July 3, 2009
To: UC President Mark G. Yudof
UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang
UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas
We are writing to express our firm opposition to the 8% pay cut and furlough proposal and to urge you to represent the positions outlined below in your upcoming meetings and deliberations with members of the state legislature and the UC Board of Regents.
First, we are appalled that UCSB has admitted a higher number of undergraduate students in 2009-2010 (approximately 4,300 additional students) without the guarantee of workload funding coming to our campus to support them. In this context, UCSB professors and staff are being asked to subsidize the cost of higher education for the surplus of students arriving on our campus this fall.
Not only does this plan compromise the quality of education for these and other students, it amounts to a practice of double taxation upon us. We already pay state taxes that help to subsidize the UC system and now we are being asked to reduce our incomes in part to pay for this surplus of students admitted. At the same time, we have been told that we should expect our workload to increase. This situation is utterly unacceptable to us and we hope you will do everything in your power to prevent it. It will be devastating to our department, the campus, and the UC system.
Second, we are particularly concerned about the impact that a proposed 8% pay cut would have upon Assistant Professors and staff members in our department. UC pay cuts would arguably hit UCSB faculty and staff hardest given the extraordinarily high cost of living in Santa Barbara. Many faculty and staff must already live out of the Santa Barbara area because of high rent and mortgage costs. Others can barely make ends meet each month because of the low salaries they are already paid. Three of our excellent faculty members have indicated to the chair during the past week that they would have to leave UCSB if the pay cuts were implemented. Mid-level and senior professors who have only recently been able to make ends meet each month (due to high cost of living in the area) are now faced with the prospect of taking on further debt to cover living expenses. Many of us have heard promises about the prospect of moving into North Campus, and year after year that project has been delayed. An 8% pay cut would very likely result in our department losing irreplaceable, award-winning professors and staff.
If we lost three professors (or 25% of our ladder faculty) next year, 15 courses would not be taught and hundreds of our 500 undergraduate majors would not be served as several required core courses could not be offered. Graduate students working with these professors would likely leave UCSB to study elsewhere. The unique areas of specialization and research approaches of these professors, which have attracted undergraduate and graduate students to our major, would be lost. The interdisciplinary research projects initiated by these professors would be taken away to flourish elsewhere. In other words, the connective fabric of our department would begin to unravel and the very hard work we have done over the past thirty years to build one of the top Film and Media Studies Departments could, with an 8% pay cut, rapidly be undone. A pay cut would be devastating both for our department and for our students.
Third, given these dire possibilities, rather than race to implement a pay cut/furlough plan by August 1, 2009, we recommend taking additional time to further investigate what kinds of cuts are really needed (especially in light of competing calculations that have circulated recently), so that the current situation does not become an occasion for a general down-sizing of higher education. We object not only to the pay cut and furlough proposal, but to the manner in which it seems to have been hastily developed and may be recklessly applied. We urge you to take the time to conduct a full budget analysis and cut operational expenses before cutting the salaries of workers who are essential to the mission of higher education in the UC system. This would provide time, for instance, for you to work with agencies such as UCSB’s Institute for Energy Efficiency, following the recommendations of the Chancellor's and Academic Senate's Sustainability Committees, to develop a plan to reduce UC electricity, energy and water costs before slashing faculty and staff compensation packages. A thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of the UC budget shortfalls could also involve a consideration of whether massive tuition increases may be necessary to sustain the UC system.
If cuts absolutely must be made we prefer that they be in the form of highly visible furloughs so that the public will sense their impact upon the UC system and upon higher education in the state of California. For instance, we would be in favor of shutting down the campus for three weeks, or not teaching during week 10 of each quarter and offering students alternative assignments as has been proposed by the UCSB History Department. If pay cuts are to be made, there should be a sliding scale to protect Assistant Professors, who not only earn lower incomes, but who are at very high-pressured and crucial stages of their professional careers. A sliding scale should also take into consideration regional living costs throughout the UC system and be adjusted accordingly. Further, we feel it is essential that top UCSB administrators communicate immediately and directly with new, incoming faculty, whose positions commenced on July 1, 2009, to inform them about imminent changes on our campus and to explain how the budget crisis is likely to impact their compensation packages and working conditions. Clearly, there is a need for more time to address and analyze the many complex issues and possible scenarios that lie before us.
Finally, we would like to note that Film and Media Studies faculty and staff have worked tirelessly for more than a decade to raise $10 million dollars in private funding to create the Carsey-Wolf Center for Film, Television, and New Media and the Pollock Theater. We have contributed to the long-term operational and programming needs of the UCSB campus. Our efforts in teaching, research, and public programming also make a strong contribution to the Santa Barbara community.
We are scheduled to move into a new building in August 2009 and we believed our efforts would be celebrated and rewarded rather than met with a reduction in pay. We are extremely disappointed by the kinds of proposals that are circulating and urge you to take all action possible to prevent them from happening.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on these matters. We very much appreciate your willingness to actively represent faculty and staff interests in these important discussions and to provide us with up-to-date and detailed communication so that we can plan accordingly.
The Ladder Faculty of the Film and Media Studies Department
cc: David Marshall, Executive Dean, College of Letters and Sciences
Joel Michaelsen, Chair, Academic Senate