Monday, November 30, 2009

When the dead speak

The last post was an email from the Dean at Berkeley Law. Unsurprisingly, when a University proves that it is not a cemetery, as UC was described by President Mark Yudof, the fingerpointing has to start.

The information attached to Dean Edley's email is from the UCOP who realized months ago that the finger needed to point to Sacramento. Never mind the billions of dollars in reserve or the $1.35 billion in new debt to finance unnecessary and ill timed capital projects. Forget about the fact that UC bureaucracy is growing many times faster than faculty and yet we still hire PriceWaterhouseCooper to do our financial housekeeping. The problem is in Sacramento where a mere 2% (which is less than the new debt for construction) of the UC budget was cut.

Dean Edley may have only realized that Boalt Hall was not a cemetery last week after a contentious 'town hall' meeting where students clearly articulated their disgust at Boalt's departure from anything resembling a school with a public mission. The Dean's presentation last week focused both on how little the state budget cuts affected Boalt and, yet, how necessary the budget cuts made fee hikes. No, the state budget cuts this year did not precipitate massive fee hikes. The professional fee hikes at Boalt, like most other professional fee hikes this year, were long planned. The UC Budget 'crisis' seems to be a convenient point to accelerate them, making sure that students will bear the cost of corporate privatization more quickly and in greater proportion.

It seems disingenuous for Dean Edley to pass the buck now when less than two years ago, he threatened to leave the school along with a cadre of 'top faculty' if fee increases were not accelerated. The idea that Dean Edley's advocacy for public education can be improved is certainly one that I can agree with. His support for public education is nonexistent. Just as Yudof's fanciful New York Times interview elicited a respectfully outraged response from UC faculty, it is time for professional faculty and students to demand a meaningful leadership for public education. Or perhaps our self-described 'man of the people' realizes exactly who approves his $350,000 salary.

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: UCOP thoughts on budget crisis, etc.
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 16:14:51 -0800
From: Christopher Edley
To: Faculty Announcement List

Colleagues, I found the attached document from UCOP very useful in that it gathers together in summary form the “message points” and key factoids undergirding the Administration’s stance.

Although, being a man of the people, I don’t identify myself as being part of “The Administration”, I believe the document is accurate and compelling. In some respects it could say much more — detailing, for example, all the efforts long underway in Sacramento or the dramatic downsizing of UCOP that began before the crash, or the excruciating (to me) and lengthy consultation process President Yudof went through all spring and summer with the system Academic Senate and Chancellors, or the decisions by some union leaders to suffer layoffs rather than take furloughs, or . . . . You get my point.

It also doesn’t put UC’s trouble into full perspective — with regard both to the cuts California social and human services, and with regard to the parallel challenges in other states.

Of course our advocacy — by everyone, including student protesters — can be improved and no doubt will be. Especially in its targeting.

Most if not all of us have a natural inclination to be supportive and sympathetic to student protesters, who are not just community members but the people to whom we are dedicated and of whom, quite remarkably at Boalt, we as faculty are quite fond. But we are also educators, and I believe we should welcome formal and informal opportunities to talk through the issues and solutions. Which, of course, requires that we first be knowledgeable.

Christopher Edley, Jr.
Dean and Orrick Professor of Law
Boalt Hall, U.C. Berkeley

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