Friday, September 7, 2012

UC Regents Set to Appoint Interim Incumbent as University Librarian

Update 9/22/12: UL appointment effective October 1, 2012.

9/14/12 update: Regents approved the compensation for the interim and UL positions yesterday. The UC newsroom sent out a press release on all the executive salaries approved, including this one at UCI: "The campus conducted an internal search and selected Tanji based on her performance in the interim role, her extensive service in the UC system and her leadership during a transitional period for the UC Irvine libraries.". Of course, the search, if any, was secret, not a good thing for a public institution. There was in fact no recruitment, internally nor nationwide.

9/13/12: Updated with Compensation Committee recommended salary increase, see below after Afterword

9/8/12: Updated with Afterword below.

University of California Regents are set to formalize at their upcoming meeting next Thursday the elevation of the current interim University Librarian at UC Irvine as University Librarian, without opening up the position to a nationwide search.

Interim University Librarian Lorelei Tanji's compensation is also expected to be approved at that meeting. Her compensation constitutes executive pay so all such actions are now publicized on the UC web site on compensation.

Tanji was appointed to succeed Gerald R. Lowell in February 2011. He had been University Librarian at UC Berkeley and UC San Diego and had come out of retirement to be an assistant dean at UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts just prior to stepping in to run the UCI Libraries after that incumbent retired.

Officeholder no longer interim?
This agenda item appears on the closed 13 September 2012 meeting agenda of the UC Regents' Committee on Compensation:

"Partially or Fully State-Funded Positions
B. Retroactive Extension of Appointment of and Compensation for Interim University Librarian, Irvine Campus, and Appointment of and Compensation for University Librarian, Irvine Campus."

The agenda item retroactively also corrects the error from the UC Regents' approval last year of Tanji as "University Librarian" rather than an "interim" one.

At the 2 p.m. open session later the same day, the Compensation Committee report (not public until after the closed session) will be acted upon, with the agenda item seeking pro-forma "Approval of... compensation actions discussed in closed session."

Prior to its May 2011 meeting, the UC Regents approved by 'interim action" Tanji's interim appointment (erroneously described as for "University Librarian"), until 31 March 2012 or the appointment of a permanent UL, at the salary of $170,000, which at SLGC Grade 106 is less than the midpoint salary range of $195,200. Hence the "retroactive extension".

As rationale for the appointment last year, UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake submitted this "background for recommendation" (the title was mischaracterized):

"Action under interim authority was requested for the approval of the term appointment of Lorelei A. Tanji as University Librarian, effective immediately upon approval. This request was in response to an immediate need to fill the position, which was vacated by an unexpected resignation by the prior acting incumbent on February 28, 2011.

"The campus requested a one-year term appointment designed to provide longterm leadership while finalizing two other strategic recruitments before beginning recruitment efforts for a University Librarian. Additionally, the campus will benefit from salary cost savings as Ms. Tanji will be appointed at a lower salary than the prior permanent incumbent and former acting incumbent.

"Ms. Tanji is currently serving as Associate University Librarian for Collections for UC Irvine. She has more than 20 years of exemplary service to the UC system, having held various positions at the UC Irvine Libraries and UC Riverside Libraries, each with increasing responsibility. Ms. Tanji will provide the leadership and stability that the UC Irvine Libraries require during this interim period. She has experience in campuswide strategic planning given her involvement on planning committees such as the Task Force on Strategic Planning for the Libraries, the Law School Implementation Team, the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Undergraduate Education Research and the Chancellor’s Educational Technology Task Force. She has also served on UC systemwide committees related to library planning and collection development. Additionally, her work in technology and education in libraries has has been published in a variety of literary media.

"This position is funded 100 percent by UC general funds provided by the State. The proposed annual compensation of $170,000 is 18.9 percent below the average market salary of $209,555, 17.9 percent below the average base salary of the other UC university librarians of $207,143, and 12.9 percent below the midpoint of SLCG Grade 106 of $195,200."

The recommendation was approved for her appointment "continuing through March 31, 2012 or until the appointment of a permanent incumbent, whichever occurs first."

The UC Regents will see a similar justification from Drake next week for elevating her to the position (although they erroneously already appointed her as University Librarian last year). The justification will likely state why there is not going to be any nationwide search, despite Drake's statement last year (quoted above) that the interim position was needed to be filled "before beginning recruitment efforts for University Librarian."

Just this past April UCI librarians were asked by the office of then-Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Michael R. Gottfredson (through Vice Provost Michael Clark) to review her work performance. No official announcement has been made about results of the performance review. The EVC likely acted to reappoint the incumbent in his last major action before moving to head the University of Oregon, sparing interim EVC and Provost Susan V. Bryant from having to deal with the issue.

AFTERWORD (9/8/12):

I congratulate our new UL on her expected appointment. My colleagues and I probably prefer the status quo to unpredictable change. The activist in me wishes there was more transparency and a commitment to open recruitment as a valued principle.

Update 9/13/2012: The Regents have released more information, the UC Regents would retroactively (due to an "administrative oversight") extend the appointment at the interim level and then appoint the interim UL as UL at a salary of $200,000 as of 9/13/2012. The document states there was an "internal search" where faculty, senior library staff etc. were consulted. -- Daniel C. Tsang

UC Librarians Fight for Release of Earned Merit Pay Increases

Update 9/26/2012: An online petition has been posted seeking support on this issue, especially since the UC recently paid outrageous bonuses to senior executives while still withholding merit pay raises from UC librarians who went through the peer review process successfully.

University of California librarians are protesting over the central administration's unwillingness to pay merit increases to line librarians who were awarded such increases after an arduous academic peer review process. The pay raises were supposed to go into effect on 1 July 2012.

It is perhaps not as well known that librarians, as academic employees of the university, have to undergo periodic reviews of their work performance similar to tenured faculty.

However, management is refusing to pay out the pay raises for those who were successful in their academic review. About a third of the bargaining unit of almost 350 academic librarians is affected; those librarians came up for and completed their academic reviews this past year.

Unionized librarians - members of the University Council of the American Federation of Teachers - on the UCs have now begun a postcard campaign (see graphics) to publicize the administrative intransigence. Postcards signed by unionized members are being submitted to UC President Mark Yudof and campus University Librarians. The postcards argue that the earned merits should be released now!

The UC librarians face a union contract expiration at the end of this month and have been in talks with the administration to extend the contract. This merit pay issue has hence become embroiled in bargaining, with the UC offering to release the earned pay increases only if the union agrees to cuts in the pension package.

UC Berkeley law librarian I-Wei Wang has penned a strong public appeal to the UC to release the merit pay increases.

She writes inter alia: "I, along with about one third of my librarian colleagues throughout this campus, have recently undergone the rigorous peer-review process that governs promotion and advancement in the librarian career track. Our merit increases– based on our demonstrated professional performance and contributions to the education and service missions of the library and university system over the past two to three years as well as our promise and potential for further contributions—have already been granted by the reviewers. But now the University negotiators have threatened to withhold the salary increases we have already shown we deserve until librarians agree to a contract extension and give up certain rights pertaining to planned changes in retirement benefits.

She argues that the UC actions are "deeply demoralizing" to her, adding, "The choice to become an academic librarian represented a significant economic sacrifice on my family’s part, but I willingly made that sacrifice in order to dedicate myself to the teaching and research mission of this institution." She continues:

"For the University to answer that dedication with this slap in the face is truly offensive, not to mention counterproductive. It is clearly a bullying tactic, meant to divide me and similarly situated colleagues from those of our peers who happen not to be under review at a time when our contract is under negotiation. Instead of making me want to give in to the University’s position on the collective bargaining agreement — instead of causing me to cave in to blackmail — this tactic just leaves me feeling unappreciated, undervalued, and yes, angry. It is an unsavory and utterly unfair measure aimed at precisely those librarians who, by being granted merit increases during this review cycle, have proven our extraordinary contribution to the mission of the University.

"What makes the University’s tactics all the more contemptible is that there is so little money involved. The actual amount of the merit raise that I was awarded by reviewers, and that is now being withheld from me in an effort to pressure us all to accept the University’s proposal, is a pittance compared to the kind of salary I could expect (and have commanded) in the private sector — and, more to the point, the amount at issue is meaningless to the University, even in our current budget situation. It’s not about saving money in tough economic times; it’s a blatant attempt to cut off negotiations and bind all of the academic librarians that serve this University by holding a group of us as economic hostages. Don’t get me wrong: I know I deserve a raise, and I want the money that I have earned. But I’m not going to submit to outright extortion in order to get it.

"If you care about fairness and equity, if you appreciate everything that my colleagues and I do for this University, please lend your voice in support of UC librarians. We have earned our merits. Please release them."

Bravo I-Wei! - Daniel C. Tsang.