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UC President Janet Napolitano holds webchat with staff


On Wednesday, April 16, President Janet Napolitano held an hour-long webchat with UC staff from throughout the university. Following are excerpts from the conversation.

On salary increases for non-represented staff

I know there have been some unfortunate and regrettable historic lapses, but let me be very, very clear: We have in our budget a three percent increase in pay effective July 1. And the direction to the chancellors and to the system is to be ready and able to carry out that pay increase… I am committed to a regular, predictable salary program for non-represented staff. And I’m very conscious of the need to maintain fairness and equity between represented and non-represented staff. So, I’m keeping my eye on this goal and this target and have no intention of backing off as of this July… This will be the third year of the last four that there has been a salary program for non-represented staff, and I anticipate that that will continue.

On career development and advancement opportunities

When I was visiting the campuses, I heard two things: lack of support for professional development opportunities and lack of information about career advancement opportunities within the institution, and so we’re working on both of those… I have been really impressed not only with the quality of the staff we have but also with the longevity they have, which really demonstrates their commitment. So, we’re working with our HR folks and also working with the chancellors, looking at professional development and ways we can support that… One of my goals is to have a systemwide system for alerting people of jobs and job opportunities. That is easier said than done.

On employee benefits

I don’t anticipate any increases to employee contributions to UCRP beyond this July. That’s our current thinking and our current planning… With respect to health care, with the transferral to UC Care, we are still seeing increased health care costs, but we’re beginning to see the rate of increase is going down. We have a number of employees now who are paying, if they have single coverage, about $12 a month, about $30 a month for a family [for Kaiser]. So we will do everything we can — and I think UC Care will help us in this regard — to keep the rate of increase down for health care costs.

On educational benefits/tuition discounts for UC staff and their families

There’s always the possibility of looking at this, but these are dollars that would have to be replaced elsewhere. I know we’ve looked at this before, and it was, among other things, a big money issue. The university in the past few years has taken the position that, to the extent there are dollars, they need to go into things like trying to get on a regular, predictable salary schedule. My mind is open on these things and I’m open to staff suggestions… I know we have offered staff a reduction on the cost of taking online courses. I’d like to see us do more in that regard as online increases, and I believe it will because it is going to be a very needed tool in our toolbox as we increase our capacity. As we move forward with our long-term budget and budget planning, that is something we can always take another look at.

On her advice regarding skills staff need to advance at UC

To advance, people need to acquire leadership skills, need to acquire project management skills, need to understand how the budget works. One thing I advise young staff, in addition to having a mentor, to volunteer to take on a project. That kind of experience is, to me, worth a lot, as much as a lot of leadership training you can take.

On her goals for UC

I have a lot of goals, but if I have to boil them down to three:

  • Maintain our leadership as a public research university; that implies the accessibility but also the academic excellence.
  • Keep the university on more stable financial footing so that neither students nor staff nor faculty are so susceptible to economic change.
  • Make sure that the University of California really represents the diversity that is California in all respects, consistent with the law but also sensitive to the changes that are occurring in California.

On the role of the Office of the President

Our role is to support the campuses in their teaching and research missions. We have to analyze everything we do in terms of are we value-added to the campuses. That’s why I put such weight on the selection of chancellors: because the chancellors — and their staff — have the front line responsibility for carrying out the mission of the university. We come in to do things that no individual campus can do as well. There’s no need for everything to be run out of Oakland. We can outsource that to a campus that’s already doing a very good job say in a particular area… On the other hand, there are some things we do that each individual campus really can’t and they’d just as soon have us deal with them. So it’s a balance… One other thing we do as a value-add is really advocate and speak for the university writ large: advocate with the public, advocate in Sacramento, advocate with the media, advocate in Washington, D.C.

Below is additional information and resources on some of the topics discussed during the webchat.

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