With heavy security surrounding the UCen, today the UCSB campus hosted its first official University of California Board of Regents meeting of the decade.

UC Police Dept. officers from several campuses guarded various entrances within the UCen and Corwin Pavilion as the Regents gathered for the first session of its three-day meeting. While today’s discussion focused on building improvements, the subsequent meetings will center on UC-managed federal laboratories and possible restrictions on University research funded by the tobacco industry. Last year, the regents made a visit to UCSB, but did not hold any voting sessions.

At a May regents meeting in San Francisco, UCSB students Carleigh O’Donnell, Cricket Clark and Adrian Drummond-Cole were arrested when they chanted “Give peace a chance” and refused to disperse while participating in a protest.
Asst. Vice Chancellor of Public Affairs Paul Desruisseaux said the University has provided security to this month’s meeting to prevent any large disturbances from occurring at UCSB.

“I think there is often the potential for some student activity at regents meetings,” Desruisseaux said. “Preparations are being made to deal with those kinds of possibilities.”

Meanwhile, at today’s meeting, the Board approved designs for the expansion of UCSB’s Engineering II building and for improvements to its fire safety systems.
According to UCSB Facilities Project Manager Frank Castanha, the addition will house the new Solid State Lighting and Display Center. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring, and the $15,375,000 upgrades are scheduled for completion in Fall 2009.

Several luminary professors will head SSLDC, including Shuji Nakamura, acclaimed worldwide as the inventor of the blue light-emitting diode commonly found in LCD screens. The SSLDC will focus on raising energy efficiency of lighting and displays through its research.

At tomorrow’s session, the regents will discuss possible restrictions on tobacco-funded research at the UC. At previous presentations, critics alleged that the tobacco company funds have compromised the integrity and results of UC research, including 19 individual projects.

However, University officials, including members of the UC Academic Senate, have recommended that such funding remain accessible to campus researchers so as to avoid establishing a precedent that could lead to loss of monies from energy or pharmaceutical companies.

Lastly, on Thursday the regents will review suggestions pertaining to the oversight of Dept. of Energy laboratories co-managed by the UC. In the past, such agendas have traditionally drawn protestors interested in persuading the University to sever its ties with facilities such as Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories – both of which conduct nuclear weapons research.

The Board of Regents, which meets six times a year, consists of 26 members who oversee the financial management of the University as well as its investments and properties. Eighteen of its members are appointed by the governor for a 12-year term while another of its officers is a UC student appointed by the board for a one-year term. In addition to its financial responsibilities, the Board also appoints the UC president.