Davis Faculty Association

Archive for June, 2009

UC faculty attacks regents in scathing letter

On Wednesday, the UCLA Faculty Association distributed a letter critical of the Regents’ handling of the current budget crisis. The letter was signed by Dwight Read, chair of the UCLA FA, Warren Gold, chair of the UCSF FA, and Ian Kennedy, chair of the DFA. You can read the full letter at:
http://www.ucdfa.org/news_articles/090617.html

On Thursday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an article reporting on the letter. The article is available online at:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/06/19/MN73189OUH.DTL

An Open Letter to Chair Blum and the Regents

Dear Members of the Board of Regents:

The University of California is facing a budget emergency that is already having an immediate and seriously negative impact on the academic quality of the University. In the longer run, it will require that we restructure and redefine the University’s role in the state of California. But our sense as faculty is that you are not fully cognizant of, nor acting in response to, the scale of the emergency that we face.

Your last meeting was on May 7, before the recent general election on the budget-related propositions. It included no serious discussion regarding the implications that the failure of the ballot measures would have for the state budget and how this would drastically affect funding for, and student access to, the University of California. Subsequently those ballot measures overwhelmingly failed. To make matters worse, recent reports from the state controller and other officials show that state revenues are falling short of even the most recent projections.

As Regents, you are both the trustees of the University and the fiduciaries of its retirement and other funds. You can help shape the University infrastructure so that it can become more efficient and less costly. You can interact with the Legislature so that the University can accomplish its agreed upon academic mission and fulfill its larger commitment to provide an educated and innovative workforce for the state of California. Please allow us to suggest what the situation looks like from a faculty perspective at the campus level:

The new fiscal and academic year begins on July 1, literally days away. Starting in August or September, depending on the program involved, new students will be enrolled and current students will be resuming their classes. They are coming or returning with expectations about classes offered and the time needed to fulfill degree requirements. Yet our campus administrators tell us that replacement faculty cannot be hired, fewer courses can be offered, classes will be larger, some programs must be discontinued or substantially curtailed, and that pay cuts and furloughs for faculty and staff will most likely be implemented.

Student fees have already been raised and that trend, we are told, is likely to continue. In the medium term and into the foreseeable future, student enrollments will be cut. Research units will be reduced in scope or eliminated.

At the campus level, various task forces of administrators and faculty are at work, trying to implement short-term adaptations to these pressures. Open meetings have been held to discuss the emergency. Our top administrators candidly admit that the magnitudes of the cutbacks in state funding were not anticipated until quite recently.

As one administrator put it, the meter starts running on July 1; every dollar spent unnecessarily after that date will make subsequent reductions the more severe. They now believe that the cuts experienced will be largely permanent and that the state can no longer sustain UC at past levels. In addition, because of the drop in the stock market, the retirement program now has a substantial unfunded liability which, if left unattended, will cripple the University. Yet no UC employer contributions are being made to the retirement system. Each dollar not contributed means the retirement fund loses $2 in contributions from non-state sources.

We are not asking you to micro-manage the University. But clearly major policy guidance is needed and you as Regents are designated as the ultimate makers of such policy. It is evident that the old Master Plan of 1960, which defined higher education in California and served the state so well for decades, is now an historical relic. The 2004 “compact” with the governor applied only in good economic times and is no longer relevant. Business as usual is no longer an option.

Should we move to a new model for the UC system? If so, then what model? How will you maintain student access to UC and a high level of quality education if the response to the budget crisis is to downsize the University? How do you plan to restore financial health to the UC retirement plan so that it doesn’t become a liability to the financial well-being of the University?

In the face of the unprecedented crisis facing the University, we urge that emergency and open meetings of the Board be convened to explore the implications of the budget crisis for the future of the UC system. As policy makers, you must hammer out with the legislative leaders and the governor a new relationship between UC and the State of California. The Board must explore major short-term responses to the current budget crisis and develop the essential medium- and long-term strategies the University must adopt.

We do not want the proposals made by some legislators to change the constitutional position of the University that has served the state of California so well for a century and a half. Faculty members are strongly opposed to such a change. We need a new Master Plan of 2010, not stopgap responses to the budget cuts. We are not in normal times and we need a fully engaged and active Board of Regents.

This is an emergency. We need your help.

Sincerely,

Dwight Read
Chair, UCLA Faculty Association

Warren Gold,
Chair, UCSF Faculty Association

Ian Kennedy
Chair, Davis Faculty Association

Our letter to Senator Yee re: Regental autonomy

Senator Yee has been an ally of the faculty associations in the past. Now, however, he is spearheading the proposed constitutional amendments that would strip the UC Regents of the autonomy needed to preserve UC. Today, DFA chair Ian Kennedy sent the following letter to Senator Yee and copied it to the legislators who represent us at Davis — Lois Wolk and Mariko Yamada. More to follow on this issue as it develops.

———————————

June 16, 2009

Senator Leland Yee
State Capitol, Room 4074
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 327-2186

Dear Senator Yee,

The Davis Faculty Association represents members who are on the faculty of the University of California Davis. Over the years, we have appreciated the concern and support that you have shown for the University. On many occasions we have agreed with your criticism of the operation of the Office of the President. However, the Association is alarmed at your proposal for a major change in the governance structure of the university by transferring oversight of the University from the Regents to the Legislature.

While we certainly understand your frustration with the behavior of the University’s administration and their management of upper level administrative positions, we believe very strongly that your approach is guaranteed to weaken the university even further during this period of significant uncertainty.

Under the present governance structure the University has continued to maintain its excellence in the face of declining financial support from the State. A recent widely-used international ranking of universities places six of the campuses of the University in the top 50 universities world-wide. While the current system is not perfect, it has created and sustained the greatest university system, public or private, in the world. This is a remarkable record that we fear may be jeopardized by your proposal. Our members are struggling to maintain the quality of both our teaching and research programs.

We think the current structure can be made to work better than it currently is, but that an abandonment of that structure will add to the chaos of these uncertain times. A better approach to allay your concerns and frustrations might be to reconsider the makeup of the Regents, rather than a drastic overhaul of the entire management of the University. Along these lines, it is worth recalling that a Task Force of the UC Academic Senate proposed to the Regents and President Jack Peltason in 1995 a scheme for equitably setting the salaries of administrators: the proposal was not adopted. We would be happy to share that report with you if you are interested along with other pertinent information. We urge you to reconsider your proposal – it is in neither the interest of the University nor ultimately the State of California. Other remedies are available.

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

cc: Assemblymember Mariko Yamada
Senator Lois Wolk

UCB take the budget cut hit

The Berkeley Chancellor lays out the budget problem for faculty and staff:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Christine Rosen
Date: June 16, 2009 2:31:23 PM PDT
Subject: UCB take the budget cut hit

Hi all,

Here is our Chancellor’s message on how the cuts will affect us.  Birgeneau is drawing attention to the triple whammy we are going to be taking – furlough/salary cuts, start up of pension contributions, and increasing contributions for health insurance.  No layoffs though yet – or tying these adjustments into promotion decisions.

Chris

—–Original Message—–

From: Robert J. Birgeneau, Chancellor
Sent: Monday, June 15, 2009 6:14 PM
To: Staff, All Academic Titles, Other Members of the Campus Community, Students, Academic Senate Faculty
Subject: URGENT Budget Message from Chancellor and Provost

Dear Campus Colleagues:

As you are undoubtedly aware, California’s financial crisis has worsened severely in recent weeks; this means that the likelihood of unprecedented cuts in State funding of the University has risen dramatically.  UC Berkeley is facing the most difficult financial situation that we have ever encountered in our university careers.

We know that you have been hearing rumors about a number of potential actions designed to reduce costs not only at Berkeley but across the system.  We want to lay out the financial context for you, tell you what we think may happen, and let you know our leadership strategy for the Berkeley campus as we manage through these difficult times.

Today, we find ourselves facing stark new realities.

Six weeks ago, UC Berkeley faced a $67.2 million budget gap for 2009-10. That anticipated shortfall has now grown to $145 million.  Here is how we have been working to address the anticipated shortfall.

* The recently-enacted 9.3% student fee increases and other revenue-enhancement measures that become effective July 1, have reduced the $145 million gap by $30 million.

* In addition, through the work of many of you, our cost-saving measures introduced in 2008-2009 have further reduced the gap by another $15 million.

* That leaves us, at present, with a $100 million remaining gap for the academic year 2009-2010.  We are hopeful that this gap will not grow further as the State finalizes its budget, but we must assume that this is our working target as we plan for the coming year.

* The possible loss of the Cal Grants program, as proposed by the Governor, is not included in the above totals.  These grants total $47 million annually to the UC Berkeley campus.  They cover fees for a large number of our undergraduates.  The loss of Cal Grants would not only disadvantage those students; it would fundamentally subvert our social imperative to provide broad social access to the excellence at UC Berkeley.  The Joint Legislative Budget Conference Committee has proposed protecting student awards for 2009-2010 grants, but that is not 100 percent certain.

* Federal stimulus funds are beginning to trickle in, but are not designed to cover existing core operations.

UC Berkeley, of course, is not alone in facing these challenges.  Private universities have suffered major declines in their endowments while public universities nationwide have experienced severe cuts in State support.

This basically means that we are now facing a reduction of our baseline budget that will likely continue, and may even deepen, over multiple years.  These unprecedented developments require us to examine the underlying assumptions that guide us in delivering and supporting the University’s mission of teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and public service.
For UC Berkeley, this much is certain: all of us—students, faculty, staff, and senior administrators—will be required to sacrifice as we navigate our way through this crisis.  At the same time, it is essential that we work together to address the formidable challenges ahead of us.

Our budget planning scenarios, which had earlier anticipated an average of 8% permanent budget cuts to all campus units for the coming fiscal year, will now likely be at a campus-wide average of 20%.  While some units will need to spread the cuts over two years, the campus average cut must be at least 12% in 2009-2010.  The remainder must be taken by 2010-2011.
These cuts will not be uniform “across-the-board”; units that are core to the teaching and research missions will be given somewhat lesser cuts than the others, and, within the teaching-and-research realms, units with higher capacity will be asked to take larger cuts than those with lower capacity.  This is the only rational approach in a campus like ours if we are to preserve our depth and breadth of academic excellence—our principal competitive advantage.

Clearly cuts of this magnitude will require all areas of our campus to sacrifice considerably, and to make changes in their core operations.  We will need to reduce our workforce significantly and this will be painful and difficult.  To accomplish this, we will also need to make changes to our core operations and the way we do our work.  All of these efforts will take time to achieve.

Over the summer, managers will work with their units to make difficult but necessary decisions about reductions in our workforce, while determining which services we can eliminate or curtail.  Naturally, all policies and procedures will be followed, and we will work to treat our people with the respect and dignity they deserve under these very difficult circumstances.  We are sensitive to the impact of staffing reductions on the workload of remaining staff and are seeking ways to streamline our business processes.

As each unit or department works to meet our new budget number, many specifics remain unclear, requiring approval by the Office of the President and the Regents for system-wide implementation. We would like to inform you of those things that are likely or certain to occur in 2009-2010.

What We Know for Sure

* It is, unfortunately, certain that, during 2009-2010, efforts to implement permanent budget cuts at all UC campuses will result in the elimination of many staff positions.

* It is certain that, during 2009-2010, there will be a near-total freeze in new faculty hiring at UC Berkeley.

* It is certain that, during 2009-2010, a staff hiring freeze at UC Berkeley will remain in effect.

* It is also certain that there will be no faculty or staff early-retirement programs at UC campuses on the order of the VERIP of the 1990s.

What is Likely to Happen

* It is highly likely that, through temporary furloughs and/or pay cuts, faculty, staff, and senior administrators at all UC campuses will see their wages reduced by about 8 percent (with potentially a lower rate for our lowest paid workers); it remains uncertain whether pension calculations will be affected by this reduction.

* It is highly likely that, at some point during the 2009-2010 academic year, faculty, staff, and senior administrators at all UC campuses will begin contributing to the UC pension fund.

* It is quite possible that the health-care premiums paid by faculty, staff, and senior administrators at all UC campuses will increase significantly.

Our first and foremost goal is to preserve the academic excellence of Berkeley.  To that end, let us be clear as to what we will not entertain during this crisis.

* We are not discussing or considering layoffs of Senate faculty members, tenured or untenured.

* We are not discussing or considering making Senate faculty promotion decisions contingent on available funding.

* We will not sacrifice Berkeley’s commitment to breadth and depth of academic excellence.

* We will not allow the budgetary crisis to subvert either the delivery of our teaching mission or the support infrastructure for research.

* We will not sacrifice our commitment to social access: low-income students who have earned a place atBerkeley must be capable of affording a UC Berkeley education.

* We will not flag in our commitment to recruit to Berkeley the best graduate students in all fields.

* We will not abandon our efforts to train and promote a highly skilled and diverse workforce.

These are the guiding principles that will be in the forefront of our activities as we entertain difficult choices.

As we progress through this budgetary crisis, we are also looking forward to the longer term prospects and we are taking measures to reduce the size and cost of our enterprise by streamlining work.  For example, we have begun implementing a multi-year plan to streamline administrative processes in IT, Human Resources, procurement, business services, student advising, research administration, and other areas.  Many of these improvements will involve centralized and automated systems that will reduce our dependence on a patchwork of decentralized, labor-intensive operations.

Over time, a combination of layoffs, retirements and normal attrition will result in a smaller workforce that will bring our staff and faculty payroll closer to alignment with State funding, while maintaining high-quality services.  Toward these ends, we have already made substantial investments in systems such as the Human Capital Management (HCM) systems, the Berkeley Financial System (BFS), and an upgrade to ePro, our procurement system.

We are also working with the Office of the President on ways to cut costs by adopting system-wide (UC) administrative systems and reducing prices through system-wide procurement of some goods and services.  Locally, we are consolidating the administration of contracts and grants and are merging back-office functions of both academic and non-academic units.

We are actively engaged and working closely with the Academic Senate and a faculty subgroup that has been formed specifically to examine budget reduction measures.  We anticipate evaluating all options around hiring, retention practices, and strategies to defend the breadth and depth of academic excellence for which UC Berkeley is renowned.

We are implementing an entire suite of revenue-enhancement measures: full recovery of the central administrative costs associated with our self-sufficient auxiliary enterprises; negotiation of a higher federal overhead rate for campus research; expansion of the reach and earnings potential of University Extension and Summer Sessions; and, of course, intensified private fund-raising.  We are also restructuring campus debt to reduce those costs over the near term.

In the external realm, University leaders are advocating aggressively, making sure that legislators, the public, and UC’s closest constituents understand the value of our mission, employees, and students.

We pledge to redouble our efforts to strengthen UC Berkeley’s long and rich tradition of combining access and excellence.  Throughout the State, country, and even the world, Berkeley remains the standard by which all other universities are judged when it comes to the combination of comprehensive academic excellence and deep commitment to a public mission.  We will not shy away from our commitment to either of these lofty goals.

Through shared sacrifice by students, staff, faculty, and senior administrators, and through renewed efforts to reduce over time the cost of delivering instruction, research, and administrative services on campus, we will emerge from this crisis more focused and more efficient, but equally excellent and accessible.  UC Berkeley has been an outstanding institution for 141 years and it will still be outstanding 141 years from now.  We look forward to working with you toward these ends.

What happens next?

We are acutely aware that the economic situation makes this a difficult time, professionally and personally, for many of you.  Change of this magnitude will be difficult.  We have asked our Human Resources area to assist in a number of ways, specifically by supporting managers and employees as we work through this difficult time.  We understand that clear information on campus actions and resources to help you is essential. We ask that managers and supervisors please take time to go though this message with your employees.  We renew our commitment to bring you that information as we learn it, via e-mails and on our Budget Central website: newscenter.berkeley.edu/budget.   We hope that you will watch the site for budget news as it develops, and we thank you for your continued commitment and dedication to this unique institution.

Yours sincerely,

Robert J. Birgeneau
Chancellor

George W. Breslauer
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Note: We ask supervisors to please print and deliver this message to staff who do not use computers in their work.

Tenure, compensation, and Yudof at UT

A DFA member noted reference to our own Mark Yudof in a article from the Texas FA in regard to tenure and compensation at the UT system. Yudof is mentioned in passing.

http://www.tfaonline.net/news_tenurebusting.shtml

Survey of UCD Administration

During the Spring Quarter the Davis Faculty Association conducted a survey of faculty with regard to the performance of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. The results are online at:

http://www.ucdfa.org/news_articles/admin-eval-survey.htm

We have posted statistics as well as detailed comments and personal experiences. The comments make for very interesting reading and we urge the members, and the upper administration who will receive this message, to consider them carefully.

In summary, one quarter of respondents to the question believe the Office of Research is effective and efficient in supporting research activities while three quarters believe it is not.

Almost one third of respondents to the question believe Graduate Studies is effective and efficient in supporting graduate education and research at UC Davis while over two thirds believe it is not.

Essentially, people believe that the administration in general, and both of the two administrative units that were the focus of the survey in particular, are overly bureaucratic. There seemed to be a sense that these offices were designed to manage faculty rather than facilitate faculty. As one faculty member put it (in respect to the Office of Research), they seem “more concerned with scrupulously enforcing … rules than with facilitating submission of proposals.” Some people in fact welcomed OR’s strictness since the funding agencies at the next step are equally picayune.

Independence of UC threatened – proposal by Yee

You should be aware that considerable forces are aligning to push for a fundamental change in the operation of the University of California. Senator Yee has a web site at http://www.reformtheuc.com/ that promotes his proposal to shift our oversight and control from the Regents to the Legislature. Although the DFA and CUCFA have often disagreed with the Office of the President, this move will have a fundamental and very damaging impact on the University. It is very likely that our research mission will be dismissed in favor of teaching, and it will expose us to the political machinations of Sacramento.

The DFA and CUCFA will offer a response to Yee’s proposal, pointing out its dangers for UC – and for the State.

How the budget situation is playing out at UCR

UC Riverside has announced plans to cut their costs. See the link at

http://budget.ucr.edu/ucr_budget_news/cbu-05-jun-09.html

They are planning for 16 days of furlough, of which 13 would be unpaid holidays.

Have a drink on us, Wed. 10th at Sudwerk

Please forward this message to your colleagues!

The Board of the Davis Faculty Association invites you to join us over a beer – or soft drink – at Davis’s Sudwerk restaurant at 4:30pm on Wednesday 10th June. The first drink will be courtesy of the DFA. Come discuss the current fiscal crisis threatening California and UC. We want to hear about your concerns, your suggestions, and any other input you may have for the Board of the DFA.

As the University of California faces another challenging period, perhaps one of the most difficult times that we have encountered, we need concerted action more than ever: the future of the University itself is at stake. To be effective in representing you, we need your help. Please join us on the 11th on the outside patio if weather permits, inside if it is inclement.

Report from Monday’s State Budget Conference Committee Meeting

by Joe Kiskis and Eric Hays

Several hundred people from up and down the state converged on the John Burton hearing room for the afternoon sessions which covered K-12 education, child care and development, and then higher education. Attendance at this meeting was about an order of magnitude larger than either of us have previously seen at a hearing. After the main hearing room and an equally large backup room both overflowed, many people were packed into the stifling halls hoping for an opportunity to address their representatives. Evidently this level of interest was unanticipated by hearing planners. We hope that the sheer number of dedicated speakers carried a compelling message from citizens to their representatives.

Here’s our take of what UC President Mark Yudof actually said at the hearing (UCOP has a press release on their web site at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/21271 based on the materials Yudof prepared in advance of the meeting, it is quite interesting to note the differences):

Yudof said some programs should be eliminated — should probably have been eliminated in the past and now can be cut due to the crisis. He said there would be furloughs, salary reductions and programmatic cuts — all three. He said his biggest concerns were access and research. Research was spoken of, both by Yudof and others, as separate from teaching. Joe will rectify that misunderstanding in his follow-up letter to the committee members.

After access and research, Yudof said that the “race to the bottom” was another major concern. He pointed out that in 1990 the state paid $16,000 per student (inflation adjusted) and if Schwarzenegger’s budget passes the state will only be paying $7,700 per student.

Senator Ducheny asked what UC was doing to force (her word) faculty to teach more than 2 classes. Yudof said that, after most non-tenure track instructors are laid off, faculty will have to teach more, it would be inevitable. His statement implies that he has already decided to lay off almost all non-tenure track instructors.

Yudof, Reed and Scott all simply assumed significant cuts were coming and asked that they be, as much as possible, unallocated cuts, so as to give institutional leaders flexibility in accommodating them. All three higher ed leaders met with the Governor before the hearing to talk about who knows what. All three defended Cal Grants, which are being eliminated in the Governor’s budget. Also being eliminated in the Governor’s budget is any state funding for Hastings College of the Law.

The Governor is going to address a joint legislative session Tuesday about the budget.

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