All four FTE are needed quickly, for several reasons. Department manpower is stretched very thin right now with only six active theoreticians—this number needs to be replenished fast. The opening dates of major long-wavelength observatories are also just around the corner—Herschel in 2008, ALMA in 2012, JWST and the EVLA near 2015, and TMT soon after that (we hope). The program to utilize these assets must therefore be in place soon. We also want our new long-wavelength faculty to interact closely with junior faculty we have just hired and with star, planet, and galaxy programs now taking shape on the Thirty-Meter Telescope. The next few years is therefore the time to build up this group. At minimum, it is vital to have all four positionsapproved before the next search, which starts in Fall 2008. That approval would allow the first positions to be defined as broadly as possible, which would yield the best pool of candidates.
Since two administrative vacancies still belong to the Department, a possible way to accelerate the long-wavelength positions is to mortgageagainst the future departures or retirements of the administrators. However, we note that workload alone also justifies most of the increase we are requesting. Our 30% enrollment growth since the last review (plus creation of the ASPH major) justify two new FTE, and further enrollment increases due to campus growth would justify 1.5 FTE more, through 2010-11.
The predicted histogram of Department faculty ages in 2009 was shown in the bottom panel of Figure 1 (red bars). It is already heavily weighted toward junior faculty, and this will increase with subsequent hires. Therefore, to balance the Department age distribution and to provide continuity of senior leadership in the face of coming retirements, one of the theory positions should be filled at the senior level. For completeness, we note that Physics still has one open unfilled astrophysics position, EPS has one more CODEP position, and AMS is planning several more positions that relate to astrophysics. The planned years to fill most of these slots are 2010-2011 or before. We hope to participate closely in these hirings.
4. Critical issues and strategies to deal with them These issues were discussed above, and solutions were proposed. This section presents a final summary of major points.
4.1 Faculty FTE Astronomy proposes to further broaden its scientific program in order to attract more and better graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty. Our strategy to do this is to hire four new Department faculty before 2010-11. Two of these positions are already in the Divisional hiring plan; two more are needed to start a new initiative in long-wavelength astronomy. This initiative will allow us to participate fully in active areas of astronomy through the next decade by exploiting data from four much-awaited long-wavelength observatories. The research program of the Department will then stretch from gamma-rays to submillimeter/radio, and the resulting multi-wavelength program will be a powerful draw for graduate students and postdocs. Indeed, we fear that failure to engage with these exciting new observatories could well damage the program.
For compelling reasons, all four FTE are needed urgently by 2012. If necessary, they could be obtained by mortgaging against the retirements or departures of present administrators. To balance the Department age distribution and provide strong leadership in the face of retirements, one of the theory positions should be filled at the senior level.
4.2 Graduate and postdoctoral programs These programs need improvement in various ways, and a study of graduate program management and requirements is underway. Three issues require campus help. One is to broaden the research program by hiring more faculty FTE, as discussed above. The second is to attract more international students, and campus administration is requested to continue to pressure the UC Office of the President to bring non-resident tuitions in line with those of domestic students. The third is endowed fellowship support at all levels, especially for prize postdoctoral fellows. Santa Cruz is the only leading astronomy department without its own postdoctoral fellows. This impairs the quality of intellectual life and is a highly visible deficit when attracting new faculty and students.
4.3 Space All Astronomy units need more office space, and the Observatory needs more lab space. Unused space on paper now is nil, but roughly 15% more could be obtained by consolidation and renovations. The transition of CfAO off NSF funding in November 2009 will free up offices that could be used to host another center, such as the proposed Center for Cosmic Origins Simulations and Visualizations (COSV) or perhaps a generalized astrophysics theory center attached to the Thirty Meter Telescope. The visualization functions within COSV require a visualization laboratory and a theatre for displaying and analyzing large computer simulations. Future astronomy mini-supercomputers will require specially conditioned space with power and cooling similar to Pleiades. Such facilities could serve as the nucleus for a broader UCSC High-Performance Computing Center. New space obtained by UCO as part of infrastructure renewal might release some space for the Department.
4.4 Campus support Staff and budget support from the campus to the Department is extremely thin in all areas. The Department budget has declined by 15% in real dollars since the last External Review, and workloads and tasks have multiplied. The cash deficit this year was $15 K (out of $58 K), and the total deficit (including TA and TAS funds) was $58 K out of $225 K. The budget contains almost no discretionary funds for the Chair to solve problems. Unlike other leading astronomy departments, there is no significant endowment and no endowment income to provide funding flexibility. We are trying to change that, and raising an endowment is a high development priority. TA and TAS deficits can be dealt with if necessary by raising the student/TA ratio and adjusting class offerings. However, a cash budget increase of $15 K for annual operating funds is needed immediately, plus a Chair’s discretionary account of $20 K for emergencies and other needs.
Department staff currently number 5.75 FTE, of whom the UCO Business Office provides three and only two actually work in the Department office. This number is about half of what is needed, and it is also roughly half of what is found in comparable departments at other universities. Many tasks are being done expensively by faculty, the Chair, or the Department Administrator, and some are not being done at all. In our opinion, the staffing level is so low as to seriously impair unit productivity.
4.5 New resources We realize that UCSC budgets are tight and that much of the responsibility for finding new resources rests in the Department. The assignment next year of a full-time development person to Astronomy is an excellent first step, but, to use that person, the Department must also have a separate budget for development expenses.Finally, faculty must ultimately play the central role in proposal-writing and cultivating the time-intensive personal relationships that are an essential part of effective fund-raising. Astronomy leadership is committed to motivating faculty, but the campus must help by providing space and matching funds to generate competitive proposals and adequate Department support staff to free up faculty energies for more productive tasks.
1 Eleven-month salaries are 16% more than 9-month salaries for the same rank and step, as opposed to the 22% that would be predicted on the basis of the number of months alone.
2 EPS has 21 FTE, but Physics has only 19.5, and AMS has only 9 at this time but is slated to double eventually. Both Physics and AMS are currently less than half the size of leading departments elsewhere.
3 E.g., Ehrenberg, R. G., and Hurst, P. J. 1998, “The 1995 Ratings of Doctoral Programs: A Hedonic Model,” The Economics of Education Review, 17(2): 137-148.
4 Numbers of Department and UCO faculty are given in Table 3. The above sentence refers to the number of effective Department faculty, which is defined in Table 3.
5 Previous recipients of the Berkeley Medal were Herman Wouk, Francois Mitterrand, Glenn Seaborg, Gordon Moore, and Bill Clinton.
6 “Effective” here means counting Bodenheimer as a Department FTE rather than a UCO FTE and not counting Thorsett or Blumenthal, who are away on administrative leave.