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Richard W. Katzberg v. Chancellor

February 15, 2012


(Super. Ct. No. 34-2008-80000090CUWMGDS)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Duarte , J.

Katzberg v. Chancellor, UC Davis



California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Dr. Richard Katzberg appeals from a judgment denying his petition for writ of mandate against the Chancellor of the University of California at Davis Medical School. Following the Chancellor's denial of his privilege and tenure grievance, Katzberg sought by writ of mandate to compel the Chancellor (1) to restore his protected academic time of two days per week, and (2) to recalculate his compensation in line with his view that certain state funds allocated to pay a portion of his base salary should be credited to him in determining his entitlement to a productivity bonus. Katzberg also sought a judicial declaration that the Chancellor's decision violated University policies.

As we will explain, we conclude that the Chancellor's decision to deny Katzberg's privilege and tenure grievance was supported by substantial evidence and did not violate University policies. Accordingly, we shall affirm the judgment.



Job Description

A. Katzberg's Position

Katzberg is a professor in the Department of Radiology (Department) at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine (UC Davis). He was hired in 1991 and served as Chair of the Department until 1996. Katzberg's responsibilities include teaching medical students both in the classroom and in clinical settings, serving as thesis advisor for graduate students, conducting research and publishing books and articles, serving on the editorial boards of medical journals, serving on national and local committees dealing with medical and health care issues, and performing clinical work as a radiologist at the UC Davis Medical Center.

There are four professor designations within the Department: regular faculty, in-residence faculty, salaried clinical faculty, and clinical X faculty. Because Katzberg is a "regular" professor, as opposed to an in-residence, salaried clinical, or clinical X professor,*fn1 his base salary is funded by "19900 funds," which are a combination of state funds, educational fees, and University general funds. These funds are designated to "support instruction, research, and related administration."

B. Reduction in Academic Time

When Katzberg was hired as Chair of the Department, the goal was to provide regular professors with two academic days per week devoted exclusively to teaching and research. This goal was never achieved; however, regular professors were "more likely" than clinical professors to receive two academic days "some weeks." In 1992, Katzberg implemented a policy of providing 1.5 academic days per week. In 1996, academic time was decreased to one day per week. However, individual faculty were permitted to apply for additional academic time for an approved laboratory research project or secure a grant for additional funding. In 1998, Dr. James Brunberg became the Department Chair (Chair) and continued the policy of providing only one protected academic day per week for all professors, including regular professors, who were by definition receiving 19900 funds.

C. Compensation Plan

We need not describe in detail the many complexities of the Department's compensation plan; the following overview will suffice.

A faculty member's total compensation equals the sum of three components: X, Y, and Z. The X component, also referred to as "total base salary," consists of "regular salary (as defined by academic rank and step)" plus "a differential determined by the base scale for the Academic Program Unit (APU) to which the faculty member belongs." For example, during the 2001-2002 fiscal year, Katzberg's rank as professor at step 7 in the APU for radiologists performing clinical film interpretation entitled him to $125,900 in regular salary plus an additional $81,800 determined by the base scale for the APU, for a total base salary of $207,700. In other words, step 7 amounted to a salary multiplier of roughly 1.65.*fn2

The Y component is "[a]additional compensation negotiated with the Department Chair . . . in order to meet market rates for salary within a specialty/discipline." The Chair begins by making a conservative estimate of funds available for the "Y pool," which is the amount of money available for the academic year after total base salary (X) obligations and all

departmental expenses have been met. Once the amount of the Y pool is determined, the Chair negotiates a Y component with each faculty member that will divide the Y pool based on "[t]he quantity and quality of a faculty member's total contribution, including quantity and quality of teaching, research, professional service and university/public service." For example, going back to the 2001-2002 fiscal year, Katzberg's additional negotiated compensation came to $43,055. Thus, Katzberg's total compensation (X Y) for that year came to $251,775.

The Z component is "[o]ptional incentive/bonus compensation." If funds remain after all expenses have been paid, including total base salary (X) and additional compensation (Y) obligations, then 40 percent of the surplus accumulates in the Department reserves and the remaining 60 percent is divided among the faculty based on a specified formula. However, in order to qualify for this bonus compensation, a faculty member's total compensation (X Y) plus benefits cost cannot be more than 1.5 times the net amount of revenue the faculty member brings into the Department minus allocated expenses per faculty member. For the 2001-2002 fiscal year, Katzberg did not receive a bonus because his total compensation ($251,775) plus benefits cost ($24,347) totaled $276,122, an amount that was more than 1.5 times his net revenue minus allocated expenses ($159,537).



A. 2003 Salary Grievance

In February 2003, Katzberg filed a salary grievance regarding his denial of a year-end (Z) bonus for the 2001-2002 fiscal year. According to Katzberg, because state funds comprised roughly $120,000 of his base salary as a regular professor, this amount should be "backed out" of the equation determining his entitlement to the bonus. Indeed, if $120,000 is subtracted from his total compensation plus benefits cost, the "adjusted" figure becomes $156,122, which is less than 1.5 times his net revenue minus allocated expenses, entitling him to Z compensation in the amount of $36,151 based on the factors specified in the compensation plan for dividing the Z pool.

The basis for Katzberg's claim that state funds should have been subtracted from his total compensation in determining his entitlement to the bonus is the following language, under the title "Allocation of Income," in the 2001-2002 compensation plan: "State funds assigned by the School of Medicine to cover the X portion of salary for tenured faculty positions will be allocated to the individuals assigned those funds." According to Katzberg's reasoning, because these state funds must be allocated to ...

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