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 7/22/16

The regents voted to implement new rules governing service on corporate boards just after the Chronicle broke a story about a UCSF employee who has made millions from companies that have, in turn, made millions from UCSF. Also, the regents voted to change their own bylaws, a move that some see as intended to limit public scrutiny.

Regents & Outside Compensation

7/18 – UCSF Medical Center CEO profits from firms doing business with hospital (SFChronicle): Mark Laret, the CEO of UCSF Medical Center, sits on the corporate boards of two companies that do millions of dollars of business with the public hospital. Laret’s compensation from the two companies exceeds $5 million. UCSF maintains Laret’s service is above board and that the CEO is not involved in purchasing decisions. At the heart of the controversy is whether Laret’s role to minimize costs for UCSF conflicts with his job to maximize profits for the two companies.

7/21 – UC regents toughen moonlighting rules for top executives (SFChronicle): Senior UC execs must explain how service on a corporate board or consulting work would benefit the UC system under new rules the regents approved. The rule would not apply to those who have already received permission to work outside UC. In other news, 19 top executives including nine chancellors, received 3 percent raises. See the action item here. More from the SacBee.

7/21 – Editorial: Tighten rules for moonlighting UC officials (LATimes): The LA Times editorial board came out in favor of tougher rules on moonlighting, including forbidding UC executives from serving on boards that do business with UC. The new rules approved by the regents do not forbid that practice.

7/21 – UC chancellors get raises – some for second straight year (EBTimes): Chancellor Dirks’ salary has increased by $30,000 since June 2015.

7/20 – UC Regents take steps to streamline board operations, dig more deeply into crucial issues (LATimes): The regents agreed to reduce the number of committees  and to spend more time meeting as a full body. According to the article: “The proposal now affirms that all regents have the right to raise any issue at any time and that all open committee meetings will be videotaped and posted online. The board would retain the right to weigh in on all committee actions, rescind any decision delegating authority to UC administrators and maintain the right to investigate allegations of misconduct by a regent.”

7/15 – A Near Coup d’Etat at the University of California (AmericanThinker; NB this was written before the changes went into effect): Former Regent Velma Montoya characterizes the “streamlining” of the regents as a move to concentrate power in the hands of one committee and to limit public scrutiny.

 7/19 – UC Davis chancellor’s outside activities prompt UC regents to consider tightening moonlighting rules (LATimes): A preview of the changes the regents approved on moonlighting.

7/18 – Katehi scandal at UC Davis called ‘worse than pepper spray’ (SacBee): Emails reveal the strategizing of Katehi’s office as the Bee broke news of the chancellor’s service on two corporate boards that raised ethical questions.

This & That

7/18 – UC regent named as chancellor of community college system (SF Chronicle): Eloy Ortiz Oakley will remain a UC regent as he takes over the state’s community college system.

7/19 -State funding cuts during the recession still shortchanging Cal State students, officials say (LATimes): The nation’s largest university system receives state funding worth $7,858 per full-time student, compared with $9,686 in 2007-2008. The system has had to deny admission to qualified students and defer maintenance on numerous buildings. At the same time, the system’s graduation rate lags behind the national average.

7/18 – Berkeley Student Killed in Terror Attack in Nice (IHE): The 20-year-old was one of 84 people killed in the attack. Three other Berkeley students, all in France on a study abroad program, were injured.

Public Higher Ed Finances

7/17 – Bonuses Push More Public-College Leaders Past $1 Million (Chronicle): Five public university leaders hit the $1 million compensation mark.

7/14 – Finances of City College’s President Are Under Federal Investigation (NYT): Feds are investigating whether CUNY President Lisa S. Coico misused research money to reimburse a private foundation that paid for the president’s personal expenses.