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Documents regarding Robert M. Berdahl's appointment as AAU president

Statement from Robert M. Berdahl
Re: New appointment as President of the Association of American Universities
January 23, 2006

I am honored and excited about the opportunity to serve as the President of the Association of American Universities. After stepping down as Chancellor of UC Berkeley, I have spent the past year preparing to return to the classroom, which I fully intended to do. Indeed, I look forward to teaching again during the spring semester. However, when the presidency of the AAU was offered to me on January 3, I saw it as an opportunity to serve higher education, including the University of California, in a new and important capacity. As the primary advocacy organization for the 62 major public and private research universities, the AAU is of special significance to California, where 15% of the AAU institutions are located, including six campuses of the University of California. UC campuses generate $2.6 billion in federal research funding annually and together with Stanford, Cal Tech, and USC account for a significant percentage of the nation's investment in research. I believe our nation's future depends heavily on its investment in its universities and I am pleased to be able to play a role in trying to secure that future.

Letter from Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau to Robert M. Berdahl
Re: Berdahl's appointment as AAU president
January 4, 2006

Dear Bob:

My sincere congratulations on your appointment as President of the AAU. This is a great appointment for the country, for California, for the UC system, and for the Berkeley campus. The AAU is fortunate to have your leadership, and your role there will provide you a chance to enhance federal support for higher education in important ways, as well as to increase the influence of the AAU in other areas to advance higher education here and abroad. The AAU has played an important role in past decades in guiding the federal public policy debate on issues important to higher education, and I expect under your leadership it will continue to play that important role.

As you know, University policy requires that faculty completing a sabbatical leave return to the campus to serve for a period of at least the duration of the sabbatical leave which is, in your case, two semesters. I understand that the start of your formal duties as AAU president will occur at the end of the spring semester on May 19, 2006, and that during the spring you will teach a course in Public Policy, a course in history, and also carry out research in the Center for Studies in Higher Education. Because of the benefits to the campus and to UC of this appointment, and the positive impacts nationally of your service, and given your plans to teach in the spring semester as outlined above, I am, as an exception to policy, willing to waive the second semester of the return to service requirement. This will allow you to retire from the University upon completion of your spring semester responsibilities.

You have our best wishes in this endeavor and I look forward to your leadership in Washington.

With warm regards.

Yours sincerely,
Robert J. Birgeneau

UC Academic Personnel Manual, excerpt from policy on leaves

740-16 Restrictions

d. A sabbatical leave of absence shall be granted by the University and accepted by the recipient with the understanding that, immediately following the leave of absence, the recipient will return to active University service for a period at least equal to the period of the leave. However, with the approval of the Chancellor, the return to service may be delayed during a period of leave without pay not longer than the period of the sabbatical leave. Failure to return to regular University employment after sabbatical leave for a period at least equal to the period of the leave shall create an obligation on the part of the appointee to refund the entire salary received for the period of a regular sabbatical leave, or two-thirds of the salary received for the period of a sabbatical leave in residence. (In case of return to regular University employment for a period less than that of the sabbatical leave, the refund requirement will be reduced in proportion to the length of the time served.) This requirement for repayment may not be waived without the approval of the Chancellor. The authority may not be redelegated.

Sabbatical leave shall not be granted to an individual who plans to retire immediately following the sabbatical. For an individual who unexpectedly retires immediately after the sabbatical leave, see the repayment requirement described above.

Letter from Robert M. Berdahl to the San Francisco Chronicle

January 24, 2006

To the editor:
Since the Chronicle has chosen to highlight features of my recent leave, perhaps some facts deserve to be considered:

  1. A year's leave for a university president or chancellor after seven years of service (some institutions, after five) is common practice among major universities throughout the United States.  The University of California is not exceptional in doing so.  This could have been easily ascertained by reporters interested in telling a complete story.
  2. Such leaves are commonly compensated, like those of faculty, at the rate at which they were earned.  This, too, could have been reported.
  3. My leave was scheduled to commence on July 1, 2004; I intended to return to teaching at the beginning of the Fall Semester 2005.  Because the new chancellor had not yet been appointed on July 1, to assist the University by providing continuity, I agreed to remain in office until the new chancellor could replace me.  Chancellor Birgeneau did not arrive until well after the Fall Semester 2004 began, which meant my year's leave would end in the middle of a semester, not an appropriate time to begin teaching.  These facts were known to The Chronicle, but significantly omitted.
  4. Had I been able to begin my leave as scheduled, I would have returned last fall and have completed my obligation to the University at the end of this Spring Semester.
  5. To bridge much of the gap between my departure and my return, 15 months later, I used accumulated vacation time, at the rate it was earned, as is the right of every University employee.
  6. While on sabbatical, my first since 1977, I spent my time, as expected, preparing to return to full-time teaching.  To describe this as "pocketing cash" is outrageous.
  That these facts were completely ignored by Chronicle reporters should give readers some sense about the fairness and accuracy of their other stories about the University.
Robert M. Berdahl


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