I will retire from my position as a tenured full professor at UC Santa Cruz at the end of December 2022, at which time I will become an emeritus faculty member. By waiting until the end of 2022, I’ll have time to graduate several PhD students this year, and to wrap up several UCSC internal projects.
I plan to continue doing research on the Twizzler operating system and on secure data storage systems, and will collaborate with UCSC faculty and grad students as well as others on these projects. I’m also open to new research projects, and would consider co-advising a grad student or two as an emeritus faculty member. I also plan to continue working with Pure Storage after retiring from UCSC.
There were four main considerations that affected my decision to retire now, a few years “early”. Obviously, I’m not including financial considerations—thanks to smart/lucky investing (like buying a bunch of AAPL back in 2000), I have sufficient funds to retire. The university-specific reasons behind my retirement are:
- Treatment by the university administration. As many of you know, the university filed formal charges against me for not filling out invention disclosure forms the way that they wanted them filled out. Despite providing all of the facts about the invention, and providing all the information required by University of California policy, the UCSC Office of Research decided that they wanted my opinion on why the disclosed inventions belonged to me. The Office of Research agreed that no university facilities were used, that no university personnel were involved in the inventions, and (factually) all co-inventors worked at Pure Storage. Nonetheless, they wanted me to provide information proving a negative—that the inventions were not part of my university job. Fighting these bogus charges cost me over $100,000 in legal fees and caused me tremendous amounts of stress, making it physically impossible for me to be on campus or focus on my teaching and research. To then have the Chancellor impose a penalty worse than that recommended by the three-member faculty panel that heard the case is an insult.
- Insufficient faculty hiring in computer systems. The Computer Science & Engineering Department needs more faculty than allotted to it by the university and the School of Engineering, according to a Faculty Senate committee. This is clear from my teaching load from 2016–20, when I taught zero undergrad electives and only one undergrad class with an enrollment under 100. That one class was a pilot offering (read: brand new class that I prepared from scratch) of Principles of Computer Systems Design, which is now a required class offered to 800+ students per year. A big reason for this load is that the department either refused to recruit in computer systems or was unable to hire in computer systems, thanks in part to interference from various (non-computer systems) faculty. I don’t see this problem getting any better; the search for computer systems faculty this year only filled one position out of two open, despite our proximity to Silicon Valley with its attendant consulting opportunities.
- Anti-Semitism on campus. UC Santa Cruz has housed anti-Semitic sentiments, but they have gotten worse in recent years. A table for Israeli Independence Day was attacked during a Black Lives Matter protest that resulted in the takeover of Kerr Hall. Little attention was paid to this anti-Semitic behavior by a mob fighting for social justice. Jewish students and faculty have been harassed on campus, both informally and during formal meetings. Adding to this feeling are anti-Semitic sentiments such as those expressed by the Feminist Studies Department and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Department, statements made in violation of University of California policy yet still on departmental web sites over six months after complaints to the administration. I personally have experienced multiple anti-Semitic comments, had a Jewish symbol on my office door ripped down, and had to fight to treat Jewish faculty and students reasonably. Scheduling engineering grad student orientation on Yom Kippur—twice!—is hardly a way to make Jewish students feel welcome on campus; scheduling the Dean’s dinner during Passover, when many Jews observe significant dietary restrictions, is also a slap. These issues are compounded when the administration steadfastly refused to move any of them, something that likely wouldn’t have been an issue had it been any other group’s holiday. Equally disturbing, if not more so, is the administration’s relatively silence on the matter; when the administration does say something, they always pair it with another issue, even if the incident was clearly anti-Semitic and nothing more, especially if the incident was perpetrated by another minority group. Such conditions make even moderately observant Jews, including me, feel unwelcome on campus.
- Increasing wokeness on campus. Woke behavior is making it difficult, if not impossible, to hire faculty on merit rather than on adherence to the “party line” on how to address diversity issues. Moreover, the climate on campus itself is becoming intolerable. The Chancellor sent an email to the campus community saying that “[w]e are disheartened and dismayed by this morning’s not guilty verdict on all charges in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.” Many members of the campus community were not dismayed by the verdict, but rather felt that it was the proper legal decision, regardless of whether we supported Rittenhouse’s actions (I personally didn’t support them). This exclusionary letter from the Chancellor and (Interim) Chief Diversity Officer makes those of us who believe in the rule of law feel unwelcome on campus. These attitudes, combined with the use of diversity statements that must toe the party line to make it past the first round of faculty screening, are turning the university into an institution for indoctrination rather than seeking truth.
Had there just been one of these considerations, I could have remained at UCSC for a few more years. UCSC isn’t alone in becoming more woke; if that were the only issue, I could, as a tenured faculty member, work to address the issues while still striving for increased access for all. Had the university not singled me out for attack on the intellectual property issue—it was clear from specific testimony at my hearing that I was singled out—I might have been able to stay longer. Anti-Semitism is, sadly, common on college campuses today. And overload in the CSE Department isn’t new, though my ability and desire to help address the issue has declined significantly because of the other three issues.
In the end, I’m happy with my decision to retire. It’ll allow me to continue to focus on research in computer systems without the administrative hassle of dealing with the university and the overhead of teaching large undergraduate classes. I may, at the department’s request and my assent, teach undergraduate or graduate classes as needed, and I can continue to co-advise students and work with faculty and students in the Storage Systems Research Center as an emeritus professor.