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Regents vote in support of creating committee to examine UC finances

By Emily Liu and Rafael Sands

Jan. 21, 2015 8:05 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California Board of Regents voted to move forward with Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to establish a committee to avoid tuition increases, and discussed the University’s sexual assault response and prevention efforts as well as student athletes’ academic performance at its meeting Wednesday.

Brown’s advisory committee

On Wednesday, the UC Board of Regents unanimously supported Brown’s plan to create a select advisory committee, which will examine the University’s cost structure and seek to minimize tuition increases.

The two-person committee will consist solely of Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano, who have, in recent months, disagreed on the amount of state funding the University should receive and the necessity of tuition hikes.

In 2009, the UC formed its own committee – the Commission on the Future – to look into ways the University could handle lower levels of state funding without compromising educational quality. Although the University has made some progress in implementing some of the commission’s recommendations, Brown’s committee will look further into some of the same issues.

The Wednesday vote was a recommendation to move forward with the proposal. A full vote on the measure will take place Thursday.

“As an advisory committee of two, I think it will be engaged deeply and holistically at looking at the University and its future,” Napolitano said at the meeting.

The vote came hours after Regent John Pérez said he thinks the UC’s tuition hike proposal should be rescinded. He said he thought the timing of the vote last November was not conducive to a thorough and equal-sided conversation.

“It is proving to be the case in my opinion that this has been nothing more than a series of games that use the students as pawns,” Perez said.

Napolitano and Brown will meet for the first time as a committee next week and are expected to present a preliminary report at the regents meeting in March.

Systemwide sexual assault response measures

The regents presented updates on a series of new programs and offices for UC campuses aimed at improving responses to sexual assault reports. The initiatives are part of the second phase of the UC’s fulfillment of recommendations from the President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault.

The University announced the launch of a systemwide website for sexual assault resources. Each campus will also put up its own individual website by the end of the month, said Sheryl Vacca, leader of the task force and senior vice president and chief compliance and audit officer of the UC.

The task force introduced a standardized two-team response model across all campuses. The Case Management Team will oversee and handle all incidences of sexual misconduct reports, while the Coordinated Community Review Team will focus on campus policy, education and outreach efforts.

Each campus will also have a full-time, independent and confidential advocacy office that will provide a space for survivors to seek help, with at least one designated staff member.

By July, the task force will develop a standardized systemwide investigation policy and a shared database.

In addition to the seven recommendations from the president’s task force, the University introduced an eighth recommendation to provide a fair and equal level of services to the accused. Vacca said the task force intends to present this recommendation to the White House in the near future.

Student-athletes’ academic performance and coach bonuses

Student-athletes may have to meet a minimum academic performance score for coaches and athletic directors to be eligible for bonuses if recommendations from a working group that Napolitano appointed are approved.

Under the proposal, coaches would have to ensure their teams meet a minimum National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Academic Progress Rate in order to be eligible for any incentive payment.

The Academic Progress Rate, a team-based metric that tracks the academic performance of each student-athlete each term, has a maximum value of 1,000. Current NCAA regulations require teams to achieve a four-year average of 930 to participate in championships.

All UC Division I sports teams except Riverside’s men’s basketball team met the minimum requirement, with many teams earning a score above 945, said H. Michael Williams, athletic director at UC Berkeley, who participated in the working group.

Some regents, such as Perez, said they thought the standard was too low to have an impact on what some say is the low academic performance of some UC student-athletes.

“It’s fine for us to say that we want to compete for the greatest coaches, but if we’re not competing to have the most successful students, then I think we fail as a board,” Perez said.

The board will vote on the working group’s recommendations on Thursday.

New vice provost for diversity and engagement

Napolitano announced the creation of a vice provost for diversity and engagement position on Wednesday to oversee and coordinate efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.

Yvette Gullatt, vice provost for educational partnerships, will take up the new position in addition to her current responsibilities.

The Office of the President appointment complements recent initiatives at UCLA to improve campus climate and increase diversity at the university.

In September, UCLA began a search for its own vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion. The university also hired two discrimination prevention officers to review its faculty discrimination reporting policies and responses, and appointed diversity specialists from different departments in the university.

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