The Senate Source

June 2012

Oakley, Weiss Honored with Oliver Johnson Award

UC San Francisco Professor Sandra J. Weiss and UC Davis Professor John B. Oakley are the recipients of the 2012 Oliver Johnson Award for Distinguished Service to the Academic Senate. The former systemwide Senate chairs are being recognized for their outstanding and creative contributions to faculty governance, service to the Academic Senate, and exceptional abilities in working with different University constituents. Be sure to click the links to read our full interviews with Professor Oakley and Professor Weiss, in which they share interesting, provocative perspectives about their time in the Senate and the future of the University.

John OakleyJohn B. Oakley is Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus at UC Davis. He was chair of the Academic Council and faculty representative to the Regents in 2006-2007. At the systemwide level, he also chaired the University Committee on Faculty Welfare in 2004-05, and the UCRS Advisory Board in 2009-10. At Davis, he has served on numerous Senate committees, including the Faculty Welfare Committee, which he chaired from 1999 to 2003, and the International Education Committee, which he led from 1992 to 1995.

He is also notable for taking over as systemwide Senate chair after the existing Council chair was removed in March 2006, giving him the distinction of having the longest-ever consecutive term (one and a half years) as Senate chair. Indeed, the University Committee on Committees was particularly impressed by his “leadership during a rough period of Academic Council’s history” and “his ability to move the Senate beyond (that) crisis.”

As chair of UCFW and the Senate, Professor Oakley was instrumental in drawing attention to and advocating for the importance of closing the faculty salaries competitiveness gap and protecting total remuneration for faculty, particularly to off-set the restart of UCRP contributions.

As chair, and then member, of the Academic Council Special Committee on Laboratory Issues (ACSCOLI), he shepherded a plan through the Senate that ensured the continued involvement and input of the Senate into the operations of the UC-managed Department of Energy Laboratories, as their organizational structure transitioned to shared management and partial independence as limited liability companies. In 2007, he helped author a guide detailing UC’s relationship to the new Los Alamos and Livermore LLCs and their nuclear weapons research.

He also navigated the Senate through a contentious debate over academic freedom and the tobacco industry that led the Senate ultimately to oppose on academic freedom grounds RE-89, a policy ultimately adopted by the Regents that places restrictions on faculty acceptance of research funding from the tobacco industry.

Following his term as systemwide Senate chair, he represented the Senate on the University of California Retirement System Advisory Board from 2007 to 2011, chairing it in 2010-11, and as vice chair of the Davis divisional Senate from 2009 to 2011. He is currently a member-at-large of the UC Faculty Welfare Task Force on Investment and Retirement.

Former systemwide Senate chair Daniel Simmons, who is also Professor Oakley’s UC Davis law colleague, says “John Oakley took over the helm of the Academic Senate in the middle of a storm over Senate leadership that was unique in the history of the Senate. John rose to the occasion with a steady hand that kept the Senate on an even keel during a turbulent time. In addition, John helped to steer the Senate through the complicated issues raised by the transition of the National Labs to the LLC management status. The Oliver Johnson award is well deserved.”

Sandra WeissSandra Weiss is a Professor of Nursing who holds the Eschbach Endowed Chair in Mental Health in the Department of Community Health Systems at UCSF. She served as the Academic Council chair and faculty representative to the Board of Regents in 1997-1998, and as the UCSF Senate division chair in 1994-1995. She is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

The UCSF nominating committee applauded her “unparalleled dedication to the system of shared governance at the University of California,” and noted that her term as UCSF chair was marked by a climate of openness and collaboration that increased the Senate’s participation in decision-making significantly. At UCSF, Professor Weiss negotiated the addition of the Senate chair to the Chancellor’s Executive Committee as a standing member and broadened the UCSF Executive Committee to include the chairs of each School’s Faculty Councils and the Parliamentarian. She also instituted a joint Senate-Administration Strategic Planning Board, which continues to have direct faculty participation in discussions related to budget allocations at UCSF.

At the systemwide level, Professor Weiss created a Senate Membership Task Force, which recommended new policy protections for In Residence faculty across all campuses, and a Senate Health Sciences Committee that provided a mechanism for the Senate to advise the Council and UCOP on key issues facing the health sciences. She also chaired the Task Force on Senate Governance between 1996 and 1998, the Council on Research and the Task Force on Research Climate in 1995-96, and the Health Sciences Committee between 1987 and 1989. She participated in early planning decisions around the UC Merced campus, and is credited with regularizing the now standard practice of giving the Council chair a designated time during Regents meeting to report directly to the Board.

She chaired the Provost’s Task Force on Research Climate to address concerns about support for research. Changes were made, including making bridge funding available to ensure the continuance of research support for some faculty.

She remains active in the UCSF Senate, and currently serves on the Academic Planning and Budget Committee, and as a Senate representative to the Neuroscience Resource Allocation Committee for UCSF’s Clinical & Translational Science Institute, and as the School of Nursing faculty representative to the Health Sciences Compensation Plan Committee.

UC Provost Lawrence Pitts—another past UCSF Senate chair, systemwide Senate chair, and Oliver Johnson awardee—says, “Professor Weiss has served the Academic Senate with distinction as the UCSF Division Chair and as the Chair of the Academic Council. At the campus she worked extremely effectively to coordinate the efforts of the faculty across four dynamic health sciences schools. She has also been a productive scholar on the relationships between physical and mental health, with service in national nursing and psychological organizations and as a NIH Study Section member. Both her skills as an outstanding scholar and her service to the University through her longstanding Academic Senate work make her the embodiment of an Oliver Johnson awardee.”

Oliver Johnson (1923-2000) was a UC Riverside professor of philosophy who served as Academic Senate chair in 1981-82; and as chair of the Riverside Senate Division from 1963 to 1966, performing with great distinction in both posts. In 1996, Professor Johnson made a substantial gift to the systemwide Senate, the earnings from which are used to fund the award that bears his name. The Oliver Johnson Award is given every other year to honor a University of California Senate member or members who have demonstrated outstanding and creative contributions to shared governance at the divisional and systemwide level.