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Berkeley Faculty Association joins national alliance

New coalition focuses efforts on critical issues such as researching and intellectual property

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted May 10, 2000

The Berkeley Faculty Association recently joined forces with the American Association of University Professors in an effort to address critical issues facing Berkeley and universities nationwide.

Top concerns of the coalition are reliance on corporate funding for research, and ownership of intellectual property.

"Cash-strapped institutions view the intellectual property of their faculty as a potential source of revenue," said Richard Scheffler, professor of health economics and public policy and chairman of the Berkeley faculty group. "Now more than ever, faculty need a powerful voice speaking for them."

With the rise of Internet use in teaching, the concept of intellectual property is being challenged, said Berkeley Social Welfare Professor Mary Ann Mason, who chairs the council of UC Faculty Associations.

"There is a trend toward taking rights away from faculty," said Mason.

The state legislature is currently reviewing AB1773, a new bill on classroom notetaking and faculty authorship. The law would help faculty maintain more control over their lectures. Members of the new coalition are lobbying in Sacramento to promote its passage.

Corporatization of the university is another coalition concern, according to Mason. Without careful scrutiny, agreements with industry can create a whole host of problems, she said.

"Corporate partnerships, like the recent deal with Novartis (and the College of Natural Resources), do bring money into the university," said Scheffler. "But a strong faculty voice is needed to prevent the loss of control over our research."

Mason thinks corporate partnerships are inevitable, but believes they must be structured so that the university as a whole benefits from these agreements.

"We don't want to become a university of haves and have-nots," said Mason. "Those departments and schools with strong industry relations will get financial support, while other scholarly disciplines will never have these kinds of connections."

Such a situation pits department against department, Mason said, especially in terms of resources for recruiting faculty and graduate students. Spreading around the advantages of industry support would benefit everyone, she said.

"Berkeley has a history of being egalitarian and respecting others," said Mason. "We all benefit from a strong, democratic atmosphere."

The AAUP, with 45,000 members, will be a powerful ally and potent advocate for members of the Berkeley Faculty Association, says Scheffler.

According to Mary Burgan, AAUP general secretary, the coalition's primary objective is to "reaffirm the faculty's role in meaningful institutional decision-making."

One symptom of corporatization is "bypassing the traditional collegial model of faculty governance and replacing it with a 'top down' decision-making structure," said Burgan. "We plan to work closely with Berkeley faculty to encourage lively involvement in issues vital to our community."

The new coalition is a shared-membership arrangement with a single-dues structure. Membership is open to all Academic Senate faculty at Berkeley.

Dues, which may be automatically deducted from monthly paychecks, are $14 for full professors; $10 for associate professors; $7 for assistant professors; and $25 per academic year for emeritus professors.

Members are eligible for all AAUP services and for election to its offices and service on its committees. The coalition's initial project will be a joint membership drive, headed by a full-time campus-based recruiter.

For information, call Marcus Harvey at 841-1997 or e-mail (



May 10 - June 6, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 33)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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