Remaking the University

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A blog on higher education and related issues.Chris Newfield
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The May Budget Revision: UC Budget Goes from Bad to Worse

Ven, 15/05/2015 - 12:32
I'm sorry to rain on the parade, but even though the state continues to recover, UC does not.

In November 2014, Gov. Brown offered UC a 4 percent increase in state funding, or $119.5 million.  The UC Regents countered with their famous 5 percent tuition increase, which would have added another $131 million (not counting financial aid revenue from the state).  That might sound like a lot of new revenue, but it isn't. Were both pieces in place, UC would be getting about half of the16 percent annual increase it had estimated it needs for several years running to recover from the Schwarzenegger and the Brown cuts. See my November post on the Regents meeting for context and for UCOP's chart on the subject.

There are various ways to describe the problem: it   is a $1.5 billion structural deficit (2011 values) or it is the $1 billion in cuts since 2008 that CFO Brostrom uses in public statements. A third way is even more ominous: the last Independent Audit Report of UC's finances had UC losing $5.7 billion on operations in FY2013 and $4.5 billion in FY2014 (page 10).  These losses were partially offset by non operating gains (investment returns is the largest piece). Even so, the shortfall was $1.0 billion in 2014.
The Governor has again offered UC the same state increase and no more. He has added a compact-like agreement to do this for four years in a row.  At the appearance of a new headwind he can abandon this commitment as Gov. Schwarzenegger abandoned his, but more to the point is that this is a minimal increase that would likely have emerged from the normal budgeting process.  UC has agreed to freeze tuition for another 2 years, so that increment is lost. In 2017-18, UC can request a tuition increase, but one to be tied to an inflation rate that is likely to remain well under the 5 percent UC proposed. 
In other words, UCOP has agreed to several more years of austerity and shortfalls.  This will keep the deficit in place and, as far as I can tell, sustain annual operating losses.  
Students will be happy they will not be paying more. They will not be happy that they will still be getting less.  Educational quality became a clear student issue last fall. But the state's likely political calculation is that cost is still more important than quality, and that students will also take deal.
One possible compensation for bad operating budgets would be a structural fix.   Here we arrive at the pension announcement.  This Democratic administration has taken to describing UC's pension liability as both a gap to be filled and an affront to state budgeting.  It is not just a budgetary problem in this narrative but a moral failing on UC's part. UCOP wanted the state to start paying the employer's share of the pension as it had in the past, and as it does for Cal State. The state's refusal to do this was one reason why the restart of the contributions was delayed. 
The state continues to refuse annual contributions. What it has now offered instead is a one-time payment of $436 million staggered over three years. In exchange, UC is to tier its pension again by adding a Defined Contribution plan for new employees and capping the Defined Benefit pension at the state employee level of $117, 020. (See Dan Mitchell's rundown here.)
In budget negotiations, it is always a bad idea to make a permanent change in exchange for a one-time payment, and this one is no exception.  In addition, the amount received is very small: $145.33 million per year for three years, while UCRP, the pension fund, has a $73 billion net position for pension payments, which is up nearly $10 billion from the previous year, and paid out nearly $4 billion in benefits last year  (page 17).  Why would you restructure your pension, which your employees dearly love, in exchange for 3.6 percent of your annual pension expense, and for just three years?  
UCOP has already handed UC employees an 8 percent pay cut in the form of restarted contributions, and UC operating funds have been squeezed to do the same--with very good results for pension solvency.  So what is the real purpose here?  Perhaps the purpose is to convert UC's pension into a 403(b) over time, and that UCOP wants this as well. I don't know this, but I can't explain why UCOP would take this deal when the pension is actually on the mend.
I can see why the state would do it. It gets a chunk of UC operating expenses off its budget. State politicians can also divide up the UC employee body.  The Academic Senate already cooperated in one tiering of the current pension for ladder faculty; most unionized employees voted to keep younger employees with them in one tier while paying an additional percent of their income to help the fund.  Represented staff generally make less than the $117k pension limit, will thus be less affected by the cap, and have resented high executive salaries.  Thus the state may face little UC employee opposition overall.  
Ladder faculty, senior managers, and Management and Senior Professionals will be seriously affected. The cap would make faculty retention harder: in most disciplines, the cap will kick in at mid-career when the most visible faculty are most liable to be recruited away, and a capped pension will make it that much easier for competitors to beat UC's best offer.   (In some disciplines, assistant professors will start at or above the cap.) UC campuses have long been starved for internal funding for non-sponsored research, academic programming, and new teaching initiatives, but have been able to offer retirement security in the age of academic adjuncting and the "disposable employee."  As retirement benefits are cut and/or destabilized, faculty will lose the one clearly superior thing about working at UC.   
Jerry Brown has long been inserting himself into the middle of UC educational policy, most obviously with his campaign to convert some percentage of UC courses to online. This current deal sets the first actual quota for new students: one third of them must be transfer students from community colleges.  Listen to the clips of the governor and his budget director that Prof. Mitchell has posted.  They offer a good representation of executive branch aggressiveness, and also feature Gov. Brown saying that he wants UC's lower division to shrink.  
This idea is equally bad for students and for the University.  Resident undergraduates who actually want to go to a four-year university will be squeezed between non-resident applications who pay 3 times more and community college students who have seats set aside for them.  In addition, they will lose the lower division courses that form part of the integrated curriculum for the major they will eventually complete.  Putting the first half of college into some other institution's hands will make coherent sequencing and skills accumulation that much harder.  On their side, campuses have a budgetary ecosystem that a shrunken lower division will damage.  Lower division enrollments cross-subsidize graduate education, sponsored research, and student services, among other things, and provide graduates with teaching opportunities.  Shrinking lower division enrollments will shrink funds that support UC's status as a research university.
We'll have more to say about all this during the Regents meet next week and as the plan unfolds. But my main impression today is that this is another step in the state's half-unconscious plan called, "the UC reversion to the mean."  UC was for decades a spectacular, standout place.   It now seems slated to follow California's K-12 system down the national rankings--or would do were other states not busily pushing the rankings collectively down by slashing their university systems too.  
The higher community needs to say, if our senior managers will not, that all of these budget economies are false. Saving money as Sacramento would like simply reduces the quality and the quantity of the intellectual and human capital that UC can produce.  The economist Walter McMahon offers the most comprehensive quantification that includes the non-market and social benefits of higher ed. He shows they are together twice as large as the private, market benefits.  And yet the state, led by Jerry Brown, is trying to fund UC only for the latter, in which it is a three-year skills training service that starves both higher order capabilities and research. If this carries on, massive public benefits will be lost. 
In addition, the quantitatively larger portion of the benefits of higher education, these indirect and non market benefits, consist of deep, complex capabilities like powers of critical thinking and a capacity for democratic deliberation.  These are often generated by liberal arts and sciences disciplines that form the campus core. They depend almost entirely on state funds and tuition.  UC is now starving the core but sustaining the periphery, particularly the medical centers where so much of the administrative growth, pension liability, and high-end salaries have accrued.  One good feature of UC having lost two of its national laboratories to a private limited-liability corporation during the Bush years was that the federal government reimburses UC for pension costs at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories.  It may be time for a similar spin-off of the medical centers.  
I think that would be too bad, personally--medical research and practice are obviously crucial academic and public services.  Unfortunately, this latest poverty deal makes the internal competition for dwindling resources even worse, and the campus core is not protected.
Photo credit: Onbeyond, LLC, 2003.  Sample public campaign ad for UC, declined by UCOP
Categorías: Universidade

Restoring the Promise of Higher Education: A Problem California Can Solve Now

Mér, 13/05/2015 - 17:34
By Stanton A. Glantz, Professor of Medicine, UCSF
Chris here: This piece was written for a daily newspaper. There would be a much better public discussion, or what we used to call in the fifth grade "a fair fight," if it and similar piece would actually appear in one of them. 
Once, California had abundant water and few recognized the challenge of global warming.  . Governor Brown, recognizing that it is impossible to simply roll back the clock on these problems, is leading California to confront this changed reality  with enormous efforts that have uncertain outcomes. But there is one problem in which the governor could roll back the clock to when California worked better: higher education.
Once, California’s three sector system of higher education – its Community Colleges, California State University, and the University of California – formed a high quality integrated system of accessible opportunity in which any California student could find an appropriate seat to advance their dreams.  California had the best higher education system in the world, while it cost the state less, per student, than other states spent on higher education. And the system’s graduates built California.
Now, after years of budget cuts and privatization, students are paying more for less.  The combination of high costs, increasing out-of-state students, and muddled Legislative policy is forcing students out of UC into CSU and the Community Colleges, which are, in turn, forcing the Community Colleges’ traditional students in to for-profit “colleges” that cost taxpayers billions and leave students with nothing but debt. 
Unlike the drought and global warming, we could roll back the clock and solve this problem overnight if Governor Brown provided the leadership to do it. 
Governor Brown appropriately has recognized that high tuition is a problem, but his response is actually making the problem worse.  He has started his Multi-Year Stable Funding Plan at the depths of the Great Recession when the schools were already terribly wounded. Then he has promised state funding increases for UC that are so small that when they are combined with tuition freezes they are actually further cuts, relative to inflation.  Rather than gradually rebuilding California higher education, this plan is a guaranteed slow bleeding to death of California’s public higher education systems.
Rather than exacerbate the problems, Governor Brown should press the “reset” button on all of California higher education and restore what California had in 2000-1, the last time that our higher education system was healthy. 
·       Return fees to 2000 levels (adjusted for inflation), for example cutting from $13,200 to $5,300 at UC·       Return state funding per student to where it was·       Fund seats for the thousands of California students who have been pushed out of the system·       Roll out-of-state UC admissions back to where they were (a 2/3 cut)·       Roll back spending on administration to where it was before privatization stated (which would be an 8% cut in total cost of UC’s senior leadership)
Doing so would restore quality, affordability and opportunity to California’s students, wipe out almost all new student debt, and stop forcing students out of the community colleges into predatory private schools. 
Pushing the reset button is affordable.   If done as an income tax surcharge, it would cost half of California’s families less than $31 a year and 40% of them under $10 a year.  (And it would only cost millionaires $5000.)   
A coalition of stakeholder organizations representing students and employees across all three systems has come together to press not only for full funding but also for a re-commitment to the California Master Plan for Higher Education. Reclaim California Higher Education( advocates for a return to the vision of higher education affordability, accessibility, and quality for all Californians.
This spring, its members are talking to legislators across the state, urging them to restore adequate state funding to higher education, starting with the pending 2015-16 state budget. Now is the time to implement both increased state investment and institutional reforms.  As the group stated in a letter to Gov. Brown in early March, “Tuition and administrative costs are skyrocketing, while enrollment of in-state students is not keeping pace with the needs of our economy. Our institutions of higher learning should, once again, be engines of economic growth and good jobs in our communities.”
Restoring the promise of California higher education is something that we can and should do.  And, unlike the drought and global warming, it is something we can accomplish right now.

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, is Professor of Medicine and American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor of Tobacco Control at UCSF, vice president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, and past chair of the UC Systemwide Committee on Planning and Budget
Categorías: Universidade

The University after Conservative Victory

Ven, 08/05/2015 - 18:20
Labour had a bad night in the UK's parliamentary elections, but it was not a victory for the Conservatives' core policy of permanent public sector austerity.  Scotland gave the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) 56 of 59 Scottish seats in Parliament, a gain of 50 overnight, thus declaring independence without leaving the union. The SNP is among other things dead set against London austerity, as you can hear in Mhairi Black's speech celebrating her victory over Scottish Labour lion Douglas Alexander, one of the architects of Labour's failed national campaign. Scotland punished Labour for aligning with the Tories against the independence referendum.  The UK punished Labour for aligning with the Tories for austerity, finding their Austerity Lite brand a muddled non-alternative to Cameron and Osborne.

On higher ed, Labour's Ed Miliband had promised to roll back one part of the Conservative university revolution (if you're playing catch-up, one primer is my LARB review of Andrew McGettigan's important book) by reducing the fee cap back from 9000 to 6000 pounds per year. But they were not clear about how the gap would be filled or how and above all why universities should be funded in a non-Tory manner.

There has been talk of raising the fee cap to 11,500 pounds, also based on no actual funding model or meaningful principles of the university's private and public benefits.  That may now come to pass, with even higher fees than that discussed for Oxford and Cambridge.  There is no mandate in these results for even higher fees, and the Liberal Democrat coalition MP most responsible for enabling the fee hike, Vince Cable, lost his seat last night.  But voters are returning a Conservative party to power whose budget assumptions will force massive cuts onto unprotected government sectors, including remaining direct university funding, the student loans and grants budget, and also research, which has so far been protected.

We've seen this movie before.  One explanation for this repeated ending is that the Democrats & Labour are also now neoliberals, basically wet Tories, so why not vote for the real thing?  The base stays home unless it has a meaningful anti-austerity, pro-labor alternative, as they did in Scotland's SNP, in which case they turn out to vote passionately for anti-neoliberalism (read Richard Seymour today and predicting Labour defeat last year).

I see Dem/Labour neoliberalism more as an effect than a cause -- as an effect of their intellectual weakness more than of strong conversion to market Thatcherism.    Even though they mostly don't think the corporate and financial world produces good social outcomes, and even though voters always identify them with the public sector, Dems & Labour have for over thirty years been moving towards their opposition and away from their base.  Some of this is cowardice, intimidation, and greed, an obvious desire to stop fighting and join the wealthy and successful upper end of society, but much of it is intellectual confusion about the public sector's nonmarket benefits. After decades of head blows from the Friedman-Hayek-Mt Perelin army of market warriors, the Anglo-American center left can no longer explain, much passionately advocate, the great social processes they used to build in the 20th century.  They consent to self-belittling terms like "safety net" to describe public goods.  They have been the Great Enablers of the Republican marketization of society without appearing to voter as the movement's leaders and winners but as its reluctant gofers.  They also haven't led a new visionary embrace of  public goods that are both essential to progress and in fact popular with most people.  Mr. Miliband managed neither to break with nor continue this New Labour tradition, expanding the vacuum in public good explanations on which labor depends.

The University is a target character in this endless drama of center-left abdication.  In imposing their public funding cuts and tripled fee cap, Cameron's Tories simply negated the nonmarket private benefits and the social benefits of having universities.  The tragedy of that easy victory was how unnecessary it was on neoclassical economic grounds.  Mainstream economists have shown that the private market value of university is only about one-third of the university's total value to society.  I'm referring in particular to the comprehensive work of Walter W. McMahon, who identifies a total of six types of benefits - private market benefits, private nonmarket benefits, and social benefits, with each of these having direct and indirect forms.   Policy discourse in the US and UK  has focused on the university wage premium while treating all indirect, nonmarket, and social value as nebulous secondary effects, thus trivializing everything from better individual health to an increased aggregate capacity for scientific invention, the rule of law, artistic expression, and pretty much everything else about daily life that people like.

Trivializing society has of course been a highly successful core project of the political Right.   That doesn't change the possibility of showing  that most of the total value of education is collective, based on network effects (I'm smarter because my neighbor is smarter and also because an unknown Scottish villager became smarter 30 years ago, with endless ripples outward and everywhere).  All these spillovers, externalities and indirect effects through multiple variables, though they seem beyond the grasp of current political rationality, are the deep sources of real progress.  And yet we don't need to assert this as a quasi-Hegelian or anti-neoliberal abstraction: Prof. McMahon calculated that nonmarket private benefits plus social benefits (of indirect as well as direct types) form 2/3rd of a quantifiable total of educational benefits (244 et passim).  I'm not saying that quantification captures the main value of  higher education, just that Democrat and Labour policy people never use existing mainline research to counter a privatization strategy that reduces total university benefits by grossly exaggerating the private market piece.

The same goes for all the talk of the knowledge economy. Here's a concept that the Left could try harder to redefine for the sake of a just and egalitarian society--the "cognitive capitalism" folks can't do all the work by themselves.  It's also badly done by the center and Right.  The Tory government supposedly cares about human capital, and yet it has let research funding stay flat or fall in real terms, has found no money for moonshots at major challenges where the UK might lead, and had cut the enrollment funding that expands access outside the upper reaches of society that already have it. In the UK, public funding for instruction, the "teaching grant,"  has fallen from 22 percent to "less than 9 % of total university income."  I'm quoting a report recent posted by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), "The sustainability of learning and teaching in higher education in England," which concluded rather bluntly that with the Tories there isn't any.

When the report's authors adjusted budget figures to "cover the long-run or full economic costs of activities," it found a deficit of 3.8 percent of the sectors expenditures in 2012-13 (p 17).  Many UK university leaders had supported the Conservative funding changes because of the obvious cash-flow attraction of tripling fees virtually overnight, after decades of what Stefan Collini has called expansion on the cheap, in which per-student funding actually declined.  This report shows just how temporary that victory was.  It rejects the idea that the sector can grow its way out of this annual deficit. This is because its mode of growth is what is causing the deficit in the first place.

I've called this the "price of privatization," and this HEFCE report is a catalog of its various forms. Competing for overseas students and research grants will increase costs of operation "with limited scope to control this"; higher fees will create higher student expectations for both learning and faculty attention and thus raise costs; less prominent universities, rather than focusing on quality educational services for their type of students with stable teaching grants, will compete and fail to increase their revenues; universities will respond to incentives both to overbuild facilities and skim on maintaining them; universities will respond to incentives to underinvest in their workforce.  The report also confirms that UK research loses the typical university about 25 pence on the pound (these are similar to U.S. indirect cost shortfalls, as I've often noted), which means that universities must invest in research for the sake of their market position, which they cant afford unless they cut corners in areas where they already underinvest.

Clearly the university sector was stronger and of more value to society when it stood apart from commercial markets. But Labour lacked the theory (and not just the will) to make the public goods case for continuing this.  This allowed Conservatives to use claims of solvency and customer service to pry open the sector for the sake of business.  And it will allow them, in their victory, to expand the effects of privatization that the Manchester Capitalism group traced to the decades-old Conservative party project--underinvesting in infrastructure, squeezing suppliers, including their own professors (e.g. Warwick's TeachHigher), and "confusion marketing" to the global student body.  The HEFCE report confirms that the Tories have already driven average UK graduate debt to £44,000.  They will be tempted to solve fiscal problems of their own making by raising fees even further.

It's possible that a party that hadn''t sold higher ed to giant vendors while multiplying student debt would attract voters as the SNP did.  I doubt it.  The university hasn't created a public base of support for what it really does, which isn't job training and direct wage maximization.  We do have a huge, diffuse constellation of supporters and fans of higher education, but they exist in one-on-one conversations, in personal experiences on campuses, in moments of insight and in memories of change. The way we go about it, the process of abstracting that into a mass politics, damages the experience and makes it harder to vote for.

I was thinking about this while listening to the first segment of an Ira Glass show called "The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind."  Something much like the Labour rout happened in California in 2008, when a gay marriage ban that everyone thought would lose wound up winning instead.  A consultant was called in, who had the bright idea of doing something they never do, which is going back to the neighborhoods where they "got crushed" and talking to people about why they voted against gay marriage.

They at first thought they'd talk to people about values and principles, and try to flip them by appealing to the golden rule and so on--although research shows people flipped like this almost always flip back in a matter of days.  Gradually they found something that worked much better. That was talking to people about themselves, without a script, letting one thing lead to another, and becoming as personal and as concrete as possible.  The recordings of a couple of the conversations are amazing.  And they quite often actually changed people's minds. Even more amazingly, they didn't change their minds back.  (Some of the research is here.)  The canvasser had to be concrete, and personal, and also had to be the kind of person who was affected by the decision.  If the subject was gay marriage, the canvasser had to be gay, and disclose this.  The moment of change may have happened when the voter could think, "how I vote makes a difference in this person's life."

The canvassers took these results to political consultants.  They had no interest. "These can't scale. We can't afford to do this.  We don't have fifty thousand people to talk personally to five hundred thousand voters."  No kidding--we can't afford it. And yet we have no choice but to do it.  People hate how politicians (don't) talk to them--the familiar slogans but more importantly the generic impersonality. Mr. Miliband went down because he was one of them--he's no different, so why bother?  Political parties will have to organize face to face and door to door--like the SNP--if they want to win.  And the same is true of universities.  We need to do with the public what we do in class, which is the personal effort to change people's minds.

Categorías: Universidade

Faculty - Admin Cluster Collision at University of Illinois Chicago

Xov, 30/04/2015 - 18:29
I've been buried in final book manuscript revisions, and have been noticing that I'm increasingly using the term "management" rather than "administration" in my analyses of university governance.  Part of the reason is that my employer, the University of California, uses Senior Management Group as a formal employment classification.  But it's also because the friendlier aspects of the term "administration" seem decreasingly part of everyday academic life.   Friendliness was administration as support structure, as collaborator, as partner, as the entity that did not take orders from obnoxious egocentric faculty prima donnas the way that frontline staff often had to do, but that accepted balanced power relations  and a certain mutual respect that could make decisions move relatively quickly and equitably.  It would avoid command and control of the kind that prevailed in the army and in most corporations, where executive authority consisted of direct rule over subordinates.

Of course I idealize the university as a bastion of mutual consent.  The AAUP and other organizations on the ground had to struggle to maintain some balance of power between academic and non-academic personnel.  Financial control and "decision rights' were formally top down: check the many powers of the UC president as one example. But for decades if not centuries the university stayed relatively close to a kind of collegium, to use Jim Sleeper's preferred term, in which it was the embodiment of educational practices that rested on the accumulated knowledge of its faculty, that were expressed in teaching, research, and public service with students, staff, and the larger public, and that required meaningful self-governance to be effective.  For these practices to be really good, to be meaningful, they had to be governed by the knowledgeable ones, the people who were inside and enacting the day-to-day practices.  This was not a mystical quasi-religious doctrine but the foundation of professional expertise as it allowed almost any kind of complex skill, white-collar and blue-collar alike.  Even if the senior administrators came from the faculty, they were expected to take seriously and not lightly overturn the judgements of active faculty whose human capital was of a newer vintage, to use the term of an education economist like Walter McMahon.   The model tried to make unilateral authority very rare.

But like many of us, I am now often using the term academic management because that unilateral authority has become so common. It is the rule in the UK university now, and to an extent that would surprise many Americans. It is increasingly common in the US.  The most famous recent case was the rescinding of the hire of Steven Salaita at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The AAUP has released its report on that case, which sweepingly rejects the manner in which administrative authority was used.  It argues that that sort of managerial power is not compatible with academic freedom and established professional practices.

We've just heard about another kind of case at another University of Illinois campus--UI Chicago.  Here senior administrators rescinded hires in innovative cluster programs without faculty consultation, and in areas of special interest to that campus's special student population.  A number of faculty have detailed their grievances with the process and decision, and we've posted their letter with signatures.  It's an interesting local issue with national resonance.
Categorías: Universidade

The LAO and Permanent University Austerity

Lun, 27/04/2015 - 16:42
The big story in Higher Education this year has been the threat of massive budget cuts.  From Wisconsin to Louisiana, from Kansas to Arizona, and from Maine to North Carolina, state governors and legislators have proposed or enacted cuts to public colleges and universities. Although the outcome of this year's budget struggles remain uncertain, it does seem clear that California is not going to impose new cuts. Instead we seem to be battling over the size of small state funding increases.

That contrast between California and other states might appear to be grounds for confidence in the future.  But that would be premature.  Although the state has increased funding over the last several years and is proposing a small increment this year--it is important to recognize not only that these increases do not compensate for the years of cutbacks but that they help to solidify a strategy of permanent austerity budgeting.

One way to see this point is to look at the recent Legislative Analyst's report on "enrollment funding" for UC.  The main point of the report is to call for the Governor and Legislature to reinstate "enrollment funding" (i.e. to tie state funding to specific enrollment targets for the University).  Now I should say that I have no problem with the idea of enrollment funding.  Both the Governor and UC have done away with it (the Governor I suspect because he doesn't want to be obligated to increase funding with enrollment and UCOP because it allows them greater flexibility should they want to restrict enrollment without losing state funds).

If made correctly, there are good arguments for a greater linkage to tie funding to enrollment and to ensure that funding goes to support that enrollment (for instance ensuring that a new permanent faculty FTE is hired for every 19 additional students as is assumed in the financial calculations). (4) But the way that the LAO seeks to organize enrollment funding is less defensible and also revealing.

The logic of enrollment funding ties increase state support to the marginal costs of additional students.  The LAO calculates the marginal cost at $9244 for general campus students (UC's is slightly higher but I am going to use the LAO's). (8)  The LAO recommends setting the present year as the baseline for enrollment--which would also lock in the per student funding as it now exists as a baseline.

They propose that present enrollment be considered the baseline because it would avoid a conflict over whether funding should go for increased enrollment or to answer UC's claim that there are significant numbers of unfunded students.  But here is where the problem lies. Instead of providing a way to address the conflict over whether or not the state is fully funding students, the LAO simply eliminates the question by refusing to engage with it.  And that has serious implications.

The easiest way to do see these implications is to accept the LAO cost logic and then look backwards over the last decade and one half.  To be sure this means that all of what follows are estimates--but I think that the general picture is clear.

In 2001-2002 UC received $3,279,000,000 from the General Fund.  In the fall of 2001 there were 167,914 resident students enrolled on the general campuses.  In the fall of 2013 (the last year that I have good numbers for) there were 196,917 resident students enrolled on the general campuses.  That increase of 29,742  should have led--given the LAO's calculations of marginal costs to a funding increase of approximately $275M from the state (and this is without additional costs for health system students).  Put another way, the 2013-2014 UC General Fund support would have been $3,560,000,000. Instead it was $2,884,456,000.   The Governor's proposed General Fund contribution for 2015-2016 is $3,106,138.

The numbers, although approximate, are clear.  The LAO's proposal on enrollment funding would lock UC into a permanent structure of state austerity.  Although the state does pick up some of these losses through Cal Grants they do not recover all--nor do they even begin to backfill the long-standing under-funding of the University.  Students, staff, and faculty have been forced to assume the costs of this austerity--whether in terms of higher tuition, larger classes, or increased workloads.  By all means have the state engage in enrollment funding. But also have the state fund that enrollment at an adequate level, and allow it to rise as costs and educational needs change.

Categorías: Universidade

The Good Point in Paul Campos's Bad New York Times Piece on Public Funding

Mar, 14/04/2015 - 18:35
Last week's prize for most offensive higher ed article went to a University of Colorado law professor named Paul F. Campos, who had a New York Times Sunday Review tell-all about college costs.  The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much" turned out to be "not because states have cut funding for higher education." Prof. Campos came to this conclusion by replacing the standard funding metric--inflation-adjusted funding per student with the total dollars being appropriated all the way back to 1960. His  key paragraphs read like this:

[P]ublic investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. For example, the military’s budget is about 1.8 times higher today than it was in 1960, while legislative appropriations to higher education are more than 10 times higher. In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.In other words, there is no state funding problem, and never has been.   The cuts are a "fairy tale."

This claim is a conceptual disaster at a time when many state legislatures have convinced themselves of exactly this--that if you add up all the revenues available to public universities, they haven't been cut at all. California's special variant is the claim that UC actually profited from the financial crisis and now has more money than ever.  (Then-Assembly Speaker John Pérez laid this out to the UC Board of Regents in January 2013.  And now he's UC Regent Pérez.)  The fallout has been a slew of competing legislative efforts to bring UC to heel, so many that I need a scorecard like this Sac Bee piece, and  Cloudminder's recent links.

1. Actual Austerity
In a concurrent blog post at Lawyers, Guns & Money, Prof. Campos illustrated the NYT claim about the state funding boom with this chart.  (He has another that adds in federal Pell Grants.)

There he repeated a milder version of the NYT claim, "It’s quite an interpretive challenge to translate these numbers into the claim, made universally by higher ed administrators, that fifty or more years of practically continual tuition rate hikes have been caused by cuts in public subsidies."

So first, do Prof. Campos's numbers show crazy public funding growth?  Sticking with state appropriations, the first thing to point out is that the curve falls into two periods: a steady rise from 1960 to 1990, and a slower, jagged rise from 1990 to 2015, with an aggregate decrease from 2010-2015. The State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) just released its report on state appropriations for FY 2014, and confirms that state appropriations in constant dollars are still about 19 percent below their 2008 peak.   Nobody has been complaining about state appropriations from 1960 to 1990.  The complaints are about overall stagnation after 1990 and real cuts after 2008.  By folding recent declines into a bygone golden age, Prof Campos distorts the current history and sidesteps the current funding debate.

Even this overall appropriations growth doesn't show the insane extravagance we're supposed to see.   The best historical data about states comes from Illinois State's longtime Grapevine project, which began toting up state allocations for the 1960-61 year.  They came to about $1.5 billion total (when California appropriated twice the total of the next largest public system, Illinois').  By 2015 the total was about $81 billion, for an unadjusted increase of 54x.  Sounds like the states were just throwing money at public colleges, right?

Wrong. Money often grows at that rate. Say you're a retirement fund, and you started with $1.5 billion in 1960.  Fifty-five years later, your fund has $81 billion.  All this means is that your fund grew at about 7.5% per year, which is about the growth target set by the UC Retirement Program and similar funds.  Prof. Campos was, in other words, amazing Times readers with the miracle of compound interest.

As for other benchmarks, Warren Buffet actually returned 19.7 percent per year in a similar period. 10 percent annual returns on investment is a standard target; the S&P 500 has long returned about that when dividends are reinvested; venture capitalists look for five-year ROIs that are orders of magnitude more than 10%.  So even before we start correcting Prof. Campos growth curve, we can see that 10x over 55 years (inflation adjusted) is what is supposed to happen to resources in a successful economy.

Second, the article's use of aggregate funding growth drove budget watchers crazy.  At Inside Higher Ed, Dean Dad sounded off, calling the column "both a failure and a mess, and the two are related." His piece expressed common academic anger at the sloppiness with which the mainstream media tosses around bogus charges that don't need to be true to do enormous damage. Brian Leiter, in the law school world, hated on Prof. Campos' long division

On Monday, more or less the best non-IHE/CHE journalist working on higher ed funding, Jordan Weissmann, went after the piece in Slate under the title, "The New York Times Offers One of the Worst Explanations You'll Read of Why College is So Expensive." He delivered the right College Funding 101 lesson, which is that it isn't total dollars but dollars per student that matters as a baseline: "Depending on who's counting, states are giving schools somewhere between 25 and 30 percent fewer dollars per student than they were 15 years ago. And someone has had to make up that difference. Namely, college kids."

At the AAUP's Academe Blog, Martin Kich offered various charts, including the standard pattern of tuition increases and state funding declines (per student).  For those in doubt:

Precise curves will vary, and the exact peak of state support may have occurred in 1987, 1990, or 2001 depending on which inflation index you use. But the correlation is clear: per student funding has declined, and student tuition has gone up.

Back at Lawyers, Guns & Money, Prof. Campos produced a more conventional chart with the consensus conclusion. Appropriation growth is terminated by student enrollment growth.  Appropriations go sideways after 1990 and then decline after 2010.

Take Pell Grants out, and you get the standard decline story.  (You should take the Pell Grants out: they are federal money that backfills tuition charges to students, not new operating allocations.) SHEEO's latest report has the definitive version.  This is net tuition (green) and state appropriations (blue), per student FTE, in 2014 dollars using SHEEO's Higher Education Cost Adjustment (HECA) index.

Note, to repeat, that real per-student state appropriations are down about 25 percent from 25 years ago. Note that a doubling of net tuition has not brought total resources back to their 2001 peak. Recall that this is the period in which US degree attainment fell to 16th place in OECD rankings.  Note that rising college enrollments has now reversed. 

In other words, per-student public funding has been cut. Tuition and student debt have boomed concurrently. So Prof. Campos winds up back where we all started, with per-student appropriations that are less that what they were seven years ago or 25 years ago, and with educational problems that follow from the reality of this long-term austerity on the public side of the university system.

2. Expanding Admin
So why did Prof. Campos deny per-student austerity, which is real, to focus on aggregates that stopped rising very quickly about twenty-five years ago?

My theory is that he has been driven half-mad, like many of us, by the refusal of senior academic managers to put their own choices into the picture, and say yes we too have increased costs with our decisions. Prof. Campos seems to have been willing to reinforce damaging stereotypes of overfed public colleges in his obsession with rejecting the causal claim that public cuts (and only public cuts) produce tuition hikes.  His last line in the Times reads:  "What cannot be defended . . . is the claim that tuition has risen because public funding for higher education has been cut" (emphasis added). In other words, he's saying, universities have hiked tuition also because of other cost increases, many chosen by the universities themselves.  And on this point, he is absolutely right.

His Times piece moves on to offer its own causal explanation.

[A] major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.
This picks up a theme Prof. Campos has aired in the national media before. Time magazine gave him space in 2013 to attack E. Gordon Gee as he was stepping down from his highly-compensated second stint as Ohio State's president.  In a piece called "The Lessons of the Megalomaniac University President," Prof. Campos termed President Gee's $2 million per year (plus another million a year in travel, entertainment, and related expenses) "disgusting." He went on to say,

Gee also increased the size of the university’s senior staff by 30% and raised their average salaries by 63%, to $539,390 in 2011. To get a sense of how out of control university-administrator compensation has become, consider that a year before Gee began his first tenure as Ohio State’s president, the president of Harvard was paid $138,044 ($256,000 in 2012 dollars), and only eight university presidents in the entire nation made more than $200,000. Now, thanks to Gee and his ilk, there are dozens of administrators at Ohio State University alone who would consider that sum an insult.
If you think this is cherry-picking, look at another figure showing the unmistakable national pattern.

The largest employment growth is in non-faculty professions, which include not only senior staff but the ever-larger administrative middle of public universities.  This lopsided growth marks a major shift in resources from educational to non-educational personnel. It has coincided with two other things Prof Campos and many others lament: faculty salaries that on average have stagnated since 1970, and the adjuncting of most college instructional staff. "Administrative bloat" means falling faculty salaries (see Prof. Kich's numbers) and downgrading education. Administration competes with instruction and research for the limited internal funds that underwrite both, and has been winning.

3. The Price of Privatization
Faculty are sick and tired of austerity, and of blocked upgrades of teaching and research, and of being wrongly blamed for tuition increases.  So when one like Prof. Campos sticks his neck out, how do administrators respond? We have one instance in a letter to the Times by University of California CFO Nathan Brostrom. He rightly noted that public funding cuts are real, and then wrote,

Mr. Campos blames administrative bloat and high salaries; I disagree. The State of California, for example, funds the University of California system at the same level as it did in 1999 — even though today we enroll 83,000 more students and have one more campus.
What? This is like saying, "I didn't pay too much for my new car since I made less money this year than last!"   Obviously a university can get less money from one major revenue source and still spend too much of it on administration.  Perhaps an editor butchered Mr. Brostrom's argument: this certainly doesn't qualify as a serious response to questions about internal costs that university administrators have themselves tolerated or initiated, or to the educational damage and workplace degradation that result.   So nothing will happen, until the next faculty cri de coeur that houses a reasonable point in an overblown war machine aimed at maddening discursive defenses.

Mr. Brostrom and Prof. Campos are two sides of the same coin, or the two poles of a frozen dialectic.  One side says the problem is all outside the university, particularly in legislative cuts.  The other side says that the problem is all inside, particularly self-serving managers larding up administration.   Each side uses the other to disengage from open institutional politics that would involve all parties.  The debate has occupied the center ring for years. It prevents discussion of the deeper forces reshaping the university.

A summary term for those deeper forces is privatization.  Neither the Brostrom or the Campos side focuses on the fact that privatization increases expenses as well as revenues. In reality, privatization forces the mission creep of multiplying activities, "businesses," funding streams, capital projects and other debt-funded investments, which increase all sorts of non-educational costs and also administration.  Private partnerships, sponsors, vendor relations, and so on bring in new money but also cost money, require institutional subsidies, and in many cases lose money for the university.

University budget offices have a bad habit of reporting revenues in many areas without subtracting costs.  If they really want public understanding of college costs--which I doubt--they need to disaggregate internally-driven cost increases.  Not all increased costs express a "cost disease."  Some reflect  improved quality of educational services.  Universities should try to separate increased expenses that improve "quality of care" from those that are focused on increasing revenues.  Then the latter should be broken down into those that produce net increases and those that don't.  

I am aware that this would be hard and somewhat subjective.  But trying to do it would hugely improve the cost debate, and also public awareness of why per-student public university expenditures never go down.

Administrative bloat is one of the prices of privatization.  Until we can have honest accounting of privatization's costs, public university funding will be going nowhere.  And academia's leaders will obviously be far more responsible for this stagnation than any number of articles by frustrated faculty like Prof. Campos.

Categorías: Universidade

Remaking the Public U’s Professoriate

Xov, 02/04/2015 - 19:20

by Jennifer Ruth,  Portland State University
I’ve written before about my experiences at Portland State for Remaking the University. I’ve described effortsmy colleagues and I made to increase tenure-line positions. I’ve explored whythese kinds of efforts are difficult to coordinate and sustain in environments already reliant on non-tenure-track (NTT) instruction. Some of the readers have agreed with me that those of us with tenure should use it to refuse to grow through precarity. They then have taken the next necessary step—a hard look at the numbers. (See, in particular, Matthew H. Clark’s excellent comment on the math at the bottom of thispost.) They ask, as we all must: How realistic is it to push for a return to a majority tenure-line workforce at the typical public university?
At Portland State, as at many other state universities across the nation, we have what is now being breezily referred to as “the faculty mix”: tenure-track (TT), full-time non-tenure track (NTT), and part-time or adjunct faculty. Full-time NTT faculty members are involved in governance and service; adjuncts are not. The involvement of the former is an acknowledgment of a reality that has obtained for at least two decades: though on one-to-three-year contracts, these faculty members are permanent. Now, as we’ve steadily grown our third workforce, the adjunct faculty, it too is arguably as permanent. I’ve discussed before thenumbers behind Portland State’s economic dependenceon faculty originally often hired as if they were stop-gap. I don’t have access to all the university numbers so I can’t say how much money would be liberated for faculty hiring were administrator salaries and real estate purchases to eat up less of the budget. I do think, however, that it is fair to say that we cannot afford one tenure track composed of positions bundling research, teaching, and service. I think it is equally fair to say that we canafford two tracks.
In our forthcoming book, The Humanities, Higher Education and Academic Freedom: Three Necessary Arguments, Michael Bérubé and I call on universities like Portland State to create a tenure track for full-time faculty hired and promoted on the basis of excellence in teaching, and require that the vast majority of faculty be hired onto this track if not hired onto the other research/teaching tenure track. As a boundary, part-time adjunct instruction should account then for no more than 10% of student credit hours a term. The ratio of teaching-intensive faculty to research-and-teaching faculty will depend on many variables, and no doubt the relative size of the two tracks will vary greatly from university to university. The important thing in our minds is that both tracks confer eligibility for tenure after rigorous review. Universities will improve the teaching their students receive—there will be more accountability, not less, in such a system–and they will strengthen faculty involvement in service and governance. It is this last area of faculty work—service and governance—that has most convinced us of the necessity of tenure eligibility for all full-time faculty at universities.
Some people argue that universities should implement rolling contracts for non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty. We do not believe that this is sufficient: multi-year contracts do not provide meaningful academic freedom. In a recent essay in Inside Higher Ed, Michael Bérubé quotes Don Eron, a long-term contingent faculty member at the University of Colorado at Boulder and member of AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, who says, “Multiyear contracts are guaranteed to keep a faculty docile. Having to constantly reapply for one's job actively discourages the academic freedom that tenure is designed to protect.” The comment thread trailing Michael’s essay affirms Eron’s point. Quoting Michael on the catch-22 of NTT faculty in governance (vulnerable if you do it, vulnerable if you don’t), one commenter stated, “Uhh... there are full time faculty on one-year contracts doing committee and Faculty Senate work on our campus. That cow left the barn a decade ago.” Someone then responded: “yes, i [sic] am one of them - and I think twice before I say anything on the committee because i [sic] don't want to lose my job actually- Berube has it right.”
Time and again, I’ve seen governance dynamics sour when committees operate on the implicit pretense that TT and NTT faculty have the same degree of security with which to deliberate on issues. Awkward, failed committee work is often attributed after the fact to TT faculty’s arrogance and insensitivity to NTT faculty vulnerability. This no doubt is a factor in some places and at some times, but in my experience, the situation is untenable because everyone in the room becomes painfully aware of the power differentials warping the discussion’s outcome. In these environments, nobody feels free to say what she or he thinks—the TT faculty for fear of looking like a bully, the NTT faculty for fear of repercussions for their future.
At Portland State University, I currently serve on a “Faculty Roles and Structure” topic team, a kind of subcommittee of a university-wide strategic planning committee. Last week, two of us from the topic team—myself (a long-time TT faculty member) and a colleague from another department (a long-time NTT faculty member)—had a meeting with a staff member from the President’s office to discuss scheduling and other logistics. We found ourselves telling her that there was something extraordinarily naïve about putting a bunch of strangers of different ranks into one room and expecting us to walk out with a coherent set of recommendations concerning the faculty mix. My colleague told the staff person she should consider the university a country club circa 1950: the TT faculty members are the elite and NTT faculty, the excluded.
And TT faculty concerns are real, too. The sometimes casual hiring of NTT faculty, some of whom do not have terminal degrees, has led to a situation in which some TT faculty are uneasy throwing governance open to all faculty. They worry that people who have not gone through the entire training process of the discipline—which includes not only the earning of the terminal degree in their fields (typically, the Phd or MFA) but the work involved in competitive searches —may not be well-equipped to promote and preserve disciplinary standards. Additionally, TT faculty are not slighting their NTT colleagues when they worry that growing groups of faculty involved in governance without job security weakens the faculty’s aggregate ability to enter into shared governance with administrators as equals.
Tenure not only provides a degree of independence that multi-year contracts don’t; the hiring and evaluation processes are legitimating in and of themselves. One feels a lot less vulnerable when many different people and stages were involved in one’s hiring and retention than when one or two people were. Another commenter on the IHE thread following Michael’s article wrote, “At my school, there are numerous adjuncts with MAs who simply got their job because they live in the area and know the right people - a patronage system. However great their teaching evals , this practice is deprofessionalizing our profession.”The last thirty years of off-track hiring, Adriana Kezar and Daniel Maxey argue in “Adapting by Design,” now threatens the “core of our educational mission and the status of the academic profession.” This cannot be construed as an insult to NTT faculty when it is very patently the resulting institutional dysfunction, not the unprofessionalism of individuals, that has pushed us off our ivy-covered brick walls.
Many administrators will argue that they turned to faculty with higher courseloads to survive when states divested from higher education. Okay, we can answer, but you can and must find the money for a full-time teaching-intensive tenure track composed of positions with comparable salaries and equal benefits. With a teaching-intensive tenure track, we establish a credible degree of equality and legitimation and protect academic freedom. And we treat the profession of college teaching with the dignity it deserves.

Categorías: Universidade

CUCFA Letter and Petition on Proposed Health Care Changes

Ven, 20/03/2015 - 20:07
The Council of University of California Faculty Associations has drafted a letter/petition to President Napolitano in response to proposals to reduce the health care options available to UC Employees.  I am posting CUCFA's letter and petition in the hope of widening its circulation among faculty members.  Staff unions and UC-AFT may be proceeding with their own responses.  If any faculty members wish to sign the petition you can find it at: m
Dear Faculty Colleague,As you may be aware, the University of California is considering restructuring the provision of medical plans for its employees across the ten campuses of the system. These changes would have a dramatic impact upon the health care options currently available to faculty and other UC employees. In brief, the plan is to create a new UC Care HMO program that will replace Health Net and possibly Kaiser. The aim is to generate savings for the university by forcing UC employees into a monopoly healthcare system that will be both less convenient and more expensive to use, as well as cause severe inequities of provision between campuses.More details can be found in a letter, below, that the CUCFA Board has written and plans to send to President Napolitano, asking her to undertake serious study of the manifold consequences of this plan and to make transparent the financial projections driving it. We would like for faculty to add their names to this letter so that President Napolitano sees how important these health care options are to us. If you are a UC faculty member, please add your name to the letter by using the form below the letter.Dear President Napolitano,Faculty are deeply alarmed by administrative plans to restructure the health benefits for all University of California employees. Vice President for UC Health John Stobo outlined these plans at a meeting of the UC Faculty Welfare Committee in February 2015. The idea is to push UC employees currently enrolled in HMO plans into a new UC Care HMO involving the UC Medical Centers and (where these are lacking) by contracting with a network of private medical providers. This would be achieved by eliminating the existing healthcare plans that the vast majority (70%) of UC faculty and employees currently use—first, Health Net, and then at some future date, possibly Kaiser. We applaud our senate faculty welfare committees for questioning this plan. We believe this is a fundamentally bad plan for many reasons.
  1. Employees should not be forced into a monopoly system that denies a competitive choice of healthcare plans. That UC Care and the UC Medical Centers are managed within the same UCOP administrative portfolio gives rise, at the very least, to the appearance of a conflict of interest in UC’s safeguarding of employee health and welfare.
  1. The proposed plan will compound the unequal access to healthcare of faculty and employees across the UC system already introduced by the replacement of Anthem Blue Cross PPO with UC Care PPO last year. Short of traveling great distances to a UC hospital, those at UC campuses without medical centers – Berkeley, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz – let alone those who work at remote field stations, would be almost entirely dependent on UC Care’s ability to create an adequate, local network of private providers. But experience with UC’s venture into the creation of its own PPO so far, which among other things, failed to provide for Tier 1 coverage at the only full service hospital in Santa Barbara, does not inspire confidence in the contracting competencies of UC Care’s administration.
  1. Even for employees at UC campuses with medical centers, it is not clear that a UC Care HMO would be as extensive, reliable, or cost effective as what is currently offered by Health Net, let alone Kaiser. According to UCOP’s own survey, only 12% of UC Care users are “very satisfied” with the plan, compared to 25% for both Health Net and Kaiser. All those with Kaiser, and probably some with Health Net, would lose long established and, in many cases, essential relationships with their doctors. Moreover, should the use of Kaiser medical facilities cease to be an option, it is also unclear whether the remaining nearby medical providers would even be able to absorb the 40,000 UC employees and their families enrolled in that plan. Yet if Kaiser remains an option, it is unclear that a UC Care HMO that only replaces Health Net will attract enough younger, healthier UC employees to subsidize UC Care. This is presumably why VP Stobo has suggested that the removal of Health Net as an option may only be the prelude to the eventual elimination of Kaiser.
  1. The removal of Health Net, not to mention the possible elimination of Kaiser, will disproportionately affect lower paid, younger faculty and UC employees who enroll in them in larger numbers. With UC Care as the only option, they will almost certainly be forced to pay higher premiums, co-pays and deductibles. This will only further exacerbate what UCOP’s own total remuneration study recognizes as the uncompetitive nature of UC faculty compensation. Without UC’s traditionally strong benefits to offset our below-market salaries, faculty recruitment and retention may become enough of a problem to erode UC’s international standing as a whole.
  1. While we appreciate the University’s attempts to reduce its expenditures on employee healthcare, no data has been presented to demonstrate that a new UC Care HMO will deliver long-term savings and greater efficiency. The prospective UC Care HMO entails switching from UC offering fully insured health plans, where the financial risk is borne by others, to a ‘self-funded’ model in which UC accepts the risk and is liable for any losses. The wisdom of UC’s expansion into an insurance business at a time of great pressure on UC budgets requires much more transparency and greater justification.
  1. For several years, changes to our health plans have been announced with minimal consultation and little warning. The management of these changes has been chaotic and many have experienced significant distress in losing long-term providers and trying to find new ones. The consequences for faculty morale and sense of shared governance have been considerable.
We ask that you weigh carefully the consequences of this plan. Any restructuring of healthcare should only be undertaken after extensive study of its impact on faculty and employees, detailed financial projections that are made publicly available and wide consultation with all UC employees. Faculty stand with other UC employees in demanding that we continue to enjoy a choice as well as equal access to quality and affordable healthcare.CUCFA Officerscc: Dwaine Duckett, Vice President for Human Resources
John Stobo, Senior Vice President, UC Health

Categorías: Universidade

Crisis over Expression Continues at UC Irvine

Xov, 12/03/2015 - 01:03
Yesterday, a meeting of the UC Irvine student government Legislative Council was cancelled due to what campus police determined was a "viable threat of violence associated with the recent controversy over the display of national flags in the lobby of student government offices." Chancellor Gillman issued an accompanying statement decrying the threat of violence and declaring "Regardless of your opinion on the display of the American flag, we must be united in protecting the people who make this university a premier institution of higher learning."  This cancellation and threat of violence follows several days in which the student officers who had supported the removal of flags from a portion of the student government building had been receiving various forms of abuse, threats, and condemnation.

Although the Chancellor is to be commended for yesterday's statement decrying violence and threats against the student representatives, noticeably missing was any consideration or recognition of the role that his prior statements may have had in legitimating the demonization of the students.  You can find his earlier statement here.  Several things stand out in the statement:

First is his claim that "it was outrageous and indefensible that they would question the appropriateness of displaying the American flag on this great campus."  Chancellor Gillman is a constitutional scholar. Is he really saying that "questioning" the "appropriateness" of flying the flag on a college campus is "indefensible"?  Are we really to understand that at Irvine a discussion or debate about the meanings of national symbols (even our own) is now off the table?  

The second thing is his pointed thanks "to a member of our outstanding ROTC program, who volunteered to stand guard over the disputed flag while this issue was being resolved."  Suggesting that there was a need to "stand guard over the disputed flag" implies that the flag itself was under some sort of threat.  But what exactly was that threat?  Being moved to a different location?  Being folded up and given to the ASUCI President to keep as was done on a previous occasion?  These are threats? Implying that the vote implied a physical threat to the flag casts the student representatives as potential threats (leaving aside the fact that even Flag Burning has been declared protected speech by the Supreme Court).  

Now Chancellor Gillman insisted in his statement that if the students had acted in a private capacity and expressing personal views then there would be no reason to pay attention.  But frankly this seems like a fig leaf.  After all, the Chancellor issued his statement after the resolution had been vetoed by the Executive Council of the student government so there was no need for his condemnation.  Of course, I understand that some had spread a story about the resolution to parts of the media and that the Chancellor may have been worried about fundraising and political fallout.  But it is precisely when the principle of free debate is challenged that it is most incumbent on campus leaders to stand clearly in defense of it.  On March 8th the Chancellor did not do so.

There is an irony in this situation.  In the fall, UC was treated to statements issued by Chancellors on the necessity of civility in debate.  At the time, I discussed the dangers of coercion in this insistence on administratively demanded civility.  But here, if there is any incivility it is in the language of the Chancellor and the personal attacks on UCI Facebook and elsewhere against the student sponsors. Anyone reading the actual resolution--whatever they think of it in the end--could hardly consider it uncivil.  

There have been suggestions that moments like this suggest that University administration's should more forcefully distance themselves from student governments.  But that seems, unnecessary, unwise and unlikely to make a difference.  Anyone who confuses student governments with campus administrations or faculties is unlikely to be persuaded by some formal declaration.  Doing so would simply reduce a sense of shared enterprise on campuses.  And finally, the most appropriate stance for an administration in a case like this would have been a simple statement that it was a matter of the student government, that the administration was confident that its students would work that matter out, and that the appropriate thing would be for everyone else to allow the debate to take its course and ask questions if they wished.  Unfortunately that is not what was done.

Here are some links for those of you who are interested:

The Actual Resolution on the Flag Location. 

The most detailed reporting that I have found on the background to the Resolution

The Chancellor's Statement of March 8

Some information on Legislative Outrage

A Petition in Support of the Students who proposed the Resolution.

Categorías: Universidade

Will the Legislature Continue to Support a Research University?

Mér, 04/03/2015 - 20:58
Understandably, most public attention on California higher ed has been focused on the meetings between President Napolitano and Governor Brown.  But in the last few weeks the Legislature and the Legislative Analyst's office have both attempted to intervene and shape the debate over UC funding.  To some extent these interventions may simply indicate the Legislature's desire to become part of a process they seem excluded from at present.  But they do suggest both a wider political context for UC and that UC faces a significant debate over the nature of the research university and how the state will conceive of its relationship to the research moving forward. 

This debate is not, to be sure, limited to California.  As events in Oregon, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Florida, and North Carolina make clear, university systems are embroiled in both internal and external conflicts.  Although the fights are most immediately about money--often still in the mode of over-sized and politicized public funding cuts--they suggest issues deeper than short-term finances. As Chris and I have noted repeatedly, budgets are about values and what is at stake as 2015 are the values of the research university.  

In this post I want to look at the staff analysis prepared for the February 18th, Assembly Budget Committee meeting on UC.  This Committee hearing was not the first effort by the Legislature to intervene in the UC debate.  But it lays out the terrain that we face and raises challenges to the ways that UC operates.

The staff analysis seems committed to challenging UC's claim that it has suffered from under-funding. It attempts to do this by demonstrating that UC spending has increased significantly in both the total and core budgets since 2007.  They do this both in absolute dollars and in comparison to other state agencies. (4-5) At the same time, they try to minimize the increased costs UC faces.  For example, they emphasize the small growth in undergraduate resident student numbers rather than addressing the growth in total undergrad enrollments, which makes it appear that UC has more money to spend per student than it would if the total was taken into account.

In particular, assembly staff press on the size of administration.  They highlight the fact that, as is the case across the country, the number of administrative personnel is rising at a far faster pace than the number of tenure-track faculty (8).  Unlike much public discussion, they emphasize the expansion of the Management and Senior Professional Group (MSP). The Committee staff are right to note how difficult it is to account for the administrative growth--especially in the MSP group where the greatest growth seems to have occurred.  I say "seems" because it is extremely difficult if not impossible to figure out exactly who is in the MSP, what job categories are included, where the individuals are located, and so on by using UCOP's publicly available data.  UC will always respond to questions about administrative salaries and costs by pointing to the Senior Management Group because it is small. But the MSP group is large and growing so the assembly is right to push on that. The opacity of this category is a serious problem for the University.

Exacerbating this expansion in administration is the rise in the number of high-salaried UC employees.  Whereas the budget committee analysts recognize that many of these are connected to medical centers or are athletic coaches (and therefore may not be state funded) it is clear that not all are. Indeed the number of UC employees earning over $200,000 has nearly doubled since 2007 (8). Two issues, besides the obvious public image problem, make this development particularly fraught. First, while the number of high salaried individuals has grown, UC has turned increasingly to the use of Lecturers for undergraduate teaching.  Since 2007, lecturers have increased by nearly 20% while ladder rank faculty has increased about 3% and the number of librarians has actually shrunk. (The number of SMG and MSP has grown in the same period by about 32%).  UC claims that it is essential that students be taught by scholars actively involved in research.  But UC's increased reliance on Lecturers undermines this claim.  (Many lecturers, of course, are engaged in research, but UC does not hire them to be so engaged.)  The University can't make a case that UC research is essential to UC instruction when it steadily grows the proportion of non-research instructors.

Beyond the immediate costs involved here there is an additional long-range issue: the burden placed on the pension system by high salaried individuals.  This leads straight into one of the most contentious issues raised by the budget committee analysis. It notes that whereas the State caps its pensionable salary at the social security limit of $118,500, UC follows a federal tax code limit of $265,000.  While the legislature does not demand that UC change its policy, it certainly implies that it does not see the justification for this choice.

Interestingly, the Budget committee staff challenge the University's assumption that it must always respond to salary markets. At several places they raise the question: why should UC be competing with private universities?  They are most explicit in terms of the administration.  As they point out, administrative salaries are now defined not only against other public universities but against the salaries of executives outside of the higher education world.  The justification for this is unclear.  But they are also skeptical about UC including private universities in the compensation comparisons for faculty.  Implied in their questioning is the idea that short of a mass exodus of UC faculty, the state may not want to remain bound to the ranking and reputation system of higher education.   It is not clear that they will push on this issue but it is possible.

Although the report never makes it explicit, one red thread concerns the relationship between research and teaching load at UC.  The report shows skepticism about the relationship between faculty research and teaching and suggests that the relative importance of the two needs to be rethought.  As committee staff put it in two questions (both at 13): "Does UC believe faculty are teaching enough? How does UC determine an appropriate faculty load?" and "Is it appropriate to include research activity within the instruction category? Should undergraduate students' tuition be used to support research if it does not benefit them?"  Put bluntly, the Committee staff seems to be asking why UC professors should be paid more to teach fewer courses than our CSU colleagues are expected to teach.   I don't think that the assembly necessarily wants to downgrade the research university. Speaker Atkins, for example, has shown a greater willingness to expand funding for the University than has the Governor.  But the analysis clearly questions the present balance between teaching and research.  

I suspect that this report is simply the opening gambit in a long struggle over the question of research and the administrative and financial burdens that come alongside of it.  Given the political pressures to improve completion rates and reduce the time to degrees, the status quo is not going to survive indefinitely.  If UC does not rethink its administrative structure and if we do not more consistently prove that research actually enriches the learning of undergraduates we will be ever more vulnerable to the sort of mechanistic solutions favored by the Governor--shorter degrees, more online, greater uniformity in course offerings.  No one should want that.  We are all going to have to revitalize the research university as a learning institution if we want to continue to secure public support.

Categorías: Universidade

The High Price of a Public Authority in Wisconsin

Mar, 24/02/2015 - 16:10
By Lenora Hanson, Elsa Noterman, and Eleni Schirmer University of Wisconsin, Madison

Chris here: many states are now maintaining higher ed austerity or carrying on cuts in the teeth of the economy's recovery. Louisiana is one extreme example, and Wisconsin recently became another.  Budget deficits alone don't explain Wisconsin's cuts, as UW-Milwaukee professor Richard Grusin has pointed out in his analyses, so the next question is what does explain it? Further, what is the role of public university systems' top brass in creating the current climate?  This essay considers the latter question in the Wisconsin case.

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The University of Wisconsin System administration and the campus chancellors have sent a clear message to the state Capitol that the proposed 13 percent cuts to the System are too big. Though this vocal opposition differs from that of previous UW administrators, as Republicans legislators have eagerly pointed out, the budget cuts come attached to a proposal which both past and present UW administrators have actively sought -- the transformation of the UW System into a public authority.

Despite inveighing against the magnitude of the cuts presented in the proposed 2015-2017 budget, system administrators have long campaigned for "public authority" status. They recognize the cuts as a “DEAL” with the state in exchange for what they call the ‘flexibilities’ of the public authority model.  This desire explains why no UW System Chancellor has, to our knowledge, demanded that cuts to higher education be outright rejected. System President Ray Cross characterizes this as a deal for one simple reason: UW system budget cuts are an exchange for public authority status. As President Cross mentioned in the email he sent to system-wide chancellors before news of the cuts became public, the part of the budget that would make the university a public authority was an opportunity to be seized -- “something we might not get a shot at for another 20-30 years.” 

Why does the administration see this as an opportunity that must be seized? Because this deal positions the university to act like a corporate entity, equipped with the financial technologies to compete for market resources and top-paying ‘customers’ -- in the form of wealthy out-of-state students -- to fund its activities, rather than relying on highly regulated state investment while maintaining historic public access.  Though recent remarks by administrators attempt to distinguish the budget cuts from the public authority status, the System administration has been preparing to accept cuts in order to gain autonomy.

What Is a Public Authority?
What exactly is public authority? As administrators regularly remind us, and as evident from the language of the budget itself, the details and specifics are still largely unknown. Indeed, as one graduate student incisively asked of Vice-Chancellor of Finance and Administration, Darrell Bazzell, at a recent budget forum, “If we don’t know what exactly the public authority model contains, why do we want it?” While Wisconsin statutes do not provide a single definition or model of ‘public authority,’ the Governor’s state budget does assert that the public authority will increase the university administration’s ‘flexibility’ in each of these key areas:
(a) ability to set tuition rates unilaterally; (b) authority to set employee compensation and establish a personnel system; (c) control over managing all aspects, except bid letting, of construction projects funded with program revenues; (d) ability to conduct all aspects of construction projects funded with gifts and grants; (e) management of procurement and purchasing contracts; and (f) jurisdiction to negotiate student reciprocity agreements with Minnesota on behalf of the state.In more direct language, the public authority will provide (1) the power to expand tuition revenue; (2) to have greater control over construction projects (both in development and issuing bonds); and (3) to have more control over employee compensation and the personnel system. The language above is not, as frequently described by the administration, a matter of gaining “flexibilities,” but rather, we suggest, of “hyper-extending” the already significant burdens on UW workers and students. It is these hyper-extensions that are the priorities of system administrators, who are part of a new administrative class attempting to increase access to tuition and student loans, which subsidize new construction projects, at the same time it reduces labor costs through outsourcing, attacks labor unions, and increases managerial power.
We can get a good sense of what “public authority” might look like at UW-Madison only by cobbling together statements made by UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank at recent forums on our campus. Those statements suggest that while the System administration is somehow convinced that a public authority model will make the System more financially efficient and competitive, they know next to nothing about its impact on governance and diversity on our campuses. To wit, Chancellor Blank has noted that while Diversity Programs are important, they would not remain untouched by the cuts-for-public-authority exchange. And although UW System President Ray Cross originally framed the pursuit of public authority as a protection of shared governance in emails to system chancellors, Chancellor Blank has instead, perhaps more honestly, made the ambiguous statement that, “I very much hope there will be no effect whatsoever on shared governance.” Chancellor Blank’s statement is likely more honest, we suggest, because the public authority could change shared governance by moving things like shared governance, tenure, guaranteed support for underrepresented and minority students, and other items out of state statute and into the Board of Regents' jurisdiction.

We of course know that the members of the Board of Regents are neither democratically elected nor representative of individual campuses; rather, they are appointed by the Governor to serve seven-year terms, and will preside over the entire System. Should the Governor’s Board of Regents choose to write the above items into policy for the System they could do so, but as Blank’s wavering statement acknowledges, we currently have no real sense of how those items will be rewritten, if at all. Nor would UW systems workers or students have any ability to impose democratic accountability or recourse upon the appointed Regents.

While the UW administration verbally supports protections for students and workers, this does not necessarily ensure material support, especially in a context of declining resources. When fielding questions about protection for programs that sustain underrepresented and minority students after the transition to Board of Regents control, Vice-Chancellor Bazzell flatly stated that UW-Madison has a strong recent track record of support for diversity programming. Yet recent evidence shows that, especially after the 2011 budget cuts, admission for students of color, first generation college students, and Wisconsin residents declined, while high-paying international students and students of alumni rose.

We can also look at the example of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinic (UWHC), which -- previously a state-funded entity -- became managed by a hospital authority though the 1995 biennial budget, meaning that it would no longer receive state support and have to fund its daily operations through its generated revenues. One of the most significant effects of the UW Hospital’s shift to public authority status was its loss of collective bargaining for its employees. This pattern repeated when the UW System administration refused to include the option for faculty to unionize in the current public authority proposal.

Exchanging Cuts for Flexibilities: A System Tradition
UW-Madison administration has been silent on the explicit connections that exist between the budget and the public authority, and have rejected any suggestion that they are willing to take one for the other. For example, Vice Chancellor Bazzell recently argued that trying to understand the budget cuts in relation to the public authority is a “false construction.”

Yet Vice-Chancellor Bazzell’s statement ignores clear connections to the previous, ill-fated proposal for a public authority. That 2011 proposal, known as the New Badger Partnership (NBP), aimed to give UW-Madison complete autonomy as a public authority, breaking it away from UW-System as a way to protect UW-Madison from further budget cuts. It was a product of secretive discussions between the Governor and then-Chancellor Carolyn “Biddy” Martin, and revealed a connection between university administrative lobbying and Republican-driven austerity measures. Yet, Vice-Chancellor Bazzell attempted to re-write that history in last week’s forum, suggesting that the 2011 NBP and public authority mission was externally imposed on UW by Gov. Walker, not, as was the actual case, co-fashioned by UW administrators and state legislators. Indeed, from what we have seen, not a single communication, either internal or external, even acknowledges that a previous public authority proposal existed.

Yet there are at least three good reasons to believe that the proposed 2015-2017 budget cuts and public authority are inseparable, and that administration’s struggle to gain the latter has been absent a concern that it would likely produce the former.

First, after the NBP failed in 2011, UW-Madison and other system schools happily accepted a block grant from the state, as opposed to General Program Revenue (GPR) enumerated by fund type, in order to get the chance to rewrite their own HR and personnel policies. Not incidentally, the block grant allocation also required modifying state statute 20.285 to deregulate previous restrictions on how tuition can and cannot be spent, and thus freed up the system in the use of that revenue stream. At the time, critics expressed concern that a block grant was one step in the direction of drastically limited or even ultimately non-existent state contributions, which is unfortunately what we are seeing this year.

Second, in 2012, the Task Force on Restructuring noted in a presentation to System leaders that, “WI was one of the highest regulated universities in the country” and recommended that the System gain greater control over things like building, procurement and compensation, all the while never expressing concern in documents that this might lead to crippling cuts. Much like the infamous Act 10, the redrafting of HR policies has weakened worker protections put in place by unions, such as seniority rules, and has created a merit pay system that campus unions have vocally opposed. Third, and most recently, departments and programs on UW-Madison’s campus were asked last year to run 2/4/6 percent budget reduction tests in anticipation of cuts that were never contested by the administration.

It thus appears that the UW-System administration has seen the cuts as an opportunity on which they could capitalize.  In the context of this ongoing university campaign, Gov. Walker's proposed exchange of "public authority" status for cuts is not the result of a genuine budget crisis but of years of the UW-System actively trading off cuts for piecemeal autonomy. This helps explain why the messaging coming out of UW-Madison is not that we cannot afford cuts at all, but that the current proposed cuts are simply too big to be absorbed immediately. In her first address to Faculty Senate,  UW-Madison Chancellor Blank implied as much when she stated that, “We cannot do [the cuts] in one year; it is not possible,” and that “I wouldn’t say this is an utter disaster for the university, but we have some serious changes to make in our operations and all of you are going to feel that in some way or another.”

Though we recognize that Chancellor Blank’s statements deviate from the talking points deployed by previous Chancellors and administration, intolerance for cuts has not been her position, as evidenced by her budget reduction test. By conducting this exercise, Chancellor Blank effectively trained the university’s workers to accept and prepare for cuts. In this sense, Chancellor Blank herself failed to organize campus and the broader UW community to fight back against cuts that are widely acknowledged as “self-inflicted” wounds produced by years of tax breaks for the wealthy. From an employee’s point of view, what exactly is “too much?” The Governor’s eight percent cuts or the ‘necessary’ six percent previously proposed by the administration?

A Policy of Silence
“Let me know of any way I can be helpful (which can include keeping my mouth shut---- Smile)
--email from Dennis Shields (Chancellor, UW Platteville) to Ray Cross (UW System President)

Perhaps even more troubling than the UW Administration’s ahistorical representation of the proposed budget cuts to the university is their attempt to insulate the biennial budget from politics at all. This has become most evident in the administration’s refusal to engage in questions about the budget that are “political” in nature -- namely about the actual causes and motivations of the supposed budget cuts. Though the university will engage in long-term discussions about the impacts of the cuts and how they will be distributed, students and faculty have regularly been told by UW administration representatives that the discussion of the origins of the cuts -- namely the state’s perplexing revenue system -- is prohibitively political.

For instance, at a recent forum for graduate students, Vice Chancellor Bazzell stated that he was not at all concerned about having a public university funded through sales tax -- a mercenarily regressive form of taxation -- if it allocated sufficient amounts of revenue. This shift in funding sources will present an aggressively anti-public investment source, whereby those in the state with the least resources will pay disproportionately more for a university that is increasingly unaffordable to them. The Administration’s flagrant disregard for the sources of its funding -- not simply the quantity -- present a chilling and short-sighted strategy of the university as a public institution.

The depoliticization of the proposed budget is also evident in the administration’s discouragement of protest as a form of political participation. On the fourth anniversary of the now-symbolic February 14 "I Heart UW" Rally that sparked the Wisconsin capitol Occupation in 20144, over 200 students, faculty, staff and community members below-freezing temperatures to protest Scott Walker's recent proposal to defund higher education.

But UW-Madison's Twitter page, which was busy issuing valentines to UW, gave no hint that active resistance was begin organized on its campus that day, despite its subsequent attention on the front page of the New York Times and in the Washington Post. This is perhaps because, as disclosed to members of the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA) Executive Board in a meeting last week and to the Milwaukee Graduate Assistants’ Association (MGAA) members in an email (see their video response), UW administrators are discouraging protests and rallies to the budget proposal. Indeed, UW Regent Margaret Farrow criticized the “emotional” nature of the protests, invoking language loaded with gendered and racialized norms about “acceptable” forms of dissent.

Thus, a troubling and largely unacknowledged outcome of the recent budget proposal has been the request for a respectability politics--a politics in which entire campuses shall support the administration’s position, and perform a consensus by acting like ‘good’ citizens and workers. In the context of the UW system's financial technologies, consensus is a disciplining project in that it demands compliance with an employer that is already assessing where to cut jobs. This disciplining surfaced in 2011, when the UW system gained the “flexibility” to develop a new HR or personnel system that then led to the suggestion that it adopt a “behavior-based selection process” as part of employee recruitment and assessment.  Respectability politics reinforces a system that is moving away from defending its employees' academic freedom toward hiring workers ready and willing to be managed without question.

To be blunt, it appears that the UW administration actively seeks a form of management flexibility that requires silent employees whose jobs are consistently on the line.  The published email communications from system President Cross contained a message from Madison Chancellor Blank about UW-Madison’s University Committee
We'll see what pops out publicly by tomorrow morning. I have my faculty exec comm [sic] committed to letting negotiations move forward without public outcry, but I don't know if they contain certain elements of the faculty.Chancellor Blank clearly favors a passive faculty even though this passivity helped convince Gov Walker and other state politicians that 13 percent state funding cuts could succeed.  To reinforce passivity, some now claim that the budget cuts derive not from the "public authority" proposal that originated with the UW-Madison administration and not with Gov. Walker, but from those who have been outspoken against Walker and UW administration's privatization efforts.

President Cross’ messaging to the Chancellors suggested that the deal is by no means settled. “Please know," he wrote,  "that any deal or potential agreement could fall through at any moment. But, this is an opportunity to assume the offensive and we are putting a plan in front of the Gov and the Ldrs [sic] – in concept.”  This comment should be taken as an important reminder that this “opportunity” is still, at least for now, a precarious fantasy that can move forward only through the  silence of those who will suffer the most from it.
Categorías: Universidade

UCOP Misses Chance to Discuss Transparency and the Future of Higher Ed Funding But Chris Doesn't

Xov, 29/01/2015 - 22:20

Rose Aguilar had a segment of her show "Your Call" on KALW that focused on the UC Budget and the need for transparency. UCOP apparently decided was not to send someone to talk on public radio in San Francisco. But luckily Chris participated along with Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee and Kevin Sabo of UCSA.

You can find the episode HERE

Categorías: Universidade