Robert Reich would be superb leader for this campus

Nishali Naik/Staff

The tide is turning: There is growing consensus across political lines about the imperative of reinvesting in public infrastructure and public education. In no other way is it possible to improve the quality of our public education system and recover its promise of equal opportunity for students and research in the public interest.  

The people of California clearly want a public university that works for them. They have called for an end to tuition hikes, unequal access, skyrocketing student debt, misplaced spending priorities, bloated executive compensation and extensive reliance on donor projects and corporate partnerships that deform the university’s public mission.  

Within the university, faculty, staff and students have suffered severe erosions of local control and local workforces; in their place have emerged expensive and inept experts, inefficient services, temporary managers and outsourcing. Never have university management and provision of services been more expensive; never in recent decades has the university been run more poorly, featured more unequal access and compensation or suffered a worse public reputation.   

It is time for change.

We propose that the new UC Berkeley chancellor demonstrate a commitment to the public university in the following ways:

By making high-quality teaching and research in the public interest the highest priority of UC campuses, a priority that should guide budgets, fund-raising, reward and compensation practices, mission statements and other representations of campus purpose.   

By reducing the number of out-of-state students and ensuring the total cost of attendance does not limit opportunities for California residents.

By increasing the diversity of the student body and faculty so that it better reflects the population of California we hope to serve.  

By reducing the number of senior managers. (Berkeley’s senior management has grown by a factor of five over the last 20 years while the number of faculty has remained stagnant and the number of students increased by 20%.) 

By implementing a salary cap on all senior administrators so as to restore the ethos of public service, earn back the trust of California’s taxpayers and demonstrate respect for the financial circumstances of students, faculty and staff as well as the institution itself.

By committing to budgetary transparency and prioritizing the task of restoring public funding rather than private fundraising and commercial contracts.

By honoring the value of academic freedom, chiefly by respecting the tradition of shared governance with faculty. Faculty consultation is vital to insulate the university from external influences, both political and financial.

By placing a moratorium on non-academic capital projects that often saddle the university with high levels of debt, such as the Memorial Stadium renovation or the redevelopment of Lower Sproul.  

By supporting the ongoing legislative audit of the University of California’s Office of the President and redirecting state subsidies for grants in aid to offset higher tuition to lower tuition fees for all.

By developing new community outreach programs and bringing our teaching and research to the people of California.

Accordingly, the process of choosing the chancellor should be open to the university community:

The short list of candidates selected by the search committee and forwarded to the president should be publicly discussed and not the subject of secret deliberation.

The candidates should be invited to campus for public presentations and questions from the university community faculty, staff and students.  

The final choice should be made by the president and the UC Board of Regents after consultation with the Academic Senate to ensure a candidate supported by the campus community.

We propose Robert Reich as an excellent candidate for chancellor. Reich is the chancellor’s professor of public policy in the Goldman School at UC Berkeley, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, distinguished public intellectual and commentator, author of best-selling books on the economy, politics and education, inspiration for the film “Inequality for All” and a firm believer in public education and the public interest.     

Wendy Brown, Michael Burawoy, Celeste Langan, Colleen Lye and James Vernon are members of the UC Berkeley Faculty Association.

Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.

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  • senile robert reich who claims that the leftists attacks and political violence on free speech and on milo yiannopolis are instigated by right wing operatives?

  • garyfouse

    After the Dirks disaster, UCB needs Reich like America needs Hillary. It would just dig this joke of a university deeper into the mire.

  • Andre Donner

    Reich would be a great, high profile hire for the University. As for the proposals in the Op Ed, there are several items that are not only idiotic, but would lead to further destruction of the university. I assume most or all of you chose Berkeley because it’s an elite, world-class university, yet most of your proposals seek to knock the school off that pedestal.

    1) “Reducing the number of out of state students to ensure the cost to in-state students is affordable.” Out of state tuition goes towards supplementing in-state students, so you’re actually working against your stated goal. I would agree that no financial aid funds earmarked for resident students should be made available to out of state students. As a former out of state student who became a California resident, I think you’re making a huge mistake in limiting or eliminating out of state enrollment. Doing so would further erode the university’s reputation. There are lot of smart, ambitious folks from elsewhere in the US and exposure to non-Californians is a good thing.

    2) Placing a salary cap on all administrators is probably illegal and certainly counter-productive. For the record, I also don’t think there should be salary caps on faculty or researchers. Everybody is entitled to get paid what the market will bear for their services. Many UC Berkeley faculty and administrators already make substantially less than their private-school counterparts. Using your logic, in addition to financially-based aid, high-achieving students shouldn’t be eligible for awards or scholarships because they should feel the same pain as somebody whos phoning it in.

    3) Implement financial transparency to increase public funding rather than rely on private fundraising and commercial contracts…..Apparently, you haven’t researched the history on UC funding which relies on the state budget. This ship sailed ages ago. For all intents and purposes, Berkeley is quasi-private because the state only funds something like 15% of the budget. UC would be delighted to receive more state funds, but that is not going to happen.


  • Brendan Mackie

    If you’d like to do more to help advocate Reich for Chancellor, there’s now a Facebook group:

  • Jacob Sycoff

    I stopped reading this article about half way through because I was appalled. Many of the ideas presented to “improve” the university would in fact be absolutely detrimental and destroy Cal. Did the writers of this article not consider the implications of what they state would be improvements?

  • John

    Dean Choudhry?

  • ShadrachSmith

    The trouble with Keynesian economics is that ‘stimulus’ becomes patronage to donors so government stimulus spending is mostly corruption. That is a problem?

  • Phoebe Reyes Realtor

    As a former student of Reich and longstanding admirer and supporter of Reich and his principles I think he would make an exceptional Chancellor.

  • Elizabeth Geno

    Would be awesome, but doubt he’d want to do it. Why not ask Yanis Varoufakis?

    • CalSquared


      He has no connections to California whatsoever and he and Tsipras were a colossal disaster for Greece. He led Greece into the negotiations with the Troika with no leverage, decided to punt the hard choices to a referendum with no backup plan when they couldn’t extract any concessions, and then quit the government after they had to pass the bailout anyways, after all the waffling inflicted even more damage to its credit rating and its credibility as a “government.”

      He is a joke of a policymaker with not a shred of credibility.

      • still trying

        What about Trump when he loses the election. He already has experience running Trump University. He couln’t be worse than Dirks.

        • Speechify

          If Hillary Clinton loses, she might consider becoming chancellor, especially since The Clinton Foundation knows how to spend money wisely: less than 6% of the Clinton Foundation’s budget actually went to charity. (source: “Just 5.7 Percent of Clinton Foundation budget actually went to charity”, by Peter Hasson, Sept 16, 2016, in the Daily Caller)

          Actually, if Hillary Clinton loses, she could also be looking at spending a thousand years in jail. The statute 18 U.S.C. § 793(f) carries a maximum of 10 years in jail per count for “gross negligence” (i.e. “gross want of care”), which does not require “intent”.

          And Comey said there were 110 classified emails that were mishandled on her email system, so

          10 years max for each felony count x 110 emails = 1, 100 years in prison

          Other statutes that she may have violated include 18 U.S.C. § 1519, 18 U.S.C. §798, 18 U.S.C. § 1001, 18 U.S.C. § 2071 , 18 U.S.C. § 1924:

          20 years in prison is the max jail time per count from 18 U.S.C. § 1519 — which Hillary voted for (source: “Donald Trump predicts Hillary could get up to ’20 years in prison'” by Martosko August 19, 2015, in the Daily Mail…).
          10 years in prison is the max jail time per count from 18 U.S.C. §798 ( source: “What are the legal issues with Hillary Clinton’s email controversy?”, by Jeremy Byellin February 2, 2016 in Thomson Reuters’s Legal Solution Blog)
          5 years in prison is the max jail time per count from 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (source: “FBI agents are ‘busting a**’ to build case against Hillary…” by Martosko, November 12, 2015. Daily Mail)
          3 years in prison is the max jail time per count from 18 U.S.C. § 2071 (source: “Former attorney general says classified email scandal ‘disqualifies’ Hillary Clinton from serving as president”, by Martosko, August 24, 2015, Daily Mail )
          1 year in prison is the max jail time per count from 18 U.S.C. § 1924 ( source: Byellin, op. cit.; also “Yes Hillary Clinton Broke the Law”by Ken Cuccinelli, September 27, 2015, New York Post )

          (from another angle via NBC News):

          Even though Comey “recommended” not to prosecute, and Attorney General Lynch blindly agreed to accept Comey’s “recommendation”, a Trump administration could certainly reopen the case and pursue those charges. (source: “‘We can reopen the Case’ Against Hillary”, by Greg Richter, July 21, 2016 at Newsmax; also “Donald Trump vows to investigate HIllary Clinton’s email scandal ‘for a second time'” by Martosko, April 21, 2016, in the Daily Mail). (I put “recommend” in quotes because of the peculiar circumstances surrounding Lynch’s unethical meeting with Bill Clinton on the airport tarmac. Also, the FBI director is not supposed to “recommend” whether to bring a case to trial, according to John Yoo, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley. “‘The FBI is there to investigate the facts, and they report the facts to the Justice Department,’ Yoo said. ‘It’s a job of the prosecutors at the Justice Department to decide whether to bring the case, not the FBI.‘” (source: “Law Professor John Yoo: ‘Strange’ that FBI did not question Hillary under oath”, by Todd Beamon, July 7, 2016 at Newsmax )

          Hillary may not want to gamble on leaving her fate in Obama’s hands regarding a presidential pardon, especially since the 2008 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign was allegedly the source of the Obama “birther” issue that Obama is not a citizen of the USA. (source: “Washington Post Confirms Hillary Clinton Started the Birther Movement”, by John Nolte, September 26, 2015, at Breitbart) Hillary and Obama also allegedly had a heated face-to-face confrontation on an airport tarmac about Hillary’s campaign spreading the rumor that Obama was a Muslim; during the argument, Hillary allegedly “unraveled” (source: “Former top Aide Recalls the time Obama Chewed out Hillary for Muslim Rumor”, by Christian Datoc, September 16, 2016, in The Daily Caller )

          Just for reference, here’s the relevant law, definitions, and Comey’s statement:

          Whoever, being entrusted with…any document…relating to the national defense…through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody…shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.” (source: 18 U.S.C. § 793(f) This law is used to punish personnel who carelessly and unintentionally leave classified material out in the open where the public could access it).

          Gross negligence” is defined as “such a gross want of care…as to justify the presumption of willfulness ” (source: Black’s Law Dictionary 1185 (4th ed.1968), the definitive dictionary for the legal profession);

          gross” means “unattractively large…” (source: New Oxford American Dictionary, 2011)

          Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information…110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification…To be clear , this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences.

          James Comey ( transcript source: FBI National Press Office, “Statement by FBI Director James B. Comey on the Investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Use of a Personal E-Mail System”,July 5, 2016 )

          • still trying

            You can tell that you are a republican. No sense of humor. It was a joke.

    • Cal Fix

      he’s said he’d be interested…

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