Monday, May 22, 2017
Capital Public Radio, Ben Adler, 5-22-17
Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget proposal calls for withholding $50 million from the University of California until the UC improves its financial accountability and admits more community college transfers. It’s his way of pushing for change despite the UC’s constitutional independence.
But the governor has a far more effective tool to overhaul the UC that he has yet to take full advantage of: He could reshape the Board of Regents by filling its four current vacancies.
“I think it would be a game-changer if the governor filled the remaining four vacancies with people who were ready to roll up their sleeves and try to approach their love of the university through improving it – not just through defending what it is at the moment,” says Regent and former Assembly Speaker John Pérez, whom Brown appointed in 2014.
And when asked after Thursday’s board meeting if he’d like to see the governor appoint four regents to the four vacancies that would hold the president’s office more accountable, Regent and current Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon replied, “Absolutely.”
The anger and frustration from the state Capitol toward the University of California is bipartisan. A state audit last month blasted the president’s office for a lack of financial transparency, just weeks after UC regents voted to raise tuition. Lawmakers have also pushed the UC to admit more in-state students and cut costs in the president’s office.
“Absolutely, we want to ensure there’s greater accountability,” says Board Chair Monica Lozano. “But that can’t be the only criteria. (The UC) is a very complex institution.”
The governor appoints 18 of the 26 board members. The others are elected officials, the UC president, two alumni and a student.
Lozano says regents already exercise strong oversight of the president’s office, and are taking more action in light of the audit’s findings. But, she adds, there’s good reason for the UC’s constitutional independence – and the audit shouldn’t lead to an overreaction.
“It’s difficult to look at a snapshot of what is a very complex set of factors and think that because of this one moment, you have to move the spectrum to a particular end,” Lozano says.
Brown’s office says it’s taking the time it needs to find the best people to serve – especially because regents serve 12-year terms.
The Daily Bruin provided a summary:
The governing board of the University of California met for the last day of its bimonthly board meeting at UC San Francisco on Thursday. The Board of Regents heard details about the state’s audit of the UC Office of the President, discussed UCOP’s budget and approved a cap on nonresident student enrollment. Ex officio regents Anthony Rendon, speaker of the assembly, and Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, attended the meeting.
Board of Regents
- State Auditor Elaine Howle presented the results of her office’s audit of UCOP. She emphasized the audit aimed to look at UCOP’s protocols and procedures, not critique UC President Janet Napolitano’s leadership.
- Howle also expressed concerns about UCOP’s schedule for implementing the audit’s recommendations. The audit recommended a three-year plan, starting April 2018, to begin implementing changes to align with the state’s legislative and budget cycle. However, UCOP had asked to begin implementing them by July 2018, which Howle said she thought was unreasonable.
- Howle said the audit had difficulty measuring the cost of systemwide UCOP and the number of services campuses are actually using. She added she was concerned by UCOP’s interference with her attempts to conduct confidential surveys with individual campuses. The regents approved hiring an independent third party to investigate UCOP’s alleged interference May 11.
- She also said she hopes regents will hold public meetings to discuss people’s opinions on systemwide initiatives and will continue overseeing UCOP.
- Rachael Nava, UC chief operating officer and head of the task force in charge of implementing the audit’s recommendations, laid out UCOP’s plans for implementation, including changing budget practices. She said UCOP will now separately display past funds and provide reserve balances.
- Regent Monica Lozano, chair of the board, said the recommendations were not just about complying, but changing the institutional culture of UCOP.
- The regents voted to authorize a budget for UCOP for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, but the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee will review it in depth before the regents vote to confirm increased funding for certain programs at the July meeting.
- The board also approved actions the committees voted on during Wednesday’s meeting.
Audio link below:
In the course of a year, the Regents approve vast sums involved in capital projects without any built-in capacity to evaluate them. They approve projects basically on the say-so of the campuses and UCOP. If a member of the Board of Regents happens to have some professional experience in real estate, that's at best a lucky happenstance. Even when questions are raised, the campus typically comes back with the same project with some tinkering and eventually it is approved. The Regents have no independent capacity to evaluate capital expenditures.
Usually, there is some assurance by the campus and UCOP that a particular project will be built without state money so not to worry. The proposition seems to be that non-state funds have no opportunity cost which is dubious on its face. Moreover, it neglects the fact that if the project ends up costing more than expected, or its "business plan" fails, or outside fundraising proves to be inadequate, the costs will eventually have to be met by state funds and/or student fees of one kind or another.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
You can see her presentation below:
The audios are preserved by this blog indefinitely because the Regents delete their recordings after one year. Under the revised format for Regents meetings, committees meet simultaneously in different rooms. On the morning of May 17, there was a full board meeting and then meetings of three committees. Academic and Student Affairs and then National Labs met in one room. In another room, Finance and Capital Strategies met. Here is a direct link to Academic and Student Affairs and National Labs:
All the sessions can be heard at this address:
Below is the Daily Bruin summary of the morning meetings:
The University of California Board of Regents, governing board of the UC, met at UC San Francisco for its bimonthly board meeting. The board discussed student housing, transfer student enrollment and the state budget.
Students and union workers disrupted the beginning of the meeting for about 15 minutes, chanting, “Whose university? Our university” in protest of the UC’s alleged nondisclosure of $175 million and generous salaries, which a state audit revealed in April.
Academic and Student Affairs Committee
- The regents discussed reviewing student residency policy and planned to bring recommendations for classifying student residency by fall 2018 in preparation for newly admitted students.
- Aimée Dorr, UC Office of the President provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, talked about implementing a one-year independent residency policy to replace the current two-year requirement. Regents also discussed how a student’s residency could impact their admission and encouraged implementing a UC policy that aligns with state laws.
- Robin Holmes-Sullivan, vice president of student affairs, said that selected UC campuses will reach the goal of accepting one transfer student for every two freshmen by the end of next year.
- Chancellor Gene Block said UCLA has been consistent with the two-to-one ratio since 2003. Block added UCLA achieved the admission ratio through approaching more transfer students by assigning staff members to work with community colleges in California.
- UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox said how close a UC campus is to a community college is an important factor for transfer applicants, and thinks the UC should reach out to more transfer applicants so they have more incentives to apply. Wilcox added the UC could achieve the two-to-one ratio by reducing the number of freshman admissions.
Finance and Capital Strategies Committee
- The committee approved budgets and designs for several new buildings at UC San Francisco and the renovation of the UCLA graduate art studio on Warner Drive.
- The committee also approved funding to help UCLA explore the potential of five housing sites discussed at the March meeting. Regent Hadi Makarechian suggested condensing housing options because land is expensive in Westwood. Steve Olsen, UCLA vice chancellor and chief financial officer said the campus aims to house 60 percent of undergraduate students.
- Nathan Brostrom, UCOP executive vice president and chief financial officer, updated the committee on UC President Janet Napolitano’s student housing initiative. He added the UC’s proportion of students housed on campus is lower than the proportions of private universities but higher than those of many public universities. He said campuses have added about 18,000 beds from 2006-2016.
...Our office assumes 2017-18 would end with $12.1 billion in budget reserves — about $2 billion higher than the administration’s estimate... The difference is the product of two factors. Compared to the administration: (1) our office estimates the state will end 2016-17 with about $1 billion more in revenue and (2) our office’s estimate of state General Fund spending on schools and community colleges is nearly $800 million lower in 2017-18...
Full report at http://www.lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3675
The LAO report sets the stage for bargaining between the Democratic leaders of the legislature and the governor on the budget, which must be passed by the legislature in mid-June.