Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Excerpts of Academic Senate's Negative Comments on UC Furloughs

UC Faculty Responses to Proposed Amendment to SOR 100.4


“The two proposals give an enormous amount of power to the President which, because of its scale, threatens the ability of the senate to effectively participate in shared governance. The Office of the President has consulted with counsel in the course of preparing the two proposed policies. It would also behoove the Academic Senate to also consult with counsel in this process to be sure that all concerns about faculty rights and responsibilities are addressed.”
—Anthony W. Norman, Chair, UC Riverside Academic Senate, May 25, 2009

“…[N]o single item in my experience as Divisional Chair (and Vice-Chair) has attracted such strong and unanimous condemnation from ALL parties….
“In our view, what this amendment would do if approved would be to foster a lack of foresight and planning by UCOP, since UCOP would know that emergency powers could always be invoked in the instance of financial downturns—and this amendment not only codifies but, in our view, regularizes the process of declaring a ‘financial emergency.’
“…The accompanying guidelines state that the ‘financial crisis must be so severe that it jeopardizes the ability of the University to sustain its current operations in fulfilling its tripartite mission.’ Although we understand the challenges of coming up with something more specific, without such criteria the Senate would have very little by which to evaluate the legitimacy of a proposed ‘emergency,’ or to distinguish a true emergency from chronic mismanagement. This represents a major consideration: inept system-wide management (whether related to poor legislative advocacy, inadequate fee structures, or—for example—lack of retirement-system withholding) could simply be glossed over through the declaration of a financial emergency.
“… Given both the lack of information and prior consultation, we consider it entirely unacceptable for the Regents to vote on this amendment at their July meeting….
…[F]or a policy that has the level of prospective consequences that this ‘Emergency Powers’ Act has, the complete lack of analysis and contextualization, coupled with the short timeframe for comment, implies either shoddy vetting and/or lack of concern for substantive comment that many of our committees viewed as simply contemptuous of the Senate.
… “Our viewpoint is that the institution of Emergency Powers on financial grounds is a blunt and draconian tool with dictatorial overtones.
—Quentin Williams, Chair, UC Santa Cruz Academic Senate, May 22, 2009

“…[T]his is wide open invitation to unchecked presidential power of declaration, implementation and sanctions with no institutional safeguards for long established principles of academic freedom, federal and regential mandates for affirmative action, and many other procedural safeguards for the hiring, promotion and retention of faculty, the establishment and disestablishment of departments and programs, and binding legal agreements with unions affecting tens of thousands of university employees.”
—Francis Lu, Chair, University Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity (UCAAD), May 22, 2009

“The Academic Council cannot overstate the grave situation that confronts the University. The cumulative effects of decades of diminishing state support, combined with the current budget crisis, has brought us to a critical turning point in the evolution of the University of California…. [F]urloughs and salary cuts should not be considered by the Regents in isolation from other budget cutting measures and revenue enhancements such as halting capital projects; increased non-resident student enrollment borrowing; property and asset sales, administrative efficiencies; streamlining administrative positions and salaries; and strategic program cuts…. [W]e must restore employees’ total remuneration in the face of market lags, salary cuts, increasing health care costs, and the restart of employee contributions to UCRP.”
— Mary Croughan, Chair, Academic Council, July 8, 2009

“There is substantial risk that state funding levels may not be restored; the University now faces significantly greater structural deficits in its operation. A multi-year steep reduction to salaries that already lag the market, however, will be devastating to faculty morale, particular those in early or mid-career…. We urge President Yudof to make clear to the people of California that a 20% cut in state support will damage, perhaps irrevocably, the University’s mission of teaching, research, and building the state’s economy. We are deeply concerned that the Administration offers no concrete plan for revenue enhancement in concert with proposed reductions.”
— Mary Firestone, Chair, and Christopher Kutz, Vice Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, July 6, 2009

“The combination of an 8% reduction in compensation, the expected increase in the cost of health care benefits, and the expected rapid escalation in contributions to the retirement system will simply be too much for many of our faculty and staff to bear. The fact is that the University must quickly find a way to cushion these blows. If not, the quality of the entire University, no less its basic ability to function is at dire risk.”
—Michael S. Goldstein, Chair, UCLA Academic Senate, July 6, 2009

“Salary cuts, by definition, involve the employees returning their earned dollars to the system. It is vital that the accounting process for this money be transparent and include how the cuts were made, how much money was generated, and how the money was used to meet the savings goals of the campus and the system at large. This accounting should also include a description of how the percentages that are used to make the cuts were derived….”
—Mary Gauvain, Chair, UC Riverside Planning and Budget Committee, June 23, 2009

“In particular, we are concerned that younger faculty will be offered positions in other institutions and UC will lose some of the more recent hires who are expected to lead UC into the future. Although the hiring of faculty has slowed down everywhere, it will likely take UC (and the State) longer to recover and be in a position to rebuild it stellar faculty. The loss of faculty talent is potentially very significant for UC’s stature as a first tier research institution and must be considered very seriously as this plan evolves.”
—Joel Michaelsen, Chair, UC Santa Barbara Academic Senate, June 29, 2009

“I would be remiss if I did not mention that there is wide-spread skepticism about ‘input’ to the current process, since whatever proposal does emerge from OP will be placed in front of the Regents 9 days hence; as will a revised set of amendments to SOR 100.4, in spite of the enormously critical Senate response to the initial draft of this revision to the Standing Orders. With such little opportunity for vetting and analysis of the final proposal, the algorithm that ultimately emerges will inevitably be viewed by many as unworthy of a system that has prided itself on something called ‘shared governance.’
—Quentin Williams, Chair, UC Santa Cruz Academic Senate, July 6, 2009.

“On the one hand, the cuts are forcing the University more toward a state university model where faculty are asked to teach more for less. On the other hand, the need to generate revenue has UC looking toward the private school system, where more out-of-state students would be accepted and higher fees would be charged. The danger seen is that the quality of a UC education will erode, and best faculty members will leave, thus making it harder to justify higher fees because the University will no longer be providing the same, high level of education….
“A few months ago, President Yudof stressed the importance of making targeted, strategic budget reductions that would preserve and enhance the quality of the research and educational missions of UC. As the budget crisis has worsened, we had an expectation that the Office of the President would produce a thoughtful, forward-looking, and detailed plan to achieve budget reductions. Instead, we have been asked to choose between three overly simplistic, across-the-board, naively conceived budget plans that will do more harm than good and which will ultimately threaten to undermine the underlying essence of quality in education, research, and service that we all try to achieve at UC San Diego and indeed, throughout the system.”
—Daniel J. Donoghue, Chair, UC San Diego Academic Senate, July 7, 2009

“Unfortunately, we have been given no data on the impact of the short- and long-term salary reduction differentials on morale, recruitment, etc., and so cannot evaluate the proposals meaningfully. Further, the limited progressivity of the proposals does not convey the degree of fairness and equitability UCORP feels necessary.”
—James Carey, Chair, University Committee on Research Policy (UCORP), July 6, 2009

“Clearly, UC is faced with a historic, long-term budget problem that requires a response which is similarly long-term—one based on strategic planning that will put UC on a more sustainable path.
“… Academic Council’s Budget Planning Principles state that “Budget decisions should strive above all to protect the quality, affordability, and accessibility of UC’s two core missions—teaching and research—through which the University serves the state of California and the nation.” The Academic Senate has the critical responsibility to maintain the quality of education and research at the UC. The options we have been given place that quality at risk; hence, we cannot support them as a sustained solution to the UC budget problem, even for 1-2 years….
“The Regents must ensure that UC has a sound long-term fiscal plan to restore competitive total remuneration for all employee groups. Waiting for the State’s financial situation to improve before UC creates such a strategic plan is no longer an option. It is safe to assume that the academic job market will rebound long before California’s budget woes are sorted out, and the inevitable result threatens to inflict irreparable damage to the quality and reputation of the UC. We are already hearing indications of an increase in the number of UC faculty who are being recruited by competing institutions….
“Therefore we call on the President and the Regents to exert their leadership at this critical time by working with the Senate to develop a comprehensive plan that balances the budget in the short term, ensures that UC is on a sound fiscal basis in the long term, and restores competitive total remuneration for all employee groups.”
— Patricia Conrad, UC Planning and Budget Committee, July 2, 2009

“…[W]e profoundly regret that in the recent correspondence from the President on the implementation of budget cuts the Senate has not been addressed according to the singular situation that Senate faculty hold relating to our particular and special position in the system, as scholars, teachers, and tenured and tenure track employees of the University. These are: 1) Shared Governance rights and duties regarding authority of the Senate over the curriculum and instruction of undergraduate and graduate students; 2) the rights and privileges of individual faculty as guaranteed by the APM and the campus CAPMs.
“In regard to the curriculum and instruction of graduate and undergraduate students there has been no serious analysis or proposal put forward by UCOP of how a reduction in salary and positions (of staff and TAS) will affect curriculums and classes at UC system-wide and on specific campuses… It is not difficult to foresee that instructional and curricular crises will result as a consequence of lack of planning and foresight in this current budget situation….
“We would like to add the following points here: A strong recommendation that UC administrators set a salutary example within the University and for the State by taking a larger pay cut than either faculty or staff and that, if furloughs are implemented, that they be required to take furloughs to the largest extent required for the faculty, whether on a 9-month or 12-month salary.”
—UC Privileges and Tenure Committee, July 2, 2009.

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