Davis Faculty Association

Physician Scientists: Tenure in Jeopardy

by Ian Kennedy

The following commentary initially appeared (in slightly different form) in the April 2008 edition (Vol. 1, No. 1) of “Faculty to Faculty,” a newsletter of the Faculty Executive Committee of the UCD School of Medicine.  Its author, DFA member Richard Katzberg, is the grievant in the case–a case which was investigated, heard, and reported on by the campus Privilege and Tenure Committee during the period January 2004 to February, 2007.   We are making this commentary available to all our members with the author’s permission and because the salient issues identified by him–faculty governance at multiple levels, a faculty member’s right to fair play, and security of academic tenure–transcend department, college, and school boundaries and are critical to the welfare of all faculty.


Physician Scientists:  Tenure in Jeopardy

Richard W. Katzberg, M.D.
Professor or Radiology, School of Medicine

A newly-revised Department of Radiology Compensation Plan was initiated by the Chair and approved by the Dean, School of Medicine without the advice and consent of the departmental faculty members in 2001-2002.  Yearly modifications were instituted without faculty discussion and vote, and in 2002-2003 the FTE 19900 funds assigned to specific tenured, regular ranks faculty were “…distributed to the entire department”.  This significant change in policy was promulgated by the Dean at the School of Medicine faculty meeting of January 28, 2004.

APM 015 specifies that “a major responsibility of the administration is to protect and encourage the faculty in its teaching, learning, research, and public service”.  And, APM 245 mandates that “The chair is expected to seek the advice of faculty colleagues in a systematic way, and to provide for the conduct of department affairs in an orderly fashion through departmental meetings and the appointment of appropriate committees.”

The significant consequence of a change in assigning state funds for tenured faculty positions to a policy of distribution of these funds to the entire department allowed the Chair to implement a salary methodology whereby tenured faculty were disassociated from the academic component of their salary and were forced to earn all of their income from clinical service.  In this manner, protected academic time was severely diminished, inhibiting research and teaching opportunities mandated by the State assignment of the FTE 19900 funds.

A grievance was filed against the Chair’s action on January 20, 2004.  This grievance included four allegations:  (1) the Chair of the Department of Radiology misappropriated State funding, known as FTE or 19900 funds, by pooling it with all departmental income; (2) the Chair disregarded the University mandate to engage in shared governance with department faculty members; (3) regarding FTE faculty, the Chair reduced formal time allocated to research, counter to University policy and in a manner inequitable among all faculty members, and; (4) the Chair used an inequitable methodology for distributing financial incentives to all faculty members.

The grievance was investigated by the Investigative Subcommittee of P&T which issued its report in January of 2005, finding that the evidence supporting the grievance was sufficient to allow it to proceed to hearing.   The Hearings Subcommittee conducted a formal hearing on October 18 and 20, 2006 and ruled unanimously in favor of the grievant.  The ruling and findings were forwarded to the Chancellor on February 19, 2007.  Nine months later the Chancellor denied the grievance, indicating that the “preponderance of the evidence” did not support the findings of both P&T Investigative and P&T Hearing that the grievant’s rights had been violated.  Currently, the issues raised by this grievance and the Chancellor’s response are under consideration by the Academic Senate Executive Council.

The salient issues being addressed include faculty governance at multiple levels, a faculty member’s right to fair play, and the importance and security of academic tenure.  Parallels are noted in a prior circumstance at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1997.  At that time, 18 tenured faculty members filed a grievance against the university president in response to a newly implemented policy that required tenured professors in the medical center to fund most of their own salaries.  Even though two grievance committees supported the faculty, the Administration refused to change the policy and a lawsuit ensued.  The lessons learned at Georgetown are discussed in a case study published in the Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors, November-December 1999, Vol 85, No. 6.  The cogent points of the Georgetown precedent are as follows:

“The grievance proceedings reveal that the Administration, in instituting the new policy, had come to see tenured faculty merely as a revenue-generating commodity.  In reality, tenured medical faculty are an invaluable but often intangible resource.  They contribute not only to an institutions’ educational stability, but also to a medical school’s reputation in the public’s eye as a provider of philanthropy.”

The ultimate resolution of the situation at UC Davis is yet to be determined.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 19th, 2008 at 7:33 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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