Let us begin by saying that we have heard you. We were moved by the passion and emotion expressed at the student-initiated town hall in March. You care about UC Hastings, and your commitment to making it better—immediately and in the long-term—is undeniable.
You and the administration have the same goals in mind: to make UC Hastings College of the Law the best law school it can be, and to ensure that students are 1) put first, and 2) given meaningful opportunities to participate in the process.
It is our aim with this communication to speak directly to the concerns we have heard, including “setting the record straight” on certain misinformation. More than that, we hope this message will serve as a step in facilitating ongoing collaboration between the students and administration of UC Hastings. Such communication and collaboration will not only be of benefit to students now, but is essential to our long-term success as a law school.
The majority of the information shared in this message has been distributed in various forms prior to today. In addition, the Spring 2012 Strategic Plan Implementation Update provides substantial information regarding recent activity at UC Hastings, including compiled links from earlier messages and notes on the strategic planning process and substance, March’s staff reorganization, the context of the new legal marketplace, and our ongoing call for input. At the close of the Spring update is a special note regarding transparency, the decision-making process at UC Hastings, and “The Perils of Rankings.” We will refer to the update in this letter, as well as providing additional information specific to concerns raised at the town hall.
We respect your call for greater voice within the decision-making processes at UC Hastings. We value your input, and seek to provide you with the information you need to make contributions to the betterment of the school. As indicated below, we have attempted to employ highly inclusive strategic planning and implementation processes. Given the concerns you have raised, we will be even more aware of the need for meaningful opportunities for your involvement.
As part of that effort, we have initiated a series of community get-togethers led by faculty, staff, and outside experts on various topics related to our mission, operations, and governance. We are calling the series “UC Hastings Today,” and invite you to join us for the kick off on Friday, April 20, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Alumni Reception Center (ARC). This Friday's inaugural session (a bring-your-own lunch event) will feature CFO David Seward and Assistant Dean for Admissions Greg Canada presenting an overview of the College's operations and financial status. The overview is based on UC Hastings' recent presentation to Moody's Investor Services during Moody's periodic review of the College's debt ratings. Future subjects are expected to include technology, development, long-range campus planning, trends in legal education, and strategic planning updates. UC Hastings Today is organized by the Strategic Planning Implementation Committee on Financial Sustainability Co-Chairs, David Seward and Beth Hillman.
Regarding some of the specific questions raised in your open letter:
We hear you saying that eliminating a position in LEOP made many students feel the administration at UC Hastings does not support them. You also asked for the College to “openly and proudly endorse and lend its meaningful support to the LEOP program.”
So here it is: We openly and proudly endorse and lend our meaningful support to the LEOP program. UC Hastings is committed to diversity and access to a top tier education. As stated in the Spring Update, even with the reduction in class size, UC Hastings will remain one of the largest law schools in the country, continuing full-force in serving our public mission of access and diversity. Access to a top-tier legal education continues to be a priority at UC Hastings. This includes strong support for the Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP), which has been a model since it was started two generations ago. UC Hastings has made an ongoing commitment to enroll 20% of its incoming class through LEOP. The College’s most distinguished graduates include people who matriculated through LEOP, including this year’s Commencement speaker, Jeff Adachi. UC Hastings also restored the Fellow position to the LEOP program and has made a commitment to continue funding it.
This topic is covered at length in the Spring Update, and we will reiterate here:
The process by which positions were chosen for elimination or time reduction was consistent with the College’s commitment to fair labor practices and in accord with collective bargaining agreements with the College’s unions. It was as transparent as legally possible given privacy rights and personnel rules and regulations.
Decisions were made as to positions and not specific persons, and nothing here should be understood as reflecting any judgment as to individual performance. As noted above and shown in more detail on documents linked below, the plans affected all divisions. They also included positions that were represented and those that were not represented; among them were management positions.
Final choices were based on the strategic plan, the staffing needs of the College, the Division or Department's ability to fulfill operational needs, and the availability of funding.
Departments planned how the workload of the positions eliminated would be handled, particularly for positions that directly involved services to students. New hires are planned in keeping with the implementation of the Strategic Plan, and UC Hastings will not be filling positions that were eliminated due to the reorganization.
Pay increases and fair labor practices: Through the collective bargaining process, the administration negotiated with the College Service Unit a 5%-plus pay increase over a one-year period (2.5% in December 2011 and an additional 2.5% to come in July 2012). The same provision was extended to faculty and other staff (with limited exceptions based on employee status and contractual differences). Furthermore, staff (with limited exceptions) but not faculty received a one-time lump sum payment of $800. Over the past two years, numerous employees – including, among staff, primarily individuals who are not managers – have received individual compensation adjustments.
The administration of UC Hastings will continue to strive to communicate with students, and we ask that you do the same and try to utilize channels already set up to give your voice. Change is difficult, but the entire UC Hastings community is committed to making UC Hastings better. We welcome working with students in these efforts.
Chancellor & Dean Frank H. Wu
Academic Dean Shauna Marshall
Associate Academic Dean Keith Wingate