This year was quieter than the previous one when we sponsored packed Academic Senate meetings concerning the budget deficit, sexual harassment and campus realignment. Faculty pressure had led to the resignation of the Executive Vice-Chancellor and Provost and then the Chancellor – after major scandals around sexual harassment and its cover-up, bungled attempts at tackling the budget deficit, and incidents of petty corruption.
This year was dominated by the choice of the new Chancellor, Carol Christ, after her temporary succession to the position of EVCP in place of Claude Steele. More dramatic events revolved around a thwarted campus appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos on campus that turned violent and the anticipated appearance of Ann Coulter that never took place. Throughout, the Budget Deficit dominated campus politics.
After a year of failed attempts at reducing the budget deficit, Carol Christ, serving as Interim EVCP, announced that in one year the Annual Budget Deficit had been cut from $150 million to $110 million, with the intention that next year’s deficit would be cut to $57 million. UCOP will only cover our debt servicing in excess of $100 million a year so long as the operating budget deficit continues to fall. As newly appointed Chancellor, Christ made her primary goal eliminating the deficit while maintaining the excellence of our core mission of teaching and research. She is implementing a cut of 6% that would affect all units, but exclude certain protected activities connected to teaching and research. Aware of the barrage of criticisms with regard to ballooning administrative costs, by the end of the year she claimed to have reduced administrative staff by 400. Budget cuts would be complemented with increased revenue streams from university extension and summer sessions, self-supporting degree programs, monetizing of real estate and philanthropy. Intercollegiate Athletics continues to be a burden on the campus with more than $20 million annual deficit that includes the approximate $17 million payment for the stadium renovation. The Chancellor’s Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics reported in June but with inconclusive recommendations.
BFA tried to get involved in the selection of the new chancellor. We protested the secrecy of the deliberations of the advisory committee appointed by President Napolitano. We called for a more transparent search process in which leading candidates would be known and brought to campus to make public presentations. We were told that this would not be possible as candidates would not apply if their names were made public. Nonetheless, we went ahead and disseminated a set of principles for the selection of the next Chancellor and persuaded Robert Reich to be our candidate. We made buttons, posters and campaigned for our principles and our candidate, getting support from AFT (lecturers), UAW (graduate students), and UPTE (professional and technical workers). At the end of the process President Napolitano appointed Carol Christ to be Chancellor and she in turn appointed Paul Alivisatos as the next EVCP.
We decided to stage public debates about the future of the university. Our first event took place on February 1st – a discussion between Christopher Newfield, author of the recently published The Great Mistake and then Interim EVCP, Carol Christ. Newfield summarized the main argument of his book, emphasizing the dangers of privatization. A robust debate ensued about the appropriate responses to state divestment.
In the evening there was another fascinating exchange of views at an author-meets-critics event in which Kim Voss, Henry Brady and Prudence Carter commented on Newfield’s book. By coincidence our event competed with the visit of Milo Yiannopoulos – a visit that erupted into violence and his talk was cancelled before it began. Still our forum continued.
We plan to continue public debates on the future of the university, bringing in speakers from off campus as well as from within the campus.
Prominent cases of sexual harassment have continued to plague the university, but progress was made this last year. At the end of the previous year the Senate passed a BFA-sponsored proposal to the effect that there should be faculty oversight of the disciplining of faculty found to be in violation of campus harassment and discrimination policy by the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination. The Chancellor’s Senate/Administration Committee on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, chaired by Executive Dean Carla Hesse, issued its report, recommending, among other things, that a Special Faculty Advisor on Title IX be appointed who would report directly to the Chancellor. In their May response to the report Chancellor Dirks and Senate Chair Robert Powell also proposed establishing a Peer Review Committee to review disciplinary decisions for faculty found in violation of UC Campus Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. No doubt about it the campus is now more sensitive to this issue than ever before.
5.CUCFA and Sacramento
The University of California continued to be in the news with continued discussion of possible caps on out-of-state students. The state auditor’s report of March, 2016 had criticized the university for its expansion of out-of-students, supposedly at the cost of enrolling California residents. There were claims that less qualified out-of-state students were being preferred over California students. Part of the fallout of the auditor’s report was President Napolitano’s decision to increase enrollment of undergraduates by 10,000 Californian students in three years – an unprecedented expansion. But each campus somehow had to absorb new students last year – Berkeley to the tune of 750 students.
This April (2017) there was another report from the state auditor on the operation of the Office of the President (UCOP), questioning its budgetary practices, its lavish expense account, the salaries of its personnel, and its doctoring of the survey responses of campuses about their relations to UCOP. Bad publicity continues to haunt the university at a time when it desperately needs public support. As a result the Regents shelved their plan to increase student fees and, in an unprecedented move, the legislature has proposed to directly control the budget of UCOP.
On a more positive note, CUCFA (Council of UC Faculty Associations), working with a coalition of groups in higher education published The $48 Fix: Reclaiming California’s Master Plan for Higher Education. It shows how a tax of $48 on the median California household could end tuition for students in all sectors of higher education. It would reverse the accelerating move toward privatization. From within CUCFA, President Stan Glantz and Executive Director Eric Hayes were the leading participants.
6.Membership and Senate
As of March 2017, membership included 11 emeriti professors (7 joined since January), 224 on payroll deduction. 12 members have joined AAUP. As of March we have approximately 126 full professors, 64 associate professors, and 15 assistant professors who pay dues through payroll deduction.
Board Members of the BFA were represented on various Senate Committees, including DIVCO (Divisional Committee), FWEL (Faculty Welfare) and COCI (Courses of Instruction).
The composition of the Board continues to change. Zeus Leonardo, Line Mikkelson and Leslea Hlusko cycled off the board while Paul Fine (Integrative Biology) and Lisa García Bedolla (Education) joined the Board. Celeste Langan’s term as co-chair was up but she remains on the board. Michael Burawoy agreed to continue to serve as chair this year (2017-18) and will try to recruit a co-chair for the following year (2018-19). Chris Rosen will continue as Vice-Chair and Leslie Salzinger as Secretary. The other members of the board remain: Julia Bryan-Wilson, (History of Art), Penny Edwards (South and South-East Asian Studies), Peter Glazer (Theater, Dance & Performance Studies), Gillian Hart (Geography), Lyn Hejinian (English), Seth Holmes (School of Public Health), Gregory Levine (Art History), Colleen Lye (English), David O’Sullivan (Geography), Shannon Steen (Theater Dance & Performance Studies), James Vernon (History). Past-co-chair Wendy Brown remains an invaluable advisor. We will continue to try to circulate officers and recruit new members of the Board. As always we are heavily indebted to Executive Director of CUCFA, Eric Hayes, for his knowledge of all matters relevant to UC and to staff member, Debi Rosenberg, for all the work she does for us.
This year we also began a weekly news digest of press reports and campus matters that we distribute to members every Monday to remind them of our existence and bring them in touch with the major issues as they unfold in these uncertain times. We hope to develop research projects, such as the one led by Penny Edwards on commercialization of higher education through various forms of “contract cheating”.
Michael Burawoy and Celeste Langan (co-chairs)
July 23, 2017