21 June 2009

LA Times weighing in

An Op-Ed piece in today's LA Times discusses the bone-headed proposal of State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) to wrestle control of the University of California away from the Board of Regents and bring it under direct control of the Legislature. A bad idea if I have seen one. Never mind that this would require a constitutional amendment (art. 9, sec. 9 of the Constitution gives the BoR administrative control of the University), it's not like the Legislature has proved very well disposed towards higher-ed in the state.

In related matters, the UC Faculty Association has sent a letter to the BoR protesting their sparse meeting schedule during these difficult times for the University. Of course, both the Regents, the Office of the President, and the Chair of the System-wide Senate have rejected any such accusations.

The borader picture is that the State has given up its support for the University, and not beginning with the current crisis, either. The per-student amount the State has been giving the University has consistently declined over the last few decades, turning what used to be the fines public university in the world into a mere semblance of its older self.

It seems to me that either the State lives up to its commitment to the University as one of the original land-grant institution, charged with providing affordable education to the people of California (as reiterated in the Master Plan), or it should let the University loose, free to set its fees to the level appropriate for carrying out its mission.

Notice that, in the present further shortfall over the Governor's proposed January Budget, it would not even take that much. The proposed salary cuts would yield savings of only $200M, about 1% of the University $20B overall Budget. It is remarkable that such small savings should come at such a high price for California faculty and staff.

20 June 2009

Salary reduction and the "brain drain"

According to this FAQ posted on the UC Human Resources website, senior management at UCOP as well as at the campuses will take an additional 3% cut on top of the already announced 5% cut, to bring them to "at least" an 8% cut.

Another item of note is this article in the Chronicle. The discussion in the comments section highlights the possibility of a "brain drain" in California, especially if the cuts were to be extended beyond next year. Notice that already salaries at UC lag behind those at peer institutions, a fact recognized by the Regents in 2005.

19 June 2009

Salary reduction is coming to UC

President Mark Yudof, using emergency powers recently granted him by the Regents, has declared a "financial emergency" at UC, which will require a reduction in payroll expenses around 8%, or 4% for those earning below 46K (here is the announcement). Eight percent is huge, coming on top of the announced resumption of retirement contributions on April 15, 2010.

Not too long ago, Yudof had announced a 5% salary reduction for senior management at UCOP, from Provosts and Chancellors on the campuses all the way up to the UC President himself. Yesterday announcement does not specify whether senior management will only take the "old" 5% cut, will take an additional 3% to bring them up to 8% like everrybody else, or wikk take the 8% on top of the 5%.

It would be interesting to know.

18 June 2009

The California Professor

These are tough times for public higher education in California, and at UC in particular. The faculty do have a voice in the administration of the University, through the Academic Senate and its divisional assemblies, but participation in the Senate proceedings is limited both in the number of faculty involved and the institutional way in which deliberations are achieved and communicated through the UC community. It's time for a more informal venue for faculty to make their voice heard, to elaborate their views, to cut through the fog clouding the budget process or any other issue of interest to the faculty. I will try to post information and analysis on such issues, but please do send me any items of interest. Or, if you would like to collaborate with blog, please do let me know that as well.