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October 30, 2006

Blumenthal fields questions about salaries, campus growth, student protests, and more

By Guy Lasnier

Acting Chancellor George Blumenthal discussed UCSC’s “upward trajectory” of achievements over the past decade and answered questions about salaries and benefits, growth, student protests and the search for a new chancellor in his first staff brown bag forum October 24. 

Want to know more? Listen to the audio webcast.

In accepting the top campus job in July, Blumenthal said he did so with the mindset and understanding that he would act as though he would be in it for the long run. “This campus has had four chancellors in the last two and a half years,” Blumenthal noted, adding the campus needs leadership “to move forward aggressively and achieve what it can and not meander for lack of leadership.”

His comments came in response to a question on the status of a search for a permanent chancellor and if he felt he would be able to make positive changes with “acting” in front of his title. Blumenthal said a search for a new chancellor has not yet begun and a timeline has not yet been communicated.

“I am perfectly prepared to make decisions which will have long-term implications for the campus,” he said. “I think it is my obligation to the campus to provide leadership and an opportunity to move forward no matter how long I am in this position,” he said to a round of applause.

About 150 staff members attended the Staff Advisory Board forum at the Stevenson Event Center. In a joint effort of the Staff Advisory Board and Media Services, the forum was available for the first time as a live audio webcast for campus staff unable to attend. It has been archived and is also available for listening or downloading at sab.ucsc.edu.

Blumenthal spoke for 13 minutes and answered questions for 45 minutes, displaying detailed knowledge about salary structures, benefit and retirement packages, and university policies. Before being appointed acting chancellor he was a UCSC professor for 34 years, chaired both the UCSC Academic Senate and the systemwide Academic Senate and served as faculty representative to the UC Regents during 2003-05.

Blumenthal said the campus needs “to move in the direction of more competitive salaries,” and that employees could expect “steady, small increases in our salaries. Maybe they’ll get better in the future,” he said.

He said the campus has forwarded two proposals to the Office of the President to give increases to the lowest-paid workers on campus. He said he hopes to have a response by the middle of November.

In response to a question related to recent protests on campus, Blumenthal said he believes in demonstrations and took part in peaceful demonstrations as a college student. But he said the demonstration outside the Humanities Lecture Hall where visiting Regents were meeting Oct. 18 turned unruly with visitors and staff being jostled and spat upon among other dangerous behaviors. “I believe the police acted appropriately,” he said. “I am deeply saddened there were arrests,” but he emphasized he supported how police responded. 

On the subject of growth and community relations, Blumenthal said he recognizes that “our growth will have implications for the city and we’ve offered to help mitigate those effects. … I really do want to work with the city to minimize the effects of growth on the city of Santa Cruz. “

The next staff brown bag will be March 20, 2007.


                                            

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