memo

Got the Monday blues? Start your week off right with a helping of useful information and informed opinion. 

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For the week of August 24, 2009

UC executives’ pay raises have hit the national press, with one USA Today journalist writing that “bankers and brokers aren't the only ones in the public cross hairs for being lavished with bonuses and perks amid deep deficits and cost cutting. Add to the outrage list more than two dozen top managers at the University of California.”

It’s news like that which lead the UC Union Coalition to schedule a systemwide “no confidence” vote on UC President Mark Yudof’s leadership, to run from August 26 to September 3. All UC employees are eligible to vote. Check the website above for campus polling locations or to learn how to vote online.

Still, UC’s top managers are gearing up their spin campaign to convince employees, students and the public that exorbitant salaries for executives in a time of cutbacks are necessary. Mark Laret, CEO of the UCSF medical center, wrote to the San Francisco Chronicle with the sad tale of executives who had left UC due to their low wages.

A San Francisco Chronicle reader commented in a letter to the editor  that “the regents claim that these executives are ‘top talent,’ but no objective outside study has ever shown this.”

How the University Works and the Chronicle of Higher Education (UC login required) co-published an interview with UC-AFT President Bob Samuels on UC’s salary structure. Samuels explains how 3500 UC execs earning “over $200,000 are living large while students are being turned away and the teaching faculty -- most earning less than bartenders -- are being terminated and involuntarily furloughed.”

Massive construction projects at UC’s campuses are proceeding after UC borrowed $200 million to lend to the state, even amid management’s claims of the biggest budget crisis in UC’s history.

Yudof put an emphasis on campus expansion during his tenure as president of the University of Minnesota, where he presided over the “biggest construction boom in the school's history,” according to a 2002 article in the City Pages which was published right before Yudof left for his next gig at the University of Texas. Critics quoted in that article allege his building program was rife with mismanagement and massive cost overruns. That, along with a 29% tuition hike over two years, had some Minnesotans fuming.

A bill that requires UC and other state institutions of higher education to disclose more financial information has passed out of a key legislative committee. Its author, Senator Leland Yee, hopes it will bring “greater accountability” to UC.

And finally, a fascinating look from a UCSF faculty insider on how UC management plays the legislature off against the governor, and the politics of the “compact” that was supposed to fund UC from 2005-2011. Professor Stanton Glantz makes the case that rising tuition and sinking state funding are the result of a “policy choice made by the governor to shift from the Master Plan to a privatized model for higher education.”
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