Work in sync, not at odds

UNIVERSITY ISSUES: The trend in UC campuses snatching each others’ staff is not reflective of a cohesive university system.

In a time of economic hardship when the entire University of California system must already fend off the advances of private schools seeking to recruit top faculty and staff members, there is no sense in UC campuses competing with one another for talented employees. But that is exactly what is happening.

This trend was pronounced most recently in reports sent to the UC Board of Regents at the end of August, which revealed that UC Berkeley’s Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations David Blinder has been “aggressively recruited” by UC Irvine, which offered him a base pay of $300,000. Our campus answered with a $40,000 raise to keep him on board. Walter Robinson, who served as UC Berkeley’s undergraduate admissions director, departed from the campus Sept. 5 for a similar position in admissions at UC Davis with higher compensation.

This recruitment -— essentially poaching — is counter-intuitive for the UC system. When one campus tries to nab an employee from another, it levies an extra cost on the system as a whole. Whether working to draw in someone new or to maintain someone old, one campus will have to dispense additional funds.

The Blinder example is especially detrimental because he works to generate millions of dollars in fundraising to the campus. His position requires the development of close relations with donors — relationships which take time to grow. To replace him would entail not only financial costs, but also transaction costs involved in searching for someone new, training his successor and establishing personal ties.

While the university system as a whole is striving to pull together through tough economic times, this kind of internal recruitment is incongruous with the system’s espousal of unity. To have one campus benefit at the expense of another does not reflect a harmonious system.

We understand that a professor or administrator may seek to transfer to another campus for personal reasons, and this is completely acceptable. But we do not condone one campus “aggressively” targeting another’s employees.

We are a university system — separate parts working together, not against each other.