In response to increasing controversy and a lack of transparency over the inner workings of the UC administrative positions, the UC Board of Regents announced Thursday that they would strive to increase clarity between the administration and students.
The California State Auditor Elaine Howle released an audit of the UC Office of the President (UCOP) in April that revealed $175 million in undisclosed funds and alleged interference with the audit. The discovery has caused concern regarding the transparency of UCOP and, specifically, UC President Janet Napolitano’s leadership.
During the Regents meeting on Wednesday, several people criticized Napolitano, some even calling for her resignation. The public forum ended with protesters chanting and being forced to leave.
Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva was the first legislator to call on Napolitano to resign earlier in May.
“The leaders of our state university systems are duty-bound to maintain the highest levels of transparency, integrity and accountability to California taxpayers, students, their families and the Legislature, especially when it comes to public monies,” Quirk-Silva said in a press release. “President Napolitano no longer engenders the public trust required to perform her duties.”
Ralph Washington Jr., president of the UC Student Association, said at the Regents meeting on Thursday that this lack of transparency about issues such as the allocation of funding has contributed to a decrease in the accountability by the administration.
“A lot of the discussion of the accountability, in context of the budget and the office of the [UC president], has to do with fiduciary accountability,” Washington said. “When students talk about accountability…they mean things like the accountability of the university to the investment of future opportunities for students.”
In order to better mend the relationship between the UC administration and students, Washington said he recommends assigning positions of authority to individuals who would more naturally be inclined to make good decisions based on their backgrounds and circumstances.
Creating policies that enforce these decisions, he said, will further hold the administration accountable to its action.
“I think the best place for us to be accountable and for us to ensure the steps that we’re taking are implemented reside with the Board of Regents,” Chair of the UC Regents board Monica Lozano said.
Rachel Naca, chief operating officer from the UC Office of the President, recommended the regents retain an independent third party to “assist in the planning and implementation of a three-year corrective plan.”
This stipulation would allow for an unbiased and independent party which would solve issues of accountability and transparency that has become a frequent criticism of the UC regents administration.
“It’s not just for the benefit of the regents or the benefit of the administration that we do this,” Howle said. “It’s for the benefit of the students and the general public in the state of California.”