Despite the system-wide furlough plan that explicitly forbids UC faculty from scheduling furlough days during instructional time, departments on campus are implementing a more flexible interpretation of the plan.
On Aug. 21, UC President Mark G. Yudof released a letter informing faculty that they are not allowed to take furlough days on days of instruction. According to UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang, however, campus officials will adhere to a more lax reading of the furlough requirement, entrusting enforcement of the plan to each individual department.
“While working within the guidelines provided by University of California Office of the President, we have tried to provide as much flexibility as possible regarding the details of how the furloughs are implemented within departments,” Yang said in an e-mail.
A recent memo from the deans of the College of Letters and Science to the department chairs acknowledged that faculty members may need to modify their class schedules to take into account workload issues regarding budget cuts and furloughs.
Therefore, Yang said, minor changes to scheduled instructional days or office hours may result.
Professor of Sociology and Global & International Studies Richard Applebaum said his departments have allowed for a great deal of flexibility to accommodate the furlough requirement.
“My department basically says there are a variety of ways furlough days can be satisfied,” Applebaum said. “For instance, students can even get together without the professor being there to make up for lost time.”
Yang said instructional time may be reallocated to other forms of course work.
“Faculty should be careful not to make changes to class meetings or assignments that would affect the unit values of courses, but we assume that there is a fair degree of latitude for instructors to make responsible adjustments, including alternative arrangements for selected classes such as additional assignments, collaborative work, podcasts, guest lectures or extra section meetings,” Yang said.
According to Assistant Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Paul Desruisseaux, this loose enforcement of the furlough plan is necessary to ease the pressures faced by university employees.
“One of the questions faculty members raised was how does the concept of shared governance come into play when they’re told to do this,” Desruisseaux said. “I think there will be assumptions made that course material will be covered during different times and appointments.”
However, Applebaum said that he does not believe UCSB departments will closely monitor the implementation of furlough days.
“[The departments] seem to be using a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, trusting the faculty to do the right thing,” Applebaum said. “I don’t think the administration will be monitoring this, at least not from what I’ve been told.”
Additionally, in a second memo released August 26, the UCOP described a Furlough Exchange Program, which allows professors to devote time to extramurally funded research in place of furlough time.
Applebaum said that he will utilize the research exception, adding that the faculty can send a message to the administration by taking furlough days in accordance with their pay cuts.
“I plan to cancel classes during furlough days because I have a research grant which allows me to use the furlough time,” Applebaum said. “But I definitely think if our pay has been reduced, we should reduce our days of work accordingly. … About 40 percent of our salary comes from our teaching. And it’s not that teaching isn’t a labor of love, but this could become a precedent. If nobody notices, this will become permanent.”