An Affirmative Vote by the Faculty at Berkeley

Resolution on Senate Committee on University Governance and Leadership

In the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate of the University of California

Approved by a vote of 263 to 113 in a formal mail ballot,  May 7-21, 2010

• Official Results of the Ballot

• Text of the Resolution

• Ballot Arguments For and Against

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June 17, 2010, announcement by Professor Christopher Kutz, Chair
Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate

Resolution to reform governance of the University:  At our Spring 2010 Divisional Meeting Professor Charles Schwartz proposed a resolution that would:

“Ask the Divisional Council to convene a special Committee charged to collect, study and formulate a set of Reform Proposals concerning the Governance and Leadership of the University, which will then be distributed to the membership of the Division for a ballot assessment.”

Upon a motion from the floor, this resolution was put to a mail ballot, using our new electronic election system.  The results were clear and impressive: the resolution passed by 263-113.  The next task is to form the Special Committee that will take on this difficult task.  The Senate will follow its usual policy for this: the members of the Committee will be named by the Committee on Committees, and then confirmed by Divisional Council.  I would expect the Special Committee to be formed at the beginning of the Fall (when Fiona Doyle becomes chair), with a report to the Division in the Spring.

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TEXT of the Resolution

Whereas, There is widespread concern about the financial future of the University;

Whereas, The Regents and the President of the University have established a Commission to study alternative future arrangements;

Whereas, It appears that consideration of Major Reforms in the Top Level Governance and Leadership of the University is unlikely to occur within that Commission;

Whereas, Numerous members of the Faculty of the University have thoughtful contributions to offer in that regard; and

Whereas, Such Reforms might be a significant factor in efforts to restore public confidence in and public support for the University; therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate asks its Divisional Council to convene a special Committee charged to collect, study and formulate a set of Reform Proposals concerning the Governance and Leadership of the University, which will then be distributed to the membership of the Division for a ballot assessment.

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Statement FOR Resolution:

What is the motivation for this Resolution concerning Reform of the Governance and Leadership of the University of California?  It is in the last Whereas:

“Whereas, Such reforms might be a significant factor in efforts to restore public confidence in and public support for the University.”

We have heard from some Working Groups of the UC Commission on the Future that maintaining a strong share of financial support from the State will be essential to a healthy future for UC; and the two officials from the Office of the President who attended the April 22 meeting of the Berkeley Division made that same point.

How does one achieve that?  The standard reply is to advocate for all the wonderful benefits that UC provides to all of California.  We all support that effort.

But that is not enough. We are well aware that there are problems and there are criticisms from outside, about how University officials handle the public money and the public trust placed in the hands of The Regents and their top executives.

Many of us inside UC share some of those criticisms; and this endeavor, being led by faculty, can be relied upon to protect the integrity of academic functions within the University.

So here is a chance to act in a way that can serve both objectives: to advocate for reform in University management as we see it is needed and, at the same time, to respond positively to a public disapproval of mismanagement.

This Resolution does not ask you to endorse a preformed list of complaints; rather it seeks the creation of a constructive process, within the Academic Senate and initiated by the membership. This path should achieve the most uninhibited approach to this problem – and that independent character is also essential for gaining credibility in the public domain.

The Committee created by this Resolution will invite, collect and evaluate proposals for reform in the governance and leadership of the University. It will then select the most significant proposals, solicit arguments for and against each one, and then submit all that to the full membership of the Berkeley Division to be voted on, item by item.

This process will not guarantee the achievement of those reforms supported by the majority of the faculty; nor can it guarantee that this exercise will produce the influx of new public money that we all desire for the University.  Yet, it is a chance to pursue those goals, something that we the faculty can initiate; and it seems better to try than to forego the opportunity.

While the scope of this endeavor covers all of UC and might best have been undertaken by the systemwide Academic Senate, that has not happened. Therefore, we at Berkeley now have an opportunity to take this initiative, inviting colleagues at other campuses to join as they see fit.

For additional background materials, see what was provided for the April 22 meeting:

http://academic-senate.berkeley.edu/meetings/meetings_background_Spring2010_2.html

Submitted by:  Charles Schwartz, Professor Emeritus of Physics

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Statement AGAINST Resolution:

We recommend a no vote on this resolution. We understand the proposed resolution to have the goal of improving management of the entire University of California System by targeting the organizational structure of the University of California Office of the President for review. While we fully support that goal, we believe that the mechanism proposed has the potential to make matters worse because of the vagueness of the charge and because the action is not being taken in concert with the other campuses and their divisions of the Senate. The charge in the resolution does not make clear the extent to which its focus is UCOP or the campuses or how overlap between the two should be addressed. The resolution calls for creation of a Berkeley committee and then a subsequent Berkeley faculty vote on the recommendations of that committee. We believe that a Berkeley go-it-alone approach to systemwide issues will do more harm than good. Currently faculty across the system are aligned with the goal of the resolution–reducing inefficiencies at UCOP.  However, our experience with the systemwide Academic Senate leads us to believe that this go-it-alone approach from Berkeley is likely to be perceived as an attempt by our campus shape the outcome to Berkeley’s singular advantage, and thus create hostility to what would be widely supported proposals, were they developed by a systemwide committee. Should the current resolution pass, we hope the vague charge leaves room to insist that the committee formed actively involve our sister campuses and to put the recommendations to a vote on all 10 campuses.

Submitted by:

Ronald C. Cohen, Professor of Chemistry and of Earth and Planetary Science

Ignacio Navarette, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese

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2 Comments

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