The University of California Board of Regents held its first meeting of the 2014-15 fiscal year last Wednesday at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay Community Center, addressing the appointments of the student regent and new UCSF chancellor, as well as the budget of the UC Medical Centers, following brief periods of public comment.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the Board confirmed the appointment of UCLA fourth-year Abraham “Avi” Oved to the student regent position for the 2015-16 academic year, despite the recent controversy surrounding his 2013 campaign for Internal Vice President of UCLA’s Undergraduate Student Association. Also on Wednesday, the board heard from UC President Janet Napolitano, who announced a 50 million dollar initiative to create 100 new endowed chairs distributed among the 10 general campuses in the next five years.
The session opened with roughly 45 minutes of public comment from students primarily concerned with the appointment of Oved to the student regent position. Students from various UC campuses spoke out both in support and opposition to the appointment of Oved in light of the recent controversy surrounding his 2013 election to UCLA’s Undergraduate Student Association Council.
The committee was followed by opening remarks from Napolitano on the current status of the UC’s response to May 23’s Isla Vista killings.
“Incidents like this are rare on our campuses but the issues that led to this tragic shooting are commonly known and threats to our campuses do exist,” Napolitano said. “Addressing these issues is top priority for me and for the chancellors. We are actively working to do so.”
Napolitano also promised more details on campus security, student mental health and issues concerning Isla Vista at the forthcoming regents meeting in September.
Napolitano then announced the Presidential Match For Endowed Chairs, which allocates 50 million dollars from the Presidential Endowment Fund as an incentive for donors to establish 100 endowed chairs across campuses for next five years.
“It’s hard to overstate the importance of endowed faculty chairs to UC’s teaching and research mission,” Napolitano said. “By supporting these endowed chairs, donors will be creating a lasting legacy at the University, one that will benefit many generations to come.”
According to Napolitano, the initial funds will be distributed equally among the 10 general campuses in $4 million dollar amounts, creating the possibility for eight new chairs per campus.
Public comment was followed by a convening of the Committee on Long Range Planning, chaired by Regent Russell Gould, in which Regents discussed the long-term fiscal outlook of the University and the Council of UC Staff Assemblies before moving into a presentation of the S Report by the Student Regent Selection Committee, chaired by Regent George Keiffer.
During his comments, Keiffer addressed the controversy surrounding Oved and said despite the UC Student Association (UCSA)’s call for postponement of the appointment, the confirmation vote should still go forward because Oved complied with all the rules of the Undergraduate Student Association Council (USAC) elections committee.
“The committee understands the UCSA’s interest in examining issues having to do with transparency of election practices for student leaders. That however is an issue that must be dealt with prospectively not retrospectively,” Keiffer said. “We cannot and should not retroactively determine what UCLA students should and should not provide as part of their elections code. Here, as was the case last year, all of the procedures for the selection of the UC student regent have been followed correctly.”
The regents then voted to confirm Oved as the next student regent with the only opposing vote coming from current student regent, UC Berkeley fourth-year social welfare major Sadia Saifuddin. The student regent said she justified her vote as a representation of the will of the students she was appointed to represent but emphasized her willingness to work with Oved constructively in the future.
“My vote is a reflection of the discomfort that is being felt by students,” Saifuddin said. “I will vote no today because students demand it and tomorrow I will start the process of supporting the student regent designate to building a strong working relationship with the UC community so that UC students can have two excellent advocates on the Board of Regents.”
The board then convened the Committee on Finance, discussing the current status of UCPath, a framework for UC payroll and human resource services, and P200, a collaborative effort between the 10 campuses that manages the procurement of over 200 million dollars of funding for teaching and research by redirecting money from “sub-optimal procurement sources”.
According to the committee speaker, state spending for UC has been crowded out by increases in spending on corrections, K-12 education and health and human services. Additionally, state contribution to the UC has been cut nearly in half compared to its 1990 levels, in which state funds contributed roughly 80 percent of the UC’s budget.
Following the passage of several other motions, the Board heard from outgoing UCSA president and UC Riverside graduate Kareem Aref, who presented on various campaigns UCSA runs, such as UC divestment from fossil fuel companies and the California Modernization and Economic Development Act of 2013, a potential source of funding for the UC in which Aref emphasized a need to stop “fighting” with the state for UC funding.
The recently convened presidential task force on sexual violence was also presented for the first time in front of the Board of Regents on Wednesday. The task force, of which only nine of the 24 members were present, made an introductory presentation on the work being done to make campus sexual assault response services more effective.
Task force chair Cheryl Vacca said one of the goals of the task force is to determine how to encourage a more “trusting culture” among sexual assault support services in order to make students more comfortable using campus resources and to make those resources more effective.
Vacca also said the UC’s overall objective is to make a more uniform sexual assault support service system across the UCs as well as to establish more sexual violence prevention efforts on each campus.
This story is a Daily Nexus online exclusive.