ACADEMIC SENATE: SAN DIEGO DIVISION
October 26, 1999

 

ANNUAL REPORT
COMMITTEE ON ACADEMIC FREEDOM
1998-99

The fall of 1998 began with a quick committee review of the "Proposal for New University Policy Granting Rights to Future Research Results Arising from University Relationships with Extramural Parties", which is unlikely to win any awards for a snappy title. We found that this policy mentioned a lot of the right things, but left most details to future negotiations (individual division's memorandum of understanding with UCOP on how they would interact with extramural organizations) and a future guidebook (the "negotiator's handbook" which will specify what campus representatives can and cannot do in reaching agreements between outside parties and faculty). Who will decide the "fall-back" position in negotiations with private industry is left vague. The sources of funding of improved educational efforts on the campuses (to encourage faculty entrepreneurship) and the expanding technology transfer offices is also left unspecified, but it sounds as if the rich campuses will also come out better in this arena. In April 1999, the chair of the Academic Council wrote a number of comments and questions stemming from campus responses to the policy, but further response from UCOP has not been distributed.

We were asked to comment both by the University Committee on Academic Freedom and by the divisional Senate on the report of the Universitywide Task Force on Copyright. This comprehensive policy seemed to touch appropriately on all the delicate issues that our committee understood. We do not know if the University has followed through on the recommendation to establish a standing joint Senate-Administration Committee on Copyright and the University. The Chair of the Academic Council, however, in February, 1999, voiced considerable reservations to the administration about the tone of several of the recommendations, regretted the lack of expertise among reviewers to fully understand the document, and asked for a new committee to revisit the complex issues, especially in the light of evolving copyright law. The subject came up again at the June meeting of the Senate Council, which this chair did not attend.

We were asked for a consultation on a course in which offensive material would be likely to be reviewed, as part of popular culture, and agreed that the proposed policy of including a written disclaimer in the course description would be the most fair and useful way to deal with the issue.

The policies on sexual harassment came in for review this year, and although clinical duties prevented the committee chair from serving on the review committee, I took part in a review of the old policies and the committee's recommendations with chairs of other Senate committees, Rules & Jurisdiction and Privilege & Tenure. We met with Lori Chamberlain, the new director of the UCSD Office of Sexual Harassment Prevention and Policy. We went over the "preliminary" document rather carefully and found a number of problems, definitional, grammatical, and so on, which was reviewed at a subsequent meeting in detail with Ms. Chamberlain. We were assured that the concerns and corrections would be used in revision. The uncorrected policy was subsequently put out for widespread review and comment, and a revised policy made available for examination in May. I have gone over the policy in detail, and am pleased to report that nearly all our concerns and comments were incorporated into the final draft.

The summer of 1998 ended with a heated debate on the revised draft of APM 075, the Proposed Policy on Termination for Incompetent Performance. The University Committee on Academic Freedom, sparked by strong objections from the UCLA, rejected the draft as seriously deficient. It was revised and submitted for review on the campuses again in March 1999. Our committee submitted comments again. We believe that the policy is still too broad in its definition of incompetent performance, in that it does not require incompetence in both teaching and creative activity or research (or clinical work, if applicable). This means that someone whose creative activities are nil could be considered incompetent and dismissed regardless of other circumstances or contributions, at the discretion of a review committee. So much for tenure? We also noted that the policy only applied to tenure track faculty (leaving the other Senate members in the medical school with more job security than those with FTEs).

With the end-of-year crush came the proposal of the Jacobs School of Engineering to set up a Technology Development Center, where companies would rent space to use as laboratories and offices for a year (or two?) to be exposed to campus faculty and facilitate consultation, etc. This "incubator" facility is now increasingly popular on campuses to strengthen University/Industry Cooperative Ventures, as they are called. A call to committee members in early June was unsuccessful in stimulating a response (a tip to administrators wishing to bypass

thorough Senate review: just wait until late spring to get your paperwork out). Council Chair Goodkind shared some reservations, which matched what I had been thinking, and felt that our committee would have nothing to add.

The details of such ventures need careful scrutiny and oversight; advance documents seldom spell out all the things one might be concerned with, so the decision-maker may have to sense the philosophy and style of the proposer, and to grant approval with little more than blind faith. The first policy discussed above certainly falls into this class!

The Committee on Academic Freedom met by e-mail rather than in person; this was the easy way out with difficult schedules, but I suspect it is not the best way to conduct the committee's business. Similarly, the University Committee on Academic Freedom did not meet in person this year. Neither of these committees' chairs sit on their respective Councils, which makes their service less onerous but also less effective, since they tend to be out of the loop on current issues that may have academic freedom implications. The problems we did address had major implications for academic freedom and other traditions, but were not easy to solve. I suspect there will be a replay on nearly all of these matters in the next year.

Respectfully submitted,

Charles L. Perrin (W, S)
Christopher Herdon, Undergraduate Student Representative
Jason Deich, Graduate Student Representative
Fred N. Spiess, Vice Chair (F)
Edmund J. Fantino, Vice Chair (W, S)
Paul J. Friedman, Chair