Sunday, May 30, 2010

Regents' Public Forum on the University Budget

The Board of Regents will hold a public forum on the University Budget on June 14th at 11:30am in the Boardroom on the sixth floor of McNamara Alumni Center. Given the importance of the vote by the Regents on the budget on June 22, FRPE believes that concerned faculty should make a point of attending the forum and asking questions about spending priorities at the University of Minnesota. The Regents need to hear faculty perspectives.

Individuals who wish to speak at the forum should email (subject line: Public Forum) by 3pm on June 8th. The email should include name, email, phone number, the group they represent (if any), their relationship to the University, and a general presentation topic. Speakers will be notified in advance about their order on the agenda.

If you would like to coordinate with FRPE, please contact us at

Saturday, May 29, 2010

UC Berkeley faculty's resolution on intercollegiate athletics

The UC Faculty Senate passed this resolution last fall, but it merits consideration now for two reasons. First, it shows that Faculty Senates can play a more active and publicly critical role of administration. (Although alas in the end, they also have no power to bind the administraiton...) Second, they took the bold step of putting a frank discussion of athletics on the agenda and propose a creative solution for aligning athletics with the University's academic mission. The resolution is reproduced in full (excluding footnotes) below.


Resolution on Intercollegiate Athletics at UC Berkeley

Whereas, Although it is widely believed that the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) earns a profit for the Berkeley campus, its financial statements reveal that it significantly outspends its revenues every year, depleting precious campus resources;

Whereas, For the most recent 5-year period for which the DIA has released detailed data (2003-08) its cost to campus has been at least $10 million every year except for 2007-08 for which the cost was $7.4 million;

Whereas, Current estimates for the most recent fiscal year (2008-09) indicate that the cost to the campus is expected to be a record high of approximately $13.5 million and is expected to be even higher for the current fiscal year (2009-10);

Whereas, The DIA has cost the campus approximately $160 million since 1991;

Whereas, The DIA is authorized to operate as an Auxiliary Enterprise on a financially self-supporting basis;

Whereas, The DIA’s services are provided directly to only approximately 900 among 35,000 students (or 2.5%) at the Berkeley campus;

Whereas, Student-athletes are given a wide range of special privileges and perquisites not accorded to regular students, including course enrollment priority, exclusive tutoring, exclusive conditioning and practice facilities, subsidized superior residence facilities, personal transportation, hotel stays before home games, and more;

Whereas, The Berkeley campus is about to incur a much larger $457 million debt risk through external financing of $321 million4 to renovate the California Memorial Stadium and $136 million to construct the Student-Athlete High Performance Center (SAHPC), a facility with access that will be restricted to only 450 student-athletes, less than 1% of the students, staff, and faculty on campus;

Whereas, This $457 million dollar debt is being arranged to be repaid by the DIA, despite the fact that the DIA operates at a loss;

Whereas, Recreational activities and facilities, which could benefit the mental and physical health of all students, staff, and faculty in the UC Berkeley campus community,are underfunded and understaffed;

Whereas, The scholarly literature shows that it is a misconception that intercollegiate athletics earns money for universities and even the NCAA reports that increased spending on athletics does not increase alumni donations to the university (which prompted the NCAA president to advise college presidents to reconsider their institutional spending on sports);

Whereas, Refereed journal articles conclude that the evidence shows increased giving to athletics often brings with it a decline in academic fundraising at the same institution;

Whereas, Only one-third of Cal’s men’s basketball players and one-half of the football players graduate10 and Cal’s football graduation rate is near the bottom of the Pac-10 Conference;

Whereas, The second largest line item (after health care) in the annual student registration fee (paid by both undergraduate and graduate students) is for Intercollegiate Athletics, amounting to $2 million annually, provided to the DIA by non-athlete students to benefit the approximately 900 athletes and to subsidize ticket prices for event attendees;

Whereas, Competitive intercollegiate athletics is not part of the core UC mission of “undergraduate education, graduate and professional education, research, and other kinds of public service, which are shaped and bounded by the central pervasive mission
of discovering and advancing knowledge”; and

Whereas, The university is facing historically severe financial pressures, putting core-central activities at risk;

Be it therefore RESOLVED, that:

1. The faculty recommends that the Chancellor put Intercollegiate Athletics on its intended self-supporting basis, taking immediate action to effect the following:

a. All funding of Intercollegiate Athletics from campus subsidies and the use of student registration fees cease immediately (or as soon as possible to the extent permitted by existing contract constraints).

b. The DIA cease annual deficit spending and the Berkeley campus not permit Intercollegiate Athletics to spend beyond its actual annual direct revenues.

c. All DIA coaching compensation be subject to full furlough unless the DIA has a net annual profit based on direct revenues large enough to cover the furlough amounts.

2. The faculty recommends that the Chancellor take immediate action to ensure that Intercollegiate Athletics develop a viable plan, by the Spring meeting of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, to retire the cumulative debt to the Berkeley campus.

3. The faculty recommends that the Chancellor and the development staff urge donors to prioritize academics at the Berkeley campus.

4. The Academic Senate establish a Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Oversight Committee composed solely of Senate members to oversee the DIA operations, to promote transparency and clarity, and to confirm the satisfactory accomplishment of the above items.

Respectfully submitted,
Alice M. Agogino, Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Brian A. Barsky, Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences
Leslea J. Hlusko, Associate Professor of Integrative Biology
Jere H. Lipps, Professor of Integrative Biology
Margaretta Lovell, Professor of Art History
Laura Nader, Professor of Anthropology
Michael O’Hare, Professor of Public Policy
Loy Volkman, Professor Emerita of Plant and Microbial Biology

Since last fall, the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) has joined forces with the Academic Senate at University of California Berkeley and the Knight Commission to propose that institutions of higher education have meaningful faculty committees appointed by faculty to oversee academic and budgetary issues of NCAA sports programs. They have drafted a model resolution that is even stronger than that originally proposed in the fall:

1. Faculty Governance

(a) The Faculty recommends that the University recognizes and supports a Campus Athletics Board (CAB) or equivalent, as mandated by the NCAA. The CAB shall have a voting membership composed solely of faculty members and shall be authorized, in conjunction with the University Administration, to establish policy and to oversee the athletic department's operations with regard to the following:

(i) Promote transparency and clarity in all matters affecting the academic mission;
(ii) Assist the athletic department in making decisions that are in concert with the overall academic mission of the University;
(iii) Protect student athlete welfare; and,
(iv) Confirm the satisfactory accomplishment of the academic and financial items below.

2. Academic

(a) The Faculty recommends that in order to maintain academics as the number one priority for all students, students who also participate in athletics maintain a cumulative G.P.A. of 2.0 in order to continue participating in intercollegiate athletics.

(b) The Faculty recommends that the University establish a policy which ensures that athletic contests and athletic travel be scheduled to minimize lost class time, including final exam periods.

(c) The Faculty recommends that all other athletically related activities (e.g., formal and informal practices, team meetings, and any activities at which the attendance of student-athletes is required) be scheduled outside the prime times for academic classes.

3. Finances

(a) The faculty recommends that the University President or equivalent put the Athletics Department on a self-supporting basis, and implement the following:

(i) The Athletics Budget shall receive no base funds from the general education fund. Any annual cash support to the Athletics Budget from the general education fund shall be approved by the Athletics Oversight Committee and the faculty senate, as well as by the University's governing board and through the normal budgeting
(ii) The Athletic Budget shall be integrated with the academic budget and follow the same processes and procedures; and,
(iii) The Athletics Budget shall receive support from student fees only as voted by the student body.

4. University Advancement

(a) The University Administration and the Athletic Department shall continually urge donors to prioritize academics at the University campus.

University of Texas administration subverts, silences faculty voice

Although thankfully our administration has not gone this far yet, much of what Tom Palaima describes at UT will sound familiar to Minnesota faculty--either as things that have already taken place or that are being discussed at the University of Minnesota. The part about the administrator shutting down a faculty meeting by calling a quorum is just too much.


This has been a trying year for those charged with meaningful decision-making at UT. Note: I do not include here the Faculty Council. The council makes no meaningful decisions and, by UT statutes, mainly dispenses advice that no administrator is required to take seriously.

Its role in University governance is highly circumscribed. Its every decision is, again by University statutes, subject to controls by duly appointed administrators in a chain of command stemming from the governor and Board of Regents, which appoints the president, the presidentially appointed provost, and down through college deans and departmental chairs.

Recently, a proliferation of originally ad hoc committees, dominated by administrators, has superseded the roles of many of the Faculty Council’s standing committees. These new committees virtually guarantee that decisions of the president and provost will be made within administrative silos.

There are meaningful levels of dissatisfaction about many decisions that have been made and how they have been made: the controversial changes to foreign-language requirements that took up much of the late summer and fall; the authorization of a $2 million raise for the head football coach in December; freezing of staff salaries; firings of staff and lecturers; and significant reductions in graduate assistants; $1 million of University trademark and royalty revenues spent transforming Room 212 of the Main Building into what one faculty wit called “a Victorian tart’s boudoir” at a time when educational programs were being down-sized and the Cactus Cafe was targeted for closing because of the purported loss of $66,000 per year; proceeding with a new liberal arts building project funded via the unprecedented mechanism of cuts to the instructional budget; and mandating merit pools for faculty that would likewise come from cuts, without ever asking the faculty whether they approved of such a trade-off. Nor were faculty consulted about freezing staff wages while pushing through with a merit pool that saw raises going to fewer than 40 percent of the faculty.

On all these matters and more, meaningful faculty input was rarely sought and almost never at the proper time. As later information revealed...the truth was at least shaded by administrators — or, let us say facts were “interpreted” and procedures were orchestrated in ways that subverted responsible and well-informed decision-making.


Full article:

The Regents initiate presidential search

Under the University's charter, it is the responsibility of the Board of Regents to elect a new president. The Board has set up a link on its web page for comments on the presidential search. You can weigh in here:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

FRPE open letter to VP Carol Carrier

Over 200 people have signed our open letter to VP Carol Carrier! The text of the letter is below. You can sign here:


Dear Vice President Carrier:

We write as concerned members of the faculty, including P&A colleagues, to voice our objections to the proposed policy, "Modifying Appointments of Academic Professional and Administrative Employees for Financial Stringency."

It is commendable that the most egregious provision in the proposed policy has now been eliminated, namely, item 4, which declared that the University administration may "take other [sic!] its sole discretion." We are also pleased to learn that item 3, "postpone compensation," will be changed to "postpone compensation increases" (according to the minutes of the April 27 meeting of the Faculty Affairs Committee and of the April 29 meeting of the Faculty Consultative Committee). However, in our view the policy still requires substantial modification.

We are told that this policy is being proposed in order to enable the administration to implement, for P&A employees, the 1.15% temporary pay cut that was approved by the Faculty Senate at its March 25 meeting. But if that were so, the policy need not be written so broadly as it is. Even with the changes made thus far, the proposed policy authorizes the administration to cut the pay of all P&A employees at any time, forever into the future, without permitting the affected employees any means to challenge the decision. If the letters of appointment for P&A employees are considered to be contracts, this policy effectively declares, "Your employer may violate your contract in these ways, whenever it pleases, and you have no right of appeal, nor have you any right to expect that your employer will honor the terms under which it hired you."

P&A employees are granted no vote under this policy, as faculty are under Section 4.5 of the tenure code. At the March 25 Senate meeting, P&A members of the Faculty Senate were enfranchised specifically so that they could participate in voting on the temporary pay cut proposed by the administration under Section 4.5. The proposed policy, however, would rescind even the right granted them on that occasion to assent to their pay being cut, by establishing a policy separate from Section 4.5 to cover P&A employees.

Meanwhile, the policy lacks any requirement that the University administration justify a decision to cut P&A compensation. Whenever financial stringency makes it difficult to, say, make payments on stadium maintenance, or fund some new strategic initiative that is carried on outside the control of academic units, the administration may try to make ends meet by squeezing a few dollars out of the low wages paid to contingent faculty and other P&A employees for their essential work carrying out the University's mission. No one, with the possible exception of the Board of Regents, is empowered to challenge the administration's declaration of financial stringency, or to insist that the University's obligation to pay its employees the compensation they were promised takes priority over all discretionary expenditures.

While we acknowledge that the administration may need the flexibility to impose temporary pay cuts on P&A employees, as well as other employee groups, in order to address what it calls "budget challenges," the proposed policy violates the norms of employment relations and the principles the University purports to uphold. The administration says that it values consultation with employees. If this is true, then it should adopt a policy under which it is required not only to consult with P&A employees prior to reducing their compensation, but to provide a clear justification for implementing such a reduction, and to demonstrate that all other reasonable economies are already being implemented to reduce the University's expenditures.

We therefore recommend that the policy be rewritten to require the administration to a) bring any proposal to reduce the pay or modify the appointments of P&A employees to the Council of Academic Professionals and Administrators for a vote, b) justify any such proposal by demonstrating that all other expenditures have already been reduced as far as may be done without impairment to the University's academic mission. Such revisions would provide some assurance that budgetary problems will not be solved by forcing the employees who are the most under-compensated, and who work under the most precarious terms, to bear the burden of addressing the University's financial difficulties.

The proposed policy deservedly attracted an extraordinary amount of criticism in its draft form, with the result that some improvements have been made. The policy requires further revision to bring it into accord with fair labor practices. We urge the administration to redraft the policy accordingly, to present the University community with the revised policy, and to provide a fresh public comment period before putting it into effect.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I love New York?....NOT! (Updated)

One day furloughs for sure, and possibly one furlough day per week until the budget is settled. The furloughs are affecting CUNY and SUNY faculty. Luckily for these folks, they have a union that will advocate on their behalf.

“This action on the part of the governor is clearly illegal,” said Kenneth Brynien, the president of the Public Employees Federation, one of several unions that represent state workers in New York. “We have a contract that says that we work all year and make a certain amount of money.”


"A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction on Friday blocking Gov. David A. Paterson from furloughing tens of thousands of state workers.In a strongly worded ruling, the judge, Lawrence E. Kahn of Federal District Court in Albany, said the furloughs were unconstitutional and would irreparably harm the workers by denying them salaries and raises they were entitled to under collective bargaining agreements."

The ruling... "raised the prospect that Mr. Paterson might soon seek to lay off state workers to save money."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

NYU Grad Student Workers Renew Fight for Right to Organize

"After a decade of organizing, including a seven-month strike, graduate student workers at New York University made it clear on Monday they still want a union."

Recent reporting on the impact of the budget cuts

The Daily has been publishing some excellent stories on the impact of the budget cuts.

- the impact of cuts on adjuncts and the course offerings of the Department of Music see:

- Save our Schools' and Chop from the Top's People's State of U forum:

- the decline in the proportion of tenure track faculty - the Daily notes that "According to analysis performed by The Minnesota Daily on faculty data obtained from the University Office of Institutional Research, the number of non-tenure-track faculty at the University has increased 15 percent since 2003. This increase has been mirrored by a 20 percent drop in the number of tenure-track faculty. Overall, the University added 409 faculty over the past seven years, but there are only 510 tenure-track faculty now, compared to 559 in 2003."

- The decline noted in the above article is likely to continue--21 professors will be retiring this year. It is doubtful that the U will fill these vacant positions with tenure-track faculty. CLA has already announced that it will leave 40 vacant position open.

CLA 2015 - press coverage, town hall meetings

The CLA 2015 committee has released its interim report, which can be downloaded here:

CLA 2015 is the only "blue ribbon" committee to publicly release its report. We commend Dean Parente for recognizing the importance of public disclosure of these reports and his willingness to engage in public discussions with faculty via town hall meetings. The Dean has an unenviable task. The College will have to make painful cuts, cuts that are all the more damaging given that departments and programs have already made deep cuts. There is not a lot of fat left to cut.

The Daily wrote a sharp editorial about the report:

The editorial noted that CLA could eliminate more than half of its programs in order to better fund fewer "signature" programs "of distinction," and questions whether this can be done without jeopardizing a liberal arts education. "What the CLA 2015 Committee has called “creative reorganization” may sound good in theory, but don’t be fooled by the spin; eliminating over half of the CLA’s programs for any reason is destructive, not creative."

FRPE activist Eva van Dassow attended the town hall meeting on April 27 and prepared the following report:

Parente opened with a preamble describing his charge to the CLA 2015 committee, proceeding from central administration's directive to identify areas where the college should dis/invest; this directive was focused on addressing the current crisis, but the dean and the committee took it as a mandate to do more long-term planning and consider how CLA can prepare itself to deal with changes in the national landscape of higher education: how can we both meet the current financial exigency and strengthen and reenergize education and research in the liberal arts? Chris Uggen and Gary Oehlert each added a few words and then the three began to entertain questions.

Simona Sawhney spoke first, agreeing with the need for inventive thinking but pointing out that the emphasis on striving for distinction and developing only "signature" programs was out of joint with the ideals of liberal education articulated within the CLA 2015 report: the theme is a race to be the "best," but what does it mean to suggest, for example, that our students will have "the best" understanding of democracy, justice, and equality, while elsewhere there will be only mediocre understanding? Uggen's response reiterated commitment to excellence; Parente focused on the college as a locus of intellectual community.

Someone said the proposals outlined in this document seem to make CLA very static -- where is there provision for growth? Oehlert disagreed, saying we do want faculty to think about bold new programs. Uggen pointed to the 14th goal, which asks administration to remove barriers to creating new programs. Thereupon someone asked about the budget model, which inhibits cross-collegiate collaboration, and what may be the prospects for change there. Parente replied that there is widespread recognition that the budget model inhibits collaboration, sets colleges against each other, and needs adjustment; he says a committee has been appointed to work on this problem as well as the issue of cost pools.

Sonja Kuftinec returned to the issues of excellence and distinction, observing that this terminology is embedded in structures of knowledge and power. We cannot pretend there are objective ways to assess excellence and distinction; moreover, many faculty "create knowledge" in transactional rather than enunciative ways, and this is not subject to assessment as "products." Thus the notion of "excellence" tends to be deployed to excise the most radical programs. Further, she would caution against using the language of budgeting and of the market, which yields an "efficiency" model, not a model of intellectual inquiry. So, she asked, what are to be the criteria for determining what's excellent and distinctive?

Oehlert tried to answer but came up empty; when pressed to say "what do *you* think the criteria should be?" he replied that the answers have to differ for different disciplines and CLA is too diverse for a single set of criteria. Uggen remarked that one approach is a "checklist" (time to degree, rankings, etc.) while another, more open-ended, focuses on what is intellectually exciting.

Tom Wolfe described the document (the CLA 2015 interim report) as incoherent, qualifying this as less a criticism than an observation that it contains many diverse voices and goals, and it would be useful to pull the several issues within it apart -- for example, students are described in a somewhat unrealistic way; many of our students are transfer students, not necessarily ready for high-level research of the sort envisioned here. Someone then remarked on the issues of access and diversity, which always seem to be tacked on as a sort of window-dressing.

A grad student raised the issue of how faculty [and students] are continually compelled to compete for resources, which doesn't seem the best way to spend people's time and energy.

I pointed out that on different pages the document states a) that some graduate programs generate a "consistent oversupply of graduates" and b) that CLA can expect to shrink its faculty further in the next few years; these two statements need to be connected to each other: no wonder graduates can't get jobs when we and every other institution keep making the jobs go away! yet the reduction in faculty positions does not legitimately respond to market realities, because there are no fewer students and courses to teach than there were before. Then I asked how seriously anyone meant the proposal on p. 15, "Should undergraduate education be organized around themes and challenges rather than disciplines or methodologies?" which, if implemented, could result in "signature" programs that were utterly vacuous. Oehlert defended the idea, followed by Parente, who explained that he had in mind "interdisciplinary majors"; eventually I got a chance to say that was something we already did, which moreover would be endangered if we are to cut the number of programs we offer in half (as the document says we must), and moreover it is very different from the statement quoted -- you can't have interdisciplinarity without the disciplines. To which Parente replied that of course, the disciplines are the pillars on which everything else is built.

Theo Stavrou stated that we are severely handicapped if we continue to reduce the numbers of graduate students; we need a critical mass of students in our graduate programs to form intellectual community. Moreover, we should not pretend it is the market driving this decline: we create knowledge, we can create markets, too. Parente objected that it's unethical to train graduate students in fields where they cannot get jobs.

Margaret Werry followed up on part of my question by saying that she likes the celebration of disciplinary diversity but if (as Parente says) the disciplines are the pillars, they are not strengthened by collapsing departments and programs; then she returned to the issue of criteria -- given the acknowledged diversity it's hard to see what will be the basis for determining what gets support and what doesn't.

Christophe Wall-Romana stated that it is problematic that the document declares it necessary to "reduce the breadth and complexity" of CLA, which is antithetical to the essence of the liberal arts. He further questioned the stress on "excellence," which is deployed in the service of external criteria, because it can be ranked; distinctiveness is not so toxic since it comports with intellectual autonomy [not his words which I couldn't quite get down]. Uggen replied with a plea in favor of excellence because it is a means to legitimately claim resources (like grants).

The meeting then concluded with Uggen's remark that one thing the committee needs to work more on is the question of revenue: how can CLA generate more of it?

The Daily's report on the town hall meeting:

Proposed Changes to the Regents Policy on Commercialization of Intellectual Property Rights

We are told that the University needs to be more aggressive in pursuing new sources of revenue. With new sources of revenue, we can sustain excellence in the face of declining state support. Some have stated that faculty need to go out and get lots of big grants. But these grants do not cover their costs, as discussed on this blog previously(see "Big grants...not the solution to our budget woes"). But what about patents? Can the U harness the intellectual power of its faculty to produce things that the market values, claim ownership of them via a patent, and then use the revenue from licensing fees and royalties to subsidize our academic mission?

The U is currently proposing changes to the Regents Policy on Commercialization of Intellectual Property Rights. Jay Schrankler, Director of the Office for Technology Commercialization (OTC), presented the proposed changes to this policy to the Senate Research Committee on April 19. The revised policy is scheduled for action at the June 10 meeting of the Board of Regents.

Some select tidbits from the minutes of the Senate Research Committee meeting (commentary will follow the excerpts from the minutes):

...the University derives significant benefit from a robust technology-commercialization operation, federal policy (the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act) requires universities to commercialize technology developed with federal support (NOTE: THIS IS FALSE. BAYH-DOLE DOES NOT REQUIRE COMMERCIALIZATION, IT MERELY MAKES IT POSSIBLE.), technology commercialization is a costly function, they are seeking ways to normalize funding for technology commercialization comparable to peer institutions, and need to identify changes to current policy that would be necessary to achieve this normalization. The reason it is an expensive process is because the initial patent cost is about $3,000-$4,000, it costs on average between $25,000-$30,000 to obtain a US patent (it can be more), and can cost a great deal more (into the hundreds of thousands/millions) in future years to maintain US & international patents on a particular technology. One problem is that the licensing revenue from a number of patents does not end up covering their costs. Over half of the OTC budget is to pay for filings to protect intellectual property. Moreover, there is increasing pressure on universities to serve as vehicles of economic development in order to create jobs, and Minnesota is among a number of institutions responding to a federal Request for Information on how universities can do so. He also mentioned that many, if not all, federal grants require grantees to cover commercialization in their proposals.

Mr. Schrankler turned to the current funding model for OTC. It is exclusively self-funded through royalty revenue and receives no central administrative (O&M) funds. The major royalty revenue stream (from Glaxo for the HIV drug Ziagen, which makes up 90% of total revenue) is in decline as patent coverage sunsets. OTC assumes all the risks and the costs associated with intellectual-property protection and licensing—it must entirely cover costs for "winners" as well as "losers." The current University funding model is an exception when compared with its peers.

The model needs to change, Mr. Schrankler told the Committee, because a key source of OTC funding, the Ziagen royalties, are going to disappear; for the Office of the Vice President for Research they are predicted to amount to about $13 million in the current fiscal year, then $12 million, $10 million, $9 million, and zero in subsequent years. (The University has received $421 million in Ziagen royalties during the period 2000-2009 which were then distributed according to the current policy.)

Under the current Regents' policy, Mr. Schrankler said, the University loses money on some inventions. He provided two real examples, where the income was distributed according to the formula (1/3 to the inventor, 1/3 to the college/department, and 1/3 to the Office of the Vice President for Research). What happened, however, was that there was a net loss to the Office of the Vice President for Research because of the costs absorbed, even with the 1/3 of the funds the office received. They believe that a portion of the overall costs associated with that technology (which includes but is not limited to just patent costs) should come off the top, before income is distributed.

What they are proposing is the implementation of a technology-transfer service fee that is comparable to that used by peer institutions. They do NOT proposed to reduce or cap distributions (that does not seem productive if the idea is to encourage entrepreneurialism), they do not have an endowment to draw on, and they do not believe it appropriate to ask for central-administrative funds, especially at this time of financial constraints. So they recommend retaining the 1/3-1/3-1/3 split after payment of a 15% service fee and patent costs; they also recommend aggressive OTC financial goals, as measured by disclosures, patents, and so on. They are also recommending allowing University investment in commercially-focused efforts in order to earn a financial return. (Some of the biggest donations to the University have come in bad economic times, and they believe it is time to approach donors to support a start-up fund the University can use to invest in new companies in order to earn a return.) The change, Mr. Schrankler said, would allow the University to fund an appropriately-robust technology-transfer activity. It represents a reasonable balance between risk and reward, it reflects peer practices, and it will provide a level of funding that will allow OTC to do its work.


On a positive note, OTC is self-financing and under the current proposal will still be so. But one wonders if this will continue to be possible once the revenues from Ziagen dry up. Playing the patent game is much like playing the lottery. But more fundamentally, madradprof questions whether the public-private partnerships that fund much of this research and the patenting of inventions by a public institution (often with public funds) can be done without comprising the integrity of both our academic mission and our role as an institution that serves the public. The ship has already sailed on this issue to some extent, but we should think carefully before moving further down this path.

In a recent article in the Boston Review, Marcia Angell, the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, delivers a devastating critique of of how corporate dollars corrupt research:

She notes that the academy's dependence on industry funding has skewed research agendas toward things that generate profits: " antibiotics for treating infections by resistant organisms are an urgent medical need, but are not economically attractive to industry because they are not likely to generate much return on investment." Moreover, many academic researchers have essentially become hired hands for the commercialization of corporate products. "Industry-supported research is far more likely to be favorable to the sponsor's products than is NIH-supported research." Not to mention the ethics of public universities living off royalties for drugs that pharmaceutical companies sell at inflated prices. I wonder how many poor people afflicted with HIV can afford to pay for Ziagen?

It is worth quoting in full her recommendations for reform:

First, members of medical school faculties who conduct clinical trials should not accept any payments from drug companies except research support, and that support should have no strings attached. In particular, drug companies should have no control over the design, interpretation, and publication of research results. Medical schools and teaching hospitals should rigorously enforce this rule and should not themselves enter into deals with companies whose products are being studied by members of their faculty.

Second, doctors should not accept gifts from drug companies, even small ones, and they should pay for their own meetings and continuing education. Other professions pay their own way, and there is no reason for the medical profession to be different in this regard.

Finally, academic medical centers that patent discoveries should put them in the public domain or license them inexpensively and non-exclusively, as Stanford does with its patent on recombinant DNA technology based on the work of Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer. Bayh-Dole is now more a matter of seeking windfalls than of transferring technology. Some have argued that it actually impedes technology transfer by enabling the licensing of early discoveries, which encumbers downstream research. Though the legislation stipulates that drugs licensed from academic institutions be made “available on reasonable terms” to the public, that provision has been ignored by both industry and academia. I believe medical research was every bit as productive before Bayh-Dole as it is now, despite the lack of patents. I’m reminded of Jonas Salk’s response when asked whether he had patented the polio vaccine. He seemed amazed at the very notion. The vaccine, he explained, belonged to everybody. “Could you patent the sun?” he asked.

I’m aware that my proposals might seem radical. That is because we are now so drenched in market ideology that any resistance is considered quixotic. But academic medical centers are not supposed to be businesses. They now enjoy great public support, and they jeopardize that support by continuing along the current path.

And to those academic researchers who think the current path is just fine, I have this to say: no, it is not necessary to accept personal payments from drug companies to collaborate on research. There was plenty of innovative research before 1980—at least as much as there is now—when academic researchers began to expect rewards from industry. And no, you are not entitled to anything you want just because you’re very smart. Conflicts of interest in academic medicine have serious consequences, and it is time to stop making excuses for them.

Update on FRPE resolutions

The Daily published an excellent piece on the status of the FRPE resolutions that we put forward on March 25.

Our resolutions are essentially dead in the form that they were originally submitted, but the ideas that inspired them are still alive. (See the posting on "Resolution on Progressivity of Compensation Reductions" for an update on the evolution of the Resolution on Salary Reductions.) At the April 20 meeting of the Senate Committee on Finance and Planning, FRPE members presented a proposal that the committee develop a mechanism for undertaking ongoing scrutiny of the University's expenditures, beginning with a review of central administration. We are uncertain whether they will move forward with our recommendations at this time. (See the posting, "FRPE's SCFP Proposal," if you are curious about our recommendations to the SCFP.)

Resolution on Progressivity of Compensation Reductions

A few weeks ago the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs (SCFA) invited FRPE to discuss the Resolution on Salary Reductions that we put forward at the March 25 Faculty Senate meeting. This Resolution was defeated. FRPE was pleased with our reception by the SCFA, which agreed to form a subcommittee to discuss the matter further. The product of these deliberation in the SCFA is the Resolution on Progressivity of Compensation Reductions, which was introduced and discussed at this week's Faculty Senate meeting. Although FRPE differs with the SCFA about the extent to which the administration introduced progressivity into the pay cuts, and also disagrees with its framing of merit raises as offsetting the regressive structure of the pay cuts, we applaud the effort to make progressivity a key component of future discussions regarding the structure of pay cuts.

The text of the resolution is appended below. At this stage it is unclear if the resolution will be brought forward for a vote. If you support this resolution, then consider taking some or all of the following actions. First, contact SCFA chair Kathryn Hanna ( and tell her that you want the SCFA to bring it to a vote in the fall. Second, contact your Faculty Senators and encourage them to support efforts to bring this resolution to a vote in the fall and to vote in favor of it should it come up for a vote. Don't kid yourself into thinking the Faculty Senate is a den of progressives--it is not. At the May 6 Faculty Senate meeting, a number of voices were raised against even this very modest proposal. If faculty do not convey our support for progressivity to our representatives, the resolution could die in committee or come to a vote and be defeated.

Resolution on Progressivity of Compensation Reductions


On March 25, 2010, the Faculty Senate voted to accept the President's proposal of temporary reductions in faculty compensation in FY 2011. The same proposal forms part of a more general plan of temporary reductions in compensation for all employee groups of the University, the purpose of which is to assist in covering a projected deficit in the University's FY 2011 budget. Following the March 25 meeting, the University Faculty Consultative Committee (FCC) asked the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs (SCFA), to consider alternative salary-reduction proposals that had been tabled at the Senate meeting on March 25. While the alternative proposals are no longer applicable to the plan for salary reductions in FY 2011, it was felt that they should be discussed by faculty governance bodies in case further temporary reductions should be deemed necessary in future fiscal years.

At its regular meeting on April 13, 2010, SCFA heard from three representatives of the faculty group that had earlier made the alternative proposals. In essence the alternative proposals call for more progressivity in any future plan of temporary salary reductions that may be considered. After discussion, a small sub-committee of SCFA was appointed to draft a resolution for consideration and possible adoption by the whole committee at its meeting on April 27. What follows is the resolution drafted by the subcommittee.


If temporary reductions in employee compensation, whether by means of furloughs or otherwise, should in the future be deemed necessary in order to balance the University's budget, SCFA recommends that such reductions be calculated on a substantially more progressive scale than that which was adopted for the reductions in FY 2011. The committee feels that lower paid employees should be assessed the least or none at all. Conversely, higher and the highest paid employees should be assessed according to a sliding scale that is more equitably proportional to their level of compensation. Additionally, if temporary reductions in compensation should be considered for adoption in future years, the committee urges that alternative models incorporating greater and lesser degrees of progressivity be discussed with appropriate Senate, Faculty, CAPA, Civil Service, and bargaining unit committees sufficiently early to enable substantive participation in the planning and decisional processes.


Members of SCFA recognize and applaud that some degree of progressivity was indeed incorporated in the plan of temporary pay reductions that has been adopted for FY 2011: specifically, (1) that the salaries of the highest level administrators are due to be assessed at twice the percentage of the level for all other employees; (2) that the assessments of bargaining unit and Civil Service employees will be more than offset by a concurrent raise of 2 percent; and (3) that the assessments of faculty and P&A employees may be partially offset by merit raises from a pool of 1 percent of the salary pool (i.e., 2 % deferred until January 2012). We also recognize and appreciate that the administration consulted with all employee groups (including Senate committees) in developing its reduction plan for FY 2011. It is in the spirit of these same principles of equity and consultation that we have passed this resolution.

College, Inc.

Frontline has produced an interesting and at times insightful examination of for-profit universities:

Open meetings and accountability

The FCC closed two meetings in less than two months--the March 25 and April 15 meetings. We have made inquiries into why these meetings have been closed, since we think that open meetings are essential if faculty are to be well-informed about our University.

Bill Gleason has questioned the legality of closing the meetings, arguing that the FCC is subject to the Open Meeting Law. (Read more here: and

The General Counsel asserts that the FCC is not subject to the Open Meeting Law. The Senate bylaws do permit the FCC to close its meetings, in part or in their entirety, with a 2/3rd majority vote. The FCC has stated a number of reasons for closing meetings. The predominant concern is that administrators only speak candidly on some matters if the meeting is off the record. It would be unwise, they say, to inhibit the candid exchange of views. Concerns were also raised about the wisdom of letting reporters and legislators read minutes that outlined legislative strategy or that publicized sharp differences of opinion between the FCC and administrators.

We recognize that it is sometimes necessary to close meetings, but closing the *entirety* of two meetings in less than a month is worrisome. Why was it deemed necessary to close all of the proceedings? The March 25 meeting discussed the agenda items for the Faculty Senate meeting that was to take place later in the day. It was imprudent for the FCC to agree to close that meeting, given the importance of the items discussed at the March 25 Faculty Senate meeting. Closing that meeting gave the impression that the FCC was colluding with the administration. (The fact that the FCC unanimously supported the President's proposal only strengthens this impression, unfortunately.) The April 15 meeting focused on the "intellectual future of the University." At this meeting a wide range of issues were discussed, including light-rail transit; the bonding bill; the possibility of a new covenant with the state; the work of the college and other offices' blue-ribbon committees; a peer review of the University's budget model; the need to redesign the service, business, and academic cultures of the University; the size of the University; the nature of faculty appointments (e.g., tenured versus contract/P&A) and the optimal department size; and the progress of the Graduate School working groups on preparation of their final report. The FCC should explain why it was necessary to close the entire meeting when such a wide range of important matters of interest to the University community were discussed.

Even more worrisome is that the only FCC meetings that were closed during this period were the two meetings attended by President Bruininks. Why won't the Prez speak candidly on the record? (Hopefully the FCC is not volunteering to close meetings ahead of time--we assume that the FCC prefers open meetings and only considers closing them if the administration has requested that they be closed.) Given the purely consultative role that faculty play in governance, it is unwise for the FCC to close meetings when it speaks to the administration on matters vital to our future. Such actions provide more ammunition to those who think that Senate committees have been domesticated by the administration. Democratic governance requires the administration to speak candidly ON THE RECORD on important matters. The public disclosure of sharp differences of opinion between the faculty and the administration is essential. We cannot sweep those disagreements under the carpet just because they might be misconstrued by outside parties.

If the FCC wants to be a trusted body, then it needs to agree less readily to closing meetings, or at the very least to close small portions of meetings rather than their entirety. If the administration will not speak candidly on the record, call them out on it. The worst that can happen is that the admin won't meet with the FCC or will do so but make vapid statements that are of no use whatsoever, which would merely expose what a sham faculty governance is. (And besides, at the end of the day, what can the FCC do other than say, "Mr. Prez, we really disagree with you on this, would you please consider tweaking this misconceived policy?" Since faculty cannot bind the administration, he can do whatever he wants. Moreover, if it is all done behind closed doors, the wider faculty cannot mobilize to support the FCC in its negotiations with the administration.) Faculty should not put ourselves in the position of being supplicants to the administration. Rather, the proper relationship is one in which faculty call on the administration and *require* the administration to speak on the record, and to make it very uncomfortable for them if they refuse to be candid with us. They serve us, we don't serve them.

AAUP Summer Institute

This year's AAUP Summer Institute will be held in San Diego, July 29 - August 1. For more information see: