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Furloughed Professors Can't Cut Class

Under intense pressure to save money, the University of California (UC) announced last month that all faculty and staff members who receive even a fraction of their salaries from state funds will be furloughed. But any researchers hoping to minimize the impact on their lab work by taking furlough days on teaching days appear to be out of luck.

A letter from Lawrence Pitts, UC's interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, sent to UC faculty members on Friday announced that faculty furlough days will not occur on days when faculty are scheduled to lecture, hold office hours, or otherwise spend face time with students. "Asking the faculty to carry a full teaching load during furloughs is a large request, but in my mind is justified by the University’s paramount teaching mission," Pitts writes in the letter, which has been posted on several blogs, including that of UC Davis evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen.

Eisen predicts that UC's decision will be unpopular with many of his colleagues, but allows that it may be the right thing to do politically. UC students and their families are already paying more for less: the university raised student fees by 9.3% for this academic year and has eliminated some classes in an effort to cut costs.

And in a state where unemployment just reached a post-World War II record 11.9%, public sympathy may be in short supply for faculty who until recently earned an average $109,333 a year.