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UC-AFT Advocates to Regents on Presidential Selection Process


This speech was delivered on January 14, 2020 by Daniel Schoorl, UC-AFT V.P. for Organizing, at the Regents' Special Committee Meeting on Presidential Selection at UCLA.

UC Regents’ Special Committee Meeting
January 14, 2020

Good afternoon, Regents, and members of the Special Committee. My name is Daniel Schoorl, I’m a librarian here at UCLA, and I’m Vice-President for Organizing of the University Council-American Federation of Teachers.

We urge this committee to take seriously the qualifications of experience with organized labor and a history of positive labor-management relations from the (revised 2013) UC President’s call. As you’ve heard here today (from other unions) of particularly important note is selecting a President who has a genuine commitment to successful collective bargaining. When a public institution like the University of California treats labor badly, offering low-paying jobs with poor benefits and little job security, it is externalizing its costs to other governmental agencies that must deal with the consequences.

UC-AFT teaching faculty members have been bargaining with the University now for nine months, with a contract that is set to expire at the end of this month. We’re fighting for fair and career-oriented hiring practices along with improved access to continuing appointments and other long-term career pathways. Students at the greatest public university in the country deserve faculty with stable jobs.

Last academic year lecturer turnover at UCLA was nearly 45%, which equals approximately 700 faculty members, depriving students of the mentorship and continuity from these exceptional scholar teachers. It’s time that the UC refocuses on the core of its educational mission, teaching, and invests in the teaching faculty members who year after year provide such high quality instruction, many without the assurances of stable employment.

As UC-AFT President, Mia McIver recently stated “The work of teaching at the UC is not self-terminating. The structure of our appointments needs to reflect that our students are not going away. And we want our students to have a stable faculty. If a department chair wants to hire a faculty member for whatever reason, presumably because they are a great teacher, why does the department not have the budget to hire the teacher? This is the underlying structural question. This is the biggest horizon of our proposals… invest in teaching.”

We urge this Committee to consider a person with a background rooted in the public sector, who understands how critical it is to put teaching back at the core of the University’s mission. We believe that the greatest qualification this individual can have is a genuine commitment to the public mission of the University. And we need a President who recognizes that classroom education is of central importance.

The incoming President will have the opportunity to set the tone from the top and restore the public trust. The UC needs more than a managerial-executive and a fundraiser-in-chief.

The incoming President will not be able to rely as heavily on the strength and marketing of the UC’s brand if future tuition hikes are extreme and institutional inertia continues as the norm. If the University truly wishes to distinguish itself even further as the greatest public university in the country then it is time to hire a President that brings a bold vision.

The value of a bold leader at the helm of UCOP would be to identify common ground and follow through with meaningful partnerships for all of the University’s stakeholders - students, parents, staff, faculty, and alumni, to name just a few. As UCSB Professor Christopher Newfield recently wrote the "alternative revenue streams” model has dug the University into a budgetary hole that it will not be able to climb out of until the University administration can openly acknowledge and address the direness of its capital funding needs.

Looking forward we imagine a University that will benefit from a leader who has a comprehensive understanding of the university's daily life, its fiscal reality and needs, and the unrealized potentials of its public benefit. We urge this Committee to set a positive example for public higher education in the selection of its next president.