At a meeting last week, the UC Regents were critical of a decision by lawmakers to directly fund UCOP, saying they’ve hired outside counsel to look into whether the change is constitutional. The new funding model is intended to increase legislative oversight of the office, a response by Sacramento to a critical state audit that characterized UCOP’s budget process as overly opaque. The Regents’ new chair, George Kieffer, called the change a “troubling incursion into the board’s authority.”
At the meeting, the Regents approved the hiring of Alexander Bustamante as an internal watchdog for the system. Set to earn $350,000 annually, Bustamante was previously the inspector general for LAPD. In another appointment, Michael Brown, a UC Santa Barbara professor of education and former chair of the UC Academic Senate, was named UC provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. The Regents also approved a measure that will allow admissions officers to solicit recommendation letters for up to 15 percent of applicants. The move is intended to allow admissions officers to gain more information about prospective students who are on the bubble. A pilot program at Berkeley asking for letters allayed concerns that soliciting letters would advantage students from better-resourced schools, though opposition remains.
During the meeting, some Regents criticized the costs associated with the HR system overhaul known as UC Path. Napolitano defended the program, saying it “will be an essential part of the structural governance of the university.” Meanwhile, a presentation to the Regents by UC Provost and Executive Vice President Aimée Dorr noted survey results that found 35 percent of graduate students have feelings of depression spurred by concerns about living costs, poor mentorship and job prospects.
In other news, Berkeley’s new chancellor, Carol Christ, will not move into University House, the chancellor’s mansion which her predecessor had spruced up to the tune of $1 million. In an op-ed published by the Guardian, Christopher Newfield reiterated his pitch to make public higher education more affordable, a case he made in his recent book, The Great Mistake. Commentary in the Fresno Bee criticized the turf war between the state’s three higher education system, putting a spotlight on opposition to a program that allows community colleges to offer a single four-year degree. The author notes such a program may help the state combat its projected shortage of degree-holders.
7/13 – In wake of critical audit, UC Regents take a close look at president’s budget (LATimes): Board Chairman George Kieffer called the state’s move to directly fund UCOP “very wrong,” though the article notes the Regents more closely examined the proposed budget than in previous years. Kieffer is quoted as saying: “Most troubling … is the incursion into this board’s authority to manage the university, for there is no daylight between legislators setting the [president’s] budget and legislators someday setting a particular campus budget.”
7/13 – Regents choose LAPD inspector general for UC system oversight role (LATimes): In a statement, Napolitano said: “Alex Bustamante was selected for this critical position at the university based on his impressive career focused on legal and compliance matters.”
7/13 – UC Regents Approve President’s Budget, Question Constitutionality of Legislative Control (KQED): Regent Hadi Makarechian said of the new funding model, “This is an erosion of our autonomy. We need to preserve our rights. If we continue with this precedent, next time we may get into the chancellors’ budgets.”
7/13 – UC Board of Regents passes budget, debates new HR program (DailyCal): The article quotes one Regent as saying, “It looks like we’ve gone from UCPath to the long and winding road.”
7/12 – UC Regents discuss UCOP audit implementation, student climate (DailyCal):
7/13 – UC gets OK to ask some applicants for letters of recommendation (SFChronicle): Campuses will also be able to ask for students to complete a questionnaire or to submit more grades.
7/12 – UC regents panel backs limited use of letters of recommendation at campuses systemwide (LATimes): The change will take effect for fall 2018 admissions.
7/12 – UC Board of Regents adds experts in sports management, media, arms control, finance (LATimes): A profile of the four new Regents recently appointed by Gov. Brown.
7/13 – UC regents name new provost, chief compliance officer (SFGate):
7/10 – New Cal chancellor shuns campus’ pricey mansion (SFChronicle): In addition to the houses’s renovations, $700,000 was spent on a security fence.
7/14 – Op-Ed: Let’s undo the great mistake – make university tuition free (Guardian): At the end of the article, Newfield makes the $48 pitch.
7/10 – Commentary: California faces higher education crisis, but politicians dither (FresnoBee): The author notes allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees is especially key in rural areas.