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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

No Confidence Vote is of Landslide Proportions

Press accounts are stating that the union-sponsored no-confidence vote in UC President Mark Yudof went 96% against him, out of around 10,000 people who cast votes.

UCOP is dismissing the vote as a "stunt." The lopsided nature of the vote does suggest that it may not be a scientific sample of the entirety of UC opinion.  Still, criticisms of UCOP management are deep and wide.  Though they have been muted in some quarters by targeted measures like the exemption from furloughs of employees not funded by the state, and the salary top-ups available through at least some extramural grants, it is not clear how long that will last.

My own confidence is not improved by UCOP's official dismissal of the vote. Management that is trying to govern impartially and keep all parts of the system together would instead have said, "while we do not agree with the views expressed by the vote, we take all UC employees views seriously, and will intensify our efforts to achieve mutually satisfactory resolutions to the problems of this difficult time."  Even a little soothing PR seems out of reach. And this in turn raises the unpleasant question of whether the level of respect for a substantial range of UC employees is indeed so low that respect cannot even be faked.

12 comments:

Gerry Barnett said...

What's missing is an independent voice. So, for instance, what's Garamendi's take? He was a lone voice arguing that UC still had an opportunity to make a case for better leg budget treatment. He's running for Congress. He ought to have point of view relative to the UC situation.

If research to some extent drives innovation in the economy, and UC is one of America's research powerhouses, then The Regents and UCOP failing to make a compelling case for state support is a national issue, not simply a local governance spat about how to distribute cuts apparently acceptable to The Regents and UCOP, where the distaste appears to be focused on dealing with the reaction of those on whom the cuts fall hardest.

SIO prof said...

I think one issue faculty in the sciences would rally behind is that UCOP for a long time has exerted a large "tax" on external funding while providing little perceived value in return. For example, my department brings in a huge number of federal grant dollars, yet the infrastructure to carry out the research is crumbling around us. I am told that only one third of our ICR is returned to us, and that is not enough to maintain the facilities. Because the fraction of returned ICR is so low, we must use core state funds to keep things running for externally funded research. UCOP withholds a full third of our ICR and diverts it to who knows what purpose. I'd like to know what that one third of our ICR is used for, and why it cannot be used to remedy other cuts.

Gerry Barnett said...

Oddly, UCOP does not withhold most ICR on industry grants, just the federal ones. There has been no way to track the UCOP shares, nor, at times, even what's returned to campus. A similar story for UCOP withholdings on IP licensing income. This kind of stuff surfaces when funding is suddenly tight, and it comes to light that administrators cannot tell (or refuse to accept) that some things are more important than others.

That makes "everyone sharing together" strong evidence for the scope of the problem. Who is serving whom?

Andrea Bertozzi said...

Thanks for bringing up the issue of ICR. I'd like to know how it is accounted for as well. I moved to UCLA in 2003 and one attraction to coming here was the fact that sponsored research was so well supported (and it is) however given all the time I put into bringing in external funding (many of my weekends especially during a year when grants are expiring) I'd like to know better what is going on with ICR. My department would like to use space currently occupied by a large bank of computer equipment, but we can not renovate the space it needs to move to because we lack funding. The equipment requires special air conditioning and wiring - these things can be somewhat trivial compared with science lab renovations - yet it can not be done. At the same time overhead on my grants alone - over the last couple of years - could probably have paid for this renovation but we do not see it. I have several colleagues bringing in this level of funding so the overhead has certainly come in.

Andrea Bertozzi said...

I have to add that I've been rather disappointed with the press coverage of this "no confidence" vote. Some papers are publishing that it was 96% of all UC employees. Even the 10K people that voted is a small fraction of all UC staff and faculty, and moreover UC ladder faculty had no part of the vote. While I've been rather amazed at the way UCOP has steamrolled everyone over just a few weeks this summer - with furloughs - at least there was an attempt to take into account opinions. I have not heard about this level of engagement at other public universities where they are also having furloughs.

Anonymous said...

Well, furloughs at other institutions (outside CA) are smaller, corresponding to about 3% (which we could have had as well, if UCOP had been forthcoming about the missing $315 million), and furloughs elsewhere are actually furloughs, not disguised pay cuts like at UC.

Chris Newfield said...

Andrea - you've prompted me to start an Indirect Costs Corner on the blog - I've posted a chart for the ICR trickle-down slice-up that might help a bit - Chris

Andrea Bertozzi said...

Thanks Chris for posting the chart on ICR. I'd like to know more. Do the med schools all keep their ICR? To what degree are the ICRs from science and engineering departments subsidizing other parts of campus? Although federal funding is far from an untapped resource, I wonder if more can be done on the UC campuses to bring faculty, who have previously not enjoyed federal funding, into the activities of sponsored research? I personally have been collaborating with colleagues from Anthropology and Criminology and we've had some (significant) joint federal grants. Perhaps more interdisciplinary activities, that cross humanities/soc sci with phys sci/engineering might be of help?

Andrea Bertozzi said...

We really need a new thread started on extramural funding - this one was really about the article on the no confidence vote. To that end, I'm getting little info from UCLA administration regarding the details on the furlough exchange program. I'd like to know which grants, which category of people, etc. I have 8 postdocs I work with who are in the adjunct/instructor/lecturer category - they are all funded between 20-100% on general fund (teaching) and the rest on grants. I'd like to "top up" all of them as they are the backbone of the research program, but no details yet on how this will work. A month ago I was working on moving money outside the UC system to take furlough days elsewhere, and with the federal fiscal year about to close we really need to know details....

Chris Newfield said...

Andrea you've seen the UCOP memo under my slightly snide title "UCOP Salary Top-Up Program for Grant Getters" in the Furloughs News section?

Andrea Bertozzi said...

Hi Chris, yes I got a copy of that file from our dept administrator, who got it from the Dean's office. However, the Dean's office does not seem to know how to implement it. I ran into the asst Dean today at the UCLA fac center and was told to ask another administrator on campus. They do not seem to know how we should go about doing this, especially for complex situations like our "postdocs" who have all sorts of combinations of research and teaching titles - very little of which are actually `postdoc' titles. I'm concerned because if I can not top off their furlough time I would like to know right away so that I could at least provide some extra summer salary before it is too late for summer 2009 - at least for those who are on fractional 9 month contracts and thur are eligible for summer pay.

karim said...

Very thoughtfull post on confidence .It should be very much helpfull

Thanks,
Karim - Creating Power

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