Davis Faculty Association

Archive for June, 2010

Katehi quote – Innovation Problem Haunts Policymakers

Our Chancellor was quoted in the May 31 issue of Chemical & Engineering News magazine of the American Chemical Society:

“To illustrate the growing divide between what the government provides and what the public wants and thinks it should pay for, Linda Katehi, chancellor of the University of California, Davis, described the financial situation occurring in California. The state’s budget crisis, she said, is devastating the ability of the public research university to train scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers, and other professionals.

““California’s choices over the last three decades reflect an increasingly privatized concept of government,” Katehi said. Under this concept, the public “views government services as a private choice, as if one could review potential government programs the way one would check off options on a cable television plan” and pay for only the desired services, she explained. “Lost in this privatized version of government is the sense of communal belonging, of obligation in any social entity larger than the self, and of any responsibility to future generations.”

“Katehi said that California’s money problems can happen in other states and that “we would be wise to heed the lessons of California’s fiscal crisis and its adverse effects on public education.” She said that if more public education funds are not forthcoming, she sees the state universities raising tuition and accepting more out-of-state students, whose higher tuition fees help defray expenses. Although government grants might assist some economically disadvantaged students, she said, the impact will be greatest on lower and middle-income families, which will no longer be able to pay for a public college education.”

The full article is available from on-campus computers (or via other subscriber login process) at the following link:


Article in SF Chron about UC’s losses to indirect costs

There was an interesting article in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle about UC’s losses to indirect costs. Glossed over in the article is the importance of research to the reputation of UC’s faculty and thus the institution itself, or the important role this research plays in graduate education. Still, this is an issue we hear a lot about lately as part of the Commission of the Future recommendations. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“UC wins about $3.5 billion per year in research grants, of which $780 million is for indirect costs. It’s not nearly enough, Croughan reported. Research support actually costs $1.5 billion per year, or $720 million more than UC recovers. ”We’re losing about 20 cents on the dollar,” Croughan told the commission. ”Harvard complains about losing 5 cents on the dollar. I would argue we’ve not been aggressive enough.” No university can hope to recover all of those indirect costs. In fact, some grant providers refuse to reimburse at all, Croughan said. But most big research universities are better than UC at negotiating reimbursement rates. ”I was pretty astonished at how low our rates were,” said UC Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom, a commission member.”

And here is a link to the full article:

Deans Survey Results

The Davis Faculty Association conducted a survey asking faculty to rate their deans. The survey ran from May 17 until June 4 and we had 87 respondents during that time. In summary, a majority of the faculty were satisfied with the handling of merits and promotions by their Dean but were not satisfied with the academic leadership of their dean nor with their dean’s handling of resources and response to the current financial crisis. This survey will be brought to the attention of the Chancellor. Here are the specific questions we asked and the ratio of responses:


My dean handles merit and promotion actions fairly while establishing reasonable expectations of quality:

strongly agree 27%
somewhat agree 27%
neutral 8%
disagree 7%
strongly disagree 15%
do not know / not applicable 16%





My dean provides strong and effective academic leadership:

strongly agree 15%
somewhat agree 17%
neutral 17%
disagree 16%
strongly disagree 32%
do not know / not applicable 2%





My dean distributes resources in a fair and transparent manner:

strongly agree 17%
somewhat agree 16%
neutral 9%
disagree 26%
strongly disagree 23%
do not know / not applicable 8%





My dean is handling the current financial crisis appropriately with transparency and consultation with the faculty:

strongly agree 20%
somewhat agree 16%
neutral 8%
disagree 24%
strongly disagree 31%
do not know / not applicable 1%





My dean is accessible to the faculty:

strongly agree 34%
somewhat agree 26%
neutral 16%
disagree 9%
strongly disagree 14%
do not know / not applicable 1%





My dean is successful at raising external funding:

strongly agree 5%
somewhat agree 14%
neutral 21%
disagree 12%
strongly disagree 12%
do not know / not applicable 36%





The survey also invited respondents to provide any additional comments they wished. These comments are the opinions of the survey respondents. These responses are in no particular order and it should not be assumed that successive comments refer to the same individuals. The majority of respondents chose not to identify their Dean specifically but in many cases the comments can be associated with particular Colleges or Schools. Comments collected included:

1. Being Dean is a tough job, especially in the current economic crisis. It would be a very exceptional individual that could provide strong leadership and bring in external funding in today’s climate.

2. CBS needs and deserves a qualified Dean recruited via a nationwide search.

3. The current dean has given too much authority to a particular staff member (Asst. Dean Fulton), who seems to be treating the budget crisis as an opportunity to consolidate her own power rather than working with the faculty. Faculty input and requests for information have been routinely ignored, and it has taken a Freedom of Information Act request just for her to release basic budget info. It is not clear how one staff member has come to have the authority to maintain a death-grip on the budget numbers despite the concerted voice of the faculty. Worse, Asst. Dean Fulton seems determined to remove staff from the departments and move them to the Dean’s office, regardless of what the faculty think or how many times we object to it.

4. Dean and Associate Deans in my college are generally mediocre faculty with little prior leadership experience (e.g. haven’t been dept chairs). Their behavior is often defensive in nature. In the past we have had a much stronger cadre in our dean’s office. The recent budget crisis began and continues with no meaningful consultation with the rank and file faculty in the college. The staff reorganization committees have consisted of dean’s office faculty and staff, and dept MSOs, and one member of the college executive committee. However, we are told by the dean that these committees are representative of the faculty???? The Assistant Dean is permitted to run roughshod over all members of these committees and the dean of the college. The situation can only be described as surreal.

5. Dean Owens was recently reviewed by the Senate — at the insistence of divisional faculty. The report can be found at http://academicsenate.ucdavis.edu/documents/RA_2-11-10-FINAL-Meeting-Call.pdf. It begins on p. 42. It makes interesting reading.

6. He hasn’t been in the role very long, so I don’t really know the answers to some of these questions. As far as I can tell, his effects on our department and department chair have been good, clear, cooperative, etc. I have a very favorable overall impression of him, but it isn’t based on extensive information acquired since he took the job. (I knew him and highly approved of him well before he took this particular job.)

7. He is probably doing as well as can be expected given the command structure of the university.

8. I am referring here to Dean Osburn of the SVM. I am an emeritus, and find it shocking how the dean has corrupted the academic processes of the UC, and helped put the SVM in economic peril, more so than it would have been alone from the current economic downturn. M Thurmond

9. I believe that my dean has the mentality of an authoritarian corporate CEO and has lost touch with the essence of what a university should be. I am strongly disappointed by this deanship.

10. I do want to add the caveat to my comments that Bruce’s independence in his actions can arguably be held under question. He is expected to be replaced, and it is not clear the extent he feels comfortable to act against the desires of either the senior staff or of returning Dean Lavernia, who will have to live with his decisions. I do know that Bruce has always been very open and fair in all my personal dealings with him.

11. I have never known the present Dean, or his predecessor, to allow the mere best interests of the College and Departments to interfere with opting for politically expedient decisions that further their own career ambitions. The College and individual Departments have suffered terribly over the past 5-6 years, and faculty morale is rock-bottom. We need new College leadership that can pull us out of this morass, re-invigorate the College, and stop the disenfranchisement of faculty. It is high time to end the brazen self-interest and nepotism that have characterized the College leadership for so long.

12. In my opinion, Dean Burtis has been a disappointment.

13. In the Division of Social Sciences, the Dean does not appear to be an advocate for the entire division but rather for his own department and secondarily for those programs/faculty who fit a narrow (money-based) metric of “success.” The question you ask about the Dean’s ability to raise external funds is difficult to answer because he is a successful fundraiser for his own research center but not for the division as a whole.

14. Ken is competent, and dedicated, and he is doing his best to lead the college of Biological Sciences.

15. My Dean has largely outsourced the personnel process to an associate dean in order to concentrate on fund raising and other duties. More generally my Dean is responding to the current challenges with stock solutions, borrowed from other units on campus or around the system, and justifying them using the prevailing buzzwords. He has embarked on a reorganization of the administrative and computer support staff and can not show how such moves will improve service or save money. Now he wants to concentrate support on what he perceives as the strong departments in the college, basing his assessments on bad data and vague impressions of what departments do. He also has turned to the advice of a selected and secret group of faculty (“stars” of the division) who it seems have provided him with justifications for why their units deserve to be regarded as strong.

16. My Dean has vision and he knows where he wants to take the College. He is fair and as far as I know, transparent and straightforward. He is NOT so good at interpersonal communication, and here is where he has had some major gaffes. He also has never been able to understand what makes my department unique. He appears unable to appreciate the value of academic diversity in terms of the benefits of multiple departments. Rather, he has focused on large department size for no defensible reason. This has led to ample frustration and morale issues in the College (faculty and staff alike).

17. My Dean is in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. His first term was good to very good. His second term was OK; he picked battles that he won, but they were of little consequence to the health of the College. In his third term, he seems to be abandoning his first principles (which he defined as merits). Instead of quality, all that seems to matter is size and rather retrograde notions that were important to Agriculture in the past. Following Schneeman, the College got off to a good start with Van Alfen, but he seems intent on messing up his initial good start.

18. My Dean is unqualified for his post. His academic achievements are near the bottom, when compared to all of the faculty in the College of Biological Sciences. He has had only one research grant in his career, and it was remarkable that he was granted tenure. He was given the Dean’s position because he was the ‘low bidder’. He does not have the respect of his faculty.

19. not happy with current direction away from teaching and towards the business model of education

20. Our dean plays favorites, punishes those with whom he disagrees, and instead of supporting a stronger academic program, is eagerly on board with the current push to focus on money-making programs (which in our case, means diluting quality). He is interested only in his own career and salary. Most faculty in our unit are afraid to speak out or oppose him, others are being rewarded for supporting him.

21. Overall, very good dean.

22. She (the Dean) plays favoritism. Unequal treatment of faculty.

23. The budget problem is a biggie. Although the dean attempts to be transparent in his decision process, and sometimes overkills will information overload, the fact that he continues to harbor the idea for a need to cluster units just because his Adm. staff wants it done is clearly indicating that he is a weak dean.

24. The College is operating like a ship with no rudder. A staff person, who is unqualified in many aspects, yields more influence on where the college is going (or not going) than the Dean. Faculty consultation is an after thought.

25. The College of Biological urgently needs new leadership.

26. The Dean is too internally focused, has no idea how successful development programs are run, but seems not to know he has no idea suggesting that at upper levels they have no idea how successful development programs are run.

27. The Deans office in Engineering has suffered from cronyism. The College has not been well served by any of the past 3 occupants. The Dean and staff are guarded from the faculty by gatekeepers – access is limited. Consultation with Faculty is very limited and recent performance on budget and staff cuts has been inadequate. None of our recent Deans has shown any success in raising significant external support and funding, nor in raising the visibility of the College. The Chancellor should clean house by asking all current Deans to re-apply for their jobs – we have too many holdovers from the Vanderhoef days.

28. The lack of leadership and planning in the current crisis is unconscionable.

29. The question which may be most difficult to answer is “What has our Dean done for our College during his/her tenure.” The day-to-day operations seem to absorb most of the time and resources of the Dean’s office….perhaps not too surprising given the current financial situation (read disaster) and the fact that our current Dean’s position is described as “interim.” Still we seem to be gradually spiraling downward and have been for some time.

30. The recent exercise by the Dean’s Office to consolidate departments into so-called cluster groupings on the pretext of achieving fiscal savings in the current state economic crisis is without merit. Such groupings save funds ONLY in the long run after retirement of faculty, which account for the majority of costs in running a/any department. The fiscal crisis is NOW, not in the future. What — in fact — have any of the Deans at UCD implemented to reduce the immediate fiscal crisis impact on the College? I hear talk and sense hand-wringing but have not seen concrete decisions…and next year may be even worse. The only so-called savings of such clustering and consolidation in the current crisis is to realize short-term savings by eliminating staff and 2-3 MSOs. If the Dean was serious in cost-cutting there would be immediate reduction in the number of Associate Deans in his office…that would be a start and send a strong signal that the Dean was serious. Why must university-related cuts come primarily from hard-working staff and not from cutting administrative positions? This is the same problem with UC in general. Clustering departments has little to no intellectual value since faculty do not collaborate with other faculty merely because they are clustered under a so-called “unified” title — faculty collaborate with others of like intellectual interests not because they are clustered under artificial groupings. Further it is inappropriate for any Dean to propose an increased “skim” of an extra % from the gifts of alumni and friends-of-UCD — merely on the guise of the funds are needed to administer them. I know of too many alumni and friends-of-UCD who no longer will give to the campus for various research-related programs because of this inappropriate “tax” by the Dean’s Office. Enough said.

31. To be fair to the deans, this survey should have had a section where we could identify which dean is ours. I feel bad for the other deans, who may actually be doing a good job.

Board Elections

It is time to renew the DFA board. In accordance with DFA bylaws, a nominating committee has selected the following slate of candidates to fill DFA board positions as listed below with the following code (C – continuing; N – newly elected). Thank you very much to the nominating committee — Alan Jackman, Doug Nelson, and Gerhard Richter — for their work.

Chair: Robert Rucker (Nutrition) [N]
Vice Chair: Colin Cameron (Economics) [C]
Norma Landau (History) [C]
Lyn Lofland (Sociology) [C]
William Lucas (Plant Biology) [C]
Marjorie Longo (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) [N]
Richard Scalettar (Physics) [C]
Scott Shershow (English) [N]
Blake Stimson (Art History) [N]
Pieter Stroeve (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) [C]
Ex-Officio: Joe Kiskis (Physics)

All nominees have agreed to serve. Newly elected members serve a two-year term of office that will run until academic year 2012-2013. Further nominations may be made upon petition of 5% of the membership (15 members) in good standing as of April 1, 2010. Such petitions must be delivered on or before June 30, 2010 to the Executive Director at 1270 Farragut Circle, Davis, CA 95618. If no nominations are submitted, the slate shall be accepted as elected.

We very much want to thank the DFA’s long serving outgoing chair, Ian Kennedy, as well as long serving board member Kathryn Radke and board member Saul Schaefer for their past service on the DFA board.

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