Saturday, August 22, 2009

Good move or not? - UC decides faculty furlough's will not be

Just received this email (also attached letter)

Colleagues:

After speaking at length with all of you and a number of other people with an interest in the issue, we have decided that faculty furlough days will not occur on instructional days (days for which a faculty member is scheduled to give lectures, lead classes or workshops, have scheduled office hours, or have other scheduled face-to-face responsibilities for students).

The furloughs that have been necessitated by the severe University underfunding by the State are causing significant problems for faculty who have restrictions on research and service as well as increased teaching workloads; employees who have fewer days to do their work and sometimes fewer colleagues to help them; administrators who have reduced staff and budgets to accomplish their complex tasks; on top of lower salaries for everyone. Students too will suffer the effects of the underfunding--larger and fewer classes, and increased fees, as were imposed for this fall instruction period, among other burdens. In such difficult times, I believe that we must do everything we can to ensure that the students continue to receive all of their instruction. Asking the faculty to carry a full teaching load during furloughs is a large request, but in my mind is justified by the University’s paramount teaching mission. Research is permitted on furlough days, but for many faculty this extra research will not be remunerated unless they have grants in which there are funds that can be reallocated to pay for increased effort. And since furlough days are not “service days”, they can be used for outside professional activities that may be remunerated.

We understand that the furlough plan will cause hardships for the entire University family. As such, the President and the Regents are committed to do everything possible to ensure that the plan ends after 12 months.

We will continue to work closely with faculty, students, staff and administrators to find the most efficient and thoughtful way to address the problems that will arise this year. You have my pledge that we will make the University as effective and productive as we can under the current budget problems, after which we will help you all plan for better times ahead.

Best wishes,

Lawrence H. Pitts

Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

Academic Affairs




I am sure many of my colleagues will disagree with this decision by UC. The debate around campus here has basically been about whether there should be some teaching "consequences" to all the cuts being placed on faculty. I accept that it could be useful for there to be some pain and that teaching less would be a way to show that the cuts have real impact on education. But I think personally this would be a horrible political move right now. California's budget could still go down next year and there could be more cuts. UC needs as much good will as possible in Sacramento and around the state and having faculty cut teaching days does not seem to be the best maneuver.

What do other people think? I propose we slash committees, meetings, and other "service" activities like that. Many of them won't be missed by anyone.



7 comments:

  1. U. Maryland had furloughs last year - and may yet have them again this year - and we had the same policy: no one was allowed to take furloughs on days that they were teaching.

    I think this is a very reasonable policy. The fact is that most of us don't teach every day, and there are several weeks between semesters, so we don't have to cancel classes to take furloughs. On the other hand, I think it's fine for faculty to discuss the furloughs with their students and do whatever we can to make them aware of how serious the budget problems are and how they affect both teaching and research.

    By the way, UC's announcement that it won't furlough employees who are not paid by state funds was welcomed everywhere. We still don't know if U. Maryland will adopt that more-reasonable strategy this year.

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  2. thanks for the MD info Steven --- by the way --- the UC exemption" for people not paid by the state is right now only for people who have 0% state funding --- if you have even 1% State funding you are currently going to be treated as though you have 100% --- though they are working on a plan to make that more % based I think

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  3. This has not yet come up in Canada. However, I would note that teaching a course involves prep work in addition to the actual in-class time, so if these furloughs are significant then something must be getting lost.

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  4. Does that mean you won't have any furlough (= no pay) days if you a teaching-related activity scheduled for every day?

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  5. The consensus is - UC has no idea how to handle furloughs for faculty - they just do not want them to impact course instruction in particular .... I am sure many will end up working on such days. But I am going to try to find ways to truly not work on UC related things. I may start a consulting company or work in my yard, or something.

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  6. I would feel a lot better about all this if UC would be honest about it simply say that salaries are "cut". For faculty this furlough idea is nonsense. We cannot take off on vacation, we have work to do

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  7. Pam - I am with you on this in part. But I for one am actually going to take furlough days and time. it may be imperfect and I may work some at home -but I prefer this to salary cuts as I will actually try to not work on UC things those days ...

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