by Fernando Quintero
Just hours before the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate celebrated its 75th anniversary, it voted to reaffirm its long-valued tradition of shared governance by asking the Board of Regents to rescind its July 20 decision on affirmative action policies.
Faculty members in a near-capacity turnout said the resolution was in response to the fact the regents took their action despite opposition from the UC President, Council of Chancellors, Academic Council and Associated Students.
"On July 20, 1995, a narrow majority of the regents defaulted upon their solemn responsibility to protect the university from the realm of partisan party politics....This is a profound threat to the integrity of the university," sociology professor Kristin Luker read from a proposed preamble to the motion.
Law Professor Harry Scheiber, however, argued in favor of a resolution asking the regents for a one-year delay in instituting the policy eliminating race, ethnicity and gender from consideration in admissions, hiring and contracting.
"If I were to choose between having the regents in a confrontational position or having two years to work with them to come up with something acceptable to us, I would choose the latter--as attractive as it is to take a position on principal," he said.
Faculty members at the Oct. 17 meeting in Sibley Auditorium also voted almost unanimously in support of a resolution that expresses concern over the Human Resource Management Initiatives.
The recent Office of the President proposal would create major changes in staff compensation, moving to a more incentive-based corporate model.
"Not only are the purported benefits unclear, but the plan appears to be progressing in the face of grave expressions of concern," the resolution states.
The meeting, which garnered enthusiastic applause and cooperation from faculty despite much confusion over parliamentary procedure, opened with comments by new Senate Chair Oliver Williamson.
Chancellor Tien set the tone for the meeting with remarks about the senate's history.
"The Academic Senate changed our campus forever, and transformed higher education," he said.
"For the first time, faculty shared authority. Until then, it was the sole responsibility of the university president and the Board of Regents.
"The revolutionary practice of shared governance has been largely responsible for the strength and vitality of Berkeley."
Tien said major challenges ahead include finding new resources to enhance teaching, research and public service.
From the state, he said the campus can at best expect modest funding increases to keep up with inflation.
Tien said money is currently being appropriated to take care of immediate faculty needs, such as computers.
He is working with Williamson and other Senate members to assess spending priorities.
He also spoke about the Berkeley Pledge, and its goal to address concerns over the effects new affirmative action policies could have on the composition of the student body. And he said he will continue to work to streamline administrative costs.
The Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol T. Christ gave a report on faculty recruitment and retention. Out of 85 offers made over the past year, 54 percent were accepted and nearly 30 percent are still pending. This year, 73 searches have been authorized.
She also gave a report on a joint senate and administrative long-range fiscal planning group formed to identify areas of potential revenue increases including Summer Sessions, University Extension and auxiliary units.
Plans are being developed to market university logos and to provide fiscal incentives for units to give up space and lower rental costs, she said.