UC officials announced in August that professors would not take instructional days off as part of the system-wide furlough program.
Instead, faculty will take unpaid days off on days they are not scheduled to give lectures, lead classes or workshops, have office hours or have other scheduled interaction with students.
UC administrators acknowledged the impact furlough days would have on faculty members, but noted that students would be affected as well.
“Students too will suffer the effects of the underfunding – larger and fewer classes, and increased fees, as were imposed for this fall instruction period, among other burdens,” wrote Lawrence H. Pitts, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, in a letter announcing the decision.
Administrators had been evaluating whether to schedule some of the furlough days on instructional days since the furlough plan was announced in July. Nearly 82 percent of the 426 faculty members responding to an Academic Senate survey said they favored scheduling six to nine furlough days on instruction days.
Mathematics Department Chair Bruno Nachtergaele said he thinks the decision was designed to minimize the furlough program’s impact on the university’s public image.
Since instructional days are now off-limits, 100 percent of the furlough program’s burden will fall on professors‘ non-teaching activities. That suggests to many faculty members that their research is not considered important, and that could have broader repercussions, Nachtergaele said.
“That professor teaching a class [students] really wanted to have is gone, teaching somewhere else,” he said. “The danger of that is real … Faculty will leave, labs will be reduced, there will be less variety, and so on.”
UC Office of the President spokesperson Pete King said it was not a decision administrators were happy to make.
“At the end of the day the decision had to be made, and it was made with the full understanding that there’s no perfect justice,” King said.
The idea that what happens outside of the classroom is less important than teaching is wrong, he said.
“We’re working to get through almost a billion dollar hole in about a year, and it’s not easy,” King said. “We’re trying very hard to be as fair to every constituent, and there are a lot of them in a 100,000 employee system.“
King noted that the overwhelming majority of feedback from faculty earlier this year was in favor of furloughs over simple pay cuts.
UC Davis officials announced last week that most of the furlough days would be scheduled during academic breaks for students. Most of the campus will shut down from Dec. 18, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010, as well as March 24 to 28, 2010 and June 14 and 15, 2010. This totals 11 unpaid furlough days. Employees who are required to take more than 11 furlough days will work out the scheduling of the additional days with their supervisors.
The furlough program is expected to save about $9.1 million at UC Davis. Pay cuts take effect with the pay period beginning September 1. They are scheduled to end on Aug. 31, 2010.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.