Monday, September 23

Submission: CIR article misrepresents UCLA funding realities


The following is a letter from Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh to Mark Katches and Robert Salladay, the editorial director and managing editor, respectively, of the Center for Investigative Reporting, about an article produced by that organization and published in the Daily Bruin on April 11.

Dear Mr. Katches and Mr. Salladay,

It is regrettable that your April 8 story about “luxury” expenses continues to misrepresent the realities of fundraising at UCLA. Travel is increasingly important to securing the funding necessary to further our public, educational mission. Once again, your reporter has used selective facts and lurid adjectives to perpetuate a tired thesis while ignoring crucial context and information that would more accurately tell the whole story.

While CIR continues to target the expenses of Dean Judy Olian of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, it’s especially troubling that your readers never learn about the reasons for her aggressive fundraising. Professional schools, programs and departments all across the UC system have experienced serious drops in state funding. Like other units, Anderson has become more reliant on fundraising than in the past. Under these circumstances Dean Olian is following a firm directive from her board to globalize UCLA Anderson and she also serves in a key role for the larger campus as senior adviser to the Chancellor for Global Strategy. In addition, fundraising requires an investment, and Dean Olian’s return on investment is remarkable. In eight years here, she has raised $180 million. The airfare your article is so critical of represents less than 1 percent of the funds she has raised.

It is also important to note that your reporter did not mention Dean Olian’s most expensive trip – to Europe – during the period covered by the story. Why? Because contrary to CIR’s thesis, Dean Olian actually saved UCLA money. First, her airfare was fully reimbursed by a professional organization. Then she used her own vacation days to bridge overseas assignments so that Anderson wouldn’t have to pay for a second trip.

CIR also seems insistent upon trying to connect travel costs to rising tuition when there is absolutely no link between the two. Dean Olian’s travel was paid for by her own fundraising efforts – absolutely no state funds or tuition dollars were used. Rises in tuition are directly linked to the drop in state funding. Use of words like “lavish” and “extravagant” paints a picture that grossly mischaracterizes the situation.

Perhaps most troubling, however, is your story’s failure to ask or answer a central question: Did Dean Olian’s expenses violate UC or UCLA policy? The answer is a flat no. Instead, the story makes much of new travel guidelines UCLA issued – even attempting to take credit for them, although they do not represent policy changes and refers to them in a way that falsely suggests Dean Olian is flaunting them. This is in spite of the fact that Dean Olian agreed to share her verifiable medical condition with your reporter in an off-the-record conversation.

With just 7 percent of funding coming from state sources last year, UCLA has been forced to rely more heavily on private funding than in the past while remaining publicly accountable. CIR ignores these realities and completely dismisses the challenges we face. In the process, CIR unfairly attacks a dedicated dean who is striving to maintain the excellence of one of the best business management schools in the country.

Sincerely,

Scott L. Waugh
UCLA executive vice chancellor and provost

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