Friday, May 28, 2010

Alternative Commission on the Future: Opportunity to Submit Responses to UCOF

The Alternative Commission on the Future, a group of students and workers at UCLA, is collecting student responses to the UC Commission on the Future's proposals--online classes, multi-year fee increases, eliminating majors/departments, cutting teaching staff, and differential fees, among others. We would appreciate it if you could please take and pass around this survey we are using to collect data:

We are working with UC-AFT to make a proposal analyzing the results, which we will present at the July 13-15 Regents meeting at UCSF. The plan is to show the Regents and the public how students, faculty, and staff overwhelmingly disapprove of the recommendations. We are trying to get 1000 responses, so please pass on the survey.
UCLA Fights Back!

Monday, May 24, 2010

UCB Academic Senate Establishes Special Committee on UC "Governance and Leadership" (May 24, 2010)

Resolution on Senate Committee on University Governance and Leadership

In the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate of the University of California
Approved by a vote of 263 to 113 in a formal mail ballot, May 7-21, 2010
• Official Results of the Ballot
• Text of the Resolution
• Ballot Arguments For and Against
May 24, 2010
Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate

Re: Resolution on Senate Committee on University
Governance and Leadership

Dear Chair Kutz,

The results of the balloting on the resolution to form a special committee to develop reform proposals concerning the governance and leadership of the University are as follows: 263 for, 113 against. The resolution thus passes.


Daniel F. Melia, Secretary and Chair
Committee on Rules and Elections
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TEXT of the Resolution

Whereas, There is widespread concern about the financial future of the University;

Whereas, The Regents and the President of the University have established a Commission to study alternative future arrangements;

Whereas, It appears that consideration of Major Reforms in the Top Level Governance and Leadership of the University is unlikely to occur within that Commission;

Whereas, Numerous members of the Faculty of the University have thoughtful contributions to offer in that regard; and

Whereas, Such Reforms might be a significant factor in efforts to restore public confidence in and public support for the University; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate asks its Divisional Council to convene a special Committee charged to collect, study and formulate a set of Reform Proposals concerning the Governance and Leadership of the University, which will then be distributed to the membership of the Division for a ballot assessment.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Statement FOR Resolution:

What is the motivation for this Resolution concerning Reform of the Governance and Leadership of the University of California? It is in the last Whereas:

“Whereas, Such reforms might be a significant factor in efforts to restore public confidence in and public support for the University.”

We have heard from some Working Groups of the UC Commission on the Future that maintaining a strong share of financial support from the State will be essential to a healthy future for UC; and the two officials from the Office of the President who attended the April 22 meeting of the Berkeley Division made that same point.

How does one achieve that? The standard reply is to advocate for all the wonderful benefits that UC provides to all of California. We all support that effort.

But that is not enough. We are well aware that there are problems and there are criticisms from outside, about how University officials handle the public money and the public trust placed in the hands of The Regents and their top executives.

Many of us inside UC share some of those criticisms; and this endeavor, being led by faculty, can be relied upon to protect the integrity of academic functions within the University.

So here is a chance to act in a way that can serve both objectives: to advocate for reform in University management as we see it is needed and, at the same time, to respond positively to a public disapproval of mismanagement.

This Resolution does not ask you to endorse a preformed list of complaints; rather it seeks the creation of a constructive process, within the Academic Senate and initiated by the membership. This path should achieve the most uninhibited approach to this problem – and that independent character is also essential for gaining credibility in the public domain.

The Committee created by this Resolution will invite, collect and evaluate proposals for reform in the governance and leadership of the University. It will then select the most significant proposals, solicit arguments for and against each one, and then submit all that to the full membership of the Berkeley Division to be voted on, item by item.

This process will not guarantee the achievement of those reforms supported by the majority of the faculty; nor can it guarantee that this exercise will produce the influx of new public money that we all desire for the University. Yet, it is a chance to pursue those goals, something that we the faculty can initiate; and it seems better to try than to forego the opportunity.

While the scope of this endeavor covers all of UC and might best have been undertaken by the systemwide Academic Senate, that has not happened. Therefore, we at Berkeley now have an opportunity to take this initiative, inviting colleagues at other campuses to join as they see fit.

For additional background materials, see what was provided for the April 22 meeting:

Submitted by: Charles Schwartz, Professor Emeritus of Physics
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Statement AGAINST Resolution:

We recommend a no vote on this resolution. We understand the proposed resolution to have the goal of improving management of the entire University of California System by targeting the organizational structure of the University of California Office of the President for review. While we fully support that goal, we believe that the mechanism proposed has the potential to make matters worse because of the vagueness of the charge and because the action is not being taken in concert with the other campuses and their divisions of the Senate. The charge in the resolution does not make clear the extent to which its focus is UCOP or the campuses or how overlap between the two should be addressed. The resolution calls for creation of a Berkeley committee and then a subsequent Berkeley faculty vote on the recommendations of that committee. We believe that a Berkeley go-it-alone approach to systemwide issues will do more harm than good. Currently faculty across the system are aligned with the goal of the resolution--reducing inefficiencies at UCOP. However, our experience with the systemwide Academic Senate leads us to believe that this go-it-alone approach from Berkeley is likely to be perceived as an attempt by our campus shape the outcome to Berkeley’s singular advantage, and thus create hostility to what would be widely supported proposals, were they developed by a systemwide committee. Should the current resolution pass, we hope the vague charge leaves room to insist that the committee formed actively involve our sister campuses and to put the recommendations to a vote on all 10 campuses.

Submitted by:
Ronald C. Cohen, Professor of Chemistry and of Earth and Planetary Science
Ignacio Navarette, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

UC Ponders New On-Line Revenue Stream

Timothy Hampton
Professor of French and
Bernie H. Williams Professor of Comparative Literature
U.C. Berkeley

This just in. . .

Dateline, Oakland, CA. Officials of the University of California are reacting cautiously to a new proposal floated by advisors to the campaign of Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Meg Whitman. The proposal aims to help close the Budget Deficit of the struggling ten-campus system. Whitman,
whose development of the eBay on-line auction site has made her a billionaire, has long been a critic of the size of the California Government, and has vowed, if elected, to cut thousands of jobs from the public sector, including UC and CSU. However, advisors close to the Whitman camp have recently advanced a new approach for funding public education that would harness the power of the Internet to reduce the size of UC.

The program, provisionally dubbed uBay, would enable citizens to place on-line bids to purchase pieces of the vast ten-campus system, from parcels of land, to buildings, to campus furniture. “Let’s face it, UC is as bloated as the rest of the public sector,” announced Helmut Sitzbad, an official close to the Whitman Campaign. “This innovative program would enable the average taxpayer, people like you and me, to help slim down some of the fat. Just log on, select your item, and click. Presto, UC will be smaller and you will own a piece of California history.” Sitzbad noted that buildings all across the System could easily attract wealthy developers looking for investment opportunities in a slack real estate market. “But the beauty of this idea is that everyone can own a piece of UC,“ he added. “We’ve got classrooms on all ten campuses with too many chairs, tables, and desks—not to mention chalkboards that don't get written on and windows that don't get closed. With the coming of recycling even the waste baskets are under-utilized. Through our plan Californians could purchase these appealing items with a simple click of their mouse. The University would shrink, its budget would grow, and the citizenry would feel itself linked to UC in an entirely new way. Some might complain that this is a form of privatization. However, at the end of the day, we see this as a way of putting the University literally back in the hands of the taxpayers.”

UC officials have been cautiously optimistic about the new uBay proposal. University spokesperson Bob Furlong noted that the plan could help alleviate some of the logistical problems on campus. “Cuts to teaching budgets mean that we’ve already got overcrowded classrooms all across the System,” he
said in an e-mail. “By eliminating desks and tables we should be able to create more space in some of our bigger lecture halls, thereby increasing standing-room capacity. The sale of windows and doors would bring knowledge to students unable to squeeze into the rooms where lectures and seminars are held.” He added that, while selling off entire buildings might seem like a big step, small departments could conduct some of their business outside during nice weather and faculty could “bunk” with each other by sharing offices during the rainy season. “We’re always promoting collaborative research, and this might well further our efforts in that direction,” he noted.

UC officials plan to solicit faculty input on the uBay initiative, but the University is confident that the pushback will be minimal. “These days UC is all about moving on-line,” noted C. Johnson Hacker, Assistant Director of Administrative Obfuscation for UC’s President’s Office. “We are moving at warp speed toward on-line courses, and next month we’ll be unveiling two exciting new initiatives to market the UC name over the Web. Our innovative digital advisement program, ‘Download-a-Dean,’ and our live-chat teaching program, ‘The Tweeting Tutor,’ both hold enormous promise for filling UC’s
coffers while engaging with the public in exciting new ways. In our view, it’s part of the University’s public mission to make UC available to everyone with a Paypal account.”

Officials close to the Whitman campaign caution that the fledgling uBay project is still on the drawing board, and they are undecided as to the extent of its reach into the often arcane world of Academe. “We’re excited about the idea of reducing bloat by selling off buildings, land, and perhaps a few professors,” noted spokesperson Sitzbad. “We’re less clear on things like bacteria, which have enormous revenue potential because they reproduce like crazy, but could, in the wrong hands, be dangerous. We’re very concerned to keep the great treasure that is the University of California
away from people who might behave irresponsibly."