Dear Campus Community,
We start this new year with signed union contracts with our academic researchers, postdoctoral scholars, graduate student researchers, and teaching assistants. The contracts provide important salary increases and expanded benefits to these essential members of our academic workforce, and we all look forward to working together in support of our mission here at UCR. The first three groups are mostly paid from extramural funds, and we recognize the challenges faced by faculty as they must shift their current grant budgets to accommodate the salary and benefits increases (about $11.5M per year by FY25). Principal investigators who need assistance should work with their department chairs, who will determine whether to bring in their respective deans’ offices.
Our TAs are supported by UCR’s core budget. It is clear that neither the state of California nor the Office of the President will be providing additional funding to support this added expense, which will require an additional $16.5M per year by FY25. I have convened a work group made up of deans, Senate leaders, and CFAOs to come up with a long-term plan for sustainable funding of graduate education at UCR. In the meantime, the central campus planned for a salary increase this year, which is sufficient to cover the FY23 increase, and will use one-time funds to cover these costs for the colleges and schools in FY24, as needed. Furthermore, we plan to enroll the same total number of new PhD and MFA students in fall 2023 as we did in fall 2022, in recognition of the vital role played by graduate students in the fulfillment of our academic mission.
In the rest of this quarterly campus update, I’d like to highlight four important initiatives developed and implemented by some of our central campus units.
DEFERRED MAINTENANCE AND CAPITAL PROJECTS
I’m pleased to share this report on Deferred Maintenance and Capital Projects that was jointly presented to the Campus Finance Committee (CFC) in December by the leaders of Facilities Services and Planning, Design, & Construction. While there are many more needs than there are resources available to address deferred maintenance, seismic upgrades, and carbon neutrality projects at UCR, significant progress is being made to improve our campus infrastructure, building systems, and physical plant sustainability.
Major renovation projects are giving new life to existing buildings, including Pierce Hall (completed) and Batchelor Hall (halfway done). There are currently underway about $30M worth of deferred maintenance projects, upgrading things like roofing and mechanical systems.
We have also invested nearly $10M in primary power projects to improve our electrical system infrastructure. Curious about how power works at UCR? Watch this video to learn more.
UCR is investing in some innovative facilities-related projects. One exciting program, designed to improve our energy efficiency, is the development of a carbon inset program that will invest in strategic energy projects to reduce greenhouse gas production, thus reducing our need to purchase energy offsets to meet our carbon neutrality goals. Another is the modification of
multi-stall restrooms into gender-inclusive restrooms in Spieth Hall and the PE/Dance Building.
Last spring, based on a recommendation from the CFC, Facilities Services was allocated an annual budget of $381K to implement a Preventative Maintenance Program, which deploys staff and materials to maintain the life and effectiveness of our building infrastructure and thus reduce the accumulation of a deferred maintenance burden.
Finally, there are some new buildings going up on campus. The School of Medicine Education Building II, funded by a direct state allocation, is scheduled to open this summer; the new Student Health & Counseling Center, funded primarily by UCR’s century bond, will open in the fall; and the new School of Business building, funded primarily by school revenues, will be completed in summer 2024. Stay tuned for news of progress on the proposed Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Facility, which was earmarked for $51.5M from the state in the FY23 budget.
NEW: CAMPUS CLIMATE INCIDENT REPORTING
In response to a desire for more direct attention to incidents of bias, intolerance, and other forms of unwelcome and unacceptable behavior, the Campus Climate Response Group (CCRG) will be responsible for assisting campus community members by directing reports of such conduct to the appropriate resource and/or investigative offices for proper and timely response and adjudication. CCRG members assist campus constituents by ensuring their reports are addressed by the relevant departments and units in charge of oversight and accountability for addressing the reported behavior. Campus community members may also reach out to any of the CCRG members for direct advice and guidance. This reporting mechanism does not supplant existing intake options, but rather is meant to offer a supplementary option for those unsure which reporting mechanism might be most appropriate for a given situation.
In an endeavor to foster a campus climate conducive to the successful participation of all our members in meeting our mission, responses to reports that do not rise to the level of a university policy violation will generally focus on providing support resources to the affected individual, educational opportunities for the individuals involved, and efforts to reach voluntary resolution of disputes (in a manner that is respectful of Free Speech protections).
Are you interested in the history and shifting landscape of bias response teams and emerging alternatives in the higher education context? Please view this webinar sponsored by the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement.
DATA ANALYSES OF FACULTY PROGRESSION
I would like to call your attention to a set of data analyses performed by the Academic Personnel Office (APO) on the merit and promotion process and its outcomes. These studies examine 1) the rate at which reviews of files were completed; 2) equity in outcomes across gender and ethnicity groups; 3) agreement rates between the review bodies of department, dean, Committee on Academic Personnel (CAP), vice provost for academic personnel (VPAP), and provost; 4) tendencies for colleges and schools to consider new off-scale and multi-step placements; and 5) comparison of deferral rates between genders.
Be sure to check out the quarterly APO newsletter to learn about ongoing data studies, professional development workshops, important deadlines, and other initiatives sponsored by this office.
Within our Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) division is the Risk & Safety Training program, one of the UC’s Centers of Excellence. The Risk & Safety Training team recently completed a training course for the new Policy on Abusive Conduct in the Workplace. This new course will be rolled out shortly and will become one of the few mandatory trainings for employees. This is a good time to remind ourselves of the importance of promptly completing all mandatory trainings and ensuring that the people on our teams complete them as well. For most employees, the recurring mandatory trainings are limited to safety, cybersecurity, and prevention of sexual violence and sexual harassment.
If you have questions or comments on these or any other campus initiatives, I encourage you to come meet with me at office hours.