Dear FA Membership,
Happy New Year. As I mentioned in my fall welcome email (9/28/2015), the Board of the Santa Barbara Faculty Association wants to stay in closer contact with the FA membership and, to that end, is issuing quarterly reports about our activities and issues of common concern. Hence this email! We encourage you as well to visit our website, the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) website and to contact individual board members with your ideas, concerns, and suggestions. If you don’t read any farther, we ask you to put on your calendar two dates: Monday January 25 from noon to 2 pm (Senate Town Hall on pension changes) and Wednesday March 9 from noon to 2 pm (FA Open Forum on Academic Freedom and Shared Governance). You have already received a CUCFA-generated email (1/20/2016) from SBFA explaining the position that we have taken against the proposed pension changes. We ask you to inform yourself on the issue, attend the Senate Town Hall on this upcoming Monday, and consider signing the petition.
In the fall we identified the primary area of FA concern for the year to be academic freedom also as it relates to shared governance. Fall activities relevant to this focus included:
~Successful lobbying of the Senate Committee on Faculty Issues and Awards to create a subcommittee on Academic Freedom. It has been many years since UCSB has had a stand alone committee devoted to academic freedom. These issues are so central to the university today that we feel that a separate body devoted to our campus is necessary.
~SBFA’s ratification of CUCFA’s Letter to the UC Regents’ Working Group to Develop New UC Principles regarding Intolerance; a link can be found here.
~SBFA’s ratification of CUCFA’s letter of concern regarding the selection of the four experts chosen to advise the UC Working Group formulating the Statement of Principles against Intolerance
~SBFA’s decision to hold a FA public forum on academic freedom with invited speaker Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean of Law School, UC Irvine) and Constance Penley (Professor of Film and Media Studies, UC Santa Barbara) on Wednesday, March 9 noon to 2 pm (location TBD)
~Here are links containing explanations of how significant the debate is in both the current local and national arenas:
Academic Freedom, Tenure & the U.S. Higher Education System
The Corporatization of American Higher Education: Merit Pay Trumps Academic Freedom
Related to faculty welfare generally as well as an instance of the erosion of shared governance is the current debate and system-wide working group on pensions.
~During the fall FA Board members met with relevant campus participants in the discussion (EVC Marshall, Senate Chair Bhavnani, CFIA chair Awramik) to make clear our opposition to the Defined Contribution aspect of the proposal.*
~The result of the deliberations of the UC Retirement Options Task Force has now been released in this report.
~SBFA Faculty can get involved and act now to stop UC pension benefit reductions. Visit our website for more information.
~We strongly encourage you to attend the Town Hall Meeting that Senate Chair Bhavnani has convened for MONDAY, JANUARY 25 from noon to 2 pm in Corwin Pavilion.
(*Brief background: As a consequence of a decision made between Governor Brown and President Napolitano in the spring of 2015 to impose a maximum pension limit [$117,00 indexed to inflation] for all UC employees whose employment will begin on or after July 1, 2016, President Napolitano appointed a Retirement Options Task Force (ROTF) comprised of administrators and Senate Representatives to make recommendations for a supplementary pension benefits plan. As described in our fall email, we shared CUCFA’s major concern regarding the proposal to provide a Defined Contributions option, an option that in 2010 was studied thoroughly and found to be detrimental for both financial and personnel-related reasons. For more information, click here)
On our minds also in regards to academic freedom is the growing adjunctification of the professoriate and what should be the proper response of SBFA and CUCFA to it. One specific question is the advisability of extending FA membership to non-Senate faculty, a conversation which we are starting to pursue with campus constituents.
We hope that this brief glimpse of our activities is useful. We encourage your input, suggestions, and commitment to these efforts to improve shared governance and our intellectual welfare at the university. Please consider inviting non-members to join and help us strengthen solidarity and an informed citizenry among faculty.
With best wishes,
Julie Carlson (Chair)