Sunday, October 10, 2010

Berkeley Forum on On-Line Learning Pilot

UC Cyber Campus: The future we want?
A Public Forum with Dean Christopher Edley
October 12, 2010
Morgan Hall 101, UC Berkeley

What is the future of online education at the University of California?

On July 14, the UC Regents approved a pilot program to test the viability of online education with the aim of offering a UC bachelor’s degree that could be earned entirely online. This ambitious proposal looks to increase both access and revenue to the UC by marketing the “UC brand” online to students around the world – “from Sheboygan to Shanghai.” Given the many controversies surrounding for-profit universities that already offer online degrees, this pilot program and the future of a UC “Cyber Campus” has raised eyebrows amongst concerned faculty, students, and alumni.

Berkeley Law Dean Chris Edley and architect of the cyber campus proposal will participate in a public forum on October 12th in 101 Morgan Hall at 5pm. Acting as respondents will be Wendy Brown (Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Political Science), Charlotte McIvor (Graduate Student in Performance Studies), and Dr. Michelle Douskey (Chemistry).

Considering that the entire UC community has much at stake in the future of online education at the UC, the majority of the public forum will be dedicated to taking questions from the audience. We welcome you and your questions.

Sponsored by: UAW Local 2865, the Graduate Assembly, ASUC, AFT Local 1474, the Graduate Student Organizing Committee, SAVE

For more information on the future of online education at the UC, please see the following:

“The Online Learning Pilot Project: Technological Evolution for a World-Leading Public University,” presentation delivered by Christopher Edley and Daniel Greenstein to the UC Board of Regents, July 14, 2010

UC regents endorse test of online instruction,” SF Chronicle, July 15, 2010

On UC's Risky Venture Into Online Education: Mortarboards without the bricks,” SF Chronicle,  July 18, 2010

“UC online degree proposal rattles academics,” SF Chronicle, July 12, 2010

“UC Must put Emphasis on Education, not on Brand,” Op-Ed from UC Faculty

“An Online UC Degree: A Panacea or a Mirage?” Op-Ed by Berkeley Faculty

“Online learning matches UC's mission” by Christopher Edley, SF Chronicle (July 14, 2010)

Berkeley Faculty Association Report on Cyber Campus Proposal (5/12/10)

Berkeley Faculty Association Repot on the Gould Commission

“California Dreamer,” from Inside Higher Ed, August 3, 2010

“Graduate Student Statement to UC Regents Regarding On-Line Education,” delivered to the UC Regents, May 19, 2010

“The University of California invests $53 million in two diploma mills owned by a regent,” Berkeley Daily Planet, June 22, 2010

“UC Cyber-Campus?” Forum with Michael Krasny Radio Interview with Dean Christopher Edley and Professor Christopher Kutz

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Principles for Evaluating Operational Excellence (SAVE)

Principles for Evaluating "Operational Excellence" at UC Berkeley, Fall 2010

Proposals for major reorganization and staff reductions will be coming soon under the campus Operational Excellence, now under way.  All of us need to follow the process closely and make our views heard.  In order that we may speak with a clearer voice and not a cacophony of particular objections, we need a set of basic principles to judge what will happen – especially about how NOT to go about implementing reforms.

First, on the positive side:

§  The key findings of the Bain & Co. evaluation appear to be sound: UC Berkeley has too many layers of management and too horizontal an organizational chart, as well as an overly scattered procurement system and inadequate IT infrastructure.

§  Fixing these problems can benefit the campus by reducing costs, making work conditions better, and improving administrative accountability and responsiveness. 

§  The formation of seven joint administrative-faculty-staff committees to tackle different facets of campus management (IT, student services, purchasing, energy, etc.) is a good approach to identify problems and develop solutions.

§ There is wide agreement that simple cost cutting is not the same as operational efficiency and better management.  Furthermore, it is clear that previous rounds of budget cuts and staff layoffs made under duress have jeopardized the basic teaching and research functions of the university.

Nonetheless, OpEx will not work if certain organizational realities are ignored:

•Rushing out proposals for reorganization without adequate time for reflection is counterproductive.  The current rollout timetable smacks of haste.

•Students and more staff are supposed to be added to the OpEx committees, but if this action is delayed, will they have an impact on decisions already being made?

•Reforms should not be generalized without "beta-testing".  Frontline staff and faculty need to be involved  in providing feedback during trial periods.

•Twenty-seven campus unit heads are supposed to implement the reform proposals coming down from the OpEx committees, but there are no guidelines on how they should involve faculty and staff in designing and implementing reforms within large units. There has to be cooperation, flexibility and feedback all the way down.

•There is a danger of 'one size fits all' proposals imposed without adequate consideration of differences in size, function, and needs of departments and other subunits.  Some need more specialists, others more generalists; some can share services with other units, some cannot.  Centralization is not always more efficient. 

•There must be meaningful transition planning to help staff and faculty deal with cutbacks, reorganization and layoffs.  When people and functions 'disappear' from units without clear directives about where to go for services, work slows down, users and clients become frustrated, and staff become demoralized from overwork.

•There has to be a willingness by top administrators to abandon reform proposals if the rollout, testing and feedback proves that they are poorly designed and flawed.  Accordingly, critical feedback must not be treated as hostile and to be silenced.

•The OpEx committees should remain in place to review ongoing implementation of their proposals and to respond where reforms are not working as hoped.  They, too, need an open channel for feedback from faculty, staff and students.

Furthermore, OpEx will not work if the administration does not reform itself:

•A common administrative view that faculty and staff are part of the problem, "change averse", is wrong and demeaning.  Indeed, if top management had been doing a better job, problems identified by Bain & Co. would not have grown so large.

•Faculty and staff need to be involved in a meaningful way in the assessments and proposed cuts.  Staff associations and union members need to be included and listened to, especially front-line people who see the effects of changes on daily work. 

•The administration, the OpEx committees, and the 27 large unit directors need to make their evaluations, proposals and actions as transparent as possible, and should maintain constant communication and open dialogue with lower units and the rest of the campus.

•In a top-heavy administrative system, cuts must come at the top as well as the bottom (the latter always bear the brunt).  Administrators and their jobs need to be scrutinized as closely as the rest of us and to be subject to removal, as well.

•The top-heavy salary scale that has grown up in recent years must be rethought, for reasons of campus morale as much as budget savings.  Poor morale has significant effects on productivity, efficiency and loyalty.

•The university is not a corporation, either in its motives or its organizational structure; hence, bright ideas from management theory in the private sector often do not fit the university and its parts.

SAVE the University  & the Berkeley Faculty Association
October 1, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Addresses for Letter Writing Campaign about SUNY-Albany French Closure

Dear Colleagues,

Please join us in protesting the termination of French, Italian, Russian, Classics, and Theater at SUNY--Albany by writing to the following administrators by both standard mail and e-mail. Please forward this messae to all interested colleagues as well.

George Philip, President:
Catherine Herman, Vice-President:
Susan Phillips, Provost:
Edelgard Wulfert, Dean of Arts & Sciences:

For paper mail:

Office of the President / Vice-President / Provost
University Administration Building
State University of New York
State University of New York
Albany, NY 12222


Office of the Dean
Arts & Sciences Building
1400 Washington Avenue
State Unversity of New York
Albany,  NY 12222

Open Letter for a Shadow University (October, 2010)

Open Letter for a Shadow University

As instructors, staff members and librarians in the University of California system, we are watching with dismay as access to the university is being further restricted for working class, minority and in-state students, and as once-meaningful structures for shared governance are being dismantled.  Since 2000, undergraduate student fees have more than tripled.  In the past year, the average family income for incoming students rose sharply, and enrollment rates for black, filipina/o, and latina/o students remained disproportionately low.  Too many Californians are being priced out of higher education, a public good that should be accessible to all.

UC President Mark Yudof has said that tuition increases, staff layoffs and pension reductions are necessary in order to balance the university's budget, and he blames the state government for defunding public higher education.  Yet the UC Regents have not made public the university's budget.  According to professor emeritus Charles Schwartz, there is reason to believe that the cost of instruction is significantly lower than the President has acknowledged, and that ballooning upper administrative salaries, pensions and waste are responsible for much of the budget shortfall.

Furthermore, President Yudof has refused to support Assembly Bill 656, which would better fund higher education by taxing the extraction of oil in California.  This bill is facing opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce, whose Board of Directors counts Mark Yudof and UC Regent Russell Gould as active members. A number of other regents, including Richard Blum, Sherry Lansing and Paul Wachter, have benefited financially from risky investments made with the UC pension fund.

We are facing a severe crisis of governance.  The University of California is being mismanaged by individuals who have demonstrated a tepid commitment to public education, and whose tenure in power has been tainted by conflicts of interest and the irresponsible squandering of public funds.

Those of us who work, study and teach in the University of California system are not only being let down by our President and Board of Regents, we are also being shut out of any role in the governance of the University.  However, we need not stand aside and watch as public higher education is eviscerated.  We have the power to open our classrooms and libraries to students who have been barred from enrolling at the University of California, and we are capable of collectively governing our university in such a way as to maintain its public mission.

Last year we organized and carried out a number of actions and projects that began to realize these aims. Throughout the Fall of 2009 students remained inside libraries across campus after their scheduled closing times to challenge the shortening of library hours. These direct actions, which involved collaborations between students, staff and faculty, were partially successful in re-opening the libraries.  Similar collaborations took place in the Spring when students were facing possible suspension for protest actions against fee increases and staff layoffs.  As the administration began prosecuting student protesters, union locals, professors and student groups called for the suspension of the Student Conduct Code rather than student protesters.
Over the last year, the administration has increasingly imposed and enforced regulations dictating how buildings and open spaces on campus can be used by members of the community, while those of us who work and study on campus have opposed such regulations and have affirmed that campus spaces are sites for critical debate, education, and protest.
Unfortunately though, hikes in tuition and fees have made it impossible for many Californians to attend our public university and to participate in the critical discussions taking place on campus. Additionally, students who have protested these tuition hikes face possible suspension. The administration is shutting the university's doors to the students it is charged with serving.
We, the undersigned are committed to providing instruction and student services to un-enrolled students and to students unable to afford rising fees. As instructors we see our classrooms as public spaces, are committed to maintaining their public character, and intend to work against disciplinary, financial, and admissions policies that bar students from accessing the university.  We see the opening of our classrooms as the first stage in a larger project to democratize and reclaim as a public good the University of California.
If you would like to sign this letter, please send an email with your name and departmental affiliation to

Letter on Closure of French Department at SUNY-Albany

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Today the seven members of the French faculty at SUNY--Albany (all tenured) were informed that by presidential decision, ostensibly for budgetary reasons, the French program has been "deactivated" at all levels (BA, MA, PhD), as have BA programs in Russian and Italian. The only foreign language program unaffected is Spanish. The primary criterion used in making the decision was undergrad majors-to-faculty ratio. We were told that tenured faculty in French, Russian, and Italian will be kept on long enough for our students to finish their degrees--meaning three years at the outside. Senoir faculty are being encouraged to take early retirement. The rest of us are being urged to "pursue our careers elsewhere," as our Provost put it.

Needless to say, the decision is personally devastating to those of us affected, but it is also symptomatic of the ongoing devaluation of foreign-language and other humanities program in universities across the United States. I'm writing to ask for your help in spreading the word about this decision as widely as possible and in generating as much negative media publicity as possible against SUNY--Albany and the SUNY system in its entirety.

There is much background to add about how this decision was reached and implemented, too much for me to explain fully here. Suffice it to say that the disappearance of French, Italian, and Russian has resulted from an almost complete lack of leadership at the Albany campus and in the SUNY system. Our president, a former state pension fund manager, holds an MBA as his highest degree, has never held a college or university teaching position, and has never engaged in any kind of scholarship.

More disturbing still, due process was not followed in the decision-making process. The affected programs were not consulted or given the opportunity to propose money-saving reforms. Our Dean and Provost simply hand-selected an advisory committee to rubber stamp the president's decision. The legalities of the situation remain to be discussed with our union, UUP, but in the
meantime I welcome any advice you may have.

Brett Bowles
Associate Professor of French Studies
French Graduate Program Director
State University of New York, Albany

October 7th Teaching Materials

Michael O'Hare's (UCB) welcome letter to his students this Fall: 

"Budget curriculum" composed by the Graduate Student Organizing Committee at UCSC,

Position paper on "Restoring California Higher Education by the Council of University of California Faculty Associations:  
SAVE/BFA's Principles for Evaluating Operational Excellence

Dick Walker's article on the economic and political crisis of California: