SAN FRANCISCO – In the same meeting that three state senators and roughly 30 members of the public demanded University of California President Robert C. Dynes’s resignation, the UC Regents attempted to rectify the compensation scandal currently plaguing the organization.
During yesterday’s meeting, held at the Laurel Heights campus of UC San Francisco, members of the Board of Regents unanimously passed Action Item RE-74, a compilation of 23 measures proposed by the Task Force on UC Compensation, Accountability and Transparency. The Regents commissioned the task force to provide recommendations for reforming compensation practices.
Action Item RE-74 calls for several changes, including the immediate creation of an advisory committee to supervise a framework for the new policies, as well as a timetable to which the Regents must adhere. The committee will be composed of representatives from the administration, faculty, staff and UC Office of the President.
The Regents also presented their plans for recovering some of the improper compensation from UC employees. Among the four types of identifiable compensation mistakes were payments defined as “unintentional errors” – which resulted from administrative error – that must be repaid, and can be deducted from future pay.
Amid a heated atmosphere of angry union members, students and faculty, a UCOP presentation stated that the “overall objective” of the University while undergoing compensation reform was to “redesign the policies, procedures and control mechanisms for the compensation and benefit programs of the University of California.”
Despite such steps, State Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-24; State Senator Liz Figueroa, D-10; and State Senator Abel Maldonado, R-15, blamed Dynes’s “ineffectual leadership” for the scandals, and said he and the Regents failed to take appropriate responsibility.
“This board exists to ensure [the students’] best interest and I believe you have failed their interests,” Figueroa said during the open comment portion of the meeting. “Many students take second jobs to meet their tuition costs. … The students of the University of California make so many sacrifices to stay in the UC system because they know how valuable a UC diploma is. Unfortunately, their money is being spent on extravagant luxuries [via] deceptive accounting practices.
“Our students and working families have been deceived. Because of these deceptive ongoings, the UC system has lost something very valuable: the public’s trust. Your response to this scandal will determine UC’s reputation in upcoming years.”
In a press conference after the meeting, Regents Chairman Gerald L. Parsky said the Regents will discuss today the “continued leadership of the University of California,” but did not elaborate further.
Along with the previously mentioned measures, RE-74 will establish a new policy by July 2006 for disclosure practices, a “compensation website” with publicly accessible information on compensation information, and a Public Information Practices Coordinator position, appointed by UC President Dynes to develop “clear protocols and timelines” for processing information requests. Dynes has already appointed former Legislative Director for the University Gail Riley as the interim coordinator.
The action item also requires the University to perform annual audits of compensation decisions and approvals. Finally, RE-74 creates a few committees to oversee all of the recommended changes.
Parsky said during the press conference that he thinks these measures will be sufficient to bring about better financial practices.
“The Regents have been very clear in their direction to the president that past failure to comply with policy will not be accepted,” Parsky said. “We are not going to rely on voluntary compliance. We are going to have a compliance office.”
However, Parsky went on to say that the Regents and the UC had more work ahead of them.
“I wouldn’t say that this is over, in terms of completing corrections,” he said. “We have had perhaps the most extensive audit, and that audit is completed, and now corrective action, where it can be taken, can be taken.”
UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang attended the meeting as well. He said the University is making progress to rectify the compensation scandal.
“With the best interest of the University in mind, I think the Regents have made significant progress in clarifying the issues and making the necessary changes to increase public confidence in UC’s compensation practices,” Yang said.
The Regents’ meeting will continue today in the same location at 10 a.m.