UCSF Faculty Association

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.

November 5, 2015
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UC task force considering pension cuts

If you are concerned about a further erosion of compensation at UC, we encourage you to follow the link below to read CUCFA’s (the Council of UC Faculty Associations) explanation of the proposals made by President Napolitano’s UC task force. The task force has been charged with developing a new UC Retirement Plan (UCRP) Tier 2016 for faculty and other employees hired after June 30, 2016. Under consideration  are  reduced benefits within UCRP and a full defined contribution alternative instead of the defined benefit UCRP.

The CUCFA letter details the proposed changes to the UC Retirement Plan and lays out the threat they pose to overall compensation for new faculty, as well as for the health of the pension system for all faculty. The letter includes names of the task force members and faculty representatives to whom concerns can be directed.

 

September 25, 2015
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Statement by CUCFA and AAUP on Regent Blum’s Remarks

The Council of University of California Faculty Associations and the American Association of University Professors write to protest the following remarks made by University of California Regent Richard Blum and then supported by Regent Hadi Makarechian during the discussion of a proposed Statement of Principles Against Intolerance at the Board of Regents meeting on September 17, 2015:

“I should add that over the weekend my wife, your senior Senator, and I talked about this issue at length. She wants to stay out of the conversation publicly but if we do not do the right thing she will engage publicly and is prepared to be critical of this university if we don’t have the kind of not only statement but penalties for those who commit what you can call them crimes, call them whatever you want. Students that do the things that have been cited here today probably ought to have a dismissal or a suspension from school. I don’t know how many of you feel strongly that way but my wife does and so do I.”

These remarks by Regent Blum explicitly invoke his wife, U.S. Senator from California Dianne Feinstein, and threaten negative political consequences for the University if the proposed Statement of Principles Against Intolerance is not revised so as to be agreeable to him and Senator Feinstein. As such, they violate the spirit, if not the letter, of Article IX, Section 9 of the California Constitution, which declares that “The university shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its regents and in the administration of its affairs.”

Whatever varied opinions we may hold on the proposed Statement of Principles or any other matter for University discussion, we should all join in rejecting any attempt by a Regent to influence University deliberations by calling on external political forces in this manner.

The complex and competing issues involved in developing a suitable Statement of Principles Against Intolerance are matters of discussion and intellectual inquiry within the University. The purpose of academic freedom is to protect such inquiry from external political interference, and it is the duty of the members of the Board of Regents to uphold academic freedom and to protect the university from external constraints on this freedom. So it is very troubling to hear a Regent make statements that directly undermine free inquiry and the independence of the University. It is particularly disconcerting in this case, because among the central issues are academic freedom and free speech.

We understand that individual Regents, in their private capacity, like many others in the community, may hold strong views on this and many other issues. However, in their official capacity, the Regents have the responsibility to uphold the rights of University administrators and faculty to determine internal University policies through established processes of shared governance free of external political pressure and threats from any source, including the Regents’ own spouses, relatives and friends. We call upon the Regents, the President, and the Provost to provide explicit assurances that they will support and protect the independence and integrity of the continuing discussions of a possible Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.

July 23, 2015
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Statement to UC Regents about new UCRS tier

Professor Celeste Langan spoke on behalf of the UC Faculty Associations at the July 22, 2015 UC Regents meeting during the public comment period. Below is a copy of her full comments:

As co-Chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association and on behalf of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, I wish to address the Regents concerning the third discussion item of the Finance Committee agenda, item F3, “Update on Final 2015-16 Budget.”  The update, produced by the Office of the President, misleadingly claims that the final budget “incorporates the funding framework developed by UC and the Governor.” If you’ll recall, the “framework” of the May Revise proposed that the state make a contribution of $436 million toward the unfunded liability of the UC Retirement Plan.  The final budget, however, promises only a “one-time payment” of $96 million; there is nothing in the budget that commits the state to two additional payments of $170 million.  Yet even this meager one-time payment is contingent upon Regential approval of a cap on pensionable salary consistent with PEPRA (Public Employee Pension Reform Act) for employees hired after July 1, 2016.

The Council of UC Faculty Associations is opposed to the University making permanent changes in the structure of its retirement plan in exchange for a very modest one-time contribution from the State. We are especially opposed to the introduction of a full defined-contribution option.  There is absolutely no justification for the proposed introduction of a full defined-contribution option; neither the Legislature nor the Governor called for the introduction of a Defined Contributions plan in aligning the UCRP with PEPRA. Yet UCOP seems bent on introducing such an option, to the point that their statement exposes their intention as a foregone conclusion rather than a possible outcome of consultation and deliberation — those elements of what we once understood as “shared governance.”

I call your attention to the third paragraph on page 3 of the F3 agenda item.  First OP declares, “The President will convene a retirement options task force to advise on the design of new retirement options that will include the pensionable salary cap consistent with PEPRA.  The retirement options will be brought to the Regents next year for review and approval.” But apparently the “design of new retirement options” is a fait accompli, for the penultimate sentence of that paragraph declares, “new employees will have the opportunity to choose a fully defined contribution plan as a retirement option, as an alternative to the PEPRA-capped defined benefit plan.”

Since the two minutes allotted in the public comments session is the temporal equivalent of Twitter’s 140 characters, let me ask: #What’s up with UCOP?  If I had to speculate, I’d say that UCOP’s attempt to replace Defined Benefits with Defined Contributions suggests its preference for a mobile, “flexible,” precarious professoriate with a consequently short-term institutional memory — a professoriate that wouldn’t recall that only 6 years ago, the relative merits of defined contribution versus defined benefit plans were thoroughly, carefully, and widely discussed by UC constituents. Given substantial evidence that defined benefits are more cost-efficient than defined contributions in achieving the same level of benefits, it was agreed that the University of California was best served by continuing with UCRP as a defined benefit plan. Thus in 2010, when the President recommended and the Regents endorsed pension reforms, UCRP was preserved as a defined benefit plan.

Ironically, the paragraph in question concludes, “For represented groups, retirement options will be subject to collective bargaining.” Well, the UC Faculty Associations represent a good number of those faculty, members of the Academic Senate, without collective bargaining rights, and we say that UCOP has vitiated the interests of that faculty, both those vested in the current UCRP and those who will be hired after 2016.  We deplore the introduction of a different tier of faculty benefits, but we firmly oppose the attempt of UCOP to introduce a fully defined contribution plan in this untoward and unjustified manner.

June 4, 2015
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CUCFA statement on Governor’s Budget Deal: UC still being starved; bad long run implications for faculty and students

The May Revise

As the Legislature and Governor enter the end game for the 2015-2016 budget, here is a review of provisions related to UC in the Governor’s latest budget proposal—the May revise, which is now being considered by the Legislature. 

It appears likely that the final UC budget will have provisions that address access and affordability. What is missing are resources to ensure that the university can maintain quality. It is the hardest to quantify, the weakest politically, and is now the most seriously threatened. 

This budget is another demonstration of the truism that the only way to restore access, affordability, and quality is through adequate State investment in public higher education. In spite of strong revenues to the State, the Governor’s budget falls well short of what is needed to reverse the negative trends in recent years. As it happens, it is well within the means of the citizens of the State to restore all of California public higher education to the levels of access, affordability, and quality enjoyed in 2000-2001.  

The May revise budget summary is available online. The UC part begins on page 28. Professor Chris Newfield (UCSB) has previously commented on the May revise. Many aspects of the May revise as they relate to UC are contained in the agreement of the “Committee of Two” now endorsed by the Regents. 

1) Systemwide tuition and fees for California resident students are to remain constant for two more years. Following that, modest increases comparable to the rate of inflation are allowed. On the other hand for non-resident students, tuition will increase by 8% in each of the next two years. 

2) Increases in the UC base budget are to be the same as the Governor originally proposed, i.e. 4% per year ($119.5M for 2015-16) but are now continued through 2018-2019. This is much less than what the State should contribute to replace cuts since 2007 and is also substantially less than the needs identified in the UC proposed budget for 2015-2016 (more here).  

The May revise also proposes one time funds of $25M for deferred maintenance and $25M for energy efficiency projects. 

3) The May revise contains a tepid and ambiguous recognition of a State obligation to UC pensions. One-time funds of $436M spread over three years (with $96M for 2015-16) are proposed. However, this is Proposition 2 money, which can be used only to reduce the UCRP unfunded liability (about $7.6B in the last annual report). The one-time payment is only modestly significant in the long run and has negligible impact on the University’s operating budget in the near term. This is because the University has not planned to increase the UCRP contribution rate above 8% for most employees and 14% for the employer. Contributions at this rate cover only the current year additional liability and some of the interest on the unfunded liability. I.e. at this point, the regular employer and employee payments are making no contribution to retiring the unfunded liability. Thus in near term years, the Proposition 2 money does not reduce the large negative impact on the UC operating budget from regular UCRP contributions. The Proposition 2 money could be framed as a replacement for or enhancement to UC’s own occasional ad hoc payments to reduce the unfunded liability, but these have been very controversial, and UC has not revealed any plans to make another such payment. 

Unfortunately this modest one time contribution comes with permanent strings. In return UC is required to introduce yet another tier to UCRP that would apply to new employees. The new tier will mirror state law for other state employees. In this tier, UCRP eligible salaries are to be capped at the inflation indexed PEPRA/Social Security limit ($117k for the current year) rather than with the IRS limit of $265k currently used by UC. Employees in the new tier will have the option of either a defined benefit plan with the new cap and an add-on defined contribution plan to supplement the defined benefits or a fully defined contribution plan. It is this second option that is particularly troubling. 

The relative merits of defined contribution and defined benefit plans were thoroughly evaluated and debated during the extended review that led to the 2010 reforms of the UCRP. The conclusion was that a defined benefit plan is the more advantageous option for both the University as an employer and for its employees. 

The main concern is not so much that UC has cut a deal on this issue but rather that it has made such a poor deal. For very modest one-time money, it has agreed to make permanent changes to UCRP including offering a completely defined contribution option that will put at risk the whole of the defined benefit plan. (Chris Newfield has previously made similar comments as mentioned above.) In addition the closed process by which this agreement between the Governor and the President was reached has undermined shared governance and collective bargaining. 

4) UCOP has stated that the Governor has agreed not to veto additional appropriations for UC that come out of the legislative process. The University is asking legislators for additional funds to increase California resident enrollment. 

5) There are several areas in which the President has committed UC to the implementation of additional efficiencies. These include transfers, time-to-degree, advising, and use of technology. Some of these Presidential promises relate to topics that are squarely within the authority of the Academic Senate, and all of them would normally be addressed through shared governance.

 

 

March 22, 2015
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Faculty Association letter concerning co-hosting of seminar with the Manhattan Institute

“Data and Technology Keys to Precision Medicine and 21st Century Cures “

Keith Yamamoto, PhD
Vice Chancellor for Research
University of California, San Francisco

Dear Dr. Yamamoto,

We write as members of the Board of the UCSF Faculty Association about the seminar co-hosted by UCSF and the Manhattan Institute on March 27th, Data and Technology: Keys to Precision Medicine and 21st Century Cures for which your office sent an email invitation. We are concerned about the Manhattan Institute’s track record with respect to scientific issues.

The Manhattan Institute has a regrettably long history, well documented in the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library archives housed at the UCSF Library, of subverting scientific efforts to research the adverse health impacts of tobacco and climate change. We do not oppose UCSF’s involvement with them in planning a conference because of their conservative bent. Instead, we do so because we do not believe that they adhere to the principles of academic freedom and free exchange of ideas based on evidence that is central to scientific discourse.

Indeed as the track record documented in the Legacy archives indicates, the Manhattan Institute has a record of subverting scientific discourse. In light of this, co-sponsorship by UCSF may have the effect of providing legitimacy to some of the anti-scientific positions they support even though the topic of the March 27th seminar may seem apolitical. It is especially troubling that the RSVPs go to the Manhattan Institute rather than to UCSF itself. It is also troubling that this event would be held on the day set aside to honor Cesar Chavez and on which UCSF will be officially closed.

We would urge you to drop UCSF co-sponsorship so as not to provide the UCSF imprimatur to an organization with a history of attempts to subvert honest and open scientific inquiry on important risk factors for poor health such as smoking, the contemporary diet, and climate change. If it would be helpful for you to see the history of the Manhattan Institute regarding the science concerning tobacco, we would be glad to forward URLS for those documents to you.

The Board of the UCSF Faculty Association

March 19, 2015
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Petition to protect UC healthcare options

Dear Faculty Colleague,

The University is seriously considering reducing the options among health plans to force participation in UC Care, first by eliminating HealthNet as an option and then potentially other plans.  The Board of the Faculty Association opposes these proposed actions.

We would like concerned faculty to add their names to our letter opposing these changes so that President Napolitano sees how important these health care options are to us. Please add your name to the letter by visiting:

http://cucfa.org/healthcare-options-petition/ 

Sincerely,
The Executive Board of the
UCSF Faculty Association