Davis Faculty Association

Archive for October, 2000

Faculty time-clock-punching: proposed regulation APM 025

The draft of the revised APM-025, entitled “Conflict of Commitment and Outside Activities of Faculty Members” is not only a substantial revision of existing policy, but even re-titles the policy. See the full document at http://www.ucop.edu/acadadv/acadpers/apm/rev-025etc.html The existing APM-025, instituted 7/1/96, is simply entitled, “Outside Professional Activities of Faculty Members.” Events since 1996 have apparently motivated the University to decide that the policy was insufficient and in need of drastic change. According to the June 22, 2000, transmittal letter from Provost King, “The revision of APM-025 was undertaken in response to the findings of an administrative task force convened by the President….The proposed policy is intended to provide a framework through which University administrators and faculty can assure all of the University’s constituencies that potential conflicts of commitment are identified and appropriately managed, while at the same time assuring that faculty may engage in a wide array of outside activities without unnecessary limitations.”

Present APM-025 obligates faculty “…to have a significant presence on campus, to be accessible to students and staff, and to be available to interact with University colleagues throughout every quarter or semester of active duty…A faculty member’s failure to meet classes, to keep office hours, or to hold examinations as scheduled is unacceptable conduct under the Faculty Code of Conduct.” Currently, each faculty member is supposed to provide a nonconfidential annual report on her/his outside professional activities to the department chair. These activities are considered in regular reviews for possible recommendation for advancement.

The revised policy elaborates expansively on these issues. The detailed and extensive definitions, categories, time limits, forms, and regulations in the draft policy are daunting. Upon reading through the elaborate procedures, one would expect that these draconian measures are meant to rein in rampant and indiscriminate shirking of duties and responsibilities by UC faculty across all the UC campuses. What motivated the changes and what indeed is the extent of faculty negligence or dereliction in meeting their responsibilities? A comment from a UCOP source who participated in the discussions suggested the following explanation.

“A few years ago there was major publicity about a few faculty who started a very successful company and made lots of money. This raised questions in the press, the Regents and the President about how faculty could be so successful with only one day a week of outside professional activity. There were other related issues that also surfaced, mainly concerning conflict of interest in licensing. The President asked us to look again at the policy on conflict of commitment.”

Because conflict of interest for research grants, patents, and licensing are dealt with in separate policies, and are not addressed in APM-025, these matters do not appear to be the real issue. Questions have also been raised as to whether the problem that apparently led to the new review — the incident of several UCB faculty who operated an extremely successful consulting business in their spare time– warrants any action. At the time of this incident, UCB administrators tried to have the federal government indict the faculty members for allegedly violating “rules” about over-commitment of time on “outside work.” The chair at that time of the UCB Committee on Privilege and Tenure has recently commented, “…the campus and the feds dropped the case after P&T issued its 95-page abundantly footnoted report that, among other things, proved that there were no rules on the matter and that therefore none could possibly have been violated, and in any case it was questionable whether the administration had the right to limit what a faculty member did with her/his own time. The UC Berkeley administration subsequently apologized to the accused, and has taken steps to compensate for the anguish, lost time, and financial costs to the individuals who had been victimized by its false accusations.” Whatever the merits of this particular incident and whether some new policy is needed or not, the question is whether the new APM 025 is a sensible and reasonable policy.

The administration has apparently seen fit to promulgate the necessary rules so that it can control what faculty members do with their own time. Thus, rather than rely on the straightforward principle that a faculty member must fulfill her/his teaching, research, and service obligations, the University is proposing a bureaucratic approach involving definitions, categories, time limits, forms, and regulations. But even here the draft policy trips over its own bureaucratic convolutions — it does not define a “day.” The draft allows that nine-month faculty may engage in outside professional activities “for up to 39 days from the start of the fall term through the end of the spring term (including inter-session).” The guidelines provide no definition of a “day,” but instead place the onus on the faculty member to provide an explanation for the definition of “day” when she/he fills out the forms. Furthermore, including inter-sessions as part of the formula restricts what faculty can do while on vacation. The policy generously does not restrict what nine-month faculty members do with their summer months.

There is no doubt UC is coming under scrutiny for its increasing ties and obligations to the private sector. But most of the controversial ties are solicited and negotiated at the administrative level. The UC administration, in its entrepreneurial zeal to raise research dollars through corporate partnerships, has a “conflict of commitment” of its own. Is it possible that UC hopes to deflect the scrutiny and criticisms of its own liabilities by imposing on and burdening the faculty with a new policy?

The DFA Board believes that it is ill-conceived to increase the number and complexity of rules governing the one day a week that current policy allots to outside professional activities. Regents’ Standing Orders dictate that faculty must fulfill teaching, research, and service obligations. This rule is sufficient. The UC academic merit and promotion system offers ample opportunity for UC to hold faculty accountable for failing to meet their obligations. The system also allows non-departmental faculty committees and administrators to comment on deficient faculty performance. As long as obligations are met, there should be no reason to inquire further into faculty members’ private lives. Performance is evaluated every year in biography-bibliography reports, in student evaluations, in professional publications and other academic achievements, and in department chairs’ appraisals. Enough already!

The DFA welcomes your opinions regarding this issue. Simply reply to this message; we will forward your pertinent comments to the appropriate Academic Senate committees.

Copyright Protection for Lectures

As a new academic year is about to begin, the Board of the Davis Faculty Association once again urges its colleagues to take a few simple steps to safeguard the original material which they distribute to their classes in tangible form; in effect material that you produce and distribute that can be picked up and carried around. What you say in class does not fall into this category. The distinction is an important one because material in tangible form is covered by Federal Copyright law while what you present verbally in a classroom is the province of California Civil law.

With regard to tangible course materials such as your syllabus, original problem sets and their solutions, course web-site postings etc, we recommend that you put on the bottom of each page a statement such as the one proposed last year by the UC Davis Business Contracts Office:

“Copyright [your full professional name], [year]. All federal and state copyrights reserved for all original material presented in this course through any medium, including lecture or print.”

THIS WILL PROTECT BOTH THE TANGIBLE AND VERBAL CONTENT OF YOUR WORK.

We further recommend that faculty members whose distributed tangibles include substantial amounts of original material, such as lab manuals or drafts of papers/chapters formally register those copyrights. This is a relatively simple and inexpensive exercise ($30.00) which would make it much faster and simpler to pursue a copyright infringer if one should surface. The forms and instructions for registering a copyright are readily available on the Library of Congress website: www.loc.gov/copyright/.

We continue to discourage faculty members from including the Regents of the University of California as co-copyright holders because we believe that doing so would severely compromise ownership rights which faculty currently enjoy under California State Law. We say that because according to the California Legislative Counsel: “Existing case law provides that in the absence of evidence of agreement to the contrary, a teacher, rather than the institution for which he or she teaches, owns the common law copyright to his or her lectures.” An inclusion of the Regents in a copyright statement would clearly constitute “…evidence of agreement to the contrary.”

You are currently browsing the Davis Faculty Association blog archives for October, 2000.