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More Ca July 14, 2009

Posted by gordonwatts in university.
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From an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Faculty and staff members at the University of California will be placed on furlough starting in September for seven to 26 days per year, according to a plan released today by the system’s president, Mark G. Yudof. The plan, which is expected to be approved by the university’s Board of Regents next week, will amount to a salary cut of 4 to 10 percent, with the highest-earning employees facing the largest cuts.

The temporary furlough will push the university’s faculty compensation to about 20 percent behind comparative institutions, university officials said at a news conference. “We’re going to really have to work hard to come up with creative means to retain the excellent faculty that we have now and to further recruit people,” said Mary Croughan, chair of the university’s Academic Senate.

I feel for California. The state of Washington was in the same place. They are cutting salaries, reducing classes offered, and increasing tuition to try to close the budget gap. We did almost the same thing except for the salary cuts (and we raised tuition considerably more than they did). The trade off is interesting. That second paragraph points out the danger to this approach – others will poach the faculty. Hopefully California can fix the problems they have (economy comes back enough, change proposition 13, etc.) – they have some time as very few people have money to be poaching other universities.

Things are bad here in Washington, but at least I know the future and can plan on the cuts. The California budget crisis is still ongoing – and perhaps the legislature will pull back at the last minute. But given the constraints I don’t see how that will happen. The University of California system is one of the gems in the nation – it is too bad seeing something like this happen.

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1. Gordon Stangler - July 14, 2009

Hopefully California will come up with a solution quickly. I don’t know what the professors would do when they are forced to cut back, fire brilliant students and close labs.

Do you have any idea where all the money is going/ has gone?

I am glad Washington state managed to come up with a solution that isn’t too terribly painful.

2. gordonwatts - July 15, 2009

UW will face 13% cuts, but that is only because students will face 30% increase. So… not to good.

As far as Ca is concerned, that is a complex question. A lot of people tell me it is Proposition 13 that did the most damage – it was supportable when times were good, but when they are bad it demands funding be taken off the top for various things – none of which is education. So education comes in a distant second. But I’m no expert in Ca politics!

3. Tim Tait - July 15, 2009

Yeah, this was not exactly what I was looking forward to the second week on the new job… but I knew what I was getting into…

Let’s hope CA gets its stuff together…

4. gordonwatts - July 15, 2009

oooo, that is right. I’d forgotten about that, Tim. Good luck! And hopefully if they pad Ca with smart people they will eventually be able to change things! ;-) So get to work! ;-)

5. Tim Tait - July 15, 2009

Well, on the plus side, I’m that much closer to UW for the next of the great workshops you guys organize!

6. gordonwatts - July 15, 2009

Good point! Perhaps we should get you on the advisory team to help put together the next workshop.

7. Postdoc - July 15, 2009

One thing looks good that students and postdocs are excluded as well as some other categories paid by external sources as DOE.

8. gordonwatts - July 15, 2009

Yeah — also that they seemed to try to do sliding cuts – those that got more $$ are being made to take larger cuts. I thought that was very nice (not that any of this is fair).

Here in Washington the first draft of the law that prevented raises and other things was made to everyone -regardless of funding source. It was obvious, in the end, that despite many hours talking to the folks in Olympia they didn’t really understand how we fund some of our positions. Once we got that message through they modified the law so folks who weren’t on state funds but were on research funds could still get raises, etc.

It was potentially damaging. We’ve gone through years of small or no increases in research budgets – so we’ve not been able to give raises to postdocs’ etc. that they deserve. Now with research budgets increasing the state tells them – hey – since we can’t give raises to our guys you can’t have one either. Very unfair. This wasn’t so much a problem in physics (where we’ve managed to do raises mostly, as far as I know), but was apparently a real issue for the medical school.

I’m guessing a discussion very similar to this happen in California as well. :-) I’m glad it worked out the way it did – at least it protects some folks!


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