Our letter to the authors of SCA 21 and ACA 24 (Regental Autonomy)

On June 29th, CUCFA President Robert Meister sent the following letter to the authors of SCA 21 and ACA 24:

June 29, 2009

Senator Leland Yee
State Capitol, Room 4074
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 327-2186

Re: SCA 21 and ACA 24

Dear Senator Yee,

The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) believes that UC should be fully accountable to the public, and disagrees with recent comments by UC’s leaders suggesting that accountability must decrease as state support declines. Like you, we think that UC’s growing reliance on the private sector should be of concern to the legislature, insofar as this diverts the university from its traditional priorities and public mission.

Our position is different from yours, however, on the issue of regental autonomy, which we support because on rare, but memorable, occasions, it has protected the faculty’s academic freedom from political interference. More recent threats come from the private sector influence on UC’s administration, and the tendency to hide this influence from public view. Here, greater legislative oversight might advance academic freedom by promoting openness and debate about UC’s institutional interest in much the way that shared governance is designed to do. The academic freedom that regental autonomy protects is also protected by administrative accountability, and is thus consistent with the responsibility of UC’s administration to serve the public good through policies that are open and transparent.

We, thus, believe that there is a shared interest between the faculty and the legislature in holding UC accountable. Your whistleblower legislation is important in this regard, and we believe that further legislation will soon be necessary to protect faculty from reprisals for demanding UC accountability and publicly questioning its policies. We are concerned however that the current debate over regental autonomy is distracting both the legislature and the UC administration from the policy debate that the state should be having over the values of quality, access, and affordability articulated in the Master Plan and the future of UC as a public institution.

These are urgent concerns of the UC faculty represented by CUCFA, and we request a meeting to discuss legislative approaches to addressing them.

Robert Meister,
President, Council of UC Faculty Associations

cc: Senators Ashburn and Romero
Assemblymembers Nestande and Portantino
UC President Mark Yudof

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