Davis Faculty Association

Archive for 2013

CUCFA Statement Opposing Threat to City College of San Francisco’s Accreditation

The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) opposes the recent decision of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to revoke accreditation for City College of San Francisco (CCSF). CUCFA joins the California Conference of the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers and the California Federation of Teachers in asking ACCJC to:

(a) reverse its decision to revoke CCSF accreditation, and

(b) seek a new assessment which recognizes CCSF’s high academic standing as well as its financial and structural problems, from reviewers less top-heavy with administrators.

CUCFA applauds CCSF faculty and students for maintaining their commitment to quality education under extremely difficult conditions. We urge the city of San Francisco and the state to develop a process for enabling CCSF to fix its management and financial problems that will not interrupt its delivery of vitally important, high-quality, affordable academic and vocational instruction to the citizens of San Francisco.

DFA Board letter to Provost Hexter re: Student Disability Center and exam accommodations

The DFA Board sent the following letter to Provost Hexter to express concerns raised by some of our members:


July 11, 2013

Provost Ralph J. Hexter
Mrak Hall, Fifth Floor
University of California, Davis
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Fax: 530-752-2400

Dear Provost Hexter:

We write to bring to your attention a practical issue regarding the accommodation of students with special needs for examinations.  It is
becoming increasingly burdensome for the faculty to satisfy these requirements.  In some cases, the student must be given five hours in a room without other students. During the quarter, at mid-term time, the problem is particularly acute because some Departments are starved of space and cannot find suitable rooms. The Student Disability Center (SDC) states that they cannot help in locating space – the burden currently falls entirely on the faculty, according to the SDC.

However, an amended regulation of the Davis Division of the Senate (538H) states in part:

“The instructor has a legal obligation to provide recommended academic accommodations, unless the instructor can demonstrate that the accommodations will fundamentally alter the nature of the academic demands made of the student, or decrease the standards and types of academic performance. It is the responsibility of the University to provide recommended physical accommodations. No accommodation shall require facilities or personnel that can be demonstrated to result in undue financial and administrative burdens to the University. The instructor should consult with the student and the SDC if there are any questions or concerns.”

The phrase “academic accommodations” is pertinent. According to this statement, it is not incumbent upon the faculty to identify space or personnel to monitor examinations; it is required of the University, not the instructor.

Will the University, via the SDC, identify suitable space and proctors for mid-term and final examinations? Resolution of the problem may require funding to augment the staffing at SDC – the funds would be well spent in helping to relieve the faculty of an increasingly onerous task.

We look forward to your clarification of our procedures.


Scott Shershow, Chair
on behalf of Davis Faculty Association board

Privatizing UC Instruction, SB520

SB 520, a controversial bill that proposes that California public universities partner with private technology companies to provide general education classes online, continues to move through the state legislature. A June 5th article in the East Bay Express explores the issue, quoting Colleen Lye and James Vernon, Co-Chairs of the Berkeley Faculty Association, a sister chapter of the DFA.

An excerpt:

“In March, The Academic Senate of the University of California released an open letter criticizing the bill’s inclusion of private corporate interests. “There is no possibility that UC faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency,” the letter stated.

“Some of the largest venture capital firms in Silicon Valley have heavily invested in educational technology start-ups like Udacity, edX, and Coursera. Last week, Coursera announced partnerships with ten public universities, including the State University of New York system, to offer for-credit courses to currently enrolled students.

“The UC Berkeley Faculty Association (BFA) and other faculty groups have also expressed concern that private providers may infringe upon their intellectual property rights, which identify the instructor as the owner of its coursework.”

Read full article

Member’s Meeting – First Round is on Us

The Board of the Davis Faculty Association invites you to join us over a beer – or soft drink – at Sudwerk (2001 2nd St, Davis – if the weather is pleasant we’ll probably be on the patio) at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, June 5th. The first round of drinks is on us.

We want to hear about your concerns, your suggestions, and any other input you may have for the Board of the DFA. Also, do invite any of your colleagues you think may have an interest in the Davis Faculty Association. As UC Davis continues to face challenges we need concerted action more than ever.

Nash Dinner, RSVP Deadline Monday

As many of you are aware, the DFA is one of the organizations that supports the Charles P. Nash Prize, which is funded by the campus community and Charlie’s family and friends.  Its goal is to acknowledge achievement in and commitment to promoting shared governance in keeping with Charlie Nash’s exceptional efforts in promoting and advocating for faculty interests and welfare.

This year’s prize will go to Robert May, professor of Philosophy. As noted in a recent Dateline article about this award, professor May joined the systemwide Committee on Faculty Welfare in 1996, chaired the panel in 1999-2000, and has been an ex oficio member since 2009. He has been a member of the committee’s Health Care Task Force since 1999 and chair since 2009. He served on the President’s Task Force on Post-Employment Benefits in 2010, and joined the Health Benefits Work Group in 2011.

Professor May also figured in our messages about UCD’s healthcare facilitator program.

The award dinner, hosted by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter, will be Tuesday, April 30th, in the AGR Room of the Buehler Alumni Center.  The reception starts at 6:00 PM and the dinner at 6:30 PM.  The cost is $35.00 per person for dinner, paid in advance.  RSVPs with payment are due by Monday, April 22. For more information, call Ceremonies and Special Events, (530) 754-2262, or send an email to Andrew Crotto, acrotto@ucdavis.edu.

If you would like to invest in Charlie’s principles and community, you can add your support for this Prize with an endowment check made payable to the UC Davis Foundation, with a notation “For the Charles P. Nash Prize,” and send the check to: UC Davis Foundation – Charles P. Nash Prize, 1460 Drew Avenue, Suite 100, Davis, CA 95618. Or call (530) 754-4438 for more information.

New York Times editorial on the magical thinking around online education

The New York Times editorializes on state budget cuts to California’s public higher education systems and the state legislature’s magical thinking around online education.

The full article is online at:


An excerpt follows:

“The same California State Legislature that cut the higher education budget to ribbons, while spending ever larger sums on prisons, now proposes to magically set things right by requiring public colleges and universities to offer more online courses. The problem is that online courses as generally configured are not broadly useful. They work well for highly skilled, highly motivated students but are potentially disastrous for large numbers of struggling students who lack basic competencies and require remedial education. These courses would be a questionable fit for first-time freshmen in the 23-campus California State University system, more than 60 percent of whom need remedial instruction in math, English or both.”

A note about proposed online ed legislation

The DFA, in conjunction with CUCFA staff and the other faculty associations, have been busy monitoring the impending state legislation about online courses. In a previous email, we informed you of our letter of inquiry to the UCD Senate leadership and also invited you to sign an online petition opposing Senate Bill 520, which has so far received the lion’s share of attention. If you haven’t already you can still sign that petition (which currently has almost 1500 signatures) at


Senate Chair Nachtergaele also wrote to the entire UCD faculty this morning providing further details of the Senate’s position on this issue.

There are also other related bills being considered in the Senate or the Assembly, some of them arguably less bad than SB 520, but all of them giving cause for our concern. Some other bills include:

* Assembly Bill 386 – Allows any student within the CSU System to take an online course on any other CSU campus, with some restrictions.

* Assembly Bill 387 Among other things, mandates 10% of new CSU courses be online offerings.

* Assembly Bill 1306 – Establishes a New University of California as the fourth higher education segment. The New University will provide no instruction, but shall issue college credit, baccalaureate and associate degrees to any person capable of passing examinations.

* Senate Bill 520 – Directs the three higher education segments to identify the 50 most “bottlenecked” courses, creates a statewide pool of these classes, after a standardized review. Approval process allows private vendors to offer these classes for credit.

* Senate Bill 547. Similar to SB 520 but works much more within the current structures. It assigns course development and approval to the Academic Senates of UC, CSU and CCC, working jointly. In contrast, SB 520 assigned it to a 9-member panel which does not yet exist, whose original purpose was to help create free online textbooks.

Meanwhile, Bob Meister, Chair of CUCFA, has drafted an op-ed that will hopefully see print soon. Also, the UCSB Faculty Association has developed a set of bullet points, available here. This is obviously a complex issue and some of us following it closely continue to disagree (including about some of the points made in the UCSB document).

We’ll continue to monitor this legislation as it evolves, and would be happy to hear from any DFA members about their opinions on this legislation.

Best wishes,

Scott C. Shershow
Professor of English
Chair, Davis Faculty Association

Add your voice to a call for changes to SB 520

The Davis Faculty Association is gravely concerned about SB 520, a bill currently being considered by the state legislature, which would mandate acceptance of online courses from any source for academic credit at the University of California, the California State University and Community Colleges.  This proposal seems to us to have profound potential implications for shared governance, educational quality, faculty control of curriculum, standards for degrees, and much more. The DFA recently wrote to UCD Senate Chair Bruno Nachtergaele to express its concern about this legislation, and in response were referred to the Open Letter from Bob Powell and Council Chair Bill Jacob, the chairs of the system-wide Senate, which has already been sent to all faculty.

The DFA writes now to invite you to add your name to the petition linked to below, which originated with the Berkeley Faculty Association, and which is addressed to Sen. Darrell Steinberg (CA-6), the sponsor of SB 520, asking him to withdraw or modify SB 520. Please use the petition’s comment field to note your affiliation with UC.


For more information on this impending legislation, see the various links at:


Senator Steinberg’s proposed online classes bill

Today’s New York Times (and a number of other news sources) had an article about proposed legislation from Senator Steinberg that would require California’s public higher education systems to accept transfer credits from select online course providers for 50 of the state’s most impacted courses (some of these courses would be Community College or CSU courses but some could be UC courses, they have not been selected yet).

The New York Times article is available online at:


Lillian Taiz, the president of the California Faculty Association (the union representing CSU faculty), is quoted in the article:

“What’s really going on is that after the budget cuts have sucked public higher education dry of resources,” she continued, “the Legislature’s saying we should give away the job of educating our students.”

The language of the proposed bill is not available from the Legislative Counsel’s website yet, but I’ve attached a PDF of the proposed language. Also attached is a PDF press release from Senator Steinberg’s office.

Follow-up on healthcare facilitators: funding restored

Last month we notified you of an ongoing issue regarding funding to support healthcare and retirement counseling programs. The lobbying by the senate, retirees, and FA’s was successful: Dwaine Duckett, UCOP VP of Human Resources, has announced that UCOP will continue to provide central funding for health care facilitators at all  campuses. A memo stating this was sent to CHRO’s on each campus. The review of the program continues, and it is not clear what the long term resolution to this issue will be.

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