A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Message from Leadership: Peggy O'Day, Academic Senate Chair

November 27, 2012

Although the academic year is only a few months old, UC Merced's Academic Senate committees have been busy with local and systemwide issues. We are grateful and excited about the passage of Proposition 30 in which California voters affirmed their support of higher education.

In addition, UC President Yudof reconfirmed UC's commitment to academic quality, and UC Provost Aimee Dorr recently outlined investments in quality that call for eliminating salary gaps for faculty and staff, reducing the student-to-faculty ratio systemwide, increasing graduate student support and enhancing undergraduate instructional support.

On our campus, the senate Committee on Academic Planning and Resource Allocation (CAPRA) is developing criteria and guidelines for faculty-hiring requests that focus on research and graduate education.

The number of graduate students on our campus is about 6 percent, well below the average across the UC system, which has about 16 percent. That, in turn, is nearly half the graduate enrollment at AAU public research universities (about 30 percent).

Unlike undergraduate degrees, which are approved locally on each campus, graduate degree programs are reviewed and approved by UC systemwide. Therefore, it is critical to our campus’s growth as a research university that our graduate programs are competitive, innovative and of world-class quality, and that they contribute to UC’s mission within the broader framework of graduate degrees across the system.

Faculty and administration systemwide recognize the need for additional investments in graduate education so UC can maintain its international status as a premier public institution of higher education.

UC Merced's success as the newest campus in the system relies on our ability to develop successful academic programs that appropriately balance growth between graduate and undergraduate students, and ensure our limited resources directly support our research and education missions.

The Academic Senate, systemwide and locally, is also addressing issues of faculty salary equity and campus climate.

Following on recommendations by the University Committee on Academic Affairs and Diversity (UCAAD) and independent studies commissioned by the UC Academic Senate and the Office of the President (UCOP), President Yudof directed each campus to analyze faculty salaries for equity across gender and ethnic groups, and for patterns of discriminatory salary differences. Campuses are to develop plans for addressing inequities with the institutional findings and any suggested remedial actions for each campus.

The Merced Senate Faculty Welfare Committee is working with campus administration to develop a draft plan to be reviewed by UCOP before implementation. 

I encourage faculty and staff to participate in the upcoming UC-wide campus climate survey being conducted electronically at all UC locations. (For more information on the survey, see a related article in this edition of Panorama.) For our campus, the survey launches Feb. 1. In addition to a core set of questions, survey questions are tailored to specific audiences (faculty, staff and students) and to individual campuses. Campuses will have access to aggregate responses regarding hiring and promotion, salary equity, faculty-welfare issues, personnel policies and other topics of interest to faculty and staff. The Academic Senate hopes to use the results to address specific concerns on our campus related to our work and education climate.

As the calendar year comes to an end, the Merced Academic Senate leadership recognizes that much work has yet to be done to develop the infrastructure and processes for a young and burgeoning research campus. By maintaining robust shared governance and focused efforts, I remain confident the campus is headed on a strong course.