Council of UC Faculty Associations 
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Dear SCFA Colleagues,

As the year draws to a close, the SCFA Board wanted to share with you some of what we've been up to this year.  As always, we welcome your input and suggestions for further matters to pursue.  This report's topics are:

Online Courses
Academic Analytics preliminary investigation
Summer Session Salaries: report on negotiations
Elections and Future Issues

We concluded our bargaining with the university over revenues for online course offerings.  Under the current agreement, 40% of any revenues above course development costs will go to the faculty developer, a figure double the university's original position.  We will continue to closely monitor online course policy.  The significant elements of the agreement are the general principle that the faculty member retains authority over the course and the frequency of its offering, along with the 40% return to faculty course developer.  The SCFA also has the right to review the means by which costs for course development are calculated.  We will revisit the agreement after two years to gauge its effectiveness and to judge whether changes are needed.  With this in mind, please give us your feedback if you are involved in teaching on-line or if you have views on course compensation policy. 

Highlights of the agreement can be found by clicking HERE   and the full text of the agreement can be found HERE .

UCSC entered into a contract with a company called Academic Analytics in 2013. Academic Analytics describes itself as a provider of  "custom business intelligence data and solutions for research universities in the United States and the United Kingdom." Their mission, in their words, is "to provide universities and university systems with objective data that administrators can use to support the strategic decision-making process as well as a method for benchmarking in comparison to other institutions." Academic Analytics sells their data to universities as a tool to guide university leaders "in understanding strengths and weaknesses, establishing standards, allocating resources, and monitoring performance."

One of their data bases, "Faculty Counts," provides "a numerical summary of productivity on a person-by-person basis....[with] a numeric tally of each faculty member's total scholarly productivity in each of the five areas of scholarly research (journal articles, citations, books, research grants and honorific awards) measured by Academic Analytics." In other words, AA tallies the productivity of individual faculty across numerous universities.

The Academic Analytics database, however, suffers from a number of systematic flaws that lead to incompleteness and inaccuracy, making it of questionable value. For example, the measures mentioned above fail to count numerous journals, many granting agencies, various forms of collaboration on grants, and numerous awards.

SCFA learned about UCSC's contract with AA last spring and began an investigation based on reported widespread inaccuracies in AA data collection at other universities. Our concerns were amplified in October 2016 when Georgetown University's Provost, Robert Groves, posted a blog with the results of research he and others conducted that showed serious inaccuracies in Academic Analytics' datasets. As just one example of Georgetown researchers' findings: they compared AA data with 348 faculty members' CV's and found that AA captured only 48% of the academic papers --  journal articles and conference papers -- listed on faculty members' CV's. They found that the departments that fared least well were Computer Science and Psychology. They also found that AA significantly undercounted faculty grant activity. There were other troubling data as well, but for purposes of brevity, suffice it to say that they found AA's data to be both incomplete and inaccurate. (Click here to read Groves' blog).

In Provost Groves' words: "the quality of AA coverage of the scholarly products of those faculty studied are far from perfect." He added, and we think this point is perhaps more important: "Even with perfect coverage, the data have differential value across fields that vary in book versus article production and in their cultural supports for citations of others' work." The Georgetown Provost concludes: "we will be dropping our subscription to Academic Analytics."

Along with the fact that AA's data are incomplete and inaccurate, SCFA has additional concerns and questions.

1.    Why did UCSC contract with AA? How does the campus leadership plan to use the data?

Labor Relations informed the SCFA that the University planned to use AA "as a source of curated comparative scholarly productivity data (e.g., grant activity, published articles/conference proceedings, citations) that will help leaders (e.g., at the decanal and campus-wide levels) understand opportunities we may have overlooked and to inform planning."

With regard to opportunities "overlooked," we presume that means grants that faculty should or could be seeking. It's hard to understand how an incomplete and inaccurate database would provide better information and guidance than the various staff whose job it is to help faculty secure grants.

The University's statement that it will use AA to "inform planning" is vague but raises concerns that AA data would be used to allocate FTE and other departmental resources.

2.    Insofar as there already exist other ways of comparing departments across universities -- the National Research Council rankings, for example -- why is UCSC paying presumably hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps even half a million, for inaccurate and incomplete datasets?

Stay tuned for SCFA updates on this topic.
Summer Session Salaries.  

In December 2016, the university proposed  a cap on Summer Session salaries for UCSC faculty, and a change in compensation for courses with fewer than 5 units.  These changes were proposed to begin effective Summer 2017.  We asked for and received considerable feedback from our membership about these proposed changes.  In our discussions with the university, we persuaded the administration not to implement any changes for 2017 and we are in the process of bargaining with regard to future summer sessions.

Faculty reaction to the proposed changes was overwhelmingly negative with regard to the proposed salary cap, which would affect the salaries of a great many colleagues who normally teach in summer session.

The SCFA board generally feels that reduction in faculty salaries is not the appropriate measure for addressing budgetary shortfalls.  As our negotiations progress, we are examining various aspects of the Summer Session budget in order to analyze the administration's rationale in proposing these cuts and to determine how to best advocate for faculty interests and educational quality. We would like to continue to hear from colleagues who have concerns about this issue, and will strive to represent your interests.
Board Elections

We will be sending out a separate mailing on SCFA Board Elections for next year, and will make another public announcement when the results are in.
Future Issues

Next year we anticipate continued work on summer session salaries.  We have also been asked by several members to open up SCFA discussions around parking. These members described the parking regime this year as "dysfunctional" and as adversely affecting the work environment, which might enable us to bargain the issue. We welcome additional thoughts from our members on this issue.

The SCFA is also involved in system-wide issues of concern to all of our faculty.  We anticipate joining with the Council of University of California Faculty Associations (CUCFA) in raising concerns about the selection of UC Regents.   For details, see this recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Please suggest other issues that you would like the SCFA to address during the coming year. We are your union, and the union makes us strong.

Best regards, and have a great summer
The SCFA Board

If this has been forwarded to you and you are not already a member of the UCSC Faculty Association, this is a great time to join us at  http://ucscfa.org/join/ . We are 100% member supported.