or the Regents. To be honest, I don’t see this as a serious position (I am happy to be disabused). The recent history of UCRP, the unbelievably disproportionate growth of administrative positions, the Regents complicity in the “Compact” and their continued defense of the Governor, as well as the way that UCOF has been set up to favor the professional school model and to ignore the humanities and social sciences makes the notion that we should ignore UCOP and the Regents slightly bizarre. Moreover, the supine nature of the system-wide Academic Senate reveals that our own institutional agents are part of the internal problems we face. In that sense, blaming Sacramento alone allows the faculty to overlook the ways that we have ceded too much control to the administration (over several decades admittedly) and also the way that faculty who are concerned about the shape of the University today have allowed our own faculty institutions to slip into the hands of those closer to the perspective of the administration than to us.

But the narrative of the Occupations would demand a surrender of the University as well. When the cry of “demand nothing” goes up it is, strictly speaking not true. They are demanding the right to seize space, to force others to accommodate them, and to disrupt the daily flow of the University. More conventional protests do that as well, of course. But what gives the call for occupying buildings and to demand nothing its rhetorical and polemical force is the picture it paints of the university—as an appendage of Capital and the police state. As the “Communiqué from an Absent Future” put it: "The university has no history of its own; its history is the history of capital. Its essential function is the reproduction of the relationship between capital and labor.” But to put things this way is to ignore history and not even correctly understand the present. The university is older than the dominance of capital, and as an institution it retains traditions and practices that cannot be reduced to capital. To reduce the university in the way of the Communiqué is, like the managerial ethos, to reduce it to its utility to capital. It is to ignore the practices of curiosity, of communication, of self-formation, of deepening engagement with thought that, however much they are devalued in the larger world are essential aspects to any social change or even human life.

My sense from down south is that here the occupations have not generated much notice or sympathy amongst the wider public. I see a lot of sympathy (within limits) for the students facing a rise in fees who protested in defense of their access to education (mixed with some hostility because everyone is suffering). But down here the one occupation attempt didn't get much press and caused I think a good deal of internal strife amongst the students.

But even that is not the fundamental point. I don't think that the university is simply a tool of the police state and capital. It has a long and varied history that needs to be drawn upon and articulated at least as much for ourselves and our students as for the public. In the insistence that it is really a business that gets lost. I think that beyond the danger of people getting hurt, the loss of a sense of a university is one of the big dangers about the way that some of the debate and protest has been proceeding. I worry that we are running around like people with fingers in the dike trying to patch up this and that but losing sight of what we think UC should be. I am romantic enough to believe that the University should be run by something other than the rules of capital and the market and that it can do so. I recognize that the UC system was created in a different moment of political economy but that does not mean it isn’t worth defending. I think that we have over time lost the ability to defend what we do and to imagine what we want the University to be (this is especially the case at places like LA and Berkeley given their size). Indeed, I would say that it is, at least in part, this lack of a vision as well as our abdication of oversight over administration that has allowed the different sectors of the faculty to be in competition with each other over resources. We don’t see how we fit together (and on a purely material basis we don’t understand the mutual dependence when it comes to funds).

If we want to articulate a meaningful alternative, though, we will have to put forth our own version of use and usefulness. In the new battle of the books we will be arguing not about the ancients versus the moderns or the humanistic versus the scientific disciplines (although those arguments will go on) but between the books of the scholars and the books of the accountants. On the one hand, we will have to show, as Chris Newfield has argued on various occasions, that the very economic models that the Regents and UCOP are putting forth won’t work at the UC or the CSU. The notion that fees and private donations can supply the funds necessary to educate the number of students we teach without eliminating the poor and middle-class is nonsense. Private schools may be able to do that but their scale is so much smaller than ours as to be irrelevant. Ann Arbor may have sacrificed its public funding but at the same time Michigan citizens have sacrificed their access.

But beyond the financial, the business university with its values presses against the values of the scholar’s university. This point, I think, is a tricky one. The public, understandably, wants to know what they are getting out of the University. As I have suggested elsewhere if student fees increase and the University becomes more exclusive the public will withdraw its support even further than it has up till now. But the fact remains that much of what we do depends on suspending the immediacy of the present—even when it is most problem-centered it is in the gap between the given and the imagined that insight flourishes—and that this aspect of our work is hard to explain and communicate effectively. Humanistic education, at its best, provides students and society with worlds (both past, imaginary, and distant) that are not their own; social scientific education, at its best, provides students and society with ways to conceive of problems that escape from the given logics of the day; scientific education, at its best, allows students and societies ways of bracketing out the everyday in order to better understand the material world that we all inhabit. In all cases, it is the suspension of the immediate and the possibility of the creative and contested communication of ideas that makes knowledge and understanding possible. It cannot be predicted in advance nor confined to a given product or utility. The problem with seeing the University as a business or as a tool of capital is that it misses the day to day work that everyone actually does. Instead of allowing the University to be remade in the terms of narrow utility we need to insist that it deepen its commitment to the democratic exchange of ideas both in terms of developing solutions to problems in society, in developing individuals who seek out further opportunities for public and intellectual engagement with society, and in developing individuals whose curiosity and inquiry reshapes themselves. But we don’t have, or haven’t articulated, a good language for this—either to ourselves or to others.

That we all have allowed ourselves to be confined within increasingly narrow intellectual limits and failed to effectively converse across the university about the university and what we do is one of our major intellectual weaknesses in the face serial crises that confront us all. There is a difference between this suspension of immediacy and esotericism for its own sake. We need to make that difference clear.

The Regents, UCOP, and the Academic Senate have no vision of a genuine University as far as I can see. We need to articulate that ourselves. It may make no difference. But if we don’t do it someone else will—and we won’t like the outcome.
UC Reponds to Yudof in Time Top-10                                                                                                                                              

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009
By Jonathan Lemuel

“A Messenger was dispatched half a Day’s Journey before us, to give the King Notice of my Approach, and to desire that his Majesty would please appoint a Day and Hour, when it would be his gracious Pleasure that I might have the Honour to lick the Dust before his Footstool. This is the Court Style, and I found it to be more than Matter of Form: For upon my Admittance two Days after my Arrival, I was commanded to crawl on my Belly, and lick the Floor as I advanced; but on account of my being a Stranger, Care was taken to have it so clean that the Dust was not offensive.”

Gulliver’s Travels, Book III

I’d never thought to live in Luggnagg. I was, thereby, both stunned and pleased when I received the formal address of the Academic Council on the discontents that surrounded the recent Regents’ Meeting. I was reassured by their stature, it was, after all, “the Academic Council of the University: we are the chairs of the ten campus divisions, as well as the chairs of the systemwide committees” who graced us with their “address” regarding the protests at the Regents Meeting and throughout the system. With true nobility they humanely shared “the anguish” of staff, students, and faculty in the face of furloughs, layoffs, course reductions, fee increases, and increased class sizes. Despite their anguish, they sought to enlighten us: these policies are a regrettable but necessary response to the state’s actions. There were, of course, no alternatives: no refraining from loaning the state millions of dollars, of reversing some of the internal fund transfers, of tapping into, temporarily, some of the revenues from what President Yudof recently referred to as UC’s “businesses,” no administrative bloat, no responsibility on the part of the Regents for their long-standing compliance with the State’s Disinvestment.

But luckily for us Luggnaggians that is not the only point of the Address. Instead, they wondrously reminded us of the value of civility in our discussions. The Council was “especially concerned about group protests in which a number of individuals attempted to move past police barricades, physically threaten and throw objects at police, and surround vehicles to trap those within.” I am happy to know that the Academic Council opposes violence: had they not spoken, some might have thought otherwise. And clearly, moving past barricades and surrounding vehicles were the most worrisome actions during the Regents’ Meeting. But, and I fear here that I may overstep my humble bounds, I noticed that in their rush to remind us all of our duties to work together that they inadvertently forgot to mention their concern about students being tasered, they misfiled their explicit condemnation of the use of pepper spray, and that someone accidentally deleted their objection to students being hit with batons. I am sure that that will be the topic of their next address. And I would assure you all that it was purely because of their great learning and acumen that while they humbly called for police policies and actions to be “subject to inquiry and review” they were able to achieve enough certainty to condemn the protesters and blame them for the violence that occurred. They are too noble to have held different standards on an issue that important.

I was also reassured that the Academic Council is only concerned with protecting the open and civil exchange of ideas. But then, my heart went out to them. Clearly they had been ill-served by whoever acted as their proofreader (most likely a lowly humanities professor the Council was aiding with funds to overcome his or her furlough losses). Surely in their commitment to open exchange they had originally condemned the fact that Regents cut off public comments early because they were behind their own schedule, and that the Regents limit public comments so sharply, that UCOF meetings allow speakers from the floor only one minute, and especially the fact that members of the University community are only allowed to address the Regents through the good graces of the President’s office—a practice more suited to a feudal regime than an enlightened realm like UC Luggnagg. Yet these had not been translated to the page!

In Luggnagg after you have licked the dust on your way to the King, "it is capital for those who receive an Audience to spit or wipe their Mouth’s in his Majesty’s Presence.” (GT BOOK III) Luckily that is not the case here, fellow Luggnaggians; our leaders would never look down upon us that way. And only a Yahoo would think that the lustrous wisdom of the Academic Council would be just as hard to swallow as the dust spread on the King’s floor.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
By Anonymous
(With a New Response by David Theo Goldberg - linked below)

Wherever there are enrollment-based budget subsidies (from the robust enrollments of the Social Sciences and Humanities to the increasingly expensive STEM fields with small labs and classes), all that's about to go away. This much is clear even without tallying squeezes and losses in those areas that are already woefully short of faculty and of graduate students - they will soon be unable to serve their full student population any longer, as they continue to lose both faculty and graduate student support. A couple of data points: campuses are reducing block grants allocated to graduate programs, so that only those faculty who have ample soft money can fund grad students. Campuses also seek to outsource first-year subjects like math, composition, and language instruction to extension or summer, further decimating the only way the Humanities and other core campus areas can support grad students.

Meanwhile, Berkeley just lost at least two, perhaps three of its most senior people in Art History (perhaps the strongest Art History Department outside New York City...), others are about to follow. Faculty in the language departments everywhere in the UC are being recruited by Chicago, by universities in Texas, by privates and publics across the nation. People at UC Santa Cruz are apoplectic: History of Consciousness has been decimated, even as students numbers grew; UCLA has had to whore its Humanities people out to special interests in the donor community to get some support. And UCSD was about to shoot its Arts people to put them out of their misery (as retirees have been either not replaced, or they hired people who can play Calit2 and new technologies); they just saved a few select Arts faculty, but only again with big donor money. UCI lost more than ten percent of its Humanities faculty in the past two years, but due to the budget crunch there are no replacement lines. As their Dean wrote recently in Inside Higher Ed:

"The privates have come calling," says Ruiz, dean of the University of California at Irvine's School of Humanities. "I've lost very valued faculty members to Yale, to Northwestern, to Penn, to Pomona, to Scripps [...] "We are not able to put together the counter offers that we have in the past," she says soberly. […] "We're going to be a smaller school."

That campus was once planned, in the 1960s, explicitly as a Humanities flagship in the system; and most of UCI's Humanities programs got ranked in the top 10 or top 20 nationally. That school is now being decimated to where it cannot recover, and yet Engineers openly call for the Humanities to be closed in favor of additional subsidies for expensive labs.

Yes, people who are not in Academia for the money are taking such symbolic slights more seriously - and the writing on the wall is very clear: Arts and Humanities are being decimated every which way. One campus's Hum division took a ten percent budget cut this fall, while BioSci there got off taking a 3 per cent cut to its state-funded budget (plus they have non-state funds, while Arts and Humanities don't). Double whammy.

The Humanities center directors could not even begin to get David Theo Goldberg (director of the system-wide Humanities Research Institute, now controlling virtually all Humanities research dollars yet ignoring its own name) to commit to Humanities rather than to education and science studies (and digital anything). People have given up hiring into the Berkeley clusters that were going to be a way of anchoring Arts and Humanities into other disciplines.

The people running the campuses, and dominating the tone in Senate and Administration alike, are almost exclusively now from the professional schools - Medicine, Law, plus some Engineering, BioSci, and a sprinkle of dyspeptic Economists. And of course the BioSci people now all want to paid like MedSchool faculty, tapping soft money that used to be reserved for grad students and lab expenses, not faculty salaries. Rumors about the next UC Provost point once again to a hugely expensive MedSchool appointment with XYZ comp up the wazoo, instead of someone from a main campus discipline - another PR nightmare in the making for UC. There seem to be no people talking to President Yudof regularly who have ever taught a full room of undergraduate students. Senate reps like to whine about deadly Edley's manners, but nobody has a clue about what could be done to balance the representation in the Senate or on the Commission. There are fewer and fewer Historians, Philosophers, or English profs in any campus senate organization than ever - not to mention people from the Arts. Why? Because they drop out when faced with with populist resentment from the servile arts against the liberal arts and humanities. The Gould Commission is a much more empowered group right now than any part of the Senate, sadly, though it's years behind the curve and only beginning to ask the most obvious questions. Meanwhile, the UC has to deal with campus grassroots initiatives that are best at shooting themselves in all extremities before getting any traction.