Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC
For the Week of September 09, 2013

Despite five vacancies on the Board of Regents, Governor Brown has not named any new regents since he took office in January 2011. During the same period, however, he has appointed a number of California State University trustees.
Outgoing UC president Mark Yudof offered his reflections on the state of public higher education and his record at UC. Yudof is being succeeded as president by former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. Yudof’s tenure was five years, but Napolitano may wind up staying not even that long. At her departure ceremony from the federal office, Vice President Joe Biden declared that Napolitano should be on the Supreme Court. She has been in the running before and will likely be again, according to a Washington Post blog.

Meanwhile, a group of UC student “dreamers” is petitioning Napolitano to make all UC campuses “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants. The petition, published yesterday, also demands that Napolitano meet with a coalition of undocumented students before she comes on the job later this month.

Closer to home, UC Davis has still not filled the vacant position of dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. UC Davis is one of the pre-eminent agricultural schools in the nation and this position is among the most important positions on the campus. Illustrating the key role of the university for both corporate and public interests, an external search committee – including Foster Farms, E&J Gallo, Clorox, Starbucks, Wells Fargo, the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy – complements a search committee of faculty and students.

Universities acting like corporations by using heavy-handed tactics to fight unionization is the theme of this report about organizing efforts by faculty at Boston’s Northeastern University. Management there has hired the union-busting law firm, Jackson Lewis, which the AFL-CIO calls “the number one union-buster in America.”

A win for faculty free speech rights at public universities from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, reports Inside Higher Ed. The ruling came after a journalism professor at Washington State University filed suit, claiming he was retaliated against with negative performance reviews for writings that criticized his institution’s administration.

An Inside Higher Ed reviewer states that UCLA lecturer Bob Samuels’s new book, Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free, “takes on pretty much every major higher ed issue of the day, from administrative bloat to the hidden costs of campus technology,” in arguing that “public colleges could be free” by trimming “non-essential functions,” redirecting money and ending “tax breaks that mostly benefit wealthy college-goers’ families.” Samuels is president of University Council-American Federation of Teachers, which represents UC’s 4,000 non-Senate faculty and librarians.

In Part VI of a Washington Post series that examines “Why there’s no reason for big universities to rein in spending,” commentator Dylan Matthews explains research showing that “universities could be spending far, far less than they are now without any corresponding decline in educational quality.” The research also shows “that cost increases are likelier when the ratio of staff to faculty is higher” – suggesting “that when administrators within the university accumulate bargaining power, they’re better able to force increases in costs.”

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