Davis Faculty Association

What has the DFA been up to this past year?

It has been another busy year for the Davis Faculty Association and our affiliate CUCFA (Council of UC Faculty Associations). In recent years we have made an effort to communicate with our members more frequently. Toward that end, we rebuilt our website (ucdfa.org) so that it now includes a blog, to which we have added over one hundred posts since June, 2009. Below is a brief recap of the major issues we have taken up in that time.

State funding:
FA representatives attended legislative budget hearings through the spring and summer of 2009 (as we do every year). The state budget proposed $854 million in cuts to UC over 2008-09 and 2009-10 years. Yudof threatened furloughs, salary reductions and programmatic cuts. CUCFA stated to the legislative committee: “We recognize that the University, along with all state assisted enterprises, will need to accept some funding reductions this year. However, even before the present severe difficulties, the University had absorbed a 40% reduction in inflation adjusted, per student state support. In this sense, it has already done its part to reduce state spending. If the fundamental health of the University is preserved, it will also be able to continue its role of being an essential contributor to long term solutions for California.” In the end the state did make drastic cuts to UC’s budget. UC reacted to these cuts in several ways detailed in the “UC’s budget” section below.

As I write this, the state budget for the 2010-11 year is still being negotiated. Currently the Governor, the Assembly and the Senate budget committees all agree to restore one-time cuts of $305 million to UC, a portion of the cuts made over the past two budgets. There is a proposal being debated to spend $200 million to reduce the upcoming student fee increase. Also being debated, and strongly advocated by CUCFA, is the state’s position on restarting contributions to UCRP (see more below).

UC’s budget:
In June, 2009, FA chairs sent a letter directly to the UC Regents criticizing them for not having met in months despite the looming fiscal crisis, and for not having held open meetings to explore the implications of the budget crisis for the future of the UC system. The FAs wished to head off action taken in urgency without faculty input. Yudof responded in early July, claiming the issues would be well discussed at the July Regents’ meeting and referencing “Bylaw 16.9 of the University, which states that communications from members of the faculty to the Board of Regents must be presented through the President,” thus neglecting to consider that the FAs are excepted from that bylaw. CUCFA went on to oppose Yudof’s call for emergency powers at the July Regents’ meeting. Although we did not prevail, some legal points were made and the Regents resorted to claiming “inherent rights” to make decisions about our future, rather than basing actions on new emergency powers.

The DFA then surveyed its members as to how best to implement the furlough program. This survey was later followed by a similar survey conducted by the Academic Senate at Davis and at some other campuses. The majority of faculty believed at least some furlough days needed to fall on instructional days – later the UC administration declared that no furlough days would be scheduled on instructional days.

In April, 2010, the DFA complained to UCD chancellor Katehi: “because the reorganization of departmental staff can affect teaching and research support fundamentally, and because faculty have close awareness of the detailed functioning of their departments, we feel that initial and substantial faculty consultation is essential.”

Commission for the Future of UC:
In July, 2009, we questioned the composition of this commission, noting that the original makeup included only 3 faculty representatives who are not administrators. In response to this complaint (made by us and others), further faculty representation was added to the commission. President Yudof also agreed to CUCFA’s call to broaden the Commission’s charge to include a mandate to provide the people of California with a clear understanding of the hard choices and trade offs the University faces going forward as it decides whether to 1) continue with the status quo; 2) privatize while maintaining quality; or 3) work to reinstate California’s historic commitments to the Master Plan, including restoring per student public funding to 2001 (or earlier) levels. The DFA nominated Jim Chalfont of the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics to serve on the commission, but he did not become a member.

In May of 2010, the FAs reviewed the UC Commission on the Future Working Group Recommendations, including a proposal to invest in on-line education and three-year degree programs. We said “a picture emerges of undergraduates jammed through a mediocre education and ladder rank faculty substantially removed from both control over and involvement with undergraduate education.” The cyber campus proposal is to be discussed at the July Regents’ meeting.

Restart contributions to UCRP:
The DFA and CUCFA have followed this issue for many years. Some of the actions we have taken on this issue in just the last year include: last June we wrote to the Assembly and Senate budget education subcommittees requesting that the state restart its share of contributions to UCRP, as employees were going to do, so as to allow UC to require other employer contributions to start. The state did not restart contribution in 2009 and this issue is currently being debated as part of the budget process. We have contacted legislators numerous times and met with Legislative Analyst staff and representatives of other UC unions. We also have attended and reported on UCRP Advisory Board quarterly meetings and have issued numerous updates to our members about this issue.

Teach-in or walk out:
DFA called for teach-ins on September 24th, and provided teaching materials for the teach-in. Although the DFA did not call for a walk-out on that day, we did defend faculty who participated in the walk out and were then maligned by a Sacramento Bee editorial. DFA chair Ian Kennedy made a presentation at the November 16 teach-in. Many FA members marched and UCB chair Wendy Brown spoke at the March 4th Day of Action in Sacramento. In April, Stan Glantz presented material form Keep California’s Promise to students preparing for student advocacy day in Sacramento.

Keep California’s Promise:
In August, 2009, CUCFA completely redesigned their outreach website to be an analysis of the history of the UC financial problems to form the basis of teach-in actions. The site now has many research white papers written in house on the subject of UC funding, excerpts from over 750 relevant newspaper articles, and links to other web sites with research that focuses on the issue.

UC financing bonds with student fees as collateral:
In August of 2009, UC sold over $1.6 billion in long and short-term bonds on favorable terms. This was less than one month after declaring an extreme financial emergency that necessitated cutting funds for instruction and research throughout the system, and cutting staff and faculty pay between 4% and 10%. They could do so using student fees as collateral. This simple observation by CUCFA resulted in a firestorm of media coverage and debate that lasted well into 2010.

Academic freedom:
The DFA co-sponsored a November presentation by Rachel Levinson, Senior Counsel at the American Association of University Professors called “Legal Threats to Academic Freedom and Shared Governance in Higher Education.” Academic freedom became threatened by a 2006 Supreme Court decision informally called the Garcetti case. The case limited free speech protections for government employees when such speech was part of the job. CUCFA has also been working with Senator Yee to get academic freedom language into state legislation. In March, 2010, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael R. Mertz rejected the idea that the Garcetti ruling should be applied to speech in an academic setting when universities “should be the active trading floors in the marketplace of ideas.”

AAUP or unionization:
The formation of a Davis chapter of AAUP was discussed at the November, 2009, DFA board meeting, as was unionization. A subcommittee was organized to further explore these options.

Nash Prize:
Three years ago, the DFA, the Davis Academic Senate and the Davis Academic Federation created the Nash Prize in memory of Charles Nash. The prize is designed to reward exceptional achievement and commitment in promoting shared governance and advocacy for faculty interests and welfare. This April, DFA chair Ian Kennedy was awarded this honor.

Faculty view of UCD administrative performance:
In June, 2009, we reported the results of the DFA’s survey of faculty about the perceived performance of the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. The results were communicated to the upper administration. We followed up in May of 2010 with a survey that focused on the performance of UCD Deans. 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. These results were brought to the attention of the Chancellor.

UC’s constitutional autonomy:
In June, CUCFA opposed SCA 21 in the state Senate and ACA 24 in the Assembly which threatened UC’s constitutional autonomy. This legislation later died in committee.

Oil severance tax:
AB 656 proposes a 9.9 percent oil severance tax for California oil drilling and natural gas companies. It is estimated that the tax would allocate $1 billion for UCs, CSUs and community colleges. The Council of UC Faculty Associations expressed its support for this bill in April, 2009. Joe Kiskis was quoted in a November Aggie article on the subject. In the spring of 2010 CUCFA wrote several more letters to legislators in support of AB 656. The bill passed from the Assembly and is now in the Senate education committee, its future clouded by the possibility that an oil extraction tax may be used in the budget process to solve part of the general fund shortfall.

Master Plan Hearings:
This spring the state legislature held a series of hearings on the future of the Master Plan. CUCFA attended several of these hearing and wrote legislators in support of the proposals to reaffirm the essential tenets of the Master Plan – universal access, affordability and high quality – that came out of those hearings.

Majority Rule in state budget process:
The Davis Faculty Association was an early endorser of UCB faculty member George Lakoff’s efforts to simplify California’s budgeting process, but in April it became clear that not enough signatures would be collected to make it to the ballot.

Personnel issues:
DFA Chair Ian Kennedy made representations to the administration on behalf of several members during the past year in regard to problems they encountered.

New member recruiting efforts:
DFA hosted a “have a beer on us” event at Sudwerks in June, 2009, and again in May of 2010, this time at Bistro 33. In September, we distributed 100 “Not your vision for our university?” posters throughout campus. To grow as an organization we need faculty help in recruiting new members. As CUCFA’s Craig Flanery says: “faculty visits sound awful, but they really aren’t; stop in any faculty member’s office, ask them what they think about what is going on, and be prepared to listen for a long time.”

We urge all of you to make an effort to recruit one new member this year. The DFA needs continual renewal of our membership in order to remain viable.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 at 2:41 pm and is filed under Calls to Action, Faculty Governance, Future of UC, Pensions, State Politics, UC Administration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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