The Senate Source

May 2015

Davis' Chalfant Elected 2015-16 Senate Vice Chair

UC Davis Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics James Chalfant has been elected 2015-16 Academic Senate vice chair. He will succeed Professor Dan Hare as systemwide Senate chair in 2016-17.

Professor Chalfant has been one of the Senate’s leading voices on faculty welfare and budgetary issues over the last decade. He currently chairs the University Committee on Faculty Welfare’s (UCFW) Task Force on Investment and Retirement. He has six years of experience on UCFW, including a year as chair, and four years on the University Committee on Planning and Budget, including two years as chair. Chalfant was a member of the finance work group of the 2009-2010 President’s Task Force on Post-Employment Benefits, which recommended major changes to the design of UC’s pension and retiree health benefits that were ultimately adopted by the Regents. He also served on the President’s 2011 Task Force on Rebenching, the joint Administration-Senate body that proposed a new method for allocating state funds to the campuses.

In addition to his systemwide service, Chalfant has served as department chair and as a member and chair of three divisional Senate committees: Planning and Budget, Faculty Welfare, and Committees. He is currently a member of the UC Davis Provost’s Task Force on the 2020 Initiative and Budget Transparency and a divisional representative to the Academic Assembly. 

Chalfant views broadening the role of the faculty in shared governance and in defending UC’s excellence, in every aspect of the University’s mission, as his “prime directive.”

“The Senate’s priorities are the same as they have always been—to preserve and improve the quality of the UC system,” he said. “We are not alone in believing that mediocre is not good enough for a public university system, but the faculty play a critical and unique role in explaining what quality means, and relating the many ways that budget cuts and compromises erode that quality. Especially at a time when so many students coming to us are the first in their families to attend college, we have to find ways to meet the challenge of educating the eligible students who want to come to UC, while preserving our broader research and service roles.” 

He says his experiences in the Senate have been uniformly positive and some of the most important highlights of his career.

“The people I’ve interacted with have been unselfish with their time and energy, and so committed to making the University a better place for students and for the entire UC community, not just the faculty. It’s incredibly gratifying to work with others who have what’s best for the University as their priority, and the opportunity to serve a leadership role in the Senate is both humbling and exciting. There is a lot of career advice I would give to a younger version of myself, if I could, and ‘do more and start sooner with the Senate’ would be very high on the list.”