Friday, January 29, 2010

UCR Academic Senate Calls for Renewed Commitment to Transparency, Shared Governance, Equity, and the Master Plan


Resolution on Shared Commitments to the Master Plan for Higher Education

WHEREAS the Master Plan for Higher Education in California—a document that for five decades has helped produce a top-ranked university system that serves the people of California with excellence and access—is under grave threat;

THEREFORE be it resolved that we call on the state government and the Regents of the University of California to reaffirm their shared commitment to carrying out the Master Plan.


WHEREAS the decades-long practice of meaningful shared governance has been undermined by the declaration of "emergency powers" by the UC Office of the President and the creation of an ad-hoc UC Commission on the Future;

THEREFORE be it resolved that we

- call on University President Mark Yudof and the Regents of the University of California to demonstrate a continuing respect for shared governance by reconstituting the Commission on the Future and making it reflective of the University as a whole, with equitable representation across campuses, disciplines, and segments; and
- urge that the reconstituted Commission honor shared governance through open forums, continuing input from affected parties, and with a 12-month timeline for consideration of policy alternatives and evolving budget realities.


WHEREAS the fiscal “emergency” in the UC system that prompted drastic measures of retrenchment, downsizing, and student fee hikes has been presented in only the most general terms; and

WHEREAS many lawmakers, journalists, students, parents, and the general public in California remain skeptical of the budget figures so far presented by the UC system; and

WHEREAS many in the state are unaware of the state government's unfulfilled obligations over several years to defray the costs of higher education for the state's top students; and

WHEREAS rapid hikes in student fees place an undue burden on middle-class and low-income students and their families and jeopardize timely completion of degrees; and

WHEREAS the quality of education at the University of California is severely threatened, as evidenced by recent massive layoffs of Instructors and Teaching Assistants even as student fees are raised;

THEREFORE be it resolved that we

- call on the UC Office of the President and the UCR Administration to provide full, detailed, and meaningful fiscal transparency, including budget reports since 2000-2001 that can be scaled up or down in their level of detail, with meaningful descriptions of categories at each level of analysis, and justifications on restricted uses of revenues where relevant; and
- urge that cuts in instructional staff positions be halted until the consequences of such layoffs—on teaching loads and educational outcomes—can be fully examined and weighed in a forum open to all relevant segments of the UC community; and
- call on the Regents to desist from enacting these student fee hikes until further cuts in administrative costs, other cost deferrals, and new sources of revenue such as temporary borrowing are seriously considered and presented to the public.


WHEREAS the future of the UC Retirement Plan and other retirement benefits remain vulnerable to the recent economic crisis;

THEREFORE be it resolved that we urge the University to provide meaningful guidance and long-term planning to ensure continued viability and equity in the provision of retirement benefits.

RESOLUTION ON THE Strategic Planning Process at UC Riverside

WHEREAS the UCR Strategic Planning process will be crucial for the long-term future of our campus, which historically has been a premier campus for research strength in a range of disciplines and issues of access and diversity in its undergraduate and graduate student bodies; and

WHEREAS the recommendations from the UCR Strategic Planning committees will be made public in January 2010, and may lack the detail of campus-wide reports, statistics, and other information that inform such recommendations;

THEREFORE be it resolved that we:
- call on the Executive Vice Chancellor, the UCR2020 Steering Committee, and all other relevant committees place particular weight on issues of access and diversity, unintended consequences of the pursuit of AAU status, and equitable distribution of resources to all units of the campus; and
- call on the Executive Vice Chancellor to make available all reports that inform the recommendations of the UCR Strategic Plan. Wherever possible and relevant, information should be provided in disaggregated form, by unit and department, on various bases such as per faculty member, per teaching assistant, per undergraduate major, and per undergraduate student taught

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Schwartz on Oversight of Bond Indebtedness

by Professor Emeritus Charles Schwartz of UC Berkeley
to the Regents’ Committee on Grounds and Buildings
meeting in San Francisco on January 19, 2010

This is a summary report on recent investigations that show serious lapses in the University’s fiduciary oversight of its bond indebtedness programs. It appears that this problem arises not just by accident, but from persistent and willful negligence on the part of high level officials.

All of the University’s external bond debt has been undergoing reorganization, since 2003, into two financing pools: One for all the Medical Centers and the other for all the campuses – that last is called the General Revenue pool. According to the latest Debt Capital Report, for Fiscal Year 2009, the outstanding debt for these two pools was:
$1.039 Billion for the Medical Center Pooled Revenue Bonds; and
$5.852 Billion for the General Revenue Bonds.

For the external parties, the Bond Market, the overall financial numbers are what count; and you see some of that data in the annual Debt Capital Report provided to The Regents. For the internal parties – all of us here inside the University – more specific data is required.

When each construction project comes before the Regents, first their Committee on Grounds and Buildings, there is specified a primary source of debt service, a particular revenue stream which takes on the responsibility of meeting all future obligations to pay back interest and principal. The main question here is: What mechanism is in place to monitor, to oversee, the ongoing performance of those arrangements?

For the UC Medical Centers one sees relevant data published not only in their annual financial reports but even in their Quarterly Status Reports. On the very first page of Key Indicators one finds: Debt Service Coverage Ratios, for Current Y-T-D and Prior Y-T-D for each one of the 5 Medical Centers. That is good and proper reporting, which comes to The Regents and to any interested member of the University or of the public.


This is a shocking situation. Let me tell you how I have come to discover this.

You may recall a series of articles posted by Professor Robert Meister, who made disquieting allegations about the pledge of student fee revenues in support of campus construction projects. My own investigations have been much more narrow, seeking to learn what oversight mechanisms are in place to monitor when some construction project might dip into student fee revenues in order to meet its debt service obligations under the General Revenue Pool.

There has been a series of letters between myself and Executive Vice President Peter Taylor, seeking to get that information. Finally, after several frustrating run-arounds, I have received a definitive reply. Here it is. (Email from UCOP Office of Public Information, January 13, 2010.)

“The University does not record individual tabulations of each project’s debt service coverage. This is because revenues generated by said projects are not the only revenues that can be pledged toward the projects and counted toward a debt service coverage calculation.”

That means that there is nobody minding the cash register of this candy store. More specifically, any time that a campus-based construction project runs short of revenue to meet its debt obligations, there might easily be a switch of funding to use student fees, without anyone knowing what has happened.

I have previously raised this question of the adequacy of regental oversight with the Committee on Audit. At that time we did not have definitive information about what UCOP does and doesn’t do. Now we have the answer; and it is not good.

You need to take corrective action.

If you have any questions about this, I will gladly respond.

Thank you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Defend Public Education, Protect Public Workers (UCLA Forum, January 23)

Defend Public Education,
Protect Public Workers

UCLA Public Forum with Speaker Karen Bass
Jan. 23rd at 1 (Moore Hall 100)
Rally at Bruin Plaza at 2
For information, write:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

San Francisco Labor Council Calls for March 4 Action in Support of Public Education and Public Sector

Building the March 4 Strike/Day of Action in Defense of Public Education and all Public-Sector Services

Whereas, a powerful labor-student-faculty coalition to defend public education has formed statewide in the aftermath of the Sept. 24, 2009, 5,000-person-strong mass student walkout and university workers' strike at UC Berkeley -- organized around the main demands of "No Budget Cuts! No Layoffs! No Fee Hikes!"; and

Whereas, on October 24, 2009, more than 800 students, unionists and activists from more then 50 cities across the state gathered at UC Berkeley and issued a Call for a March 4, 2010, Strike/Day of Action to Save Public Education; and

Whereas, the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), the California Faculty Association (CFA), and dozens of public education and public-sector unions have endorsed the March 4 Strike/Day of Action; and

Whereas, AFT 2121 and UESF, among others, have called for a 5 p.m. rally at Civic Center in San Francisco on March 4 to impress the demands upon the public; and

Whereas, the January 4, 2010, Executive Board meeting of the San Francisco Labor Council voted unanimously to endorse the March 4 Strike/Day of Action, and the March 22 March in Sacramento (spearheaded by the Community College students and unions); and

Whereas, the attacks on public education and all public-sector services are deepening as a result of the growing state budget deficit, with public education workers being pitted against other public-sector workers, with the threat of increased privatization of services, and with more so-called "reforms" aimed at gutting union contracts and destroying essential services; and

Whereas, the January 4, 2010, SFLC Executive Board meeting affirmed that the Council must call upon all public-sector unions to join in the fight on March 4 to defend public education and all public-sector services, and to secure essential funding by taxing the rich and the corporations, by (1) breaking with the tyranny of the 2/3 vote in the State Assembly and reinstating majority rule, and (2) restructuring Prop 13 (to separate commercial property rolls from residential property rolls, as Phil Teng has proposed); and

Whereas, securing funding for public education and the public sector demands redirecting bailout funds to the state -- not to the bankers and speculators; and ultimately requires calling for an end to war funding in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Therefore be it resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council calls for a citywide mobilization of affiliated unions and community allies on March 4, 2010, in defense of public education and the public sector -- with day-time actions to be carried out in the manner deemed appropriate by every union and local, and with a 5 p.m. Rally at the Civic Center; and

Therefore be it further resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council will form an ad-hoc committee, open to all delegates, in close consultation with the teacher/faculty unions and the Council's Executive Board, with the aim of (1) preparing or distributing existing educational materials on the impact of the budget cuts on the city's public education and public sector, (2) organizing a speakers' bureau to make outreach presentations at the membership and/or leadership meetings of the Council's affiliates, and to affected community groups, and (3) coordinating the actions on March 4 and building the 5 p.m. Civic Center Rally; and

Be it finally resolved, that the San Francisco Labor Council asks all Bay Area Councils to take similar action on March 4, and calls upon the California Federation of Labor to promote a statewide Day of Action on March 4 in defense of public education and the public sector, so that we can expand the unity and increase the power of the movement to halt and reverse the attacks on public-sector unions in California.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chancellor Birgeneau Credits UCOP for Arnold's Promises to Higher Ed

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

Yesterday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made a very important statement of commitment to higher education in his State of the State Address from Sacramento. In acknowledging that "we can no longer afford to cut higher education" and proposing a constitutional amendment to rebalance spending between education and prisons, the Governor has taken a bold and visionary step to reposition support for education among the State's highest priorities.

We commend Governor Schwarzenegger for taking this strong stance in response to the efforts of UCOP leadership to restore funding for the university. Across the UC campuses, including our own, we have all been working hard to convince Sacramento of the critical importance to our State of investment in public higher education. I am sure that you are as uplifted and encouraged as I am by this very positive outcome.

I want to emphasize, however, that this is just a beginning. First, we must remain focused on the near-term and on the budget for the upcoming year. Although the Governor has indicated that he wants no further cuts to higher education, we will need to convince legislators from both parties to support the Governor in this, given the $19.9 billion projected State deficit. Second, passing a constitutional amendment to guarantee that the University of California and the California State University systems receive no less than 10% of the state's operating funds each year will require all our support in ensuring that the Governor's commitment survives the legislative process and succeeds as a ballot initiative. We will need to continue to advocate with our legislators and the California public to secure stable financial support of public higher education.

I look forward to working with you all in the coming weeks and months as we continue our efforts to ensure that the legislature restores funding to the University of California.

The Governor's statement can be read at

President Yudof's response to the Governor's announcement is available at

Yours sincerely,

Robert J. Birgeneau