UCSF Faculty Association

September 7, 2017
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Taking a Stand Against Harassment, Part of the Broader Threat to Higher Education

The Board of the UCSF Faculty Association supports the following  AAUP statement which was released today, and is also signed by the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of Colleges and Universities.
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In recent months a disturbing trend has emerged in American higher education. At a variety of institutions—public and private, large and small—individual members of the faculty have been singled out for campaigns of harassment in response to remarks they have made, or are alleged to have made, in public speeches, on social media, or in the classroom. Vicious threats of violence and even death have been directed against individual faculty members and their families, including their children. A large number of those threatened have been African American.

The threats are often accompanied by calls for college and university administrators to summarily dismiss or otherwise discipline the offending faculty member. Sometimes the threats are also directed at those administrators or the institutions themselves. In some cases the comments made by the faculty member were highly provocative or easily misconstrued, but in other cases the allegedly offensive remarks were misattributed or not even made at all.

In all cases, however, these campaigns of harassment endanger more than the faculty member concerned. They pose a profound and ominous challenge to higher education’s most fundamental values. The right of faculty members to speak or write as citizens, free from institutional censorship or discipline, has long been recognized as a core principle of academic freedom. While colleges and universities must make efforts to provide learning environments that are welcoming, diverse, and safe for all members of the university community and their guests, these efforts cannot and need not come at the expense of the right to free expression of all on campus and the academic freedom of the faculty.

We therefore call on college and university leaders and members of governing boards to reject outside pressures to remove or discipline faculty members whose ideas or commentary may be provocative or controversial and to denounce in forceful terms these campaigns of harassment. Some have already taken such a stance. The response of Syracuse University chancellor Kent Syverud to calls for the denunciation or dismissal of a professor who posted a controversial tweet is exemplary. “No,” he said. “We are and will remain a university. Free speech is and will remain one of our key values. I can’t imagine academic freedom or the genuine search for truth
thriving here without free speech. Our faculty must be able to say and write things—including things that provoke some or make others uncomfortable—up to the very limits of the law.”

Unfortunately, other administrations have been more equivocal in their responses, in a few cases disciplining the faculty member concerned while remaining silent about the terrifying harassment to which that faculty member has been subjected. Some offer hollow homilies in support of the free speech rights of outside speakers while failing to defend the rights of harassed faculty. Often administrators justify their response by appealing to legitimate concerns for the safety of the community. However, anything short of a vigorous defense of academic freedom will only further imperil safety. Concessions to the harassers send the message that such odious tactics are effective. They have a chilling effect on the entire academic community. Academic leaders are therefore obligated to recognize that attacks on the academic freedom of individual instructors pose a risk to the institution as a whole and to the very project of higher education as a public good. As the AAUP’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities stressed, the protection the college or university “offers to an individual or a group is, in fact, a fundamental defense of the vested interests of society in the educational institution.”

We call upon college and university presidents, members of governing boards, and other academic leaders to resist this campaign of harassment by endorsing this statement and making clear to all in their respective institutions that threats to individual members of the academic community, to academic freedom, and to freedom of expression on campus will not be tolerated.

Signed, American Association of University Professors American Federation of Teachers Association of American Colleges and Universities

August 25, 2017
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Post-Charlottesville Statement

The UC Council of Faculty Associations (CUCFA), of which the UCSF Faculty Association is a member, has issued this statement and set of recommendations in response to the tragic recent events in Charlottesville.

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Statement

The events and aftermath of Charlottesville have revealed the disturbing connection between Alt-Right rhetoric of violence and the very real violence perpetrated by white supremacist groups. This situation bears dangerous parallels with the way fascist movements came to power in 20th-century Europe. Historically, fascism takes root in the public demand for a strong government to restore order following the unrest and violence provoked by ultra nationalist organizations precipitating violent confrontations with antifascist forces. President Trump’s irresponsible and incorrect assertion of a “two-sided” violence has set the stage for a likely reaction by anarchy-inspired groups at the next provocation or implementation of violence by the Alt-Right / white supremacist front. This reaction, in turn, would allow the Trump government to present itself as the ‘neither left nor right’ party of order and security.

Knowing that university campuses are the likely sites for violence to erupt, it is tempting to call for suppressing the right to speak of any element connected with the Alt-Right movement. CUCFA disagrees. We reaffirm our unfettered commitment to free speech, and the proposition that universities cannot discriminate among speakers on the basis of the content of their speech. At the same time, we support denying permission to speak on campus if the speaker or those organizing the speech incite explicitly and/or pose a clear threat of violence.[1]

Recommendations

CUCFA endorses the recent AAUP statement, and UC President Napolitano’s letter in the wake of the tragic events in Charlottesville.  We invite them — and the entire higher education community  — to also denounce more explicitly the connection among the Alt-Right appropriation of ‘free speech’ rhetoric to provoke violent confrontation, white supremacist violence, and the proto-fascist narrative of equivalence between left and right being spun by the Trump administration.

To counter this worrisome state of affairs, CUCFA further recommends that UCOP make public its criteria for determining and countering a clear threat of violence on the part of outside speakers, and institute an “Outside Speakers’ Commission”—with representatives of the UC faculty Senate, students, campus police, UC lawyers, and other possible stakeholders—in charge of reviewing and publicly discussing these criteria, and, if necessary, of updating them, or developing new ones which would pay particular attention and respond to the following concerns:

  1. What constitutes evidence of a clear threat of violence brought by a speaker or the organizers of a speaking event?
  2. If necessary, should the cost of extra police protection be borne by the University or the association asking for a certain speaker to be allowed to speak on campus?
  3. Should restrictions be passed to what protesters can hold in their hands (i.e. clubs, batons, etc…) entering any UC campus?

Lastly, recognizing the appealing status of all UC campuses as targets for Alt-Right provocations, CUCFA invites UCOP to publicize as soon and as widely as possible among students and faculty the “Ten Ways to Fight Hate Guide” released by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).


[1] The decision by Michigan State and Louisiana State on August 18 to deny white supremacist leader Richard Spencer permission to speak there is an example of an appropriate response.

June 20, 2017
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State Senate should reject Governor’s unconstitutionally nominated Regents

You have, no doubt, seen the near constant barrage of news stories critical of the way UC has been managed — the latest being articles about the state legislature withholding funding from UC in the recently passed state budget because of behavior turned up in a recent state audit such as a large hidden reserve fund, interference with the auditor’s survey, and executive compensation far in excess of compensation for similar positions at the state. The budget also redirects nearly $350 million from UC’s core mission as the legislature tries to gain direct control of UCOPs budget. And before that it was articles decrying the Regents’ spending over $250 a head on dinner
parties for themselves.

These articles demonstrate the eroded level of trust the state legislature and the people of California have in UC. We believe a large part of that erosion is because of the closed and insular method by which Regents are appointed — a method that is in direct contradiction to what is specified in California’s Constitution.

For six years, we have been writing letters to Governor Brown asking him
to obey the Constitution when nominating Regents,  letters to the UC Regents asking them to follow their own bylaws and not accept improperly nominated Regents and letters to the California Senate asking them to use their authority of approval of Regents to enforce the Constitution.

Three weeks ago, Governor Brown again nominated Regents without following the consultation process mandated by the Constitution. Ourpast efforts on this issue at least paid off this time with several newspaper articles noting the Constitutional violation (http://bit.ly/2rtynSE, http://bit.ly/2sHyi1Z, http://bit.ly/2sMxsk1).

Yesterday we sent another letter to the Senate, calling on the Senate Rules
Committee to enforce the California Constitution by immediately rejecting (without prejudice) the Governor’s nominees. Regent terms begin as soon as the Governor nominates them, so these improperly nominated Regents can vote on issues at the upcoming Regent’s meeting unless the Senate Rules Committee acts quickly to reject them.

We also requested that the Constitutionally-required advisory committee
be more than a pro forma process and that the Senate declare that it will only consider Regent nominees that have been vetted through an open public process, in a series of meetings held around the state and conducted in accordance with the Bagley-Keene Act (proper public notices of meetings with opportunities for public comment).

A more representative Board of Regents would have likely done a better
job of assuring accountability of the UC Office of the President and given a higher priority to vigorous efforts to restore high quality, accessible, and tuition-free higher education to the people of California as envisioned in the California Master Plan for Higher Education. A recent report that we and other organizations released through the Reclaim coalition, The $48 Fix,  shows that this goal is achievable in California, yet there has been no discussion of restoring the Master Plan by the current Board of Regents. The fact that it is dominated by wealthy interests for whom the steadily increasing costs would not be a practical problem may help explain the lack of urgency in building the confidence of the public and policymakers needed to restore
tuition-free education at UC.

You can read our full letter to the Senate Rules Committee here.

January 26, 2017
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The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s Master Plan for Higher Education

On Thursday, January 26, the UC Regents will consider and likely approve their budget for the University for 2017-2018. It and the Governor’s budget, to which it is closely tied, perpetuate decades of failed privatization and persistent under funding of the University and of public higher education more generally. At UC and as compared to both 1990-1991 and 2000-2001, total per student expenditures for instruction and the State general fund contribution to per student instruction are sharply down while the inflation-adjusted contributions from students through tuition and fees are 70% higher than they were in 2000-2001 and 135% higher than they were in 1990-1991. Students and their families are paying more and getting less.

It has become conventional “wisdom” that this continuing decline is inevitable and that viable alternatives do not exist.

The report The $48 fix: Reclaiming California’s MASTER PLAN for Higher Education demonstrates that there is an affordable alternative that restores public higher education in California.

“It turns out that keeping the full promise of the Master Plan-returning the state’s investment per CSU and UC student to 2000 levels (inflation-adjusted); eliminating tuition and fees for all in-state UC, CSU and CCC students; and funding seats for qualified California high-school graduates now refused access to the system-is affordable.”

“California’s two-decade experiment in privatizing higher education has failed, as it has failed in the rest of the country. Top-quality, accessible and appropriate higher education that affords opportunity to all California students has been replaced with a system that restricts access, costs students more and compromises educational quality. Exploding student debt constricts students’ futures and harms the economy as a whole. It is entirely feasible to reinstate California’s proven success in public higher education. Several reasonable funding options can be mixed and matched to make the costs remarkably low for almost all California families. Our state has the means and the opportunity. Will we recover our political will and vision?”

This report was produced by the Reclaim California Higher Education coalition, which includes the Council of University of California Faculty Associations and other organizations dedicated to affordable, accessible, and excellent public higher education in California.

December 3, 2016
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UCSF Faculty Association’s request to President Napolitano that the university reverse its decision to outsource IT jobs

Dear President Napolitano,

I write on behalf of the Board and membership of the UCSF Faculty Association to ask that the university reverse its decision to outsource IT jobs at UCSF, with the potential to outsource them at other campuses as well.

We support the rationales that many around the State of California have expressed in opposition to the decision to outsource these jobs.  The University is a recipient of a high volume of revenue from public sources, including, of course funding from the State of California (about $2billion including the basic education allocation to UC and Medicaid reimbursements), and at least $8billion in Federal funds from such sources as NIH, NSF, CDC, and DOD contracts and grants, Medicare and Medicaid payments, and  Pell grants, fellowships, scholarships, loans, and work study.  As the recipient of such State of California and federal funds, the University owes it to the taxpayers to use these sources to hire citizens and residents and to do so in its role as a model employer, providing living wages with generous benefits.  In using best hiring practices, the University contributes to the public welfare by reducing the possibility that its workers will be beneficiaries of public funding streams intended for the working poor such Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and the Earned Income Tax Credit, among others.

Beyond efforts to continue to be models for employers in the public sector and setting standards that may percolate to the private sector, however, there is one additional aspect that touches us every day as faculty members and which hasn’t been discussed much in the press coverage of the decision to outsource some IT workers.  Although the decision-makers were clearly focused only on the short-term result that costs for IT services may be lowered, they omitted the more important consideration that IT services are a crucial component of what we do in teaching, research, and clinical care realms.  As many of us have witnessed during past reorganizations that have centralized these functions, there are more numerous blockages to critical academic activities when there is not a history of on-site collaboration between the IT staff and faculty and research and clinical staff.  In the design of solutions to problems that arise, IT staff without intimate knowledge of how users interact with technology cannot provide needed services and productivity lags. Outsourcing also may increase the threat of data breaches, with implications for HIPAA and FERPA protections.  We should add that for most UCSF faculty, IT is paid for through our contracts and grants, adding to the public accountability issues.

We ask that you immediately rescind this outsourcing of IT services both because it is not appropriate  for a university operating with a majority of its funds coming from public sources to abrogate its responsibility to the public and because the quality of the IT work done will be compromised when workers are not be on-site, indeed may be outside the country.  We add that asking current workers to train their replacements using H-IB visas but being paid far less is not befitting an institution which, as a public university, must earn the trust of the public each and every day.

Sincerely,

The Board of the UCSF Faculty Association

Member, Council of UC Faculty Associations

 

CC: Chancellor Hawgood, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, Senator-Elect Harris, and Leader Pelosi

November 23, 2016
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Defense of Undocumented and other Vulnerable Categories of Students

Dear President Napolitano,

We applaud your timely declaration in the immediate aftermath of the election that the UC administration “remain[s] absolutely committed to supporting all members of our community and adhering to UC’s Principles Against Intolerance.”[1]

Like you, we are gravely concerned by the statements made by President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign, and in the aftermath of his victory, targeting particularly vulnerable communities such as undocumented Latinos and Muslim immigrants.

We support your subsequent statement to the UC Regents that “it is more important than ever that we preserve our core values, expand opportunity, and create and share knowledge in the public interest.”[2] We also support your decision to meet with representatives of undocumented students, and to institute a task force to help UC students who are in the country without legal permission and who may be at greater risk of deportation under a Trump administration.

We endorse the joint letter you wrote with CSU Chancellor Timothy White and CC Interim President Erik Skinner to the California congressional delegation asking for the restoration of year-long Pell grants.[3] CUCFA has long believed in the inextricable connection between affordable higher education and the benefits of all forms of diversity to knowledge-production, society, and democracy. We greatly appreciate the advocacy of our leaders on behalf of our students.

In short, we stand united with our administrators against any threats directed at our students and fellow employees, or any words or acts of hate that threaten our mission as a public research university committed to the betterment of our global society through teaching, learning, and the dissemination of new knowledge. We pledge to stand up for, support, and defend the most vulnerable among us, those deliberately targeted in the lead up to the election, and those who are now victims of hate in its wake – members of our community who are undocumented, people of color, LGBTQ people, Muslims (and other religious minorities), immigrants, people with disabilities, and women.

To implement these policy principles, we urge that, in collaboration with the chancellors and other appropriate authorities, you:

  • Explore all legal venues to refuse to act on behalf of federal agents, and to withhold information on the immigration status, religion, and national origin of our students, faculty, or staff;
  • Not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law;
  • Instruct university police not to honor immigration hold requests, and not to contact, detain, question or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being, or suspected of being, a person that lacks documentation;
  • Standardize a UC systemwide administrative office with responsibility for counseling DACA students on their educational situation;
  • Publicize that DACA student counseling services are available on a strictly confidential basis;
  • Continue to allow DACA-eligible students to pay in-state resident tuition;
  • Ensure student’s access to health care and financial aid within California law;
  • Invest in faculty and staff training for UndocuAlly modules developed by UC Davis;[4]
  • Commit to allow undocumented students to work on UC campuses in the event that the DACA provisions were repealed;
  • Take these measures before Inauguration Day so that DACA students can be assured of institutional support.

We are aware of the many calls to consider declaring all UCs “sanctuary campuses” before the inauguration of President-elect Trump.[5] While we support the spirit of this call, believing that Universities have an ethical obligation to assist undocumented students against threats of deportation, we are concerned that the idea of sanctuary campuses does not have any legal status, and agree with Cal State Chancellor White that declaring any public university a “sanctuary” may give a false sense of security “to the very people we support and serve.”[6] We urge you to study all legal and symbolic ramifications of declaring UC campuses “sanctuaries,” and to involve students, staff, and faculty in making that decision. Accordingly, we ask you to charge the announced task force on undocumented students with discussing explicitly the issue of sanctuary status and to make their findings public before January 20.

It is estimated that one third of the over 740,000 undocumented students in the US reside in California, and our state already has multiple progressive policies designed to support undocumented immigrants, including measures that help them access healthcare, driver’s licenses and student loans. We have a responsibility not only to reassure our students that we will stand by them in the face of deportation if laws were passed in that direction, but to lead the nation in rejecting policies opposed to the core values of our university.

For this reason we support your actions to date and reiterate our desire to work with you and other university leaders to advance these important goals.

On behalf of the Council of UC Faculty Associations Board,
Stanton Glantz,
President, Council of UC Faculty Associations
Professor of Medicine, UCSF


[1] http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article113780763.html

[2] http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-ln-uc-regents-20161116-story.html

[3] https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/uc-president-joins-california-higher-education-and-uc-student-leaders-support-pell-grants

[4] http://undocumented.ucdavis.edu/education/ally.html

[5] http://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2016/11/proposal-turn-californias-massive-public-higher-ed-system-into-sanctuary-campuses-to-stop-trump-107463

[6] http://mynewsla.com/education/2016/11/17/no-sanctuary-at-cal-state-university-but-no-cooperation-with-trump-immigration/

September 30, 2016
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A Statement of Principles for Choosing New University of California Chancellors

The Council of UC Faculty Associations has developed important criteria for Chancellor searches in light of the vacancies at the Davis and Berkeley campuses.  We welcome your feedback.

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A University of California Chancellor must be committed both to broad access to university education and to scholarly excellence, and have a proven record of support for the value of public education. A Chancellor must recognize that, despite increases in fundraising for specific projects, efforts at privatization have failed to sustain the University’s central mission of education, research, and service for the people of California. In addition to providing intellectual vision and integrity, the Chancellor should demonstrate accountability to the principles and the public mission of the university.

To be forthright and transparent in dealings with the UC community and the public, the Chancellor must show by example the values held by the UC system:

•    By focusing on education, research, and public service, not on peripheral capital projects not directly related to the university’s primary teaching and research missions that saddle the university with high levels of debt.

•    By respecting shared governance between administration and faculty as vital to insulating academic freedom from external political and financial influence.

•    By limiting the number of out-of-state undergraduate students to maximize opportunity for Californians.

•    By reducing the number of senior managers; senior management has grown by a factor of three or four over the last 20 years while the number of faculty has remained stagnant and the number of students increased by 60%.

•    By making the administrative leadership transparent and by opening the budget to meaningful faculty review and input.

•    By implementing a cap on the salary of the Chancellor and other senior administrators, limited to a given multiplier of the lowest paid workers on campus on the grounds that a corporate salary leads to corporate attitudes, whereas a more modest salary corresponds to public service and respects the financial needs of students, faculty, and the institution.

•    By pledging not to accept any paid external board service or paid consulting with for-profit entities.

•    By developing new community outreach programs, involving the teaching and research role of campus faculty and students and, more generally, elevating the contributions of UC to the people of California.

Accordingly, the process of choosing the Chancellor should be open to the university community:

•    The short list of candidates selected by the search committee and forwarded to the President should be publicly discussed. The candidates should be invited to campus for public presentations and comments from the university community should be debated by the search committee.

•    The President and Regents should make their decision after consultation with the Academic Senate to ensure a candidate the whole campus supports.

Council of University of California Faculty Associations (September 29, 2016) info@cucfa.org

September 8, 2016
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Faculty Associations’ Letter to the President of Long Island University

Dear UC Faculty,

The letter we’ve posted below shows our opposition to the actions of the administration of Long Island University which locked out faculty, arbitrarily cutting their pay and benefits and cutting off access to their email, certainly the life blood of communication among people in academic disciplines and between faculty and their students.  As the letter states, this is a dangerous precedent.  While none of us wants to believe this could happen in the UC system, it is important to remember that increasing fractions of the faculty at the UCs are not protected by tenure or even ladder rank status. 

The Board of the Faculty Association

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September 7, 2016

Dear Dr. Cline:

The Council of University of California Faculty Associations is extremely alarmed by the “lock out” action taken by your administration against the faculty of LIU-Brooklyn.

The action has no precedent in higher education in this country and constitutes a grave assault on unions, labor negotiations, and faculty themselves.

We urge you to reconsider this tactic and return to the negotiating table to bargain in good faith.

To do otherwise is to antagonize hardworking and dedicated faculty for years to come, devastate the educational aspirations and expectations of your students, many of whom have overcome tremendous obstacles to arrive at your college gates, and produce pariah status for LIU-Brooklyn in American higher education.

This path has no future for your institution and we urge you to reconsider.

Sincerely,

The Board of the Council of UC Faculty Associations

July 26, 2016
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Faculty Association’s reaction to CEO Laret’s membership on private board

Dear Colleagues,
The letter below expresses the opinion of the Board of the Faculty Association that service on private boards should be forbidden for senior executives at UCSF due to potential conflicts of interest or, at the very least, the appearance of conflicts of interest.
The Board

UCSF Faculty Association

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July 23, 2016

Dear Chancellor Hawgood,

We write representing the Board of the UCSF Faculty Association about the recent San Francisco Chronicle story about Mark Laret’s service on the board of two private entities. We understand that his service was in accordance with university and campus policy and was approved by your office on an annual basis.

We request that the policy be changed to forbid such service.

We make this request on the basis of a consistent body of research, much conducted here at UCSF, that documents that relationships with private entities affect behavior even when the individual says otherwise and even when the amount of the compensation is extremely small. While Mr. Laret may recuse himself from decisions affecting the specific vendors with whom he has a fiduciary relationship, the literature indicates that there are effects on one’s colleagues who may make decisions and that they may also not be aware of the effect on their behavior. The intent of this change in policy is to increase the probability that decisions about products are made on the basis of medical evidence, perhaps even evidence of cost-effectiveness.

As a result of this body of research, most clinical departments at UCSF have stopped accepting meals and other perks from drug and device manufacturers both to decrease the possibility that clinical decisions are affected by relationships with industry and to transmit an ethos of neutrality to trainees. Most professional associations have also moved to sever the most egregious aspects of industry-association relationships, for example by putting educational activities at a physical remove from industry exhibits at conferences. At the very least, these changes are designed to reduce the appearance of a conflict of interest even if it is difficult, despite the healthcare literature cited above, to prove an actual conflict in an individual case.

We ask no more than that the CEO of the Medical Center adhere to the same ethical standards as have been developed in the medical provider community to ensure that an individual patient receives care unaffected by commercial bias known and unknown and developed by the private health insurance industry and public insurance programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA System to ensure that coverage for broad groups of patients be governed by the same principles.

Sincerely,
The Board of the UCSF Faculty Association
Member, Council of UC Faculty Associations

July 20, 2016
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Alarming Changes to UC Regent’s Governance Structure

A change in Regental committee structure may seem arcane, but I hope these two pieces make it clear that this change may make it harder for students, faculty, staff and public to monitor policies that affect all of us.

This issue was voted on by the Regents on July 20, 2016, and  passed unanimously.

Regents Propose Centralization Without Real Justification, Tuesday, July 19, 2016, by Michael Meranze, Remaking the University

Alarming Changes to UC Regent’s Governance Structure, July 19, 2016, Robert Meister as posted on the Council of U.C. Faculty Associations (CUCFA) website.