Senate Source

August 2007

John Oakley



Dear Colleagues,

As my term as systemwide Academic Senate chair draws to a close, I want to provide you with a retrospective summary and assessment of the Senate’s challenges and accomplishments during the past year. The 2006-07 academic year was a particularly active period for the Senate and an extraordinarily productive time for shared governance. It began as a challenging time for the Senate, with the University still feeling the aftershocks of media, governmental, and Regential concerns over UC’s compensation practices, and with a general sense prevailing among faculty that UC’s resources were not being properly allocated to the needs of our great institution. As the Senate began its work, both within its divisions and committees, I made the usual round of kickoff appearances. At these, I identified one overarching priority for the Senate to pursue during the year ahead: maintaining and advancing UC’s institutional excellence. I also outlined four subsidiary priorities — particular pillars of UC’s excellence that seemed to me to be under stress and in need of immediate support or repair. I pledged to focus special energy and attention on (1) faculty salaries; (2) graduate student support and the amelioration of non-resident tuition (NRT) for academic graduate students; (3) the diversity of UC, from top to bottom, with special attention to students and faculty; and (4) protecting UCRP and other benefit programs without a reduction in UC employees’ total compensation. I am pleased to report that the Senate, working closely with President Dynes, Provost Hume, the Chancellors, and The Board of Regents, has made significant progress this past year on each of these four fronts, not only sustaining but enhancing the excellence of the University of California.

Faculty Salaries

The Academic Council has worked hard over the past two years to move the issue of faculty salaries to the top of the UC agenda. We engaged the Administration with our concerns about the recruitment, retention, equity, and morale problems resulting from recurrent postponements of catch-up salary increases, urging that competitive faculty salaries be made a chief budgetary priority. These efforts did pay off. In November, President Dynes convened a joint Senate-Administration Work Group on Faculty Salary Scales to develop recommendations for increasing faculty salaries to competitive levels, for bringing the majority of faculty back on-scale, and for improving the fairness and transparency of the published salary scales. UCAP’s 2006 report on the merit and promotion system and faculty compensation played a key role both in prompting the formation of the Faculty Salary Work Group, and in informing its deliberations. In April, Provost Hume reported to the Council that the President had amended the charge of the Faculty Salary Work Group to include the development of a plan for substantial catch-up faculty pay increases, which would be deployed as soon as possible. Today, the outlook for faculty salaries is very promising. Due in large part to the Senate’s diligent efforts, I expect UC faculty to see discernable salary increases in the very near future, perhaps as early as October.

Oakley Dynes and Hume

Academic Senate Chair John Oakley with President Bob Dynes and Provost Wyatt R. Hume

The President’s Work Group has recommended raising faculty salaries immediately to help eliminate disparities between UC and its comparison institutions by 1) providing an across the board cost-of-living adjustment; and 2) making selective range adjustments. The ultimate goal is a 26 percent catch-up salary increase for faculty to be phased in over four years. The Work Group also recommended changing policy language to recognize that off-scales are not in practice exceptional while UC salary scales remain substantially below market, and to enlarge the definition of “on-scale” to encompass the entire range of salaries between a given step and the next higher step. These recommendations are still under review, but UC is now in a much better position to move forward quickly towards salary parity with our elite competitors.

It is my hope that these actions will ameliorate some of the equity and morale problems that exist across all ranks and disciplines, along with the problem of salary inversion affecting the mid-level professorial ranks. In addition, I am hopeful that these initiatives will have a particularly beneficial impact on women and underrepresented minorities, who tend to be clustered in fields with more on-scale faculty., I would like to express sincere gratitude to UCAP Chair and incoming Council Vice Chair Mary Croughan, UCFW Chair Susan French, and UCPB Chair Chris Newfield, who were my colleagues as the Senate’s representatives on the Work Group, as well as to President Dynes, Provost Hume, and the other members of senior management who have supporting this effort for immediate and substantial improvement in faculty salaries.  


Graduate Student Support

It was also very important to me that the Senate follow through on last year’s Memorial to The Regents, which made a request of The Regents to eliminate non-resident tuition (NRT) for academic graduate students. An overwhelming majority of Senate members supported the Memorial in a mail ballot, and in May 2006 I delivered the Memorial to the President for transmission to The Regents. There was, and remains, a strong sense among the faculty that high NRT fees, along with a lack of graduate student support, harm UC’s academic and research excellence by hampering our ability to compete for the best graduate students from around the world. Recognizing that state law prohibits the elimination of NRT, The Regents responded to this memorial by asking President Dynes to issue a directive that would return NRT funds to graduate student support on the campuses. Although NRT monies cannot be directly returned to their source because of the way they are collected and disbursed, President Dynes proposed a tracking mechanism for these monies so that that the correct amount of NRT collected could be determined and appropriate amounts of graduate support could be funded. Such a mechanism will not only comply with state law requiring differential fees for non-residents, but will also provide substantive relief for UC’s graduate enterprise. This new tracking mechanism is scheduled to take effect in the 2007-08 academic year, and I think it will make a big difference for graduate education at UC.


With the many challenges UC faces, the Academic Senate has held a longstanding concern and interest in becoming a more representative and diverse institution in terms of its faculty, staff, and student body. Last year, prompted by calls from Student Regent María Ledesma and Regent Fred Ruiz for a comprehensive assessment of the University’s diversity ten years after the passage of Proposition 209, then-Regent Chair Gerald Parsky convened a Regents Study Group on University Diversity. The Study Group included broad Senate representation, and working sub-groups were assigned to examine the following four areas: undergraduate diversity, chaired by Senate Vice Chair Michael T. Brown; faculty diversity, chaired by Gibor Basri (then Chair of the University Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity or UCAAD, and now Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion at UC Berkeley); graduate and professional school diversity, chaired by former Senate Chair and Acting UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal; and campus climate, chaired by Student Regent Ledesma. I also participated as a member of two of the four work groups — on faculty diversity, and on graduate and professional-school diversity. The Study Group has worked hard to arrive at a number of constructive responses to concerns about diversity, which will be presented to the full Board of Regents in September. I expect the Study Group to endorse, and to ask the full Board of Regents to endorse, the Academic Senate’s Statement on Diversity, which proclaims that diversity is fundamentally integral to the achievement of excellence at UC. The statement was drafted by UCAAD, revised and adopted by the Academic Council in April 2006, approved by the Assembly in May 2006, and in June 2006 was endorsed by President Dynes ”as the official statement of the University of California.”

Reflecting the Senate’s own commitment to diversity, the Assembly voted this year to add UCAAD to the standing committees represented on the Academic Council as a permanent standing committee. I know that I share with many of you the belief that diversity requires cultivation. Apathy and indifference will quickly undo any progress made: the garden of diversity must constantly be weeded. Although the University still has a long way to go, I think we have made progress this year. The Senate is leading the way, however, in affirming that diversity and excellence are complementary and not opposing values.

Safeguarding UCRP and Total Compensation

A major concern of the Senate over the last two years has been the matter of safeguarding the financial resources of UCRP, returning UC to a sound fiscal basis, and protecting the total compensation of UC employees. As chair, I have worked hard to help shepherd UCRP through the anticipated transition to the resumption of employee pension plan contributions in a way that would maintain full health care and retirement benefits without leading to a decline in total compensation. Because The Regents and their Treasurers have done a good job in managing the assets of UCRP, aided by generally favorable market conditions, contributions have not been necessary since 1990. While UCRP at the moment is still fully funded, and despite the recent announcement that the re-start of employee contributions has been postponed, the Senate recognizes that it will still be necessary to resume contributions in the near future in order to maintain the long-term health of UCRP. However, we must also take care that the total compensation of UC employees does not erode in the short term. There is a substantial risk that increasing health care premiums and resuming contributions will have a detrimental impact on the UC workforce if these planned increases in payroll deductions are not offset by an increase in cash compensation. I would like to commend the work of UCFW and its two task forces — the Task Force on Investment and Retirement and the Task Force on the Future of UC Health Care Plans — for their contributions not only to the Academic Council’s recent statement on the management of UCRP, but also to the Council’s May 2006 position paper on the future UCRP funding and to the UCFW-drafted analysis of total remuneration released in November 2006. It has been my privilege to serve as a member of UCOP’s Advisory Group on Retirement Benefits and as an advisory member of several Regents’ Committees – including Compensation, Finance, and Investments – where I was able to act as a conduit of faculty opinion and expertise.

I am also grateful to UCPB for its “Futures Report,” which outlines potential long-term funding scenarios and their consequences for the University. One of the high points of a banner year for shared governance was the opportunity to join UCPB Chair Chris Newfield in presenting highlights of the Futures Report to the Committee on Finance at the May 2007 Regents’ meeting. Also this May, the Assembly passed a UCFW-drafted resolution calling for rejection of Mercer Consulting’s recommendations for ‘slotting’ of the Senior Leadership Compensation Group by campus. In the same resolution the Assembly also called on The Regents and the Administration to avoid adopting policies leading to the stratification of UC campuses by tiers, thereby weakening of the University as a whole. Mercer’s assessment of UC compensation suggested that despite lower faculty salaries, UC provides better total remuneration than its competitors when benefit packages are taken into consideration. Earlier in the year, UCFW also asked for a reconsideration of some of the methodology used by Mercer in this assessment of UC compensation, and it is currently working hard to help refine that methodology.

Representatives from the Senate and the Administration are also working with Mercer on the Policy Review Project, an effort to analyze all existing University policies in order to identify areas in which policy and practice could be made more consistent and where policy exceptions could be eliminated, particularly in the area of Senior Management Group compensation. I’ve devoted many hours of work to the Policy Review Project, for two reasons. First, I want to make sure that it enhances, rather than threatens, shared governance. Second, it is a direct outgrowth of last year’s furor over undisclosed executive compensation, and the ensuing report and recommendations of the Task Force on UC Compensation, Accountability, and Transparency, of which I was a member.

Recent Changes

I believe UC has entered a critical period in its history, in part because of the political and fiscal tensions of the past two years have called into question the very nature of the institution. On August 13, 2007, President Dynes announced his intention to resign as President at the end of June, or earlier if a successor has been appointed. In the meantime, President Dynes asked Provost Hume to assume the role of chief operating officer of the University — bringing to UCOP an organizational structure quite common at the campus level, where all subordinate senior managers typically report to Provosts as chief operating officers, who in turn report Chancellors as chief executive officers.

President Dynes is a friend of shared governance and a believer in its importance. He is a kind and generous person, who always thought of himself first and foremost as a member of the faculty of the University of California. He worked hard, very hard, to maintain both the excellence of UC, and its public nature. I welcome him back to the faculty, and to our side of the shared governance table.

Provost Hume as Executive Vice Provost, and I, as Vice Chair of the Academic Senate, officially began our duties at UCOP on the same day, September 1, 2005 I. We have weathered a lot of heavy seas in our time together. In my view, UC in general, and the Academic Senate in particular, are fortunate to have him at the helm of UCOP during these critical months of transition to a new President. Rory has come up through the UC ranks, from post-doc at UCLA to junior faculty member at UCSF to Dean and Provost at UCLA, and has had valuable teaching and administrative experiences at other universities as well. He believes to his core that shared governance is fundamental to the excellence of UC, and acts accordingly.

Blum Oakley and Brown

Senate Chair and Vice-Chair John B. Oakley and Michael T. Brown with Richard Blum, Chair of the Board of Regents

Richard Blum, the Chair of the Board of Regents, has moved quickly to begin the search for the next President. Our incoming Chair and Vice Chair, Michael T. Brown and Mary Croughan, will be intimately involved in that search in their roles as Faculty Representatives to The Board of Regents with full rights of participation in all the activities of The Regents’ standing and special committees. Chair Blum has also served notice that he will be very closely engaged in the leadership not only of The Regents, but also of UC as a whole. On August 22, 2007, he released a strategic plan for UC in which he declared UC’s organizational structures to be “outmoded and dysfunctional.” While reaffirming that “[s]hared governance is part of the bedrock of this University,” he also encouraged the Academic Senate to examine our own practices “to see whether there are possible efficiency gains to be made in fulfilling the governance responsibilities delegated to [us] by the Regents.” I welcome this bold willingness to reexamine UC’s organizational structure, with the understanding that we won’t be seeking to fix what isn’t broken: the academic side of UC’s operations. And I would add that I believe that a careful study of UC’s administrative organization will reaffirm the importance of shared governance as the crucial link between what we are best at — creating and disseminating knowledge — and all the support activities that make our academic excellence possible. I think we can make the support function more efficient and less intrusive on the academic function, and I think that shared governance will be shown to be an asset rather than an impediment to that process of organizational improvement.

Beyond the immediate future, there is no question that the dominating issue facing UC now and over the next ten years is the question of cohesion versus disaggregation. Will UC remain one University with ten campuses? Or will it become ten universities with a common heritage and a loosely cooperative relationship, each fending for itself with respect to tuition, salaries, and philanthropy. It is my view that UC has reaped tremendous benefits from being one University with ten campuses, and as such, has grown to become one of the greatest universities in the world. I believe we should struggle to retain that systemwide sense of one University of California, hewing to the ideal that, in principle, every student at every campus has access to the same excellence in education. I recently defended this view in a broadcast on KQED Public Radio, which also featured statements by Chair Blum and President Dynes (see updates and events).

Personal Reflections

An effective Senate, as well as effective Senate leadership, will be necessary to maintain the University’s quality as a world-class research institution. That said, I believe shared governance has flourished over the past year — and that this has been very good for the health of the University as well as the wellbeing of the Academic Senate. The Regents have made clear that they understand the fundamental importance of the faculty to the quality, and indeed the very essence, of the University of California.

Shared governance has been instrumental in making UC the greatest public university in the world, but, like diversity, it requires focus and commitment. Unlike Portia’s conception of mercy, it does not “droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.” UC has prospered in the long run by having an active, rather than a passive, faculty. I think it is an extraordinary privilege to be a member of the Senate, and I am grateful every day of my life for being a professor here. And to whom much is given, much is expected in return. I believe Senate service is a personally fulfilling thing to do. But it also the right thing to do, and that is reason enough for Senate members to give graciously of their time and energy in the furtherance of shared governance. We faculty, as the creators of the knowledge that makes the University what it is, are both the heart and the soul of the University of California. That requires that we strive for excellence, not only in our teaching and our scholarship, but also in our engagement as teachers and scholars with the public we serve. It also requires that we strive for excellence, through the powers and processes of shared governance, in how the University is governed. The Academic Senate, like must civic-spirited organizations, is run by the faculty members who show up. I urge you to redeem the privilege of being a professor at one of the world’s preeminent universities by showing up and contributing to its shared governance.

Fiat Lux,

John Oakley

Academic Council 2006-07

Academic Council and consultants, 2006-07 (top left to right) Santa Barbara Divisional Chair Joel Michaelsen, Los Angeles Divisional Chair Vivek Shetty, BOARS Chair Mark Rashid, Berkeley Divisional Chair William Drummond, CCGA Chair Reen Wu, Irvine Divisional Chair Martha Mecartney, Riverside Divisional Chair Thomas Cogswell, UCAAD Chair Gibor Basri, Council Chair John B. Oakley, President Bob Dynes, Provost Wyatt R. Hume, Council Vice Chair Michael T. Brown, UCFW Chair Susan French; (bottom left to right) Executive Vice President Katherine Lapp , Davis Divisional Chair Linda Bisson, UCORP Chair Wendy Max, San Francisco Divisional Chair Deborah Greenspan, UCAP Chair Mary Croughan, San Diego Divisional Chair Henry (Harry) Powell, UCEP Chair Dick Weiss, Santa Cruz Divisional Chair Faye Crosby, and Vice President Larry Hershman; (not pictured) UCPB Chair Christopher Newfield and Merced Divisional Chair Shawn Kantor.