September 18, 2004
This summer has ended and we are all getting ready for the start of the academic year. The Senate has a number of new committee chairs, and we welcome them and also members who have served so well during the past year. It almost seems a cliché in these uncertain times to say that the year ahead is full of both promise and potential problems. I would like to take this opportunity to review with all faculty members the issues with which we grappled in 2003-04 and what we anticipate for the future.
The past year was dominated by two major issues: the intense planning for a major clinical presence at Mission Bay and creating a strategy to respond to the major budget cuts imposed on the University by the governor and Legislature. I am pleased to say that the Senate, through its Officers, members of Academic Planning and Budget Committee and the various School Faculty Councils, played a significant part in helping to identify faculty concerns and wishes regarding a new clinical campus at Mission Bay. We were welcomed by Dean Kessler and Mark Laret co-chairs of the Clinical Research Committee to be actively involved in every phase of planning; from the selection of a consultant group, to the formulation of the final plan. Our voice was heard and acknowledged graciously as a major factor in pushing the process forward to a conclusion (on time). Clearly there will be many more steps to be traversed before the project is completed, and it is certain that we will continue to play a constructive role. Just as we coordinated focus groups for faculty input into this process, we will continue to solicit ideas and comments from all UCSF faculty as the planning moves forward and takes shape. The more UCSF faculty who are actively involved in having their voices heard, the more persuasive influence we will have on final decisions.
The need for active faculty participation is equally valid as we approach the forthcoming Campus Budget discussions. Last year, because of the relatively late arrival of a set of final budget projections, the Chancellor’s Executive Budget Committee agreed that our campus would take pro-forma budget reductions across all campus budget control points. This year will require a much more detailed item-by-item budget review, looking at specific programs, departments, and divisions. This will require active analysis and recommendations from the Senate’s Planning and Budget Committee, with essential input from the four school’s Faculty Councils. If our voice is to be heard in our system of shared governance, our recommendations will have to be specific, well reasoned and presented early in the planning process.
This past year also saw a number of other significant Academic Senate initiatives. We moved forward on the Faculty Search Ambassador Program and helped select an outstanding Faculty Ambassador, Harvey Brody, an Emeritus faculty member from the School of Dentistry, who will be organizing and structuring a program to facilitate diversity for new faculty searches and hires. We also made great strides in formulating the Faculty Mentorship Program, which is under consideration by the Chancellor for funding, under the capable leadership of Mary Croughan, who co-chaired the Senate’s Task Force on Mentoring with former Vice Chancellor Dorothy Bainton. Gary Armitage chaired the Senate’s Task Force on Faculty Recruitment, Retention and Promotion and submitted an outstanding report (which can be found on the Academic Senate’s website) that has identified important issues regarding placing faculty in the proper Academic series. This report is being actively reviewed by the Deans, Department Chairs, School Faculty Councils and the Office of the Chancellor. We hope to reach consensus on how best to address the issues outlined in the report and identify which recommendations can, and should be implemented on our campus.
Another major initiative of the Senate last year was conclusion of the work of the Senate’s Task Force on Conflict of Interest. A Town Hall meeting and faculty vote were conducted related to proposed changes to the Campus’ Conflict of Interest Policies. We expect to make specific recommendations to the Chancellor based upon the faculty’s decisions on this matter.
This past year also saw the long-awaited completion of the new, updated edition of the Faculty Handbook for Success: Advancement and Promotion at UCSF – a true labor of dedication by all those who worked on it. We are going to “field test” it on some new faculty, make any necessary adjustments based on their recommendations and distribute it soon.
Now, what are the challenges for 2004-05? It is vital that the Senate attract motivated faculty to join Senate committees and experienced faculty to assume leadership roles, so that we can ensure continuity in our role in shared governance on our campus. To facilitate this process, the Senate’s Committee on Committees and Academic Planning and Budget Committee has recommended to me and the Executive Committee of the Senate that we approach the Chancellor for funds to compensate Departments for the time faculty in leadership roles in the Senate are devoted to our business. I transmitted this proposal to Chancellor Bishop and Executive Vice Chancellor Washington, and after a lively discussion on the merits of this proposal, I am hopeful that it will be accepted for future implementation. This will be an historic first for the UCSF Division of the Academic Senate, and if approved, will be a validation of the Administration’s endorsement of the critical role that faculty play in shared governance on this campus.
Another exciting initiative has come out of the Committee on Academic Freedom. Because of the vital interplay between Biomedical Science and the federal government in advancing research, clinical activity and education, it was proposed that UCSF take the lead in developing a Symposium on “Science, Government, and Academic Freedom in a Polarized Political Environment”. We hope to attract both local and national figures to such a Symposium, representing a variety of points of view concerning the potentials for collaboration and conflict between these vital players in our Nation’s health. A tentative selection of topics has been developed, as well as an exciting list of potential speakers. I have spoken to George Blumenthal, this year’s Chair of the Systemwide Academic Council and he feels this proposal is both timely and important. I am hoping that we can get Systemwide participation and support for such a Symposium.
Another crucial initiative has been suggested by the Committee on Education Policy. They have proposed a new internet-based course for incoming Research Graduate Students on the Responsible Conduct of Research. This idea sprung from the perception by the Committee for such an offering to new research students and eventually to incoming faculty. The Committee has given considerable thought to the design and implementation of this training. We hope to secure the funding to make this idea a reality.
An area that will require careful Senate attention this coming year will be the work of the Senate’s Library Committee. Several years of budget reductions, and the rising costs of journal subscriptions, are placing unusual burdens on the Library to maintain its usual excellence and comprehensiveness. There will be important decisions to be made regarding journal (print and electronic) cancellations that will affect our faculty and students.
Last, but certainly not least, is the work of the Senate’s Clinical Affairs Committee. Under the capable leadership of Mary Malloy, this Committee has continued to work with the Medical Center administration to address clinical practice issues and find workable solutions to many problems confronting faculty in clinical practice. The Committee developed and released an extensive survey aimed at soliciting input from clinicians on our campus regarding their clinical practices. The Committee will work this year to further evaluate and make recommendations gathered from the respondents to the survey.
These are only a few of the new plans and initiatives being discussed for the coming year. Naturally, our success depends on the continued enthusiasm and imagination of our faculty members and their committees. However, I must mention and also give my admiration and thanks to Tamara Maimon, Director of the Academic Senate Office and her wonderful staff – Elizabeth Langdon-Gray, Erica Neely, Shilpa Patel and Janet Whittick, for their dedication, intelligence and graciousness in managing the work of the Senate and carrying out the many administrative tasks related to the Academic Senate. We all know that they make our work more manageable, and at times enjoyable! Without them we could not move decisively forward.
So, good luck to us all during the next year and I am certain that we will be proud of our forthcoming achievements.
Leonard S. Zegans, MD
Profess and Chair, UCSF Academic Senate