The Senate Source

March 2012

Academic Assembly asks Senate Faculty to Vote on Memorial



The Assembly of the Academic Senate has approved the distribution of a proposed Memorial to the Regents for a systemwide vote by Senate faculty. If adopted, The Memorial would ask 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.

Each Senate division will coordinate a local ballot process in which each Senate faculty member will be permitted one vote. Voting will be open for at least 14 days on each campus and will be completed in mid April. Final results must be reported to the systemwide Senate office by April 20. If adopted, the Senate chair and vice chair will ask the President to bring the Memorial to the Regents’ May meeting.

Senate Vice Chair Robert Powell helped lead the drafting effort.

“The Memorial asks the Regents to send a message to the Legislature that higher education must be made a budget priority, and that students, faculty, and the Regents have united to advocate forcefully for measures that increase revenues,” he said. “The Memorial, by asking the Regents to take a public stand in support of measures, is a visible show of solidarity of the faculty with current and future students in seeking solutions to the budget crisis in the University and in California.”

Powell says that by law and University policy, only the Regents may take a position on behalf of the University in support of a specific ballot measure. Although faculty are free to campaign as individual citizens for any measure, their message will be enhanced and strengthened if they are able to point to a statement by the Regents that a specified ballot measure would benefit the University.

The Memorial process, outlined in Senate Bylaw 90, is a way for the faculty to raise an issue to prominence and formally address the Regents on a particular subject. Traditionally, Memorials have been reserved for matters of great systemwide importance and may be initiated by either the Assembly or a campus division of the Senate. They must be voted on by the faculty on all ten campuses; to be approved, they must receive a majority of all votes cast systemwide.

The Senate last passed a Memorial in 2006 regarding nonresident tuition for graduate students and has used Memorials to communicate with the President and Regents since its earliest days. In 1919, a Senate Memorial ultimately led the Regents to establish the 1920 Standing Orders defining the modern role and powers of the Senate. The Senate has also used Memorials over the years to ask the Regents to amend the Standing Orders to confer Senate membership upon certain titles such as Instructor in Residence (1968) and Professor of Clinical__ (1986). In 1969, the Senate used a Memorial to formally disavow its 1950 policy that members of the Communist Party were not suitable for faculty positions at the University, and to affirm that an academic employee’s membership in a political party should not have any effect on tenure or dismissal.

Senate Chair Robert Anderson stressed the importance of a high faculty turnout in the balloting, to ensure that the faculty send a clear message to the Regents and the Legislature on this critical subject.