Commentary: The Arrogance of UC Regent Power

democratize-the-regentsEntomology Professor Walter Leal’s letter, signed by over 206 other professors, backed Chancellor Katehi in the face of strong public and student sentiment that she ought to resign, sentiment bolstered by those such as English Professor Nathan Brown, the English and Physics Departments and the board of the Davis Faculty Association.

However, on Tuesday Professor Leal wrote: “We strongly believe that Linda Katehi is well-qualified to lead our university through this difficult healing process and oppose the premature calls for her resignation; this is not in the best interest of our university.”

That move sets up an interesting confrontation and tension between the more mainstream research elements of the university and the more activist segments.

However, any call for calm was likely drowned out by the omnipresent Board of Regents and President Mark Yudof’s ill-timed decision to further raise selected administrative salaries.

That move earned a strong rebuke by Senator Leland Yee, a frequent critic of the University of California and strong proponent of free speech rights of students, as well as fiscal responsibility in the running of the public university system.

“It is no wonder that protests are happening throughout the UC system,” said Senator Leland Yee, who has pushed legislation to stop the egregious executive pay practices at UC and the California State University. “The Regents and Trustees are completely out of touch.”

“It is disingenuous for the UC President and the Regents to claim that the last thing they want to do is raise tuition on students,” the Senator added. “Certainly executive compensation should be on the chopping block before a heavier burden is put on students. This latest action by the Regents is just appalling.”

Senator Yee, who voted against the state budget cuts to education, has long fought the executive compensation decisions by UC and CSU. In 2007, according to a release from his office, Senator Yee passed SB 190 to ensure compensation decisions were made during a public session of the regents and trustees. Prior to the law, UC and CSU often made such decisions behind closed doors without public input.

The release adds, “It is still not entirely clear how much money UC and CSU executives may be receiving from their campus foundations and auxiliaries. Another bill authored by Yee, SB 8, will subject such entities to the California Public Records Act starting January 1.”

“Time and time again, rather than protecting the needs of students and California families, the Regents and Trustees line the pockets of their top executives,” said Senator Yee. “While these public administrators are living high on the hog, many Californians are struggling. We deserve better.”

Meanwhile, an editorial emerged on Tuesday that issued a scathing rebuke for the efforts of the regents to avoid and stifle dissent at their meeting on Monday.

It is unclear who wrote this editorial, which has been reprinted in a number of papers.

“In these troubled times for the University of California, with fees soaring and campus police abusing free speech rights, system leaders are scrambling to avoid more showdowns with demonstrators,” the editorial begins.

“But Monday’s four-campus, voice-from-behind-the-curtain regents’ meeting was not the answer,” it continues. “The phone-it-in session conducted in four locations was an abuse of the spirit, if not the letter, of state open-meeting laws. And for the premier public university system of the state that leads the world in technology, it was a logistical embarrassment.”

The editorial noted that, while the call-in meeting from the campuses of Davis, San Francisco, Merced, and Los Angeles “was touted as an attempt to reach out across the state; it also divided the protesters so they didn’t concentrate at one location.”

“Public comments were heard in rotation from each site – but heard only. There was an audio connection but no video. Students couldn’t see most of the people they were addressing – indeed, had no way of knowing if anyone outside the immediate room was seriously listening to them and not rolling their eyes, checking email or whispering among themselves,” it continued.

“It was a recipe for frustration, and predictably, it all boiled over,” they write.  “Angry students shut down the meeting. In the attempt to calm things, the regents had managed to increase the tensions.”

They continue: “After a break, it got worse. At three of the venues, the session was moved to smaller rooms.”

“We cannot recall another state agency holding a public meeting by teleconference. It’s within the letter of the open-meeting law that governs the regents’ meetings; the Bagley-Keene Act allows for teleconferencing – but this is not how it was intended to be used. The provision was included to accommodate a board member who could not physically attend a meeting. That wasn’t the issue here.”

They write pointedly: “While staff can efficiently conduct business by voice and video conferences, policymakers like the regents need to meet openly in front of the people they govern.”

And they conclude: “Monday’s experiment turned into a farce. Participants at the four venues could not see each other, any more than residents across the state monitoring the disembodied voices on the Internet could see any of them. It was no way to do the public’s business, and it should not happen again.”

This is what we are dealing with.

Yesterday we noted that people were suggesting that the students were focusing on the wrong target in their implication of the Board of Regents and administrators.  What becomes clear now is that, while the legislature is certainly to blame, particularly in its structure, the real problems far exceed budgetary concerns.

There is a palpable arrogance of power to the Board of Regents.  They are unaccountable to public opinion and the voters and even the legislature, and we join Senator Yee and other critics in voicing our opinion that change needs to occur and needs to begin with the structure of the Board of Regents.

The administrative raises were small and focused, but tone deaf to the concerns of students and the public.

The arrogance of trying to stifle dissent is appalling.  One would think the board would have learned by the response to the police crackdown.  But the problem goes far beyond the UC Police, far beyond merely Chancellor Katehi, far beyond the dealing with protesters.

The problem is that the Board of Regents does not want to play by the same rules as the rest of society.  They believe they have the right to stifle speech and dissent and open government process.  That is why laws such as the Bagley-Keene act were first implemented.

What has happened this week is that a giant can of gasoline has been poured on the fire.  The professors can rally behind Katehi.  The students will go home for a month after next week’s finals.  But come January, something is going to have to give – unfortunately we do not know what it will be, but this situation is a set for a blowup that may make the pepper spraying incident and the baton incident at Berkeley look like a Sunday School Picnic.

There is anger and frustration among the protesters.  Most have focused on non-violent means to achieve a new end.  But as that anger and frustration grows to a feeling of powerlessness and it spreads behind the core group, the danger for less constructive and more destructive actions grows.

Wise public servants recognize that the first amendment is not merely a technicality that binds our actions, it is the outlet that avoids the kind of explosions of violence that we see in other societies.  When you use process to stifle speech, it rarely ends well.

Those who call for Chancellor Katehi to resign – a call that we have joined – need to remember that the UC Regents hired her in the first place, she is their agent, and without changes to the UC Regents, the new boss will be the same as the old boss.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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48 Comments

  1. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]What has happened this week is that a giant can of gasoline has been poured on the fire. The professors can rally behind Katehi. The students will go home for a month after next week’s finals. But come January something is going to have to give – unfortunately we do not know what it will be, but this situation is a set for a blow up that makes the pepper spraying incident and the baton incident at Berkeley look like a Sunday School Picnic.[/quote]

    Seems like this statement is pouring more gasoline on the fire…

  2. E Roberts Musser

    If the regents held meetings in the open, for all to see as required by law, an eruption of violence would probably have been the result when the regents chose to raise specific administrative salaries. But the regents felt/still feel strongly they must raise administrative salaries bc to do otherwise will lose them “top talent”, is the regents’ thinking. So it would seem the regents are d_mned if they do, d_mned if they don’t.

    For me personally, I think the key is how to get the regents mindset changed that paying more does not necessarily result in retaining more qualified people. And I also wonder how many administrative employees would really leave just because they don’t get a bonus in times of economic austerity? If such employees are that disloyal to the institution they are supposed to be serving, perhaps they are not worth retaining…

  3. hpierce

    [quote]And I also wonder how many administrative employees would really leave just because they don’t get a bonus in times of economic austerity? If such employees are that disloyal to the institution they are supposed to be serving, perhaps they are not worth retaining… [/quote]My experience is, “it depends”
    Does the employee have a family? What age are children, if any? Do they rent, or own a house? Are they “vested” for retirement, etc.? Has the employer ‘been loyal’ (step increases, etc.) to them? Are they “subject matter experts”, or just ‘adequate’? It’s not simple, in my opinion. I neither argue for, nor against, the regents’ actions. But depending on individual circumstances, I’d not be inclined to malign either those who got and accepted raises, not those who choose to move on to improve their circumstances. If they are competent and can better themselves, how important is “loyalty”? Slaves were expected to be loyal.

  4. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]My experience is, “it depends”
    Does the employee have a family? What age are children, if any? Do they rent, or own a house? Are they “vested” for retirement, etc.? Has the employer ‘been loyal’ (step increases, etc.) to them? Are they “subject matter experts”, or just ‘adequate’? It’s not simple, in my opinion. I neither argue for, nor against, the regents’ actions. But depending on individual circumstances, I’d not be inclined to malign either those who got and accepted raises, not those who choose to move on to improve their circumstances. If they are competent and can better themselves, how important is “loyalty”? Slaves were expected to be loyal.[/quote]

    Ordinarily, I might agree w many of your points. But in times of economic austerity, I think different standards apply. When the university raised tuition for students 50% in just 3 years (I think that figure is correct), was/is complaining about the severe lack of state funding, I just don’t see how anyone can justify the recent raises to upper administration. It makes it appear as if the university is raising tuition dramatically on the backs of poor students to pay the cushy salaries of upper administration who already make plenty. I know all three of my children worked their way through UCD – my youngest held down two jobs while attending college…

  5. wdf1

    ERM: [i]And I also wonder how many administrative employees would really leave just because they don’t get a bonus in times of economic austerity?[/i]

    There is a certain point where I would hope that organizational leaders would look at other things besides the monetary value of their compensation as a reason to stay or go. As a leader, there is an opportunity for career legacy, and these challenging times should normally offer that.

    Do you want to be known for successfully guiding your organization through these tough times? If so, it means communicating to staff and students that you really understand the dire situation. If there were a ship or military unit that suddenly found itself with reduced rations, a good commanding officer would be expected to reduce his or her rations before insisting that subordinates do the same. The symbolism of raising these administrative salaries runs counter to this convincing notion of leadership. Administrators are generally understood to represent the leadership of the organization.

    If Mark Yudof had publicly withdrawn this proposal and/or successfully lobbied against raises at this time, he would have deflated the cause of the students. Now he has made himself and his colleagues a solid target of displeasure.

  6. Ryan Kelly

    It is not just the raising of tuition/raising salaries of top administrators that creates anger. One of the administrators for the UC Davis Medical Center’s salary was raised to over $550K per year and then staff and faculty are being warned of upcoming increases to health insurance. I think we can find an hospital administrator for less than a half a million per year. What do other people think?

  7. Rifkin

    [i]”… sentiment bolstered by those such as [b]English Professor Nathan Brown[/b], the English and Physics Departments and the board of the Davis Faculty Association.”[/i]

    Can anyone explain why Nathan Brown is a professor of English? If you look at his published articles and most of the courses he teaches, it appears that his real interest is in philosophy, specifically a radical left philosophy.

    For example, Brown teaches a course called “The Real Movement of History* —
Left Communism and the Communization Current.” It appears to be entirely a class about extreme left political philosophy. It does not have anything to do with English or literature. Here is what Brown says he wants to get out of his course:

    [i]”This course will be devoted not to the idea of communism, but rather to understanding communism as “the real movement of history.”** To that end we will study left communist tendencies as they have developed in Germany, Italy, France, England, Greece, and the US, with a particular focus on the so-called “communization current” elaborated primarily in France over the past forty years. We will read texts by such figures and groups as Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Amadeo Bordiga, Anton Pannekoek, Paul Mattick, Guy Debord, Gilles Dauv, Theorie Communiste, Tiqqun and the Invisible Committee (France), Aufheben (UK), TPTG and Blaumachen (Greece), Riff-Raff (Sweden) and Endnotes (UK & US). These texts will orient us toward another tradition of communist theory, outside of and overlooked by the development of mainstream political philosophy.”[/i]

    *For those unfamiliar with Karl Marx’s writing, you need to know that Marx believed that history was moving in a particular direction (an idea he took from Georg W. F. Hegel), and that direction was toward an ideal of communism, where labor would lord over capital, each person would produce as much as he was able and consume whatever he needed.

    **I should add that I think Marx was wrong about everything, including his idiotic theory of history. Marx had a fundamental misunderstanding of human beings. He did not understand incentive structures. He did not understand material desires. He did not understand human emotions.

    I think a much more compelling theory of history was voiced by American philosopher Francis Fukuyama, who wrote a 1992 book called, “The End of History and the Last Man.” Its principal tenet is that everything in human history is moving toward democratic governacce and capitalistic economics. Fukuyama says that all competing structures of governance, such as kingdoms, soviet style dictatorships, military junta rule and so on will eventually be defeated by the natural movement of history to some form of democracy. The Arab Spring of 2011 suggests to me Fukyama was right. With regard to economic forms, Professor Fukuyama wrote essentially that no other type of economic organization can keep up with market capitalism over the long term. As such, all countries which are socialist or semi-market or have controlled prices or have privileged monopolists or those which prohibit international trade will eventually reform into a market capitalist model (that will inevitably include some welfare redistribution due to the democracic governance).

  8. K.Smith

    “Can anyone explain why Nathan Brown is a professor of English? If you look at his published articles and most of the courses he teaches, it appears that his real interest is in philosophy, specifically a radical left philosophy.”

    I hardly think using only one cherry-picked example out of 13 courses Prof. Brown has taught over the last several years calls into question his fitness for being a professor of English. The remaining 12 courses are pretty run-of-the-mill English courses.

  9. wdf1

    This is interesting, especially for purposes of seeing how language develops here, regionally, and nationally for purposes of talking about the Occupy movement:

    How Republicans are being taught to talk about Occupy Wall Street

    [url]http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/republicans-being-taught-talk-occupy-wall-street-133707949.html[/url]

  10. wdf1

    rusty: [i]My daughter got her BA in English at UCDAVIS. I’ll have to ask her if she ever crossed Mr. brown’s path. I certainly hope not.[/i]

    At some point in one’s life I think it’s healthy to have one’s values challenged from various angles, in case it’s Prof. Brown’s political values that bother you.

  11. wdf1

    SFGate, 12/1/11: More pay issues at Calif. state universities ([url]http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/11/30/BAIR1M6B7K.DTL#ixzz1fG6n9Zxr[/url])

    Can’t make this stuff up:
    [quote]
    Among the ideas proposed are… offering a CSU credit card for alumni in which a percentage of charges would go to presidential salaries.[/quote]
    How did so many university administrators become collectively so detached from reality?

  12. Rifkin

    [i]”I hardly think using only one cherry-picked example out of 13 courses Prof. Brown has taught over the last several years [b]calls into question his fitness for being a professor of English[/b].”[/i]

    I never questioned his fitness. I questioned why he is in that department when his primary interest appears to be radical left political philosophy, not English or literature. He very may well have a dual appointment. That is not all that uncommon for multi-disciplinarians. Your saying I questioned his fitness makes me question your fairness.

    Also, I question your saying I cherry-picked anything. I didn’t attempt to make a complete case. His bio page additionally says, “He is the coordinator of Conjuncture – A Series of Symposia on 21st Century Philosophy, Politics, and Aesthetics.” Is that an English Dept. symposium?

    Moreover, not one of his 9 published articles listed on his CV is related to English lit. They are about political philosophy or his take on technology, which itself seems inspired by his interest in philosophy more than literature.

    Further, he says he is working on two books: one about “the resurgence of rationalism in contemporary French philosophy in relation to various radical empiricisms.” The other is “The Limits of Fabrication: Materials Science and Materialist Poetics.” Although it has poetics in the title, it sounds like a book of philosophy dealing with how humanity is affected by technology.

    [i]”The remaining 12 courses are pretty run-of-the-mill English courses.”[/i]

    No. You did not look at those classes. Some are English courses, yes. He is, after all, a brand new assistant professor of English. He just joined the UCD faculty. He only completed his PhD at UCLA recently. It’s likely that Rusty’s daughter never had him for a teacher.

    But you are wrong that all of the “remaining 12 courses” are English courses. You must have missed “Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason;” and “Approaches to Critical Theory;” and “CRI 298, Being and Event: The Philosophy of Alain Badiou;” and “Introduction to Modern and Contemporary Critical Theory;” and “‘Pataphysics: The Science of Imaginary Solutions.”

    Again, I wonder why he is in the English Dept?

  13. K.Smith

    [i]”I never questioned his fitness.”[/i]

    [i]”I didn’t attempt to make a complete case.”
    [/i]
    My bad. I made the mistake of conflating your response with the others in this thread and elsewhere that seem to have a knee-jerk reaction to Prof. Brown based on the mere fact that they disagree with him (see, for example, the comments above).

    He is, indeed, a multi-disciplinarian (although I don’t think he has a joint appointment with another department), whose interests apparently lie in science/technology studies (which is a focused research cluster/designated emphasis under with the English Dept. or Humanities) and critical theory. The latter interest appears to inform most of his research and teaching interests and is, I suspect, what prompted you to ask your question, since if you’re not familiar with English departments, might appear to be unrelated to English/Literature.

    Critical theory (the discipline from whence comes the multiple references to philosophy in Prof. Brown’s publications and interests) is a subset of English/Literature, and for the last couple of decades has been a big part of English Departments. Thus, my inclusion of some of the courses you note as “run-of-the-mill,” since a certain number of critical theory courses are required to complete the B.A. in English.

  14. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]If there were a ship or military unit that suddenly found itself with reduced rations, a good commanding officer would be expected to reduce his or her rations before insisting that subordinates do the same. The symbolism of raising these administrative salaries runs counter to this convincing notion of leadership. Administrators are generally understood to represent the leadership of the organization. [/quote]

    Excellent analogy…

    [quote]Again, I wonder why he is in the English Dept?[/quote]

    I’m wondering the same thing…

  15. Rifkin

    [i]”He very may well have a dual appointment.”[/i]

    Apparently, he does not. He is not listed in the philosophy or poli-sci faculty.

    I might note that when I was an undergrad and one of my two majors was poli-sci, one of my favorite poli-sci courses (it was covered in three courses over three quarters) was political philosophy. Yes, we read Marx and Hegel and Kant and so on. We also read parts of the Christian Bible, Plato and Aristotle and Machiavelli and Hobbes and Locke. However, my prof was not a Marxist. He was a centrist-conservative, who had studied under Leo Strauss (“Natural Right and History”). That was probably my favorite series of classes I took as an undergrad. The only class which may have been better was Sociology 1, which was taught by an avowed Marxist named Richard Applebaum ([url]http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/faculty/richard-appelbaum[/url]). As noxious as his politics may have been, he was a great teacher and that class was enlightening and enjoyable. It is what every overview course should aspire to be.

  16. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Among the ideas proposed are… offering a CSU credit card for alumni in which a percentage of charges would go to presidential salaries.[/quote]

    Unbelievable!

  17. Rifkin

    [i]”Critical theory (the discipline from whence comes the multiple references to philosophy in Prof. Brown’s publications and interests) is a subset of English/Literature, and for the last couple of decades has been a big part of English Departments.”[/i]

    It shouldn’t be.

    I looked at his Critical Theory course. Here is what Nathan Brown says:

    “In the first half of the course we will study foundational texts, mapping the ways in which a postar generation of French theorists—as well as the German Frankfurt school—situated themselves in relation to canonical texts of modern German philosophy. This will involve paired readings of Kant and Adorno, Hegel and Fanon, Marx and Althusser, Nietszche and Foucault, Freud and Lacan, Heidegger and Derrida. In the latter half of the course, we will track the pertinence of these traditions to key contemporary approaches to theoretical inquiry, studying major texts in postcolonial studies, gender/sexuality studies, psychoanalysis, and media studies.”

    Tell me, how is that a class about English or English literature? Explain why that course belongs in the English Department?

    [i]”I suspect, what prompted you to ask your question, since if you’re not familiar with English departments, might appear to be unrelated to English/Literature.”[/i]

    The problem is that I am familiar with English literature. I am widely read in political philosophy, as well. I know the difference. It’s a load of bull poo-poo to say that an English Dept. should have or even worse require courses on French theorists and German philosophers. That is simply not English. I am not suggesting that it is inappropriate to require courses of English majors outside their departments. When I studied econometrics, I had to take classes in the math dept. But no one tried to argue that those math classes were actually econ classes.

  18. K.Smith

    [i]”It shouldn’t be.” [/i]

    [i]”Tell me, how is that a class about English or English literature? Explain why that course belongs in the English Department?” [/i]

    Because critical theory (which looks to various philosophical, economic, and other theorists/theories) provides a range of approaches and methods for studying Literature, and has been incorporated into literary studies by the vast majority of members of the discipline.

    Just because you do not agree with it, or do not think it should be part of English departments, does not mean that it lacks value.

    [i]”The problem is that I am familiar with English literature.” [/i]

    There is a difference in being familiar with English literature, and being familiar with the discipline.

    [i]”It’s a load of bull poo-poo to say that an English Dept. should have or even worse require courses on French theorists and German philosophers.”[/i]

    They don’t. They require one course on literary/critical theory (the roots for which go back to Aristotle’s “Poetics”), which can be important to English majors in understanding the direction the discipline has taken over the last three to four decades. They are, of course, free to not adopt such an approach to literature (and I know some faculty for whom critical theory informs their work little to none).

  19. Frankly

    [i]”How did so many university administrators become collectively so detached from reality?”[/i]

    Good question. There is a similar question to be asked about banks and investment companies paying large bonuses to employees. Although the bank bonuses can be supported much easier than can UC admin salary increases. However, both seem to be either blind to public opinion, or so egotistical to not give a shit.

  20. justoutsidetown

    University administrators are now the new 0.25% !

    It is simply looting the system to increase their already bloated salaries.

    Yes Jeff they really do not give a shit. UC administration embodies what the 99% are complaining about and have made the point for them.

    The culture of corruption has devoured another victim… the UC system itself and the students it is supposed to serve.

  21. Rifkin

    Rich: [i]”Tell me, how (‘the ways in which a postwar generation of French theorists—as well as the German Frankfurt school—situated themselves in relation to canonical texts of modern German philosophy … and key contemporary approaches to theoretical inquiry, studying major texts in post-colonial studies, gender/sexuality studies, psychoanalysis …’)
    is a class about English or English literature? Explain why that course belongs in the English Department?”[/i]

    K Smith: [b]”Because critical theory (which looks to various philosophical, economic, and other theorists/theories) provides a range of approaches and methods for studying Literature.”[/b]

    Sorry, but that is a non-answer answer.

    Brown’s class is political philosophy (of a clearly leftist bent). I don’t object to requiring English majors to take courses in political philosophy. I object to calling that an English course or having it in the English Dept.

    I understand how reading Aristotle and how reading some other philosophers who informed various English language authoers serves as a foundation to understanding certain literature. It’s not dissimilar to requiring an English major to read most of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. If a reader is not familiar with the Gospel of Matthew, he cannot fully understand most literature which draws its inspiration from the Sermon on the Mount. If a reader doesn’t know the stories of Genesis and the Christian stories of Armageddon, he cannot fully appreciate reading Milton or others who are informed by original sin and the like.

    Yet it is lazy to accept without criticism what Brown is teaching under the guise of the English Dept. His political philosophy course does not seem to be building a foundation to critically understand English literature. It seems more like an introduction (or indoctination?) in left-wing philosophy, helping students to understand how bad the white race is (“post-colonial studies”) and how bad men are (“gender/sexuality studies”) and so on. I am not buying the notion that reading the “canonical texts of modern German philosophy” has a g****mn thing to do with understanding English writing.

  22. Don Shor

    This is interesting, but it is getting pretty far off topic….It would make an interesting thread on the bulletin board, but it is a little late for me to move it there with all the replies here.

  23. David M. Greenwald

    As someone else noted Brown is likely a critical theorist which crosses a number of disciplines, generally though English with its focus on critical interpretations of text.

  24. Rifkin

    [i]”Brown is likely a critical theorist …”[/i]

    That actually does not mean anything. If you look at his writings and the courses he teaches, his interest is political philosophy or perhaps more broadly philosophy. He belongs in either a political science or philosophy department.

    Before looking into this today, I did not realize how convoluted the UC Davis English Dept. argument–as voiced/defended by K. Smith–was. We are arguing about a political philosopher of a Euro-marxist bent who teaches classes called Critical Thinking. Yet it seems that no one in the English Dept. has critically thought about how mistaken it is to have that within that department.

    I am not contending, and have not contended, that he does not belong at the University. I think it is great to have radical thinkers employed as professors. I think that adds to the diversity of thought. It’s a shame universities rarely care at all about having diverse voices. They mostly want diverse genders and skin colors. But I still cannot understand why someone who studies what he does belongs on an English faculty.

    Thus far, no one has really made the case convincingly that he does. They simply say ‘that’s the way it works these days.’ And then they fail to understand the irony of how lacking that statement is in defending what they call critical thinking!

    [i]”… generally though English with its focus on critical interpretations of text.”[/i]

    Name one work of English you find in his CV?

    Your contention, brief though it is, is not supported by his research, his writings or the “critical thinking” courses he teaches. In them, there is no reference at all to ‘critical interpretations of text’ of works, major or minor, written in English or serving as foundations for English literature. In fact, the books he requires his students read in those philosophy classes are translated German and or French, and are not works which have influenced English literature, saving the miniscule and almost entirely unimportant subset of English-language authors who are or were communists or some other brand of marxists.

  25. David M. Greenwald

    “That actually does not mean anything. If you look at his writings and the courses he teaches, his interest is political philosophy or perhaps more broadly philosophy. He belongs in either a political science or philosophy department.”

    Actually it means a lot, if you look at how political philosophy is taught you will see the difference. I actually dabbled in political theory for a time in graduate school and there is a clear difference between a political scientist teaching a political theory course versus a philosopher teaching a political philosophy course versus a critical theorist teaching an English course on critical. It all may be based on a postmodern marxist view of the world, but the focus is different.

  26. David M. Greenwald

    “In them, there is no reference at all to ‘critical interpretations of text’ of works, major or minor, written in English or serving as foundations for English literature. In fact, the books he requires his students read in those philosophy classes are translated German and or French, and are not works which have influenced English literature, saving the miniscule and almost entirely unimportant subset of English-language authors who are or were communists or some other brand of marxists. “

    You would have to have a better sense of the poststructuralist writers and the focus on language in the postmodernist movement. There is no requirement that an English professor focuses on English text, could be translated text. Do some research on people like Derrida, Bartles and other poststructuralists. It’s definitely outside of the mainstream, but there is a strand and it crosses over.

  27. Rifkin

    I concede I have never read Jacques Derrida. But I have read about his work, about deconstruction and about post-structuralism. It is philosophy. It is not English. Never mind that Derrida is French (or Algerian, perhaps?).

  28. David M. Greenwald

    At the time of his death he was teaching in California at UC Irvine from 1987 to 2003 and he died the next year in France.

    So bear with me here as I attempt to explain this. His work was philosophy but the theories he espoused could be used for literary criticism or textual interpretation. Just as historicism is philosophy, it can be used to understand history. Marx is philosophy, but his work can be used to under political science, history, economics, or English.

  29. J.R.

    “But I still cannot understand why someone who studies what he does belongs on an English faculty.”

    Rifkin, you cannot understand this because you have a logical mind. Thus it is hard for you to treat nonsense as if it makes sense. Apparently several years in an English Ph.D. program obliterate this inability.

    The thing that will defeat these purveyors of jargon in the end is how boring, pretentious and vacuous they are. Just try to read a random paragraph from Nathan Brown’s writing without starting to fall asleep. A difficult task.

  30. JustSaying

    [quote][i]”This is interesting, but it is getting pretty far off topic….It would make an interesting thread on the bulletin board, but it is a little late for me to move it there with all the replies here.”[/i][/quote] I realize you’ve announced you won’t accept any backtalk about your moderator calls, so I’ll just point out how the general “go to the bulletin board if I think you’re off-topic” concept is a waste of time and generally a silly “solution.”

    First, the [u]Vanguard[/u] should get rid of the bulletin board. Second, who is to say something is off-topic?

    Professor Brown and David have engaged in a mutual admiration society long before the spraying incident, at least as far back as when Brown reprinted a [u]Vanguard[/u] article in his own radical blog. Brown’s actions and life’s objectives certainly are worthy of evaluation, partly because he’s a primary spokesperson for bringing down UCD leadership.

    Since I’d never heard of the man before last week, I looked around on-line to see what I could find. I was astounded at his rhetoric (YouTube) prior to the Chancellor Katehi’s short talk. It’s obvious he’s found the police spraying a special convenience to advance his objective of getting all authorities off the campus, and let the place be run by professors and students.

    I also was surprised how little contact Professor Brown has with students and classrooms, given the sparse courses listed on his UCD page.[quote][i]”Can anyone explain why Nathan Brown is a professor of English?”[/i][/quote]Can anyone explain why he’s a professor at UC-Davis at all?

    In any case, he’s as much a player in this “confrontation and tension between the more mainstream research elements of the university and the more activist segments” as Chancellor Katehi or anyone else to whom David has referred in his reports. His background and education ideology is as worth examining as is hers. His role at the university is not “off topic.”[quote][i]”But come January, something is going to have to give – unfortunately we do not know what it will be, but this situation is a set for a blowup that may make the pepper spraying incident and the baton incident at Berkeley look like a Sunday School Picnic.”[/i][/quote]Fair warning, David. Keep an eye on this Professor Brown; it’s people like him who’ll be moving in with a “giant can of gasoline (to pour) on the fire.” Some people accidentally start fires; others show up intentionally to fan the flames. Why would someone do this? Well, it’s worth considering (or, it’s on-topic, one could say).

  31. David M. Greenwald

    The bulletin board is not just about off-topic items, it is also a way to foster a more general discussion outside of the confines of what the Vanguard prints as the news of the day.

    “First, the Vanguard should get rid of the bulletin board. “

    Not to be overly caustic, I’ll take it under advisement when I get your $1000 contribution to defray the expense we undertook.

    “Professor Brown and David have engaged in a mutual admiration society long before the spraying incident, at least as far back as when Brown reprinted a Vanguard article in his own radical blog. “

    I’ll have to take a look, I was unaware of this.

    “I also was surprised how little contact Professor Brown has with students and classrooms, given the sparse courses listed on his UCD page.”

    Professors at UC Davis teach two or three courses, two out of every three quarters, so that comment is not limited to Brown, it has to do with the research priorities of the university.

  32. medwoman

    “Can anyone explain why he’s a professor at UC-Davis at all? “

    I think Rich already addressed this point in his comment about diversity of thought. Although I am unfamiliar with the works and teaching of
    Professor Brown, it would certainly seem that he represents an extreme of leftist philosophical thought, which whether or not one is in agreement
    ( I may have found someone further to the left than I am Rich ! ), certainly has enough importance to deserve a place at the University.

  33. JustSaying

    [quote]“The bulletin board is not just about off-topic items, it is also a way to foster a more general discussion outside of the confines of what the Vanguard prints as the news of the day.”[/quote]I stand corrected. I really was referring to the concept of off-topic designations and the development of the bulletin board which, I thought, primarily was to have a way to deal with “off-topic” comments without being too offensive and to allow the conversation to continue over there. You’re really to be commended for investing in technological improvements to the [u]Vanguard[/u]. All of us regular readers should be contributing what we can afford to support your efforts.

    I’m sure you’re correct about the trend toward research for professors. I wonder what that has contributed to the increasing tuition and cost of educating our kids. (Professor Brown appears to have taught one or two classes each quarter and lists six or seven articles written since 2007. I personally figure he’s got too much time on his hands.)

    I was too dramatic about his use of [u]Vanguard[/u] material. I took it as a compliment when I came across his reprint of your work. (I should have provided the link, but I don’t think I could track it down again.)

  34. JustSaying

    [quote][i]”…it would certainly seem that he represents an extreme of leftist philosophical thought, which whether or not one is in agreement ( I may have found someone further to the left than I am Rich ! ), certainly has enough importance to deserve a place at the University.”[/i][/quote]Is it really necessary to be one in order to teach it? I certainly learned a lot about the Ku Klux Klan, violent criminals, Aztecs and psychopaths from excellent teachers who didn’t represent any of them. If [u]society[/u] needs to find a place to house these extreme thinkers/actors, does even that mean they “deserve a place at the University”?

  35. rusty49

    “Professor Brown, it would certainly seem that he represents an extreme of leftist philosophical thought, which whether or not one is in agreement
    ( I may have found someone further to the left than I am Rich ! ), certainly has enough importance to deserve a place at the University.”

    Right, because we all know that professors of extreme philosophical views to the right are so embraced by and deserve a place at the University.

  36. David M. Greenwald

    Rusty: if you’re argument is that right wing professors deserve a place at the university then I agree. If you are using a right wing professor’s exclusion as a reason to exclude a Nathan Brown then I disagree.

  37. medwoman

    Just Saying

    “Is it really necessary to be one in order to teach it? I certainly learned a lot about the Ku Klux Klan, violent criminals, Aztecs and psychopaths from excellent teachers who didn’t represent any of them. If society needs to find a place to house these extreme thinkers/actors, does even that mean they “deserve a place at the University”?

    Of course not. It is the ideas that deserve representation. Omly those who have full knowledge of Professor Bowns resume, past research, future research potential and teaching and mentoring skills should be making the determination of whether he is the right individual for the job.
    I do not pretend to have such knowledge.

    Rusty

    I fully support the representation of extreme right political ideas on our campuses and would support any instructor who met the same qualifications I specified above for those on the left. I truly believe that the best way to educate is to allow students exposure to as many perspectives as possible, encourage them to develope their own critical thinking skills and develope their own ideas. I realize that this is not in accordance with the concept of ” true believers” of any political or religious extreme who believe that their belief is the one that should be taught.
    But this is truly how I feel.

  38. K.Smith

    [i]”I’m sure you’re correct about the trend toward research for professors. I wonder what that has contributed to the increasing tuition and cost of educating our kids. (Professor Brown appears to have taught one or two classes each quarter and lists six or seven articles written since 2007. I personally figure he’s got too much time on his hands.)” [/i]

    See David’s comment above. This is the standard teaching load for tenured or tenure-track faculty. They teach 1-2 courses per quarter, and have one “in residence” quarter to be used for research and writing. That is standard across most research universities. Plus, he would hold 2 or more office hours per week to meet with students.

    You raise a really good point, however, regarding to what extent this prioritization of research has had an impact on increasing tuition costs. I have no idea what the answer to this question is, but I do know that increasingly departments are shifting the teaching load to contingent faculty, via “visiting assistant professorships” (typically 1-2 year appointments) and “lectureships,” (many times w/o security of employment). These adjunct positions, in particular, are very low paid, have high teaching loads, and usually are not considered “full time,” and therefore in most cases do not have benefits.

  39. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Rifkin, you cannot understand this because you have a logical mind. Thus it is hard for you to treat nonsense as if it makes sense. Apparently several years in an English Ph.D. program obliterate this inability. [/quote]

    LOL…I’m glad I was a math major! I could understand that!

  40. Frankly

    [i]”I’m sure you’re correct about the trend toward research for professors. I wonder what that has contributed to the increasing tuition and cost of educating our kids. (Professor Brown appears to have taught one or two classes each quarter and lists six or seven articles written since 2007. I personally figure he’s got too much time on his hands.)”[/i]

    Of course this is contributing to the tuition inflation.
    [quote]What has gotten lost in the outrage over the spraying is total betrayal of California’s commitment to an equalitarian society through education. The 1960 legislatively mandated master plan for the UC system originally pledged a tuition free education for all qualified secondary students. By substituting the word ‘fees’ for ‘tuition,’ the political and educational leaders of the state are now recommending UC students pay fees of $22,000 a year to attend classes. At the same time, funds for the UC system have become massively beholden to corporate and defense research contracts. Currently undergraduate students have limited contacts with their teachers, who are primarily pushed to do research, leaving part-time instructors and graduate students to pick up the slack. The UC Davis students were protesting the harsh unfairness of this mission creep away from students and towards what they call the ‘corporatocracy.’ Every year they are being asked to pay more for less contact with their professors. At the same time the 1% controlled financial elite that is running the UC system offers fewer employment opportunities after graduation. Sound familiar to British readers?”[/quote]

    Tax dollars that flow to the UC system should be designated specifically to support instruction and should be separated from research funding. I have a REAL BIG problem with this argument that we should celebrate UCD as being a research university when tuition and fee inflation has been out of control for decades. Of course this mission is at conflict with the teaching mission. People will always pursue their self interest first and foremost. Providing the highest quality and least expensive (read: most value) education for students is at best secondary to keeping the egos of faculty and management inflated.

    I think the institution has lost its way and needs to revisit its mission. Today it is more of a taxpayer and student funded nursery for entitled and frustrated adult nerds owning credentials. You can argue the points to my until your face turns blue, but IMO, for most academic pursuits, an undergraduate degree at the University of Phoenix is not any worse – and is probably much better – for many kids duped into the college prestige argument. I would support re-directing all tax revenue currently put in the hands of irresponsible UC management to students as college tuition vouchers. This would keep the use of these funds completely transparent, it would allow the students to “vote” their confidence in the college by spending their vouchers, and it would foment competition in the mission of the colleges to start treating the students as customers deserving of the utmost respect.

  41. Don Shor

    @ JustSaying: My reference to ‘off-topic’ had to do with the discussion of whether critical theory belongs in the English department. Professor Brown’s views and motives certainly are on-topic.
    I hope that people won’t consider the bulletin board to be somehow inferior to the blog. I think it will actually make it easier to have ongoing discussions and to retrieve prior discussions, as well as helping to keep blog threads on topic.

  42. medwoman

    Jeff

    Sounds good in theory. But does not address questions I put forward on a different thread.
    1) Since universities do not operate like businesses such as department stores, for example, Nieman Marcus does not restrict shoppers because they have too many equally qualified candidates or because their potential shoppers are not well enough connected, while almost all of the equivalent universities do, how would you guarantee that these students have access to an equivalent education elsewhere ?
    2) On a separate, but closely related issue, some UC departments, such as the top ranked in the nation Integrative Biology department, have no equivalent. Giving these students vouchers will not enable them to obtain the equivalent education elsewhere. It doesn’t exist elsewhere.

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