You have probably seen the recent barrage of news stories critical of the way UC has been managed – including articles about the state legislature withholding funding from UC in the recently passed state budget because of problems at UCOP revealed in a recent state audit such as a hidden reserve fund, interference with the auditor’s survey, and excessive executive compensation. The budget also redirects nearly $350 million from UC’s core mission as the legislature tries to gain direct control of UCOPs budget. Earlier articles decried the Regents’ spending over $250 a head on dinner parties for themselves.
These articles demonstrate an eroded level of trust between UC and the state legislature and the people of California. We believe a large part of that erosion is due to the closed and insular method by which Regents are appointed — a method that is in direct contradiction to what is specified in California’s Constitution.
The Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) has written letters to Governor Brown asking him to obey the Constitution when nominating Regents, letters to the UC Regents asking them to follow their own bylaws and not accept improperly nominated Regents and letters to the California Senate asking them to use their authority of approval of Regents to enforce the Constitution.
Three weeks ago, Governor Brown again nominated Regents without following the consultation process mandated by the Constitution. Several newspaper articles have noted this Constitutional violation.
Yesterday CUCFA sent a letter to the State Senate, calling on the Senate Rules Committee to enforce the California Constitution by immediately rejecting (without prejudice) the Governor’s nominees. Regent terms begin as soon as the Governor nominates them, so these improperly nominated Regents can vote on issues at the upcoming Regent’s meeting unless the Senate Rules Committee acts quickly to reject them. We also requested that the Constitutionally-required advisory committee have a more than pro forma role and that the Senate declare that it will only consider Regent nominees that have been vetted through an open public process, in a series of meetings conducted in accordance with the Bagley-Keene Act and with opportunities for public comment.
Many of the Regents are wealthy and powerful individuals, including some Regents who are employed by or invest in the for-profit education sector, a clear conflict of interest. One of the nominees is Maria Anguiano, a former Vice Chancellor at UCR, who is now employed at the for-profit education company, Minerva Project. Californians deserve a more representative, diverse board of UC Regents, nominated by a transparent public process, who will advocate for high quality, accessible, and tuition-free higher education.
You can read the full letter to the Senate Rules Committee HERE.