NOTES FROM THE ACADEMIC SENATE CHAIR
UC is fortunate that the Governor’s proposed 2012-13 budget spares UC from additional cuts, but the budget is still a recipe for prolonged, painful austerity. The State is treating both the $650 million cut enacted in the budget and the $100 million mid-year trigger reduction as permanent budget cuts. The addition of $90 million for UCRP contributions is welcome, but it only covers the State’s share of the one-year increase in employer contributions, not the employer contributions we have already been making without state funding, and it doesn’t quite make up the $100 million trigger cut. In addition, there is the threat of an additional $200 million cut if the Governor’s proposed tax measure doesn’t pass in November.
The proposed 4% growth in State appropriations in future years is helpful. However, with the rise in health care costs, and wages at competing institutions, we need about 3% just to stay even. In other words, with 4% growth in state appropriations, we would recover very slowly—only about 1% a year—from the current state of severe fiscal austerity.
I know all our campuses are feeling the pain of the State budget cuts. Although rising tuition is a very visible effect of the cuts, other effects are nearly invisible to the public – although not to our faculty, students, and staff. One doesn’t always notice the reduced library hours, the faculty searches that don’t happen, or the deteriorating student-faculty ratio. But make no mistake: UC quality is under assault. For example, the number of ladder-rank faculty decreased by 3% this year as campuses curtailed searches for new faculty.
The Senate is sometimes criticized for being short on pragmatic solutions to bring more revenue into the University budget. However, I want to point to two examples of how we are actively responding to the dire fiscal and political situation. First, the Senate will soon be circulating a proposed Memorial to the Regents for a systemwide vote of faculty on all campuses. I believe the Memorial will help generate discussion about the budget crisis and the need for advocacy, and if adopted, will represent a strong show of solidarity with UC students. I encourage all Senate faculty on all UC campuses to participate in the vote. A high turnout is critical to demonstrating the commitment of the faculty.
The Senate also has been pragmatic and influential in the area of systemwide budget reform. It is likely that the President’s Budget Rebenching Task Force will adopt many of the broad principles enunciated by the Senate last July for allocating state funds among the ten campuses. The Funding Streams Initiative implemented in July made significant progress in creating budgetary transparency, but it is crucial that we complete the budget reform process by adopting a rational rebenching plan. I invite you to review the comments I made to the Regents in January about the critical need for rebenching and the importance of reaching an agreement about rebenching this year. This project is essential to preserving UC excellence as a system.
UCSF Chancellor Desmond-Hellman told the Regents in January that UCSF’s expenditures are growing at 5% per year, while revenues are growing at 3% per year. Her projections showed that within three years, this will result in a structural budget deficit. She also noted that the campus receives only 5% of its revenue from the State. The Chancellor suggested reducing the Funding Streams assessment that UCSF pays to support UC-wide programs, and creating a separate governing board, like the boards for UC Hastings College of the Law or Los Alamos National Security and Lawrence Livermore National Security LLCs. The Regents agreed to form an exploratory committee to consider the Chancellor’s proposal.
Neither of the Chancellor’s proposals would solve UCSF’s financial problem. Completely eliminating the Funding Streams assessment would cover less than one year’s worth of the gap between revenue and expenditure growth. Neither Hastings nor the National Security LLCs, all of which operate under unique sets of circumstances unlike those of the UC itself, seem like good models for the governance of UCSF. It is also very hard to see how a separate governing board would improve UCSF’s financial situation. I believe that as with all of the UC campuses, the budget crisis that affects UCSF directly threatens its excellence. We welcome a future presentation that enumerates creative solutions to overcome the severe financial challenge faced by UCSF.
The Senate will need to vigorously defend the ten campus system and UC as one university in the face of initiatives that would Balkanize us.
Council issued a statement at the end of November regarding the recent protests and police actions on campus, the use of force, and the right to free speech and peaceful protest. The Senate is also following several systemwide and campus specific investigations of the incidents, including the panel chaired by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso. The Academic Council met with General Counsel Charles Robinson, who, with Special Advisor/Dean Chris Edley, will recommend forward looking policies and best practices for dealing with protests and for the oversight of the UC police. These recommendations will go out for a full systemwide Senate review when we receive them.
Last fall, the Senate reviewed the proposed Academic Personnel Manual Section 668, which would have created a Negotiated Salary Plan for general campus faculty similar to the Health Sciences Compensation Plan. The Senate expressed serious concerns about the proposal and strongly advised against its implementation without substantial revision and another review. The Provost announced on January 31 that he was implementing a 5-year “pilot” negotiated salary plan, beginning this July at the four campuses with both medical schools and general campuses. Other than the restriction to four campuses, the pilot imposed fewer limits and safeguards than those in the proposed APM 668. Council met by videoconference the following day and expressed grave concerns about this breach of shared governance. As a result, the Provost has withdrawn the pilot plan. We have set up a joint Senate-Administration task force to explore and recommend possible paths forward in the light of the serious shortfall in UC salary competitiveness and Council’s concerns about the proposed APM 668. The intention is to produce a report and recommendations by the June Council meeting.
The Faculty Salaries Task Force has just released a report recommending a new multi-year faculty salaries plan. Based on a plan in use at UC Irvine, it would make the salary scales more sensitive to market forces, thereby reducing pressure on faculty to rely on outside offers in order to be paid fairly and addressing the “loyalty penalty.” This will undergo systemwide review this spring.
BOARS is closely monitoring the 2012 application pool, the first under the new admissions policy, to see what effects the new policy is having. BOARS also passed a resolution outlining procedures for campuses to follow to ensure that domestic nonresident and international students admitted to a campus compare favorably to California residents admitted at that same campus. Nonresident applications are up substantially this year due to concerted recruitment efforts, but the average quality of the nonresident pool has remained steady. The quality and selectivity of the nonresident pool should ensure that all campuses can comply easily with BOARS’ directive.
UCOP has responded to the University Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity’s Salary Equity Study. UCOP solicited comments from campus administrations and two external reviewers, some of whom raised concerns about the methodology used in the report. UCAAD is reviewing the comments and will prepare a response, and the President has indicated that he either would support an additional systemwide study or ask each campus to conduct a study to identify any disparities and devise a plan to address them.
I am currently serving on two search committees, for a new UCSD Chancellor and a new systemwide Provost. The hope in both cases is to present a candidate for approval at the May Regents meeting.
Finally, I urge you, as individual citizens, to contact your state legislators and explain the critical need for and benefits of state investment in higher education. Tell the story of how the budget cuts have impacted your classes and students. Take a stand for your University. And please remember to vote on the Memorial to the Regents.