UCSB alumnus and Santa Barbara Independent chief executive officer and publisher George Thurlow will join the governing board of the UC Board of Regents on July 1.
The UCSB alumni board recently elected Thurlow as treasurer of the Alumni Associations of the UC (AAUC), allowing him to serve as an ex-officio voting Regent. Thurlow, who graduated in 1973, was previously a president of the UCSB Alumni Association and a member of its board of directors. He will be a Regent designate for a one-year term before serving his year as a voting Regent.
The UC Regents consist of 26 voting members charged with the stewardship of all 10 UC campuses. Of these, the governor installs 18 Regents for 12-year terms, and the remainder are ex-officio members, who serve by virtue of the position they hold.
Thurlow said part of his duties entails working with other board members to improve the UC system.
“Nonvoting [Regent designates] are expected to come to meetings and participate,” Thurlow said. “They have to use that first year to get up to speed. Those presidents [on the AAUC] meet every other month to talk about issues facing the university.”
He said he is putting a lot of time into researching his position as a Regent in a bid to prepare for the job.
“It’s really important for alumni Regents to pick one or two areas in which to do their homework and focus on those,” Thurlow said. “I’m still looking for my issues. I’m spending time between now and July interviewing past and current alumni Regents to try and learn all of their lessons.”
Thurlow joins another Santa Barbara area Regent, Judith Hopkinson, on the board. Former governor Gray Davis appointed Hopkinson to her 12-year term.
Thurlow said he feels that his duty as a Regent is not to represent the UCSB community preferentially, but rather to champion what is best for the entire UC system.
“It’s unique and fortunate that SB will have two individuals on the Board of Regents, but it’s not my role to advocate on behalf of UCSB,” Thurlow said. “At the same time, it’s important to bring to the Regents the special lessons of UCSB.”
There are several specific areas in which Thurlow said he feels that UCSB excels, and he would like to use those lessons to help the UC.
“This is a young campus that is academically excelling – we’re a shining star,” Thurlow said. “There has clearly been a trend. Average GPAs and SATs are going up, and I think UCSB has really excelled in diversity in its enrollment. I will not be shy about bringing those ideas and lessons to the Regents.”
Thurlow said he preferred not to comment on issues currently facing the Regents – such as rising tuition – prior to actually taking office, stating that he would rather learn more first and comment once he becomes an official Regent.
“Here’s what I would say about tuition: When it’s in front of the Regents, I’ll feel comfortable talking about it,” Thurlow said. “It’s not appropriate for me to start commenting before I’m even a Regent.”
Santa Barbara’s newest Regent said he also feels that as the parent of a UCSB alum and a current undergrad, he has a unique perspective regarding life on campus, and can bring that to the table.
“I am not only an alumnus, but a parent of one alum and one current student,” Thurlow said. “I am very familiar with all of the issues of what it’s like to be a student from a parent’s point of view.”