To: Members of the Academic Senate
Amidst the email deluge, please pause to read Academic Senate news below of concerning trends in faculty hiring and student-faculty ratio at UCLA and across the University of California, a new task force to implement faculty rebuilding and renewal, sobering results from a Systemwide Senate faculty survey about the pandemic and how faculty experience our jobs, and a round-up of Systemwide Senate issues.
But first, a few words about moving forward in the aftermath of the recent strike. During the strike many faculty struggled to balance obligations and values that sometimes competed. Many yet again took on more labor. Now, the university faces the question of how to fund labor at the new contractual levels. The full financial and educational impact is yet to be understood, but one thing seems clear: it will be transformative. Our previous graduate funding model, which was strained, has been broken open. What will — and what should — change in graduate education? How will research change? I urge you to speak up about how UCLA and the UC should answer these questions.
A simple fact should guide us: research and graduate education are core to UCLA’s academic mission.
The University of California has underfunded graduate education for too long, as many Senate and joint Senate-Administration reports showed (PDF). It follows that funding responsibility for reinvestment in graduate education and research should be shared across our whole campus, including by administrative units, and should not borne disproportionately by academic units and faculty PIs. Responsibility further should be shared among the University of California, the state legislature, and federal funders. We faculty must demand that academic units and faculty PIs do not, whether by intention or default, bear the full responsibility for this reinvestment in our core mission. This is an opportunity to make a historic reinvestment in graduate education rather than to reinforce or redistribute its underfunding. I urge each of you to make your voice heard by writing individually to the Senate and Administration, writing collective letters after discussion at faculty meetings and FEC meetings, and participating in our February Legislative Assembly meeting, about which you have received email notice.
Please see below for updates on other important matters.
Chair, UCLA Academic Senate
Academic Senate Updates
January – February 2023
In this issue:
- UC Planning and Budget Report on Faculty Hiring
- Faculty Rebuilding Implementation Joint Task Force
- 2022 Systemwide UC Faculty Survey – Report and Recommendations
- 2022–23 UC Systemwide Academic Senate Overview
- Your Academic Senate
We strongly encourage you to read the University Committee on Planning and Budget (UCPB) Report on Faculty Hiring (PDF) and the related correspondence between Senate Chair Cochran and President Drake. The systemwide Academic Senate report analyzes trends in UC hiring of faculty, instructors, and other employee groups across all campuses between 2011 and 2021.
The report shows that the increase in undergraduate students (24% growth) during this time period was not matched by faculty hiring, leading to a 5% growth in the systemwide student-faculty ratio. Additionally, the report concludes that campuses hired fewer Senate faculty (18% growth) to meet the increased teaching workloads, compared to non-Senate lecturers (46%) and LSOEs (187%).
The Academic Senate views the eroding student-faculty ratio and the dilution of Senate faculty within the ranks of instructors as evidence the quality of a UC education is being affected and shared governance undermined. Chair Cochran urged the Administration to prioritize reversing these trends and undertake a larger effort to rebalance the student-to-faculty ratio as part of the UC 2030 Capacity Plan.
UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost Darnell Hunt and UCLA Academic Senate Chair Jessica Cattelino have co-charged a Faculty Rebuilding and Renewal Implementation Joint Task Force.
The joint task force will seek to:
- Improve the student-to-faculty ratio
- Increase faculty hiring while advancing diversity goals
- Increase tenure density (proportion of tenure-track faculty)
- Increase faculty salaries
- Provide pandemic teaching relief (e.g., sabbatical credit program and/or teaching releases)
- Launch a pandemic research recovery funding program
- Increase teaching support (e.g., labor, expertise, technology)
This work will consider both the feasibility of each of these goals and the development of implementation plans to rebuild and renew UCLA’s faculty in the context of pandemic impact and longer-term trends regarding student-to-faculty ratio, instructional support, faculty workload, and wellbeing.
The systemwide Academic Senate published the results from the Spring 2022 Academic Senate Survey of UC Faculty and Instructors (PDF). The survey collected data about remote and hybrid instruction during the pandemic, the personal impact of the pandemic on faculty/instructors’ work and family lives, and their views on the effectiveness of in-person vs. online course modalities.
Several key findings of the report include:
- In-person instruction is perceived to be more effective than remote instruction at achieving critical educational outcomes.
- Many faculty are not satisfied with the instructional support they received.
- A majority of faculty had difficulty accessing advice for research and professional needs.
- A distressingly high percentage of faculty report that they are seriously considering a career change outside of higher education or a job change within higher education.
- Junior faculty and faculty from underrepresented minority groups report higher levels of dissatisfaction.
The Academic Council of the systemwide Academic Senate endorsed recommendations to systemwide and campus entities about mitigating pandemic effects on faculty and students and providing stronger support for instruction and research, as well as guidance for the systemwide and divisional Senates to better address the needs of faculty and instructors.
Systemwide Academic Senate Chair Susan Cochran offered a Systemwide Academic Senate Overview for 2022–23 (PDF), outlining major initiatives:
- Maximizing the quality proposition of online instruction.
- Access, growth, and inclusion at the UC. The Senate expects to actively insert itself into the planning processes behind growing the undergraduate and, to a lesser extent, the graduate student body. Campus administrations have created growth plans with little or no consultation with divisional Senates, indicating a fraying of shared governance.
- Coming back from the pandemic: Rebuilding UC excellence in the four pillars of research, mentoring, teaching, and service.
- Relationship between medical centers and general campus.
- Climate crisis.
- Increasing Senate visibility and Senate service.
The Academic Senate is only as strong as its engaged faculty. We uphold the principle of faculty governance in higher education only when faculty exercise their governing authority. We welcome you to volunteer, contact your Legislative Assembly representatives (PDF), reach out to your Faculty Executive Committee Chairs who serve on the Council of Faculty Chairs, visit the Academic Senate website, and follow us on Twitter at @UCLASenate.
Download this BruinPost PDF Here