UC Berkeley News
Web Feature

UC Berkeley Web Feature

UC compensation – The campus context
An open letter to the Cal community

24 January 2006

This morning the San Francisco Chronicle published the latest in a series of articles about compensation policies and practices in the University of California system. While past reporting has focused on system-wide issues, today's front-page story relates solely to decisions affecting the recent sabbatical leave of former Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl.

Although described in the newspaper as one in a series of "revelations about UC's employee pay and benefits," we are certain that a review of relevant documents makes it quite clear that Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's decision regarding former Chancellor Berdahl's sabbatical and compensation was a matter of public record, in no way violated existing policy, and was completely consistent with the best interests of the university.

As part of our campus-wide commitment to full disclosure and transparency, we are making available full, unedited copies of documents relevant to Chancellor Birgeneau's decision. These include:

We are also making available a letter former Chancellor Berdahl has written to the San Francisco Chronicle's editor that provides critical information not included in today's story.

While all of us who are familiar with Robert Berdahl's passion, dedication and talent will sorely miss his presence on the Berkeley faculty, we are also completely cognizant of the enormous benefits that will accrue to this campus during his tenure as president of the Association of American Universities (AAU). As you'll see from Chancellor Birgeneau's letter, it was a careful consideration of the benefits that led him to make a clear decision in support of Berkeley's long-term interests.

The AAU is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., whose sole mission is to advocate for issues and funding that are vital to research-intensive universities. Berkeley receives hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government in support of research on an annual basis. To have a former Berkeley chancellor leading this organization will be profoundly important to the future of our research endeavors and the resulting contribution to the public good.

While the Chronicle's articles have raised legitimate issues regarding the transparency of UC's compensation policies, we feel the newspaper has consistently ignored the context of various decisions and has deliberately used the language of sensationalism to infer wrongdoing without necessarily finding any. Using this space, Public Affairs will continue to share with you data that makes clear the complex and competitive economic environment this university operates in. To that end, we are making available a fact sheet related to the Chronicle's past reporting on compensation policy and practice in the UC system.


George Strait
Associate Vice Chancellor, Public Affairs
UC Berkeley

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