The Senate Source

August 2016

Anderson, Lindenberg Receive Senate's Highest Honor

Professors Robert Anderson (UCB) and Katja Lindenberg (UCSD) are the 2016 recipients of the Oliver Johnson Award for Distinguished Senate Service.

Katja Lindenberg is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and holds a Chancellor’s Associate Chair at UC San Diego. Professor Lindenberg was the first and one of only three female Senate chairs of the San Diego Division, where she has served on virtually every standing committee. Her service includes extensive campus work on gender equity issues, including as co-Chair of the Gender Equity Committee, Chair of the Faculty Rewards Task Force, and a member of the Gender Equity Summit Planning Committee. At the system level, she has served on search committees for three UC Presidents and one UCSD Chancellor, chaired the UC Committee on Academic Personnel, and was a member of the Senate Task Force that helped found UC Merced. She currently serves as chair of the UCSD Committee on Privilege & Tenure.

Robert Anderson is an Emeritus Professor of Economics and Mathematics and Coleman Fung Professor Emeritus of Risk Management at UC Berkeley. Professor Anderson served as chair of the Academic Senate in 2011-12. As chair of the systemwide Task Force on Investments and Retirement, he provided steady leadership and a deep understanding of issues related to the UC pension and retirement system. In the early 1990s, he distinguished himself as an especially effective leader in the effort to extend UC’s health and retirement benefits to same-sex domestic partners. Professor Anderson’s record of service to the Berkeley Division includes nine years as divisional parliamentarian. In 2009, he received the Berkeley Faculty Service Award.

The Senate Source asked Professors Lindenberg and Anderson to respond to a few questions about their work in the Senate and the challenges facing the University. Their responses are reproduced below.

What do you view as the significant highlights of your divisional and systemwide Senate service? Of what accomplishments or issues do you feel most proud?

Anderson: There are two: the extension of University health and pension benefits to LGBT families, and the decision by the Regents in 2010 to preserve the basic structure of our retirement benefits. The pension changes affected employees hired after June 30, 2013; they reduced the cost of the pension by shifting retirement age factors by five years, but otherwise retained the provisions of UCRP, which play a key role in retaining faculty in mid-career and encouraging retirement at the appropriate age.

Unfortunately, the latter decision was overturned under the 2015 compact between Governor Brown and President Napolitano. This produced no savings to the University, but will make it much harder and more expensive to retain faculty at mid-career, and will impair faculty renewal. Huge damage for no tangible benefit.

Lindenberg: It is difficult to list “most significant highlights” and “accomplishments” because, as you can imagine, a career of over 40 years with continuous Senate service of at least 35 years includes many highlights. At UCSD, I have served as Division Chair, member and Chair of CAP, member and Chair of the Committee on Privilege and Tenure and of the Committee on Research. At the Systemwide level, I have served on a similar range of Committees. The list of highlights also includes departmental and systemwide service on task forces, search committees for UC Presidents and the UCSD Chancellor, for gender disparity problems, and for the creation and planning of Universitywide programs. Probably the most significant of those was my three years on the Senate task force for the creation of UC Merced, as well as UC Mexus, and the Center for Nonlinear Science.

I will say that of all the service I have engaged in, Academic Senate service has from the beginning been the most meaningful because I am a strong believer in shared governance. To be honored for it in this way makes me proud!

What first motivated you to get involved with the Senate?

Lindenberg: While I have not worked at any other Universities, from the very beginning I realized that shared governance is a very important and yet very unusual way to run an educational institution. I wanted to be part of this process from the beginning because I wanted to contribute what I could and I felt that the only way to ensure the continuation of shared governance is to participate in a serious way.

What philosophy has guided your career and shaped your service? How does Senate service complement your professional career?

Anderson: The Senate has been critical in establishing and defending academic excellence at the University of California. As the official voice of the faculty, the Senate takes a much longer view than most administrators or Regents. Moreover, Senate members possess an enormous collective expertise, on which wise administrators can (and do) draw. The Senate review process is sometimes derided as slow, but I think that adherence to the deliberative process is essential to making good decisions and building consensus for them. I also served for nine years as parliamentarian at Berkeley, and over that time, there were a number of difficult and contentious Division meetings. My goal was to ensure that, at the end of the meeting, members on all sides of the question felt that the process had been fair.

Lindenberg: I have loved math and science since I was in about the second grade, and my career in the sciences has fit me like a glove. I have seen my career as a way to meet and interact with people from around the world, and it has given me the opportunity to travel to all corners of the globe. I was recently awarded an Endowed Chair at UCSD, which I see mostly as a reward for my research, but also for teaching and service. I also love to teach, and a few years ago I was awarded UCSD’s highest award for teaching. In my first decades I taught required undergraduate courses in Physical Chemistry that pose a significant challenge to many students. My challenge was to convince the students about the beauty and logic of the subject. I must have done something well to have earned that teaching award. And, of course, I very much enjoy University service. I am being honored for Academic Senate service, but outside of this I have also served in a number of non-Senate capacities, including as department chair.

How do I put this all together? I guess my philosophy has been one of “learning the world.” I love to share ideas, meet people from around the world, and mentor those who need help adjusting to UCSD. What other world would have provided me these opportunities?

Professor Lindenberg, you have served on a number of task forces related to gender equity. What is your view of the status of women at the University today? Has it improved since you first started your career? What can the University do to improve?

Lindenberg: I must say that I am disappointed with the slow pace of progress, especially in the STEM fields, from the student level to the highest levels of faculty. Also, understand that these statements refer to UCSD, where I have delved deeply into the issues. I do see other institutions that seem to be doing much better than UC, and I don’t really understand why. Arriving at equity requires interest, patience, application, and mentorship – a combination that is not easy to achieve. Over the years I have at times felt that while the institution takes the recommendations of gender-related task forces seriously, and even implements some, the implementation somehow slips backward and a strong effort is required to push it back up again.

What, in your eyes, are the biggest challenges facing the University now and into the future?

Anderson: Underfunding, underfunding, and underfunding.

Lindenberg:  Funding, funding, funding. Research cannot be done without it. I mean all of it. An excellent institution of higher learning requires a strong research program, and that requires funding. It seems like such poor planning to make researchers write, for example, four proposals to get one funded. What a waste of time this is – writing one proposal is such an incredibly time-consuming effort!

Teaching that is really meaningful requires smaller classes than we have now; it requires a student population that is diverse so that our students can learn that there is a world out there other than the one they are used to; and it requires a teaching load that is commensurate with the other requirements. Without adequate funding, how are faculty supposed to find time for service?

How can UC help reinvigorate public investment in higher education?

Anderson: UC needs to be very explicit in saying how the underfunding from the state is hurting quality. The 2015 compact between Governor Brown and President Napolitano locks in inadequate state funding; UC should have said so, rather than pretending otherwise. New York State spent $19,000 per student spent in elementary and secondary schools in 2013.

Lindenberg: UC must do a better job of communicating its enormous achievements. Some campuses are better at this than others. There must be encouragement for working with external institutions. UC must “sell” its tremendous educational product, and to this end do a better job at creating a more diverse population at the faculty and at the student level. UC must develop ever more outreach activities. UC must convince the public that there is something to be gained, a great deal to be gained, from the UCs that can not be gotten in any other way, and that UC is uniquely poised toward this purpose.

How would you describe the state and condition of shared governance at the University? What would you say to new or existing faculty who are considering becoming involved in Senate service?

Lindenberg: Not surprisingly, shared governance has had its ups and downs depending on who occupies systemwide and divisional Senate leadership positions and administrative leadership positions. I have seen many of both, and so I say with eternal optimism that when shared governance is not at its best, it does always recuperate. I say this with confidence because UC probably has the strongest shared governance tradition of any institution of higher learning in the country. I also say this with some caution because my entire academic life has been at UCSD, and I have heard from others who have had a wider set of experiences than me. Shared governance at UC is meaningful in the sense that the faculty have a serious final say in most educational aspects of each of the campuses and of the institution as a whole. To my statement about the dependence of the state of shared governance on who occupies the leadership positions: perhaps the most outstanding systemwide Senate Chair that it has been my pleasure to work with is my co-winner Professor Robert Anderson. (I promise I would still say this even if he were not celebrating this award together with me!)

I would tell faculty who have not yet become involved in Senate service – either because they are too new or because for some reason they are not sufficiently interested -- become involved! If you want to have a voice in the present and future of the University, become involved! We the faculty have been able to maintain an institutionalized strong component that gives us a voice, that gives us power! But this will only work if faculty continue to become involved. You will see how meaningful and important it is once you do.

Anderson: The combination of a very difficult budget situation and aggressive assertions of authority by the Governor and Legislature make this a challenging time for shared governance. To younger faculty colleagues, I would say that UC is your future. If you want it to remain excellent, you need to fight for it.

Oliver Johnson (1923-2000), was a UC Riverside professor of philosophy who served as Academic Senate chair in 1981-82; and as chair of the Riverside Division of the Academic Senate from 1963 to 1966, performing with great distinction in both posts. In 1996, Professor Johnson made a substantial gift to the systemwide Senate, the earnings from which are used to fund the award that bears his name. The Oliver Johnson Award is presented every other year to a Senate member or members in recognition of lifetime service to the Senate, outstanding and creative contributions to faculty governance at the divisional and systemwide level, and exceptional abilty in working with different University constituents.