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UC Regents recap – Sept. 15-17

The UC Board of Regents met for its bimonthly meeting from Sept. 15 to Sept. 17 and discussed topics such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Proposition 16. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Saumya Gupta

Oct. 1, 2020 10:21 p.m.

The University of California Board of Regents, the governing body of the UC, met for its bimonthly meeting from Sept. 15 to Sept. 17 via teleconference. The regents discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, possible operation plans for the next year and Proposition 16.

Tuesday

Investments Committee:

  • During public comment, Lehuanani Defranco, a Hawaii resident, said she opposed the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea because of the site’s importance in Hawaiian culture. However, Samuel Wilder King II, another Hawaii resident, expressed support for the project because he said he believes Mauna Kea is no longer of religious importance to Hawaiians.

  • Jagdeep Singh Bachher, chief investment officer of the UC, said UC assets increased from $130 billion to $140 billion between June 30 and Aug. 31 in his presentation of the 2019-2020 fiscal year review.

  • Regent Debby Stegura asked Bachher to clarify how the endowment helped the student body. Bachher said a collection of 6,000 smaller endowments make up the UC endowment. Many of those endowments focus solely on the funding of student education through scholarships, such as the Los Alamos Community Foundation that provides education funding for students from the area.

  • The regents approved an amendment to Regents Policy 6101 and a rescission of Regent Policy 6401, which regulated how the UC allocates pension assets. The UC will now increase its assets from 50% to 53% in public equity, from 10% to 12% in private equity, from 3% to 4% in real assets, and introduce a private debt allocation of 3.5%, while reducing investment in hedge funds, emerging market bonds and investment grade funds.

  • Arthur Guimaraes, chief operating officer of UC Investment Services, said the UC’s carbon footprint decreased by 45% in the last year.

  • The UC has already invested $10 billion in companies with female leaders and is committed to investing another $2 billion in organizations who have women in leadership positions. The UC has doubled the company assets with Black or Latinx managers.

Special Committee on Basic Needs:

  • The Special Committee on Basic Needs discussed a draft of its report on basic needs. The committee will review the finalized report at its November meeting.

  • The report detailed goals to increase enrollment in CalFresh, a program that supplies monthly benefits to purchase food, by 50% by the start of the 2022 fiscal year. Shawn Brick, the executive director of student financial support, said they are working with the California Department of Social Services to make an auto-generated form letter, which is a letter that shows a person is eligible for CalFresh, for anybody with work-study, which would help mark that students satisfy the requirement.

  • Student Regent-designate Alexis Zaragoza said she would like to add technology, specifically internet and technology access, to the report’s definition of basic needs.

Wednesday

Board:

  • Alia Reynolds, the executive vice president of statewide affairs at Associated Students UC Santa Barbara and the university affairs committee chair of the UC Student Association, urged the board to consider the basic needs of UC students and to not lay off student workers or cut financial aid. Reynolds also said that the UCPD has been implicated in numerous lawsuits concerning sexual assault and urged the board to support defunding UCPD and putting a portion of the money saved toward providing basic needs for students during the pandemic.

  • Jason Rabinowitz, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 2010, said working people should not bear the brunt of the current crisis in the form of layoffs and reductions in time. He urged UC President Michael Drake and the regents to work with the unions to preserve jobs and protect workers.

  • Melissa Johnson-Camacho, a registered nurse at the UC Davis Medical Center, said nurses are still fighting for access to personal protective equipment. She said the science suggests that nurses should be able to use any PPE they want.

  • Carrie Byington, executive vice president of UC Health, said the number of COVID-19 cases in both the United States and California has decreased by around 35% after reaching a high point in late July. However, she added that the case count could trend upward through fall and winter.

  • Byington also said she thinks the UC will not be back to normal by January, adding that the UC campuses need to plan now for what winter quarter or semester will look like.

National Laboratories Committee:

  • UC National Laboratories invested more than $170 million of income generated from managing the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory into the UC National Laboratory Fees Research Program. The program funds projects between UC researchers and scientists from both laboratories. The committee plans to invest more than $10 million into the program each year.

  • Theresa Maldonado, vice president for research and innovation, mentioned that future research will focus more on climate change as California continues to grapple with the fires within the state.

  • Students worldwide can apply to join potential lab positions, which offer paid student programs, said the Craig Leasure, vice president for national laboratories. Over this past summer, all three labs that are affiliated with the University went to a mostly virtual approach because of COVID-19, Leasure added.

Compliance and Audit Committee:

  • Alexander Bustamante, the senior vice president and chief compliance and audit officer of ethics, compliance and audit services for the UC Office of the President, continued discussions on the proposed revisions to the internal audit charter, a formal policy that is meant to be an objective internal audit function and provides the regents, the president and campus chancellors with information regarding the University’s oversight.

  • This committee meeting addressed proposed amendments that were made in a previous closed session. The regents revised the charter to ensure that any potential access issues to the internal audit office are resolved quickly, Bustamante said.

  • The committee approved Regent Lark Park’s proposed amendment to the internal audit charter to include that the chair and vice chair of the compliance and audit committee are consulted when the chief compliance officer advises the UC president on compliance and audit activities.

Governance Committee

  • The regents allocated $1,339,000 to be paid to Boston College for the early termination of UCLA’s new Athletics Director Martin Jarmond’s contract and allocated a Gross Up Amount payment of up to $1,491,000, which is meant to substitute the state and federal tax incurred by the early contract termination, paid directly to tax entities. The gross up payment will be funded by private fundraising from the UCLA Foundation.

  • The committee approved the dates for the 2022 regents meetings.

  • The committee approved a resolution to exclude Drake from accessing federal classified information until he is given security clearance and is identified as a key management personnel.

Finance and Capital Strategies Committee

  • UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ provided an update on the financing of the new Data Hub New Academic Building at UC Berkeley. The building will house the division of Computing, Data Science, and Society, a new division focused on providing learning spaces and facilitating research in technological change, big data, ethical artificial intelligence, environmental sustainability, inequality and health. The campus received a $252 million gift from an anonymous donor. The donation will go toward the project. UC Berkeley plans to raise another $300 million through philanthropy, Christ added.

  • The regents discussed the 2020 Long Range Development Plan for the UC Davis Sacramento campus, which houses UC Davis Health facilities. The plan includes the development of Aggie Square, a new center focused on facilitating cross-disciplinary collaboration and providing new residential facilities.

  • Nathan Brostrom, executive vice president and UC chief financial officer, said the pandemic cost the UC $2.2 billion because of new costs and lost revenue. The UC lost approximately $1.3 billion in revenues from UC Health and from increased COVID-19 testing costs, he added.

  • Brostrom said that UCLA, UC San Francisco and UC San Diego have been more severely impacted financially than the other UC campuses because COVID-19 had a disproportionate impact on the cities the campuses are in. The fiscal impact on UCLA is estimated at $653 million.

  • The UC anticipates structural challenges to the 2021-2022 budget because of an expected cut to the state budget allocation, uncertainty about federal stimulus funds, mandatory wage increases and increases in employer contributions to the UC Retirement Plan, and emerging COVID-19 related costs, Brostrom said.

  • The regents expressed concerns over the budget for the development of the Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood at UCSD, a planned residential space that would provide housing to approximately 2,000 students. Regent Hadi Makarechian said he supports the spirit of the project but requires more clarity on its financing, suggesting that any decisions on the project be postponed to the November regents meeting. Discussion on approving an interim budget for the teams working on the project was moved to the following day.

  • The regents approved the creation of two new legal entities that will allow the UC to be eligible for federal subsidies for the development of a new UCSD urban academic and cultural center, called “the U.” The new center will focus on providing opportunities for underserved residents in downtown San Diego through new arts, cultural and STEM programs.

Academic and Student Affairs Committee

  • Richard Arum, the dean of UC Irvine’s School of Education, presented the school’s Next Generation Undergraduate Success Measurement Project. The project, launched in fall 2019, intends to use data about undergraduate experiences to improve students’ life course outcomes after college. Arum added researchers are monitoring how COVID-19 has affected students’ experiences after observing an increase in stress during spring quarter.

  • Stephanie Reyes-Tuccio, assistant vice chancellor for educational partnerships at UCI, presented the current progress of her team, which seeks to address educational inequities by partnering with local communities. Reyes-Tuccio said after conducting outreach and partnering with California communities such as Santa Ana, Anaheim, Compton and El Monte, applications to UCI increased by 43% and enrollment increased by 105%.

  • Ehren Koepf, the executive director of UC Scout, said the program has grown by 475% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and is struggling to fulfill high demand. UC Scout provides online A-G courses for underserved student populations.

  • Michael Brown, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said a steering committee, composed of individuals involved in California education segments like the UC Academic Senate and fair testing experts, will create a feasibility recommendation of whether the UC should create or modify an admissions test. The committee will present their findings to Drake in mid-December.

Thursday

Board:

  • During public comment, workers from the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, a hotel owned by the UC’s retirement system, called on the UC to create a just contract that provides health insurance to workers after the hotel canceled their health insurance.

  • Byington said they are working on having UC Health clinics for all the UC campuses, with a focus on getting a clinic on the UC Merced campus.

  • Byington added they are working on a telehealth student mental health initiative, which was approved by the chancellors in March, to allow more psychiatric services, long-term follow-ups and counseling across the UC system. The student health insurance board will vote on the initiative in October.

  • The board discussed the effects of the ban on affirmative action and what the UC can do to help underrepresented groups if Proposition 16, which would repeal the ban on affirmative action in California, does or does not pass. Regent Eloy Oakley said even if the proposition fails, they still need to work on improving the UC’s diversity.

  • The regents unanimously approved a policy that would prohibit the use of race or gender caps and quotas in UC employment, admissions and contractings.

  • The regents approved UC Berkeley’s and UCLA’s request to join a multi-university limited liability company that would help commercialize some of their patents.

Finance and Capital Strategies Committee

  • The Finance and Capital Strategies Committee continued its agenda from Wednesday and approved the interim budget for the teams working on UCSD’s development of the Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood.

Contributing reports by Rachel DuRose, Julia Shapero, Jewelyana Lim, Olivia Tran, Eshan Uniyal and Vivian Xu, Daily Bruin staff.

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Saumya Gupta | Assistant News editor
Gupta is the 2020-2021 assistant News editor for the national news and higher education beat. She was previously a contributor for the beat. She is also a third-year psychology student.
Gupta is the 2020-2021 assistant News editor for the national news and higher education beat. She was previously a contributor for the beat. She is also a third-year psychology student.
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