23 September 2011

Where's MY senior manager?

Back in 2009 Richard Evans pointed out that "soon every faculty member will have a personal senior manager," as the number of senior management FTE was fast approaching that of ladder rank faculty. Fast forward two years and, well, it happened: there are now 8,822 senior management FTE's at UC compared to 8,669 ladder-rank faculty FTE's. As Keep California's Promise puts it, "UC's administrators crossed the line:"

That's because thanks to budget cuts and hiring freezes, and according to UCOP's own data,  the faculty decreased by 2.3% since 2009, but the number of senior management FTE's increased by 4.2% in the same period (student enrollment also increased by 3.6% in the same period, and while the increased student-faculty ratio is problematic, the fact that more students are attending UC is, in itself, is a good thing).

21 September 2011

Negotiated Salary

For a long time, faculty in the Health Sciences have been receiving salary according to the aptly named  "Health Sciences Compensation Plan" (HSCP). HS faculty generate a sizable chunk of revenue for the University, and HSCP makes sure that they get some of it back in what the University calls a salary "augmentation." ("Augmentation" reminds one of a particular surgical procedure especially popular at, or around,  UCLA Medical Center. Go figure.)

There is nothing wrong with this, it is accepted and fair practice. HS faculty are collectively regarded as revenue generators and so they are all eligible for salary augmentation through HSPC. The University is now thinking of extending the concept to general campus faculty through a Negotiated Salary Program. In a memo detailing the proposal (link courtesy of UCLA Faculty Association), system-wide Vice Provost for Academic Personnel Susan Carlson outlines the motivation and some of the details of NSP.

NSP is intented to work pretty much like HSCP: faculty that generate external revenue would be able to negotiate some of that revenue back into a salary augmentation (typically paid, it would seem, as summer salary). Only funds that are not "state-appropriated" can be used for this purpose: "gifts and endowments, professional fees and fees in self-supporting programs, and [revenue from] contracts and grants" (the latter might run afoul of federal grant guidelines – we'll see).

Ostensibly the motivation for this is to address the notorious salary lag for CU faculty without resorting to "ad hoc state-funded off-scale salary increases in response to external offers" (fully two-thirds of all faculty now receive off-step salary) or to across-the-board increases in the salary scales. (The NSP program is not meant to supersede the University's recent commitment to a 3% salary increase or the 1.78% of payroll reserved for merits.) One aspect where NSP would differ from HSCP is that in the latter, as mentioned, all faculty are eligible, whereas in the former only small groups within a department, or perhaps only some departments within a school might be eligible, depending on the creation of "non-state-appropriated" revenue. As Carlson's memo points out,
A key factor driving the creation of the NSP is that on several UC campuses with Health Sciences schools, general campus faculty are considering appointments in the health sciences, often due to the flexibility of the salary benefits.
People can make up their own minds about UCOP's proposal. But one thing to keep in mind, though, is that there is an argument for carrying this to its logical conclusions: revenue is revenue, and funds that are state appropriated contribute equally to the functioning of the University. Among such funds, of course, is student tuition, which the University is bent on increasing in leaps and bounds. These are "private" funds – just ask the students out of whose pockets the money is extracted. One would then logically conclude that faculty that generate the most enrollment would also be allowed to retain some of the funds thus generated and pay themselves summer salary according to NSP guidelines. Money is money. Pecunia non olet. The English department faculty teaching writing to four hundred freshmen, doesn't she deserve her summer salary, too?

20 September 2011

No clue

It looks like nobody really has any clue as to how to go about addressing the University's financial problems. As widely reported, UCOP came up with a scheme whereby tuition would rise by 16% a year for the next four years (which compounds to 81%) unless the State steps in with yearly funding increases of 8% for the next four years. As anybody can imagine, this is not likely to engender warm and fuzzy feelings towards UC in those that are left as UC's only constituency and potential supporters, viz. the students and their families. Supposedly preoccupied by the fall-out, the Regents have swiftly acted with typical Regental drive and determination – and formed a commission with the task of exploring private donations as a source of external funding. The idea behind such a bold undertaking is that UC has traditionally contributed to the economic successes of California by supplying a steady stream of skilled and educated labor. California business ought to be willing to contribute to the University's bottom line in order to secure such a competitive advantage in the future as well. What this line of thought seems to have missed, though, is that there does not appear to be any reason why big business would be willing to pay in California for resources it can get for free in Mumbai – testifying yet again to the wisdom of Clark Kerr's vision characterizing a public supported education as "bait to be dangled in front of industry, with drawing power greater than low taxes or cheap labor." Perhaps even more disheartening is the fact that in all this the faculty and their official representation, the Senate, is mostly notable for their silence.  

14 September 2011

UC Disorientation Guide

Reclaim UC  carries a "disorientation Guide" for students entering UC this fall:

As you go from class to overcrowded class this fall, you’ll want to forget that tuition last year was around $1,800 less than you’re paying now. Continuing a 30-year trend, the UC Board of Regents gathered in cigar and gin-soaked boardrooms over the summer to raise our tuition by 17.6% and lay down plans for further increases in January, or maybe just raise tuition 81% over the next 4 years.


The UC Office of the President (UCOP) never tires of reminding us that tuition increases are the recession’s fault or scolding us that Californians are just unwilling to spend on education in hard times; this is a strange excuse though, since state funding has been decreasing while tuition has been skyrocketing since the early 1990s. [...] As it happens, in 9 of the past 10 years tuition was raised – well before the 2008 recession began; UCOP’s insistence on the necessity of this recent series of tuition increases has so many logical fallacies that if it were an assignment, it’d get an F (assuming, of course, that the overburdened TA grading it even had time to pay attention to it). Tuition hikes and budget cuts – at all levels of California higher education – are part of the decades-long process whereby the richest assholes in California (and the greater US) intend to make private what few institutions remain in public hands.

Even if you slept through math in high school, UC tuition increases aren’t difficult to calculate – just add a few zeros every few decades: since 1975 tuition has gone up 1,923% or, if you’d prefer to adjust for inflation, 392% (from $700 to over $12,000 per year)! Minimum wage in California, by contrast, when adjusted for inflation, has stayed roughly the same for the last 40 years, while the median family income has continued to fall since 1973. Most people in California make less money today, yet pay much more for education: for families struggling to pay rent, mortgages, car payments, etc., education becomes a luxury good. To make matters worse, financial aid packages meant to help low to middle income students attend the UC, heavily depend on students working part-time in an economy with a staggeringly high unemployment rate and very low entry- level wages; furthermore, it relies on students taking out thousands in loans that, most economic experts agree, will lock us into debt for the rest of our lives. Indeed, many economists believe that student loans will be the next credit bubble to burst, perhaps wreaking more destruction than the recession of 2008. Because there aren’t enough jobs for everyone who graduates, student loan default rates are nearing 10% – but, unlike other loans there’s no way out for student borrowers. Sallie Mae and Bank of America can take your paychecks and your children’s paychecks until they get back all their Benjamins, and then some.
Read the rest of it, here.

08 September 2011

Brown Kerr

That's Pat Brown and Clark Kerr, the architects of California's Master Plan now in tatters. The Economist has a piece on the "quasi-privatization" of California's public universities, quoting Kerr's point that universities are "bait to be dangled in front of industry, with drawing power greater than low taxes or cheap labour." According to The Economist, this privatization strategy (higher tuition and more out-of-state students)
retains pockets of excellence. But it also runs counter to the philosophy of the master plan, by pricing ever more Californian families out of a place. The state now ranks 41st in the number of college degrees awarded for every 100 of its high school graduates.
 Jerry's undoing Pat's work. Isn't there a Greek tragedy about that, or something?

03 September 2011

For the record

I am not that California Professor.

01 September 2011

Meanwhile, in South Dakota ...

Well, it looks like South Dakota's Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard might have a bit of a problem on his hands when it comes to faculty salaries at the state's four universities, which have been frozen for the past three years:
Higher education officials tired of watching talented faculty jump to private industry and out-of-state universities for better pay want Gov. Dennis Daugaard to end South Dakota's salary drought. After three years of frozen wages, the Board of Regents says its priority in Daugaard's next budget is at least a 4 percent salary bump for all state workers. [...] State officials and Board of Regents members say they understand the toll that the wage freeze is exacting and intend to address it as best they can in the next legislative session. Daugaard's spokesman, Tony Venhuizen, said the governor is just beginning to formulate next year's budget, "and deciding on a salary policy number is an important part of that process."
  Perhaps there is a lesson here for the great state of California, too?