LOOKING INTO THE UC BUDGET -- Report #21 (e-mail version) by Charles Schwartz, Department of Physics, University of California Berkeley, CA 94720. 510-642-4427 March 25, 1997 SUMMARY One of the University's Regents has directly challenged the legitimacy of my activities, as a faculty member, in researching, writing and distributing this series of Reports - in which I have analyzed UC's financial and other records, often coming to conclusions sharply critical of the conduct of the University's topmost officials. The letter which you will read below is an attempt to use the high position of a Regent for intimidation and to suppress a dissident voice. Such an attack hits at the heart of a university's special role in democratic society. This Report presents a variety of responses to this Regent which I have solicited from concerned people throughout the University; and it also outlines the direction of my own response. LETTER FROM A REGENT --------------------------------------------------------------------- 9 March 1997 Professor Charles Schwartz Department of Physics UC Berkeley Berkeley, California 94720 Dear Professor Schwartz: Unless you can explain to me how the "public service" mission of the University is met by your "reports," I request that you stop using University envelopes (and paper, postage, computers, desks, electricity &c.) in their preparation and dissemination. As to the value of your efforts, my brief time with the regents indicates that no one is listening. Perhaps your time could be better spent on research and/or teaching. You do teach and perform research, I assume. Regards, _ _ _ cc: Dick Atkinson Tirso del Junco --------------------------------------------------------------------- I have deleted the information in the signature and letterhead so that we may concentrate on the principles involved here rather than on the personality of this regent. The cc's in this letter are addressed to the President of the University and the Chairman of the UC Board of Regents. I have heard from neither of them about this. When I received the letter from this regent, on March 11, my first action was to call on the telephone, at the number given in the letterhead. I reached this regent's voicemail system and left a message: I identified myself and stated that I wanted to discuss the letter sent to me; I said that such a letter was not the sort of thing a regent ought to do but perhaps this regent did not understand that; and therefore I should try communicating directly, before I proceeded to a more formal or public response; I left my telephone number as well as my email address encouraging this regent to contact me. I got no reply at all. On March 18 I sent a copy of this letter to my many email readers throughout the University, inviting their opinions on this and asking, What is the appropriate way in which to respond to such a letter? I added: " In case you wonder whether my use of University resources in connection with my 'reports' has been entirely proper within the established rules and practices of this institution, the answer is, Yes. But note that this is not the issue raised by the regent." It appears to me that there is an important educational mission to be served by broader discussion of this affair. Within several days I had received 46 responses: two-thirds of them from faculty members, at all nine UC campuses. Here is what people had to say. After that, I shall describe the action I have taken in response to this regent's letter. RESPONSES FROM THE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY Except for the first one, these are the email responses, in the order received, edited for spelling and to remove any identification of the writer other than these categories: F = Faculty, S = Staff, G = Graduate Student, N = Non-University person. --------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------------------------------------- F. Remark by a colleague who saw me in the hallway shortly after receiving my email: "Charlie, those regents are starting to play hardball with you." ---------- F. I suggest no response unless the President or the Chair of the Board of Regents requests one formally. I do consider your messages to be in a context of academic freedom especially to the Academic Senate. How far they get to the public I do not really know. ---------- F. Quite a few in the academic community disagree with the regent as to the service to the university of your reports. It seems to me that they counterbalance a self-serving, unresponsive, expensive bureaucracy. That is a service to the university and to the state, including notably the taxpayers. ---------- S. This is an outrage! How dare a regent challenge a member of the faculty in such a manner! What is the "public service" of his/her letter? It is clearly an attempt to silence criticism of continuing administrative mismanagement, and demonstrates that at least one regent believes discussing the financial health of this institution is not appropriate university business. With an attitude like that, it is no wonder fees are going up and faculty-student ratios are going down. I applaud your resolve and hope that one day the UC will be rid of such bureaucratic hacks, so it can regain its lost stature. ---------- F. I do not always agree with you or your findings and I do not read each and every email in its entirety. Nonetheless I am always interested to see what topic you are researching and to consider your data on matters which concern us all. Since, according to my phone book, you are an emeritus professor, I believe your time is yours to allocate as you like. ---------- F. Although I am not certain how else you should respond to the letter you forward, it is easy to recognize it as intolerable intimidation and insult. I cannot imagine that the Regents are empowered to address faculty members in such a way. I believe that you are right to bring the letter to the attention of the Chancellors, as well as to the appropriate officials in the office of the President. ---------- F. I have just received a copy of the regent's letter that was sent to you. If it's any consolation, I am extremely indignant at the tone and substance of the letter. My suggested strategy for a (public) riposte: First make the point about the mission of the university to encourage rational judgments/debates based on careful ordering of the evidence, etc. Second, allude to the intellectually debased tone etc. of the letter you received. Third, shove home the point about how badly served we are by the vulgarians who are being appointed to the Board. ---------- F. I am appalled by the particular Regent's response to you. Either you have hit very close to the mark, or this Regent is trying to micro-manage faculty time. In either case, the implications for the governance of our institution are troublesome. To put it bluntly, the response of this Regent smacks of Fascism. ---------- F. Best way to respond is that you are emeritus.Beyond that I think the query the Regent raises is a legitimate one at least to bring up and since you write to me that "In case you wonder whether my use of University resources in connection with my "reports" has been entirely proper within the established rules and practices of this institution, the answer is, Yes." I suggest writing back in defence how it is within the rules and practices of the Institution. Indeed, I would be very interested in seeing your response to this because I myself wonder about the limits of such usage and your reply would be useful to me and I suspect others.I look forward to your reply. ---------- F. I suggest no response. The Regents are not in charge of individual professors. You would distract from major issues by making a big deal of this silly letter, written in a moment of poor judgement. ---------- G. I would certainly like to respond, and I know some UC faculty that would like to respond as well. It seems to me difficult for them to respond, or for me, if we don't know who wrote the letter. I assume there is some compelling reason for your caution, but I can't quite figure what it is. Wouldn't it be better to draw attention to this Regent's attitude, and lack of knowledge about academic freedom, through a letter campaign and press attention? Keep me posted ---------- F. Your efforts to try to understand the planning of the flow of funds within the State-wide administration of the University of California is a noble attempt at researching one of the mysteries of the Universe. Your only sin is one of pride. It is a common mistake of physics researchers to think that they can understand any natural phenomenon if they ask enough questions. In your case the more questions you ask the less clear the answers. I have read your reports and still understand nothing about how the university plans its spending. I think you are equally frustrated. Part of the problem seems to be the reported figures mix in different inputs and outputs. The sums thus produced are irrelevant to the issue of State spending. The State input-output is really the principal issue. Where does the state university budget go and what are the revenue flows back to the state. Research work funded elsewhere, clinical work funded elsewhere are separate issues. Research costs funded by the state and clinical costs funded by the state are issues that can be addressed in the framework of a state- spending analysis. Your Regent doesn't seem to be aware that your time is funded by the retirement system. Whoever it is sounds like a bully. I don't like bullies. ---------- F. Keep writing! It is a true public service!!! ---------- N. I see the regents are on your case again. Give em hell, Charlie. I think your reports serve the academic purpose of embarrassing a corrupt administration. Not that I think you will care about my opinion. I give it freely anyways. ---------- F. Obviously, this Regent wouldn't have taken the time to write you if in fact "no one is listening". His (how many women are Regents these days?) attempt to further intimidate you by sending copies to the President and Chair indicates that you represent something of great interest. Dick Atkinson should be embarrassed by this crude attempt at coercion, but probably won't say a thing. In the best tradition of your past reports, I hope you can maintain some kind of dialogue with the writer and get his opinions on such matters as "public service", "fiduciary responsibility", and "academic freedom". As always, the transcript will speak for itself. ---------- F. Subject: the attack on your academic freedom to use university resources to produce your budget updates, etc. Thank you for them. I share them with scores of colleagues. I am a lecturer of [many] years. They are so much more informative than anything we get from official sources. I think that you should call for a privilege and tenure hearing on your campus. I'm sure they would like to silence you (and the rest of us), but we will not let that happen! Keep up the good work, and I'd publicize the name of the miscreant Regent that sent you this garbage to all of the media. ---------- S. I for one have been an avid reader of your reports since they first came out. I appreciate your insightful analysis and unwillingness to accept superficial and misleading explanations of the budget from the Regents. It is obvious why they want you to stop sending your email analyses to members of the UC community -- you are a thorn in their side and you "bother" them. Well to that I say: GOOD! Keep up your good work, and don't let the Regents silence you. Rather than try to keep you from disseminating your reports, I would like to see the Regents make an honest response to them. ---------- F. It's typical of the attempts by the regents and some high administrators to terrorize faculty into submitting to their will. We are in for a new period of McCarthyism. With the regents openly politicized as an arm of the Governor, this is getting genuinely scary. Personally, though, I admit, I would not have used University letterhead or mailing for the reports. It would also appear that this regent does not know what "emeritus" means. I am not surprised. ---------- F. The unnamed Regent makes two points: 1) The opinion of this Regent is that your reports are not helpful. The Regent is entitled to his/her opinion. A brief (and random) sampling of opinion at [my campus] is that few believe your reports are useful. (I find them factually correct and interesting but I am a distinct minority of those sampled.) 2) A request from a Regent directed toward a faculty member (even an emeritus faculty) to cease a line of inquiry is inappropriate. As to the proper response, it depends on whether you ever hope to engage the Regents in a useful dialogue. If you answer yes, then I suggest a very low key response, even to the point of not responding. ---------- F. Not to put too fine a point on it, oy veh! I'm not at all sure how to respond to such a mindless letter. I would like to send a copy to ... I'd also like to send it to ...I hope, too, that it gets to the current chair of the Privilege and Tenure Committee, whoever that is. I can send it, but so could you since it's a matter that should be brought to the committee's attention. One suggestion: if you send it to people not on your mailing list, it would be clearer with a very brief introduction stating that you have for some years been analyzing the UC budget, with particular attention to allocations for administrative purposes, and forwarding copies of the analyses to the Regents. ---------- F. [this person's email response contained no comment] ---------- G. I've been receiving your reports via email (forwarded by one of the grad student reps) and do not find anything wrong with them. They are embarrassing to the Board of Regents and smiliar high mucky- mucks who apparently wish to silence dissent within the university. It sounds as if the letter you received from an anonymous UC regent is calling for internal censorship. Fight it. ---------- S. I think you are providing a great service to those who have questions how and why the Office of the President is run like it is. You are providing research data used to inform members of the University community and I assume to those outside the community when asked. You are also providing information about the Regents, etc. and how they try to manage the affairs of UC, or mismanage as the case may be. I think you provide insight and helpful knowledge. A conscience too, so to speak.Keep up the good work and this Regent who wrote you will have to adjust. Being a new UC Regents' board member takes time to get the hang of things, don't you think? ---------- S. I for one do read and value your reports. I've saved all of them. You may tell that to the Regents. I'm not faculty; I'm staff, a manager tired of working in a top heavy organization. I'm also a taxpayer not pleased with the way state funds are being spent on UC. In my opinion, the letter seemed oppressive. I believe asks you to limit your speech in a way inappropriate for a university in a free country. We should give thought to what the Regents might have hoped to accomplish with this letter. I can't think of any reasonable argument for you to "stop using University envelopes (and paper, postage, computers, desks, electricity &c.)" other than to suppress your message. I haven't audited the accounts thoroughly, but believe whenever someone says "shut up" it's because they have something to hide. The best response is to dig deeper and publish what you find. Suggested avenues for a response: the Academic Senate, California's Legislative Analyst, accounting office, 60 Minutes? ---------- F. First, lots of people read your reports, and second, they are very important to the mission of shared government. Shared government and democracy requires education--who is going to educate us on these matters if not you. Certainly not the regents. Keep that photocopy machine going! ---------- F. I confess that I sometimes -- often -- read your messages; feel free to notch up a regular (if not quite, say, religious, or whatever) reader. The question that might be put to your readership is whether they (the members of that readership) are concerned about the fact your efforts are *not* being read by the Regents. To me that is a more important question than whether *we* read (agree with, disagree with) your letters. ---------- F. In my opinion the letter you received is extremely arrogant, and definitely not the sort of thing one would expect from a member of the governing board of America's leading public university system. ---------- F. I have thought for a while that the UC faculty ought to initiate an effort to re-organize the governing structure of UC, focusing in particular on the method of appointing our Board of Regents and on the scope of their powers. The ignorant and insulting character of the letter you forwarded confirms this belief. Shared governance is a joke: we have clearly reached a point of civil war with our governors--they regard us as lazy and impudent serfs, and we regard them as arbitrary and despotic lords. This is no way to convene a first class public university system. Before they begin firing or disciplining us, we should probably gather and rise up together, assuming the place that a university ostensibly governed by its faculty implies is ours. I am also long overdue in telling you how much I value your reports, and how much I learn from them. ---------- G. I recently received a copy of the insulting, inflammatory, and highly uninformed letter written to you by one of our Regents.Before addressing the points raised in the letter, let me say that I am disappointed (though, unfortunately, not surprised) that such a person is allowed to occupy a position of public service and trust. As to the contents of the letter: 1. While a member of the Graduate Student Assembly of the University of California, I found your reports and commentary a helpful source of information in connection with issues that came before the assembly. As a graduate student and member of the UC community, I continue to find value in them. 2. I have, since I entered the UC system, understood the role of the Regents to be one of service to the students, faculty, and administrators of the UC system, and by extension, to the State of California and its citizens. It has been my understanding that the proper role of the Regents has been to act as trusted servants, putting the health and future of that system before any personal gain or personally held opinions or beliefs. I have further understood that the Regents are trustees responsible for the considerable assets of the UC system, who take advice and guidance, first from the administrators of that system, but also from any other concerned members of the UC community, including faculty, students, and staff. To the best of my knowledge, Regents are not responsible for the day- to-day management of any single campus, any department within any campus, or any faculty or staff member employed by a UC. The review of the intellectual activities of any faculty member is first the responsibilty of that person's peers, and second, the responsiblity of the Chancellor of the University at which that person serves. I would hope that each Regent is made aware of this when he or she accepts appointment to the Board. 3. As with the democratic society of which it is a part, and which it serves, the UC system is best served when the free flow of information is not only respected, but encouraged. Any attempt to limit the free flow of information, or to discourage intellectual curiosity, is not in the best interest of the UC system, nor of the society which it serves. Any attempts to limit the free flow of information, or of intellectual discourse, should be met by vocal opposition by every member of the UC community, up to and including the Regents. I sincerely hope that the unnamed author of this letter will be informed of the gravity of his or her error, and that he or she will make every effort to discharge his or her duties within the properly prescribed bounds. Should he or she be unable to do so, he or she should be dismissed from the Board without delay.I consider your efforts on behalf of the UC system to be of great value. I hope that you will continue in them undeterred. ---------- N. [ the symbol > indicates lines of CS's original email to which this person then responds.] > Unless you can explain to me how the "public service" mission of > the University is met by your "reports," I request that you stop > using University envelopes (and paper, postage, computers, desks, > electricity &c.) in their preparation and dissemination. This regent seems to take a narrow view of what constitutes research. Possibly he feels that you should stick to your own areas of expertise. I don't think the expenses of paper, etc., are really what's on his mind. > As to the value of your efforts, my brief time with the regents > indicates that no one is listening. I think he means, no one among the regents and other important people.I think he knows that lots of people are listening, and he wants to put a stop to this. > Perhaps your time could be better spent on research and/or > teaching. You do teach and perform research, I assume. He may not know you are emeritus. Also, his sarcasm reveals his hostility. Maybe he thinks of you as an employee who is out of line and deserves a written reprimand. > I [CS] have deleted the signature and letterhead information so > that one may concentrate on the issues involved rather than the > personality. Darn! I'd like to know who he is. > Opinions from faculty members are most desirable; and I [CS] also > make a particular request for responses from each of UC's nine > Chancellors, since they are the chief officials in charge of > protecting the climate of academic freedom on the campuses. I've read stuff from the AAUP and I have read Plato (in translation), but I don't know what "academic freedom" really is. Does it apply only to teachers and not to students? Can I have some, even if I'm neither a teacher or a (full-time) student, as these terms are usually defined? I do believe that the existence of your reports is evidence that a climate of academic freedom exists to some extent at UC in a way that it does not exist in private industry or (for example) at any Chinese university. If this ignoramus of a regent manages to suppress your activities, then I would say academic freedom has become a myth at UC. > I [CS] plan to issue a follow-up paper which will summarize the > results of this opinion survey (maintaining respondents' > confidentiality) and also report further developments in this > matter. I will look forward to your survey--assuming you are allowed to conduct it. ---------- G. Obviously you have struck a nerve. ---------- S. The letter that you have forwarded is surely a distressing one. It's obvious that the sender has no idea of the function (or responsibilities) of a Regent or of the University. Without belaboring the point too much, the apparently somewhat recent appointment of this person doesn't say much for the judgment of the person who nominated him/her. Please keep your reports coming:they're very good for my adrenalin flow. By the way, have you had an opportunity to read last Friday's Daily Bruin & its reports on the construction of the new Office of the President? The article surely provides still another example of the detachment from reality of those people. ---------- F. You may add my name to the list of those who feel you perform a valuable "public service" function. As a scientist, I have always been of the opinion that analysis of a problem by "non-group" parties is always helpful in determining the validity of papers from the group. We can of course make up our own minds about what to believe. A letter such as was sent to you can only serve to reduce the credibility of "internal" reports. I'm sure you will remind the Regent that you are no longer obligated to teach, and that your activities certainly qualify as "research". I hope he does not presume to tell us what we should do our research on... ---------- S. One response would be to argue that you are advancing the educational mission of the University. You are assisting the various "stakeholders" (the current buzz word) of the UC in understanding an important and complex institution. You are engaged in applied political science perhaps. ---------- F. In regard to your reports on the university budget let me reaffirm once more that I find them to be of high scholastic quality. You are performing a service for the entire university community. It seems to me that anyone who disagrees with your conclusion should at least have the good grace to note the specific points of dispute. ---------- F. I find your e-mails incredibly valuable, and think that protest quite inappropriate. Please continue! ---------- F. Your activites are very important and do a great deal to further the public service mission of UC. Your reports show a dedication to rational analysis that is the very foundation of UC, not to mention a fearlessness in taking on powerful elements of society that must also accompany such rational analyses. The public mission of UC must also include discussion about how UC spends its money. Please politely decline to take action on the Regent's request. ---------- F. I believe your reports constitute a significant aspect of University business as they keep the faculty informed on important matters that would be difficult to understand otherwise. I would tell the Regent in question to... ( well one isn't supposed to use the university facilities for harsh or abusive language) well.. to take this under advisement. ---------- F. In my experience with serving on governing boards of administrative units, there is always a tension between receiving information only from the administrative director, and receiving information from other sources. It has always been the case that receiving additional information has been extremely useful in reaching a fully informed decision. The reason is clear: directors/ CEOs can be ignorant themselves of what is actually going on, or sometimes they have an interest in maintaining the status quo and keeping the board in the dark. Sometimes they are themselves misinformed by subordinates for a variety of reasons, such as fear of reprisals, self-interest, or disagreements about policy. Surely every governing board needs to know the truth to make good decisions. You have been one of the principal sources of additional information which can lead the Regents to fully informed decisions. If a Regent is so foolish as to reject this information, we have an indication that he doesn't take his responsibilities seriously, or is himself in collusion to perpetuate misinformation. Your diligence is an important resource for the university. As a taxpayer I salute you for your interest in getting the most educational benefit for our dollars. ---------- F. It strikes me as a direct attack on academic freedom, to say nothing of your first amendment rights. If being self-critical doesn't serve the University (and the public interest) I don't know what does. In your reply to the specific regent I would suggest that he just might learn something if he did "listen." I'd go immediately to the committee on academic freedom and to privilege and tenure - he has clearly overstepped the bounds of his authority (as contrasted to the"regents" authority). It sure sounds like a threat to me! ---------- G. I'm a graduate student in the ... department at ... , and I was appalled (although not surprised) at the tone in the letter you received from one of the regents. I have been long learning how universities such as UCLA have experienced ballooning administrative costs and personnel, often to the direct detriment of their teaching (and research) missions. At the UC, it is clearly a tragedy that the administration/regents assume as a norm that its constituents (both staff, faculty and students of the UC and the general citizenry of the state of California) are best served by being ignorant of its budgetary and adminstrative workings/dealings. The attitude of "just do your job - don't ask questions" is completely at odds with the goals of participatory democracy that we are supposedly trying to pass on to our undergraduates. Obviously this implies the worst sort of hypocrisy. I'm sure that this particular regent is especially irritated by your interest and investigations into the UC budgets , esp. in regards to administrative spending. Despite this (and other) regent's assumption that it is their (managerial) prerogative to spend, grow and allocate without public review, I see your tireless work as invaluable to the cause of making the state's largest public/ private entity (in terms of employment) answerable to its real constituencies. Especially given that California is large enough in many ways to be a nation unto itself, your work is very much appreciated and necessaty. Thank you very much. ---------- F. There are three issues involved as I reflect on this. One is the issue of whether what you are doing is legal. One is the issue of whether what you are doing is based upon sound principles. One is whether what you are doing is of value. To some level the Regent addressed the first and third of these. My views are as follows. 1) I believe you when you say what your are doing is legal. 2) I am confident you believe you are doing something that has to be done because of your principles and because some faculty believe you are providing a valuable service. 3) I believe you, as an individual, have lost any effectiveness for the faculty, students and institution you might once have had. You are perceived as completely predictable; one who believes anyone with any position of responsibility is not only wrong, they are corrupt, deceitful and not possessed of sound principles. I believe the Regent is accurate in saying that no one in a position to actually make and implement policy listens to you (in the sense that they attempt to interpret the information you provide). I suspect people believe this has become your purpose and identity in life. Respectfully, ---------- S. I support your good and hard work in being a "watchdog" of UC expenditures, practices, and protocols. Your inquires seem like a sound practice of checks and balances. If I ever would have sensed hostility or bashing for the simple sake of bashing, I would have requested being dropped from the email alias. Your investigations are clear and direct and raise concerns we should all discuss as citizens. Again, I support your efforts and I admire your boldness. I'm less bold, thus appreciate your willingness to keep my name confidential. Keep on, carry on! ---------- F. I received your recent email message enclosing a letter from a UC Regent. I believe there is a plausible academic freedom issue here. ... It depends on whether one views your reports as part of your administrative duties or as part of your research/teaching. Even in the first case though, while their free dissemination is not really an academic freedom issue, the *subject matter* of the reports could have a tangible effect on academic freedom and I (personally) feel that they serve a useful administrative purpose for myself, my committee and the other faculty. ---------- F. I think this is a truly odious and blatant attempt from a regent to stifle legitimate research and criticism of the University's conduct. He must have passed Governor Wilson's Unclear on the Concept test for regent appointments. Looks like you've hit a few sore points - keep it up. ---------- N. I don't have any advice on how *you* should respond to this outrageous letter. However, on a moment's notice *I* would be happy -- as a UC Alumni Assn. member -- to write or sign a letter stating that your efforts are among the most conspicuous "public service" activities that I am aware of within the U.C. system. Also, that this letter reveals a chilling lack of understanding of academic freedom, University autonomy, or even the meaning of the title "Emeritus." Evidently, the quality of regents' appointments has declined to the point where the insane (and uneducated) really are running the asylum. --------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------------------------------------- One should not read this collection as a referendum on the value of my work. Of course my fans are more likely to respond than my critics; and I am particularly grateful to those who did respond with criticism. Whatever shortcomings there are with this survey, it does provide a variety of viewpoints and I decided to distribute the lot. THIS AUTHOR'S RESPONSE If there were no other recourse available, I should probably have turned first to the relevant committees of the Academic Senate, as advised by many above. However, the state of California has a law [Government Code Section 8547] which is intended to provide encouragement and protection for "whistle blowers" in public agencies; and this law covers the University of California. The case at hand seems perfectly suited to the intent and the terms of this law and the related regulations of the University. In January of 1993, when I had just issued my first Report on the excess growth of administration at the University, I walked up to the speakers' podium at the Regents' meeting and actually blew a loud whistle to call their attention to this problem. I also have serious concerns about how this institution treats others who blow the whistle on their administrative superiors. I have, therefore, filed a formal letter of complaint against the regent who sent me that letter. This complaint was addressed to the Chairman of the Board of Regents with copies to President Atkinson and to the offending regent. This course of response places the responsibility for investigation and corrective action directly in the corporate lap of the Regents themselves. I am sure this will cause them some discomfort. How they choose to deal with this challenge will be a significant test of their worthiness as guardians of this public trust, the University of California. And this course still allows for others, such as the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom, to become involved. We shall see how things develop.