Davis Faculty Association

Archive for November, 2002

UC Budget Issues for 2001-02 and 2002-03

As many of you may know, the Faculty Associations representatives closely monitor the budget process for UC, particularly in relation to issues of faculty concern, such as salaries. As the 2001-02 budget unfolded in the spring, we alerted our members to the strong possibility that faculty salaries would suffer. We predicted that merits would be maintained and that COLAs might be as little as 0.5%. Let us now update you on information from UCOP regarding salary issues and other budget issues of interest so that we may solicit input from you on our lobbying efforts for the 2002-03 budget process. Current economic realities will make that budget planning even more difficult. Many of you already know from messages from the Academic Council Chair and others that budget reductions are being considered for UC in the areas of Employee compensation, State funding for summer school, Enrollment growth funding, Student fees, and Targeted cuts to special programs. In this memo, we will also address these issues as they relate to the Faculty Association efforts. We ask you to respond to the memo by telling us your priorities in these various funding areas so that we can represent the interests of our membership in our lobbying effort.

Faculty and Staff Salaries:

Salary scales for the Oct. 1, 2001 range adjustment of academic salaries have now been issued; these are now available at http://manuals.ucdavis.edu/apm/690.htm
Salaries for non-represented academic employees have been range adjusted by 0.5%, across-the-board, including above-scale salaries. Off-scale increments will be reviewed and adjusted by 0.5%, if, when rounded to the nearest $100, the adjustment results in an increase.

Merits have been maintained. Vice President Hershman stated at the Oct. Regents’ meeting that UC learned from their experience during the budget crunch in the 1990s when a judge determined that it would be discriminatory to deny merits to one group of faculty members in any given year since faculty are only eligible for merits every three years. That suit came about as a result of Faculty Association action.

Faculty salaries now lag about 3.5% in relation to our comparison institutions. Although final figures will not be available for 2002-03 until February, UCOP is projecting that faculty salaries may lag as much as 6 or 7% in the 2002-03 year, depending on how our comparison institutions are also affected by the economic slump. Our understanding is that in the budget being prepared for Regents’ review in November, UC will seek state funding for regular merits, plus 4% for salaries now and an additional 2.25% restoration of funds when the economy improves. And Hershman stated that UC will probably not get all that we ask for; his question is how big a lag can be allowed. We know from past history that it takes a long time to recoup funds and to regain parity once our salaries begin to lag.

Staff salaries: UC believes that it must treat staff the same as faculty. States funding for their merits plus COLAs for 2001-02 equals 2%, to be awarded according to whatever agreements are made within collective bargaining. UC had requested much more for staff in the 2001-02 budget. UC, the Faculty Association, and the employee unions all lobbied strongly, but neither staff nor faculty received what was desired. The Legislature often compares UC employees to other state employees; their few “increases” were in the form of reducing their contribution to their retirement funds. This action may help to account for the recently-announced proposal for a CAP accrual credit for UC employees that is due for discussion at the November Regents’ meeting.

Enrollment Growth Funding: The Faculty Association has strongly supported recent efforts to regain funding lost during the 1990s when UC continued to accept all eligible students despite state funding that provided for only a portion of the additional students who came to us. Hershman asked the Regents to consider whether we should limit enrollment to match funding.

Student Fees: In the past the Faculty Association has not taken a stance on student fee issues. Legislators have felt very strongly that fees should be low; they have supported fee buy-outs to keep them low. But, Hershman pointed out that UC fees are low; they are $2000 below those of our comparison institutions. Regents are concerned that poor economic times are not good times to raise fees, but many of them felt that fee increases may be necessary to meet funding needs.

Summer Enrollment: Hershman said that the long-term goal to make summer term fully state-funded, like the other three quarters, may need to be slowed down. . So far, “full state-funding” has been provided to UCB, UCLA, and UCB. The plan was to fund the remaining campuses beginning in the summer of 2002.

Targeted cuts to budget augmentations for special programs: In recent years while the economy has been strong, the Governor and the Legislature have provided sizable augmentations to UC’s core funding to provide for special needs. Some were proposed by UC, others by the Legislators. Many relate to UC helping to improve K-12 education and to providing outreach activities. Others are related to research funding requests. A problem is that the State had the money because of stock market capital gains and strong consumer confidence that led to relatively unbridled spending. Legislators seem to have been making long-term plans with essentially one-time dollars. Now the gains have turned into losses and spending is way down–a double-barreled hit. Hershman recognized that it will be very controversial to try to decrease the level of some of these programs, but everything must be on the table. In considering how and whether to do so, he also stressed that UC must work with the Governor and the Legislature. We agree and will be advocating strongly for positions that support the interests of the DFA membership.

Membership Survey re. Tenure Committee Performance

Disclaimer: The board of the Davis Faculty Association has prepared the following article solely to bring to the faculty’s attention a Yolo County Superior Court decision that has gone unreported to date, and to obtain credible reactions thereto. The DFA has no stake or interest whatsoever in the ultimate outcome of the underlying individual grievance claim.

Has the Davis Committee on Privilege and Tenure Been Appropriately Safeguarding Faculty Members’ Rights?

One of the objectives which all the UC Faculty Associations have in common is “the protection of the privileges and responsibilities traditionally reserved to the faculty for the purpose of maintaining and improving the academic quality of the University.” In this context it can be argued that with regard to their impact on individual faculty members, the two most important Standing Committees of the Academic Senate are the Committee on Academic Personnel (CAP) and the Committee on Privilege and Tenure (P&T).

Prompted in part, we think, by the DFA having distributed data which showed that for more than a decade Davis’s faculty salaries ranked among the lowest in the system, the Executive Committee of the Division appointed a Special Committee to review and recommend changes in (mainly) CAP’s practices and perspectives.

Because P&T conducts the bulk of its business in strict confidence and reports its activities to the representative Assembly in carefully chosen language, it has been nearly impossible to tell whether that Committee has been dealing fairly and appropriately with faculty grievants. That situation changed abruptly last August, when a faculty member who believed that his case had been mishandled by the Investigative Subcommittee of P&T (the ISC) sought and obtained judicial relief in the Yolo County Superior Court. (The Davis campus “umbrella” P&T functions via two virtually non-interacting Subcommittees: Investigative and Hearings. Cases normally reach the latter only by referral from the former.)

The legal case is in the public record so the brief description of it offered below breaches no confidences, but the court-ordered hearing of the grievance by the Hearings Subcommittee of P&T has yet to occur so the matter will be discussed in fairly general terms.

In December of 1999 the faculty member in question went to P&T charging that his department chair had improperly impeded the conduct of his research program. The then-applicable Bylaws of the Academic Senate, both local and systemwide, required that as its first order of business P&T had to determine whether a grievant had made out a prima facie case that one or more of his/her privileges MAY HAVE BEEN violated. (Not a particularly high bar). If the committee made a negative determination they were required to notify the grievant to that effect, and the matter would end there. If they determined that a prima facie case HAD BEEN made, they were required to attempt to promote a settlement of the controversy. If no settlement could be reached, a formal hearing was required. It should be noted that the Bylaws make no provision for an on-campus appeal of a negative determination.

In mid-July of 2000, after several months of sporadic activity and without having made a determination one way or the other, the ISC notified the campus ADMINISTRATION that the grievance at issue had been filed and that conflicting and incomplete evidence was making their task very difficult. In that letter they also recommended to the Vice Provost that the faculty member and the department be encouraged to engage in “mediation.” At that point they told the faculty member only that they had “completed their review of the case” and had forwarded their recommendations to the Vice Provost. In September the Vice Provost wrote to the faculty member asking if he would be willing to participate in a mediation effort arranged through the campus Mediation Services organization headed by Larry Hoover.

The faculty member declined the Vice Provost’s offer of mediation and asked for the matter to proceed to a hearing. In January of 2001, after several more unsuccessful attempts by the ISC to effect mediation, the committee chair formally notified the grievant of their final determination that he had NOT made out a prima facie case and hence the grievance could not be referred to the Hearings Subcommittee.

Through his attorney, the faculty member informed the committee that as he read the applicable Bylaws, their having involved the Vice Provost in the case before they communicated anything at all about it to him constituted a de facto determination that a prima facie case existed, and he was therefore entitled to an evidentiary hearing of his grievance.

The committee never responded to that letter, so in due course a lawsuit was filed in Woodland seeking a writ of mandate ordering the University to give the faculty member a hearing. The case was defended by a staff attorney from the General Counsel of the Regents, who argued, among other things, that a P&T committee’s decision re the establishment of a prima facie case is a discretionary act not subject to review under the California Code of Civil Procedure. The Superior Court Judge disagreed, and ruled that the committee’s actions constituted an abuse of discretion because they were holding the grievant to a standard of proof beyond their charge under the applicable Bylaws. He granted the writ and ordered that a full evidentiary hearing in the case be held within 90 days.

In one of his “declarations” in the case, made under penalty of perjury, the then-sitting Chair of P&T wrote: “The Davis P&T Committee’s practice is to attempt to promote an amicable resolution of a dispute at any point in the proceedings if the Investigative Subcommittee BELIEVES that an informal resolution would be appropriate and beneficial to the grievant AND TO THE ADMINISTRATION (emphases added). This has been the practice of the Davis P&T Committee since I became a member in 1996.” According to the Senate Bylaws, however, the committee could not proceed in that vein without first having determined that a prima facie case existed. This case clearly shows that in at least this one instance, the mindset and actions of the ISC of P&T violated rather than protected the rights and privileges of a faculty member. Unfortunately for all concerned, taking them to court was (and may still be) the only available avenue to challenge that committee’s behavior.

At the moment the faculty have no way to know whether what is being reported here is an aberration in an otherwise satisfactory environment, or the first public airing of a systemic problem. Accordingly, we encourage any readers who have had dealings with P&T in recent years to categorize them qualitatively in an e-mail message to the DFA at the address above. In your response please use terminology such as “rewarding, excellent, acceptable, sensitive, insensitive, frustrating, unsatisfactory,” etc. Please do not include your name or any identifying elements of your case in the body of the text. In recognition of the confidentiality of the P&T process, our staff will print out (but not read) each message, cut off and shred the header block, and then delete the message from the e-mail server. Faculty members will see and review only the complete file of anonymous responses. (Please make sure that you do not put a boilerplate signature block on your reply.)

We are seeking only lasting impressions of how well our respondents’ experiences matched their expectations of how cases would be handled. If we get a reasonable number of responses to this request we will summarize them in a follow-up article and forward the results to the Division Chair and the Executive Council.

Such information could turn out to be critically important to the faculty at large because in September of 2001 a new set of systemwide Bylaws governing P&T committees took effect. The changes are sweeping and may allow (but do not require) various administrators more opportunities to participate in grievance cases than did the ones they supersede. It also permits “any party” to attempt the informal “negotiated resolution” of a grievance case at any time, and provides for its resolution by mediation under stipulated conditions.

This legislation has gone largely unnoticed by most faculty members, but to its credit the Divisional Committee on Faculty Welfare (then chaired by a member of the law faculty) was very critical of the massive scale of the changes being proposed. Their comments were transmitted too late to have an effect on the systemwide legislation per se, but there is still some room for navigation locally because the permissive nature of some of the changes means that for good cause, and by appropriate means, e.g. via the Representative Assembly, the faculty can oversee and to some extent endorse or refute the practices of its divisional P&T committee.

In order to do that, of course, the faculty needs to know with some clarity just how the committee has been performing. We invite your response.

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