Dear Members of the Santa Barbara Faculty Association,
We, the Board members of SBFA, wish you a good start of the new academic year and look forward to strengthening and enlivening our joint activities. Happily, we write in the wake of a positive example of what can happen if we work together as a group and with other allies and constituents to foster faculty welfare: Chancellor Yang’s recent announcement that beginning in January 2016 the UC Care Health Insurance Plan will add Cottage Hospital, Pacific Diagnostic Laboratories, and Pueblo Radiology to its list of tier one providers. (See his email of 9/22/2015 for fuller details and history.) This is excellent news and, as he noted, the result of FA joining other engaged parties in keeping at the center of campus discussion and activism the inequities of the UC Care plan that was instituted by UCOP in 2014. We thank those of you who shared with us your frustrating experiences dealing with the loss of Cottage and other services during these past two years, and we are glad that your situations soon should improve.
There are other weighty issues in the air that require similar vigilance and attention. Among them are UC-wide conversations on “intolerance” and efforts to produce a form of “civility statement,” proposed changes to the UC Retirement Plan that include caps on pensionable salary and a possible defined contributions (as opposed to defined benefits) option, ongoing legislative assaults on public higher education, and perceived incursions into shared governance. Rather than describe each of these issues here, we wish instead in this first email to renew your awareness of our existence and provide information aimed at keeping you informed about our activities and the work of others dealing with similar issues as well as encouraging your participation and input. To that end, here are some things to know:
1. FA board officers and members for 2015-16 are Julie Carlson (president) and Erika Rappaport (vice president) serving with Jorge Castillo, Nelson Lichtenstein, Constance Penley, Elisabeth Weber, and Robert Williams. During the spring 2015 election, the FA membership approved certain changes to our bylaws. As relates to board membership, the minimum term is two-years and is renewable for another two years by board approval; there are no term limits but members must run for re-election at least every 4 years.
2. The graduate student administrative assistant for 2015-16 is Christine Weidner. Welcome!
3. SBFA is an active member of CUCFA (Council of UC Faculty Associations), whose president for 2015-16 is Stanton Glantz (UCSF). Eric Hays is the CUCFA Executive Director with program support provided by Deborah Rosenberg (http://cucfa.org). In 2014-15, CUCFA entered into a formal partnership with AAUP, and now members of SBFA can also become individual members of AAUP at a special rate available only to members of CUCFA-affiliated associations. We share CUCFA’s assessment that this partnership is a real advantage in bolstering our presence, adding clout to our policies and activities regarding academic freedom, and strengthening collective action on major national issues related to higher education. Consider signing up for this joint membership (see website for membership details and a fuller explanation of the partnership.)
4. SBFA has a website (http://ucsbfa.org), designed by our 2014-15 administrative assistant, Shari Sanders. We encourage you to consult it for information, helpful links, membership forms, and formal statements from FA and CUCFA on academic policies and issues that affect UC faculty.
Please consult these resources and contact us in person or via the website with your concerns and ideas. We hope that you will help us expand our membership, find common cause on matters that possibly affect only some of us, and deepen or regain our vision of why we want to be scholars, teachers, and engaged, creative colleagues. There is work to do and important reasons to do it! As one example, we call your attention to the joint statement just issued by CUCFA and AAUP protesting Regent Blum’s comments at the Regents Meeting (9/17/2015) regarding the proposed Statement of Principles Against Intolerance (http://cucfa.org/2015/09/statement-on-regent-blums-remarks). As another, CUCFA is entering into important discussions about whether the membership of UC Faculty Associations should continue to be comprised only of Academic Senate members.
Please join us in thinking and caring about these issues.