Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cont: Faculty and Staff Respond to Regents

BACK
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CUCFA raised serious procedural concerns about the process. UCOP and Regents failed to abide by Regents' own procedures requiring notice and consultation over fundamental decisions involving the structure and future of the university.

UCOP originally said that to implement the furlough/salary cut plan, the Regents needed to amend an existing Standing Order to grant the President new powers and duties. But UCOP did not comply with (a) the process for amending standing orders, or (b) the process under the proposed amended Standing Order that would allow him to exercise emergency powers.

Now, having recognized they did not adhere to the proper procedures for the invocation of any such emergency powers by the President, the Regents are claiming the inherent authority to adopt the Plan. It is extremely troubling that the Regents are coming up with a last minute, never before articulated argument about the legal basis for adopting this plan.

The shifting purported basis for adopting the Plan calls into question the integrity of the entire process. Vast sectors of the university community -- faculty, staff, students, provided constructive input with the good faith hope that UCOP was listening. But it is clear now that the process was a sham. UCOP intended to force through the draconian, myopic plan from the outset - regardless of any input from the University community. UCOP claimed to set forth a process involving consultation before implementing that Plan. But having failed even to comply with UCOP's own proposed process, UCOP is now claiming that no consultation was required anyway b/c the Regents could simply have adopted the Plan pursuant to their "inherent authority."

Because the future of the University of California is at stake, a more deliberate, honest, transparent decisionmaking process is necessary.
Professor Tim Clark, UC Berkeley:
My name is Timothy Clark. I am George and Helen Pardee Chair at UC Berkeley. This is my 21st year at the university.

I want to tell you a simple story - but one, I'm afraid, that can stand for hundreds of others at the present moment. Two years ago I agreed to chair a search committee charged with finding a professor to teach the culture and art of the Middle Ages. It was the kind of job one is proud to take on toward the end of one's career. Not just because it seemed so important to many of us that this aspect of world history - the great age of the cathedrals, the conflict of Islam and Christianity, the emergence of an urban, capitalist Europe - be taught to young Californians at the highest possible level. But also because for more than half a century Berkeley has been a center of world excellence in just this subject. The names Walter Horne and Jean Bony - both victims of, or refugees from, Nazism - stand for that fact.

We made a great appointment. We persuaded a young German scholar, whose extraordinary first book had just been published, to take the position. She was and is a world leader in her field. She took some persuading, because of course she already had an excellent job at the University of Zurich. She was a realist: she knew the
costs of moving to the other side of the globe, she did her sums, she heeded our promises. She asked us to put off her arrival for a year, as she learnt just at that moment that she was expecting her first child. In a few days time she arrives in San Francisco, with her husband and newborn.

My questions for you are these. What shall I find to say to her? How shall I look her in the eye? She took a decisive life-decision, and we are about to betray the promises made to her, on the basis of which that life-choice was made. I feel that I and others, though we did not know it, brought this outstanding intellectual here on false pretences.

What shall I say to her? Well, at least I know one thing. I shall not repeat to her the words the President used at his press conference a few days ago. I shall not say: "Maybe this will encourage people to be entrepreneurial and go out and get those grants." What is my young medievalist supposed to do, I wonder: go tout her services as consultant to a Spamalot theme park?

This, sadly, will be my alternative: "Welcome to California, and here is the name of a good lawyer. I'm told he's a specialist in breach of contract suits."

I have described one painful case, but it points, I believe, to the realities of the policy you are being asked to adopt. The policy will destroy the belief in one's word on which a university is founded. I appeal to you to look again at the options; put
everything on the table, open to scrutiny; shake yourselves free of the special interests; and save the UC system from irreparable harm.

Look hard, in particular, at the remarkable letter from the system's combined Faculty Associations, which both unpicks the logic of the administration's search for emergency powers, and points a real way forward, round which the university as a whole and the California public could rally. Go in that direction. Draw back from the brink.
SJL writes:

The goal to keep in mind is this: last week the request at the Town Hall Meeting was: Please postpone until we have examined the situation in its entirety following due legal and collective (democratic) process. Essentially the Regents have ignored this message. There may be actual labor laws that are being transgressed by the Regents. Their solution may be both draconian, unnecessary and ineffectual. And if we return to work/or continue to work blindly accept their word in this matter, then we are exposed to any further cuts, not to mention demotions and any other procedure which they have now pirated out of the hands of the collectivity.

Laurie has a sensible point here: but to accept passively this "verticality"
[the term in Argentina which is a euphemism for dictatorial rule] can potentially destroy the university and the lives of tens of thousands of people.

yours truly, sjl

BACK TO POST
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Are generally generally used just for communication in jets and ships at
sea. "It's not anti-gravity," or even corrected me.
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