This has been a busy year for the Berkeley Faculty Association. Although Proposition 30 passed in the Fall it effectively amounted to a stay of execution: cancelling cuts planned for this year but doing nothing to ameliorate the impact of previous cuts or to protect us from further cuts in the future. In this uncertain position we welcome a new Chancellor at Berkeley and a soon to be announced new President of the University of California. The BFA looks forward to working with both of them to ensure we continue to work in world’s best public university. Our own new officers, unanimously elected by the Board, assume their positions on June 30th: They are Colleen Lye and James Vernon (Chairs), Chris Rosen (Vice-Chair), and Leslie Salzinger (Secretary). The BFA has sought to advance the interests of its members around a variety of issues briefly summarized below (for full details see our redesigned website http://ucbfa.org/.)
- Faculty Welfare
We prompted the academic Senate and Vice Provost Broughton to investigate the extent and cause of delays in the processing of merit and promotion reviews that had adversely affected many of you. We also worked with parents, the Association of Academic Women, and the Senate to ensure that the campus’ much-loved Early Childhood Education Program was not outsourced to a private contractor. We continue to monitor the rising costs of faculty healthcare and the restructuring of our pensions.
- Online Education
We believe that the rush to online education through MOOCs and venture capital funded edtech companies represents the biggest threat to our mission as a public university. Although we exposed the 7 million flop of Dean Edley’s pilot UC Online, the Regents and many state politicians mistakenly believe that online models could reduce costs and expand access. Our petition against SB520 collected over 1,500 signatures and helped ensure important revisions to a bill that still threatens to give public accreditation to classes taught by private providers. We are also pushing to ensure that the 10-1 Senate vote against online course evaluations in Spring 2011 is respected in the face of administration plans to implement them despite continuing concerns about poor yields (which impact faculty merit reviews) and confidentiality.
- Staff and Campus Services Restructuring
Faculty research and teaching rely heavily upon the excellence of our administrative staff and infrastructure. Yet many of us continue to experience the degrading of basic services—from telephones to office cleaning to tech and office staff support – as the consequences of Operational Excellence are unfurled. We are closely monitoring the impact of Campus Shared Services and the prospective reorganization of library services.
- University Financing
We continue to be alarmed at the growth of senior management positions (and their salaries), which now outnumber regular teaching faculty. We continue to investigate the scandal of funding for inter-collegiate athletics, which has already saddled us with large and potentially growing debts for the football stadium and is now planning a new $15m high performance Aquatics Center. We continue to insist that private funding should not determine the future direction of the University. And lastly, we continue to advocate that only public funds, not endowment or commercial income, can make good decades of disinvestment. Restoring the entire system and setting student fees to where they were a decade ago would cost the median California taxpayer just $48.
In these endeavors we are beholden to your support and membership. If you would like to get more involved or raise issues for the Board and its Officers to address, please don’t hesitate to let us know.