Furloughs, that is, and the University of California. As you know the state of California, despite having a majority of legislators who are willing to tax residents adequately to pay for services, requires a supermajority to put through any tax increase. So the legislature cannot vote a budget that will pay for the level of services the state government provides.

The state has therefore been furloughing employees to save money without laying people off. This means that, for example, if you need to go to the DMV, you must make sure you’re not planning to go on a furlough day—if you do, your friendly neighborhood DMV workers won’t be there.

The state university budgets react a little more slowly than the state government budgets, but come this fall furloughs will apply to the best public higher education in the world.

As Ari mentioned a while back, at the Athens of the Central Valley there was a straw poll to ask faculty whether they supported taking furloughs on teaching days. Eighty-two percent said yes. For many of these faculty, the logic was the same as the DMV’s (and other state offices’) closure; the service is already being provided at below-market cost: lower funding makes it unrealistic to provide the service at the same level.

This Friday evening, Lawrence Pitts, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs for the whole UC, issued a memorandum explaining how the UC will implement furloughs for faculty.

faculty furlough days will not occur on instructional days…. In such difficult times, I believe that we must do everything we can to ensure that the students continue to receive all of their instruction. Asking the faculty to carry a full teaching load during furloughs is a large request, but in my mind is justified by the University’s paramount teaching mission. Research is permitted on furlough days….

Research being permitted means research will be expected, of course; no eight percent diminution in research output will be acceptable, as UCD Academic Senate Chair Robert Powell points out in the local newspaper today.

“Basically he’s telling the faculty ‘keep working – keep doing research and teaching and service, you’re just going to get paid 8 percent less.’ … ”

The California State University not only thought similarly to the vast majority of UCD faculty, it has adopted a policy whereby faculty can and presumably will take furloughs on teaching days.

CSU faculty are unionized.

The University of California at Berkeley will coincidentally be reducing its teaching days for reasons that have nothing to do with furloughs.

The general trend has been clear for twenty-seven years since acute observers noted “the concept of a free [i.e., free to the student] education at publicly owned colleges and universities has already been largely abandoned”.