Provost Hume Speaks with The Senate Source
The Senate Source recently sat down with Provost and acting chief operating officer Wyatt R. (Rory) Hume to get his perspectives on some of the most critical issues currently facing the University of California. A native of Australia, Provost Hume began his UC career at the UCLA School of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow in 1974, before joining the UCLA School of Dentistry in 1977 as a faculty member. He also served as a faculty member at UCSF during the 1990s. Hume became UCLA’s executive vice chancellor in 1998 and served in that position until 2002, when he returned to Australia to become president of the University of New South Wales. He came back to UC in September 2005 as Vice President for Academic and Health Affairs, and was appointed Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Health Affairs in June 2006. Provost Hume’s Academic Senate service includes several years on the Academic Planning and Budget Committee at UCSF. He was also a member of the 1995-96 University Committee on Planning and Budget.
Q: Please comment on the Office of the President restructuring and how it will affect the campuses.
A: Our goal is to create a structure that is both more effective in supporting the work of the University and is at the same time more efficient, i.e., uses less money. By using less money at UCOP, more will be available for the support of the University’s campus-based programs in teaching, research, and service. To put it simply, the changes are designed to provide better service at lower cost.
Q: What cuts do you expect the campuses will have to make in 2007-08 and 2008-09 as a result of the state budget crisis?
A: The Governor’s budget does not propose cuts to the University for 2007-08, but for 2008-09 it does propose a reduction of 10% in the level of funding previously agreed to under the Compact, to include at least 10% less spending on administration. The final budget for 2008-09 will not be known until the budget is passed by the Legislature and Governor in mid-2008, and the University will do all that it can to reduce the level of cuts to our budget. We simply do not yet know what level of cuts the University will be required to bear in 2008-09, but both UCOP and the campuses are preparing plans in case cuts in the order of those proposed by the Governor do occur.
Q: What will be the impact of the cuts on the support of academic programs and academic policy activities – for example, services that certify a-g courses or provide analytical research to admissions policy?
A: As is always the case, if cuts have to be made a balance will need to be found between not starting new programs, and damaging to the smallest extent possible existing programs. That balance will depend on the level of cuts necessary, and on relative priorities. The examples given are obviously of high priority, but so are many other administrative functions performed in support of the University’s programs.
Q: What will be the effect of the cuts on student fees?
A: The Regents do all that they can to keep student fees as low as possible, consistent with maintaining the quality of the University and its programs. Any reduction in funding from the state threatens that quality, and student fees are one source of revenue that must be considered. It is important to recognize that Regents policy requires that if student fees do increase, so too does financial aid.
Q: The first year of the faculty salary scales plan was a first step in restoring the competitiveness and integrity of the salary scale system. Do you know yet whether UC will be able to implement years two, three, and four of the salary scales plan in the current budget environment? If no, how can UC keep all faculty salaries competitive in the context of the current state budget crisis? Where do faculty salaries fit into to the University’s overall priorities?
A: The Regents, the President, and I have all stated that maintaining competitive faculty salaries, with salary scales that ensure that compensation is directly linked to the results of rigorous peer review, is of the highest priority – ranking with the need to improve graduate student support. We will do all that we can to maintain the process of restoration of the integrity of the faculty salary system.
Q: In the Senate’s Memorial to the Regents, the faculty expressed strong support for the elimination of non-resident tuition for academic graduate students. How can the University help eliminate NRT and other barriers that prevent us from attracting the best and brightest graduate students who are fundamental to research and teaching excellence?
A: The distortions caused by the state’s policy on non-resident tuition, when applied to academic graduate students, damage the University’s ability to serve the people of California. The President requires that all fees from those students be returned to the campuses to be used to support graduate education. During the coming year we will advocate with legislators for a change to the state policy, to apply to graduate academic doctoral students, in line with the Senate’s Memorial.
Q: There are some who have expressed concern that UC may be grafting a corporate model of management onto the University, which in their view, is a threat to the tradition that the top administrative positions in the University – including the president, provost and executive vice presidents – should be held by academics. This is a particular concern for many faculty in the context of the current presidential search. Do you share this concern?
A: I would prefer that the next President of UC is someone who, as has been the case with each of the Presidents during my working lifetime, is deeply experienced in the academic culture of the community of scholars – and who is also able to make use of the best practices of the corporate world in leading the University into the future.
Q: You advocate a future UC that retains its traditional structure as a ten campus single system. Given the current management and budgetary issues do you still envision achieving this goal? What do you think UC should look like in the next 10 to 20 years and how can the University set a course for attaining that vision?
A: I hold the view that UC will be best able to serve the state, the nation and the world as a system of ten campuses, all strong, all aspiring to research excellence and each different from the other in useful ways. I do foresee a higher level of sharing of administrative structures and services between the campuses, both to save money for use in academic programs, and so that the services can be more effective. There are also many opportunities for enhanced collaboration between campuses in academic program delivery, and in research, consistent with campus autonomy. I believe that, with the processes now in place for both open academic planning and open budgeting, we are on course for attaining that vision.
Q: You have said that the UC system as a whole would benefit from individual campuses having greater access to and understanding of each other’s academic planning efforts. Please explain your vision for improving systemwide planning and how UC campuses can engage in academic planning more openly as a system rather than in isolation.
A: I see several benefits from open planning processes. First, that academic units and campuses are more likely to plan thoroughly and well if the results of such planning are openly displayed. Second, that academic units and campuses will make better decisions about what they will do if they are aware of what other elements of the university are planning to do. Duplication of effort can be beneficial, or it can be wasteful, depending on specific circumstances; open planning allows rational decisions about such matters. Open planning also provides a compelling rationale for open budgeting. I believe deeply that everyone involved in the work of the university benefits from understanding why decisions are being made and why resources are being applied in support of particular programs and activities.
Q: Besides the budget, what do you consider to be the major issues and challenges facing the University over the next 5 to 10 years?
A: The major issues and challenges will not change – how best to continue to serve the people of California, and people elsewhere, through our teaching, research and service, consistent with the resources available to us. We are heirs to an amazing legacy of investment by the people of California and of the nation, and of brilliant application and administration of that investment. Maintaining clarity of our vision, and maintaining the unity of the University in the right ways, and continuing to demonstrate to the people who support us and whom we serve that we provide great vale and benefit, will all be keys to our future success.
Q: Where do you see the status of diversity and equity at UC, and which specific issues are you asking the Regents Diversity Study Group implementation team to focus attention?
A: As the Study Group found, there have been some good achievements in recent years, but there is still much to do. The decision of the Regents to endorse the faculty position on the value of diversity to the University was an extraordinarily important step, as was their requirement that the President report to them annually on the status of diversity within the University. Each of the four areas identified by the Regents’ Study Group – undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, academics and campus climate – will require ongoing attention, as will staff diversity. It is important to emphasize the essential role of leadership in working to enhance diversity in all areas. The President and I will ask for particular attention to be paid to the assessment of leaders’ performance throughout the University as each of these areas is monitored and as reports to the Regents are made.”
Q: How would you describe the condition of shared governance at UC, and how can the Administration, Senate and the Regents work together to address budget issues and other challenges? What added perspective does your experience as a faculty member and your previous Senate service give you as an administrator?
A: I see the condition of shared governance within UC as very sound. The University is, at its heart, a community of scholars, and it will maintain its strength and value best though its open, frank and collegial exchange of ideas, and by energetic adherence to the principles and practice of shared governance. Having worked for many years as a ladder-rank faculty member in this university, and in others, I do understand the essential nature of what universities like ours do for individuals and for society. It has also been extremely helpful for me to work within the structures and processes of the Academic Senate both at the campus and system levels. The University of California has a robust and unique Academic Senate involvement in governance. It is one of the key elements of our strength and success.