Monday, August 10, 2009

UCSC Faculty Association to Yudof on Cuts and Emergency Powers

Santa Cruz Faculty Association / American Association of University Professors
SCFA/AAUP 343 Soquel Ave #333 Santa Cruz, CA 95062
AAUP/SCFA 15 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA 94704
scfa@aaup.org

July 1, 2009

President Mark Yudof
University of California
Office of the President

Dear President Yudof,

Thank you for soliciting comments from the Santa Cruz Faculty Association/American Association of University Professors Chapter, the only accredited union for Academic Senate Faculty in the U.C. system, concerning the three Proposed Furlough/Salary Reduction Plan Options in the letter from you, President Yudof, dated June 17th.

As you know, a tremendous amount of faculty energy is currently being expended in response to your request for commentary. We also weigh in, below, commenting on those assessments.
That said, we take this opportunity to make some points addressing larger issues of context and planning. The gist of our comments is that whatever alternatives are adopted in the short term (2009-10 and perhaps 2010-11), the University must rethink its long-term organization and M.O. if it is to accomplish its historic goals of producing teaching and research of the highest quality, and in the 21st century; and that the faculty are willing to be called upon to have a much larger voice and more creative part in that re-thinking. Your leadership in this matter could energize and enable the faculty to rise to the task, which is necessary if the U.C. is to maintain its historic reputation in new economic and technological conditions and circumstances of knowledge-production.

1. Even if one of the three alternatives you propose “worked” in the sense of closing the gap in funding for U.C. during 2009-10, any of them would have immediate and deleterious effects on faculty morale and therefore on our ability to recruit new faculty and retain the outstanding faculty we have. Many letters to you from individuals, departments, and Senate committees outline this point. They would have worked only in the very short-term; longer-term thinking is required.

2. A short-term solution to the shortfall is for you to take all income to the university that is not legally encumbered income and use it to mitigate any salary decrease. Several proposals have estimated that salary cuts, if this were done, would be in the range of 3% rather than 8%.

3. On the Public Relations front, you suggest that we should all “share the pain” equally, which sounds good in the abstract. But as Aristotle pointed out, to treat unequals as if they are equals is itself unequal. In that spirit, we suggest the following:

3.a. The highest administrators, including both the SMG and the MSPs, should take visibly larger cuts in both salary and perks. That would send a message that the leadership and higher bureaucracy of the University are committed to the well-being of faculty and students, not simply to themselves. The savings generated might be substantial even if not huge, but the sacrifice would be real on the administrators’ part, and the symbolism would be enormous. Faculty morale would improve, and the taxpayers of California and the members of the State Legislature would be impressed.

3.b. Conversely, asking the very lowest paid staff and faculty to “share the burden equally” by cutting their salaries is obscene. We recommend there be a cutoff-point below which the salary decreases would be 0% regardless of the method chosen to cut salaries. It should be a minimum of $65,000, and at least those salaries between the cut-off and another point – somewhere between $100K and $150K - should be graduated.

On a related note, we view the practice of balancing the budget on the backs of the lowest-paid employees, especially staff employees who see students every day and whom the faculty and students rely upon is extremely destructive and counter-productive to the academic enterprise, helping to destroy the fabric that holds the enterprise together. Faculty rely on these staff
and part-time staff for myriad small tasks demanded by the bureaucracy and technology of teaching and research, and knowing we have these staff members allows us to attend to our research and the creative aspects of teaching and program-building, which are what has made U.C. famous and (historically) the people of California grateful.

3.c. If you are serious about sharing sacrifice, you should note that some campuses and units already are sacrificing. U.C.S.C.’s faculty salaries, for instance, are the lowest in the U.C.system . The oldest and largest campuses not only have the highest salaries in the system, they also have two structural advantages we and other newer campuses lack: endowments and
many decades’ worth of alumni to be tapped; and they also have the advantage of the formula created in the early 1990s that provides them with higher base funding than the other campuses. The SCFA suggests that these structural differences should be noted and compensated for when
sacrifices are being asked for.

4. Long-term planning that puts Instruction and Research at the center and as the focus of the enterprise is needed. No one is better suited or situated to help you plan than the faculty.

4.a. The U.C. is involved in many enterprises and has many complex bureaucratic structures that do not directly support the quality and viability of either instruction or research, and many are tangential. These enterprises may be doing useful or harmless things, and some may be
making money. But the funds they generate may not be poured back into I&R. Some are actually losing money, draining it from the possibility of being used for I&R. Compounding these issues is the very common practice in the U.C. bureaucracy of promoting people through “Reclassification,” which requires that more people report to one. This promotion criterion over time tends to result in many people who report and few on the bottom doing the work. Again, it drains funds that could be used for I&R into the salaries and benefits for employees many of whom do not contribute directly to the academic enterprise.

a note on data and analysis: The U.C. Davis Administrative Task Force has written a report addressing Administrative growth in response to Regent Blum’s call for U.C. to become more
“strategically dynamic.” The report contains many wise recommendations. Although the report is about U.C.Davis, we have no doubt that its findings, and its recommendations, are relevant to other campuses and to UCOP. At UCSC, for instance, using data available on the UCOP web
page, faculty members at UCSC have calculated that UCSC has 137 employees in the MSP and SMG categories more than what would be expected if the bureaucracy had grown only proportionally to faculty, students, and direct support staff. Assuming that each has a salary at a
minimum of $100K, that means around $15 Million dollars is spent on their salaries, and with benefits, closer to $20M –a substantial amount of money for this campus.

The SCFA recommends that you draw on faculty with expertise in bureaucratic control and analysis, of which there are many and from many different disciplines, to analyze and recommend changes to the M.O. of bureaucratic growth at U.C., both at UCOP and on individual campuses. And we suggest that you take this issue very seriously. The issue is not simply to cut positions: it is to create a way of determining the relevance of positions and units to the support of the academic enterprise and a way to institute feedback from and to relevant faculty-controlled bodies about those non-academic positions and units.

4.b. Many faculty members feel hindered in creating knowledge and programs appropriate for the 21st century in the U.C. system. This is not the place for details, but we will say that the funding models used to distribute moneys to divisions, departments, and other units, and the lack of cross-divisional administrative leadership and support and even de facto discouragement of organizational innovations across divisions and departments, frustrate some of the most innovative, exciting, and relevant possibilities for I&R that the faculty would like to build and provide. It is our research and our teaching on which the U.C.’s historic reputation is
based.

The SCFA recommends that you take advantage of the outpouring of faculty energy, intellect, and commitment to U.C. that you have seen in the huge response you have received in your recent call for comments, in order to re-think, with faculty help, the administrative structures and divisions that directly support I&R. We are talking about things like enabling structures and institutes that are cross-disciplinary and crossdivisional, and changing funding structures that pit departments or divisions against one another. The faculty has many ideas about more
rational structures that could enable more high-quality and innovative research and teaching. Right now, many younger faculty are demoralized not only because of the economic difficulties and possible pay cuts but by the fact that it appears that this is not a good place to build a career in the long term.


Faculty research and teaching are the basis of U.C.’s enviable reputation. If longterm planning to enable it to be carried out in a satisfactory way is lacking, U.C. will decline, even if short term funding gaps are filled.

Cordially,
Shelly Errington
Chair of the Executive Board, Santa Cruz Faculty Association/AAUP
Joel Primack, Physics
Elizabeth Abrams, Writing
Kirsten Gruesz, Literature
Norman Locks, Art
Members of the Executive Board, Santa Cruz Faculty Association/AAUP

***

Addendum: Commentary on the Three Options:

Before commenting on the three options, we would like to express our concern about the context and timing of this proposal.

First, the adoption of any of these proposals will be legalized by the Draft Amended Standing Order 100.4, which allows the President of U.C. to declare emergencies—whether physical or financial--and grants him extraordinary powers which have never in the history of the University of California been deemed necessary, in spite of wars, a depression, and various previous fiscal crises. The faculty throughout the U.C. system and various Senate bodies and committees are nearly universally opposed to the adoption of this Amended Standing Order. Presumably the Regents intend to pass this Amended Standing Order immediately prior to granting you the powers to institute your choice of the Draft Presidential Furlough/Salary Reduction Guidelines. We find it disturbing that both are being treated as a fait accompli, most especially in light of the
extremely wide level of opposition to both items and skepticism about their wisdom.

We are also dismayed at the brevity, the lack of analysis, and the lack of information about either details or rationales for these alternative guidelines. We are also dismayed by the unseemly rush to adopt them, which gives both individuals and Senate bodies very little time to comment and very little time for you to make a considered judgment about larger issues of fiscal planning and
trade-offs. We are puzzled at the rush: it was known in Fall of 2008, if not before, that the country and California would be suffering severe economic hardships.

Strategic planning concerning alternatives if worst-case scenarios should occur – as we see they have—should have been done and publicized, with transparent and accessible data provided and widespread planning by faculty bodies solicited and enabled. The univrsity’s academic mission of teaching and research should have been at the forefront of discussions to set priorities and goals., and the long-term effects on these assessed and bolstered with data and historical analysis.

As it is, we are being asked to make a judgment between three very bad alternatives, in the space of a couple of weeks, with little space or time for considered judgment and analysis. Many faculty believe that other alternatives for solving or mitigating the university’s financial shortfalls could be more viable, and it is our understanding that various system-wide Senate bodies are working on at least one alternative.

That said, we believe that all three proposed alternatives, if adopted, will do harm to the University’s faculty and students, most particularly the two involving pay cuts, for these reasons among others:

1. Cutting pay without a concomitant cut in duties sends a message to the Legislature and to the public, as well as to higher Administrators, that the faculty and support staff can do the same amount of work for less pay.

2. It also does not have an automatic “sunset clause,” and it could easily become the new base pay.

3. Because U.C.’s salaries on many campuses are lower than those with whom we compare ourselves, and radically lower on several campuses (such as U.C.S.C., the lowest in the system), adopting these alternatives may well send us into a downward spiral. It will be more difficult to
recruit and retain outstanding faculty, and we will lose programs and personnel that have taken decades to build. It is far easier to cut and then rebuild bureaucratic and administrative functions and entities than it is for teaching and research functions. Losing academic personnel will be very very hard to recover from, compounded by the inevitable decline in morale and confidence in academia generally that U.C. is a stable, wellrun, university that values its faculty, its students, and its research and teaching mission.

4. As proposed by you in the Draft of June 17, 2009, the salary cut alternatives are unacceptably regressive. As our UCSC CPB’s letter pointed out, to dock 4% of the pay of people making less than $46,000/year is unconscionable. We believe that lowest-paid faculty and staff should have a 0% cut, and that the cut-off for that should be people whose salary is less than about $70,000/year. Any cuts above that should be progressive, with the highest-paid administrators and SMPs setting the example of solidarity in pain for the rest of the University employees.

5. Any salary-reduction plan must be worked out with explicit measures for mitigating the impacts on leave accrual, service credit, and retirement benefits. Historically, these benefits have allowed U.C. to compete for faculty hiring against higher-paying comparable institutions. If both salary and retirement benefits decline, it will take many years, perhaps decades, for U.C. to recover its former stature and therefore ability to recruit outstanding faculty and graduate students.


The alternative you propose concerning furloughs has its own logistical, logical, ethical, and perhaps legal issues. It does have the one advantage of making the sacrifices visible.

2 comments:

Moravecglobal said...

President Yudof set the example by arresting the spending of $3,000,000 of waste by Chancellor Birgeneau for consultants when the work can be done internally and impartially

Anonymous said...

Bet a President Yudof...control the wasteful spending by University of California Berkeley Chancellor BBirgeneau.
Show your leadership