Media Coverage 6/26/17

A former Berkeley employee who worked closely with outgoing Chancellor Nicholas Dirks claims in a lawsuit she was forced to lie on tax forms. After reporting a series of personal jobs she completed for Dirks and his family on a form, including servicing the chancellor’s personal car and taking his child to the dentist, Alice McNeil alleges she was instructed by Dirk’s chief of staff to alter the form. In the lawsuit, McNeil says she complied to keep her job, but under a subsequent chief of staff, she again attempted to include personal work she performed on tax documents and again was told to alter the forms. She claims she was later forced out of her job under false pretenses. In a statement, Berkeley claims:

It is the case that questions were raised about the accuracy of personal services reports that Ms. McNeil submitted for herself and other University House staff after she failed to submit them in a timely fashion and then informed management that her reported numbers were based on rough estimates and not on any actual record-keeping. Because of the campus’s commitment to accuracy, the reports had to be corrected based on interviews with staff about their specific activities. Staff signed off on these corrected reports, and the Chancellor and his wife paid taxes based on them.

In other news, UC’s one-of-a-kind Immigrant Legal Services Center has seen its caseload swell under Trump’s administration. This week also offered a new wrinkle in the fallout from the state’s audit of UCOP. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, UC will spend up to $210,000 investigating whether UCOP interfered with the audit. During the week, Berkeley became a frequent target of the right. Amid a Senate Judiciary Hearing on free speech on campus, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, took aim at Berkeley’s handling of Ann Coulter’s planned appearance, though Sen. Dianne Feinstein defended UC’s response to the events. Meanwhile, Fox News published an article highlighting resentment by some that out-of-state students have an easier time getting in to UC campuses than in-state students.

6/20 – Former UC Berkeley employee told to lie on taxes, per lawsuit (SJMN): 

6/21 – UC paying top dollar to investigate Napolitano’s office (SFChronicle): The article notes costly investigations are fairly typical at UC, citing the $1 million investigation into Linda Katehi, the nearly $500,000 spent looking into the pepper-spraying of student demonstrators at UC Davis and the $57,000 spent on the Dirks investigation (which turned up misdeeds worth $5,000).

 

6/19 – Demand for UC immigrant student legal services soars as Trump policies sow uncertainty (LATimes): The number of students seeking help increased by almost 500 from the previous school year to reach over 800.

6/20 – Dianne Feinstein defends Janet Napolitano, Berkeley during Senate hearing on campus free speech (WashingtonExaminer): The conservative publication fairly represents Feinstein’s defense.

6/20 – Critics rip University of California for favoring illegal immigrants over out-of-state Americans (FoxNews): The report is not very balanced.

6/20 – Stanford, UC Berkeley named as two of the world’s most reputable universities for 2017 (SFGate): Berkeley is the top public university in the world, according to a reputation survey by Times Higher Education.

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Media Coverage 6/19/17

Last Tuesday Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders reached an agreement on a $125 billion budget deal that includes a provision they claim will strip UCOP of much of its financial independence. The move comes in response to the blistering audit of the office Janet Napolitano leads as UC’s president. According to the audit, UC had been concealing funds and carrying out misleading accounting techniques, though UCOP has refuted the audit’s characterization. Under previous funding schemes, UCOP was funded by assessing fees on the system’s campuses. Under the new deal, the state will reshuffle the money it typically gave to campuses in order to fund UCOP by handing the money directly to the office. In total, the state will give UCOP $296.4 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The office will also receive $52.4 million for UC Path, a troubled HR system. The state promises to withhold $50 million if UCOP doesn’t implement a number of changes. According to a summary document:

…to withhold $50 million General Fund from UC until UC provides evidence to the Department of Finance by May 1, 2018 that it has completed pilot programs of activity-based costing at the Riverside campus and at two other campuses in three departments each; taken actions to attempt to attain a ratio at each of its campuses, except for the Merced and San Francisco campuses, of at least one entering transfer student for every two entering freshman students beginning in the 2018-19 academic year; taken actions directed by the California State Auditor in its audit report “Report 2016-130,” dated April 25, 2017, regarding the University of California Office of the President, adopted a policy that prohibits supplemental retirement payments for new senior managers, and provided information on the Office of the President budget to the Legislature. 

In other news, media coverage highlighted the recent revelation that Gov. Brown appears to be skirting the law in his approach to nominating UC regents. In an editorial, the San Francisco Chronicle notes the state constitution says the governor “shall consult an advisory committee” when selecting regents, a practice Gov. Brown and other recent state leaders have failed to follow through on. The editorial argues:

This oversight failure has had a negative outcome on the regents board. The 18 appointed regents fit a specific profile: wealthy executives, financiers or attorneys. Considering this narrow milieu, some of their recent tone-deaf decisions, like charging the university thousands of dollars for pricey parties and dinners, make more sense. But it’s inappropriate behavior in a state with high poverty rates and a struggling middle class. These are precisely the kinds of reasons why voters want more public accountability — as they decided in 1974.

Budget

6/13 – New state budget deal punishes UC President’s Office (SFGate): The article also notes that the deal preserves the Middle Class Scholarship program, which Gov. Brown had suggested be scrapped.

6/14 – State budget would put limits on University of California (AP): The article notes that UCOP opposes the change, saying any such move should come from the regents, which govern the system, and not the Legislature.

6/14 – Cal State University to guarantee qualified students a spot under California budget deal (OCRegister): The policy is similar to one in place at UC, where qualified students denied entry at one campus are given a spot at another campus. Currently, that other campus is UC Merced, the system’s newest and least-selective campus.

Regents

6/12 – Editorial: Follow the law, Gov. Brown (SFChronicle):

6/13 – Critics say UC board is latest proof that Gov. Brown ignores the Valley (ModBee): The article notes that no one from the state’s Central Valley is on the board of Regents, a situation that has drawn criticism from San Joaquin leaders:

“This is another example of the governor essentially dismissing Central California as a flyover area,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno. “It’s inexplicable to me to have the region utterly ignored like this, with an appointment of this magnitude. It raises all kinds of questions about whether this region is really getting its due.”

Media Coverage 6/12/17

Berkeley’s Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics released a report this past week which highlighted the immense financial shadow the university’s stadium casts over the entire campus. As a Dead Spin headline succinctly and colorfully noted, “Cal Is Fucked Because Of Its Stupid Stadium Deal.” The over $400 million debt tied to seismic retrofitting of Memorial Stadium and the creation of a new gym could continue to cost the university well into the next century. Interest on Cal Athletics’ debt will exceed income for the foreseeable future, the report notes. Media accounts focused on the task force’s failure to reach a consensus on cutting any specific sports programs, a move a San Jose Mercury News columnist mocked as indecisive. Instead, the task force recommends cutting administrative costs and conducting an external review of Cal Athletics.

In other news, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle asked whether recent UC regents appointments violate the law. According to the state constitution, a 12-member advisory committee is supposed to be consulted by the governor before appointments are made. In recent memory, the advisory committee has been inactive and members are simply informed who will be appointed, the paper reports. The article also raises questions as to whether the composition of the regents reflects the state’s diversity. Following a 1974 amendment, the state constitution reads regents should be “broadly reflective of the economic, cultural, and social diversity of the state, including ethnic minorities and women.”

The state’s revised budget should be finalized by June 15. As of the weekend, the budget was poised to directly fund UCOP, a move recommended by the recent state audit which was very critical of the office led by UC President Janet Napolitano. In the past, UCOP was funded through assessing fees on each UC campus. The funding change is intended to give the legislature more control over UCOP. Meanwhile, the future of a middle class scholarship program is up in the air, though a report on Thursday suggested the program, which Gov. Brown proposed to be scrapped, will survive.

Regents

6/10 – Are governors ignoring law when appointing UC regents? (SFChronicle): The article notes the tony makeup of the regents:

Of the 18 appointed regents, including the four just named, half are financiers, corporate executives, investors, real-estate developers or corporate attorneys. Three are former politicians. One is Brown’s senior policy adviser, and another — a former finance expert at UC — is chief financial officer at a company that supplies technology to a private college in San Francisco. The others are an eye doctor, a Sacramento lobbyist, a nonprofit policy director, and the chancellor of the California Community College system.

Cal Athletics

6/7 – Cal Is Fucked Because Of Its Stupid Stadium Deal (DeadSpin):  As the article notes, Cal’s debt may last into 2113, at which point, statistically speaking, it’s not too unlikely the “big one” will have struck, potentially destroying the stadium.

6/5 – No Cal sports cut yet, athletics task force says (DailyCal): The student newspaper notes that, despite the university’s claims that such debt is a problem for universities across the country, Cal leads the nation with the greatest debt.

6/6 – Column: On Cal’s task force, the debt vise, squandered opportunities, donor truth and the future of the athletic department (SJMN): The article is critical of the task force for failing to take a stand on cuts. It begins with the memorable lede: “The inspiring, frustrating, complicated, money-losing, opportunity-creating, labyrinthine, heart-breaking, title-winning 30-sport behemoth that is the Cal athletic program has claimed another task force, outwitted more sharp minds and remained an unsolvable puzzle at a university that has won 22 Nobel Prizes.”

6/5 – UC regents hires law firm to investigate central office’s handling of state audit (SJMN): The Regents hired Former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno to conduct an investigation into whether UCOP interfered with the state’s recent audit. 

Read a statement from Regents Chair Monica Lozano here.

Budget

6/8 – California budget panel approves spending plan as talks with Brown continue (SacBee): According to the article:

Acting on the findings of a recent state audit castigating UC’s leadership, meanwhile, Thursday’s agreement will pay for the University of California Office of the President out of the general fund. The $296.4 million will replace assessments the office now collects on individual campuses, a situation that the Bureau of State Audits found had contributed to the university’s need fr increase tuition.

6/8 – Partial California Budget Deal Reached, But Sticking Points Remain (CapRadio): Unlike below, this more recent article notes the middle-class scholarship program may be spared.

6/6 – How should California spend $180 billion-plus? Here’s what is under negotiation in Sacramento (LATimes): The article notes uncertainty around Gov. Brown’s plans to cut out a middle-class scholarship program.

Media Coverage 6/5/17

Amidst criticism that the UC Regents failed to properly scrutinize the financial operations of UCOP and indulged in extravagant parties, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed four new Regents on Friday. If approved by the senate, the Regents will serve 12-year terms. The appointees are:

  • Peter Guber, 75, a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors and Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group. There is some disagreement online about whether Guber is a professor at UCLA, which a UCLA website notes. According to public salary information, he is a lecturer.
  • Ellen Tauscher, 65, a former Bay Area Democratic congresswoman and State Department undersecretary. Tauscher is now an advisor for a private law firm focused on health care.
  • Maria Anguino, 38, is a former vice chancellor at UC Riverside and UCOP employee. She is now CFO for the Minerva Project, an education and technology outfit associated with the Claremont Colleges consortium.
  • Lark Park, 47, is Gov. Brown’s senior advisor for policy.

In other news, Monica Lozano, chair of the Regents, emphasized in a letter to a newspaper the board’s commitment to implementing the changes proposed by the audit and investigating claims that UCOP tampered with surveys. After receiving criticism, the Regents will no longer bill a private UC fund for festivities. Meanwhile, a flurry of four lawsuits were filed against the Regents on Tuesday. Two concern students (one from Berkeley, the other, Irvine) who claim they were improperly punished following a Title IX investigation. Another lawsuit concerns a company who claims Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory misrepresented the scope of a demolition job. The final lawsuit was fired by UCSF IT workers whose positions were outsourced. The claimants argue they were discriminated against.

Another item that picked up some coverage this weeks concerns the investigation into out-going Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, which found he had improperly failed to pay the university $4,990. The week’s news focuses on the cost of the investigation, which stands at $57,671.

New Regents

6/2 – Warriors’ co-owner among new UC regents appointed by governor (SFChronicle): Coverage of the appointees has been thin so far, with this piece emphasizing Guber’s ties to the NBA championship-contending Warriors.

6/2 – Riverside finance expert Maria Anguiano named to UC Board of Regents (PressEnterprise): Anguiano is noted for being the daughter of immigrants and a first-generation college student.

6/2 – Brown Names Four New UC Regents (CapRadio): The brief article frames the appointments using the turmoil the recent UCOP audit sparked.

Read Gov. Brown’s press release here.

The Audit

5/31 – Letter: UC Board of Regents committed to increased transparency (SDUT): According to the letter:

I have repeatedly stated that as part of UC’s response to the state audit of the Office of the President (UCOP), the board must, and will, act above all else in the best interests of the institution.

5/29 – UC reverses policy, won’t pick up tab for regents’ parties (SFGate): The article notes the poor optics of the former policy:

Some of the banquets were poorly timed: The $270-a-head Jan. 25 banquet was held the night before the regents voted to raise student tuition. And the similarly priced May 17 party happened a few hours after student protesters shut down the regents’ meeting, objecting to both the tuition increase and a $175 million secret fund uncovered by a state audit this year.

Lawsuits

6/2 – 4 lawsuits, including 2 Title IX investigation petitions, filed against regents (DailyCal): The article gives an overview of the four lawsuits.

6/1 – Student alleges he was improperly disciplined in campus Title IX investigation (DailyCal): The in-depth article concerns the Berkeley Title IX lawsuit, wherein a male student contends he was improperly punished for violating the campus’s sexual violence and harassment policies.

5/30 – Outsourced UCSF workers sue state regents (SJMN): The layoffs at the center of the case drew widespread criticism, but UCSF says the outsourcing will save the university millions.

Dirks

5/30 – Investigation revealing Chancellor Dirks’ $4,990 misuse of public funds cost university $57,671 (DailyCal): The Daily Cal dug up the costs and revels in the irony of the expense.