Saturday, September 19, 2009

Faculty Poll

After the Poll went live Friday 9/18 at 5:00 and before we could post this (7:24 am on 9/19) seven comments regarding the Poll had already appeared under three different posts ("Deck Chairs," "Deans List," "Evelyn comments...").
To make the comment thread on the topic of the Faculty Poll easier to follow, we have regrouped those initial comments under this post and request that if you wish to comment on the Poll specifically, please do so below rather than under a different post. Since comments can be deleted from a post but cannot be moved from one post to another, we have recopied the initial "Faculty Poll" comments below, in the order received.

PS. This just in from the Arizona Daily Star: "Deans List: Turnover at the Top."
Before you vote, consider this: How many deans have recently been replaced at the UA - one or two?
Or is it eight or nine?
See the update (9/19) on our "Deans List" post below, for a list of the deans recently replaced, and the discussion by Becky Pollack in the online Arizona Daily Star.
Why have that many deans been replaced?
To know why people writing to this forum are concerned (more than 250 comments in 3 weeks, not counting the unprintable ones), please take the time to read the comments they have added to the various posts below.
Initial comments on the Faculty Poll (for later ones, see below)

Anonymous said...
Check your emails folks. A faculty sponsored poll of our current situation is going live at 5PM today.
I have not seen the wording of it yet, but please vote.
September 18, 2009 5:00 PM

Anonymous said...
I voted!!! 
Check your email for the poll issued today at 5PM by the Faculty Senate.

And...I should say...I strongly appreciate our faculty leadership for taking this poll.
September 18, 2009 5:10 PM

Anonymous said...
What does this poll mean? For those who wish a leadership change, I would argue that this could be a big problem. 
First, what does it mean if dissatisfaction or no confidence is shown? At what level must the dissatisfaction reach for anyone do to anything? 55-45? 75-25? On a scale of 1-5, a 1.5 or a 3.5?
If the results of the poll are that there is no confidence, then is this a vote of no confidence or is it just a reason to, yet again, for the hundredth time, demand more transparency and accountability.
Now, let me ask the other side. What if the poll comes out with support? Then the claim can be that there is just no real problem here and that the gripers are in the minority...and we move on. Right?

I don't mean to sound cynical, but there are a host of ways for "nothing to be done" on the basis of this poll. 
I hope I a wrong.
September 18, 2009 6:22 PM

Anonymous said...
IF the faculty want to show the administration that they have any spine at all... WE MUST vote in the online poll.
 If only 80 people vote, it shows the central administration that we are too apathetic to even take that meager step in having our voices heard.

September 18, 2009 8:02 PM

Anonymous said...
I agree, thank you to the faculty leadership for putting out this poll. 
It is now our duty, as faculty, to step up and VOTE! And encourage our colleagues to vote.
 Make your voice heard, loud and clear.
September 18, 2009 8:06 PM

Anonymous said...
If you have looked at the online poll, one question specifically asks if you have confidence in the current administration's ability to lead this university forward.

Vote No Confidence.
September 18, 2009 8:09 PM

Lynn Nadel said...
No poll is perfect. Democracy can be a bit messy. But, let's leave the interpretive questions to later, when the results are in. We tried to create a poll that was as neutral as possible and that would give faculty a chance to express their opinions in a somewhat nuanced way (eg., 1 to 5 rather than yes-no). We wanted it to be short, so that people would do it, rather than much longer and inclusive of many different questions one could ask. We are trying to make things better here, and hopefully the knowledge that is gained from this Poll will do that.
That knowledge will include not only what people say, but how many bother to say anything at all.

Lynn Nadel
September 19, 2009 6:29 AM


  1. To Lynn,

    I think the poll is well done and am happy that it was posted and created by our faculty leaders. A chance to get feedback...and well said...a chance to see how many are feeling that the leadership needs change.

  2. Where is this poll? I received no notice of it. I wonder how many others are in my situation?

  3. It was sent to the faculty on an email containing a link to the site. Once there, you must present your net ID to log in and complete the poll.

  4. Seriously: I did not get one. I am a faculty member of many years' standing. Someone needs to check into this, I'm thinking. I also wonder how anyone can guarantee anonymity given that we use the NetID to log on (not that I can see any other way to be sure people vote only once....).

  5. when i tried to submit my vote, here's the error message I received:

    Not Found
    The requested URL /pls/portal30/ was not found on this server.


    Apache/1.3.12 Server at Port 443

  6. I also had a problem accessing the poll yesterday, but it was only because I tried getting in before it went live at 5:00 (I went in at 4:57). In response to my inquiry, I got a message back from J.C. Mutchler, Secretary of the Faculty, saying this: "We are encountering a number of IT glitches. If you know of anyone that has problems voting, please, please ask them to email me directly - - or the faculty center and we'll do our best to see that their vote is counted and their voice is heard."

  7. I have had a number in my department also say that they did not get it, after I had forwarded it to them.

    You can get to it by going to, log in and there should be an election icon in the middle/bottom of the page.


    I just saw an email about the inability of many faculty to get the poll. Apparently, the all faculty list has some problems. So the Faculty Center contacted the Provost's Office about sending it through department head listservs. The Provost's office refused to do so.

    This, to say the least, is shocking and is beyond disrectful to faculty governance. If anyone had any notion of supporting this administration, I think we have heard the answer. Make the vote!

    Go to

    Log in with your UA Net account. And vote.

    Please vote and please forward this to your colleagues.

  9. The link suggested in the previous post is incorrect - it should be "emplink" (not "employlink"), accessible via various portals. We just got there through this one:

    But you can always get there via the UA Home Page: ; then click "Faculty & Staff," then "Employee Link."

  10. Don't you think if the poll had come through an email listserve from the Provost's office that people would get the wrong idea about the poll?

    Seems like common sense to me that it didn't come from the Provost office. Too many here seem very quick to cry foul on the slightest thing

  11. Regarding the previous comment: As we read the comment you object to from Anonymous (a really frequent commenter to our posts!):
    1) the Provost's office was only asked for the listserv of Dept. Heads, not to actually send the email from the Provost's office;
    2) even if it had been sent from the Provost's office, why not? The poll is coming to the faculty from the Faculty Senate, and not (God forbid!) from us! The Faculty Senate has no a priori reason to be hostile to the Provost (does it?), and the Provost has everything to gain from a positive outcome in the poll.

  12. I also did not receive any notification of this poll. I went to emplink and found that the poll link is there, but don't expect a high return if it's not advertised!

  13. For goodness sakes people, grow up!
    Have you ever worked in real world politics?
    Was your PhD adviser always nice to you?
    Polls, like university politics, are messy, they aren't perfect, the faculty senate are not computing specialists and they have full-time jobs just like the rest of us.
    If we desire any change this will take cooperative work on all our parts!
    All of this work: the faculty senate, this blog, are volunteer additional duties, the way most of the university runs, at least at the faculty level if not administrative level...
    If you didn't get a personal invitation to vote in the poll, you obviously know about it...
    If you can't vote, e-mail the faculty senate office and ask to be included. I did and finally was able to vote.
    Most of the world takes days to be able to vote and has very real world consequences for even being seen to vote.
    Be part of the solution and spread the word to as many of your colleagues as you can. All of you must have trusted colleagues, share the information.
    If faculty want to be part of shared governance, there is also responsibility for each and every one of us to do part of the work instead of whining all the time.
    For goodness sakes.

  14. I take exception to the tone and message above. It is NOT whining to point out that notification of the poll has not reached all potential voters. It is being useful and proactive about the process: many people were left out. Did the people running the poll know this? Might they not have known it? And I looked all over for it before mentioning it here. It's not located in an obvious place.

    Evelyn: I thought we were to be civil. I guess someone didn't get a personal invitation to be so.

  15. Hear hear Anon at 9.22AM.

  16. To "Anon" 2 comments up: "Evelyn: I thought we were to be civil. I guess someone didn't get a personal invitation to be so."
    Yes, thank you for the reminder. We are to be civil. And we're trying hard to encourage people to do that. In practice, that has meant that we have had to respond by e-mail to lots of people - frustrated, exasperated, stressed and edgy - asking them to please make their point without the unpleasantness that academics are so good at, and which feed into the negative stereotypes of academics in the outside world - and which do little to endear us to our neighbors, nor to the press. Sometimes people writing in to UA Defender forget that this is not just "among us" but a public forum, very public. So yes, we need to speak to each other with at all times the realization that we are doing so in public.
    And yes, last point, we have also posted some comments in the last couple days that are borderline - because if we reject them we're called out for "censorship."

  17. Part 1 of 2--

    I’m not exactly sure where to place this comment now, in two senses: 1) the blog is seeming somewhat unwieldy logistically and I have the feeling that navigation is becoming a bit overwhelming; and 2) given the various posts, I don’t want it to get lost by being under the wrong thread.

    We should not get too hung up or distracted by the ongoing faculty poll (although I do think as many people should participate as possible). But no matter whether any of us believe it to be well- or poorly-designed, and no matter how many faculty vote in it, it is still dealing with our ongoing concerns at the level of symptoms rather than fundamentals. No matter what we think of the performance of Shelton and Hay during these exigent moments, we have to recognize that these are the kinds of leaders that the present system requires and desires. If we don’t work on changing the system we’ll get new faces and personalities periodically, but the mode of governance (and the concomitant, narrow conception of the university and its wider role) will remain the same.

    It seems to me that we had several very productive streams of thought going before the poll arose, and I would hate to see those conversations stifled just when we need them the most. Lynn Nadel’s proposal for ongoing faculty fora to discuss the nature, mission and role of the university and higher education (at the UA and elsewhere) seems reasonable, and I think the idea merits additional, thoughtful response. By itself, however, this approach falls prey to many of the same problems as any other such device: under the present system, there is no mechanism to compel administrators to pay any attention (and additionally, this formulation, in which we petition to be heard, is itself a part of the fundamental problem). We would like to believe that the ideas themselves will be persuasive enough (for our deciders!), but the power relationship is still too asymmetrical to command much faculty participation. So I would recommend that simultaneous with discussions about the nature of the university and higher ed, we also commence a serious conversation about how to reconfigure the power relationships between faculty and administrators on the campus so that we do not continue to occupy the role of supplicants begging to be heard and listened to.

  18. Part 2 of 2--

    I would also recommend two other near-term, proactive steps that will put us on the road to recasting the political climate in which all of our activities take place. First, I think we need some good comparative data on whether there are public universities that are faring better than we are in good times and bad. If there are, we need some information on the kinds of campus governance structures they employ, as well as information on how they create, sustain and nourish better relationships with their legislatures (and other constituencies) than we have. If there are no such cases (i.e., the structural problems we face are truly ubiquitous and universal), then we have to strike off in these directions and lead the way.

    The second set of near-term actions I would recommend have to do with making manifest to our students and their parents the effects that two-plus decades of budget slashing have produced. As long as we continue to try to hide these effects we generate two counter-productive outcomes: 1) we lose the opportunity to mobilize very potent political constituencies who can make their voices heard in Phoenix; and 2) we foster the belief among legislators (and other publics) that we can absorb such cuts without serious consequence—so why not keep on cutting us. It seems to me that the time is here for data collection about increasing class sizes, reductions in course availability, changes in time to degree, losses of faculty and teaching assistants, alterations in the campus environment (due to reductions in custodial and other staff), and other effects of budget reductions. It is also time for a series of teach-ins (both centralized, large and splashy, as well as decentralized in individual classrooms) to highlight these consequences and interpret their implications, and have this become an important part of the political discourse in Arizona.

    We are educators; let’s try to seize the opportunities we have to shape the environments in which we labor. As I tried to convey in an earlier post (deck chairs), if we are unable to challenge these systemic assaults on higher education and its critical roles in society, we will soon find ourselves as ITT with a football team.

  19. All the people posting above, including the gentleman who writes for 'goodness sakes', make very valid points. Dissent and disagreement are to be expected in an open forum, but we do not have to be disagreeable. The lower the morale on campus, the greater the likelihood of irascible comments. Censorship should be avoided at all costs and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the participants to avoid sentiments that shift the focus of this discussion. stUArt.

  20. To Marv Waterstone regarding the double-comment preceding the last one.
    We agree that navigating this site is not easy. But blog-design is not what we do in real life, and customizing the free basic template that Google graciously provides as a public service is not within our competence at the moment.
    However, and apologies aside, we must point out that even with our primitive blog skills the UA Defender went from demanding a no-confidence vote to actually participating in one in less than a month.
    Still, we understand your arguments about the bigger picture, and the inadequacy of the blog format for engaging issues that don't lend themselves to the soundbite textbox provided here for comments. Another solution we can offer is to link longer texts to a short comment (we can store the link for you). Please let us know - Marv and anyone else - if that is your preference.

  21. I think Marv raises a lot of good points throughout this blog, but particularly with his second post above with some proactive steps.

    I would gladly work with him if he is willing to lead the way and start a workgroup to do what he proposes.

    Marv? When and where do you want to meet to get started? Anyone else willing to work on this?

  22. I didn't intend the first part of my comment as a slam of your design or moderator skills. I was simply noting that the blog has become something of a victim of its own success in terms of the volume and variety of the postings; a descriptive fact that has made site navigation more challenging for posters and readers alike. Not to mention moderators!

  23. To Evelyn Hall et al,

    No matter any criticisms raised, thanks to you for starting up this blog and opening up the discourse.

    This is one of the best things I have seen happen on this campus in a long time.

  24. Out of town and reduced to using my iPhone to
    communicate. Not good for long posts.

    Please bear with the poll. We knew the All Faculty
    ListServ was imperfect but had no other
    alternative. We are trying to reach people by
    various means and hopfully will be able to do
    so within a few days. Other glitches are
    being identified and worked out.

    Responses to other recent posts when I can.

    Lynn Nadel

  25. Great blog and great points thus far. I want to point to a couple points made here by Marv and also by Lynn in another thread. While I am indeed in favor of a leadership change, I am also very much in favor of changing the political culture on this campus. We have to put our energy, money, and know how together to build an organization that can tackle the state legislature. We are past the point of simply voting and it is frankly worthless to us to put our money and faith in federal races. Our biggest problem, even when we have a sympathetic governor is the legislature. We need to educate ourselves on the districts, identify and adopt candidates, and work for them. We also need to communicate to candidates and sitting legislators what we stand for and what we want. We need to also educate the campus on the voting records of those who vote for and against us...and then afterward support that help us or "take out" those that do not.

    The other thing that we have to recognize is that we have great political power already, we just choose to use in disperse ways. The amount of dollars donated by this campus, for instance, to our local congressmen and woman is pretty staggering. We should identify key races in this region...and around the state...and donate to them instead if they are not running clean. If they are running clean, the we need to put our energy into legislative races...forget the feds, forget the sexy statewide races...they do not matter. Our problem is clearly the legislature. We rely on schmoozing the gov. to hold off the flood and that strategy is one of defeat.

    So, an example. District 26 is a close district. Al Melvin (not a supporter of this university) won by less that 1500 votes. His challenger, Cheryl Cage is running again and this time is taking full donations. This is a chance for a pick up...and there are other around the state. Why donate and support a candidate you may love who is safe, when you can simply drive to the foothills and help her...or send her a check. I am also hearing that one of our own may be taking on Jonathan Paton in 30 (a tough race to win). He will need help to beat Paton, who has also voted against this campus, while appearing to be reasonable. Same with Rep. Vic Williams a rep. in district 26...another chance for a pick up OR a chance to scare the dickens out of him into voting reasonable.

    I could go on.

    Best to you all. Keep fighting for this university.

  26. Hi Evelyn,
    I'm emailing from New York, where its not all that easy to keep on top of things at the U.
    Basically, we wanted to get the poll out quickly. WE knew there were difficulties with the ListServ, not least because some faculty unsubscribed to avoid getting a bunch of "pointless" emails from the administration. Given that, it is not trivial to get the word out to everyone. There was no way to fix the list in a reasonable amount of time. We have tried and will continue to try to get it to everyone's attention by varied means.
    As for the anonymity issue -- the fact that people are concerned about this is truly amazing to me, and a sad sign of the fear that exists. As a note that should be sent out today will make clear, the poll is completely anonymous -- though it does involve people signing in. It is the same system used for Senate votes -- people's EID's are stripped off immediately, but they have to be entered initially to make sure people only vote once. This is really a
    Finally, there are some technical glitches -- using a colon in the Comment box makes it impossible to submit the survey it turns out. We'll communicate that.
    There are issues about who is actually eligible. The Senate rules determine
    this, and we will communicate about that too.
    A certain amount of haste here, which maybe led to more glitches than we anticipated, but we have the entire week to sort these out so that every eligible person will know about the survey and get a chance to participate.
    Then we'll have some data. And then we'll all see where to go from there.
    Lynn Nadel

  27. I'm hope I'm not the first to mention on this blog the planned faculty walkout by UC faculty and grad students on 9/24 (see ucfacultywalkoutDOTcom). I searched, and I am. Its too bad we hadn't come up with this on our own when the time came (and went).

  28. Marv said: "making manifest to our students and their parents the effects that two-plus decades of budget slashing have produced. As long as we continue to try to hide these effects we generate two counter-productive outcomes: 1) we lose the opportunity to mobilize very potent political constituencies who can make their voices heard in Phoenix; and 2) we foster the belief among legislators (and other publics) that we can absorb such cuts without serious consequence—so why not keep on cutting us. It seems to me that the time is here for data collection about increasing class sizes, reductions in course availability, changes in time to degree, losses of faculty and teaching assistants, alterations in the campus environment (due to reductions in custodial and other staff), and other effects of budget reductions."
    Great idea! Graduate students attempted to do this last year at Parents' Weekend with a flyer encouraging parents to get involved with the transformation. Needless to say, administration got wind of it and were out for blood. They were looking to place blame on any student leader and harrassed an innocent student body rep via numerous emails. In addition, the student's program director and other administrators severely chastised the student without any proof tying said student to the flyer.
    Two points: many graduate student organizations have the information you are looking for, particularly the comparative numbers. Just be prepared for serious backlash from administration if you reach out to parents.

  29. I'm not sure where to put this - but a group of individuals met last Friday afternoon to discuss the UC walkout and what we can do here to show solidarity and also protest what's happening on campus. There will be a rally on the UA mall at 12:15 on the 24th. They have also created a Google group, They are looking for individuals who might be willing to speak "on the record". If you, or someone you know, might be willing, please go to the google group page and leave a message. Thanks!!!!!

  30. To the above comment about the flyers...

    That is a REALLY disturbing story.

    More intimidation...

    If you had any of those emails handy, it might be nice to anonymously post them, don't you think?

  31. Regarding the comment from "Lynn" two up from this one: We're assuming that's a different "Lynn," not our more familiar contributor who always signs "Lynn Nadel."

  32. Check your facts, rather than getting hot and bothered about false facts and gossip.
    Last year the flier in question from the graduate students was passed out during a tailgate. However some of the heat against it came from campus students as the flier implied it was from the GPSC, but it was not. The members of that council were not happy as it was falsely claiming that it represented a majority of students.

    What we need right now are not more volatile fliers but informed parents that will be on our side in fighting the legislature and standing up for education in AZ. we do not need to be telling them negative perceptions that teaching quality and class content is going to the dogs. How many times over the last few budget cuts have we claimed we can't go on, yet we have. So lets focus on the real issues, the state budget cuts and not spread false facts, Chicken Little style.

  33. EBH please post the fact that Keith Joiner was removed AFTER true faculty governance was enacted. The faculty in the COM signed a white paper that asked Joiner to reconsider several policies, he would not. C11 then looked into the issues set out by the white paper, and met with chairs and faculty across the college. They published their report which I believe is still online somewhere. This report led to the President and the Provost intervening on the side of the faculty, hence the new Dean in July 2008.

  34. Stories in the Wildcat today...

    On the poll...

    On graduate student funding...

    And a podcast of news commentary on transformation and transparency...

    One highlight is the last paragraph of the story on the poll. Essentially we should be fighting the legislature rather than among ourselves. An interesting point, but how can we do that and do that well without effective academic leadership? One might raise a similar question for our leadership. Why are you dividing our campus with transformation and differentials instead of leading us against this legislature? What if the same time and energy went into this instead of turning college versus college?

  35. Please listen to the podcast called "A Call for Transparency" on the Daily Wildcat website today. In an editorial/reporter conversation on the current problems, Reporter Shane Bergain discusses an encounter...a rather public encounter...that he had with President Shelton. It is a bit disturbing. It also discusses the poll and the lack of transparency of the administration in terms of talking with the press.

  36. The discussion about getting the word to parents about how budget cuts have endangered the quality of education we provide is an excellent example of how such issues need to be thought about in the broadest possible sense.

    Does the author of the post imagine that no one in central administration has considered the strategies he or she suggests? In the 20 years I've been involved with such matters at the UA the trade-off between making it clear how everyone suffers and trying nonetheless to do the best we can has been a central theme.

    Of course trying to do more with less sends a message that we can do with less. But, are we supposed to purposely make our students feel the pain to make our point?

    Of course showing the parents of our students how budget cuts compromise and devalue what they are paying for might lead to some political change. But it might not. And in the meantime we run down the attraction of a UA education, thereby likely costing us significant tuition revenue income -- most prominently among out-of-state students whose tuition levels contribute significantly to our budget. At a time when increasing revenues from tuition are all the more important (given the shortfall in state revenue), this seems like a flawed approach. Many have argued that we need to shift to a budget that assumes less and less from the state and more from other sources, including tuition. If this is the case we need to be real careful what strategies we use.

    I don't pretend to have an answer to the complex questions of how to fund a modern university that has aspirations to both produce and disseminate knowledge at the highest level. But I am certain that this is a VERY DIFFICULT problem requiring careful thought about the many factors at play. I am also certain that these crass commercial considerations have to be a part of our thinking going forward, all the while we insist on maintaining our academic values.

    So, please give up the simplistic, one-dimensional, analyses of what we could and should be doing. Every action has both intended and unintended consequences. One of the things we can usefully teach our students is an appreciation of the complexities of life that are at play in everything we do, including solving the problems at the UA.

    Lynn Nadel
    (and yes, the other person posting as "Lynn" is not me - but I do enjoy meeting namesakes, as they are few and far between)

  37. It is a very difficult problem Lynn. But what we have been doing is not working. Worse yet, there is a LOT of dissatisfaction with the Provost and I believe that this dissatisfaction has harmed Shelton, who I think is a good leader. The amount of dissatisfaction, distrust, and anger is not going to go away...and it has everything to do with, rightly or wrongly, our Provost.

    Let's assume for second that all of the dissatisfaction, anger, and claims people have made about the the Provosts Office are unfounded and untrue. Let's assume that for a second. Do you really think this campus can go forward with difficult decisions with this leadership? Many faculty, maybe not all, deeply feel that they, their programs, and there students have been harmed by transformation, the backroom deals, the lack of transparency, and the poor leadership.

    How on earth can they be asked to follow the leadership into battle with that type of feeling on campus?

    I assumed that there was no problem...and that this was one of a group of disgruntled and bitter faculty who did not get their way. I don't believe that to be true. I think the problems are real. I think you know that Lynn too. I also know that our faculty leadership has done an admirable job of trying to work within the system to keep things on track. I think our faculty leadership should be praised for this and I praise you all.

    However, I think it is really time for a change. I don't think we can continue this way...especially as things continue toward what our President calls the cliff...and toward even more tough decisions that will require a sense of trust.

  38. On "Differential Cuts."
    Evan Lisull of the Desert Lamp asked us yesterday, "Is it true that faculty members were in favor of the idea of differential cuts when they were first proposed?"
    Many people have been saying that.
    President Shelton, during a town-hall hosted by the Staff Advisory Council is quoted by Evan as having said, "Everyone is in favor of differential cuts, until the numbers come out."
    So Evan's question is reasonable: Is it true that everyone was in favor of differential cuts?
    We wrote back saying that "None of us can speak for 'the faculty.' But the central administration has, on the contrary, consistently taken upon itself to speak for the faculty as a whole by generalizing selected opinion - the opinion they solicit and elicit which is favorable to what the have decided in advance they want to do." We added that in our view - in the view of some of us - "What the faculty understood by "differential cuts" as opposed to "across the board cuts" was this:
    1) WITHIN colleges, the deans (not the central admin.) would decide how to implement the cuts; and that this is still in effect; BUT,
    2) AMONG colleges, we were NOT told that "differential" would mean a 250% differential! (a 7% cut being 250% greater than a 2% cut) - where the already rich would be grazed and the already poor would be slashed; where science, medicine, business and law (already rich with outside funding) would get a token 2% cut and units in CLAS (where 95% of gen. ed. courses are taught) would be slashed.
    They did not tell us that's what they had in mind by "differential cuts."
    And so at the University of Arizona we are now told that if you want to teach English, History or Spanish, that's OK, you can do it! You just have to pay for it yourself - find outside funding, grant money, and you can teach all those things!"
    Now admittedly, this is not a view that we can claim is representative of "the faculty" at large. So, anyone else want to take a crack at responding to Evan's question?

  39. Part I of II
    Re: the graduate student flier passed out at last year's Parents' Weekend.
    The GPSC was not upset about the flier, but instead at the administrations' reaction. This is not gossip; I served on GPSC last year and was present at the meeting where we discussed this issue. Here is a copy of the first email communication the targeted student received from Paul Allvin, Associate VP. Again, I feel it prudent to let faculty know how administration could react towards any communication with parents, not to stop anyone from doing so, but instead to carefully consider it as part of an organized plan.
    Email dated Oct. 8:
    Dear ---,
    My office is responsible for communications efforts for The University of Arizona, and I'm trying to contact you about the flier that I understand you plan to circulate at Family Weekend relative to President Shelton's UA Transformation plan. As a former student activist here at the UA, I can appreciate your drive to translate your strong feelings on this subject into action.
    That said, the flier is absolutely riddled with mistakes and assertions that really indicate a fundamental lack of understanding about this process and the realities the UA faces. I'd like to help with that. What I'd prefer not to do is have to go down the tick list with reporters and parents of all the ways in which this flier is wrong, because that will backfire on you, and in all likelihood will limit your effectiveness in getting your perspective heard as the process moves forward.
    There is a very real process by which anyone at the university can become involved in this initiative, and I strongly encourage you to plug into that process through your department.
    Before you distribute your flier, let me point out some of the most fundamental problems with the facts in this flier:
    "... the university spent $250,000 on billboards in Phoenix in order to attract even more students."
    This is untrue. The billboard campaign was donated, and its value was placed at around $250,000. Some direct expenses were associated with the campaign, and they were covered entirely with private donations. To suggest, as you have, that we spent money on a billboard campaign that we could have spent on instructional support is completely inaccurate.
    This campaign came as a response to tremendous pressure the UA has received to do more -- to do something -- in Maricopa County. Donors, who support us with private contributions, political leaders, who help support state appropriations, alumni, parents and students have all commented that the UA is nearly invisibility in Maricopa County, to the detriment of our ability to attract basic operating dollars.
    The message was not just designed to "attract even more students," but rather to attract those students in search of a world class education. Many of them feel they must leave the state of Arizona for that caliber of education -- and few of them return upon graduation. This message is a strategic effort to stem brain drain from Arizona by telling students they don't have to go out of state to receive a world class education.
    And it did not cost the UA a penny.
    "The Arizona Board of Regents recently approved a 13% tuition increase, or about $726 per in-state undergraduate."
    They did not. In fact, they set a range of acceptable proposals for tuition increase, within which each university president is to submit a proposal for the board's consideration. Nothing has been decided upon or submitted from any university president.

  40. II of II
    Email continued:
    "One of the ways in which President Shelton and Provost Hay plan to save money is in course size and teaching workload."
    When did they say this? I have been in a lot of meetings about this process, and this has never been asserted. When you speak for the President and the Provost, you you really need to substantiate your assertions by pointing to facts. I'd like to know where they have stated this, so I can have a better understanding of what it is they are communicating. If I'm wrong, I'd truly like to know.
    "Many courses at the University of Arizona are already larger than courses at our state and national peer institutions."
    I am curious where you are getting your numbers from, and if you can cite examples. I have asked our data analysts to research this, and I will be happy to share my findings with you. You may be correct, but I'd like the data to bear that out.
    In addition, I have to ask what you would do were you a UA administrator. You are faced with more students and fewer dollars to educate them. Do you enlarge some classes to accommodate? Or do you increase the number of courses that instructors must teach in order to ease pressure on class section sizes? Two options we don't have are to turn away these students, or simply hire more instructors with money we don't have. Seriously, what would you suggest the UA do?
    "It has also been proposed that many of these classes be placed online."
    Which classes? Proposed by whom? You are insinuating that the UA is looking at moving its core curriculum (you mention this after calling out first-year writing, foreign languages, introductory science and math, and general education classes) online and that is a pretty outrageous claim when left unsubstantiated.
    The process that the Provost is overseeing is one in which units are all invited to submit plans, without regard to the nature of the proposals. Any individual is welcome to submit an idea. From this process will come brilliant ideas, ideas with potential, and absolutely crazy ideas. That's the nature of an open brainstorm. All ideas will be considered and vetted for their potential and for common sense alike. Just because one person or group might come up with an idea does not mean that the university will blindly implement it.
    "UA Libraries have been forced to reduce their acquisition of new materials and cut many journal subscriptions because the budget has not kept up with inflation."
    This sort of erosion of quality is exactly why the university is undergoing the transformation process. In fact, President Shelton frequently cites the UA Libraries as an example of the UA's intellectual treasures he is working to preserve and enhance.
    ---, the bottom line is this: Arizona is the second-fastest growing state in the nation, which means that we face tremendous pressure to open our doors to more students. As Arizona's senior public -- and only land grant -- university, we have an obligation to the state not to turn away qualified students seeking a degree. And, we are faced with unprecedented budget cuts, now and in the future. This model cannot be sustained if we are to preserve the quality for which we have become known.
    So, we can continue to cut around the margins and continue trying to do everything we've always done with less, or we can make strategic decisions on what do and what we do not to do, and reorganize accordingly. That is the course that wiser minds than you and I have set this university upon. Reasonable minds can disagree, but we are all in this together.
    You seem to be passionate about this topic, which I cannot help but admire. My hope for you is that you stay relevant to this process by engaging in the debate and offering up your perspective. One thing is for sure, you will not be taken seriously by anonymous bomb-throwing, especially when your basic facts are not in order. I would be more than happy to discuss this with you if you'd like. My contact info is below. --paul
    Paul G. Allvin
    Associate Vice President
    University Communications

  41. My view, as a faculty member, of differential cuts was that each College would be cut by different amounts. And that within a College each Dean would dish out those cuts differentially. The first has happened, who knows if Deans are able or willing to do the second. Instead of focusing on the first set of cuts (ie from the Provost and President because the STATE cut us) faculty here would be better served focusing on their own Colleges and asking for transparency from their own Deans. There is no excuse for saying you don't know what is happening in your own College, Deans were asked to make plans last December (2008). And if your Head doesn't know then ask them to find out.

  42. The deans themselves don't know what is happening, how can you expect them to give us any answers?

  43. A post above said:

    "Instead of focusing on the first set of cuts (ie from the Provost and President because the STATE cut us) faculty here would be better served focusing on their own Colleges and asking for transparency from their own Deans."

    And just why are we better served ignoring the first set of cut decisions (at the Provost level)? This is CRITICAL and it needed some real good justification. If this is the first set of real differential cuts, that are going to be painful and set the stage for where this university will be investing and divesting, isn't that important AND deserving of a real process, with input and with use of metrics.

    The very action of giving 7% to a college versus 2% is a MAJOR decision and it sets the stage for the rest of what that college does or can do. It is not a simple exercise of having the dean then decide what in their college is good (and spare) it versus what is not. That level of cuts affects all in the college including good departments and programs that are clearly in the strategic plan. For instance Mexican-American studies can easily claim that it fits directly into portions of our strategic plan. As can music and the arts with respect to outreach and the amount of money they bring in for development, etc etc. Was this discussed? How? When?

    Sorry I am ranting but, yes, the administration would like to put the heat on the Deans. We cannot let them do that after they already placed a massive and heavy hand on the job of the deans and after the differential cuts were politically, if not poorly, justified.

  44. "So, we can continue to cut around the margins and continue trying to do everything we've always done with less, or we can make strategic decisions on what do and what we do not to do, and reorganize accordingly. That is the course that wiser minds than you and I have set this university upon. Reasonable minds can disagree, but we are all in this together."

    What an extraordinary statement! "...wiser minds than you and I...". I find this tremendously condescending, especially since AVP Allvin reminds us "we are all in this together." But as events of the recent past have shown us, some of us are more "together" in this than others.

    It's obvious that AVP Allvin has missed the entire point of this blog and the reasons for its existence. "Reasonable minds" may indeed disagree about what is to be done about this budget crisis, but the key issue is that many "reasonable minds" have been ignored or wholly disenfranchised by the provost's willful neglect of meaningful consultation and discussion with affected parties. Until a real consultative process is implemented, fewer and fewer of us will be..."in this together."

  45. Evelyn's calculation is correct: 7 minus 2 = 5, and five is 250% more than 2. But the real question is why, why, WHY!! are the already rich units - medicine, law, business, and science - getting 2% cuts and the others, that don't have anywhere near the grant money are getting 7% cuts? Shouldn't it have been the other way around? The richer units should have gotten 7% cuts and made up the difference for themselves with their grant money. Why is that so hard to see? What is WRONG with these people??? (I mean Shelton and Hay.) Are they really going to get away with this??? Have they already gotten away with it?

  46. "Are they really going to get away with this??? Have they already gotten away with it?"

    Call me a pessimist, but I fear the answer is "yes" and "yes". I believe that the poll is going to give us few answers. The participation rate will be low. Wanda Howell has already set expectations at 500...I doubt we will see that as I had a conversation today with yet another young faculty member that had no idea about the poll, the blog, or that anything was going on here...although this faculty member was incensed at the direction of the university and its leadership.

    How much participation is enough. If there is strong dissatisfaction, it will be chalked to self selection bias of angry folks motivated to vote versus a Nixonian "silent majority". If the sciences, Eller, law, etc turnout, we very well might even get a vote of "confidence" as their colleges got 2% and a likely feeling pain, but not a message sent to them that they are not "core".

    Anyway, off to an early bed or a few recorded episodes of Kitchen Nightmares.

  47. Previous comment "Call me a pessimist." OK, you're a pessimist. Feel better? The syndrome is well-known: expect the worst and you won't be disappointed.
    Deep down, your hopes are higher, as are ours, otherwise none of us would be doing this.
    As for the poll, the no-confidence questions go - if I recall correctly - from 1-5. So the midpoint (50% approval - I'm sorry, 50% disapproval) is 3.0. Simple enough. Everything shy of 3.0 is in the "no confidence" range. So you needn't be pessimistic. Think "yes we can."

  48. Sharon, grant money is given for specific projects, applied for in very competitve grant applications and monitored carefully by the agency giving the money. Grant money CANNOT be used for teaching and other missions not directly covering the research. These research divisions are not rich, they simply have money to run the research component of their faculty.
    This research money has overhead connected to it, for every dollar NIH gives they give the University 51 cents on top but this goes directly to the University (a small percent comes back to the colleges, in fact all research depts lost almost 20% of their income last year when the return was reduced from 30% of the 51 cents to 25% of the 51 cents).
    ALL of you benefit from this money that goes to main campus admin, as it pays a huge amount of services like CCIT, libraries, lights. In addition the money into the labs pays for many many of the Universities employees, which means more state taxes are paid and more income to the State.
    How the state uses those taxes ($$$$) is however a different question.

  49. The flier was not from GPSC, it implied it was. Anon above you might not think so but leaders of GPSC did not approve of the flier.
    Paul Allvin's letter is as sound today as it was a year ago, kudos to him

  50. Deans don't know what is happening??? this is not true. They knew in December 2008 to expect a 7%-10% cut. Thanks to stimulus money 10% was not necessary (not thanks to the STATE)

  51. I do feel better, thanks Evelyn.

  52. Was I in favor of differential cuts? Absolutely. But the premise for those cuts was to prevent a slide into general mediocrity. My reading of the statements preceding the cuts was that excellent programs would be protected and that cuts would target programs that were marginal or already at/below "mediocre."

    Instead, the cuts have been implemented with absolutely zero consideration of program quality, and with an almost exclusive emphasis on revenue generation (with a few ridiculous additional justifications -- e.g., Eller needs to protect its rankings and the law school needs a new Dean... heck, half the colleges on campus need a new Dean, and we'd all like to protect our rankings...)

    So, give us differential cuts, but base them on reasonable academic justifications, not protecting pet colleges. The current cuts protect programs in science (including the less stellar ones, thus perpetuating mediocrity), and they will do serious damage to programs in the humanities, social sciences, etc., including some which are very highly ranked in terms of research, teach masses of students, etc. (thus enhancing our mediocrity). The implementation of the differential cuts bears no resemblance to the rationale offered up for them.

  53. The current cuts, by the provost and president's own admission, were based on units ability to generate money, not based on academic excellence.

    If your unit can generate money, they'll give you more money. Makes perfect sense... NOT.

    It is comparatively cheap to maintain excellence in the humanities and many social sciences.

    An English Professor, for example, doesn't need a multi-million dollar lab to be internationally respected. But an English professor will NEVER land a multi-million dollar NSF grant. Never. They might well win international prizes that have zero dollars attached and will bring graduate students and reputation to the university, but that is difficult to quantify in dollars.

    If revenue and grant generation are all that the provost cares about, most of the university is destined to close, or slip beyond mediocrity, plain and simple.

    If I were a young and ambitious humanities academic early in my career, this is not where I would want to be.

  54. I couldn't agree more with the author of the previous comment. Her/his assumptions regarding the stated aim of differential cuts to "prevent a slide into general mediocrity" were the same as mine. But instead we get... protection of pockets of mediocrity in programs of overall excellence? What a shame. What a sham.
    But who defines mediocrity? You may recall that that was my theme in "Death Panels" posted here.
    It's a tough question. John's idea of excellence might be Mary's idea of mediocrity - or vice versa, all of which leads to elaborate strategies for representing "excellence," which I discussed at some length and with outspoken and obnoxious detail in "Death Panels." Responses were mixed. Some said, "No, it's not like that any more. It used to be, but not any more." Others disagreed.
    We see this question - What is excellence? - as one of the main issues we will leave to our successors when the faculty forum proposal put forth by Lynn Nadel takes shape. Our job was to clarify some issues and bring questions to a wider audience - in as forceful a way as we decently could. That purpose has been served and we now await the results of Faculty Poll I.

  55. Anon. 7:41 really gets to the heart of the debate, in my mind. Indirect costs are a lousy metric for excellence at the University-wide level. Simply put, the dumbest geneticist on campus likely has more indirect costs than the entire Spanish Department (note: I mean genetics/spanish as proxies, I am not referring to specific departments at the UA.) Even within the arts, humanities and many social sciences, indirect costs are among the least valuable metrics for evaluating excellence (publications and teaching are usually better).

    The problem with the differential cuts is not that they are differential, but rather that the differential cuts are based on a metric unrelated to excellence.

    The only argument I have seen in this thread that can justify the current differential cuts is that the indirect costs from the sciences subsidize the humanities, arts, and social sciences. From what I understand, this is not the case. Rather, indirect costs generated by the sciences stay in the college from which they are generated--either by specific rule, or by the method of reallocating indirect costs from the general fund. This is a question of fact, not opinion. I ask those who may know the budget business better than I what the truth of the matter is (Lynn Nadal?). Do indirect costs from the sciences actually get redirected elsewhere to the arts, humanities, or social sciences?

  56. I agree with the post of Evelyn above. The commenter above her hit is square on the head of the nail. You will find a LOT of support for differential cuts, but the issue is the same as the overarching theme of issues on this blog. The differentials were announced and passed along without any real process and without looking at the programs in the colleges that got the high differentials.

    To the commenter that noted the importance of indirect costs and how they help fund the univeristy...true. Although, we need to really raise questions on where those funds really go. Is it to support other units around the university or does a large amount of that money go right back into the sciences and engineering that produce them? I guess we could say that if they bring it in, they should get lions share of it, but does the same philosophy hold true with tuition and those that bring that in? The answer is no. They are WORKING on a plan for tuition to come back to colleges that produce it...not units. This plan is years and year off.

    So, there is a lot of different types of bread that is produced by this university. Those that produce a LOT of it, and with the least amount of cost in state dollars, were cut enormously.

  57. The only thing I would said is that Allvin's self-representation as a former "activist" is rather misleading since when he was a student here he was part of the ASUA governance structure, a space where graduate student issues were not always well received... of course it dependes how you define "activist", but in a very strict sense, I would not consider him to have been so... on the other hand, we could interpret that he continues to be sided (as a highly paid administrator) with the power structures and not with any type of "activism"... given the defensive position he takes on the response to the flyer, this seems obvious...

  58. This is a co-Evelyn. In response to the pessimist comment. I would like to urge everyone who reads this blog to tell 5-10 people a day about the poll. Just check in with people; "have you voted?". Do you know how to find the poll? Make an effort to talk to people outside your department and college, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. Do what you do best. Spend the next couple of days educating people! The grass roots "get out the vote" campaign will go a long way in getting 500 faculty to take the poll. "Yes, we can!"

  59. My apologies for being less engaged over the past few days -- I'm out of town and busy with other things until Saturday.

    Today's posts raise many issues, but the common themes seem to be (1) whether enough faculty will respond to the survey to make it meaningful; and (2) the processes involved in the differential cuts.

    On turnout: as an optimist I am hoping we get a really strong turnout, and predict we will.

    On process: well, this is the heart of the matter, isn't it? One thing the poll will tell us is whether all the dissatisfaction is coming from those who lost the most. I do not believe that is true, but the data will speak soon enough. There has been some discussion of whether differential cuts should have been understood to apply only within colleges rather than between, but this is clearly wrong. Such a system has always been in place -- Deans always had the ability to apply cuts differentially - some did and some did not. To make across-the-board cuts at the College level is to assert that all Colleges have an equal proportion of good and not-so-good programs, and that no redistribution of resources at that level is warranted. This just seems wrong. However, the question remains of what processes were used in setting the differentials -- what has been stated is that "revenue generation capacity" other than tuition, was a prime criterion. We have had quite a lot of discussion of that point already, and I'm not satisfied that the values we need to protect actually are being protected by such a criterion. Yet, we must do something about revenue to save what is excellent and mission-central at this university. I suggested a series of Forums to seek better answers to these kinds of questions.

    Let use see what the poll tells us and then lets move forward together. As some of the posts made clear, many important decisions remain to be made that will affect budgets in the years to come. We have to make sure these decisions are made in the right way, using the right criteria, and transparent processes. We have to make sure all this is communicated effectively to the campus as a whole. This should not be impossible - there are other institutions that have managed this recently, and indeed even here at the UA we managed some severe cuts and transformations in an effective fashion in the past. I remain optimistic that we will find a way to do this again in the future.

    Lynn Nadel

  60. Great...I know that this wasn't what you were implying, but if the poll tells us that the most dissatisfaction is in colleges that were cut them most, then we will be chalked up as a bunch of whiners.

    I am glad that you are taking transparency and the process for cuts seriously.

    Todays, guest opinon by our leadership in the Star suggests that the President and Provost consulted a list of like 20 groups of people on their cuts. Talking with and listening is one thing, but that is not the same as the type of inclusive process built on data that you suggest below.

    Can you tell us what SPBAC advised? Did the President and Provost listen...from your standpoint?

  61. Another mechanical problem with voting has been discovered according to an email now circulating that says:

    "It is crucial that faculty members who believe they have voted return to employee link to see whether an "I Voted" icon appears. If it doesn't, their ballots have not been submitted properly to the system, and they need to vote again."

    I did check and found that my vote had not been recorded. I tried again and failed again. . . AND then I tried a different web browser and all was well. SO, PLEASE CHECK THAT YOUR VOTE WENT THROUGH AND IF NOT, PLEASE TRY AGAIN USING ONE OF THE RECOMMENDED WEB BROWSERS.

  62. Given the assurances that the poll would be anonymous, I'm not sure how it would tell us where the discontent is located.

    On another topic, I would urge some investigation of the claim that funded research is revenue-positive for the university. Last time I checked, overall ICR was less than 25%, which is no where close to the actual indirect costs of the research. (And the Provost and President both readily affirmed, when asked, that sci-tech research costs more than it brings in.) While certainly for individual faculty, for their dept and for their colleges, ICR is a positive revenue flow, at the level of the university as whole and taking into account things like debt service, faculty salaries and operations and maintenance on buildings, it is another story. So the reasons for investing in these areas while cutting other areas must be something other than the immediate bottom line of the university budget. There might be good reasons (or not), but I think the discussion of our values, mission and priorities often gets cut off too fast by incorrect financial assumptions.

  63. Two quick comments:

    (1) while there have been some technical problems with the poll, most faculty have been able to respond without trouble. We are working hard to deal with each problem as it arises, and probably could have done a better job of anticipating some of these, but it serves little purpose to make so much of the relatively minor problems that it could undermine the credibility of the entire exercise. The fact that a small number of glitches are turning up in multiple colleges is actually a good thing -- it means there is no systematic problem. Just keep on reporting individual problems to Pam at the Faculty Center and she'll do everything she can to help.

    (2) Because we used the existing faculty center voting system the results will be captured with the college label on them. I did not know this until after everything was set in motion. The good news here is that this will allow us to determine whether the results are strongly related to the level of differential cut received. The point has been made that the data will be open to multiple interpretations, as with most polls. We all will need to stand back a bit, take some deep breaths and not jump to hasty conclusions once the results are sent out.

    (3) As for the role SPBAC has played over the past 18 months. Under Miranda Joseph's leadership SPBAC was thoroughly engaged in many aspects of the Transformation process, and a special committee including SPBAC members amongst others gave quite specific feedback on every proposal. As for the differential cuts, SPBAC provided some guidelines that should influence the choices -- they included protecting revenue generating activities (but did not go on to exclude tuition revenue if memory serves -- I'm out of town and cannot consult that memo). We had absolutely no input to the differential cut decisions, as I said publicly at the first Faculty Forum.
    We have tried to emphasize the critical importance of clear criteria and justifications, both with the Central Administration and with Deans. We are currently in the midst of a series of presentations by Deans explaining the impact of cuts, and their processes for determining differential cuts within their colleges. How successful these efforts at achieving transparency are and will be remains to be seen.

    Lynn Nadel