Librarian Axel Borg Receives UC Davis’ Charles P. Nash Prize

By Jillian Kido – May 1, 2017
Axel Borg, distinguished wine and food science bibliographer, is the first librarian to be honored with the Nash Prize. (Photo by Fred Greaves)

Axel Borg, distinguished wine and food science bibliographer, is the first librarian to be honored with the Nash Prize. (Photo by Fred Greaves)

Axel Borg, distinguished wine and food science bibliographer and food and wine librarian at the UC Davis Library, is the recipient of this year’s Charles P. Nash Prize. In keeping with Nash’s efforts to advocate for the interests and welfare of faculty and staff members, the Nash Prize recognizes achievement in promoting shared governance at UC Davis.

The prize is awarded by the Davis Division of the Academic Senate, the UC Davis Academic Federation, the Davis Faculty Association and the Nash Family. Borg, the tenth recipient of the prize, was recognized at a reception on April 28.

Axel Borg (left) holds the Nash Prize plaque with Flagg Miller (right), chair of the Nash Prize Selection Committee. The bronze shoes celebrate those who, like Borg, have followed in Nash’s footsteps. (Photo by Fred Greaves)

Borg is a member of the Academic Federation at UC Davis and previously served as its vice chair, a role in which he led more than 1,200 non-Senate academics on the UC Davis campus. As vice chair, Borg played a key role in the implementation of Step Plus, a program that ensures a set schedule for staff reviews, creating equal career advancement opportunities for all staff members.

“Shared governance recognizes something I value very highly, which is serving one’s colleagues,” Borg said. “The concept sounds abstract, but it is actually very concrete. It is important that we take into account the voices of librarians, lecturers and Senate members.”

Thanks in part to Borg’s time and dedication, the Academic Federation’s voice in campus governance dialogue has improved greatly over the years. For example, Borg saw that the Academic Federation did not have a voice on the Emergency Council and advocated for the right of the Academic Federation to be represented. Borg’s initiative and leadership have also strengthened the organization and the procedural work of its committees.

Borg is also vice president for legislation and chief negotiator for librarian contracts for the University Council American Federation of Teachers — a union that represents librarians and lecturers throughout the UC system. In this capacity, Axel promotes the voice of librarians in administrative matters, empowers librarians to advocate for themselves and helps to foster a creative work environment for librarians.

“My job as a leader is to make their lives better, to serve their interests,” Borg stated. “One of the principles the Army taught me was that when something succeeds, it’s due to your subordinates. When something fails, it’s your fault.”

Borg has worked as a librarian in the UC system for more than 30 years and noted that Davis is unique because it has an Academic Federation as well as a faculty Senate. The very existence of the Academic Federation supports shared governance — and, Borg says, it is that shared governance that has allowed him to lead by example and advance in the system.

“I feel honored to receive this recognition,” Borg said. “I value doing this work, and it’s amazing to see it acknowledged in this way.”