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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Most of this text was read at the UC Regents Public Comment session this morning in San Francisco.  Following public comment, the regents rejected the original text of the "Principles Against Intolerance" to which this statement refers. The new preamble text reads, "Anti-Semitism, Anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California" (the underlined phrase is the modification). The new language was suggested by the Academic Senate Universitywide Committee on Academic Freedom (UCAF); its recommendation to modify "other forms of discrimination" to "other forms of unlawful discrimination" seems not to have been taken up.

Statement by Judith Butler, Maxine Elliott Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley

We would like to congratulate the Regents for trying to develop principles that can guide us as we identify and oppose intolerance and bigotry on the UC campuses.  Any document that seeks to elucidate those principles, however, should be as comprehensive as possible, identifying and opposing all forms of discrimination.  This document goes part of the way in doing that, but by foregrounding anti-Semitism, it backgrounds other forms of discrimination, including those suffered by racial minorities and Arab and Muslim students who too often encounter prejudice on campuses.  We oppose anti-Semitism of all kinds, just as we oppose all forms of racism and discrimination.   The problem at the center of this document is that anti-Zionism is conflated with anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionism names a political viewpoint that individuals have a right to express under the First Amendment and to debate according to the principles of academic freedom; indeed, the topic is at the center of many public debates on and off campus.  Anti-Semitism, on the other hand, is a despicable form of discrimination, and it has no place on college campuses, and must be clearly opposed as we would oppose any and all forms of racism and discrimination.  The university is a place where contested views can be articulated and understood, and where we stand a chance of gaining an informed understanding of conflicts at the center of public debate.  If the Regents accept the language of the preamble that names anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, they agree to the censorship of particular viewpoints, and that is viewpoint discrimination; further, they undermine the role of the university as a place where free and open inquiry can take place on matters of common public concern, even when those matters are contentious.

If accepted, the language of the preamble becomes the official position of the University of California, and provides a rationale for anyone to decide that a particular criticism of the Israeli state or its policies constitutes anti-Semitism.  If this language is accepted, what would be the implications for instructors who wish to include the work of Edward Said, the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, or the early reflections of Martin Buber or Hans Cohen, all of whom might be deemed anti-Zionist in contemporary terms?  Would students who seek rights for Palestine be banned from organizing on campus?  Would scholarship deemed critical of Zionism be dismissed as discriminatory writing, undermining chances of tenure and promotion and destroying hallowed principles of academic freedom?

 [Let us remember that Zionism and anti-Zionism have been part of Jewish life for more than a century, that debates about Zionism have broken up many a Jewish dinner table and constituted a matter of ongoing dispute within the Jewish community. Jewish internationalists, communists, and those who favor binational or federated forms of government for Israel and Palestine, and many orthodox Jews have openly opposed some version of Zionism – do we no longer count that as part of Jewish history?  Even the respected Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, sponsors debates for and against Zionism. What grounds, then, do we have for censoring such debates on the UC campus?  Our mission at the university is to consider all points of view and make informed decisions and grounded judgments on the basis of what we hear and read. We do not censor viewpoints from the start. That leaves us ignorant and ill-equipped to interpret our complex world.   Rather than produce an instrument for censorship and limit the activities of students, staff, and faculty, ban meetings and debates, and demean scholarship that represents a range of views about Palestine and Israel, we should instead be safeguarding this most important task of the university as one of the few places where conflictual issues such as these can be articulated, debated, and understood over time.  Let us not betray this most important public task of the university.]

We respectfully submit that the Regents accept our proposal to amend the document before you, deleting those sentences referring to anti-Zionism and replacing the first reference with the following formulation: "Anti-Semitism, all forms of racism, and other forms of unlawful discrimination have no place at the University of California."  These strong and inclusive principles would claim wide consensus and would give us balanced and fair guidance rather than sacrificing basic rights of political expression and academic freedom.

  Additional remark:

  If we think that we solve the problem by distinguishing forms of anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, then we are left with the question of who identifies such a position, and what are their operative definitions?  These terms are vague and overbroad and run the risk of suppressing speech and violating principles of academic freedom. We have principles that oppose anti-Semitism on the same grounds as we would oppose all forms of discrimination. There already exists University policy and state and federal law, developed over many years that provide an effective framework for resolving these issues. If we start to associate anti-Semitism with specific political positions, then perhaps we should include forms of anti-Semitism that are associated with, say, the Republican Party, Christian evangelicals, right wing Catholicism, various forms of nationalism and fundamentalism, versions of anti-capitalism as well as versions of anti-communism.  The list would be long, so why stay focused on anti-Zionism, a position that now includes a number of Jews, such as those represented by Jewish Voice for Peace, who seek to affirm principles of justice and equality over and against a state structure engaged in discrimination and dispossession. Indeed, it is probably important to note that some groups that favor Zionism, including some forms of Christian Zionism, seek to separate Jews from Christians as a way of purifying the population – a clearly anti-Semitic action.  So it is not only arbitrary to associate anti-Semitism with a political position called anti-Zionism, it misrepresents the meanings of anti-Zionism as a political set of views. And it ignores the various places where anti-Semitism actually exists.   The abuse of the allegation of anti-Semitism deprives it of its power and meaning. It ought not to be exploited for political purposes.

  Finally, let us remember that in August 2013, the Department of Education's (DOE) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) closed three investigations against three University of California schools, at BerkeleySanta Cruz, and Irvine, which falsely alleged that Palestinian rights activism created an anti-Semitic climate. The complaints underlying the investigation claimed that student protests and academic programing in support of Palestinian rights and critical of Israel "created a hostile environment for Jewish students."  There was no evidence to support this claim, and the Department of Education rightly dismissed the charges.  As with the current proposal, there is no sound empirical evidence to support the claim that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
This Wednesday the Regents Committee on Educational Policy will be taking up the Final Report of the Regents Working Group on Principles Against Intolerance which includes both a contextual statement and a proposal of new principles against intolerance.  You may recall that the Regents considered an earlier version of these principles at their September meeting.  That version--which was vague in its subject and contradictory on academic freedom--was rejected by the Regents. Unfortunately, at least part of that rejection was due to the claim of some--including Regent Blum--that the principles were not strong enough because they didn't specifically address questions of antisemitism.

Having reconsidered the issue, the Regents' committee have now made things worse. Should the Regents as a whole approve the proposed report and principles, they threaten to undermine both academic freedom and freedom of speech in the University.

The problem, as noted by numerous commentators (see here, here, here, here), including the Systemwide Academic Senate (here) and the Council of UC Faculty Associations (here), is that the Report and Principles are unnecessary if the target really is antisemitism (there are numerous rules and codes that establish its unacceptability, see here and here for only two of many) . But  if the target is anti-Zionism then the Regents are moving into prohibiting speech that is protected under the First Amendment and that is a legitimate topic of academic and public discourse.  Reading both the Report and the Principles, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that it is the issue of anti-Zionism that is the key.

The problem is made clear in the second paragraph of the Report, which states: "Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California." (2)  But anti-Zionism, whatever your perspective on it, is a political position and as a result is protected political and academic speech.  The Report attempts to avoid this problem by reporting that "members of the UC community have come forward with concerns that anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes of Jewish people appear coded as political discourse about Israel and its policies." (5)  Now personally, I have no doubt that some anti-Zionism around the world is rooted in antisemitism.  But there is a huge leap from that possibility to the claim that therefore all anti-Zionism is either antisemitism or needs to be treated as such.  But it is precisely that leap that the Report makes.

Moreover, the report itself is riddled with contradictions.   The Report acknowledges that there are that there are numerous current examples besides antisemitism of what the Working Group considers examples of intolerance and discrimination.  It also insists the that "These Principles transcend specific examples of intolerance and, following directly from the University’s mission, provide a consistent basis for responding to intolerant speech and acts." (7) But they proceed to dignify only one (antisemitism) with acknowledgment in the Principles.  They declare that "Freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry are paramount in a public research university and form the bedrock on which our mission of discovery is founded." (8) But they then call on University officials to uphold the Principles Against Intolerance (with the background assumption equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism) "to the full extent permissible under law" (10) which I suppose means as far as the courts will allow them.  But how can you both preserve freedom of expression and academic freedom (which would acknowledge the right to debate the legitimacy of any state) with the assumption that anti-Zionism is antisemitism (which I think we all can agree should be opposed)?

As Eugene Volokh (no opponent of Israel) put it in his own discussion:

Whether the Jewish people should have an independent state in Israel is a perfectly legitimate question to discuss — just as it’s perfectly legitimate to discuss whether Basques, Kurds, Taiwanese, Tibetans, Northern Cypriots, Flemish Belgians, Walloon Belgians, Faroese, Northern Italians, Kosovars, Abkhazians, South Ossetians, Transnistrians, Chechens, Catalonians, Eastern Ukranians and so on should have a right to have independent states.

Sometimes the answer might be “yes.” Sometimes it might be “no.” Sometimes the answer might be “it depends.” But there’s no uncontroversial principle on which these questions can be decided. They have to be constantly up for inquiry and debate, especially in places that are set up for inquiry and debate: universities. Whether Israel is entitled to exist as an independent Jewish state is just as fitting a subject for discussion as whether Kosovo or Northern Cyprus or Kurdistan or Tawain or Tibet or a Basque nation should exist as an independent state for those ethnic groups.

Paradoxically, what the proponents of this particular measure seem to be doing is what they are accusing critics of Israel of doing: establishing one standard for discussions of Israel and one for discussions of the rest of the world.

What makes this initiative even more unfortunate is its larger world context.  The Regents recognize that the University of California operates in a wider world and many of the campuses have been making efforts to engage more directly with international issues and challenges.  Clearly the struggles in the Middle East are one of those challenges, and it is right for the University community to engage on debate on the politics and economics of the region.  But there is another possible context the Regents might consider:  we exist in a moment when states like India and Turkey are threatening and imprisoning academics who the governments believe are critical of the self-image of the nation.  Of course, the UC Regents are not threatening to jail anyone.  But at a point when states around the world are threatening academic freedom in the name of either state policy or religious or national pride, why do the Regents want to line up on the side of the restrictions?

Antisemitic actions (painting a swastika, voting against someone because they are Jewish, etc), like all other forms of religious, ethnic, and racial discrimination, are abhorrent and in violation of a wide range of laws and university rules. Where incidents occur these laws and rules should be upheld in duly constituted proceedings.  University officials are well within their rights to oppose them.  But to redefine academic and political debate over state legitimacy as an act of discrimination is to undermine both the first amendment and academic freedom. It muddles the issue of antisemitism as well.

The Regents need to affirm the distinction between political debate and discrimination by rejecting the proposed Final Report of the Regents Working Group on Principles Against Intolerance.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016
President Napolitano's formal proposal for a new pension tier has been posted in the Agenda for next week's Regents' Meeting.  I do not have time today to offer a detailed reading of it (although Chris and I hope to have something up soon). But on first glance it does differ in some significant ways from the majority positions of the Retirement Options Task Force that President Napolitano had appointed last fall. The pension options for faculty (especially faculty who are hired at a salary below the PEPRA cap) appear to be better than the ROTF proposed while the pension options for staff are worse than the ROTF proposed.  One thing that hasn't changed is that retirement benefits for the proposed 2016 Tier will be worse than for the 2013 Tier, let alone the 1976 Tier that includes all pre-2013 employees.

If I can't offer a full reading of the proposal it is possible to respond to another issue raised by the President's announcement: the significance of the announcement and the process it concluded for the state of shared governance at UC.   And on this score the implications are clear and unacceptable. The entire pension reduction process has been marked by a fundamental disregard for the institutions of shared governance.  It builds upon and is a culmination of series of actions begun under the previous administration that has eroded both the principles and practices of shared governance.  The result is not only a narrowing of perspective on decision making but the managerial disconnect that I discussed recently.


As you know the pension plan emerged from the so-called committee of two process consisting of President Napolitano, Governor Brown, and selected members of their staff.  The Senate's Committee on Planning and Budget was effectively excluded from the committee until it was completed.  Having agreed to pension changes without consultation and without a clear sense of what the effects might be, President Napolitano established the Retirement Options Task Force last summer, to be chaired by her Executive Vice President Rachael Nava. The Task Force fulfilled its charge under a vow of silence and then sent their report in the middle of December.  At that point, President delayed release of the report for a month which insured that the Senate had only 30 days to analyze the proposal and provide comments from around the system.

Put bluntly, the process was set up in a way that there will be no meaningful shared reflection on President Napolitano's decision with the Governor to reduce pension benefits (and therefore compensation) for future employees of UC.  As I have pointed out in an earlier post, the President's office has agreed to sacrifice the compensation possibilities of all future employees in exchange for a small portion of UCRP's present unfunded liability.  UCOP chose to do this without genuine consultation with the Senate or the Unions (who at least have the right to negotiate this process), despite the fact that a wide-ranging discussion of this issue had taken place only a few years earlier, and without even gaining a commitment from the State to assume responsibility for pension costs moving forward.  Indeed, as Chris has noted, this agreement to lower the long-term compensation structures for faculty and staff was part of a budget deal that gained little in terms of the ongoing fiscal needs of the University.

Despite the acute time constraints, a variety of Senate committees put together reports, pointing out a wide range of problems with the proposal and revealing that the imposition of the pension agreement would not only clearly reduce employee pensions but also potentially raise costs on campuses. This is because campuses would need to offer higher salaries and other compensation to make up for the loss of the benefits of UC's traditional retirement system. Among other unanticipated unwelcome outcomes was the further fragmentation of the faculty and staff and the increase of burdens onto campuses.

Although the President's final proposal does address some of the many, many problems raised by various constituencies, her announcement reinforces the extent to which UCOP now marginalizes the practices of shared governance at the University.  Her statement does not acknowledge the strong objections, of the Assembly of the Systemwide Academic Senate, minimizes the very serious and extensive analyses offered by the Academic Senate as an unnamed part of the "input I received from faculty and staff," and places her personal interpretation of individual comments above institutional governance.  Unfortunately, this attitude is not a one-off.  It builds on the exclusion of the Senate from the Budget discussions, the management overreach of the Medical Center centralization, and the President's rewriting of the UC policies on investment in the work of the University's scientists.  It extends the Yudof administration's disregard for Senate objections to the Salary Supplement Plan, not to mention the debacle of the University's Commission on the Future in which the sidelining of the Senate led to UCOP's overestimation of the benefits of online education and of other technological fixes, like UC Path, for alleged inefficiencies.


There are certainly arguments that can be made--in the pension arena as elsewhere--about appropriate changes in University organization.  But these discussions should take place in a meaningful and open way before decisions have been set in stone.  Even in the final proposal, UCOP doesn't seem committed to this sort of discussion.  In discussing those who suggested that the deal she struck with the governor was a poor one for the University, the executive summary asserted:

Some members of the University community argued that the PEPRA cap should be rejected altogether. This argument fails for compelling reasons. The PEPRA cap is only one part of a comprehensive agreement with the Governor that provides nearly $1 billion in new funding to the University, among other benefits. The Regents have already endorsed this agreement. To reject the PEPRA cap and undo the agreement would require the University to raise resident tuition by 28 percent over the next three years or somehow find other sources of equivalent funding. In today’s political and economic environment, such a result is highly unlikely and undesirable.

Let's unpack this statement.  Of this billion, $436M comes from the short-term contribution to pay down the UCRP unfunded liability (itself generated because of long-term poor management by the Regents).  Another $500M is the result of the Governor's four-year commitment to funding increases (about $125M a year) and a one-time $25M payment by the legislature in exchange for admitting 5000 additional resident students.  Even the $125M barely exceeds inflation--it does not restore the cuts from earlier years and had already been proposed by Governor Brown.  But critics, myself included, have pointed out that the $436M contribution is a one-time commitment in exchange for a permanent reduction and could have been handled more effectively through an extension of the STIP borrowing plan.  The additional claims about the $500M are somewhat misleading since the first two years of support had already been agreed to--what this agreement does is add two more years (so $250M).  And the $25M will cover half of the marginal costs on campuses for the introduction of the new students. If the President follows through on her plans to add another 5000 students that will simply increase UC's underfunding.

I make this point because it is important for the future to understand the limitations of this deal and what it means for the budgeting process--secretive throughout--that produced it.  The President insists that it is a good deal.  But even the Legislative Analyst (not a friend of the University) thinks that as a matter of state policy the state would be wise to pay down far more than this $436M.  If we are facing a permanent change in the pension shouldn't the University have insisted on a permanent commitment from the state to fulfill its responsibilities?  And are we to assume that if the president had not agreed to this agreement in the first place that the governor and the legislature would simply withdraw the existing funding agreement for the out years?  Of course we will never know.  But if we had an effective process of shared governance and considered reflection by the Senate we might not be facing these questions at all.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016
Following Chancellor White's February 29th visit to CSU East Bay, Hank Reichman, Emeritus Professor at CSUEB and First Vice President of the AAUP wrote an open letter to the Chancellor.  It appeared at the AAUP's ACADEME blog.  We are reposting it with Hank's permission--Michael Meranze

Chancellor White, it takes a lot of nerve for someone making over $430,000 a year, with a free mansion and a car allowance, to tell an audience of students and faculty, who earn perhaps a fifth or even a tenth of your income and who must pay to live in the most expensive housing market in America, that “we” need to live within our means. I’m quite certain, sir, that everyone in this audience would find it pretty simple to live within your means, but my question to you is, could you survive within the means the institution that you lead provides to us? I suspect not.

Of course, you are correct when you blame this situation largely on Sacramento’s quarter-century or more of disinvesting in higher education. Yes, our political leaders have failed the CSU (and the UC) miserably. But my question is, what are you doing about it?  I’m now retired, but I taught at CSUEB for over 25 years, won both the Outstanding Professor and Sue Schaefer Service Awards, served three separate terms as chair of the Academic Senate, 15 years on the Senate Executive Committee, 9 years on the system Academic Senate, and 9 years as a department chair, and never once did I witness a single trustee, Chancellor, or other top administrator forcefully demand from the state the level of funding actually required to fulfill the CSU’s responsibilities under the Master Plan. Instead, I’ve seen an ugly parade of woefully inadequate budget requests occasionally masquerading as bold initiatives, several failed “compacts” with multiple governors, and now today, from you, word of some sort of four-year starvation plan of which you seem inexplicably proud. No, rather than fighting for us, the alleged “leaders” of the CSU have regularly bombarded faculty, staff, and students with resigned exhortations to accept public disinvestment as a “new normal” and repulsively cynical calls from the wealthy to “live within our means,” even as you dishonestly claim to preserve “quality.”

Until you and the trustees actually begin to demand and fight for the funding necessary to run a proper university system of this size, don’t come to us with crocodile tears about the skinflints in the state capital.

And, given the low level of state funding you’ve managed to obtain, can we address how you’re spending that money? My question is, given that funding has decreased, how do you explain the continued growth in the numbers and salaries of top system managers? Since 2005, CSU expenditure on managers and supervisors rose by 48%, but expenditures on faculty by only 25%. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that when a CSU campus president or other top administrator departs from the university the replacement hire is just about always offered a salary no less than that earned by the person being replaced, and sometimes they are rewarded with near-instant raises far beyond any available to less privileged employees. [CSU East Bay] President Morishita, for instance, received a 10% raise just six months after he was hired, without a competitive search, I might add. In all my years here I never received a raise of such magnitude.

By contrast, when a faculty member departs, a full-time replacement is only hired when at least one or two others in the same department have left as well. And then, do you really think the new hire is offered a salary equivalent to or above that of the person being replaced? Of course not. New hires start at the bottom and work their way up. Only administrators get to start at the top and keep rising.

In short, Chancellor White, I it seems you just don’t get it. The CSU can readily afford the inordinately modest 5% salary increase your faculty seeks, even without dipping into your $2 billion in reserves that you conveniently failed to mention. As a retired professor I have no skin in this game, but I can promise you that I will still be there on the picket lines in April with my former colleagues and so will the national organization that I help lead, the American Association of University Professors. My final question to you is, where will you be?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday, March 11, 2016
President's Proposal

March 11, 2016


Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to outline the proposal for the new retirement program I am bringing to The Regents later this month that includes new retirement benefits for future UC employees.

As a reminder, the new retirement benefits will apply only to UC employees hired on or after July 1, 2016. Current employees and retirees are unaffected by these changes as accrued pension benefits are protected by law and cannot be reduced or revoked.

Before getting into the specifics of my proposal, I want to share with you my thinking behind it.

The University of California is a very special institution. There are other fine universities, but there is no other university on the planet that contributes as much to the public, in as many ways as UC does. Arguably, no other single institution does as much for so many.

And at the heart of everything we do, and the excellence UC is renowned for, are our talented faculty and staff. Our people are what make UC great.

Maintaining excellence on such a massive scale is no small task. And it does not come cheaply.

Everything we do — from teaching students, to treating patients and training the next generation of doctors, to redefining the boundaries of what we know, to creating technologies that give rise to new industries, to helping to ensure the vitality of California’s agricultural resources, and everything in between, requires significant financial resources.

When I accepted the opportunity to lead UC two and a half years ago, it was clear to me that one of the most important goals of my presidency would be to maintain UC’s excellence while ensuring a solid financial foundation for UC’s future.

This core principle of protecting both UC’s excellence and its long-term financial health was the basis for last year’s multi-year funding agreement with the State, and is the primary driver of my retirement proposal.

The budget agreement with the Governor and the Legislature last year marked a significant milestone in support of this goal by creating an era of increased State funding and financial stability for the University. Importantly, the agreement reflects the State government’s recognition of the need to invest in UC.

Under this agreement, UC is receiving nearly $1 billion in new annual revenue and one-time funding over the next several years, which will help ensure the University’s long-term financial stability and provides critical funding for many UC priorities.

Among other things, this funding allows us to budget for regular pay increases for faculty and staff over the next several years, and make merit-based pay a more regular component of our systemwide salary programs.

The $1 billion includes $436 million in one-time funds to help pay down our unfunded pension liability, which is key to ensuring the long-term fiscal solvency of the UC pension plan.

To help secure the financial stability of UC and as part of the agreement, I am proposing to The Regents that they approve implementation of a new set of retirement benefits for future UC employees hired on or after July 1, 2016, that limits the pensionable salary for future UC employees, mirroring the cap on pensionable pay for state employees under the 2013 California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act (the “PEPRA cap”).

Following completion of the budget agreement, which was approved by The Regents, I convened a systemwide task force to suggest options for the new retirement benefits for future employees, consistent with the PEPRA cap.

Task force members included faculty, staff, and representatives from the Academic Senate, the Staff Advisors to The Regents, the Council of UC Staff Assemblies, UC labor unions, and UC administrators.

The task force submitted its recommendations to me in December, and during January and February,

I invited members of the entire UC community to share with me their thoughts about those recommendations.

I want to thank the task force members for their good and thoughtful work, and also the hundreds of faculty and staff who shared their comments, concerns, and ideas with me.

Many of you expressed concern that a new set of retirement benefits could harm the University’s ability to attract and retain top-tier faculty. Improving overall employee compensation and the stability of the UC pension plan were also common concerns. Another concern many of you raised was the need for more retirement education and services to help employees prepare successfully for retirement.

For those of you who shared your views with me, I want you to know I paid close attention. My proposal addresses not only these concerns, but other priorities as well.

Building upon the work of task force, and after much discussion with numerous stakeholders and careful consideration of the input I received from faculty and staff, I will be bringing a package proposal to The Regents that will allow us to:

  • Ensure UC’s long-term financial stability, including keeping the UC pension plan strong and continuing to pay down our unfunded pension liability;
  • Within the fiscal constraints we face, maintain the caliber of UC personnel and the University’s excellence by offering attractive overall compensation, including retirement benefits, for new faculty and staff;
  • Focus on overall employee compensation by (1) allowing UC to budget for regular pay increases for faculty and staff, and (2) making merit-based pay a regular component of systemwide salary programs to reward employees based on their contributions to the University;
  • Preserve UC’s quality, which requires recruiting and retaining quality personnel, especially faculty, by devoting resources to help campuses attract and retain faculty and key staff, and improve the student experience; and
  • Offer enhanced retirement education and counseling services to all UC employees, as part of the University’s commitment to help employees be “retirement ready.”

Regarding the new retirement program specifically, I am proposing that future employees hired on or after July 1, 2016, be offered a choice between two options:

Option 1 – Pension + 401(k)-style supplemental benefit: The current UC pension benefit capped at the PEPRA salary limit (currently $117,020) plus a supplemental 401(k)-style benefit for eligible employee pay up to the Internal Revenue Service limit (currently $265,000).

Option 2 – New 401(k)-style benefit: A new stand-alone 401(k)-style plan with benefits-eligible employee pay up to the Internal Revenue Service limit (currently $265,000).

Since we compete in a global market for faculty, often against elite private institutions that can typically pay more than UC, maintaining a pension benefit along with a 401(k)-style supplement is important to attracting and retaining the caliber of personnel we need to maintain UC’s excellence.

At the same time, our workforce is highly diverse and people have different retirement needs and goals. A new stand-alone 401(k)-style retirement benefit allows us to offer an attractive retirement benefit to employees who work at UC for only a few years and value a portable retirement benefit they can take with them, and/or who prefer to personally manage their retirement savings.

You can find a chart that further summarizes the features of the two options online herePDF.

In short, I believe this proposal supports the University’s ongoing excellence and will significantly bolster the long-term financial stability of UC and its retirement program, while providing critical funding for other University priorities.

I again want to thank the task force members, and the many faculty and staff who shared their views with me. The input I received from the task force and the University community was invaluable in formulating this proposal.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano

The statement can be found posted at: http://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/compensation-and-benefits/2016-retirement-benefits/presidents-proposal.html

UPDATE: More detail can be found at: http://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/compensation-and-benefits/2016-retirement-benefits/faq.html

Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016
The scandal engulfing UC Davis Chancellor Katehi is only the latest sign of the disconnection between our managerial elite and the rest of the University. While students face increased tuition and debt, faculty and staff face a reduction in benefits, and the entire Berkeley campus faces the possibility of a reduction in academic range and quality, some managers operate in a bubble of their own, hobnobbing in Davos and being paid to sit on corporate boards.

The story surrounding Chancellor Katehi is fairly simple. It turns out that she accepted a position on the Board of the Devry Educational Group, a for-profit college under investigation by two federal agencies. Before that she had also served on the Board of John Wiley and Sons, a publisher of textbooks and academic journals from whom she received $420,000 in stocks and cash. Each of these positions posed potential conflicts of interest: advising companies doing business with UC, her primary employer; supporting a for-profit (and arguably sub-prime) competitor to UC; and assuming responsibility for a textbook company (and implicitly its profits) at a time when the University as a whole has been seeking to ensure lower textbook costs for students. To make matters worse, it appears that Chancellor Katehi accepted the position at Devry without getting the required approval from UCOP. She has now resigned from the DeVry Board.

The case of Chancellor Katehi is remarkable, of course, because her choices have raised obvious questions about conflict of interest. It is hard to imagine that neither she nor her staff could see that joining these Boards (especially DeVry) was unacceptable. If nothing else, one would think that they would recognize that even the appearance of these conflicts would damage the ability of UC to justify increased state funding. It certainly does not generate confidence in her effectively navigating the challenges facing higher education in general and UC in particular. Indeed the situation boggles the mind.

But it would be a mistake to focus too much on her singular case. She is not alone among Chancellors in serving on Boards (and receiving supplemental pay). Nor is she alone in assuming that it is productive for Chancellors to serve on corporate boards. It is this last assumption that lies at the heart of the problem. One aspect of so-called "new normal" (which is neither new nor normal) has been the growing separation of campus and universities managers from the vast majority of employees and the everyday life of their institutions. Determining the extent of "administrative bloat" is admittedly complicated (most of the additional positions are not high-level) but the growth of administrative structures have shifted funds from the core practices of the university--teaching and research. Moreover, the persistence of administrative growth speaks to the lack of transparency that campus administrations provide about the actual functions and effects of this growth. Whatever the justification, the end result is a senior administration cut off from campus and operating in an endless round of fundraising while caught in the echo-chamber of assumptions about the need for closer ties to business and their management models, which are in turn fueled by state funding cuts that rest in part on the belief in their inevitability.

One sign of this separation is Chancellor Katehi's retriggering of the perennial question of executive comp, but it is not the only one. Chris and I have pointed repeatedly to UCOP's consistent willingness to avoid the established mechanisms of shared governance in the University. (here, here, and here for recent discussions). The effect of withdrawing from public discussion is, paradoxically, a more deeply politicized process in which all the key decisions appear to be made by hand-picked participants in a closed system that wastes most of the collective intelligence of the institution. The campuses are not free of similar issues. Let me mention two:

1) The clearest example of the problem is the ongoing crisis at UC Berkeley. In the period after Chancellor Dirks' held his meeting with faculty and staff (which provided little if any clarity by all accounts) the public discussion of change has proceeded through rumor and fear. First were the rumors of the closing of the College of Chemistry with resulting protests, Then there was the closing and reopening of the major in public health, amid rumors surrounding the possibility of major cuts to the School of Public Health. Although it may be inevitable that there will be rumor and agitation at a time of crisis, what we might call "negotiation by anxiety and innuendo" is a sign of the lack of open and transparent discussion. Even the Chancellor's meeting with faculty and staff seemingly offered little to assure people of genuine, open, campus discussion of budget options based upon shared evidence and data made available to the campus as a whole.

2) A similar faux discussion recently took place at UC Riverside. There the issue concerned the constitution and extent of a new proposal for cluster hires. There is much to be said in favor of cluster hires (although they are no panacea and in some cases can simply be a way of forcing more labor onto faculty members). But for them to work they need to be initiated from the bottom and grow out of teaching and research initiatives. At Riverside the opposite was the case. The proposal was initiated from the top by a new administration and, to listen to the results of a survey of faculty experience, the process was unclear, inconsistent, and in the end open to serious distortion at the top. From Inside Higher Ed:

"The process was chaotic, disorganized and very opaque,” reads one narrative survey response, echoing dozens of others expressing similar criticisms. “Enormous amounts of the faculty’s time was wasted. … We’ve been given new instructions repeatedly, have had to redo job descriptions and must search for all the positions simultaneously, which will be very difficult. I doubt the outcome will be good.”

The new Provost Paul D'Anieri, on the other hand, speaking in the language of ownership often typical of senior management, insisted that UC Riverside is "very excited" about the clusters. In this context I suppose that the faculty who spoke out are not part of Riverside.

Each of these cases--Chancellor Katehi's concealed service to UC competitors, UCOP's unilateralism, Berkeley's concealed re-engineering, and Riverside's top down hiring--is a symptom of the general disconnect of senior administrators from the everyday life of the university community. Remarkably, their faith in the wisdom of that world survives the self-inflicted wounds that recur again and again through the disconnection between central administration and faculty and staff. In this the University mimics the world at large, where technocratic elites, anxiously mixing with the masters of capital and business, ignore the needs of the population while their societies and polities spiral ever downward.