September 10, 2012


SUBJECT:    2011-12 End of Year Summary

Dear Colleagues:

I recently completed a term as Chair of the Academic Senate. I write now to report to the faculty on the experience.

The Academic Senate is the representative body of the University of California faculty. The Regents delegate to the faculty authority over courses, conditions for admissions, and degrees. The Administration consults with the Academic Senate on a broad range of issues, including faculty appointments and promotions, the establishment and review of Organized Research Units, and policies that directly affect faculty welfare. This year I frequently served as an intermediary, reporting to faculty groups on information provided at administrative meetings and attempting to represent the faculty's perspective to administrators.

Administrators at UC San Diegeo conscientiously consulted with the Senate leadership and responded to the Senate's requests for information. While there are frequent and predictable disagreements about what is best for the University and how to achieve it, my interactions with the Administration were collegial and constructive.

There are aspects of the Senate-Administration relationship that could be improved. The Administration wishes to move quickly. The Senate moves slowly. The Administration worries that some matters are too delicate to discuss widely and that premature consultation will endanger negotiations. This leads to situations in which the Senate learns of projects in late stages of the planning process. Consultation then takes the form of a request by the Administration to approve a plan rather than an opportunity to collaborate on making a better plan. The Senate had meaningful input into some important decisions this year, and I am confident that this will continue. Improving the relationship requires the Senate to develop the flexibility to act quickly when necessary and for the Administration to seek the Senate's advice when it can have a meaningful impact on decisions.

The Regents delegate decision-making authority to the Chancellor in most cases. As long as the Senate leadership remains independent of the Administration, we should expect the Senate to disagree with administrative decisions periodically. The Administration need not always follow the Senate's advice, but it should listen to the Senate's recommendations. When there are differences of opinion, it is the Senate leadership's responsibility to report them to the faculty and the Administration's duty to justify its actions.

I have respect for the dedication and ability of the UC San Diego Administration. I am less satisfied with the central administration of the University of California. I went to Oakland about ten times this year to attend meetings. On the basis of what I observed, I have no confidence that the Office of the President of the University of California effectively supports the interests of the faculty or the University of California more generally. These are difficult times for the University of California system. Many of the problems are outside of the control of the highest leadership of the institution. Nevertheless, systemwide leadership has not effectively communicated the value of public research institutions, has been ineffective in developing ways to integrate technology into education, and has made poor decisions about the management of systemwide research enterprises.

While I viewed my job as representing "the faculty," the faculty does not speak in one voice. I met regularly with professors who served on Academic Senate committees and, in particular, the chairs of committees who served with me on the Senate Council. If faculty active in Senate affairs do not represent your point of view and you believe that the Senate has an influential voice in important university decisions, I encourage you to become more involved in the Academic Senate. I have had my opportunity to participate in the shared governance process and now happily step aside to give others the chance to serve.

What follows is an annotated list of issues considered by the Academic Senate this year. The list is not complete. Some issues are still unresolved. In some cases, the Senate's actions had little to do with the final outcome.

1. Academic Freedom. Academic Affairs and the Academic Senate organized a workshop on academic freedom. The workshop was a response to issues raised by the Committee on Academic Freedom, and a May 2011 Representative Assembly resolution called for the workshop to increase staff, administration, and faculty awareness of academic freedom issues. One half of the workshop took place in May. The second half will take place on September 17, 2012.

2. Affiliation Agreements. The Academic Senate and the Administration discussed and clarified the role of the Senate in the review of affiliation agreements. The objective of the discussions was to make sure that the Senate received timely notification of negotiations between the Administration and outside entities when these potential agreements were relevant to faculty interests.

3. Athletics. UC San Diego currently is in NCAA's Division II. The athletic department is eager to move to Division I, which would require additional funding and changes in the way that UC San Diego awards athletic scholarships. In March, students voted against increases in fees needed to move to Division I so UC San Diego will remain in Division II. The athletic department still plans to propose modifications to the way in which UC San Diego awards athletic scholarships. This will be a topic for Senate review and discussion next year.

4. Budget Resolution. The Representation Assembly passed a resolution in May designed to increase the Senate's involvement in the campus budget process.

5. Budget Review Working Group. The chair of the Committee on Planning and Budget and the Vice Chair and Chair of the Division served throughout the year with campus financial officers on the Budget Review Working Group. The group made recommendations about campus planning and budget procedures. In my opinion, this group missed an opportunity to make more dramatic improvements. I have communicated this opinion to the Senate and Administration.

6. California Western School of Law. The Divisional and systemwide Academic Senate reviewed a proposed affiliation agreement with California Western School of Law. The Senate did not support the proposal and no affiliation agreement was made.

7. Compensation for Senate Service. Led by the Committee on Committees, the Academic Senate negotiated a memorandum of understanding with the Administration that clarified the nature of compensation to be provided for extraordinary Senate service (defined to be membership on CAP, chair of CAP, and chair of the Division). Academic Affairs and Health Sciences have endorsed the memorandum. At this point, Marine Sciences has not.

8. Enrollment Management. The Academic Senate raised concerns that the Enrollment Planning Committee has not completely studied the implications of the increased number of non-resident undergraduates on the demands for advising, preparatory education, and impacted majors. A working group will study this issue in the coming year.

9. Facilities Management Review. Concerns about two power outages led to the creation of a facilities management review group charged with recommending ways to improve the reliability of the campus research infrastructure.

10. Faculty Rewards. A Senate Task Force on Faculty Rewards submitted a report in the summer of 2012. The report contains recommendations designed to streamline reviews and improve procedures. The Senate will review the report in the fall.

11. Negotiated Salary Plan. The University of California Administration proposed a plan to modify the compensation scheme broadly modeled after Health Sciences compensation that would allow Senate faculty to contribute external funding toward their total UC salary. The San Diego Division endorsed the proposal while expressing concerns. The systemwide Academic Council did not endorse NSP, but agreed to the formation of a joint Senate-Administration work group to revise the proposal in response to Academic Council's concerns. In addition, a local group worked to develop a Negotiated Salary Increment Program (NSIP) Proposal for UC San Diego. The Senate Council reviewed the local proposal for a NSIP and UCSD will support the plan at the Academic Council. Implementation awaits systemwide review and approval.

12. Online Education. The UCSD's Administration and faculty are cooperating to review options for technologically enhanced education. Systemwide efforts to promote online education have had no positive impact on the campus.

13. Patent Agreement. The University of California requested all employees to sign a revised patent agreement. The Vice Chancellor of Research and the Committee on Welfare presented information about the agreement to the Representative Assembly.

14. Salary Inequity. The Senate reviewed a study that provided evidence that female faculty members were paid less than white male colleagues at similar step and rank. The study did not attempt to identify the cause of this disparity. UC San Diego's Administration and Academic Senate are working together to find mechanisms to identify and rectify inappropriate gaps in compensation.

15. Senate Members in Colleges. With the cooperation of the Council of Provosts, the Academic Senate established procedures for reviewing appointments of Senate members (Lecturers with Security of Employment) whose primary appointments are in an undergraduate college (rather than an academic department).

16. Simplifying Committee Structure. The Committee on Committees initiated efforts to streamline committee structures and improve communication between standing committees and the Senate Council.

17. Voting Rights for Health Sciences Faculty members. The Representative Assembly approved a resolution that would give departments in the School of Medicine the option, on a department-by-department basis, to extend voting right to certain (non-Senate) job categories. Implementation of the proposal requires systemwide review and approval. The systemwide Academic Senate will review the proposal in 2012-13 academic year.

Joel Sobel, 2011-12 Chair
Academic Senate, San Diego Division