by Fernando Quintero
In the wake of one of the stormiest economic periods in California's history, incoming Academic Senate Chair John Quigley is hoping to help steer the campus back on course.
As senate leader, Quigley, a professor of economics and public policy, said his top priority will be to take advantage of the campus's brighter financial picture and "further strengthen confidence in the university."
"The last five years have seen massive cutbacks in faculty and support staff. Department chairs have had to cope with smaller budgets. Given the easing of the financial crisis, plus the success of campus fund-raising efforts, we may have some good opportunities ahead," he said. "Now, perhaps, we have some breathing room. A chance to establish a sense of equilibrium."
To restore confidence, Quigley said the campus must continue its success in recruiting new faculty and students. "Despite the setbacks, we've done a good job of recruiting faculty," he said. "So far, we've managed to survive, indeed to prosper."
Quigley attributes much of the campus's success during hard times to Chancellor Tien's leadership. "His guidance has been instrumental."
Still, the challenges ahead for Quigley are formidable. Maintaining the quality of faculty and students will require creative solutions. And finding the resources to get more faculty to teach more classes will call for an economics expert ‚ something Quigley is perfectly suited for.
"Being trained in economics provides useful skills in understanding incentives, trying to structure organizations so rewards are commensurate with achievement," he said.
"I originally studied economics because I was interested in government. It is a useful way of learning how institutions and organizations function."
Quigley, 54, currently teaches courses in public policy, public finance and urban economics. He has served on numerous national and international committees for governments and private industry. And he has written, co-authored and edited several books and articles on topics ranging from public finance to homelessness to racial discrimination in housing markets.
Seemingly light-hearted and quick to laugh, a sense of humor will come in handy for Quigley as he takes on the sometimes tedious task of heading up the Academic Senate.
But as former economics department chair and Academic Senate vice chair, Quigley said it is his leadership experience that will best be utilized. "When you're department chair and resources are tight, you find a way to provide more instruction for undergraduates, particularly lower-division undergraduates. It's expensive given the faculty resources and teaching assistants needed."
"For example," he said, "It's surprisingly expensive to run Econ 1. We must maintain high standards for these classes because these are gatekeeper courses."
Based on his performance as senate vice chair, outgoing senate chair Oliver Williamson said Quigley would prove an effective leader.
"I like to describe the chair of the Academic Senate as the best one-year job in the university. Correct or not, it is a 'good job' to which John Quigley brings superlative qualifications," Williamson said.
"Together with William Oldham, who will be serving as vice chair, the leadership of the Academic Senate is in excellent hands. I wish them well in what, I am sure, will be a busy year," he said.
As senate chair, Quigley said he would seek taking greater advantage of technological innovations, and providing departments with more budgetary flexibility.
He said the campus must also find new ways to support graduate students and be competitive with other universities in financial support.
Another challenge for the incoming senate chair will be addressing concerns among faculty and staff over alleged violation of shared governance principles and failure to protect the university from partisan politics in view of the Board of Regents' July 1995 decision to end affirmative action policies.
"We're on record as saying this was inappropriate interference in how we govern ourselves. It is a very serious matter. We have a strong tradition of governance that was damaged last summer. These institutional arrangements are quite delicate," he said. "Berkeley will be looked at to take the lead in shared governance."