Davis Faculty Association

Archive for October, 2009

Interesting Course Offering (for non-students too!)

Here is a new UC Davis course offering that will be all about the future of public higher education. Please note that interested faculty, staff, students, etc. are all welcome to attend:

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SOC298/CST298 Winter 2010

Public Higher Ed at the Crossroads

We will be meeting every other week winter term to discuss recent publications focused on the fate of public higher ed and invite participants from all walks of university life—students (for credit or not, as they wish), faculty, staff, administrators—to join us. First mtg: Wednesday 1/13, 4-­6 PM in Art 203.

Here is our working plan, but let us know of your suggestions for other readings:

Wed 1/13 Mark G. Yudoff, “Exploring A New Role For Federal Government In Higher Education,” “Is the Public University Dead?,” “The Purgatory of the Public University,” “Higher Tuitions: Harbinger of a Hybrid University?,” and “Are University Systems a Good Idea?” George Lakoff, “Privatization is The Issue;” T.J. Clark, Speech on September 24th Judith Butler, “Save California’s Universities”

Wed 1/27 Clark Kerr, The Uses of the University, 5th Edition

Wed 2/10 Gaye Tuchman, Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University, and/or Jennifer Washburn, University, Inc: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education

Wed 2/24 Christopher Newfield, Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-­Year Assault on the Middle Class

Wed 3/10 Readings on the future of higher education TBD, perhaps including the following: Andrew Ross, “The Mental Labor Problem” and “The Rise of the Global University” Nick Dyer-­?Witheford, “Cognitive Capitalism and the Contested Campus”

Students seeking course credit can enroll for two units for reading and discussion only or four units with additional reading and a term paper in either SOC 298 (crn 60641) or CST 298 (crn 37917).

For PDFs of the first week’s readings: John Hall (jrhall@ucdavis.edu) or Blake Stimson (bstimson@ucdavis.edu)

Discussion Board

At a member’s suggestion, DFA has set up a discussion board for posting comments and fostering interactions between members. Please go to http://ucdfa.org/forum/ to access the discussion board. There is no login requirement at present.

UC Senate leadership responds to Yudof in New York Times

Senate leaders have had a letter published in the New York Times support of State funding of the University:

“We, the leaders of faculty governance of the 10 University of California campuses, read Deborah Solomon’s interview of President Yudof (Sept. 27) with concern. While we realize that these interviews are edited, we worry that the interview gives an impression that U.C. has given up on state financing. We, too, recognize a trend of definancing public education, but we are emphatically not ready to concede the defeat of California’s exceptional experiment…”

The full letter is available at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/magazine/18letters-t-003.html

The impact of University NIH-funded research on California’s economy

The Governor, Legislature, Regents and maybe even UCOP et al, lose sight of the fact the University generates large amounts of federal dollars that flow into the State and have a very positive impact on our economy. This needs to be stressed to our leaders. See

http://www.familiesusa.org/issues/global-health/publications/backyard-key-findings.html

UC financing bonds with student fees as collateral

An analysis by CUCFA has found that UC is using student fees as collateral to obtain favorable rates on bonds issued for construction. The details are now being made public. Here is an one page preview of a longer article, now available at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/?p=383, by CUCFA President Bob Meister:

UC Officials Hike Fees, Pledge 100% of Fees to Bondholders in case of default

How could UC sell over $1.6 billion in long and short-term bonds on favorable terms within one month of declaring an “extreme financial emergency,” cutting funds for instruction and research throughout the system, and cutting staff and faculty pay between 4% and 10%?

UC could sell bonds because UC now borrows for construction projects by using your fees as collateral. Higher fees means more collateral for UC’s borrowing for construction. Construction continues even as instruction and research are cut, and it is higher tuition –- supposedly intended to protect instruction -– that supports continued borrowing for construction.

Tuition increases are justified (to you) as a way to pay educational expenses that taxpayers refuse to pay. In fact, UC tells its bond trustee (Bank of NY Mellon Trust) and the companies that rate bonds (S&P and Moody’s) that tuition can be pledged as collateral. This means that in case of some problem with the bonds, your tuition must be used to pay off bondholders rather than be used to pay for education.

This means that UC officials have a financial incentive to raise fees, since it increases their ability to borrow to pay for projects for which they no longer have enough state money. It also means that the claims of bondholders and banks come before those of UC’s students, staff, and faculty.

UC started actively borrowing against your tuition in spring 2004 —- when a newly-elected Governor Schwarzenegger gave it a green light to raise tuition, a fact that now appears in every bond prospectus. By June 2008 (before the recession) UC’s pledged collateral had risen by over 50% ($4.2B to $6.72B) and your tuition, a large component of this, had risen similarly. The fact that UC can (and does) raise tuition in a budget crisis means that a bad budget year can be a good year for selling bonds.

At present, we simply can’t tell from any publicly available document how much funding UC diverts from instructional and research budgets to pay for construction that no longer has to be either state-funded or self-supporting. We do know that UC has promised to cut its budget as necessary to maintain its bond rating and/or to spend its revenues in ways that increase, rather than reduce, the amount of collateral in the pledge. To people in the financial world it’s obvious that UC committed itself to raise tuition and cut budgets –- year in and year out — when it decided in 2004 to secure its bonds.

Much of the UC community —- faculty, students and staff —- find it unthinkable that UC would raise tuition and cut instruction in order to fund construction. Other great universities, including Harvard, stopped construction projects in their tracks when their endowment income fell, because protecting people and programs were their highest priority. UC officials made the opposite decision, using higher fees -– and the capacity to continue to raise fees at will –- to continue construction.

UC officials have made a policy decisions to put bondholders and debt-funded construction ahead of educational programs. This policy choice needs a full analysis and justification, and, we believe, reversal. UC should not have financial incentives to increase fees. Its finances should be structured to keep fees as low as possible.

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