NOTES FROM THE ACADEMIC SENATE CHAIR
The Governor’s May Budget Revision indicated that tax revenues have fallen well short of the State’s projections. While the Governor left UC funding largely intact, at roughly the 2011-12 level, he proposed a trigger cut of $250 million to UC if the November ballot measure fails. These are grim figures. I don’t need to tell you that UC is facing a critical situation, and that campuses simply cannot afford to take more cuts in 2012-13. If the Governor’s November ballot measure fails, the consequences for UC will be devastating. UC is at the precipice, and we must work vigorously to gain public support for the measure if we wish to maintain our commitment to quality, access, and affordability--in short, UC as we have known it.
I am pleased to report that 93% of UC Senate faculty who voted supported the Memorial calling on the Regents to take a formal position in support of ballot measures and legislation that will increase state revenues and/or prioritize funding for public higher education. With that in mind, Council voted in May to urge the Regents to formally endorse the Governor’s ballot measure. I have asked the President to convey this message to the Regents on our behalf. Currently, we believe that the July Regents meeting will include the formal presentation of the Memorial followed by a vote on whether the Board should formally endorse the ballot measure.
In a paper published by the Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley senior administrators to propose a new University governance structure. Their idea to delegate more decision-making authority to campuses and campus-based governing boards is much more detailed than a similar proposal that the UCSF Chancellor aired in January. When institutions are under stress, groups naturally turn inward in attempts to protect themselves, and in searching for solutions, lose sight of the good of the whole. I find it hard to see how either proposal would help address our severe budget problems, and I can see considerable danger. The Berkeley proposal cites Florida as a possible model for a central board and individual campus boards, but the Florida system has been a model of dysfunctional governance. In our own state, the experience with a central board in addition to local boards in the California Community College system has not been especially happy. The Senate must continue to defend UC against these centrifugal forces that threaten the very heart of our identity as a single ten-campus university, and our extraordinary excellence as a system.
The Budget Rebenching Task Force is finalizing a draft report outlining a new mechanism for more fairly distributing state funding among the campuses on a per-student basis and for enforcing resident enrollment targets. In this proposal, an undergraduate at one campus will be allocated the same amount of state funding as an undergraduate on any other campus. While the mechanism does not discourage recruitment of non-residents as a revenue source, it recognizes the financial incentives campuses have to enroll non-residents, the disproportionate ability of campuses to attract non-residents, and the possibility that UC could lose its capacity to accommodate all eligible residents as the number of non-resident students grows. To address these incentives, and the need for eligible residents displaced at one UC campus to be accommodated at another UC campus, the report proposes that campuses that fall more than 1% below their resident enrollment targets will lose state funds at 150% of the per-student state fund allocation for each student below the target. I am proud that many of these hard fought recommendations to increase the fairness and transparency of the budget allocation process originated a year ago from the Senate.
Council made recommendations on augmenting faculty salaries, based on its review of the report of the Senate-Administration Taskforce on Faculty Salaries, which recommends mechanisms for distributing a 3% salary increase and raising the salary scales. Any increase is contingent on the availability of funds. Council endorsed these proposals, but recommended that two-thirds of the hypothetical increase be applied to an across-the-board increase of 2%, with one-third (1%) reserved for adjusting the salary scales as recommended. Council’s position recognizes that the UC faculty salary lag is most critical for those with salaries on or close to scale, but that faculty who are off-scale may also be below market, and we do not want them to slip further below market as salaries rise at our competing institutions. Council also recommended that 3% salary increases for faculty and non-represented staff be treated as priorities and considered on an equal basis with other unavoidable cost increases.
The Faculty Diversity Subcommittee of President Yudof’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion recently issued a report recommending a number of best practices for increasing faculty diversity, which has been distributed for systemwide review. I encourage you to consider these recommendations carefully. On a personal note, I was honored to be invited to speak at the UC Berkeley Lavender Graduation celebrating and recognizing LGBT students. As I note, things have gotten better for LGBT students, faculty, and staff over my 29 years at UC, but there is still much to be done.
In April, in response to ongoing concerns about operational aspects of the UC Online Education (UCOE) project, Council asked the chairs of UCPB, UCEP, and BOARS, which have closely monitored UCOE, to assess the current status of the project and introduce proposals developed by the three committees as the basis of an informal MOU between the Senate and UCOE. The Senate also has appointed an impressive team of faculty to a Blue Ribbon Panel to evaluate the educational quality of UCOE, and the evaluation effort at UCSB. UCEP has developed a set of regulations for UCOE courses, including courses with substantial numbers of non-matriculated students. The future of UCOE is uncertain, but I believe the Senate can play a positive role in ensuring the quality of the program as it develops.
A report from a Task Force led by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso reviewing last fall’s incidents at UC Davis, and another report from UC Counsel Charlie Robinson and Berkeley Law Dean Chris Edley concerning UC’s policies and practices for policing protests, have been released for public comment. Specific policy recommendations derived from the latter report will undergo full systemwide review in the fall. I hope these reports can help us put the unfortunate events of last fall behind us and find a way forward.
The Academic Assembly has elected BOARS Chair Bill Jacob (UCSB) to be 2012-2013 Academic Council vice chair and approved Council’s nomination of John Oakley (UCD) and Sandra Weiss (UCSF) as recipients of the 2012 Oliver Johnson Award for Distinguished Senate Service. Professors Weiss and Oakley have both served the systemwide and divisional Senates in multiple key roles over many years and are very deserving of the prize. I am also delighted about the election of Bill Jacob, who has been outstanding as chair of BOARS. Bill has demonstrated great skill in managing the contentious issues related to admissions, and is thus very well equipped to assume the role of Faculty Representative to the Regents.
This has been a tough year for all of us at the University of California, with massive budget cuts and tuition increases. The coming months will be no less challenging. I urge you to take a stand for UC by putting the words and sentiments of the Memorial into action. Contact your elected representative and tell them how ongoing budget cuts are undermining the University of California’s promise to the people of California.