Faculty Perceptions of a UCSC Research Environment in Need of Restoration and Improvement

by David M. Harrington and Howard E. Haber

with the assistance of the UCSC Committee on Research

Howard E. Haber, Chair

Alexandre Brandwajn

Dana Frank

David M. Harrington

Mel Wong

May, 1998

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

I. Introduction

II. A General Perception of Deterioration in the Research Environment

III. A Detailed Assessment of the UCSC Research Environment

  1. An Analysis of Twenty Research-Related Resources by Academic Cluster
  2. An Analysis of Quantitative and Qualitative Survey Results
    1. Problems with Physical Infrastructure
    2. Problems with Social Infrastructure
    3. Inadequate Library Materials
    4. Excessive Demands on Faculty Time
    5. Limited Resources Available to Faculty Working in Under-Funded Areas
    6. Lack of Respect for Research in the Humanities at UCSC
    7. System-Wide Problems of Relevance to UCSC

IV. Discussion and Recommendations

V. Summary and Conclusions



  2. [for a complete version in pdf format, see].


Appendix A: Survey Design, Data Collection and Data Analysis

Link to the UCSC Academic Senate home page.

Executive Summary

A majority of UCSC Academic Senate members surveyed by the University Committee on Research Policy (UCORP) in early 1996 indicated that the research environment at UCSC had deteriorated during the preceding five years. Faculty also reported similar perceptions of a deteriorating research environment on each of the other eight UC campuses. In this report, the UCSC Committee on Research (COR) has endeavored to describe in detail the various aspects of the research environment on campus that the UCSC faculty deemed in need of restoration and improvement.

UCSC faculty identified the following aspects of the UCSC research environment as especially problematic: inadequacies in the physical and social infrastructure needed to support the research enterprise, inadequate library materials, excessive demands on faculty time, discrepancies between expectations of research productivity and the limited resources available to faculty working in under-funded areas, and lack of respect for research in the humanities. At a system-wide level, the survey also revealed serious faculty concern about inadequate support for UC graduate students, an unfair distribution of indirect costs generated by extramural funds, and burdensome regulations that hamper research efforts.

It is widely assumed that much of the reported deterioration and many of these problems have been created by serious shortfalls in State and federal funding for research and education during the past decade. Whatever their causes, this decline must be reversed and the research environment at UCSC and other UC campuses restored to good health if the research enterprise, so central to our academic mission, is to flourish.

I. Introduction

In early 1996, the University Committee on Research Policy (UCORP) conducted a survey of nearly 2400 UC faculty in order to assess the impact of recent funding shortfalls on the research environments at all nine UC campuses (footnote-1). UCORP subsequently issued two reports summarizing the system-wide survey results (Gold et. al., 1996; Mitteness and Becker, 1997). The UCSC Committee on Research (COR) has produced this report in order to present the most relevant results of the UCORP survey to members of the UCSC Academic Senate and to the UCSC academic community at large. In this document we interpret research to encompass both traditional research activities and other forms of creative endeavors (e.g., exhibitions and performances in the arts). Our report is based upon the two UCORP publications as well as upon our own analysis of the responses of the 230 UCSC faculty (which in 1996 comprised 63.2% of all UCSC faculty Senate members excluding emeriti) who completed the 1996 UCORP survey.

As noted in the Executive Summary, a majority of the UCSC faculty reported that the environment for conducting research at UCSC had deteriorated during the preceding five years. UCSC faculty also identified several areas of particular concern:

· Inadequacies in the physical infrastructure (inadequate research and storage space, research support facilities, computers, FAX machines, etc.)

· Inadequacies in the social infrastructure (insufficient secretarial help due to reductions in staff, limited assistance in budgeting, grant-preparation, computer training, and dealing with governmental regulations)

· Inadequate library research materials (as a result of periodical cutbacks and the reduction of archival and new book acquisitions)

· Excessive demands on faculty time (leading to less time available to pursue research related activities)

· Discrepancies between expectations of research productivity and the limited resources available to faculty working in under-funded areas

· Lack of respect for research in the Humanities

The UCORP survey also uncovered some system-wide problems that we believe are of concern to UCSC faculty and which merit special attention:

· Declining and inadequate support for graduate students

· Frustrations regarding the distribution of indirect costs generated by extramural grants (many principal investigators believe that the overhead charged to their grants is not being utilized in support of research infrastructure that benefits their research enterprises)

· A tendency for UC women faculty to experience problems in the research environment more severely than their male counterparts (UC female faculty tended to report more unfairness in the work place, more demands on their time, less access to internal research funds and more problems with the research enterprise as a whole than did UC male faculty.)

II. A General Perception of Deterioration in the Research Environment

UC faculty were asked to compare the quality of their UC research environments in early 1996 to those which they had experienced at UC five years earlier. Among the surveyed UCSC faculty who had been employed by UCSC for at least five years, approximately (footnote-2) 53% reported that the UCSC research climate had deteriorated between 1991 and 1996. Approximately 34% believed the UCSC research environment had maintained its overall quality during this five-year period and about 13% reported that their research environment had improved during these five years. On the one hand, it is somewhat reassuring to learn that approximately 47% of the UCSC faculty believed their working environments in early 1996 were about the same or better than they had been 5 years earlier (34% same + 13% better). On the other hand, it is very sobering to realize that about four times as many UCSC faculty believed their research environments deteriorated between 1991 and 1996 (53%) as compared to those who believed their research environments had improved (13%). These figures suggest that cuts in state and federal funding of University research programs damaged the UCSC research environment during the first half of this decade. It should also be noted, however, that these dismaying UCSC figures are slightly better than those obtained at most other UC campuses where the faculty reported even sharper deteriorations in their research environments during the same 5-year period. The campus-by-campus summaries of responses to this question are reported below in Table 1.

Table 1

Faculty Perceptions of the UC Research Environment in Early 1996 Compared to Five Years Earlier

(Figures represent estimated percentages of UC faculty)


Worse in 1996 than in 1991

About Same in 1996 and 1991

Better in 1996 than in 1991













Los Angeles








Santa Barbara




Santa Cruz




San Diego




San Francisco




Total UC




When UCSC faculty perceptions of changes in their research environments between 1991 and early 1996 are broken down by academic clusters, some fairly substantial differences are evident, as seen below in Table 2. The figures in Table 2 certainly suggest that UCSC faculty in the Arts and the Humanities Divisions and in Biology were more likely to have experienced a degradation in their research environments between 1991 and 1996 as compared to their colleagues in other disciplines.

Table 2

Faculty Perceptions of the UC Research Environment in Early 1996 Compared to Five Years Earlier by Academic Cluster

(Figures are estimated percentages of UCSC faculty in each cluster)

Academic Cluster

Worse in 1996 than in 1991

About Same in 1996 and 1991

Better in 1996 than in 1991





Computer Sciences and Engineering




Physical Sciences and Mathematics




Social Sciences












UCSC Total




Total UC




III. A Detailed Assessment of the UCSC Research Environment

1. An Analysis of Twenty Research-Related Resources by Academic Clusters

The UCORP survey asked faculty to rate the adequacy of twenty research-related resources using the following five-point scale: (1) “not at all adequate”, (2) “generally inadequate”, (3) “generally adequate”, (4) “very adequate” and (5) “superb”. In order to report the UCSC faculty ratings of these twenty resources in an easily comprehended form, we have compressed these five-point ratings into a simple adequate-inadequate dichotomy ("superb", "very adequate" or "generally adequate" vs. "not adequate or "not at all adequate"). We have also decided to focus attention on aspects of the UCSC research environment which may need special attention and restoration by presenting in Table 3 the estimated percentages of faculty in each academic cluster who described each of the 20 resources as inadequate. (Therefore, large numbers are bad and small numbers are good in Table 3). As a way of providing additional context for these figures, we have also presented the percentage of all UCSC faculty and the percentage of UC faculty on all nine campuses that described each resource as inadequate. In order to call attention to areas of particular concern, we have used boldface and a trailing ^ to mark those cases in which an academic cluster's Inadequacy percentage was at least 10 percentage points higher than the UC system-wide average, and we have used boldface and a trailing * to mark those cases in which a cluster's Inadequacy percentage was at least 10 percentage points higher than the UCSC average.(footnote-3) We have highlighted areas of comparative strength by underlining cases in which a cluster's Inadequacy percentage was as least 10 points lower than the UC system-wide average.

Table 3

Areas of Resource Inadequacy Reported by UCSC and UC System-Wide Faculty

(Figures in Cells Indicate Percentage of Faculty Who Described Resource as "Generally Inadequate" or "Not at All Adequate")


Overall UCSC

Overall UC System

UCSC Biology

UCSC Comp Sci & Engin

UCSC Math & Phys Sci

UCSC Soc Sci


UCSC Humanities

Storage Space









Departmental Budget & Accounting









General Research Assistance









Secretarial Support









Research Support Facilities









Grant Preparation Assistance









Research Space









Library Print Materials









Computer Training









Off-campus access to e-mail & internet









Personal computers









FAX machines









Personal Office space


















Voice-mail and message-taking









Printers & computer-related equipment









Library-based electronic resources









Telephone (including long distance)









On-campus Internet access









On-campus email










An underlined figure indicates that the academic cluster's Inadequacy percentage was at least 10 percentage points lower than the UC system-wide average.

A trailing ^ indicates that the academic cluster's Inadequacy percentage was at least 10 percentage points higher than the UC system-wide average.

A trailing * indicates that the academic cluster's Inadequacy percentage was at least 10 percentage points higher than the UCSC weighted average.


2. An Analysis of Quantitative and Qualitative Survey Results

The UCORP survey uncovered both good news and bad news about the research environment at UCSC as of early 1996.

Good news. All of the 20 research-related resources were described as being at least "generally adequate" by a majority, and often by a substantial majority, of the UCSC faculty. UCSC faculty also described 13 of the 20 resources as at least "generally adequate" more frequently than did faculty across the entire UC system. In fact, UCSC faculty satisfaction with their storage space and computer training was at least 10 percentage points higher than the system-wide level of satisfaction with these resources (as measured by the percentage describing the resource as at least "generally adequate").

Bad News. There are, however, several causes for concern in the details of the UCORP survey results. Though the UCSC faculty tended to describe all 20 resources as at least "generally adequate" more often than not, an estimated 25% or more of the UCSC faculty as a whole described 9 these 20 resources as less than adequate. These experiences of inadequate resources varied widely among academic clusters, as can be seen in Table 3. For example, UCSC faculty in the physical sciences and mathematics characterized all 20 of the research-related resources to be at least "generally adequate" more frequently than did UCSC faculty as a whole. UCSC faculty in the Arts Division, by contrast, described 15 of the 20 resources to be less than "generally adequate" more often than did the entire UCSC faculty. We believe it should be a matter of serious concern to all UCSC faculty and administrators that substantial minorities (and substantial majorities in some academic clusters) of the UCSC faculty feel that crucial aspects of their research environments are less than adequate. We believe all UCSC and all UC faculty deserve research resources which they consider to be at least "generally adequate".

An analysis of the perceived inadequacies of the individual research resources is very revealing.

A. Problems with the Physical Infrastructure

UCSC faculty expressed dissatisfaction with several aspects of the physical infrastructure which are essential to supporting their research activities.

Inadequate Research Space. Approximately 30% of the UCSC faculty described their research space as less than adequate. This was a particular concern across the disciplines. For example inadequate research space in the sciences could include cramped laboratories, while in the arts it could include insufficient rehearsal or studio space. Because lack of adequate research space can strangle creative efforts of many forms, faculty who are working in less than adequate space are clearly laboring under serious handicaps.

We also note with alarm that an estimated 70% of UCSC faculty in the Arts Division described their research space as inadequate. The plight of UCSC Arts faculty was described vividly in the following survey response:

In Santa Cruz, where rents are uncommonly high, I spent more than 50% of my pay for rent on an apartment and a studio work space.... I find this situation demoralizing, especially in light of the relationship research has to promotion within the university.

Gold et. al., 1996, p. 25.

Inadequate Research Support Facilities. The question labeled "research support facilities" in Table 3 referred to "statistical computing, cell culture facilities, machine shops, greenhouse, etc." in the actual UCORP survey. Such resources were cited as inadequate by over 37% of the UCSC faculty as a whole and by 50% or more of the UCSC faculty in the Social Sciences and the Arts Divisions.

Lack of the Most Basic of Physical Resources. Availability of basic research facilities such as FAX machines, personal office space, software, voice-mail and message-taking services, computer printers and related equipment, access to telephones and on-campus internet access were described as less than adequate by at least 20% of our UCSC colleagues in one academic cluster or another. In a number of cases, UC faculty reported having to spend their own money on such basic materials as copying paper, computers, printers, postage, and other fundamental necessities. As one survey respondent put it:

One gets the sense at the UC System that the basic principle is to nickel and dime the faculty wherever possible...

Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 16.

One example that generated strong faculty resentment on at least one other UC campus concerned the end of free access to campus modems, internet connections and electronic mail facilities. This is not yet a problem at UCSC, although there are no guarantees that the present system will be preserved.

Clearly, something is seriously amiss when UC faculty are lacking the basic physical resources needed to do their university work.

Inadequate Storage Space. Inadequate storage space emerged as the most common problem at the system-wide level as well as at UCSC (storage space was described as inadequate by over 49% of the UCSC faculty and by about 61% of the UC faculty system wide). However, the UCORP report also notes that faculty responses to the open-ended questions indicated that storage space problems are more apt to be experienced as persistent annoyances rather than as major obstacles to research productivity (Gold, et. al., 1996, p. 14). Nevertheless, in some cases lack of adequate storage space for research-related materials can seriously interfere with research activities.

B. Problems with the Social Infrastructure

Inadequate Help with Budgets and Accounting. Over 45% of the UCSC faculty described the assistance they receive with budgets and accounting as less than adequate, and in Biology and the Arts Division this figure soared to over 86% and 68%, respectively. Indeed, one of the UCORP system-wide summaries cited UCSC faculty dissatisfaction with accounting support as particularly noteworthy (Gold et. al., 1996, p. 20) and illustrated these campus-wide concerns by quoting a UCSC professor who wrote that: is almost impossible to purchase anything through [my] division at UCSC. They will say they have ordered something and 4 or 5 months later you will find out it was never order. Material that is readily available (at a cheaper price than the university pays for it), may take 6 or 7 months to get.

Gold et. al., 1996, p. 20.

The UCORP reports also noted that UCSC's BANNER accounting system was the target of many faculty complaints.

Inadequate Secretarial Support. Over 42% of the UCSC faculty described secretarial support as less than adequate. This figure rose to 50% or more among faculty in Biology, Computer Science and Engineering, and the Social Sciences. The UCORP reports drew a very important distinction between the quality and the quantity of secretarial support, which we would also like to emphasize. Faculty complaints were primarily directed toward the quantity, not the quality, of available secretarial support in the UC system. It is important to note that many secretarial workloads, which were increased during the budget cuts, have never been restored to their original levels. This has clearly resulted in over-worked staff and inadequately-supported faculty.

UCORP's analysis of faculty responses to open-ended survey questions found many system-wide complaints regarding lack of secretarial support and the enormously detrimental impact this has upon faculty time. According to UCORP:

Faculty members on all campuses reported the almost complete lack of secretarial support, whether for teaching or research. As we will see later, when faculty members spoke of time constraints, a significant number complained that their research was seriously hampered because they spent so much time doing simple clerical duties because their departments no longer provide any secretarial help.

Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 12.

UCORP also called attention to the serious systemic inefficiencies created by lack of secretarial support by reporting the comments of a faculty member who wrote:

I am an Associate Professor and spend 30% or more of my time on basic secretarial functions related to my teaching and advising responsibilities. Assistance in these areas is highly inadequate. Secretarial assistance with my research is non-existent. The university is wasting the energy and skills of their faculty by drowning us in secretarial and clerical work that could and should be provided at a fraction of our salaries. My extreme frustration is shared by everyone in my department.

Gold et. al., 1996, p. 14.

Inadequate Assistance with Grant Preparation and Locating Funding Sources. Approximately 37% of the UCSC faculty described the help they receive in preparing grants as less than adequate. This figure rose to an alarming 69% among biologists, 51% among social scientists and 65% among faculty in the Arts Division.

UCORP's analysis of faculty responses to open-ended survey question also identified a system-wide complaint regarding lack of proactive fund-raising assistance on behalf of faculty. The UCORP report noted that:

...there were many expressions of wish for assistance in finding potential funding sources, preparing grant applications, and, especially, helping faculty members who were inexperienced in this area to develop skills in fund-raising.

Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 17.

Inadequate Computer Training. Though computer training was one of the two resources which UCSC faculty as a whole described as at least "generally adequate" more often than did their system-wide colleagues (73% at UCSC vs. 61% system-wide), rates of satisfaction varied substantially across academic clusters at UCSC. For example, only about 8% of the UCSC computer scientists and engineers reported their computer training to be inadequate. In contrast, almost 43% of the social scientists described their computer training to be less than adequate.

Inadequate Help Dealing with Governmental Regulations. Faculty on all UC campuses reported serious problems dealing with what are frequently perceived as onerous and counter-productive governmental regulations impinging on various phases and facets of the research enterprise. While these problems were seen as originating beyond UC, UCORP called for proactive UC administrative leadership to help roll back some of these governmental regulations or to help minimize their disruptive, demoralizing, and energy-draining impact on UC faculty (Gold et. al., 1996, p. 35).

Dealing with the UC Bureaucracy. Faculty on many UC campuses complained about the time-consuming and energy-draining labyrinth of bureaucratic procedures that must be followed to conduct basic academic business. As one faculty member put it:

Too much creative energy is diverted into wasteful and unnecessary forms and paper-pushing....The bureaucracy has evolved into a life of its own, with the original purpose of facilitating research becoming an unattainable past ideal.

Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 11.

Problems with Human Subjects Committees were encountered by a number of faculty system-wide. We are pleased to report that the experiences of faculty with UCSC's Human Subjects Committee were generally favorable (58.6% favorable, 32% mixed, 9.3% unfavorable), and notably more favorable than the system-wide average (48.7% favorable, 33.7% mixed, and 17.6% unfavorable.)

C. Inadequate Library Materials

Slightly over 28% of the UCSC faculty described the library print materials in their fields as less than adequate on this campus. The perceived inadequacy of print materials at UCSC libraries rose to levels of almost 40% or higher among faculty in biology, the social sciences, and in engineering and computer science. Unfortunately, UCSC's campus-wide inadequacy figure of 28% exceeds the system-wide figure (about 17%) by 11 percentage points.

Though the situation with respect to library-based electronic material was generally better than that involving print materials, nearly 20% or more of the UCSC faculty in computer sciences and engineering, the social sciences and the arts reported electronic library material to be less than adequate in their fields, too.

Concern regarding the UC library system attracted a great deal of faculty comment in the open-ended questions, as one of the UCORP reports noted:

There were locations of the University that served as lightning rods for concern. The library is one of those areas. The concerns were all the same: the lack of funds to replenish the libraries of the University of California is a disaster, not waiting to happen, but here already. While the electronic revolution may get us out of this hole, for the time being it is not a solution (in fact may be part of the problem.) Whether journals or books, staffing or interlibrary loan efficiency, the libraries of UC are in trouble.

Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 20.

Faculty concern with the plight of UC libraries was described eloquently by a UC faculty member who responded to the UCORP survey by writing:

I believe this is the single most serious problem facing the research future of the UC system. The library on my campus (and I suspect elsewhere) has not been nurtured in this time of fiscal crisis. Libraries are both the starting point and the ultimate repository of all research. At the expense of many other parts of the campus, the library DESPERATELY requires help to meet its research responsibility. Even if funding returns to adequate levels in 10 years, there will have been a hiatus in acquisitions that will affect research for time immemorial.

UC faculty member quoted in Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 20.

As many faculty are aware, UCSC's library system has been seriously constrained in its acquisition of printed material by financial limitations imposed by system-wide formulas which are not at all favorable to small new campuses such as ours. These unfavorable allocation formulas combined with recent budget shortfalls have damaged the UCSC libraries very seriously and in ways that will have profound significance for this campus for decades to come.

D. Excessive Demands on Faculty Time

UCSC faculty identified excessive demands on their time as a problem interfering with their research activities more often than they identified any other problem in the open-ended portion of the UCORP survey. In other words, excessive demands on time ranked first in UCSC faculty complaints in the open-ended section of the UCORP survey. By way of rather sharp contrast, an excessive demand on time was the 11th most frequently identified problem by faculty at UCB and UCSD and the 8th most frequently noted problem at UCLA.

Across the UC campuses generally, increased teaching loads, lack of VERIP replacements, excessive committee work, "useless administrative tasks", and the increased need to carry out secretarial tasks were identified as particularly significant thieves of time (Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 19). We think it likely that many UCSC faculty experience all of these problems. We also suspect that because we are a small campus, the frequently burdensome demands of committee work and self-administration are probably more widely and acutely experienced here than at larger campuses. The preparation of narrative evaluations without adequate secretarial help is an additional drain on UCSC faculty time that is not shared by our colleagues on other campuses.

In discussing faculty concerns about excessive demands on time, UCORP also singled out UCSC as a campus where some faculty members appear to face special problems in this regard:

Finally, at UC-Santa Cruz, there were a series of complaints that the University administration, both locally and Systemwide, does not take the research mission of this campus seriously and so does not provide support for research time. Some faculty members reported that research was seen to be something that one did in one's personal time, rather than as an integral part of the task of a faculty member. "There is an atmosphere that research is a 'personal' activity rather than an expectation because of a general lack of support on the part of the administration." "UCSC needs to be recognized by the Office of the President as a research institution and not as simply a teaching campus." The faculty members who made these comments at UCSC were in both the biological and the social sciences, so this perception was not limited to one academic group on the campus.

Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 19.

We suspect the perception that research is an activity faculty to be pursued on ones own time and without campus support rings much more true for UCSC faculty in some disciplines than in others. We also believe, however, that those UCSC faculty members who believe research is an activity they are expected to carry out on their own time and without campus support are working in a demoralizing environment that is inappropriate on any UC campus.

E. Limited Resources Available to Faculty Working in Under-Funded Areas

Quite appropriately, UC faculty members in all fields are evaluated in terms of their research, scholarship, and creative productivity. According to the UCORP survey, faculty involved in forms of research, scholarship, and creative activity for which external funds are meager or non-existent face serious problems which are apparently not fully appreciated on this or other UC campuses. While they are expected to be creatively productive, many UC faculty working in under-funded areas simply do not have access to the resources they need to do their work. As a result, there exists a tension between expectations of high faculty productivity and the limited resources available to faculty working in under-funded areas. These problems manifested themselves at several points in the UCORP survey.

Greater Out-of-Pocket Expenditures by Faculty in Some Fields. The UCORP survey found that approximately 30% of UC faculty overall and about 32% of the UCSC faculty reported having to make significant personal expenditures on "computers, telephones, electronic mail access, secretarial support or general research assistance" in order to carry out their teaching, departmental work, and essential research activities (Gold et. al., 1996, pp. 24-25). The UCORP report also notes that across the entire UC system, a much higher percentage of faculty in the arts and humanities (over 56%) and social sciences (about 45%) reported having to make such expenditures than did faculty in other areas such as the physical sciences (15%) and engineering and computer sciences (14%). At UCSC, over 45% of faculty in the Humanities and Arts Divisions reported having made significant personal expenditures to support their creative work compared to about 39% of the Social Science faculty and only about 16% of the faculty in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences. UCORP plausibly suggests that such differences are partially due to the fact that faculty in the arts, humanities and social sciences tend to have access to fewer and less lucrative extramural research grants than do faculty in other areas (Gold, 1996, p. 26). Whatever the reasons, it seems clear that UC and UCSC faculty in some disciplines are required to subsidize their own research, service, and teaching activities with personal funds more heavily than faculty in other disciplines.

Frustrations Regarding the Distribution of Declining Intramural Funds. Discrepancies between productivity expectations and limited resources also resulted in many frustrations and some useful suggestions regarding ways in which intramural funds are distributed and can be used. Like their colleagues on other UC campuses, UCSC faculty experienced generally declining intramural funds from Deans, Department Chairs, ORUs and COR during the five years prior to 1996. (See Gold et. al, 1996, p. C-11 for details.) This declining availability of intramural funds has been felt most acutely by those in extramurally under-funded areas of study. UC faculty members saw this problem as detrimental to their own work and also posing a serious threat to faculty recruiting, especially in under-funded areas.

Many UC faculty believe in the value of providing modest funds to keep research activities alive in areas for which extramural funds are essentially non-existent. As one UC faculty member put it:

It is perhaps more important than ever to nourish research areas that are not easily funded extramurally...for the invigorating effect is has on the teaching/learning environment on a campus.

Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 15.

UCORP's analysis of faculty responses to open-ended questions about this issue revealed that the UC faculty in general tended to advocate a policy of distributing relatively small amounts of intramural money to greater numbers of faculty members during difficult financial times rather than distributing somewhat larger amounts to relatively few faculty (Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 14.) It should be noted that the general policy of the UCSC COR in recent years has been to follow the former and apparently preferred policy rather than the latter in distributing its meager research funds.

Problems of Faculty Morale Caused by Under-funding. The lack of extra-mural funds for research and scholarship in the Humanities have apparently created serious problems of perceived unfairness and low morale on the part of many UC faculty in the Humanities. Because UCORP singled out UCSC as the campus on which this problem seemed most acute, we have highlighted this issue as a special campus problem.

F. Lack of Respect for Research in the Humanities at UCSC

Based on its analyses of faculty responses to the open-ended section of its survey, UCORP identified "perceived unfairness" as a serious problem, which is experienced most often by UC faculty in the Humanities. UCORP also singled out UCSC as a campus on which "perceived unfairness" was experienced most acutely:

Perceived unfairness in the University environment, while commented upon by a relatively small number of people, can have a devastating effect on morale. The most commonly reported sense of unfairness was reported by people in the humanities who believe that the University of California has significantly less interest in their fields than in the sciences. The strength of this concern on the UCSC campus is of particular concern.

Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 20.

The UCORP report then presented the comments of two UCSC humanists to illustrate its point:

In general humanities faculty are considered second class researchers. The University needs to take the lead in alleviating the poor morale among humanists, i.e., in recognizing excellence in Humanities research and addressing the difficulty of obtaining funding.

(A UCSC humanist)

One problem that strikes me is in the culture of research here at UCSC -- in which research is equated with monetary values: great research is big-money research, insignificant research is small money/no money work; great researchers get big grants, etc. Those in humanities and arts who have few outside resources available, and for whom relatively small amounts make significant differences, are totally pushed aside in discourse on research... Applied research suddenly is pushed upon us as a savior, clearly because it brings in big grants, and this may lead to a profound change in our intellectual environment. The keenest non-science minds on campus become then far more vulnerable to attractive outside offers.

(A second UCSC humanist)

G. System-Wide Problems of Relevance to UCSC

The UCORP survey also uncovered three system-wide problems, which we believe, are of considerable relevance to UCSC faculty.

Declining and Inadequate Support for UC Graduate Students. Considerable system-wide faculty concern was expressed regarding the declining and seriously inadequate support available for graduate students. Faculty members see this as creating a serious competitive disadvantage when attempting to recruit the best graduate students to the UC system. The high cost of out-of-state tuition without compensating financial support was also cited as an especially serious burden when attempting to recruit the best graduate students from around the country and the world.

An Unfair Distribution of Indirect Costs generated by Extramural Grants. Many UC faculty expressed dissatisfaction with the methods used to distribute the indirect costs generated by their external grants. UCORP summarized these comments by noting that:

The problem of indirect cost rates, and the utilization of indirect cost monies was a particularly hot issue for faculty who responded to this open-ended question. By far the biggest concern was that indirect costs were not being used appropriately. For most people, this concern focused on the inadequate or nonexistent return of indirect cost monies to the originating unit. It was very clear that the faculty felt this issue was so important that it amounted to a breakdown of the social contract of the University with its faculty.

Mitteness and Becker, 1997. p. 18.

Though this frustration was certainly not unique to UCSC faculty, it is clearly an issue deserving further exploration and illumination on this campus.

A Tendency for UC Women Faculty to Experience Problems within the Research Environment More Severely than Their Male Colleagues. UCORP noted that UC women faculty as a whole tended to report more unfairness in the workplace, more demands on their time, less access to internal funds and more problems with the research enterprise in general than did their male counterparts (Mitteness and Becker, 1997, p. 31). This is a disturbing trend that requires further study. We concur with UCORP’s speculation that some of these differences may be due to differences in the percentage of male and female faculty among the difference academic disciplines (perhaps women faculty are disproportionately working in under-funded areas, for example), and to the fact that women probably bear greater committee assignment burdens than men on many UC campuses due to well-meaning efforts to have women well-represented on influential committees. We also realize that some UC women faculty may suffer forms of outright discrimination at UCSC and other UC campuses just as women do in many other professional settings. Needless to say, all forms of intentional or unintentional discrimination not only undermine the ability of those who are discriminated against to function most productively but also corrode the quality of campus life. (footnote-4)

IV. Discussion and Recommendations

The purpose of this report was to detail the widespread perception among UCSC faculty that the research environment on campus is in need of substantive improvement. We hope that this report will galvanize the UCSC faculty and administration to consider the actions required to address the faculty concerns highlighted in this report. It was not our intention to present a comprehensive set of recommendations; this can only emerge after a serious discussion and collaborative effort involving the full Academic Senate and the UCSC administration. Nevertheless, in the hope of initiating the debate on the health of the UCSC research environment, we shall present here a modest number of recommendations that were developed during COR deliberations on the UCORP reports.

· Addressing an inadequate research infrastructure

The UCORP report highlighted disturbing levels of perceived inadequacy of research space, support facilities, and basic physical resources. It is in this area that we would urge a concerted effort for remedial action as quickly as possible.

As an example, current campus funding sources for supporting faculty computer needs are inadequate. Each academic division has some computer funds; these are devoted to start-up packages as well as to upgrades for existing faculty on a rotating and relatively minimal basis. Increasingly, faculty members have turned to COR for support. However, it is not possible to allocate scarce research funds to support faculty computing equipment that is not research project specific. Moreover, COR does not have adequate funds to meet faculty needs for general computer purchases and upgrades. In 1997, COR and the Committee on Planning and Budget (CPB) co-sponsored a request to Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood to develop a campus computing initiative, which would provide faculty with a modest yearly allotment toward the purchase and/or upgrading of computing equipment.

We argued that the communications revolution of the past decade -- including electronic mail, the World Wide Web, electronic publishing and the digital library – has made adequate computer equipment a fundamental necessity for the everyday activities of all faculty members. Moreover, with the rapid development of new hardware, along with new software that places extra demands on the hardware, it is no longer possible to think of buying computer equipment once or twice per faculty career. More typically, one must be prepared to upgrade peripherals on a regular basis (for example, new disk drives to accommodate growing demands on electronic storage space). Due to the rapid development of technology, entire computer systems effectively become obsolete within about five years and must be replaced. We recommended that the campus provide each UCSC Senate faculty member approximately $800 per year for computer upgrades. Such funds should be administered with the flexibility to allow unspent funds to be carried forward.

Although no further action has been taken, we hope that such an initiative can be pursued in the near future.

· Addressing problems of the social infrastructure

Problems in this area are associated with the lack of staff support to assist in a variety of tasks: grant and budget preparation, general clerical and administrative work, computer training, and overcoming governmental and institutional rules and regulations of academic and research activity.

Given the many ways in which extramural funds can help sustain and enrich the research infrastructure on this or any campus, a failure to invest in resources that would help faculty obtain external grants seems particularly short-sighted. COR therefore strongly urges all UCSC administrators to do what they can to help faculty identify possible funding sources and to write grants that are likely to succeed. We would also like to call attention to the fact that 90% of the UCSC faculty in the Physical Sciences and Mathematics described their grant-preparation assistance as adequate. We therefore respectfully suggest that administrators in other UCSC academic clusters might look to the practices followed in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences on this campus as models they might emulate in improving this crucial form of research support.

We would also like to emphasize the negative impact of reduced clerical support to the research infrastructure at UCSC. The serious systemic inefficiencies created by lack of secretarial support is obviously a wide-spread problem at all UC campuses and one which deserves far more attention than it has thus far received. The impact of recent budget cuts and the failure to restore secretarial services that existed prior to those cuts are experienced on a daily basis and take a daily toll upon faculty productivity.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the importance of computer training. Given the substantial investment being made by UCSC in computer hardware, software, and infrastructure, given the increasingly important role played by computers in academic research and creative activities of all forms, and given the level of computer expertise on this campus and in the Santa Cruz community, we find it puzzling and problematic that 27% of the UCSC faculty described their computer training as less than adequate. We believe UCSC can and should do much better in this regard.

· Addressing inadequate library support

We urge all members of the UC and UCSC communities to face up to and begin dealing with the desperate crisis that has been created in the UC and UCSC library system by the budget shortfalls of the past several years. We ignore this extremely serious problem at our collective peril.

· Improved distribution and use of intramural research funds

There is a need for better feedback about why applications for intramural funds are denied. A number of faculty members suggested that committees and agencies controlling intramural funds (such as UC MEXUS and COR) provide clear and useful feedback to faculty members whose proposals are turned down so that they might write more competitive proposals in the future.

Many UC faculty in externally under-funded fields where conference attendance is critical to maintaining professional expertise and visibility are also apparently suffering under campus rules which govern the use of intramural research funds. Two suggestions about how to alleviate this problem were given:

  1. Faculty should be allowed to combine "research", "lecture travel" and "field travel" intramural funds to spend on needed conference travel.
  2. Faculty should be allowed to obtain and save small intramural funds during "off" years when they don't need the money so that those funds could be combined with small intramural funds obtained during "on" years when they must attend important conferences.

In general, the faculty seems to be asking for greater flexibility in the use of intramural funds, especially with respect to the funding of conference travel.

· Improving respect for research in the Humanities at UCSC

Matters of perceived unfairness and lack of respect for certain forms of research and scholarship can be enormously demoralizing and can infect the intellectual climate of an entire campus. We believe these issues deserve acknowledgment by the UCSC administration. Perceptions of unfairness are also associated with the disparities between well-funded and under-funded research areas. It is essential to develop effective strategies to improve the support for under-funded areas.

· Addressing inadequate graduate student support

Inadequate graduate student funding is certainly a problem with which many UCSC faculty are very familiar and an issue which directly effects the research environment in which many of us work. We see this as a very serious problem that threatens the quality of graduate and undergraduate education as well as the research enterprise at UCSC and all other UC campuses. This is a serious problem that cries out for attention.

· Ongoing efforts to address the faculty concerns

  1. In 1996, partly in response to the UCORP survey on the UC research environment, the UC Office of the President (UCOP) established the Advisory Group on Regulatory Reform (AGRR). One of the goals of this group is to present recommendations to UCOP for reducing burdensome regulations that hamper research efforts of UC faculty.
  2. In order to address faculty concerns concerning the distribution of indirect costs generated by extramural grants, both UCORP and the UCSC COR are currently trying to learn more about the processes by which overhead funds are distributed on UC campuses.

V. Summary and Conclusions

The UCSC research environment continues to support high levels of research, scholarship and creative activity on the part of many of its faculty and students. While this report describes a research environment and creative ecosystem that has been weakened by funding shortfalls, the picture of the UCSC research environment which emerges from the UCORP survey is certainly not that of a desperately unhealthy research environment.

However, we do believe the deteriorations and weaknesses in the UCSC research environment identified by UCSC faculty and discussed in this report are very serious and will have increasingly ominous consequences if not dealt with quickly and effectively. If the processes which have brought about the deteriorations of the past several years are not halted, and if the many forms of damage which have been done to our campus are not repaired, we will all suffer -- faculty, staff, and students alike. We believe the problems and weaknesses identified in the UCORP survey merit immediate and careful attention from all members of the UCSC community who possess the power and will to effect change on this campus. We also hope this campus-wide attention will lead to actions which restore and re-invigorate the working environment that nurtures and supports those creative enterprises to which we are collectively committed and which so often produce tangible and intangible benefits far exceeding their costs.


(1) See Appendix A for a fuller description of the survey methods. [return to text]

(2) Figures in this report are often rounded to the nearest whole percentage and are almost always based on UCORP's "weighted-case" adjustments. See Appendix A for details. [return to text]

(3) We have highlighted these 10 percentage point difference as a convenient but quite arbitrary descriptive index of notable differences. Faculty, staff and administrators associated with each of the relevant academic clusters must judge for themselves which, if any, of these flagged differences merit special attention and action. [return to text]

(4) UCORP did not provide any breakdowns of its survey results along ethnic or racial lines (the UCSC numbers would have been too small to support reliable statistical inferences). We are therefore unable to shed any light on ethnically or racially-related differences in faculty perceptions of or experiences within the UCSC research environment. [return to text]


  1. W. Gold, B. Rickborn, T.N. Narasimham, C. Cross, H. Becker, R. Stockwell, J. Press, H. Haber, J. Marino, and L. Mitteness (May, 1996). The Deteriorating Environment for conducting Research at the University of California: An Interim Report Based on a Survey of UC Academic Senate Faculty. University Committee on Research Policy, available on the World Wide Web at:
  2. L.S. Mitteness and H. Becker (May, 1997). The Deteriorating Environment for Conducting Research at the University of California: A Qualitative Analysis of Frustrations and Rewards. University Committee on Research Policy, available on the World Wide Web at:; for a complete version including all tables in pdf format, see


The Committee on Research is grateful for the assistance of Laurie Babka in the preparation of this document. We would also like to acknowledge the financial assistance of Executive Vice Chancellor R. Michael Tanner, who contributed $2,000 (in addition to $1,000 provided by COR), in partial support of the 1996 UCORP Faculty Survey.

Appendix A

Survey Design, Data Collection and Data Analysis

The UCORP-designed questionnaire asked faculty to describe various aspects of their working environments using a series of five-point rating scales and by answering a number of open-ended questions, including the following very general question:

Please provide any other information about the research environment on your campus that you believe the Academic Senate should know about. In particular, UCORP would like to know what aspects of your own research environment have been most frustrating for you and what aspects of your research environment are most gratifying to you as a faculty researcher.

Gold et. al., 1996, p. 5.

Responsibility for developing the sampling plan and for administering the survey was contracted to the Survey Research Center (SRC) of the Institute for Social Science Research at UCLA. In late January of 1996, copies of the questionnaire were mailed to representative samples of between 300 and 400 Academic Senate members drawn from each campus, including 300 members of the UCSC Academic Senate. Post-cards and second copies of the questionnaire were sent via inter-campus courier to faculty who did not respond to the initial mailing. SRC also attempted to conduct telephone interviews with those faculty who did not respond to the postcards or to the second mailing. Data collection was terminated in late March, 1996, at which time approximately 72% of the entire sample of 3,303 faculty had completed their surveys or telephone interviews. Mail or telephone responses to the quantitative aspects of the questionnaire were obtained from 230 (77%) of the 300 UCSC faculty survey. Of these 230 UCSC faculty respondents, 86 were in the physical sciences, mathematics or biology, 74 were in the arts or humanities, and 70 were in the social sciences, law, or education. Qualitative responses were obtained from 95 of UCSC respondents, 32 of whom were in the physical sciences, mathematics or biology, 34 in the arts or humanities, and 28 in the social sciences, law or education. (One UCSC respondent to the qualitative questions was of unknown academic group.)

For data-analytic purposes, the SRC divided the samples into:

equal-sized sub-samples according to 'academic cluster,' a construct intended to group faculty members on the same campus in departments doing roughly similar kinds of activity.

Gold, et. al., 1996, p. 5.

UCORP also explained that

The analysis of the data employed 'weighted cases' to compensate for the unequal fraction of each cluster sampled on each campus and to account for differences in response rates across clusters and campuses. As a result, [one] can view the results as coming from an equal probability sample of UC faculty members.

Gold, et. al., 1996, p. 5.

Readers of this report should note that the figures given in the UCORP report and reproduced in this report are estimates based on these “weighted cases” adjustments. Qualitative analytic techniques were also applied to the faculty responses elicited by the open-ended questions (Mitteness and Becker, 1997).

Link to the UCSC Academic Senate home page.

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Last Updated: May 22, 1998