Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Response to "Needs Attention" Memo from Asian American Studies

December 6, 2011

This memo serves as the Department of Asian American Studies’s response to the memo from the APG and EVC/P that you forwarded to Humanities chairs and directors via email on November 15, 2011. It also serves as an addendum to the memo that I sent to you on November 9, 2011. Imbedded in this response are comments related to the Ph.D. Program in Culture and Theory.

We wish to address and correct the deep factual and narrative inaccuracies in the memo, which include the following:

• We challenge the claim that our Department has “very low” undergraduate enrollment, since by memo’s own measure, our SCH for 2009-10 are in excess of 1209, not far from the “exceptional” number Classics enjoyed during this same period. On the contrary, the ten-year record shows that Asian American Studies has held consistently high enrollments, and that this high rate of enrollment has “not changed much over the years.”

• Asian American Studies, as well as the other targeted interdisciplinary programs, have and continue to serve the Ph.D. program in Culture and Theory at every level. Asian American Studies faculty have taught in the Program’s Core series, and have individually mentored Culture and Theory students, whether serving on qualifying committees, dissertation committees or directed readings. The assertion that faculty participation from the IDPs is “significantly less than anticipated” is patently false; one even wonders the how “significant participation” is measured.

• Enrollments in Culture and Theory have remain relatively low because block funding has remained low. That said, Culture and Theory admissions rate is more selective than many other graduate programs in the School. The claim that neither the IDPs nor Culture and Theory are NRC-ranked—faulty a ranking system as it is—and thus constitute a liability is specious; it is not the fault of the programs that the NRC does not recognize this graduate program, but the all-too- narrow and fallacious scope of the NRC itself: do not criticize the object under scrunity when lens scrutinizing is flawed to begin with.

• The claims that “not one [member of the IDP] has served as director and few have taught core or elective courses” for Culture and Theory are also false. Inderpal Grewal, formerly a core member of Women’s Studies (and now at Yale), was the Program’s first Director; Arlene Keizer, who served as Director from 2009-11 is a core member in African American Studies, and Jim Lee, Chair of Asian American Studies, is its current Director. Glen Mimura, also a former Director, was until very recently an active affiliate of Asian American Studies (formerly Core), and even served on a search committee for the Department’s recent hire.

• We contend that the overemphasis, even obsession, with one metric of “excellence” or “coherence” (i.e. the NRC rankings), prevents our colleagues across campus to see how the members of Asian American Studies demonstrate visible “quality” and “excellence.” The following constitute but do not exhaust other criteria for evaluating quality and excellence: Linda Vo is an elected Board Member of the Association for Asian American Studies and is an Advisory Board Member of the Journal of Asian American Studies and Co-Chairs the American Studies Association-Japanese Association for American Studies Project Advisory Committee. She has also been recognized as one of “25 to Watch” emerging great academics in Diverse magazine. Claire Kim is co-chair of the Committee on the Status of Asian Pacific Americans of the American Political Science Association, serves as Associate Editor of American Quarterly, the journal of the American Studies Association, and sits on the Editorial Board of Kalfou, a comparative ethnic studies journal headed by George Lipsitz of UCSB. Dorothy Fujita-Rony has sat on the boards of the Filipino American National Historical Society and Labor and Working Class History Association. James Lee continues as an editor of the Heath Anthology of American Literature. Christine Balance has won over $17,000 of extramural grant money; Claire Kim received an $8000 grant from the UC Center for New Racial Studies just last year.

• We do not understand why the otherwise inaccurate statement that Asian American Studies and other IDPs have “trouble attracting and retaining chairs/directors” is at all a measure of quality, excellence, or productivity, and we would invite then the APG and EVC/P to apply this same principle to the local cultures of other academic units.

• The memo makes liberal use of the phrases “measures of quality and productivity” and yet is at pains to apply these so-called measures vaguely, unevenly, and inconsistently. To wit: Classics is lauded as enjoying “clarity of purpose and focus” and an “exceptional number of SCH” to “outweigh the relatively low number of students [majors?] compared to the number of faculty.” But by this measure, Asian American Studies falls into this category as well: our SCH matches that of Classics, and our curriculum demonstrates the interdisciplinary breadth that mirrors the national and international field of Asian American Studies. Even a cursory glance at our course offerings and major requirements shows that our program’s curriculum is consistent with Asian American Studies programs around the nation.

• Programmatic coherence is touted a number of times as so-called evidence of a given unit’s quality and/or excellence. But the criteria by which “coherence” is determined is never made clear: what does the memo mean by coherence? Methodological? Disciplinary? Ideological? And if any of these, isn’t such coherence worth challenging and debating lest it turn into calcified, ahistorical, untested “knowledge?” Moreover, we challenge this notion that coherence is an intrinsic academic or scholarly virtue worth upholding. Is not an engagement with a diversity of ideas, approaches, objects of study, indeed an interrogation of the very contours of knowledge a measure of quality that is at least equal to if not more worthy of evaluation than coherence? Is singular approach truly better than multiplicity?

• On diversity: we are curious as to why the IDPs are targeted and bearing the brunt of this question of “[reassessing] the role of these units in our broader effort to leverage diminishing State resources,” given that (1) Asian American Studies exists at UCLA, UC Davis, and UCSB and enjoy autonomous teaching programs at UC Berkeley, UCSD, and UC Riverside; no other UC has focused so obsessively on “reassessing” on the backs of these IDPs; and (2) UCI is, along with UC Riverside, the most racial and ethnically diverse campus in the UCs. We question why it is that the most diverse units in the most diverse School on campus occupy half of those deemed “needing attention” and wonder what implicit or explicit message this sends to UCI’s stated commitment to diversity at all levels of campus life. Indeed, the very description of the School of Humanities in the General Catalogue highlights the IDPs as programs that “cut across disciplinary boundaries.” Does this targeting of Asian American Studies and the other IDPs constitute a reaction against both diversity and a return to disciplinary retrenchment? If so, then the memo is more an ideological document than one of true “policy,” but one that carries the weight of policy.

It has not escaped our attention that this memo targets the very academic units that contribute most to the stated academic goal of “[providing] students with a foundation on which to continue developing their intellectual, aesthetic, and moral capacities” (General Catalogue). A crucial dimension of this foundation is the absolute necessity in the twenty-first century to cultivate cultural competencies in multiple communities in the US and beyond. This memo serves to erode and potentially eliminate wholescale the deep legacies of knowledge and struggle that are the basis and constitutive of Asian American Studies and the other IDPs. In essence, we are being told that for some reason, under the aegis of something called “quality” or “excellence,” the stories and knowledges derived from Asian American Studies are just not excellent enough and worth studying. We find this a deeply disturbing and indeed intellectually, morally, and aeshetically bankrupt way through which to cultivate this foundation for our students, which this memo was ostensibly supposed to represent. With the call to reassess the role of the IDPs and other units deemed needing attention, this memo in essence asserts without substantiation a qualitatively different mission of the university. We wonder if this new mission of the university is one truly worth pursuing, whether in times of growth or contraction.

The ADVANCE Equity Representative for the School of Humanities Responds to the "Needs Attention" Memo

Dean Vicki Ruiz c/o Acting Dean James Steintrager School of Humanities University of California Irvine

Date: January 14, 2012 Re: Departments Designated as “Needs Attention” in Fall 2011 APG-EVC/P Memo CC: Doug Haynes, Frances Leslie

Dear Dean Ruiz and Acting Dean Steintrager:

I am writing in my capacity as ADVANCE Equity Representative for the School of Humanities regarding the November 2011 APG and EVC/P Memo on the university budget, which designated several departments within the School of Humanities as “Needs Attention.” As Dean Ruiz addressed in the Town Hall Meeting of December 9, 2011, this categorization was given to department units whose quality and/or productivity fell short of expectations and requirements, especially with regards to Student Credit Hours (SCHs), number of majors, and overall rating by the NRC. Departments which have been designated “Needs Attention” have been alerted to the likelihood that significant programmatic and structural changes by their units may be requested and, in the meantime, they are not eligible for new FTEs.

I write to express my particular concern that all of UC Irvine’s Inter-disciplinary Programs on gender, race, and ethnicity were designated as “Needs Attention” and therefore face uncertain futures. In the School of Humanities, Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, and Asian-American Studies were designated as “Needs Attention” along with four language departments. In Social Science, Chicano Studies was designated “Needs Attention.” From a diversity and equity standpoint, this is very worrisome. The curriculum and scholarly mission of the IDPs are especially designed to address issues of difference, inequality, and oppression along lines of gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. The faculty members of the IDPs are disproportionally women, under-represented minorities, and other people of color, as are the students who take classes in IDPs or become majors in these fields. Women’s Studies, African American Studies, Asian-American Studies, and Chicano Studies are also programs where some of the most exciting new talent at UC Irvine has been hired in the last decade (indeed, the last five years). The classes offered by these units are explicitly intended to promote and deepen students’ understanding of “diversity” and satisfy the university’s general education requirements that have similar goals. As Interdisciplinary Programs, each of these units has developed innovative curriculum which speak directly to the on-going transformations in the Humanities and Social Sciences towards more transnational and cross-disciplinary paradigms. Although these are certainly difficult financial times for the University of California and all departments can be expected to make changes in response to the crisis, I find it alarming that the IDPs are being placed on de facto probation with such uniformity. This is not a time to rollback the university’s commitment to cutting-edge research and teaching on diversity and equity.

Of course, the APG Memo did not indicate that units with “Needs Attention” status would necessarily be dissolved or folded into other units (and Dean Ruiz helpfully reminded the faculty at the Town Hall Meeting that any such changes would require a Senate vote). Nonetheless, the very designation of the IDPs as problem units and the associated freeze on faculty recruitment places these units in a very disadvantageous (i.e. unequal) position vis-à-vis other departments in the School and the Campus. The hiring freeze seems especially unfair given that most of the IDPs already service large numbers of students with very small numbers of faculty. Indeed, the Asian American Studies Department and Women’s Studies Department have among the highest student enrollments (SCHs) in the School and much higher enrollments than traditional, large departments such as History that have been deemed “excellent” and permitted to recruit new FTE. More importantly, the reality that all ethnic studies and gender studies programs at UC Irvine have been deemed problematic has a terrible impact on faculty and student morale. It sends a strong message--- intentional or not--- that the scholarly and curricular focus of the IDPs on race and gender no longer has the full support of the administration.

As I know you are aware, each of the IDPs is submitting a formal response to the APG memo that addresses what they see as inaccurate and unfair assessments of their programs as well as numerous factual inaccuracies. There is particular concern that the IDPs have been evaluated largely on the number of majors (as distinct from student enrollments) and that the considerable scholarly achievements of faculty (including outstanding intermural funding and publication awards) have not been recognized by reliance on the NRC data. I write this letter to express my concern about the situation and my hope that as conversations continue with the EVC, the School of Humanities will strongly support its IDP units. If I can be of further assistance on this matter, I hope that you will call on me.

Yours Sincerely,

Heidi Tinsman
ADVANCE Equity Representative School of Humanities

Response from Women's Studies Regarding "Needs Attention" Memo


To: Vicki Ruiz, Dean of the School of Humanities
From: Jennifer Terry, Chair of the Department of Women’s Studies
Date: December 7, 2011
Re: Addendum to Budget Reduction Memo in Response to APG and EVC/P memo

This memo is the response by the Department of Women’s Studies to the memo sent to chairs and directors in the School of Humanities via email on November 15, 2011. Herein we address and correct several of the notable inaccuracies in that memo.

• Operating under the instructions we have repeatedly received from the upper-administration, we have concentrated on student credit hours, and in this category, our enrollments are comparable to or better than other units of the same size or larger than ours. We were never given a directive that we should concentrate specifically on increasing our number of majors nor any target number that would be deemed optimal for our number of FTEs. Of course, our goal has always been to increase our majors. We revised our curriculum in 2005 for that very reason. Because we have been told explicitly by the dean and by the EVC/P that student credit hours would be the measure of unit productivity, we have spent much energy over the past decade offering our large lecture courses that fulfill General Education requirements. That said, as of Spring 2011, we had twenty-eight students majoring in Women’s Studies, up from nineteen in Fall 2009. This increase occurred during a time when the department had sustained the loss of 2 of our 8 total FTE faculty, a 25% reduction. We have not been given the opportunity to replace these positions. However, with only 5 FTE ladder faculty members and 1 FTE Lecturer, we have steadily increased our majors and continue to do so. 

• We challenge the claim that Women’s Studies has “very low” undergraduate enrollment, since by the memo’s own measure, our undergraduate SCH taught by just 6.0 FTE faculty members exceed that of other units that are not on the “Needs Attention” list. The most recent data available (2009-2010) indicate our SCH were 5,441. In terms of faculty-to-student ratios, the AGP/EVC/P report only points to major numbers for English, History, and Film and Media Studies, not to SCH. The memo should have compared the faculty-to-student SCH of these units to those of Women’s Studies. We are confident that our SCH are comparable or better. Over the past ten years, Women’s Studies has had consistently strong enrollments overall.

• We contest the statement that Women’s Studies and the other IDPs have “trouble attracting and retaining chairs/directors.” Senior members of our department have willingly and effectively chaired the department each time a term comes up. Since the memo uses this false assertion in a discussion about the measure of quality, excellence, and productivity, we request that this point be redacted for the sake of accuracy.

• The memo speaks of “measures of quality and productivity” without clarity about how these measures are defined and applied. For example, Classics is appraised as having “clarity of purpose and focus” and an “exceptional number of SCH” to “outweigh the relatively low number of students [i.e. majors?] compared to the number of faculty.” By this measure, Women’s Studies should be lauded for its accomplishments, rather than relegated to a status of lacking coherence. As stated above, our SCH have been consistently robust for many years and our Department has been recognized nationally and internationally for its interdisciplinary breadth and cutting-edge curriculum focusing on transnational feminist studies.

• The memo makes reference to the NRC ratings as a key measure of “excellence” and “coherence.” We contend that the NRC ratings are narrow as is the memo’s reliance on them. This narrowness obscures – indeed makes invisible – the many contributions of our faculty to multiple disciplines and to innovative interdisciplinary scholarship nationally and internationally. Moreover, it prevents our colleagues from across the campus to see how members of the Women’s Studies department demonstrate “quality” and “excellence” by serving on the editorial boards of nationally and internationally acclaimed journals, serving as officers of professional organizations, and publishing in top university presses and journals. Over the past decade, our faculty members have been awarded large sums of extramural funding (for example, Jennifer Terry received a collaborative grant from the National Science Foundation for $640,000 in 2006-2008). 

• The memo erroneously remarks that Women’s Studies and the other IDPs “do not have PhD programs,” remarkably overlooking the fact that, from its inception, all Women’s Studies faculty members have served as core faculty in the Culture and Theory PhD program. It then goes on to speak rather dismissively about the Culture and Theory PhD by erroneously asserting that the program was “supposed to provide access to graduate students for faculty in these [IDP] programs, but that does not seem to have worked.” This statement is patently false: our faculty members have taught seminars, conducted directed readings, and provided academic advising and dissertation supervision to Culture and Theory students. Each chair of Women’s Studies has served on the Executive Committee of the program and been integrally involved in curriculum development, admissions, and recruitment. In addition, we employ Culture and Theory students as TAs for our large undergraduate courses, providing them an opportunity to learn to teach in interdisciplinary classrooms with innovative tools suitable to learning in the 21st century. The key reason why the Culture and Theory program lost its initial momentum was the suspension of admissions during the third year of its very existence, a decision that was made by the then-director on the grounds that the Graduate Division would not commit funds to support a small cohort of new students. Putting a program on a starvation diet and then blaming it for not thriving is disingenuous to say the least. The Culture and Theory program is intellectually vital and viable. It has suffered from a lack of resources, not from a lack of faculty commitment. We request that the APG and EVC/P redact its memo in light of these facts.

• Our long-standing and vital Graduate Feminist Emphasis is mentioned in passing in the memo only to relegate it to a trivial status, given that it is not intelligible within the narrow grid recognized by the NRC. The GFE provides a coherent program of study for graduate students from other departments, who receive specialized training in feminist epistemology, methodology, and pedagogy. GFE students benefit from teaching experience in Women’s Studies courses, joining a vibrant interdisciplinary research community, and they are qualified for a wider range of job positions upon graduation than their peers in their home departments. Since its implementation in 1994, the GFE has been awarded to 112 PhD students from programs around the campus. Many of its recipients have gone on to acquire tenure-track positions in departments seeking expertise in women’s studies, gender studies, and feminist studies. We ask that the APG and EVC/P rectify this oversight.

• On the subject of programmatic coherence, as invoked in the memo to be a sign of quality and/or excellence, we question how “coherence” is being defined and measured. Our curriculum is carefully crafted and our courses are designed to meet the goals explicitly stated in our department’s mission statement, which itself incorporates much of what the University has stated to be its goals. Our expertise in feminist transnational studies has established our predominance, and we enjoy the reputation of being among the best departments of women’s studies in the country. Our last external review appraised the department for its stellar quality, stating, “UCI has put together an impressive ensemble of faculty and classes to produce a unique and highly promising, interdisciplinary course of study at the graduate as well as undergraduate level in Women’s Studies. The quality, rigor, and potential of the program are beyond question.” 

• We question why Women’s Studies and the other IDPs that enhance the diversity of the University are being singled out to bear the burden of this question of “[reassessing] the role of these units in our broader effort to leverage diminishing State resources.” Women’s Studies exists at every other UC campus that offers undergraduate education, and yet no other UC campus has focused so heavily on “reassessing” resources by targeting Women’s Studies or other interdisciplinary programs such as African American Studies and Asian American Studies – programs that fulfill the mission of the UC to provide an intellectual foundation for living in a diverse world. Over the past few years, Women’s Studies and each of the IDPs have been proactive in carefully trimming our already small budgets. Three years ago, Women’s Studies consolidated our staff with Comparative Literature and German and we were held up as a model of efficiency for doing so. We teach large numbers of students from all across the campus. We regularly host research colloquia with invited participants from other UC campuses and beyond, and we do so on a bare-bones budget. In the current need for a cost-benefit analysis of academic performance, we therefore question why the APG and EVC/P are targeting units that clearly have been doing so much with so few resources. Our vital contributions to the University and, indeed, to the larger contexts of California, the United States, and the rapidly diversifying world should be respected, not targeted for reduction. 

We offer these data and clarifications so that the APG and EVC/P may rectify unfounded claims upon which our department was assessed and placed in the “needs attention’ category. We request a re-evaluation of our standing on the basis of the accurate and up-to-date data included in this memo. Although the APG/EVC/P memorandum did not include instructions detailing the precise format of the appeal process, we submit this memo to you as the first step in such an appeal.

Reading Guide for the “Needs Attention” Memo

(Via We Are UCI)

A memo titled General Comments on Units Designated “Needs Attention”was sent to Humanities chairs and directors. The following is a very well articulated analysis of the memo, written by one of our brilliant UCI grad students.

You can access the “Needs Attention” memo here:

http://ucleaks.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/documentzero.pdf (Note: I do not know who put this up. I don’t know how long this link will be good.)

The following is a “Reading Guide” I drafted for this memo. The acronyms are explained.


My name is Tetsuro Namba and I am a graduate student in the Comparative Literature program here at UCI. I am passing around the “Needs Attention” memo because I believe that everyone who has an interest in the humanities should be aware of the situation we are facing. We all know that the state of California continuously cuts its support for the UC’s. But these budget cuts are not distributed equally; some parts of the university suffer more than others. The School of Humanities (SOH) is facing a 4.8% reduction in its budget; this comes out to $1.3 million. On top of this cut, there is still a $500,000 budget cut shortfall from last year. So the SOH must, altogether, cut $1.8 million by next year. Bear in mind that on 11/28, the UC regents met and approved of salary raises for lawyers, managers and administrators, including a 9.9% raise for UCI’s vice chancellor of planning and budget, Meredith Michaels. We are looking at an institution that finds nothing wrong with giving a raise to someone in charge of budgets, while at the same time cutting those very budgets.

However, what is most distressing about this memo is not the amount of money being cut, but how these budget cuts are being used by the administration to actively reshape the humanities at UCI. These sorts of budget decisions are made by the office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost (the EVC/P). Over the past year, the EVC/P assessed every department according to a variety of factors, with each department given points that ultimately designate it as either “Protect,” “Maintain,” or “Needs Attention.” “Needs Attention” here means having your budget cut. In other words, it’s not an affectionate attention. It’s a punitive attention. So far, the departments and programs that have been deemed “Needs Attention” are: African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Literature, French & Italian, German, and Women’s Studies.

The “Needs Attention” memo attached was sent out by the EVC/P in order to explain how they have made these assessments. The assessment is based heavily on numerical factors used to determine the “productivity” of departments. Two important factors used are the majors-to-faculty ratio (“Total Majors per FTE”) and the number of students actually taught by faculty in classrooms. This latter is referred to on the document as the “SCH(PHD)/Filled FTE,” which stands for Student Credit Hours (Payroll Home Department) per Filled Full Time Equivalent. “Student Credit Hours” is the unit of measurement used to calculate students in classrooms. “Full Time Equivalent” is the unit of measurement used to designate faculty members (awkwardly labeled so it can encompass joint appointments). So a “Total Majors per Filled FTE” number represents how many majors there are, on average, for every faculty member within that department. So, the school average of 15.3:1 Total Majors per Filled FTE means that for every professor at UCI there are 15.3 students. These numbers are important as departments and programs are being urged by administration to teach as many students as they can, both in classes and as majors in the field.

As students, we should be concerned that “productivity” is measured numerically in this way. Departments are being encouraged to have more students per professor. The administration wants faculty members to teach large numbers of students so that it can process as many students as it can for the fewest instructors. But a higher student to faculty ratio means that every student gets less attention and energy from our mentors and teachers. It is in our interest—in the interest of the quality of our education—to have lower student to faculty ratios. While we have many interests in common with the administration and the school in general, our interests don’t always coincide. Here we are directly at odds: we want the best quality education for our dollar, they want to cut costs as much as they can.

However, this purely numerical calculation is not the only factor in the assessment of departments. Compare, for instance, the “productivity” of the East Asian Literature and Languages (EALL) department with History (bottom of p. 2). History is a unit that is “Protected,” while EALL is one that “Needs Attention.” The reasoning for this discrepancy is noted on p. 3-4. EALL is seen by the EVC/P as a department whose “focus” is hard to determine—not surprisingly, since it covers Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. These are fields that look to places and histories with radically different pasts and particularities (interestingly, not unlike the History department). The other reasons why EALL is a unit that “Needs Attention” is that it is very small, and that, furthermore, the School of Humanities is not interested in EALL. This latter point is very interesting, as EALL is a very popular department. The Korean language classes, for instance, are always full. From a purely numerical standpoint, there isn’t really a reason to cut the budget of EALL and not cut history as well. Instead, EALL is being cut because money has to be cut somewhere, and it simply doesn’t fit the image the administrators have of the humanities.

In other words, if you look beyond the numerical analysis, a specific image of the humanities emerges in this memo, and this image is based on a limited understanding of the values of humanistic research. For instance, small departments and programs that are interested in interdisciplinary work suffer disproportionately. This is particularly alarming for those students who are interested in less traditional programs or more obscure fields. It is very telling to glance over which programs have been deemed the least “productive” (the table on p. 4)—all are associated with minority groups and are programs with histories of struggles for recognition and inclusion, even at Irvine. Our Asian American Studies program, for instance, was formed only after students here went on a concerted campaign and hunger strike. We cannot assume that it is by mere coincidence that a program that had to fight for its right to exist in the first place has been targeted for budget reductions that threaten its very existence and viability. Of course, it would not be accurate to call the EVC/P assessment racist or sexist. It is simply conservativist, with perhaps a hint of xenophobia.

In short, the entire assessment and budget reduction process set a dangerous precedent. What we are witnessing is how the humanities at UCI are being institutionally forced into a more traditional and intellectually conservative position. In fact, this entire memo evidences an aggressive will to ignorance. Take, for example, the paragraph at the bottom of page 1, where the memo acknowledges that its form of numerical accounting unfairly disadvantages interdisciplinary programs, yet they do not bother to try to change their method of assessment to account for it. It seems that if the EVC/P does not understand what your department or program does, then it will not take measures to understand it or assess it fairly, and your department will suffer. In other words, the failings of the assessor are assumed to be failings on the part of the assessed. Though this assessment attempts to appear objective and numerical, the comparison between History and EALL shows that these sorts of funding decisions can be and often are made on other grounds. They are made with certain assumptions about what is or is not legitimate humanistic research. This latter question is, of course, one that will always haunt the humanities, but it is a question that should be addressed by the students and faculty of the humanities, not by administrators.

The older, more established departments, such as English, History, Classics and Philosophy, have long traditions, and these traditions do protect them from the more severe budget cuts—for the moment. The question for these protected departments is: how long will it be before the administration decides that it doesn’t understand why people study novels at all? Or obscure historical minutia? Or minor points of logical deduction? In other words, the conservativist demand that this kind of assessment puts on the humanities is antithetical to humanistic research, if not academic research in general. Through these sorts of “productivity” assessments and budget reductions, the administration is taking a very active role in shaping the future of the humanities at UCI. And this is a trend that should trouble all of us.

If you are reading this letter, you are invited to a meeting Thursday of Week One of Winter Quarter at 6PM in HH 105. We will then decide on how best to respond to this situation and what viable courses of action are available to us. Any student of any year or program, graduate or undergraduate, is invited.

Please pass along this memo, this reading guide, and this invitation.

In solidarity,


Comparative Literature Graduate Student, 4th year

This document was drafted 11/25 – 11/29, 2011. It has benefited from clarifying feedback and information from multiple sources. But any errors or misunderstandings are mine. TN

Administration Appoints Controversial Humanities Dean Search Committee

(Via UC Rebel Radio)

We have just received some information about the Humanities Crisis at the University of California, Irvine. Since we last published the documents in which several departments were identified as "need[ing] attention" by the current Dean of Humanities, Vicki L. Ruiz, it seems like she has announced her resignation from the post.

Moreover, it now looks like the committee in charge of overseeing the hiring of the new Dean is made in great part from those departments that were "protected" under the new budget guidelines, and not from the "needs attention" list. In fact, the search committee that's been announced includes only one faculty member from the "Needs Attention" departments: Prof.Nasrin Rahimieh. Several of the rest are not from the School of Humanities at all, but from science and other schools. 

Below is the letter sent out to the School of Humanities Members: 


Dear Colleagues, 

We are pleased to announce the formation of a search committee charged with assisting us in appointing a Dean of the School of Humanities. 

A national search will be conducted to identify the most qualified candidates for this position. Interested UCI faculty are highly encouraged to apply. 

The committee will evaluate nominees and make recommendations based on the suitability of candidates. The committee is chaired by Steven Topik, Professor, Department of History. 
Additional committee members include: 

Jonathan Alexander, Professor and Campus Writing Coordinator, Department of English 

Samantha Cohen, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of English 

Susan Egan, Assistant Dean, School of Social Ecology 

Christopher Hughes, Professor and Chair, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry 

Kenneth Janda, Dean, School of Physical Sciences 

Anthony Kubiak, Associate Professor, Department of Drama 

Julia Lupton, Professor, Department of English 

William Maurer, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Department of Anthropology

Glen Mimura, Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Study, Department of Film and Media Studies 

Deanna Nunez, Director of Administrative Operations, Bren School of ICS 

Maria Pantelia, Professor and Director, Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, Department of Classics 

Nasrin Rahimieh, Professor and Director, Center for Persian Studies and Culture, Department of Comparative Literature 

Jacobo Sefami, Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese 

Cecile Whiting, Professor and Chair, Department of Art History 

We are soliciting your assistance in the recruitment of our future dean, and request that you submit any suggestions, applications, and/or nominations to: 

Professor Steven Topik Chair, School of Humanities Dean Search Committee 

C/O JiWon Kim, 509 Aldrich Hall, Zot Code 1000 or Email Address: jiwon@uci.edu 

We welcome your participation and look forward to the search committee's assistance in concluding a successful search for this important position. 

Chancellor Michael Drake and Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost Michael Gottfredson

The State of the Department of Chicano Latino Studies: a response to the APG report


The Department of Chicano Latino Studies derives its mission from stated objectives of the University of California system which read: “Diversity should be integral to the University’s achievement of excellence. Diversity can enhance the ability of the University to accomplish its academic mission.”  The University of California system further commits itself to “remove barriers to recruitment, retention and advancement… of historically excluded populations who are currently underrepresented.”

In keeping with these University of California long-term goals, and as stated in our 2006-2016 Strategic Plan, the Chicano Latino Studies Department core mission is to apply an interdisciplinary scholarly approach to the study of issues and challenges facing the fastest growing minority group in the United States, and one historically understudied: Latinos.  Evidence of our success in this role is amply available in faculty members’ scholarly contributions and the academic achievement of our undergraduate majors and affiliated graduate students.

Our curriculum seeks to provide knowledge, critical understanding and appreciation of the language, history, culture, literature, sociology, anthropology, politics, social ecology, health, medicine, and creative accomplishments (art, dance, drama, film, music) in Chicano/Latino communities. Our faculty concentrates in the areas of migration, the historical understanding of cultural experiences of Latino populations, and issues of inequality and access to opportunities within U.S. society—the three areas we situated under the rubric of Migration, Memory and Access in our 2006-2016 Strategic Plan. Last year the Department of Chicano Latino Studies: Dean’s Summary & Departmental Narrative-2011 provides ample evidence as to the excellence, high productivity and national recognition of our faculty members in those areas.

Beyond our areas of research and teaching concentration, the DCLS is strategically located as a social science research group focused on issues for which UCI has a regional advantage.  Southern California is a living interactive laboratory of cultural exchanges. Latinos comprise over a third of the population of the state of California, and an even larger percentage in Southern California, making them a critical area of inquiry for the UC system. The DCLS focus on Latinos is consistent with UC Irvine’s commitment to interdisciplinary study and the education of students to function productively in a multi-cultural and multi-racial society and world.

The Chicano Latino Studies Department is also committed to increasing the number of Latino students that enter and graduate from UCI. We are actively involved in outreach to local communities, and co-curricular and mentoring support for current students. Chicano Latino Studies seeks to increase the matriculation, persistence and graduate rates of Latino students and prepare them for leadership roles in a global society.

The present role of the DCLS aligns with UC system diversity values and goals, supporting its academic mission. Through our interdisciplinary faculty and curriculum, the DCLS is integrated into the academic work of the School and the University. The excellence of our faculty is well-documented in publications, grants received, honors and awards. Evidence of the DCLS outstanding teaching can be found in the academic achievements of our undergraduate majors and affiliated graduate students. The DCLS is also integrated into outreach, recruitment and mentoring of under-represented students. The demographic trends of the region and rising cohorts of potential Chicano-Latino undergraduate students attest to the future prospects of our department.

The DCLS faculty is extremely distressed by the absence of any reference to diversity goals in the APG report’s evaluation.  The report also lacks any discussion or assessment of student persistence and graduation rates.

The DCLS faculty believes that, at this time of financial stress, it is supremely important to take a long term look at the future of UC Irvine, beyond short-term challenges, and that broad rather than narrow gauges of productivity be utilized.  In short, what kind of University do we want to have? This is something that must be addressed by the APG and the University.  We believe that the terms of the discussion engaged by the APG need to be changed.

“Needs Attention” Memo and The State of Ethnic Studies at UCI

(Via E.S.C.A.P.E.)

To Whom It May Concern:

We, the students, are greatly concerned with the “Needs Attention” Memo sent to the School of Humanities on November 15, 2011. This alarming memo addressed African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Women’s Studies, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Literatures, French and Italian, and German, as well as the Chicana/o- Latina/o Studies Department in the School of Social Sciences. With this selection of targeting, we feel that this is an attack on studies that are crucial to the development of critical consciousness among students and the UCI community.

Disseminated through the School of Humanities, this memo undermines the scholarly distinction of these programs and criticizes faculty for failing to meet manufactured expectations and requirements, which remain conveniently unknown. These departments are targeted on the basis of “productivity” measured in terms of low student-to-faculty ratios, a characteristic that is usually regarded as essential to a quality education. As a result, the seemingly arbitrary elimination of critical studies seems to stem from the broader context of systematically removing programs that do not benefit the corporate structure.

We feel disturbed by the severe lack of methods used to determine of the “collective role and place” of many of these Interdisciplinary Programs [IDP] on our campus. If the writers of this memo had legitimately researched for qualitative evidence regarding the success of IDPs, they would find concrete evidence and stories of the meaningful impact these units offer students in areas of critical thinking, identity and cultural competency, understanding historical legacies and struggles, and the futures of our diverse communities. We believe there is no legitimacy in this memo’s ability to critique scholarly quality of these programs when the writers have proven no expertise in these fields.

Not once does this memo provide meaningful solutions to the “low enrollments and low student-faculty ratios” it describes, other than making problematic allusions to consolidating these units. Therefore, we see a disturbing contradiction in the fact that the memo labels these units as “Needs Attention”, without expressing any genuine concern or commitment; this reveals the austerity politics and damaging lack of institutional support from the University in this manufactured time of hardship. We believe the members of the Academic Planning Group should engage in conversation with the IDP Department Chairs and students in order to discern what support the IDP units need, and how we can collectively create solutions to attract more students to these crucial majors.

Much of the UCI community is uneducated about the Third World Liberation Front, comprised of students of the Civil Rights movement who recognized the exclusion of their histories and identities in their University curriculum. Starting in 1968, students fought to institutionalize the representation of their narratives at San Francisco State College, in order to make their education more relevant and accessible for marginalized communities. At UC Irvine, the original establishment of Ethnic Studies also started from the student’s struggle in the early 1990’s when many organizations built a coalition named the Ethnic Students Coalition Against Prejudicial Education (E.S.C.A.P.E.).

Despite the fight that has carried on throughout generations, it is evident that University systems insistently take advantage of budget crises to threaten the existence of Ethnic and Critical Studies first. Still today, we will continue to fight against any ideologies that fail to prepare students with cultural competency and develop their critical consciousness, both of which are necessary in recognizing and fighting institutional injustices. Therefore, we demand the writers of this memo to re-evaluate its ways of devaluing the School of Humanities and other IDP units, and to cease its actions in treating the University as an enterprise.

We demand the following:

1) Stop the cuts and sustain Interdisciplinary Departments & Programs.
2) Reform the Multicultural general educational requirement to mandate all students to take at least two Women’s Studies, Queer Studies, or Ethnic Studies courses.
3) Establish and support a UCI School of Ethnic Studies and Critical Theory Studies.

Signed, Ethnic Students Coalition Against Prejudicial Education (E.S.C.A.P.E)

Alyansa ng mga Kababayan
American Indian Student Association
Asian Pacific Student Association
ASUCI Office of the Executive Vice-President
Black Student Union
Black Educated Men
Central American Student Association
Ethiopian Student Association
Filipinos Unifying Scientist-Engineers in an Organized Network (FUSION)
Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán
Pilipino-Americans in Social Studies
Pilipino Pre-Health Undergraduate Student Organization