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Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

UC Loses More Autonomy

In the latest fallout from last spring's disastrous, and disastrously handled, audit, Governor Brown has just signed a new law that tightens up legislative oversight over UC Finances.  You will probably remember that the State Auditor challenged UCOP's handling of funds and accused UCOP of intervening in the audit process in order to gain more favorable responses from campus officials (although UCOP denied the allegations).  In response, the State transformed UC's budget.  And now the state is increasing its intervention into UC budgeting.

In what can only be seen as a response UCOP's role in changing campus responses to the Auditor's inquiries, the new law forbids communication between UCOP and a campus
whenever a request for information relating to the security of funds of the University of California is made by the California State Auditor’s Office pursuant to these provisions to one or more campuses of the University of California, would prohibit those campuses from coordinating their responses with, or seeking counsel, advice, or similar contact regarding their response from, the Office of the President of the University of California before submitting the requested information to the California State Auditor’s Office. The bill would require the California State Auditor’s Office, when requesting information under these provisions, to include a statement in the request that it is requesting the information pursuant to these provisions and that the request for information is not to be shared with the Office of the President of the University of California.
In addition, the legislature demands increased fine tuning of the University's cost of education calculation both in terms of the relative costs of undergraduate education, graduate education, and health science education and by funding source.  Given that UC has consistently insisted that this demand is unreasonable, we can expect further political tensions between Sacramento and the University.

Chris and I have long called for greater transparency about spending and funding sources.  And I can understand the State's desire to ensure that the information it receives during audits not be tampered with.  Still, this latest statute raises a series of important issues:

1) When the accusations about tampering first broke, UC announced that it was hiring an independent investigator to examine the charges.  Has that report been concluded?  If so, when will it be released?  What did it determine?  If it hasn't been concluded then why not?  And when can we find out what actually happened?

2) As I pointed out earlier, the State's response continues to be based on the notion that legislators and the Regents are the most appropriate people to co-govern the university with UCOP.  But as has been proven repeatedly, neither the Legislature, nor the Regents, nor the Governor nor UCOP, for that matter, has demonstrated much grasp of the educational and research practices of the University.  What is needed is greater internal democracy rather than simply legislative demands.  And that internal democracy should be applied to the question of how to achieve the highest academic accomplishment, not simply how to achieve the greatest savings or, as far too many local administrators seem to think, develop the latest private sector fads.

3).  When will there be genuine accountability at UCOP and the Board of Regents?  As the audit,  this year's budget, and this legislation demonstrate, UC has become extremely vulnerable to outside pressures and the political status of the University is remarkably low.  Does anyone really believe that the people who have brought the University to this point are the ones to correct it?  And given the destructive forces emanating from Washington, does anyone expect that the budget or the political climate is going to get better?

4) Shouldn't the Senate take a leading and public role in formulating proposals to recenter the University on its academic missions?



1 comments:

reno silaban said...
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