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.
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.
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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.
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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.