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.”

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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.

 

Media Coverage 5/29/17

Assistant Professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies Blake Wentworth was fired nearly two years after an investigation substantiated claims of sexual harassment made by a graduate student. Wentworth, who had been placed on paid leave, has sued three of his accusers and the university. Even news of Wentworth’s firing, however, wasn’t free of the UCOP audit, as Wentworth’s attorneys claimed the timing of their client’s firing was intended to distract from the controversy. Over the week, newspapers continued to weigh in on the audit with opinion pieces. The San Diego Union-Tribune argued Gov. Brown should fill the four vacant Regent positions with individuals who will be more critical of the university system. In the Legislature, one lawmaker introduced a constitutional amendment that would limit UC’s autonomy, though the proposal is unlikely to clear the high bar for adoption. In a New York Times op-ed, the UC system was noted for its exemplary embrace of low-income students, though the piece notes declining state funding imperils the system’s commitment to inclusion.

Wentworth

5/24 – UC Berkeley professor fired nearly two years after sexual harassment claims substantiated (Guardian): The firing of Assistant Professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies Blake Wentworth comes two years after an investigation substantiated some of the claims against him. Wentworth has sued three accusers and the university. His attorneys claim the timing of the firing is intended to distract attention from the UCOP audit.

Also see Daily Cal

Audit and Finances

5/23 – State senator to introduce a constitutional amendment to limit UC’s 138-year-old autonomy (LATimes): State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) has proposed a constitutional amendment to directly fund UCOP, a move intended to limit the autonomy of the UC system. Because the proposal is a constitutional amendment, not only would the Legislature need to approve the change, but voters would have to approve it as well.

See more SFGate

5/24 – Too many UC administrators make more than the governor (SFChronicle): State Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) argues that UC administrators are paid too much to justify raising tuition. Galgiani notes 712 administrators earn more than $190,103, the salary paid to the governor.

5/25 – Op-Ed: The Assault on Colleges — and the American Dream (NYT): A nice overview of how declining public funding for higher education has limited economic diversity on campuses. The UC system is highlighted as an exemplar of inclusion, though the author notes the future is precarious for the institution.

5/23 – Editorial: How Gov. Jerry Brown can force change fastest at UC (SDUT): The editorial calls for Gov. Brown to fill the four vacant UC Regent posts willing to take a more critical look at the system.

5/20 – Op-Ed: UC regents must take responsibility for independent audits of UC (SFChronicle): The City of Berkeley’s elected auditor argues the Regents need to insure UC’s own internal audit office is independent of and positioned to keep an eye on UCOP.

5/24 – Angst Over Middle-Class Aid (InsiderHigherEd): An overview of Gov. Brown’s push to eliminate the Middle Class Scholarship program, which benefits students whose families earn less than $156,000 but who do not qualify for aid targeted at low-income students.

Fruits & Genetics

5/24 – Sweet victory: UC Davis wins big-money strawberry fight (SacBee): A jury ruled that two retired UC Davis scientists stole the university’s intellectual property when they took a strawberry they developed while employed at Davis to a private company. The court still could decide UC must license the plants to the scientists.

Media Coverage 5/22/17

The flood of news concerning the UCOP audit slowed to a trickle this week, though the repercussions of an earlier audit made news. The Regents approved a cap on nonresident undergraduate enrollment, a policy change spurred by a 2016 audit that found in-state students were disadvantaged in the admissions process as UC sought the financial benefits of out-state-students. System-wide, UC’s undergraduate student body is about 16.5 percent nonresident. The cap will allow the proportion to grow to 18 percent at five campuses currently below that threshold. Four campuses—Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego and Irvine—exceed that limit. Instead of being forced to cut down on the proportion of nonresident students, these campuses will be capped at their current level. The Regents considered an even more lax plan, but withdrew it from consideration after lawmakers expressed exasperation, citing constituents with high-achieving high schoolers who had been denied admission to the state’s premier higher education system. As part of a deal with Gov. Brown, the system should now receive an additional $18.5 million in funding, money that will be used to fund the enrollment of additional resident undergrads, according to the Sacramento Bee.

News about the more recent UCOP audit focused on a Regents meeting which protestors briefly shutdown. The protestors were there to criticize UCOP for what the audit characterized as excessive compensation. The Regents voiced their support for President Napolitano at the meeting, pushing back against some aspects of the auditor’s characterization of UCOP’s budgeting practices. In an op-ed, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-South Gate) urged the Regents to more closely monitor UCOP.

In other news, Gov. Brown’s May budget revision makes the receipt of $50 million contingent on three conditions:

  1. State Auditor Recommendations: In an April 2017 report, the State Auditor identified a number of problems with the UC Office of the President (UCOP), including the office’s staffing size and costs, spending on systemwide programs, and overall budget. The Auditor’s report included dozens of recommendations designed to enhance transparency, operational performance, and state oversight. The Auditor called for these recommendations to be implemented over a three-year period (between April 2018 and April 2020). The May Revision would link budget-year funding with UC’s implementation of the April 2018 recommendations.
  2. Transfer Enrollment: The May Revision also expects all but two campuses (Merced and San Francisco) to enroll at least one new transfer student for every two new freshman students for the 2018-19 academic year. That is, at least one-third of each campus’s new resident undergraduate enrollment would need to be transfer students. This target is intended to align with policies called for in the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education. In 2015-16, 31 percent of UC’s incoming resident undergraduates were transfer students.
  3. Activity-Based Costing:  The May Revision’s final condition is for UC to pilot activity-based costing at three campuses. The purpose of activity-based costing is to identify program- and course-level costs of providing instruction and other services to students. Currently, one pilot is underway at the Riverside campus, and two campuses (Merced and Davis) have completed scoping studies for pilot programs

The Legislature is debating the budget, which has a June 15 deadline for passage.

Non-Residents

5/18 – UC pulls back welcome mat for nonresident students with first enrollment cap (SacBee): The article notes that nonresident enrollment increased rapidly during the recession, when the UC system saw its budget sharply cut. However, as the budget has recovered, nonresident enrollment has not slowed. Two Regents voted against the measure, with at least one casting their vote to signal support for more out-of-state students and the diversity they bring.

5/19 – UC leaders to cap nonresident student enrollment in 2018 (SFGate): The article notes UC enrolls more resident students than peer public universities.

UCOP

5/18 – UC regents defend Napolitano, thank auditor for probe (SFGate): The Regents pushed back on the auditor’s characterization of funds being hidden.

5/17 – UC students protest hidden funds, shut down regents meeting (SFGate): Protestors briefly shut down the Regents meeting, calling out President Napolitano for the perceived excesses of her office.

5/17 – UC regents meeting disrupted by protests over state audit finding of undisclosed surplus (LATimes): “Shame on you, Janet Napolitano. Shame on you, UCOP,” one student said at the meeting.

5/16 – Op-Ed: Speaker Rendon: In wake of audit, UC Regents need to wake up, better oversee President Napolitano and roll back tuition hike (SJMN): In his op-ed, Rendon wrote:

Regents must also demand transparency. We must receive clear, quality information and timely answers to our questions. That’s the only way to make informed budget, personnel and policy decisions.

I am frustrated with what Napolitano’s office has communicated and not communicated to the State Auditor, the public and the students. I will be ready with tough questions at the meeting. Legislators have to hold the Regents accountable, and the Regents have to hold the President accountable. That is what will bring lasting change.

Budget Revision

5/15 – State of California: LAO Budget Revision Analysis (LAO): The UC information is on page 26 of the report.