Friday, January 21, 2011

What Is To Be Done with the University of California?

By Akos Rona-Tas
Sociology, UCSD

The Political Reality

The referenda in the November elections made one thing painfully clear: most Californians still believe that we can have public services without paying for them. What is quite extraordinary is not that people don’t want to pay taxes. These are hard times and many people are either in financial trouble or have well founded fears of being there soon. What is remarkable is that a large portion of the electorate doesn’t seem to want anyone else to pay taxes either. This deep ideological commitment to lower taxes, shared by Republican and Democratic voters, a norm that took three decades to permeate our entire culture, will not dissipate anytime soon. It is, therefore, unrealistic to think that this “something-for-nothing” delusion, ironically fostered by the “no-free-lunch” ideology of market fundamentalism, will go away in time for UC to just muddle through in the next few years. Our challenge is this: we have to find ways of saving public education without the public paying its share.

The Weakness of the Report of UC Commission on the Future

UCOP and the Regents reached this conclusion some time ago, yet there is not much in the Gould Commission’s final report that would match the challenge of this quandary. Many of the incremental changes proposed are reasonable and will be helpful if implemented but, in the end, they will not be able to fill the hole in UC’s budget. The weakness of the report is rooted in two mistaken assumptions. The first that seemingly follows from the realization that we cannot count on the state anymore, is that UC must think about its future in one piece; the rules we put down now must guide the university throughout the 21st century. There is no medium term crisis plan for the next 4 to 7 years and another long range blue print beyond that. We are planning for a 21st century as if the worst economic crisis in the history of modern capitalism since the Great Depression would last for the rest of our lifetime and beyond. Each campus, of course, has its short term plan of survival but that is limited to modest cuts and creative accounting. The importance of chopping up the future into short, medium and long term is that what we need to do now to avoid the worst of this crisis may not be what we want our university to do once the crisis is over. The trick then is to insure that the short and medium term solutions do not impose themselves on our long term objectives.

The second problem is that the report is too heavily tilted in the direction of cost cutting. This is echoed by faculty groups who argue that to keep the quality of the university, we must follow corporations in trouble, and we must downsize. President Yudof voiced this position responding to Governor Brown’s budget proposal. While the Commission’s report does not directly advocate downsizing, it resigns itself to the inevitability of cutting faculty and enrollment. The few suggestions for raising extra revenues take the form of let’s do more of or better what we are already doing: more out-of-state students, more indirect cost recovery, more “self-supporting” programs. Doing more of the same can offer limited help in our crisis for two reasons. The changes are marginal and will produce much less revenue than needed. Moreover, there have been reasons for us not having done more or better already. Getting more qualified out-of-state students with our large classes, without any scholarships for non-Californians, and with high cost of living in our state is not easy for most campuses. Recovering more indirect cost is hard when funding agencies refuse to pay UC’s cost of research. “Self-supporting” programs are expensive to run and compete with programs at other institutions and often end up not supporting themselves. There has to be a more serious approach to generating additional revenue than this tinkering at the margins.

This undifferentiated view of the future and cost cutting bias created a framework that drives all sides of the debate on the future of UC. I think the only way forward is to move beyond this framework and think of a medium range plan and a serious long-term strategy for increasing revenues. I will argue that as a medium term solution to keep quality from falling faster we should not cut but expand UC enrollment because we need the additional tuition revenue. Furthermore, I will propose that we refashion UC in a way that designates a core of its functions that would be protected from excessive commercialization and privatization and a set of profitable auxiliary enterprises that would subsidize the core.

Medium Term Solution: Increase Enrollment

With the new $400 million cut UC faces a stark choice: we can cut faculty and staff or we can increase enrollment. Both will compromise quality but with different long term consequences and I will argue that the second is our better option.
There is a common mistake of thinking about our current crisis as having a bunch of students the State did not pay for. If only we could get rid of those students, so the thinking goes, we would be much better off. This would be true if students paid no tuition or if their fees were symbolic. This is not the case anymore. Currently, tuition is close to what the state pays for each student. It would be also true if students were like candy bars and you had to pay twice as much for two as you pay for one. But students are not candy bars because the marginal cost of the second student is smaller than the cost of the first. From buildings to laboratories, from libraries to tenured faculty, the fixed costs of UC are high. Adding another student will require an additional chair in the classroom but they can use the same buildings, labs, libraries and faculty than the others. There are absolute physical limits to the number of people who can use these resources and adding students will hurt the quality of instruction but as a medium range solution, this maybe our best bet.

In fact, cutting enrollment, as advocated by many, will cost us money because the marginal cost of a student is less than the tuition we forgo by rejecting her. The real savings from cutting if there is any, will come from cutting faculty. That, however, is hardly a way to keep quality high. In fact, as I have said, we have only two ways to balance our budgets: we can cut faculty or enroll more students. Because we are in an emergency, we must find a temporary solution that creates the least damage in the long run. If we think of the university as composed of the stock of tenured faculty, programs and facilities, and the flow of students streaming through our campuses, it is easy to see which of the two is easier to adjust. Cutting faculty with tenure by attrition will not just be slow, will not just create a program structure where departments with market power will flourish while others will shrink, and will not just be detrimental for the UC pension system, but will raise the costs of rebuilding departments and programs.

On the other hand, increasing enrollment is relatively easy and reversing the bulge is straightforward. The easiest to manage is transfer student numbers because those students are at UC only for two years and how many we must admit is outside the Master Plan. The advantage of out-of-state students, on the other hand, is not just their high tuition but also that we can cut them easily if we can afford to do that. If we let a lot of students in, we can decide later either to slim UC by admitting fewer of them, or to grow the faculty to match the larger student body. The former will be harder politically, the latter will require more resources, but both are doable and are much easier than cutting tenured faculty in a reasonable way and then rebuild the university.

Opening the doors of UC wider, if done properly, may also earn UC political capital with the electorate. If UC presents it as reaching out to California in an emergency situation, at a time when California needs its colleges most, we may even be able to sway the voters to accept the oil tax to pay for higher education. Overenrollment is not a long-term solution. We have to be very clear that overenrollment is a crisis measure and we have to make a strong commitment to returning to our original student to faculty ratio, as soon as it is feasible.

Long Term Solution: Develop Auxiliary Enterprises That Subsidize the Core Mission

Our long-term strategy should be that if the state does not subsidize UC, UC will have to subsidize its own mission. To this end, we should revamp UC in a way that it retains and protects its traditional core functions (i.e., undergraduate education of Californians, graduate education plus non-applied research) while developing auxiliary functions that would subsidize the core. The idea is that rather than marketizing/privatizing our core mission, we expand and marketize auxiliary functions to support it, or to put it differently: UC would generate as much of the needed additional revenue as it can, but not through higher tuition or the corporatization of instruction and research. Of course, the university should not engage in an enterprise just because it is profitable. Auxiliary enterprises must be compatible with UC’s mission and should be in line with such principles as promoting life-time learning, involvement in the local community, and the expansion of the pool of people UC serves in areas where we are best qualified to do so.

This is not a particularly original idea and many of its elements are there in the Commission’s report but it is a very tricky path and we have to make sure it doesn’t take us somewhere we don’t want to go. For this subsidization to work properly,

a) there must be an institutional/organizational firewall that allows the net flow of resources only from the auxiliaries to the core and not in the reverse direction,
b) there must be an environment that allows the auxiliaries to prosper within principled guidelines,
c) we must create a system of faculty monitoring and oversight that patrols the border between core and auxiliaries and, last but not least,
d) we need a level of financial transparency that is currently missing, which involves a system of financial disclosure that facilitates estimating costs and that produces a standardized, periodic report allowing for the necessary calculations.

UC should set up the institutional framework that would include a center for institutional innovation that would evaluate and set into motion business ideas and then would monitor and re-evaluate them. The center should be systemwide to allow for the exchange of ideas across campuses. In fact, the circulation of ideas should be one of the main functions of the center. The center should operate with strong Academic Senate oversight.

Here are a few examples of potential auxiliaries:

1. UC EAP could be offered to non-UC students. Currently, EAP, an amazing infrastructure started in the 1960s and providing UC education (for UC credit) to over 4000 UC students each year, is in the process of being hacked to death. If UC EAP would be offered to other colleges for the price of out-of-state tuition and to Cal State for UC prices, economies of scale and additional revenue would save EAP (which is already close to being self-supporting). This way new money would support the core (EAP for UC students is core). There could even be money left over to spend on on-campus instruction. Education abroad currently is a lucrative business where we would compete with such formidable institutions as Butler University and Arcadia University that make a lot of money doing what we could do. For this to happen, UC would need to research on the current market and invest in marketing EAP to other schools, a task the proposed center could undertake.

2. Extension can be expanded, a point endorsed by the Commission. Extension currently offers courses in adult education. This should be conceived not just simply as a money making enterprise catering to professionals but also as community involvement that calls for not just narrowly focused post-graduate professional degrees but also courses in the humanities and the social sciences. The point here is that extension should be a coordinated effort of each campus where two contradictory aims should be reconciled: 1.) extension should provide subsidies for the core, but at the same time 2.) the more lucrative programs should also subsidize -- if subsidy is necessary, -- courses that reach out to the community. (One of the many reasons New York is a cultural center is that Columbia, CUNY, the New School, NYU, etc., have all been involved in adult education very broadly conceived.) A broader strategy of expanding extension could raise new revenues.

3. We should encourage, as we do, "self-supporting" programs, but we should tax them. In other words, self-supporting, breaking even would not be enough, they would have to contribute to the core. We should also encourage departments to offer self-supporting professional degrees including Masters of Advanced Studies. (At UCSD, we just approved a few new M.A.S. programs including one in simulation-based engineering and another in medical devices engineering.) But rather than just expecting departments to come up with such programs, UC should offer support developing and advertising them. Like Extension, this too should be a coordinated effort. The Senate should set clear guidelines about faculty workload and compensation, the use of UC facilities and the distribution of the income from these programs.

4. Outside the core is the area where on-line education could play an important role. We should start from the rule that no traditional UC degree (B.A., B. Sc., M.A. etc.) can be earned fully or substantially on-line. But we could still make certain types of knowledge available on-line for a fee, awarding certificates.

5. The traditional academic calendar leaves the campuses underutilized during the summer (and the winter break). From conferences to summer camps, there are many things campuses could do that could raise extra revenue but that could also serve other good purposes. (We should consider year-round education.)

6. With the big wave of boomer retirements, UC campuses could partner with private service providers and offer their campus community to retirees who want to be involved in campus life by taking classes, attending cultural events, going to public lectures, using the library etc. Currently, over 50 campuses, including UCLA and Stanford, have something along these lines (although in typical UC fashion, UCLA is not getting any revenue from this highly profitable Westwood retirement community.) AARP has special publications about "retiring near a college." Each campus could use such facilities to bring back to campus retiring alumni, keep UC pensioners close by, or bring academics retired from other universities into their communities (California will be attractive to many academics retiring from Madison, Ithaca, or Bloomington and campuses could issue an Emeritus Fellow title to some of these academics with certain privileges). UC would get a cut of the monthly fee retirees pay for their independent and assisted living.

7. We should consider offering college level AP courses for high school students (taught by our lecturers) that guarantee a high level of quality often glaringly absent in existing available courses.

8. We should rethink the financial relationship between our medical services and our core functions. UC Medical Centers should pay a tax to UC.

Some of these ideas may not work; others may work but will amount only to small change. Some may have unintended consequences. The point is that currently, we have no institutional mechanism even to evaluate ideas like this. With a few exceptions, UC is not set up to generate additional revenue. We also have no institutional mechanism that would protect the core from the encroachment of these enterprises if they really were to take off or from financial liability if they failed. This is the kind of mechanism that we must build.

In the foreseeable future state support for higher education will not return. We must have a strategy to address the resulting shortfall with a medium term (4-7 year) and a long term strategy. The first should be increased enrollment, the second a university that is more entrepreneurial and market-friendly on its periphery but not in its core.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Report from the Front at Birmingham University

Originally Posted At Campaign for the Public University

To the students in occupation,

I stopped by to see you today and to offer a talk; I was looking forward to participating in the planned round table discussions as well. I hope they went forward. Unfortunately, as I understand like many others, I was barred from entry – even from speaking to any one of you in person. I was told that I had ‘no right’ to be on the university campus, ‘no business’ being there, because I was not an employee of the university. This implies that others including prospective students, parents, members of the community, researchers, even tourists have no right to inhabit the campus spaces either. No difference that I was invited by Birmingham students; your invitation carries no weight as you are ‘in dispute with the university’. 
No difference that the occupation was itself meant to be free and open to all, and that it was in fact the university administration that transformed it into a closed and inaccessible space of confrontation rather than dialogue. No difference that I am a lecturer at a university, that many of you are my disciplinary peers, that I have been to Birmingham many times in the past few years to meet with colleagues, to participate in workshops and conferences, to hear talks – as academics and students do at universities everywhere. When I explained this, I was accused of lying – none of my activities, I was told, could have been possible. I was reminded that the university, even the stairwell I was standing in, is ‘private property’, and that I must leave without delay. I was told to take my opposition to this exclusion ‘back to my own university’ – what an odd logic – by guards who rolled their eyes and acted as if an academic presuming membership of the academy was the most audacious and irrational thing they’d ever heard. Talk of the enclosure of the commons is often vague; experiences such as this make its arbitrary processes visible.

Hope to meet you in a freer space soon. I attach my notes for what I had originally planned to discuss. I intended it as a starter for discussion and debate, not as a lecture.
Best wishes,
Dr. Sarah Amsler

For the Birmingham Students against the Cuts occupation, 17/01/2011
Both critique of the situation we find ourselves in, and the spirit of refusal to resign to it, all circulate widely today. But acts of resistance, of the refusal to let ourselves or others be governed, subjected, and devalued in these ways, and practices to create autonomous, human and what we hope are more liveable lives, are still relatively rare.

Refusal and transformation are rare because they are risky – sometimes because they invite discipline and retribution, but more basically because they require a willingness to sacrifice what is known to be doable for a much riskier hope that alternatives might be possible. And in moments of closure, such risks are often taken in the knowledge that these alternatives are not simply waiting in the wings to be activated, but will need to be constructed from the ground up in conditions where the languages and rationalities required for their recognition may not yet exist, and where those that do exist are hostile to the alternatives. Your work demonstrates that, for all its challenges, taking such risks is a realistic possibility (though I think an unevenly distributed one), and that doing so may be increasingly necessary.

We find ourselves at what sometimes feels to be an endgame of the long march of capital through the cultural and political institutions of this society – the proposals to slash funding (especially for arts, humanities and social sciences), escalate tuition fees, and subsume the entire concept of higher education into neoliberal rationality are consistent with the trajectory of higher education policy for the past four decades. Could our predecessors, could we, have done more to slow, prevent or alter it? The question must be asked, although the answer need not necessarily be yes. It is important to know what we are up against. By the early 1970s, E. P. Thompson argued that the English university was already subordinated to industrial capitalism; during this time it was decided that the ‘special place of democracy’ within the universities was a hindrance to their efficient operations as corporations. For students and educators alike, the conditions for and value of critical and humanist forms of knowledge and practice have since that time been progressively and systematically eroded. And as Paulo Freire once wrote, ‘if the structure does not permit dialogue, the structure must be changed’. We have been trying.

Thus, while slogans of ‘Nick Clegg, f**k you for turning blue’ communicate something important about the betrayal of liberal democratic hopes, they also miseducate. This is not a red, blue or yellow agenda, but a problem of the entire political system being reshaped into and subordinated within the logic of the market. In the 1990s, Labour introduced tuition fees, then pledged to decrease them, and then raised them again; at the same time, both Tory and Liberal Democrat leaders pledged to abolish them before now shoving them up in coalition. The entire history of widening participation, which saw the expansion of a system of universities that served only 4% of young people to nearly 50%, has been marked by a nearly symmetrical decline of funding for that education, and increasing demands from universities themselves to be given the authority to privatize in the wake of abandoned socialist possibilities. The ‘crisis of funding’ is systemic, not a consequence of recent bank bailouts or ongoing national debt. Challenging the particular policies and decisions is important, and must continue on intellectual, political and moral grounds. Defending and preserving livelihoods is a necessity. But the real problem in fact lies much deeper, in the logics and forms of the governance of society itself. The university, as you well know, is only one manifestation. The question thus is, what does a genuinely public university look like in this situation? How do we protect and recognise those who work in and for it? How does it work? What is its work? And how might we need to remake the university, and ourselves and relations to one another, to make this work possible?

During a previous period of crisis here at Birmingham in the 1980s, which involved a solid round of closures, mergers and ‘restructuring’, Stuart Hall reminded us that moments of closure in a particular phase of political and cultural struggle are also moments of possibility. He argued that his generation of students, academics and workers faced a historic choice: to ‘capitulate to the Thatcherist future, or find another way of imagining’. There have been other ways of imagining, but I think this also true for us today. Despite the tendency towards despair, we have deep resources of theory, feeling, experience and desire to nurture sustaining projects of radical imagination. And it seems clear that the reclamation of time, space, autonomy, collectivity, agency, humanity and democracy is often a necessary condition for these projects to be possible. I think they will not be permitted otherwise, for the university is already under occupation. It has been for some time, and the extent to which these spaces of learning and debate are dominated by neoliberal rationalities is made visible in the ways we are not permitted to call them our own, to use them for our purposes, to repurpose them, to think them otherwise. Your actions thus seem to me more of a reclamation of the university than its occupation, and a reaffirmation of its democratic promise and possibilities. By using the space for peaceful dissent and protest, the defence of the rights of workers and ideas, expanding possibilities for the advancement of knowledge and understanding, opening up space for radical experimentation and dialogue, welcoming all those who want to engage in these pursuits, creating new relationships and forms of being – in doing all this, you reinsert the progressive promises of higher education, and of democracy, that are being hollowed out from the spaces of the university itself. They have never been perfectly realised; very far from it. But they must remain open for the possibility.

In 1989, Jürgen Habermas told a German audience that he suspected ‘new life can be breathed into the idea of the university only from outside its walls’. I’m not so sure. We have been looking for an ‘outside’ to neoliberal rationality for decades, but it seems that the longer we seek to discover this from within, the more subordinated we actually become. Your occupation points to an alternative: that we are always-already potentially the outside; that alternatives may emerge from rupturing the existing spaces of permissibility and doing something new in the intervals created through this temporary negation. While this might involve a personal flight from the institutions, it might also be accomplished through their reclamation for all. One pressing question now is how this logic, or forms of it, might begin to inform acts of resistance and practices of freedom with others, in other areas of social life. How we might reorient our educational work towards this purpose. How we might learn to inhabit our everyday lives otherwise, and to build the solidarity and courage that will enable us to do so. Your work makes it possible to imagine this.

We are watching closely in solidarity and in hope.

Facebook status of the group at 10:00 p.m. — ‘THE OCCUPATION HAS BEEN BROUGHT FORCEFULLY TO AN ABRUPT AND EARLY END…Just so people know while the status hasn’t been updated.’

Regents Today, Regents Tomorrow

The budget presentation to the Regents today: did the Regents hear from UCOP that the Brown cut of 20% of state general funds  is a disaster for the educational core that needs to be blocked, and that concessions on budgetary transparency and rationality, and reductions in administrative overhead need to be made?  I criticize Bob Samuels' proposal in a comment on his recent post.  Much more needs to be said on various sides. .

The Regents by now should have passed the Educational Policy committeee measure on "individualized review" of every application. It requires the "human read of every application that provides background on the available opportunities and challenges faced by the applicant within his or her school and community," among other things.  This was required by the famous Powell Supreme Court decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), and reaffirmed by Justice O'Connor in the Bollinger decisions in 2003 (v.. Grutter and v. Gratz.  Non-compliance (arithmetic admissions formulae that assigned points for race and other factors) were the rationale behind the anti-affirmative action upheavals in 1994-95 that led to the suspension of UC affirmative action and a decline in the representativeness of the UC student body from which the university still hasn't recovered (though the ban was rescinded in 2001).  So it's not too soon to be holistic, and welcome.

Up at 1 pm today is faculty and staff "competitiveness" - various compensation issues. Up at 8:50 am tomorrow is the open session on Compensation that will announce closed-session decisions about executive comp among other things - and it's right after Public Comment.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ending a Bad UC Week: What Points Might Help Turn Things Around?

This was one of the worst weeks in recent UC,CSU, and CCC history, as the new Democratic governor dished out triple $500 million cuts to all the segments ($400 m to the community colleges), neck-and-neck for the cutting record of his Republican predecessor.  Comments on this blog and elsewhere suggest that some people think this is a clever political ploy, but many people are on the verge of giving up on the idea that California higher ed will ever recover under our political system. 

In the midst of this, there was something oddly cheerful about UC President Mark Yudof's conversation with Patt Morrison in the Los Angeles Times. He may have felt obligated to exude a leader-like calm. Under the circumstances, it would be better to exude a leader-like determination to go full tilt at the emergency.

In content  it was one of Yudof's  best press outlings since he arrived at UC.

The Good:
  • Full cost accounting for Brown's proposed state cuts: "Remember, it's not $500 million, it's really closer to a billion, because unlike community colleges and state colleges, the state doesn't give us money for employer contributions to the pension plan, so that raises the real cost [of the cuts] to $700 million; then you have union contracts, energy contracts, inflationary increases -- we really have a billion-dollar problem."
  • The racial dimension of underfunding. This issue rarely gets broached in print, but it has to be. Here, Yudof says,"The truth is, the deterioration of [education] funding predates this horrendous Great Recession. It's not like things went really great between 1990 and 2007, and then all of a sudden we had this problem. Some of it's driven by demographics -- an aging population of voters [worried about] Social Security and police protection. We have a huge demographic of Hispanic youngsters. It's no time to trim back and say, well, they're not our children; well, they are our children, maybe not biologically, but they're our children."  Scratch the biological othering and you have an important statement of a major origin of our self-dissolution. 
  • Great salaries are not the UC norm: " [In] the nation's 62 top universities, our highest [paid] chancellor ranks 50th. And the chair of the group, from Santa Barbara, ranks dead last."  Incidentally, Henry Yang, UCSB's chancellor, is also the longest-serving chancellor in the system.
  • Centrality of Higher Ed to the Future. "Who's going to train the nurses, the veterinarians? Who's going to invent the better solar panels? Who's going to make sure the crops are safe? Business is not doing this.  If we eat our seed corn, to use a Texas analogy, there's not going to be anything to support these programs. You have to create the basis for long-term prosperity."
The not-so-good
  • Leading with the Pension Problem. "We have a $20-billion shortfall, long run, in the pension plan. I think it's going to take 20 years to dig our way out, but we have a plan."  No one wants to hear about UC's $20 billion pension hole -- out of context.  In addition to the New Year's Gang of 36 fiasco that sustained UC's reputation as rich enough to sponsor both high executive salaries and continuous internal maneuvering for bigger perks, the Right has turned cutting public pensions into a national crusade. The Economist declared war in a recent cover story, "The Battle Ahead,"  The Weekly Standard is pushing the idea that states should be able to declare bankruptcy so they can default on their obligations to public employees.  There are dozens of these examples, many with the intent of distracting from real economic problems like the transforming of private into public debt and the country's lack of viable innovation and employment policies.  Better either to engage and explain decent pensions as, among other socially-important things, compensation for UC's sub-market salaries, or say nothing at all.
  • Same Old Wrong Claim that the Humanities and Social Sciences Lose Money. "We roughly have a $20-billion budget; $3 billion comes from the state. That's the English department, the Spanish department, economics -- that have difficulty generating the big outside grants. I love the humanities; I'm a creature of the humanities. But the engineering colleges are going to bring in more external research support, and that money's crucial."  Mais non, c'est faux!  In fact, the big outside grants lose money, and are supported in part by cross-subsidies from high-enrollment fields in and out of the science and engineering fields that bring in big, important, and yet very costly grants.  UC has officially acknowledged this. For example, the third sentence of a Regents's item in November 2010 reads, "The UC system incurs $600 million in unreimbursed indirect costs every year."  A San Francisco Chronicle report on the original UCOF discussion of this issue put the figure at $720 million on $3.5 billion in research revenues, or a loss of about 20 cents on the research dollar. The Academic Senate's indirect cost recovery report calcuates that ICR is about 25% while true indirect costs "appear to be in the 65-70% range" (p 5).  Mark Yudof's repeated misstatement on this has at least two bad outcomes: (1) it undoes emerging public awareness of why education is so expensive; (2) it undoes emerging awareness among scientists that they are not huge profit centers for the university.  Science research should have more funding, not less (as should the social sciences, arts, and humanities, which are pitiful also-rans). But research should be fully funded and thus not damage the finances of struggling public universities. If Mark Yudof can't be clear about this, how can we find any of the $500 million in internal savings we will need six months from now?
  • Lionizing Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Education Governor. "[Former Gov.] Schwarzenegger had a huge regard for higher education. He understood its role in economic development. Great research universities take a long time to build and can be destroyed in a very short period of time; he understood that."  In reality, no modern California governor whacked higher ed like Arnold did, early and often.  He forced a Compact on UC and CSU that held down budget growth in good years, obligated annual tuition increases at 2-4 times the rate of inflation, and mandated infinite private fundraising to try (in vain) to fill operational holes.  He then welched on the Compact in a heartbeat in 2008 and cut UC 20%. He also crusaded tirelessly against public services in general, and tried to eliminate the UC pension along with those of all other state workers in 2005.  If the president of UC thinks this guy was a great higher education governor, then the UC president likes cuts and increasing dependence on private funds.  Mark Yudof clearly says he likes neither, so this kind of politicking should stop. 
  • Letting Jerry Brown off the hook.  Why not instead say, "I know a lot about budget deficits. But budget deficits are no excuse for unraveling a great public university system."  
  • Mixed Signals on Tuition Increases. "We've hit the students very hard, roughly 40% [of increases] in the last three years, I think. What we've given back? If you have a family income of $80,000 a year and you're financial-aid eligible, you don't pay tuition. I thought that was pretty good. And we didn't apply the increase to students [with family incomes] between $80,000 and $120,000."  So we didn't hit the students hard?  Full cost of attendance is making UC less affordable for low-income students, who in spite of Blue-and-Gold assurances borrow more both in percentage and absolute terms than do students of the middle-class.  UC needs to be much clearer that in spite of all the University tries to do, and its genuine good intentions, it cannot sustain student access with incessant, gigantic state funding cuts.
The omitted:
  • Credible internal budgeting and operating reforms that will lead to real savings. I don't mean this $500 million in "administrative savings" floated last year by CFO Peter Taylor, (and I certainly hope that the Brown administration didn't get its $500 miillion cuts figure from that claim).  I mean concrete measures to respond to many stakeholders' legitimate concerns about UC's opaque budgeting and fund distribution, not to mention concerns about unfair distributions of resources and operational blockages of the kinds frontline faculty and staff know all about.  Given Brown's statement that he will work wilth all "stakeholders," Mark Yudof should sponsor real cross-functional collaborations, and assure the public that all parts of the UC community, including the dreaded unions that represent close to half of all employees, will be full participants.
  • A timeline for public funding recovery.  Would it be possible for our president to say, "our plan, after making proportionately enormous sacrifices to the state deficit for the umptheeth time, is to rebuild funding to the $3 billion level by 2013-2014, and $4 billion by two years after that. Otherwise, I truly hate to say, we will be looking at $20,000 tuition for undergraduates.  Nobody wants that, but we have a duty to our students to protect quality, so we will do that if the state forces us to."
  • Presentation of UC, CSU, and the CCC as a counter-cyclical economic stimulus.   This is a no-brainer.  Jerry Brown is taking up the Arnold Herbert Hoover non-stimulation of the California economy that the last governor got such a good start on. All higher ed leaders should do this every chance they get.  People give a vote of half-confidence to austerity because the folks in charge offer no alternative.
  • A statement about the educational emergency. The deep crisis is not the budget crisis, it's the education crisis.  It's also the public services crisis --the meltdown in the high quality infrastructure and services that enable the creative, satisfied, productive population of today and tomorrow, with higher education being Exhibit A. California educational attainment has crashed, and both social and economic decline are already following. This has to stop. If we wait until the economy recovers, the economy isn't going to recover.
Somebody recently pointed out that institutions and societies don't fail because they never get second chances. They fail because they blow their second chances, and their third and fourth and fifth and sixth chances too.  Brown's budget is another chance to make our case, and Mark Yudof's interview suggests UCOP is somewhat more ready not to miss it.

They will need every last one of us to help them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pay Even More to Get Even Less

I have updated the chart of the University of California's funding pathways to reflect the budget proposed by Governor Brown this week, as a companion to Michael's policy analyses (1 & 2).  The first version appeared in the Futures Report, was updated for the Cuts Report, and was updated most recently to reflect Arnold Schwarzenegger's May Revision last year.
The Benchmark (blue diamonds) reflects a universe in which the state's research university finds its revenue going up and down in an exact reflection of per capita personal income. The latter measures a population's ability to pay. Since California per capita income declined 3.4% in 2009 (for the first time in all recent recessions), the benchmark dips to reflect the previous year's conditions. In some socially rational universe, this condition would reflect a normal but not exceptional commitment to maintaining the society's steady and even improving educational levels.

The 1990 Pathway (green line) reflects a hypothetical commitment the state's leaders might have made in 2005, when they formed the Compact for Higher Education instead, to restore "Master Plan" levels of funding. Yellow is a more modest recovery of the 2001 Pathway after the cuts of the decade's first recession.  The Funding Freeze reflects a scenario in which the state consciously decides to cap its commitment of general funds and "privatize" systematically.  Finally, the red line is where we have actually been.

It is worth noting the following features of our situation:
  • Jerry Brown's proposed cut to UC (and to CSU) of $500 million is a 20% one-year cut in the current general fund revenue. This is similar in scale to Arnold Schwarzenegger's drastic 2008-09 cut.  He is proposing a repeat of Schwarzenegger's disastrous cuts.
  • Brown is continuing Schwarzenegger's race to wind up below the worst-case "funding freeze" scenarioBrown is worst .  than the worst-case scenario, however, because that assumed that tuition would be jacked up rapidly to replace lost public funds.  That will not happen to (or for) UC or CSU).
  • How much would tuition have to rise to recovery $500,000,000? If it were recuperated entirely with undergraduates (about 173,000), each full-time student would need to make a net contribution of another $2,900. But this is the amount after 33% of the additional tuition is returned to financial aid.  So the tuition increase for 2011-12 would be $4379 on top of the systemwide average of 12,150 or about $16,900 for 2011-12.  Maintaining existing levels of education with tuition increases poses obvious hardships and will reduce access, further lowering the state's general level of attainment.
  • This year's new low in pay more to get less is contingent on voters passing tax extensions in a special election.  Mark Baldassare, an experienced California pollster, was on the Patt Morrison show expressing reasonable doubt that Brown will succeed where Arnold failed. The cut could be much larger.  
So we have gotten to the point where electing Jerry Brown instead of Meg Whitman has led to a 20% cut as a best case, whereas with Arnold Schwarzenegger is was the worst.  This is what at the MLA I was calling the devolutionary cycle, or death spiral for short. Brown has spin the wheel of darkness again.

Whether last year or this, every potential ingredient of social development has now been reduced to a question of budget cuts or tax increases. This blocked non-debate has completely denatured California's ability to function according to its self-image as a creative and cutting-edge state.  The point of education and the goals of society -- never mind the famous California pursuits of enlightenment and fulfillment -- have been entirely set aside. Jerry Brown helped invent this political language in the 1970s as the state's first austerity Democrat. I like his personal cheapness, but does he have anything to say besides "we need to balance the budget?

This political game is shortchanging society. We will be writing in the next week about the complete reframing that needs to be done, and that apparently Jerry Brown will not be helping with.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It Could Have Been Worse

By Michael Meranze

Perhaps the best thing to be said about Jerry Brown's proposed budget is that it could have been worse.  Unfortunately, it may still be.  The proposals that Brown has put forth--with their severe cuts to higher education, childcare, in-home services for the elderly and disabled, cal-works, and other social services--depend on the Governor getting a series of tax extensions on the ballot and on the people of California approving them once they are on the ballot.  There is no certainty that these things will happen.  Instead, come June we may be facing an even more brutal budget proposal--with even deeper cuts and a continuation of California's now conventional budget difficulties.

The Governor appears to have made a series of intertwined calculations.  The first calculation is that California will not recover from the Great Recession until 2016. (Budget, 35)  In the meantime he expects somewhere from what he terms "tepid" to moderate growth with a relatively slow replacement of jobs.  The second assumption he appears to have made is that it is impossible to obtain new taxes in the present context--instead the revenues that he is advocating are for the most part taxes that are scheduled to expire that he wants extended (although there is modification to certain corporate tax breaks).  So, for example, there is no proposal for an oil extraction tax.  The third assumption he appears to make is that there can be no firm fiscal footing for the state unless there is fundamental reorganization of the state itself.

But we should be clear what re-organization means in this budget.  Brown is not challenging Proposition 13 for instance, nor is he seeking to change the rules for the approval of revenues.  Instead, he is attempting to overturn the way that funding streams and governmental services have been set up since the aftermath of Prop 13.

Central to the budget proposal, consequently, is the effort that he calls "Realignment." (Budget, 15-28)  Brown is proposing to disentangle the threads (of funding and services) that have thrown county, local, and state government together in providing government services.  He wants to devolve responsibility and control over a series of governmental functions (particularly in juvenile justice, low-scale offenders, parole, mental health, welfare) down onto the counties.  In exchange for this increased responsibility and authority, Brown wants to create dedicated funding streams to pay for these services--and it is to these areas that most of the proposed revenues will be sent (especially the continued sales taxes and the vehicle registration fee).  Some, particularly the surcharge on income taxes will remain in the general fund but they are not enough to compensate for the loss of revenue due to the recession nor to pay down the state debt without severe cuts.

The budget argues, not unreasonably, that when the state took over many local functions (and their funding) in the attempt to mitigate the effects of Prop 13 (and Brown was a prime mover in that), the resulting complexity served to undermine the effectiveness of government, cause unnecessary duplication, and decrease the citizenry's belief in the government itself.  Brown seems to believe that clarifying the roles of the different levels will make the government cheaper and more effective and thereby strengthen people's faith that their taxes are being used wisely.

If I understand the logic of all of this, the Governor's budget presumes that until he can demonstrate that state funds can be used more effectively, and brought closer to their point of origin, it will be impossible to convince people to contribute more revenues.  As a result realignment and devolution are the areas that will benefit the most from the proposed extension of the sales tax and vehicle registration fees.  While there are cuts proposed in these areas the emphasis on realignment means that the greater brunt of the cuts will be born by those programs and services that remain on the level of the state government--including, but not limited to higher education.

Needless to say this strategy is both risky and troubling.  In the short term there is no guarantee that the voters will approve these taxes in the spring, and by taking off the table any genuinely new sources of revenue the Governor has committed himself to a budget that must make significant cuts.  If these taxes fail and Brown continues his efforts at realignment further cuts will have to be made at the state services level--likely including higher education.  Secondly, although he is proposing a dedicated funding stream for realignment it is only for the next 5 years.  Brown may be hoping that by that point the economy will have recovered enough that revenues will increase substantially or that devolution will have restored enough faith to allow a further extension of the taxes.  But this outcome is hardly certain.

More to the point, as the California Budget Project makes clear in their own analysis, the budget presumes serious cuts to the most vulnerable members of the community.  Some of these cuts have been previously rejected by courts or the legislature but they may stick this time.  If they do go into effect they will have very serious effects on the lives of those with the fewest resources.

The cuts to higher education are also quite severe.  As I discussed earlier both UC and CSU are facing buts of half a billion each while the Community College System is facing a cut of $400M.  Indeed, the budget's hardest words are reserved for the community colleges which Brown implies are under-priced and over-funded because they get too much credit for students who allegedly don't complete their courses. (Budget, 154-155)  But be that as it may, the cuts for UC and CSU will reduce general fund support below the level of the 2009-2010 budget year.

These overall budget approaches offer a context to begin to discuss how best to proceed.  Bob Samuels has suggested that while Brown offers nothing to suggest that there is a way to roll back his cuts to higher ed he has signaled an openness to structure the cuts in dialogue with a wider variety of groups than normal.  This openness may indicate an opportunity to push back against the Regents and UCOPs normal approach of raising fees and class sizes while forcing concessions from the staff and faculty.  But Dan Mitchell has offered some caution to any optimism about this process--suggesting that the language in Brown's budget allows wiggle room for more tuition increases and enrollment cuts.  But is there realistically anyway to absorb cuts like the ones proposed without serious damage to the institutions--that seems to be the first question.  If there are, how would we get there?

Making any such discussion even more difficult is the overall reductions in services.  If Brown refuses--as he seems to want to--to discuss the fact that both boom and bubble have effected different people in very different ways, increasing inequality to unprecedented levels; if the budget proceeds as if the recent tax relief offered to the very wealthy on the federal level cannot be recaptured on the state level (even though the federal level is doing little to assist states to meet their burdens); if there is no way to convince people that those functions performed on the state level deserve to be funded then we are looking at a situation where the university is being set against the poor, the young, the sick, and the elderly in the struggle for funding.  Ethically it would be hard to make that argument.  Politically in the shadow of the 36 it would be impossible.

If nothing else, Brown's budget lays bare the terrain that we operate on.  At the very least we will need to support Brown's tax proposals.  I personally think that realignment makes good sense (and the existence of state and federal laws and regulations should prevent realignment from being an excuse by some counties to not fulfill their responsibilities).  Within the University we need to demand that teaching, research, departments and the workers who make them possible be the last things considered for cutbacks.  But in the larger public we need to do more than simply defend higher education--we must defend it in conjunction with the rest of the important tasks of human survival and flourishing that are threatened.

I just wish I had a good strategy to make that happen.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Brown's Budget--A Preliminary Look

Jerry Brown released his proposed 2011-2012 Budget this morning.  The full document (all 266 pages) can be found here.  I hope to have some analysis on the overall budget sometime soon but for now I simply wanted to direct your attention to the Higher Education section of the budget which can be found here.  Much of this section appears, to me at least, to be vague but several points do stand out:

1) Brown is not proposing to cut Higher Ed in the 2010-2011 budget year.  In fact, his proposed funding for this budget year is actually increased over the 2010-2011 budget. (148)

2) But there will be significant cuts in 2011-2012 for all sectors of Higher Education compared to Brown's revised 2010-11 Budget.  As you can see in Higher Ed figure 1 UC will face13.3% General Funding Cut amounting to 388.5M; CSU gets a general funding cut of 12.5% with a dollar amount of 326.1M and the CC system will receive a General Fund and Prop 98 Cut 6/9% with a dollar amount of 432.5M. (148)

3) In his accounting Brown is making a strong and significant division between General Fund and Total Funds as regards higher education.  This distinction is quite normal but in this instance the budget summary draws a great deal of attention to the fact that the budgeting (and the cuts in General Funds) is predicated on the recent Tuition and Fee increases at UC and CSU as well as a proposed fee increase at the Community College level.

4) The Budget also insists that how the approximately 500M in cuts to UC and CSU each will be made will be done in conjunction with stakeholders in each system.  (150, 151)  (I am assuming although I may be wrong that the 500M number is primarily the cut in General Fund and the loss of ARRA or equivalent funding).

5) What strikes me as of interest in the way that that discussion is set up is that Brown insists that the cuts must be targeted in ways that do not lead to more tuition increases or enrollment cuts.  This position is in sharp contrast to the comments on a proposed fee increase for the Community College System where the budget defends the relative lack of expense of the system even with increased fees.

6) Put another way, the Budget suggests to the Regents and to the CSU Board that tuition increases will be counted against general fund support--not as something that can be added onto it.  The systems will now be losing funding relative to the amount they shift onto students.  It suggests that Brown is no longer willing to have tuition go up inexorably unless UC and CSU are prepared to lose out on all General Fund support.  

Budget of 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Budget of California

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Across the Freeway from the MLA: Notes on the Counter-conference

. . . actually more like tweets, organized around themes not presentations and slighting all sorts of good stuff from a full Merrifield amphitheatre at Loyola Law School:
  • The country has so many problems that need solving and yet many of us are having to spend all our time fighting for a decent wage and benefits.  We have to do it, we have to make sure they respect our profession. But with everything else that needs doing in the country this is such a waste! (Maria Maisto).
  • The public money for higher education isn't coming back, no matter how much we protest (AAUP president Cary Nelson).  I pressed him on this, given the fact that the student fee-hike protests of November 2009 are probably what kept Arnold Schwarzenegger from continuing cuts in the following year.  Cary said yes but it's not springing new money, and won't. It's a waste of time to go to the statehouse.
  • Federalize public higher education.  Cary said this would cost $60 billion, a drop in the defense bucket.  Argue it on fundamental principles: higher education is a fundamental right, it should be free, it should create no debt. . .
  • The new dominant faculty feeling is Fear.  "Fear now dominates the academic world.  Amazingly it has conquered arrogance as the main faculty emotion."  
  • Faculty have become dormant and passive again.  They are forfeiting the chance to make alliances with staff and students, and the window is in danger of closing (Joshua Clover).
  • New Faculty Majority.  Fear is there, but can and is often overcome.  We need to educate the public on the reality of contingent labor, and have been doing this (Maria Maisto).  On unemployment in Ohio one can make more money than teaching 3 courses as contingent faculty.
  • Grad student majorities: it's a fractured profession, where most grads can't aspire to the financial or professional conditions of their professors.  In this context the most important educational experiences were often, in grad school, not the most important professional experiences. (Annie McClanahan).  A kind of deprofessionalization needs to take place. This may overlap with an ongoing activism focused not only on unionization and labor conditions but on democratization. This means in many cases actually struggling against national unions which have often on campus been undemocratic and top down (Annie McClanahan). 
  • Grad students are the future of the profession.  If their issues aren't addressed, the profession will resemble the condition of being a graduate student (Jasper Bernes)
  • Management: given unequal power and unilateralism in so many university administrations today, progress requires "the credible threat of disruption" (Joe Berry).  Strikes are a tactic, and have to be part of a continuous process of tactical innovation, as they were in U of Illinois battles for tuition remission security among other things (Kerry Pimblott). The only thing that has made lasting differences in working conditions for most university employees has been union contracts (Bob Samuels).
  • Organizing as an educational practice: both are produced by enormous amounts of labor, both are collective collaborative activities and both produce people who have agency and who can organize all sorts of new things including further campaigns (Pimblott).
  • Progress.  Contingent labor has in places been successfully organized. People are feeling that now.  It seems like a movement. In five years things will be significantly different in a positive sense (Maisto).
By my count all but one of the speakers teach at public universities, and that was certainly true of the audience, many of whom were from state and community colleges around the country.  Jeff Williams provided the great service of giving a name to what many of us have been doing on the research side. Comparing it to Critical Legal Studies, he called it Critical University Studies (CUS).  This is one new discipline which was invented and is overwhelming practiced by faculty from public universities.

Thanks all for your excellent work and for a very promising afternoon. To be continued . . .

Friday, January 7, 2011

At the MLA: the View from 2020

Yesterday, I spoke on two of the panels for the Modern Language Association Convention's series, "The Academy in Hard Times."  The first was  Marilee Lindemann's panel, "New Tools, Hard Times: Social Networking and the Academic Crisis." Lindemann types for the excellent Roxie's World blog on academic crises and on culture, and spoke about the use of animation tools and of comedy in getting the word out . Rosemary Feal also spoke.  The executive director of the MLA and who, among many other achievements, has brought Twitter to the MLA and tweets as MLAConvention. Marc Bousquet was there, author of How the University Works and a consistently important voice on the economic and labor politics of the profession.  He also spoke about new tools for teaching and communicating to the wider world like Xtrannormal, reminding us that So You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities? has been watched a million times, or 10 times the number of faculty and graduate students teaching in the US, UK, and Canada combined.

Also speaking was Brian Croxall, prominent tweeter and blogger at ProfHacker and on his own page. Having become nationally known more or less overnight for his explanation  -- Absent Presence --of why he couldn't afford to go the MLA convention in 2009 to deliver his paper.  Read the post for an excellent overview of the financial plight of a large percentage of jobmarket candidates. , Brian described the features of social networking that make it valuable, and at one point remarked that "Twitter was the best thing that ever happened to my career."  "Hard times" in the title means among other things the ongoingly terrible job market in English and foreign languages not to mention History, and the job market continues of course to have a monopoly on access to professional employment. But Brian's comment recalls that online publishing, blogging, and tweeting have destroyed the profession's monopoly over professional visibility.

During questions, an audience member asked a version of Jason B. Jones' blog question, "To what extent [are we social network activists] ironically complicit in worsening the working conditions of academics? Does encouraging work on productivity bespeak an ideology of scientific labor management?" (maybe it was Jason Jones who asked it).This prompted me to give them a one-person round of a applause and say that in fact in the last five years you have transformed the discussion about adjuncting, the job market, the content of the profession, professional passivity in relation to financial decisions, and a whole range of other issues.  Has the MLA been more transformed by insurgent views in the blogosphere than by the 1960s revolts that made the MLA more representative if its actual political spectrum than ever before? My guess is yes. Amidst the bleakness this is some very good news.  And the news is just beginning.

Next was the MLA's panel "The Academy in Hard Times."   Speaking besides myself were Barbara Bowen, head of the Professional Staff Congress, AFT Local 2334; Reed Way Dasenbrock, provost at the Univ. of Hawai‘i, Mānoa; Monica F. Jacobe at Princeton Univ.; Gary Rhoades, American Assn. of Univ. Professors, and Richard Yarborough of the English Department at UCLA. I finally broke down and started using my Twitter account during the session to broadcast not only the good points but the covergence around several themes.  Reed and Gary discussed the structural subsidies that unfairly impoverish humanities disciplines while shortchanging undergraduates.  Barbara and Monica talked about the parallels between hard times inside and outside the academy, suggesting the relevance of our own efforts to change the economics and employement practices of the academy to the rest of the economy.  Michael Bérubé, the panel chair, noted that declining humanities enrollments is a complete myth, and documents it in his MLA blog entry.  Richard Yarborough used the ongoing crisis in African American underenrollment at UCLA to call for much more pointed attention to the racial dyanamic underlying the disinvestment in public higher education in California.  The decline in share of personal income going to higher ed in California is shocking (it's fallen by half in 20 years), and it coincides exactly with the shift in California's younger population to minority majority status.  Gary summarized this by saying universities are ignoring the fastest growing portions of their markets. In discussion, concerns about the anti-intellecualism of the general public and ongoing decline were met with impressively confident calls to do outreach to the huge number of people who care about educational quality, and who don't like workplace exploitation so much either.  Polls we've discussed here before suggest these people are in a large majority, and they can be more easily brought into the discussion by the kind of real-time communication now taking place at the MLA and on multiple blogs near year.

I argued on both panels that we need to play to win.  In the second, I travelled ahead in time 10 years to offer, "The View from 2020: How Universities Came Back." The piece shows how we learned in the 2000s that a broken American funding model for higher education sent higher ed into a devolutionary cycle, and then how, in the 2010s, three pivotal events turned the spinning wheel around.  I've posted the talk here, and will add the slides in between sessions later on.

The Gilded 36 and What "Demoralizing" Really Means at UC

By Gregory Levine and Louise Fortmann
Crossposted with Sacramento Bee

On December 29, 2010 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that, "Three dozen of the University of California's highest paid executives are threatening to sue unless UC agrees to spend tens of millions of dollars to dramatically increase retirement benefits for employees earning more than $245,000."

Some of these "Gilded 36" receive salaries in excess of $500,000. All will receive sizable pensions, even without this increase, while their salaries, bonuses, and perks allow opportunities for additional retirement saving and investment. These are opportunities the majority of UC employees and Californians can only dream of.

In their letter to UC President Mark Yudof, these executives and deans stated that failure to increase their pension benefits would be "demoralizing" to them. We- faculty who teach and guide students towards careers and contributions to society- point to other, far more demoralizing trends on UC campuses: Tuition increases that force students to borrow more, take on second jobs, and withdraw before finishing their degrees; budget cuts that vaporize classes in key subjects, wipe out hours of library access, and leave unfixed broken chairs, projectors, and lavatories; layoffs of skilled staff that gut essential services; declining graduate student funding that leads the brightest applicants to choose private Universities over UC; realizing that teaching and working at UC does not mean that you can afford to send your own children to its campuses.

The question to ask the Gilded 36 goes beyond contracts and lawsuits: Can their demand for tens of millions of dollars in additional pension payout be justified morally and ethically given the fiscal shortfall facing California, when budget cuts imperil the instructional and research mission of UC, and when the UC employee pension faces a $21.6 Billion unfunded obligation that threatens the futures of thousands of UC employees and their families? By making the UC pension appear to be an excessive giveaway, the Gilded 36's demand obscures the real function of the pension as deferred payment for the hard work that UC employees do now to ensure that the University remains an engine of education, innovation, and shared benefit for California.

We feel no sympathy when the Gilded 36 complain that a deal is a deal. The Master Plan for Higher Education was a "deal" with the people of California, their children, and their children's children. It has been broken repeatedly by the state's defunding of public education and mismanagement by UC Presidents and Regents. Some deals, when broken, mean the difference between a higher or a lower six-figure pension. Other deals, when broken, undermine the world's greatest public university system, narrow access to education, and threaten California's economic recovery and cultural vitality.

We feel no sympathy for the administrative and academic elite who claim the right to be compensated at "market value," when they have accepted employment at a public university and receive salaries that, while not at market value, are often higher than the salaries of the majority of UC employees and Californians by a factor of ten. We reject the assertion that executives at the top must be retained whatever the cost. This big business notion is antithetical to UC's core missions: expanding access to the highest quality teaching and maintaining the highest caliber of research for the good of California as a whole. The Gilded 36 should model themselves not after private sector executives but after UC faculty and staff who teach and work at strikingly non-market value salaries because they care about more than simply personal financial gain; they care about the public good.

We feel no sympathy for the suggestion that these high-paid UC employees have sacrificed much during this crisis. How many of the Gilded 36 worry about meeting basic living costs, not the costs of luxury? Many Californians and many UC employees and students worry on a daily basis about keeping a roof over their heads and paying for heat, food, healthcare, daycare, and transportation.

The hardships of the fiscal crisis at UC are felt most painfully not by its executive and academic elite but by the majority of students, staff, lecturers, and faculty. This majority- together with UC alumni and indeed all Californians who value fairness and equity- should speak out forcefully and repeatedly against the blatant greed demonstrated by the Gilded 36 as well as the larger ideology of private greed and entitlement that is destroying public education and, arguably, the state as a whole. UC's leaders, as servants of the public good, must demonstrate to the Governor, state legislature, and people of California that educational access and quality and support for advanced research- being essential to California's future- must come before the disproportionate personal gain of the few.

Gregory Levine
Associate Professor of Art History, UC Berkeley, for SAVE the University

Louise Fortmann
Professor of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley, for the Berkeley Faculty Association