Monday, January 10, 2011

Edley Responds to Pension Concerns

From: Christopher Edley, Orrick Professor of Law, and Dean

The UC Pension Controversy and Me


I cosigned a letter to the UC President Mark Yudof and the Regents concerning pension benefits which has generated a great deal of concern, anger and confusion. My reasoning will leave many people unsatisfied, but I nevertheless owe you a careful explanation. First, some background. (You may want to skip these details.)

Background

Benefits in UC’s retirement plan depend on (1) length of service and (2) the three highest-salary years (typically the years just before retirement). To get 100% of your salary in retirement, you must serve 40 years and be over age 65. An IRS regulation, however, provides that the amount included in that highest-salary calculation is capped, currently at $240,000. The IRS has discretion to lift that cap, and typically does so for non-profit organizations, where deferred compensation tax gimmicks or abuses are rare. In 1999, UC officials said promised to seek that waiver, which the IRS finally granted in 2007. UC has never implemented it.

The overall UC pension problems were created largely by the Regents’ decision 18 years ago to eliminate employee contributions to the plan, which had generous balances at the time, coupled with their failure to reinstitute those contributions when the ink turned red early in the new century. So, in the fall of 2009, President Yudof ordered senior UC officials to conduct a detailed review and propose reforms. The Regents discussed the resulting proposal in November 2010, and planned to act at their December 2010 meeting. Among other reforms, employees will start again contributing to their pensions this spring, with higher paid folks of course contributing more. (Currently, California contributes nothing, but does contribute to pensions in the California State University and Community College systems.) Tucked away in Appendix E was a proposal to “undo” the 1999 commitment to lift the $240,000 cap. Whether that commitment had contractual force is what I would call a “nice” legal question. It’s disputed.

Meanwhile, a year ago and shortly after the pension reform study began, a group of administrators wrote a letter to the UC Office of the President pointing out that the commitment to lift the cap had not been implemented. The letter, which I cosigned, stated that doing so is an important part of offering the competitive compensation packages that help us hire and retain the faculty and executives required by the “excellence” component of UC’s mission. There were further discussions, not including me, but to no avail. Therefore, as final Regental action drew near and because UCOP officials requested a formal document, an expanded group sent the most recent letter, which I signed at the request of UCLA colleagues. The most numerous and energetic people have been from UC’s five medical centers. The letter was volunteered to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter by a leader of the UC faculty senate, not by one of the signers, nor by a UCOP official. Of course, as a public document, UCOP would have provided the letter if anyone requested it.

The letter effectively caused the Regents to defer action on the “salary cap” issue until their March 2011 meeting. A few days later, a media brouhaha ensued. President Yudof and Regents Chair Russ Gould issued a statement that implementing the 1999 commitment to lift the cap is not required as a matter of contract law, and should not be honored in light of our budget circumstances.

My Reasoning

On the policy merits, my view in December 2010 was the same as my view in January 2010, when I cosigned the first letter to the pension study group. I have spent almost seven years battling successfully to hire and retain the best possible faculty and the strongest possible administrative team. It is the most difficult, satisfying, painful and important part of my job. My experience has made me absolutely certain that paying competitive total compensation is necessary (though not alone sufficient) if we want to sustain excellence. If Boalt and Berkeley had not been interested in that excellence, I—like most faculty and students—would not have come.

Within a few short years, approximately 50 Berkeley faculty will be affected by the cap, concentrated in Business, Economics and Law. The same pattern exists at UCLA, plus their world renowned Medical Center. Across UC’s ten campuses, I am told there are about 450 affected individuals, overwhelmingly faculty or faculty who, like me, are serving temporarily as administrators. More will be affected as salaries rise competitively.
  • Some deans report the signal that UC may not keep its promises is already having a chilling impact on recruitment and retention of faculty and top administrators. The issue comes up in every single recruitment conversation I have with a faculty candidate, and the expected round of new state budget cuts can only make things worse.
  • Why did I sign the December 2010 letter? Simply put, I believe in the institutional principle at stake and, therefore, I felt that the honorable thing to do was join others in stating my position and taking the criticism. I’d probably do the same thing again, but lose more sleep first.
  • The politics are awful, and yes, the timing is terrible. But the timing was driven by the Regents’ schedule, not us. The timing of the voluntary disclosure, without any context, was driven by a leader of the faculty senate, not us. As for politics, the real story here is that the UC leadership has rejected the pension claim, demonstrating commendable frugality. If I were in President Mark Yudof’s shoes, I would do the same thing he has done, at least until the budget environment improves. Ultimately, however, making this investment in competitive compensation is a fight about three or so ten-thousandths of the UC budget—even less after employee contributions.
  • The fight is also about something else. Many UC practices necessary to its mission are unpopular with newspaper editorial boards and with much of the general public. There are circumstances—one must debate which—when UC leaders have a responsibility to defend those policies and publically explain themselves, even when disapproval is inevitable. You expect and receive criticism and even protests because these choices are inescapably difficult.
  • But it is what it is. I suppose some members of the public object to competitive salaries because they (correctly) believe that professors are privileged, or (incorrectly) believe that working at a “public” institution should have a component of voluntarism. They may think that the luminous public mission and the personal satisfactions we faculty and staff derive from it will help pay the rent or mortgage, the childcare or tuition, our healthcare or retirement security. Some may even believe that the cost of educating students should be subsidized not only by taxpayers and alumni, but also by employees, or at least some employees.
  • I think that a certain amount of controversy is necessary because excellence always means exceptional. Most of the public would probably oppose tenure, sabbatical leaves, support for basic research, admitting out-of-state or foreign students, and below-market tuition for students heading for elite careers in business or law. And, as I’ve discovered and Berkeley has experienced, much of the public doesn’t care about academic freedom. UC leaders must be prepared to defend these policies despite their unpopularity, and have almost always done so.
As a result of the financial crisis, everyone at Berkeley and across the UC system has made sacrifices, with more to come. Students have seen sharp tuition increases. (Sharp tuition hikes specific to Boalt predate the immediate crisis, and are primarily to offset years of steadily declining state support and historically limited alumni donations.) Employees have suffered layoffs, salary freezes, increased workloads, furloughs, pay cuts, deteriorating working conditions, and more. Most of us are about to take a reduction in our monthly paychecks to help fix the pension problem we didn’t create.

The faculty and administrators who signed the pension letter are personally prepared to continue making sacrifices; there are many possibilities for compromise, now or later. But retirement security is especially sensitive, especially those of us in advanced middle age. So, Yes, many of the letter’s signatories also have a personal financial stake, and stating that in our letter was tactically important in case there is litigation. Apart from the disputed legalities, however, the issue is an important one of policy and principle for the University.
*
Meanwhile, our law school continues to make forward progress on several fronts, including faculty hiring, support for students pursuing public interest careers, and the nearly-completed construction and renovation projects. The newly renovated first floor corridor and classrooms opened for business this morning, and the smiles I see are gratifying beyond words. Many people, led by Associate Dean Kathleen Vanden Heuvel, have labored to make this happen, literally for years. Neither the state nor the Berkeley campus provided funds for these improvements. It was students, alumni and friends.

Finally, returning to the pension controversy, I’m not surprised by the comments from the general public, nor from several faculty across campus—some of whom who think nothing of spending $2 million to renovate laboratory space for a new assistant professor but resent the Law School trying to compete with NYU or Chicago or Virginia in compensation. I expect all of that.

I can’t help but be dismayed, however, by the remarkably ugly tone of some blog postings and emails authored within the Boalt community. Of course there will be grumbling and even opposition to some of the things I’m trying to do to move Berkeley Law forward. Clearly, however, I have not done all I can and must to explain and persuade. If you’ve read this far, then I thank you for letting me try.

Labels:

52 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No commentary from you, McTwo? Color me shocked.

1/10/2011 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note to DE and his staff: make sure a letter like this is well proofed. People are paying close attention.

(I do like how the reader can trace the deliberate transition in the second paragraph from "said" to "promised"!)

1/10/2011 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meh, not really convinced. His argument comes down to "the timing wasn't my fault," "I am a full-throated advocate for the UCLA med center" and "we try to recruit so many faculty/admin whose pensions are above $240k/yr." My responses to those three points are 1) duh, no one criticized you for the financial crisis, only your self-interested response, 2) that's the best you can come up with...Shenanigans, and 3) there are 2, maybe 3 Berk Law folks with this size pension, one of whom is you Dean Edley. I don't blame you for what you did, but don't cloak your self interests in a shroud of generosity for current faculty and future recruits. And finally, yes, please proofread something of this import. And really finally, boo hoo, you are such a struggling middle aged man. Wah.

1/10/2011 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm dropping my beef with E*ley now that the hallway is done, seriously job fucking well done. I'm impressed by the way they've renovated what was formerly a piece of crap building.

1/10/2011 5:41 PM  
Anonymous 2L said...

Yeah, Dean Edley's REAL response came to the Chronicle the day after the story first broke.

"I accept the criticism of me personally for insisting that UC stick to a promise that is financially important to my family," Edley told The Chronicle, offering the first public remarks by any of the executives since the paper broke the story earlier this week... And he summed up the dust-up in amused fashion, referring to himself and the executives as "craven scum."

It only took him about two weeks to figure out that wasn't going to fly...

1/10/2011 5:42 PM  
Blogger James said...

I'm not sure the first post on this is what I would consider "remarkably ugly" in tone.

1/10/2011 5:51 PM  
Blogger William said...

Edley could send a very strong message about the sincerity of his convictions by requesting this money for the other staff but declining to accept it himself. I would be really impressed if he were to do that. Mega leadership attack ftw.

1/10/2011 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They may think that the luminous public mission and the personal satisfactions we faculty and staff derive from it will help pay the rent or mortgage, the childcare or tuition, our healthcare or retirement security."

Really? Does he think we are that dumb that we believe personal satisfaction can be used to pay mortgages? Huh?

1/10/2011 5:53 PM  
Blogger James said...

I guess I have a hard time understanding the link between a lack of "financial security" and getting close to, but less than $240,000 a year in retirement.

1/10/2011 6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Show me ONE signatory of your letter, ONE person who would benefit from the pension increase, who has trouble paying the rent.

1/10/2011 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dean Edley,

After I leave your school, I'll have trouble paying the rent. I hope you'll back me when I ask the state for more hundreds of thousands of dollars.

1/10/2011 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long-winded by extremely weak case, Dean Edley.

So why did you REALLY sign this letter?
Is it "Simply put, I believe in the institutional principle at stake and, therefore, I felt that the honorable thing to do was join others in stating my position and taking the criticism."

or "insisting that UC stick to a promise that is financially important to my family" ???

If it's a "nice legal question" whether there was an enforceable agreement, what's the "institutional principle" you're trying to get UC to adhere to? Voluntarily honoring debatable contracts to pay the highest-earning staff even more in a time of a budget crisis?

And speaking of principle, you say "If I were in President Mark Yudof’s shoes, I would do the same thing he has done [not pay the increased pensions], at least until the budget environment improves." So basically, if you were in his shoes, there is no "principle", and you just do what's in UC or your personal best interest. Am I missing something?

And the Kicker Quote:
"I suppose some members of the public object to competitive salaries because they (correctly) believe that professors are privileged, or (incorrectly) believe that working at a “public” institution should have a component of voluntarism."

So after all the pleading to alumni and the state about supporting the "public mission" of a state law school, really that's all just a load of bull? Professors, and your self, aren't motivated by even a smidgen of "voluntarism". You're just in it for the money, and the privilege. Thanks, you can expect my donation check in the mail. Never.

As you say, "it is what it is".

1/10/2011 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DE: Fuck you, you bullshit piece of shit, why don't you just fuck yourself?

-A Student You Know Personally, By Name

1/10/2011 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, what good do comments like those by 8:37 do? He knows we're upset. Protest if you care enough.

1/10/2011 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edley,
Your position is so self-centered and greedy, and so undermines the school's mission, that I can only conclude you've decided to move on to greener pastures (and take as much money as you can on the way). Farewell, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
-Alum '09

1/10/2011 8:41 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

8:39, I'm confident 8:37's rather artful Tool lyric quotation will be at least as effective as your proposed "protest."

But then, here in the 3rd quarter I still have money on Oregon.

1/10/2011 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think it would be effective. I just think it would be less disrespectful.

1/10/2011 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edley's point about recruiting and keeping the best faculty talent is a really weak argument for increasing the pensions of current faculty RETROACTIVELY. Sure, we know UC is not the only place you can work, and we lose faculty to other schools all the time. But dropping $50 million to retroactively increase your pensions, plus millions more per year, is a TERRIBLE use of resources.

If someone is serious about leaving, they bring a competing offer to the administration, which will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to match or exceed the offer.

As for new recruits, you've got other tools in the toolbox, such as higher base salaries and bonuses. Retroactive increases to present faculty in no way helps recruit new faculty.

And as for the threat that UC will not be seen as a "trustworthy" negotiator and employer, give me a break. UC abides by legally enforceable contracts, which you yourself has said is a "nice legal question".

1/10/2011 9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Tool" and "art" don't belong in the same sentence. That said, I agree with the sentiment expressed.

1/10/2011 9:32 PM  
Blogger Corey said...

At the moment, it seems that the comment I am about to post will win me few friends and several "shut-up 1L!" eye-rolls; but I feel that the response within the Boalt community has been - at best - undignified.

Have you all looked around recently? Did you see the beautiful new hallway/classrooms debuted today? Have you noticed the massive new addition to our school? What about the brilliant new professors we have recruited? Or our ascension in almost every important ranking set over the last 6+ years?

Such progress, continued in this economy, takes nothing short of a Herculean effort on the part of a public school Dean - one from which the majority of us will benefit for the rest of our careers.

Was all of this well-timed, politically? Certainly not. Could it have been handled more sensitively? No doubt. But mind you: this is a man that, if motivated solely by his own profit interests, could be making eye-popping amounts of money elsewhere. I feel strongly that, at the very least, his continued dedication to Berkeley Law merits our working a bit harder to consider all of the facts before throwing our Dean completely under the bus.

Additionally - for those of you upset that he sent us an email with the subject line "stuff": find more important things to worry about. I assure you, there are plenty.

--
Corey Laplante
Class of 2013

1/10/2011 10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mountains of debt & the death of public education make people act undignified sometimes. Your comment (Corey) doesn't even address the basic issue, though: should Dean Edley withdraw his "URGENT" demand letter threatening to sue the Board of Regents if they don't increase executive pensions?

1/10/2011 10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 1L, when you are looking at a 225k debtload with employment prospects that can barely service your loans let alone pay for living expenses, you may feel a bit different about those shiny new hallways.

1/10/2011 11:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

Corey, all of what you said is true. That doesn't, however, mean that there's a good argument for continuing to extend the UC's pension liabilities on behalf of the individuals on the UC's payroll who are making the most money.

1/10/2011 11:04 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

11:00 pm: . . . . "feel different" and what . . . ? Value money over something more substantial?

Isn't that the thrust of your accusation against DE?

1/10/2011 11:04 PM  
Blogger Corey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/10/2011 11:23 PM  
Blogger Corey said...

Accidentally deleted:

James: I don't necessarily disagree with you. Nor am I qualified to answer 10:59. My point remains, however: given all he has done for Boalt, I think we owe Dean Edley a less vitriolic and more reasoned discussion/evaluation of the current controversy. That's all I am really saying

11:00: I came here fully accepting the risk involved. Should I find myself in that unfortunate position, I think Dean Edley would be one of the last people I would have to blame.

1/10/2011 11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick, there is a fundamental difference between the two sides of the debate. Students are graduating into a financial reality where they cannot pay for food or basic living expenses, not downgrading their pension to where they will have to buy a less renowned brand of caviar.

There's a difference between needing money for basic living expenses, and wanting a comfortable executive pension. I think to DE and those supporting him, those are the same thing, I just submit that there is fundamental difference between the two.

1/10/2011 11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long time lurker, first time poster -- Merits of the matter aside, I (like Corey) have found the tenor of the discussion here to be a bit...um...unnuanced and unprofessional. I get it that many (well, most) of us have crushing student debt. I get it that the job market sucks right now. I get it that the timing of the execs' letter was nightmarish from a PR perspective. And I get it that DE sometimes (as here perhaps) shoots from the hip too frequently. But does any of that justify the vitriolic derision reflected in some of these comments? Sure, I've got lots of criticisms of DE (at least as much as the next person), but I have never questioned his loyalty to the law school, its students, its staff, its faculty, or its alumni. I still don't. Take a deep breath, guys.

I think there's an interesting debate one might have here on the merits, with lots of factors in play -- sharing burdens, maintaining excellence, competing in a market with other law schools (for students, faculty, staff and administrators), contractual versus moral obligations, how much extra weight being a "public" law school (whatever that means any more) has on the tradeoffs between those factors. I'd love it if more comments were about these issues, With fewer f-bombs.

1/11/2011 6:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is absolutely impossible to rack up 225k worth a debt from law school alone, unless youre shitting in gold plated toilets.

1/11/2011 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody is questioning what's in Dean Edley's heart. Just his really unsound judgment and misguided notions about the meaning of public education.

1/11/2011 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alum '09 here. I agree wholeheartedly with 6:24am except for his/her habit of waking up before sunrise to post on N&B.

To nearly the rest of you: Pull yourselves together. This discussion is absolutely unbecoming of your profession and your alma mater. The hissing and foaming is horrid and belongs on one of our profession's less noble blogs. Not here, not associated with Boalt. You're embarrassing the rest of us.

It is dismaying that only a 1L (Corey) has managed to remain reasonable and objective in the midst of self-entitled, angry upperclassmen. He makes his points and concedes others. Look to him if you want to learn how to explore an argument amongst colleagues.

With regard to the actual substance, many of you are right. In seeking better compensation for himself and a limited amount of his colleagues, Dean Edley has been a little self-serving. And we can fault him for that. But his letter makes a very basic point that all of you appear to be glazing over: he has a right to look out for himself. He has a right to live at a level of income that is at least moderately suited to his success and intelligence. He is, quite obviously, taking a significant hit in income by being the Dean of Boalt. If all he was doing was asking for a little more security in the long run, I think that is fair compensation for a guy who has done great things for Boalt.

But that's not the only reason he's involved in this mess. He's trying to make recruiting easier. He wants to bring the best to Berkeley, and he's having trouble. Apparently Professors like good benefits too, or at least they like to be able to make the rational decision to choose Boalt when also being recruited by a peer law school paying more money.

He's laid it all for you there, folks. If you're pissed off, try arguing against the merits, not the person. You may actually change something that way.

1/11/2011 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused. UC promised DE and several faculty members a certain level of pension, and is now trying to take back that promise in light of a budget crisis. That's a problem?

Will all the public interest students who wouldn't have written the exact same letter had UC threatened to roll back LRAP please raise your hand now? Nobody? Okay. Thought so.

Nothing more to see here. Please move on.

1/11/2011 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, I think Edley is probably referring to the "remarkably ugly" tone of the comments that followed your post, not the post itself. Old people don't know the difference between "blog postings" and comments.

1/11/2011 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Bren said...

@11:44 I think many of us are frustrated by the absence of merits from the Dean's protracted and incoherent explanation. Personally, I feel even more frustrated after reading the Dean's bizarre, meandering response. His bevy of incompatible excuses seem to demonstrate, above all else, that he had no serious, underlying rationale other than his personal financial gain. Had the Dean chosen, as one commenter suggested, to support the pension increase while refusing it on his own behalf, I would be proud of him. But instead, as an alum providing free legal services while collecting the salary of an elementary school teacher, I am disappointed and ashamed that he would publicly defend what amounts to naked greed in the face of dire budget restraints.

Yes, LRAP has been protected under the Dean's watch. But at the end of the day, the reason LRAP is sustainable today is because of the federal government's IBR program, not because of the Dean's commitment to public interest law. And when you juxtapose the Dean's rhetoric (to funders, 1Ls, alums, etc.) with this glimpse of his true colors, it undermines his persistent message about the public service mission of Boalt.

1/11/2011 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear 1Ls doing OCIP in Fall '11,

You're welcome.

Sincerely,

Whiny 2Ls of past who juggled 20+ interviews, class, extracurriculars...

1/11/2011 2:37 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

These “I would respect the dean more if he signed on but agreed to forgo the benefits himself” arguments are absurd. Self-sacrifice accomplishes nothing here. Edley’s argument is based in contract (the UC contracted – or even arguably contracted – to give certain employees X benefits). Given that a contract is involved, it would make no sense for Edly to say, “Oh don’t worry, that provision only binds you to pay other people, but not me.”

People also seem to act like their burgeoning debt obligations are somehow related to whether these executives get their pensions. You took out the loans, now you get to pay them back. You gambled that the legal market would be strong when you finished law school or that you would do well enough in school that it didn’t matter, and now you get to live with that decision. Current students and alumni do not have any greater debt because of a retirement benefit not yet implemented. How much the dean and other executives receive in benefits (or do not receive) has no impact on your ability to find a job or make a salary or pay off your loans. When executive pay is not the cause of your troubles, arguing that these executives should suffer simply because you’re suffering isn’t logically sound, regardless of whether your suffering is greater than theirs will ever be.

1/11/2011 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

To me, this whole debate just reinforces the class inequities in our society. The system makes it easy for the already well-to-do (those making $200k or more) to accumulate more wealth and equally harder for those in the bottom tier to do so. The person who really needs and deserves a 100 percent pension is the campus gardener who has devoted his working life to the school. And he can get one...after 40 years of service. On the upper end, all you need to do is earn a lot of money in the first place.

1/11/2011 2:46 PM  
Blogger James said...

Laura, your premises are not accurate.

Fees continue to rise while current students are in school based on the state budget crises and the UC budget crises. The UC, specically, has a current unfunded pension obligation of about $26B. Edley's proposing to increase this obligation. Does Edley propose the UC cut programs to fund this obligation or raise fees? Sacramento has made it clear more money is not forthcoming, so this is clearly out of the question.

So, should we continue to layoff janitorial and administrative staff and adjuct professors in order to make sure those getting paid the most in the whole system can get paid a little more?

Of course, as a CA resident and taxpayer (at least before law school), I certainly have an interest in how the UCs operate and making sure they continue to be the best system of public higher education in this country.

Additionally, your use of the word "suffering" when it comes to not extending executive pensions is, at best, an ignorant use of the word.

1/11/2011 2:47 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

James, are you arguing that a budget deficit absolves the UC from meeting it's contractual obligations?

1/11/2011 2:52 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm not trying to use inflamatory prose, nor (seemingly unlike James) do I think such prose effectively advances an argument. To suffer is to sustain an injury. Not recieving a benefit to which you are contractually entitled is a legal injury.

1/11/2011 3:17 PM  
Blogger James said...

Unwittingly using inflammatory prose doesn't advance an argument either (nor do passive aggressive parentheses ;) ).

1/11/2011 3:29 PM  
Blogger James said...

Also - as Edley puts it, whether there is an actual obligation is a "nice" legal question.

1/11/2011 3:30 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

I didn't ask if there is a contractual obligation. My question is rather simple.

1/11/2011 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A better-edited version of the letter is now on the school web site: http://www.law.berkeley.edu/newsroom.htm

1/11/2011 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Bren said...

@Laura

Of course, “Oh don’t worry, that provision only binds you to pay other people, but not me.” is exactly what Edley is saying in his letter. He's just not walking the walk.

He's saying it's not for ME... its for the sake of competitive hiring at Boalt!!! oh, wait, no, its for UCLA Med Center!!! oh, wait, no, its just "three or os ten-thousandths of the UC budget"!!! oh, wait, no, "if I were in President Mark Yudof's shoes, I would do the same thing he has done"... even though I co-signed a letter publicly criticizing his choice.

this is the sort of flailing, disjointed reasoning that proves that the author refuses to face his true motivation. you don't see Edley co-signing letters condemning the layoffs, furlough days, and other REAL consequences suffered by those lower on the rungs of the UC ladder.

1/11/2011 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The inconsistency between DE saying that he would do the same thing as Yudof while still demanding the pension bump isn't that troubling to me. He briefly makes the point that they could choose to litigate down the road, which, you know, makes sense if a contract has been violated. If the letter is an important means of allowing them to collect on their contracts when/if hell freezes over and the UC system is solvent again, then I can't blame him for taking this position despite knowing that Yudof will fight them.

1/11/2011 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corey -- your ranking argument has no force because the ranking isn't sustainable. Go talk to Financial Aid. The only way they were able to keep the numbers up last year in light of fee hikes and drastic cuts to need based grants was a last minute infusion of merit based aid to pull high-number people off the wait list. The rankings will fall as people continue to realize that this school is no longer the value it once was. It might seem hard to believe based on the number of apps received, but it's competitive here in the top 14. Like I said, go talk to Financial Aid about it. It's bleak.

1/13/2011 2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears that the Dean really believes that the only aspects of the excellence campaign going on at UC worth maintaining are high executive salaries. This is a short sighted argument with little persuasive force. Why would this 'talent' come to UC when they know they will be furloughed when their programs do not generate sufficient revenue, will lose salary to pension contributions, or face any other number of 'hardships' including taking out their own trash because UC cut the facilities budget. The argument offered by the Dean seems to be focused on keeping UC promises that merely happen to line his pocket. I know that after they cut my financial aid by about 50% this year and increased fees by $14000 just during my tenure, no one in the administration seemed to care that I was told my financial aid would be secure and that there was no plan to raise fees from 2008-2011. Also, consider the cyber-University program that he supports. Apparently, even maintaining the high quality of academic instruction through on-site pedagogy is second to high executive pensions. Finally, the aspect that is truly troubling is his focus on the number of people affected by this policy. It is truly infinitesimal. Apparently 50 people at UC Berkeley are far more important to the Dean than the tens of thousands of students facing increased fees and cuts to services. He is right that the amount of the budget in controversy is quite small, but these executive pay raises and benefits add up in the long term and moreover show that UC as as system and the Dean in particular are not concerned with a core educational mission. These administrators are going to retire with fat bank and pension accounts which they will keep regardless of what they do to this institution. Knowing that the only sacrifice they intend to make is in the quality of their legacies once they are gone is no comfort to me as a student.

1/13/2011 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

150 UCB staff to be cut:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/matierandross/detail?entry_id=80959&tsp=1

Tone deaf?

1/13/2011 6:54 PM  
Anonymous boalt 3L said...

are pensions for a few dozen people *really* an issue? social justice is a real thing - but this is exceptional - it's not a big deal. it affects very very few people. this brouhaha is just petulant kids who disdain the dean, their website a monument to self-righteousness.

1/17/2011 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Jude Bell said...

I am stunned that your group believes that the Dean's pension is a "moral and ethical" issue. The real moral issue is people losing their jobs (and you know that in this economic climate, that means that there's nowhere to go but down), students having to drop out of school because of higher tuition, and staff working harder and harder for less and less. I, for example, can't remember the last time I had a raise.

The Dean's salary is over $245,00 as you state. Let him invest wisely and fund part of his own retirement.

Lastly, the fact that this proclamation comes from a group of future lawyers simply reinforces the stereotype that lawyers are just in it for the money. Since when are you and your Dean exempted from the impact of UC's budget crisis? The cut-backs apply to everyone but lawyers? You guys make me sick.

Sincerely,
Jude Bell
Financial Analyst
Department of Art Practice

1/19/2011 1:36 PM  
Blogger James said...

Jude! I hope we don't all make you sick. Some people on N&B are indeed heartless bastards or simply misguided, but some of us think it's ridiculous for the Dean to try and justify higher pay in this financial climate (as fees go up and layoffs continue).

1/19/2011 7:25 PM  

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