Last week, the California State Auditor Howle shocked lawmakers, students and taxpayers alike by revealing that the UC system harbored $170 Million+ in various accounts and spent excessively on travel, all the while advocating for more state funds and voting to raise student tuition. Howle also claimed that the UCOP (University of California Office of the President) had “interfered” with the investigation.
Not only did the auditor outline excessive spending by the UCOP but the report also had some scathing remonstrances for the oversight body for the state university system: the UC Board of Regents, and recommended that the UC system be directly overseen by the CA legislature.
The UC Board of Regents is a governing corporation established to oversee the Universities of California, comprising 26 full-time members who typically serve a 12-year term.
Though it is represented as an un-salaried position, after digging around in the body’s bylaws, I found unspecified monetary incentives connected with being a member of the Board of Regents; (1) reimbursement for expenses, and (2) a stipend for attending meetings.
Reimbursements: “A Regent may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred by reason of attendance at any meeting of the Board or a Committee thereof or in the performance of other official business of the Corporation.”
If you’re a UC Board of Regents member, you could conceivably stay in San Francisco, San Diego or Los Angeles, ensconced nightly in a world-class hotel at upwards of $350 per night, and the UC system would reimburse you for actual expenses. I was unable to find publicly-posted limits for said reimbursements, however abnormally high travel expenses were mentioned in the state auditors report.
Stipend: “Members of the Board of Regents serving as representatives of The Regents of the University of California to the California Postsecondary Education Commission may receive stipends as provided by law for attending meetings of the Commission or of its committees or subcommittees.”
I could find no documentation online about how much the Board of Regents “stipend” is, or how often it is paid, but I did find that–in 2015–the Board of Regents secretary, Anne Shaw, pulled in a $227,000 annual salary, plus $8,619 in “Other Income” (see screenshot below)
It must be noted that raising student tuition to cover overspending is not a new issue for the state university system; the UC Board of Regents and UCOP has come under fire most recently in 2009, coinciding with the last time they raised student tuition. Mark Yudof was then UC president.
“These are outrageous actions, taken at the same time as UC has been pleadingpoverty, forcing staff and faculty to take furloughs, and hinting at more student fee increases,” said Jelger Kalmijn, a staff research associate and president ofUniversity Professional and Technical Employees (CWA-9119), which represents12,000 researchers, tech staff and health care professionals at UC system wide.“UC President Mark Yudof keeps saying we all have to ‘share the pain,’ but it is obvious that many administrators will not be feeling the pinch,” he added.
In 2009 a UC Berkeley student shared her frustration at a BOR meeting over how the student voice has not been heard:
“I am urging you that you make yourselves more available and actually listen to us,” she said, referencing the last board meeting when students across the UC system traveled to protest voting on the tuition increase.
Flash forward to May 2nd, 2017: the California Legislature called an Joint Hearing/Joint Legislative Audit And Budget Subcommittee On Education Finance And Higher Education at the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, for a marathon session of preliminary testimony and questions lasting far into the evening hours, where members of the legislature questioned State auditor Howle, UC president Napolitano and UC Board of Regents chair Lozano.
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber--who has advocated for UC funds in past–had some harsh words (see 2:39:22 onward in Joint Legislative Oversight Hearing: Audit Report – The University of CA Office of the President, 5-2-2017 ) for Board of Regents Chair Lozano during the hearing… such as “arrogance”, “resistance” and “agencies pretty much accustomed to operating on their own.” Weber also remarked on the abnormally high salaries that UCOP employees are paid.
It was a statement that invoked curiosity; after looking up the most recently available data on UC salaries, I was floored at how much money some of the employees at UCOP are paid. Jaddeep Singh, for instance is paid over $1.1 Million dollars annually for a position titled “Chief Investigative Officer.”
The one, good part about having the Federal purse strings cinched more tightly on funding for California is that, apparently, it causes the legislature to cast a sharp, skeptical gaze upon flagrant spending they may have overlooked in times of plenty.
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L. R. Styles is the Photo Editor & a columnist for Belator Media