Davis Faculty Association

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DFA board elections

It is time to renew the DFA board. In accordance with DFA bylaws, a nominating committee has selected a slate of candidates to fill DFA board positions as listed below with the following code: C – continuing; R – renewing for another 2-year term; N – newly elected. I want very much to thank the nominating committee for their work and the outgoing board members for their past service on the DFA board.

Chair: Richard Scalettar (Physics) [R]
Jesse Drew (Technocultural Studies) [N]
Valeria La Saponara (Mech Aero) [N]
Marjorie Longo (Chem. Eng. and Mat. Sci.) [C]
Flagg Miller (Religious Studies) [C]
Susette Min (Asian American Studies) [R]
Scott Shershow (English) [C]
Julia Simon (French & Italian) [R]
Julie Wyman (Cinema and Technocultural Studies) [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 through September, 2017. Further nominations may be made upon petition of 5% of the membership in good standing. Such petitions must be delivered on or before June 2 to the DFA Executive Director at 1270 Farragut Circle, Davis, CA 95618. If no nominations are submitted, the slate shall be accepted as elected.

Board Nominations

It is time to renew the DFA board. In accordance with DFA bylaws, a nominating committee has selected a slate of candidates to fill DFA board positions as listed below with the following code: C – continuing; R – renewing for another 2-year term; N – newly elected. I want to thank the nominating committee for their work and the outgoing board members for their past service on the DFA board.

Chair: Scott Shershow (English) [R]
Vice Chair: Daniel Cox (Physics) [R]
Nathan Brown (English) [C]
Thomas Jue (Biochem & Molecular Med.) [N]
Ian Kennedy (Mech. and Aero. Engineering) [C]
Neil Larsen (Comparative Literature) [C]
Marjorie Longo (Chem. Eng. and Mat. Sci.) [R]
William Lucas (Plant Biology) [C]
Susette Min (Asian American Studies) [C]
Blake Stimson (Art History) [R]
Ex-Officio: Joe Kiskis (Physics)

All nominees have agreed to serve. Newly elected members serve a two-year term of office that will run through September, 2015. Further nominations may be made upon petition of 5% of the membership in good standing. Such petitions must be delivered on or before May 21, 2012, to the DFA Executive Director at 1270 Farragut Circle, Davis, CA 95618. If no nominations are submitted, the slate shall be accepted as elected.

Union authorization cards signed by majority of faculty at University of Oregon

The American Association of University Professors — with which several UC Faculty Association chapters have a negotiated relationship, although the DFA does not — has been working to unionize the faculty at the University of Oregon. The AAUP has announced to its members an important step towards that goal. While there has been no discussion at UCD of unionizing, as an Inside Higher Ed article (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/03/15/university-oregon-faculty-takes-step-toward-unionizing) on this topic says:

The now-likely formation of the faculty union at Oregon would be a major victory for academic labor, which has struggled in recent years to organize at research universities. “It shows that faculty members are increasingly frustrated at the increased corporatization of research universities,” said Jack Nightingale, associate director for higher education organizing at the American Federation of Teachers.

The letter from AAUP to its members follows:

Dear AAUP Member:

We’re pleased to announce that yesterday, faculty members at the University of Oregon moved one step closer to forming a union when they filed union authorization cards, signed by a clear majority of faculty, with the state Employment Relations Board.

The faculty union, United Academics of the University of Oregon, will be jointly affiliated with the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers. The group includes tenure-track, non-tenure-track, and research faculty. In addition to a solid overall majority of UO faculty, the union authorization cards presented yesterday include majorities in all three classifications of faculty represented.

United Academics seeks to restore the voice of faculty in the university’s educational and research priorities. Enrollment at the university has grown by 4,000 students during the last five years, but support for instruction has not kept pace, resulting in dramatic increases in class sizes. One goal of the new union will be to restore budgetary alignment with the university’s core missions of teaching, research, and service to the state of Oregon, say faculty.

The union will be formally certified once the Employment Relations Board confirms that the signed cards represent a majority of the UO faculty.

“Oregon faculty have just made two-fold history,” says AAUP president Cary Nelson. “They are one of the first two major research campuses to organize for collective bargaining in decades. What’s more, their tenure-track and contingent faculty have combined forces in one union to show us how to guarantee quality education for the future. They and their colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago have led the way for faculty all across the country.”

Follow-up on UC’s changes to patent language

The DFA Board wanted to follow-up on the message sent last month regarding changes that UC is making to the way faculty assign patents to UC.

Patents are not relevant to a large number of campus disciplines, and so the changes to the patent language that UC is implementing should not be a financial concern for most faculty members. For the small number of faculty who were depending on the old patent language, here is what a DFA member who has valuable patents says, based on his conversation with a lawyer:


As a part of our ongoing exchange of information regarding the amendment to the patent agreement requested by the University, I am sharing my current understanding.

After contacting legal counsel, my understanding is that the Stanford case does not obligate employees to amend their patent agreement. The requested amendment might help protect the University from ending up in a situation similar to the result in the Stanford case. That does not necessarily mean that an employee is obligated to give the University a preinvention present assignment rather than an assignment after creation and disclosure, if the Patent Agreement that was signed does not require it. Principles of tenure and wrongful termination may protect employees from having the University condition future employment on signing the requested amendment. The University may have the discretion to make other changes that could adversely impact an uncooperative employee.

The language change, although consistent with the intent of the earlier language, is not a mere clarification; it is a material change in the rights of the parties to the Patent Agreement according to the Stanford case. Because the University cannot change the Patent Agreement unilaterally, it is asking employees to agree to the change. Although the employees may be obligated to assign certain inventions to the University once the invention is created, this change would make the present assignment in the amendment effective by operation of law (automatically) without further assignment once the invention exists, under the Stanford case. There may be reasons in particular situations, such as where the nature or timing of the invention is disputed, why one might not want to agree to an automatic assignment.

There are also questions as to whether the signed amendment might be used by the University to argue interpretation, waiver or estoppel as to other issues, so as to expand the impact of the amendment.

In the absence of a third party agreement involving a present assignment, such as the one in the Stanford case, or a refusal to sign an assignment on disclosure, an employee’s refusal to sign this amendment is probably inconsequential to the University’s rights under the Patent Agreement.


Other information:

The clause in the old agreements that UCOP may be using to enforce this change is probably:

“I will do all things necessary to enable the University to perform its obligations to grantors of funds for research or contracting agencies as said obligations have been undertaken by the University.”

One of the most useful sources of information on this issue provided by UCOP is the signing form FAQ, available at:


Other useful links:


Signing form:


Old versions

Board Nominations

It is time to renew the DFA board. In accordance with DFA bylaws, a nominating committee has selected a slate of candidates to fill DFA board positions as listed below with the following code: C – continuing; R – renewing for another 2-year term; N – newly elected. I want very much to thank the nominating committee — Ian Kennedy, Margaret Ferguson, and Anthony Wexler — for their work. For a variety of reasons this was an unusually difficult nominating process, and I am very happy to see what a great list they ultimately selected:

Chair: Lyn Lofland (Sociology) [R]
Nathan Brown (English) [N]
Roy Curry (Physio & Membrane Bio) [N]
Marjorie Longo (Chemical Engineering and Materials Science) [C]
William Lucas (Plant Biology) [R]
Robert Rucker (Nutrition) [C]
Jon Scholey (Molecular and Cellular Biology) [N]
Phil Shaver (Psychology) [N]
Scott Shershow (English) [C]
Blake Stimson (Art History) [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 2013-2014. Further nominations may be made upon petition of 5% of the membership (15 members) in good standing. Such petitions must be delivered on or before August 17, 2011 to the Executive Director at 1270 Farragut Circle, Davis, CA 95618. If no nominations are submitted, the slate shall be accepted as elected.

I very much want to thank the outgoing board members Colin Cameron, Norma Landau, Richard Scalettar, and Pieter Stroeve for their past service on the DFA board. Some of these board members have served many years on the DFA board and I will certainly miss them.

David Crane’s upcoming confirmation as UC Regent and Ohio’s legislative swipe at faculty

The focus on Wisconsin has prompted or accelerated a number of legislative actions directed at higher education around the country. The editorial pages and blogs are also ripe with oped pieces. A concern is the recent action taken by the Ohio State legislature (cf., summary and details in “Inside Higher Ed” and the Chronicle of Higher Education):



Closer to home is the response to an Op Ed piece by David Crane, whose confirmation as a UC regent is pending. As background, Crane was a partner in Babcock & Brown until 2003, a global investment and advisory firm that went into liquidation in 2008.

The following three links provide some useful background. CUCFA is opposing the confirmation of Crane. Robert Meister, Professor of Social and Political Thought at UCSC and President of the Council of UC Faculty Associations has said: “Crane would be yet another multi-millionaire Regent who made his fortune in investment banking — an industry that directly benefits when public employees are forced out of their existing plans and into the hands of Wall Street. The Crane appointment raises the stakes on this issue. Confirming him would bring the politics of Madison Wisconsin to California. However much he backpedals today, yesterday’s op-ed [attacking collective bargaining for public employees] was a red flag to the legislature that this Schwarzenegger appointment must be stopped. I applaud Senator Yee for getting the message and taking action.”

David Crane’s Op-Ed in the San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/27/IN5N1HUAMS.DTL

From the SF Bay Guardian – “Beware the billionaires behind pension reform” at: http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2011/03/01/beware-billionaires-behind-pension-reform

Senator Leland Yee’s (D-San Francisco)’s opposition to Crane is described in: http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2011/03/02/yee-plans-block-crane%E2%80%99s-uc-regents-confirmation

Membership Update

At a recent meeting of the Davis Faculty Association Board, a number of hard decisions were made about the scope and direction of future activities. This has been a very active year for the DFA as well as the other UC campus associations. As you are aware, we are financed independently and do not receive UC-related support. Thus, we can take up issues directly with the UC Regents and we can lobby state legislators. Recent examples are concerns raised about strategies that have focused on post employment retirement and the nature of funding higher education.

Although inflation has been low in recent years, it has not been non-existent. More importantly, a large number of DFA members have retired in recent years and now no longer pay active member dues (emeritus members pay much reduced dues). Thus, our costs have gone up while our resources have dwindled. As a consequence, this year’s effort will be directed at recruitment and broadening our affiliations, such as developing stronger ties with AAUP. In the interim, it will be necessary to increase dues. As you may be aware, the DFA has a tiered dues structure, and the current board feels this is important to maintain. Thus dues for full professors will increase by $6 while dues for assistant and associate professors will stay at their current rate. The DFA board will also be asking for larger contributions from emeritus members. We all regret the need to increase dues, but the decision was needed to keep us going at our current level.

A primary goal is to continue a platform on which we can maintain a strong and independent voice. I would invite you to visit http://cucfa.org/accomplished.php in this regard. The faculty associations have addressed and influenced issues that range from requiring employee representation in UCRP’s governance to clarification that professors independently own their lectures. I will follow up in the new year with specific recruiting plans.

The Board welcomes any suggestions that you have regarding increasing our membership and activities that may contribute to even more visibility.

Robert Rucker on behalf of the DFA Board

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:


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.

The Daily Californian: Salaries Responsible for Budget Gap

The Daily Californian has an article today by Travis Donselman titled “Salaries Responsible for Budget Gap”

The full article is at: http://www.dailycal.org/printable.php?id=109408

An excerpt follows:

The amount of the University budget gap is half of the $1 billion or so the University doles out to its 3,650 employees who earn $200,000 a year or more. To put this in perspective, that means for each UC campus 365 people earn more than 96 percent of Californians. It also means that the “severe financial challenges,” as the UC Office of the President likes to call its budget problems, are as much a product of Oakland as Sacramento.

Arguments about being competitive are as bankrupt as the UC professes to be. By selectivity, the UC Riverside’s business school ranks below San Diego State’s and just above Cal State San Bernardino’s. Yet the $370,000 salary of the UCR business school dean is more than what the president of either campus makes. It is hundreds of thousands more than what these schools’ business deans make.

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