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Friday, November 20, 2009


The University of California has put faculty and staff on furloughs amounting to an average 8 per cent pay cut, and yesterday voted to raise student by 32 per cent.

That's a huge increase.  It's worth noting that, even after the increase, UC tuition will still be a bargain at $10,302 -- my own university charges a whopping $41,610 for undergraduates -- but still, a 32 percent increase in any price has to cause some severe sticker shock.

Professors have a funny relationship with tuition.  On the one hand, I am stunned by the tuition my law school charges -- $42,205 -- and I feel we should at least show some restraint in increasing it.  On the other hand, it pays my salary.  My school doesn't have that big an endowment, so we are primarily tuition-dependent.  If we want to restrain tuition increases, we have to restrain my salary too.  So I'm caught in a conflict of interest.

Professors also have a funny relationship with furloughs.  Thankfully, we don't have any at my school, but I wonder how professors at state schools are managing.  An 8 per cent furlough presumably means that they're being instructed to take about 20 days off a year.  (Apparently the actual number ranges from 11 to 26, with higher-salary employees expected to take more.)  But given the way professors work, days off are pretty meaningless.  We already have considerable control over our time -- apart from time when we're required to be in class, we work as much as we want to and take days off when we want to.  I hasten to add that for most of us, including me, that ends up meaning working almost all the time, but the point is that getting extra time off doesn't take the sting out of a furlough.  It's not like getting unpaid vacation time, it's just unpaid work time.

Of course, the life of a professor is so good that it's churlish to complain that furlough days probably won't actually get taken.  I'm not expecting any sympathy with the fact that we already have so much flexibility that it's meaningless to give us more.  But still, an 8 per cent pay cut has to hurt.  My sympathies go out to the UC students and faculty.

Posted by Jonathan Siegel on November 20, 2009 at 12:38 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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UC law schools are increasingly tuition driven as well, which means we are hiring. BTW Faculty have been explicitly told not to take furlough days off (meaning it is just a pay cut, but spares our retirement funds). Furloughs will not be repeated but whatever comes next won't be pretty.

Posted by: Jonathan Simon | Nov 20, 2009 1:05:08 PM

Any sense how this might impact the UC schools that were interviewing at AALS? I.e., are those slots now even more likely to evaporate?

Posted by: anon | Nov 20, 2009 12:48:49 PM

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