Faculty around the system spent weeks discussing whether 6 or 10 or some other number of their up to 26 days of furlough might be applied to instruction, and Academic Council's August 5th statement on furlough implementation recommended that 6 furlough days be assigned to days of instruction and that up to 10 be allowed. Council's recommendation rests on longstanding faculty obligations to partition their workload among teaching, research and service according to their own professional judgment in formal consultation with their department, the Senate, and immediate administrators (faculty are responsible for "approval of course content and manner of instruction" APM-015). Council's recommendation was also in compliance with APM-005 (via President Robert Sproul in 1935), which states that the planning and committee supervision and reporting of an individual's workload does not violate academic freedom if the plan is "reasonable" and "the plan has come into being through the democratic means of discussion and mutual give and take, within the Faculty, rather than arbitrarily imposed from without."
But then UCOP declared that the number of instructional furlough days would be zero. They would all occur on research and service days, or could be used to make money outside the university via consulting.
I believe this is the first direct intervention by UCOP into faculty teaching decisions since World War II. Please send information to the contrary, if any exists. It rests on the President's new emergency powers (paragraph 2), granted less than six weeks before this use.
We get a fair amount of email, and haven't yet heard a good word about this decision. Many faculty had been opposed to canceling lectures - we try desperately to cram in material and hate to cut even five minutes of class, and we do fret about our alleged unpopularity with taxpayers - but these faculty were still in favor of faculty choice. Other faculty members describe the decision as a challenge to shared governance, as an assault on the mission of public universities, as "authoritarian" and "Stalinist." Note the general tone of the comments on each of these posts. The decision adds the insult of an order about teaching to the injury of pay cuts and budget cuts, and it shows.
The problems go on. The decision is more draconian than that at CSU, explicitly rejects an Academic Senate position about teaching (the heart of faculty authority), and puts PR concerns ahead of faculty's stated preferences and of their professional autonomy. It increases the gap between UCOP and the campuses by building on its summer precedent of overriding formal faculty bodies, unions, and the majority views of those who speak out (the UCI petition for delay and better thinking that attracted 2800 signatures in 5 days, UC Berkeley Professor George Lakoff's letter which received 1000 signatures in the same period, the 2:1 preference for a rethink expressed in a poll on this modest blog). It replaces calls for "university-wide open dialogue" with old-school top-down control. It increases the gap between Berkeley and the other campuses (to its credit, Berkeley used a preexisting calendar reform as a partial furlough workaround -- 6 days converted to teaching duty without lectures -- and backfilled lower-end professorial pay with the help of Senate research funds). It hardens the status gap between the science faculty, who mostly can top-up via extramural grants, and the non-science faculty, who mostly cannot, for it invites the former to engage in outside consulting, and the latter to spend more unpaid time with their students, which it implies that state-paid faculty would, absent a UCOP prohibition, be happy to harm.
None of this fits with the fundamental principles of a university, based on free exchange, collaborative co-governance, dialogical testing of all ideas, full evidence for major claims, and mutual accommodation. So why does UCOP act this way?
Much of the answer is that it is now a business center with little contact with academic activities. For years now, many of UCOP's administrative functions have been duplicated and surpassed on the campuses - technology transfer, capital projects planning, collaborative research support. Even the Education Abroad Program, with its complex systemwide and international infrastructure, had lost much of its enrollment to departmental and campus alternatives. In the absence of a meaningful daily role in the system - and deep knowledge of the campuses - UCOP seems to have become closer to outside political constituencies, particularly the Regents, associated donor circles, and the Governor than it is to the campuses. In the process, it lost the political clout to exert a unifying and balancing influence within the system, and seems also to have lost its intellectual and ethical vision of what ex-President Bob Dynes called "One University." That vision had been egalitarian, oriented towards top-quality education for all, and also towards the highest evolution of each of UC's campuses. But for years campuses have mostly approached UCOP to cut the best deal for themselves, and to placate them in ares like bond funding, state general fund distribution, indirect cost recovery, and legislative relations where UCOP has final say.
UCOP has been sliding for some time towards replacing service with authority (see the UCPB restructuring memo for a detailed discussion). It has also focused on top-level state political and business affairs, with particular loving devotion to the Governor's office. Some of us have long criticized this imbalance. I got more proof of it during a trip to Sacramento with a faculty group in early 2008: several leg staffers complained that UCOP cuts deals with the Governor behind the legislature's back, asks for less than the leg would give it, and was unable to resolve the compensation scandals that had lingered for several years.
We have a new president in UCOP, and yet the biggest surprise is how little has changed. President Yudof's most visible public statements are a defense of executive compensation, his least temperate comment was reserved for a legislator concerned with accountability, and he has been entirely silent on a deeply unpopular Governor Schwarzenegger's inflicting of the largest cuts on California higher education in its modern history.
President Yudof has better graphics and more tweets than this predecessor - 100% more tweets - but the strategy of deference to a destructive executive remains largely the same. So does the disproportionate attention to senior management needs that alienates the legislative majority and increases the chances for public funding cuts.
This is where we get back to the furlough question. The point of the faculty taking some of the furlough on instructional days was not to shortchange our students: we know them, care about them and teach them. The point, as many on this blog, Option 4's page, and elsewhere have observed, was to "make the cuts visible." Instructional furloughs were to be a useful teaching tool. And yet they also implicitly posed a challenge to UCOP, in three ways.
They said, implicitly, "your years of silence on the damage the cuts do has failed."UCOP's reply to the people most affected by the state funding cuts that UCOP silence had helped produce - campus classroom teachers and related staff - is now this:
They said, "we are now going to address the public ourselves, through our own workplace."
They said, "the 'new normal' for state funding your mistakes helped create is not acceptable to us."
you'll take these cuts in silence too.
UC to UCOP: we can't afford your strategies anymore. We need to try our own.