Asking the Chancellor

Asking the Chancellor

about Nonresident enrollments
about Where the money goes
about Shared governance

by Charles Schwartz, UC Berkeley

                                                            Department of Physics
University of California, Berkeley
May 24, 2012

Chancellor Robert Birgeneau
California Hall
Berkeley Campus

Dear Bob;

This is a follow-up to our Q&A exchange at the recent public meeting of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate: the subject is increased enrollment of nonresident undergraduate students at Berkeley.

First, enclosed is a transcript of our verbal exchange, which I made from the complete recording that is posted on the Senate’s web site.  I invite you to:
(a) point out any errors you may find in this transcription;
(b) offer any supplementary comments you may wish to add for the record.
(I recognize that you had no reason to expect this particular inquiry and thus had to answer “off the cuff.”)

Second, enclosed is an email circulated on October 27, 2009, by Professor Christopher Kutz, who was then the Chair of the Berkeley Division, along with subsequent emails of December 16, 2009. These documents provide the firm basis for the premise of my inquiry – namely, that there was an agreement between you, as Chancellor, and DIVCO, the executive body of Berkeley’s faculty Senate, concerning the use of revenues expected from the increase in nonresident enrollments. I invite you to address two apparent contradictions between your recent remarks and what appears in these documents:
(c) whether those funds were to be used exclusively for undergraduate education;
(d) whether there was a commitment for the Chancellor to provide a detailed accounting of the use of those funds.

I look forward to your response, Chancellor, and would welcome, in particular, any quantitative information you could supply on this particular topic. A copy of this letter is also going to Professor Kutz, and any contribution he might wish to make to this discussion would be welcomed.

Sincerely,
Charles Schwartz
Professor Emeritus
Enclosures (2)

Meeting of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate: May 2, 2012

Partial transcription of the audio recording posted online at the Senate’s web site.

Q&A following the report from the Committee on Admissions, Enrollment, and Preparatory Education

——————————————————————————————————

Charles Schwartz

“Schwartz, Physics. I have a question concerning the nonresident students but it is a question that probably is better directed to the Chancellor. And I just want to ask the Chairman: would that be in order for me to ask that question now?

“Thank you.  When the subject of increasing nonresident undergraduate admissions came up in a very lively way – I think it was two and a half years ago – it was reported from the Divisional Council that there was an agreement, between the Senate and the Chancellor, that the additional funds coming in would be used specifically to enhance and improve and enlarge undergraduate instruction. I wonder, is there any accounting report that would fill in that, what I understood to be a promise?”

Robert Birgeneau

“To be honest, probably only in a very general way, in that the resources from that certainly have been used to improve undergraduate instruction. So, for example, there has been a huge investment in impacted courses in terms of increases of the number of GSI’s.  The MCAP program, extending financial aid to middle class Californians, which is connected with their education in a very important way, is only possible because of the out of state and international students.  So, certainly the new resources, which are critical to our survival, which have come from the increased number of out of state and international students has been very impactful on the undergraduate experience here and actually has ameliorated some of the challenges which were there even before we started to increase the numbers.  If the apparent agreement at the time was that a hundred percent of the resources were going to be used for that purpose, then I couldn’t, I don’t think we documented that; and not only that, it would be a question of how you define impacting the undergraduate experience. Like, is retaining faculty – our best faculty and great teachers – is that part of contributing to the undergraduate experience?

“But there have been well documented very explicit things like undergraduate financial aid and the almost forty, I guess, foreign language courses that were reinstated.  At a meeting with one of the math professors who told me that he loved to whine – his words not mine – and he said that he could no longer whine because we had actually given them so many GSI’s in the Math department that now they actually had an adequate number of sections. “

——————————————————————————-

Documentation re 2009 UCB policymaking on increasing nonresident enrollment

Email 10/27/2009, Chris Kutz to Faculty Budget Forum

At its October 26 meeting, the Divisional Council of the Academic Senate voted 9-2 to endorse the recommendations of the Task Force on Enrollment to increase nonresident enrollment, with the following conditions:
1.    That the ratio of resident to nonresident students be reconsidered if and when state funding has been restored.
2.    That all funds from increasing nonresident enrollment be used to protect the quality of undergraduate education.
3.    That Divisional Council request an annual accounting report from the Chancellor detailing the deployment of these funds.

When time permits, I will post to the Senate blog a discussion of the decision, along with the survey results from a few weeks ago, which are in accord with the deliberated decision above: roughly 80% of the faculty surveyed (405 responses of some 2100 messages sent to all active and emeriti faculty) approved of raising NR enrollment levels as a temporary or permanent measure.  The “Coordination Board,” which includes faculty and administrators, meets this afternoon to discuss the issue further, and I will keep the list apprised.

–Chris
Chair, Berkeley Division, Academic Senate

————————–
Email 12/16/2009, Schwartz to Kutz

Chris;

I recall an email you distributed some weeks ago about some official committee or board that you serve on, sending recommendations to the Chancellor about enrollment of Non Resident undergraduate students at Berkeley. In particular, I am interested in following up on the conditions that were part of that recommendation.

Can you tell me if there is a formal document transmitting those recommendations to the Chancellor; and, if so, how may I obtain a copy of that?  I have a similar inquiry about any response from the Chancellor.

Charlie
—————————————
Email 12/16/2009, Kutz to Schwartz

Hi, Charlie,
I think you are referring either to the Divisional Council or the “Coordination Board” vote to endorse the Task Force recommendation on increasing NR enrollment, conditional on rolling the funds into undergrad education.
I can’t recall at the moment what official form, besides our minutes, the Div. Council vote took.  (I can’t recall if we wrote a further letter.)  Coord Board is constituted by the admin., so they would have the record of the meeting — it was just a discussion, then a voice vote, which unanimously endorsed the Div.Co. position.
By this message, perhaps Andrea or Marilyn can identify the form in which teh Div.Co. vote was memorialized?

thanks,
—————————-
Email 12/16/2009, Andrea to Kutz

Hi Chris,

The vote (actually 9 to 2) is memorized in the approved minutes of the October 26, 2009 DIVCO meeting (attached).  A statement on DIVCO’s vote was inadvertently dropped from our website during our mini-redesign.  I’ve asked Sumei to post as soon as practicable.  In the meantime, it’s attached for your information.  –Andrea

excerpts from the two attachments:

Divisional Council Minutes 10/26/2009

Motion:

Move that Divisional Council endorse the recommendations of the Task Force on
Enrollment to increase nonresident enrollment, with the following conditions:

1. That the ratio of resident to nonresident students be reconsidered at such a time that state funding has been restored.

2. That funds from increasing nonresident enrollment be rolled back into
undergraduate education to protect quality. Divisional Council requests an annual accounting report from the Chancellor detailing the distribution of these funds.

Vote: The motion to endorse the recommendations of the task force,
with conditions, was approved.
Yes: 9
No: 2

ACTION: Divisional Council authorized Chair Kutz to convey DIVCO’s
endorsement of the task force report, along with its stated conditions, to the
Coordination Board for Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid, and
Enrollment Management, at its meeting on October 27, 2009.

Subsequent announcement from the Senate Office

The Undergraduate Admissions Coordination Board, which includes faculty and
administrators, met on October 27, 2009, and unanimously endorsed the
Divisional Council’s position.

————————————–
Email 12/16/2009, Schwartz to Kutz

Chris;

Andrea has sent me the documents I inquired about.  Thanks.

Please let me know when you might hear about the Chancellor’s response to those recommendations.

Also, if it is appropriate, I would be curious to know the basis for the 2 negative votes in the 9/2 vote by Divco supporting these recommendations: Were they against the main recommendation, which was to increase NR enrollments; or were they against the conditions added in?

Charlie
————————–
Email 12/16/2009 , Kutz to Schwartz

they were against the increase itself, I would guess out of a concern it diminished access to UC for California, and that the costs to ethno-racial diversity were too great (these were the most significant risks we discussed, though we also talked about the political backlash issue).  In full disclosure, I forgot to vote myself, because I was counting votes, but would have voted for the position.

The chancellor’s informal response was that he was pleased that the faculty had endorsed the increase.  I don’t think there will be a formal response.  he did agree to the conditionality.

——————————————————–
——————————————————–
Email, July 17, 2012,

from: Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau
to: Charles Schwartz
cc: George Breslauer
subject: Out of state and international students

Hi Charlie,

I am just about to go on vacation and I am working my way through various memos.  I apologize for my long delay in responding to your letter of May 24, 2012 concerning the uses of the increased tuition revenues from out of state and international students.  As I stated in the Academic Senate meeting, these revenues have made possible a significant reinvestment in our undergraduate gateway courses.  They have served to lower the self help level for our low income undergraduates and they have made possible the creation of our precedent setting middle class financial aid program.  They also have helped us begin hiring significant numbers of new faculty most or all of whom will teach undergraduates.  This has been done without going below the target number for Californian undergraduates of 21,000 which was the target number when I began as Chancellor.

In your note you also included some recommendations  from DIVCO.  Provost George Breslauer acts as the contact point between DIVCO and the senior administration.  George is currently on vacation in Paris.  By copy of this e-mail I am asking George to address the DIVCO part of your memo when he returns to Berkeley.

I trust that you are having an enjoyable summer.  For my part, I am ramping up my activity as a physicist in eager anticipation of my return to full time faculty status.

With warm regards,

Bob

————————————————————–
C.S. response July 21, 2012

Dear Bob;

Your letter of July 17, responding to mine of May 24, suggests that your office does not have any quantitative information at all concerning the question of how you spent the revenues from increased enrollment of nonresident undergraduate students at Berkeley. You recite various things that you say the money was used for; but you do not even tell whether those expenditures covered 20%, or 50%, or more of the total increase in revenue.

In my letter, I specifically asked you to provide such quantitative details. This question comes not just from my own curiosity but arises from the specific history of negotiations between your administration and DIVCO, the Divisional Council that represents the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate.  As documented, DIVCO gave its consent to the increase in nonresident enrollments conditional upon “an annual accounting report from the Chancellor detailing the distribution of these funds”; and this conditionality, according to the then Chair of the Division, was agreeable to you.

The topic of “shared governance” – between the UC administration and the Academic Senate – is frequently discussed; and so this question of what happened to the perceived agreements in this case is of some importance. You hand that issue off to Provost George Breslauer; and so we shall all wait for his response.

Well, lets assume that you did not keep a good record of those funds at that time; but, surely, it should be possible for your office to provide some meaningful data. How much new money was in fact committed to “undergraduate gateway courses”; how much additional money went to financial aid programs for low income and for middle class undergraduates; how much went toward hiring of new faculty members? These were all financial decisions/allocations made by someone on your staff, under your overall supervision; and so there must be data available. Also, what was the total amount of additional revenue gained from this shift in enrollment policy?

I look forward to hearing more from you.

Sincerely,

Charlie

3 Comments

  1. Anant Sahai said,

    July 21, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

    I think that this accounting should be relatively easy to do for the Chancellor’s office.

    First, calculate how much extra NRT has come from undergrads. Since undergrad NRT apparently doesn’t get covered by financial aid, this should be really easy to calculate by taking the difference of the number of undergrads paying NRT post-change relative to the earlier baseline. This can then be multiplied by NRT.

    Second, calculate how much money has been spent on MCAP, increased GSIs, and increased faculty hiring/retentions. The MCAP calculation should be easy. The problem is the increased GSIs and increased faculty hiring/retentions. What should the baseline be? A fair place to start would be to take the numbers from before this policy was adopted (say 2008). And then scale them down by the percentage change in the state allocation of funds. So if state funds have dropped by (I’m guessing) 40% since 2008, just use 60% of the 2008 TAS budget and 60% of the 2008 faculty retention/hiring budget as the baseline.

    Total effort: at most one staff-day. Very reasonable amount of time to spend.

    From this simple calculation, we could easily see the extent to which the extra undergrad NRT has been spent on undergraduate education.

    The accounting here doesn’t have to be correct to the last decimal point. That would be meaningless. It just needs to be order-of-magnitude correct.

  2. Charles Schwartz said,

    July 22, 2012 @ 8:34 am

    Yes, it should not be difficult for the Chancellor’s office to do those estimates. I could even do some of those estimates myself. But, as I read Chancellor Birgeneau’s statements, there were discrete decisions made to allocate new funds for those particular purposes; and so it was known at the time of authorization (by Birgeneau, or by Breslauer) how much money was actually being put for each of those purposes that he recites. That is the information I ask the Chancellor to report. That is simple “accountability” and “transparency.”

  3. Rica said,

    September 3, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    UCB Chancellor Birgeneau Loss of Credibility, TrustThe UCB budget gap has grown to $150 miillon, and still the Chancellor is spending money that isn’t there on expensive outside consultants. His reasons range from the need for impartiality to requiring the innovative thinking, expertise, and new knowledge the consultants would bring.Does this mean that the faculty and management of a world-class research and teaching institution lack the knowledge, impartiality, innovation, and professionalism to come up with solutions? Have they been fudging their research for years? The consultants will glean their recommendations from interviewing faculty and the UCB management that hired them; yet solutions could be found internally if the Chancellor were doing the job HE was hired to do. Consultant fees would be far better spent on meeting the needs of students.There can be only one conclusion as to why creative solutions have not been forthcoming from the professionals within UCB: Chancellor Birgeneau has lost credibility and the trust of the faculty as well as of the Academic Senate leadership that represents them. Even if the faculty agrees with the consultants’ recommendations disagreeing might put their jobs in jeopardy the underlying problem of lost credibility and trust will remain.

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