Davis Faculty Association

Archive for July, 2008

Yudof Responds to DFA

Ian Kennedy today received a letter from President Mark Yudof in response to our communication about the results of the DFA survey on the direction of UC Davis. He expressed appreciation of our willingness to share our opinions about the “present conditions and future prospects of the campus.”

He is in the early stages of the search process. He indicated that once the search committee is formed, he will share our email correspondence with them – “The results of the survey will be of great value to us as we begin our work.” He also encourages the DFA members to speak directly with the committee when it comes to campus. This is an opportunity that we should organize for;  we should firmly request that our opinions be heard by the search committee for a new Chancellor.

Overall, this was an encouraging response. We need to make sure that our voices are heard.

CUCFA letter to Yudof on Natural Reserve System

The Council of UC Faculty Associations recently wrote to President Yudof concerning the status of the UC Natural Reserve System and the impact of reorganization of UCOP. Our letter is attached. The DFA and CUCFA can help to emphasize important issues like this.

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July 8, 2008

President Mark G. Yudof
University of California
Office of the President
1111 Franklin St.
Oakland, CA 94607-5200

Re: Natural Reserve System Management

Dear President Yudof:

The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) welcomes you to the University of California. CUCFA is an umbrella organization for individual Faculty Associations at each of the UC campuses. These are independent entities that represent the interests of faculty members, but are not affiliated with the University Senate. A primary purpose of the Faculty Associations, and therefore of the Council of Faculty Associations, is support for the principle of shared governance and the maintenance of academic excellence. It is in reference to these principles that we write to you.

The University of California can boast of many unique and extremely valuable resources that are not commonly found in other universities. One such resource is the Natural Reserve System. Management of the Natural Reserve System is presently housed in the UC Office of the President. A select group of distinguished faculty who are concerned about management of the reserve system has written to you and laid out a compelling argument for the continued management of the Natural Reserve System from within the Office of the President.

CUCFA urges you to give full consideration to faculty input on this matter. In the spirit of shared governance, the opinions and input of the faculty must be a vital factor in making decisions that affect UC’s programs, and we are concerned that the UCOP reorganization is proceeding in apparent disregard of the University’s academic mission and public obligations.

We look forward to a productive relationship with you and your administration and wish you well in your new position.

Respectfully,
Robert Meister,
President, Council of UC Faculty Associations

CC: Provost and Executive Vice President Wyatt R. Hume
Executive Vice President Katie Lapp
Vice President of Research and Graduate Studies Steven Beckwith
Regent Richard Blum
Academic Senate Chair Michael Brown

Survey Results Sent to Yudof and Davis Enterprise

The DFA has sent a letter to UC President Yudof informing him of the results of our first survey, particularly as they might assist in the selection process for UCD’s new Chancellor. The DFA also sent a similar letter to the Davis Enterprise. Below is a copy of the letter sent to President Yudof:

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July 1, 2008

President Mark G. Yudof
Office of the President
University of California
1111 Franklin St., 12th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Dear President Yudof,

The Davis Faculty Association (DFA) welcomes you to the University of California. The DFA is an independent entity that represents the interests of faculty members at Davis, but is not affiliated with the University Senate. One of the main goals of the DFA is to give an independent voice to our members. In that role the Davis Faculty Association has begun conducting regular opinion surveys of its members. Our first survey question was: in light of Chancellor Vanderhoef’s announced decision to retire, does UC Davis need to make a major change of direction under the next Chancellor? In summary, most of the respondents (80%) agreed that a new direction was needed.

The responses ended up listing the properties our faculty think UC’s new president should look for when choosing Vanderhoef’s successor.  We urge you to consider closely the sentiments of the faculty in your consideration of a replacement Chancellor at Davis because to a considerable degree UC Davis stands at a cross-road: the appointment of the next Chancellor will set our future direction.

The most common theme in the comments was that UCD had become too insular –  many of its administrative posts are now filled with people promoted into the positions from within UCD.

Sample comments along these lines included: “Many problems stem from issues relating to declining state support. However, most stem from the failure to leverage internal support and talent. This problem stems, in turn, from poor appointments, typically with internal (i.e., from UCD) individuals, made at almost every level of administrative posts from Dean and up… An essential start towards a major change in direction will be to hire a new Chancellor from the outside.” Another respondent said “we need some one with the confidence to hire top people with proven research records and to listen to them.”

Another common theme was that the new Chancellor should be more than a good administrator; he or she should have a strong academic background: “The candidates should, first and foremost, have outstanding academic credentials.”

Faculty also emphasized the importance of UC’s tradition of shared governance (between faculty and the administration) and the transparency in administrative action that must go along with shared governance: “The decision by the Chancellor to fill the Provost position, even temporarily, without – actually in spite of the near completion of – a national search is a transgression of the principles of shared governance of the highest degree.”

Another respondent said “I find the lack of transparency… infuriating, and part of a general pattern of administrative self-indulgence that compounds the university’s efforts to maintain public support… I would link it further to a CEO kind of approach to the university which too easily bargains away the integrity of the institution in the pursuit of money and some idea, perhaps, of prestige.”

Full results of the survey can be found at: http://www.ucdfa.org/news_articles/directions-survey.htm

Although the results of this survey reflect only the opinions of the DFA membership, and therefore offer a relatively small sample size, they are closely related to the sentiments that have been expressed formally and informally by the UC Davis Academic Senate and a consortium of senior and distinguished faculty. We hope that you take these concerns into consideration when you make your appointment of our next Chancellor. We wish you well in your new position and we look forward to your leadership in guiding the UC system through a very difficult period.

Sincerely,
Ian Kennedy, Chair Davis Faculty Association
and Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering

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