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UC Regents recap – Nov. 16-18

By Daily Bruin Staff

Nov. 30, 2021 9:51 p.m.

The University of California Board of Regents, the governing body of the UC, met for its November meeting from Nov. 16 to Nov. 18 via teleconference. The board discussed its program to strengthen the connection between UC campuses and the National Laboratories, progress on outreach for its Eligibility in the Local Context program and results from its student experiences surveys.

Tuesday, Nov. 16

Board

  • Dennis McIver, chair-elect of Council of UC Staff Assemblies, said policy-covered staff are not guaranteed annual contractual pay increases, which differs from the rest of the UC faculty and covered staff. He added that many policy-covered staff are considering leaving the UC, and their union recommends a 5% pay increase for all policy-covered staff in good standing.
  • Mary Petrella, a neonatal intensive care unit nurse, said that recently their unit lost 15 nurses in two weeks to another facility that offered part-time positions, better pay, guaranteed breaks and other improved working conditions. She said the UC’s working conditions are taking a toll on their unit, and they want to see a change so they do not continue to lose nurses.
  • Michael Kennedy, an intensive care unit registered nurse at Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego and the chief center nurse representative for the California Nursing Association, said UC medical centers ignore them when they tell managers about regulations being violated, and UC President Michael Drake has refused to meet with them.
  • Drew Scott, a director for Teamsters Local 2010 Union, a union that represents about 14,000 clerical and skilled trades workers across the UC system, said if the UC starts insourcing maintenance work, it would keep its union members working while reducing the long term cost. He said their union calls upon the UC to follow its policies on contracting out, and that all UC workers deserve protection from unfair outsourcing.
  • Edwin Bish, an administrative officer at UC Berkeley, said the adoption of a wage table at all UC locations has not occurred and called upon the UC to ensure administrative officers get fair and competitive wages at all UC locations.

Investments Committee

  • Jagdeep Singh Bachher, the UC chief investment officer, said from June 30 through Sept. 30, the UC had a 0% growth quarter, starting and ending the fiscal year with $168 billion in assets.
  • Bachher added that one change was made since June 30 that invests money not yet invested in private equity into the Russell 3000 Index, a stock market index.
  • Arthur Guimaraes, the UC chief operating officer, said the UC investment office is beginning to work on its annual diversified returns report. He added that Bachher previously held a webinar with Bob Green, the CEO of the National Association of Investment Committees, and committed to holding 100 meetings with diverse and emerging managers over the next six months.

National Laboratories Committee

  • Pramod Khargonekar, the vice chancellor of research at UC Irvine, and John Sarrao, the deputy director for science, technology and engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory, gave a presentation on the UC Southern California Hub, a program meant to increase collaboration between the UC campuses and the National Laboratories.
  • Khargonekar said that during the 2020-2021 pilot year for the program, four virtual workshops were held with attendees from all UC campuses.
  • Sarrao said the areas of strategic priority for the National Laboratories align well with the areas of technical strength of the campuses.
  • Khargonekar added that the pilot year identified several key themes, including the potential for more shared research interests between the UC and Lab scientists, using Lab resources to train UC students and fellows, increased visibility of Labs at UC campuses and simplifying the process for joint appointments between the UC and National Labs.
  • In terms of two-year progress, Khargonekar said UC Riverside joined as a full partner and the program created an executive leadership council.
  • He added that the remaining goals for the year are funding proposals to expand on collaborations started during last year’s workshops, creating new workshops, improving student engagement and recruiting.

Wednesday, Nov. 17

Board

  • Miriam Goldman, a student researcher at UC San Francisco, said the UC administration is wrongfully denying the recognition of the Student Researchers United – United Auto Workers, a union for graduate student researchers.
  • Melissa Méndez, a student researcher at UCSF, said she urges the UC Regents to begin bargaining with SRU-UAW.
  • Stephanie Watts-Parish, a UCLA employee and a Teamsters Local 2010 member, said most employees have difficulty making ends meet with their current pay and often have to take a second job.
  • Catherine Cobb, the president of Teamsters Local 2010, said the UC must have a fair increase in wages and should ensure adequate housing for its employees.
  • Diana Garcia, a UC Santa Barbara graduate, said she wants the UC Regents to divest from the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea and to push other TMT partners to divest from the project. Garcia added that building the TMT on Mauna Kea makes the UC implicit in colonial violence, and the recently released master plan on the project is a disregard of Native Hawaiian sovereignty.
  • Robert Horwitz, a faculty representative, said that during the pandemic, research suffered because the online teaching environment took more time and faculty could not access their lab spaces, performance spaces and field sites. Horwitz added that with the return to campus, there is still some burden on faculty because teaching in multiple modes is time-consuming and requires more coordination.

Public Engagement and Development Committee

  • Richard Kravitz, director of UC Center Sacramento, said the UCCS connects UC students and researchers with Californian policymakers through undergraduate and graduate programs. He added that UCCS alumni take part in legislature, state governments, local governments and nonprofits long after graduation. He said future goals include increasing undergraduate enrollment and diversity, increasing scholarship and work-study for support expanding opportunities for graduate students and connecting scholarship to public service.
  • John Laird, chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education, said there is a more than a 5% increase, and the budget will be $51 billion above projections. He added there were significant additions to the Pell Grant and scholarships to try to provide more financial aid to students in order to strive for a debt-free college.

Compliance and Audit Committee

  • Alexander Bustamante, the chief compliance and audit officer, said they performed an annual risk assessment where they look for the high likelihood of a harmful incident happening to the UC. Some high-risk areas included technology transfer, foreign influence and cybersecurity.
  • Matthew Hicks, a systemwide deputy audit officer, said the internal audit identified cybersecurity as one of the UC’s main risks. Hicks added that the cybersecurity audit team found several opportunities to improve formalizing security management programs and ensuring that management is engaged in the proper oversight rules.
  • Bustamente said through their whistleblower investigative program, they found that discrimination and harassment increased by 34% from the 2020 fiscal year and workplace misconduct is higher than the 2019 fiscal year amount.

Academic and Student Affairs Committee

  • The committee said they received recommendations to resume the annual outreach for Eligibility in the Local Context, a program where the UC identifies high school students from the top 9% in participating schools after it was discontinued in 2012 to shift resources to implementation, and that the UC system should increase school’s awareness of how ELC works and how it benefits students.
  • Regent Sherry Lansing questioned why some schools are not eligible for ELC because those schools might be destinations for underserved students.
  • The committee said that some high schools do not meet the minimum requirement of 15 courses designated as a UC A-G requirement. The committee added that some schools are not aware of the ELC program’s existence, and it may be too burdensome for some administrations.
  • The committee said they wanted to highlight how living experiences differ when receiving financial aid.
  • Yuval Cohen, the president of the Associated Students at UC Santa Barbara student, said she thinks there needs to be more funding for the financial aid offices and more outreach to spread resources.
  • The committee discussed results from a new survey that provides insight into how to provide assistance for graduate students and said they plan to publish the results.
  • Regent Maria Anguiano said she was concerned with the large number of students that reported experiencing depression.
  • UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said it is a nationwide issue for graduate students to be experiencing depression, especially because of the pandemic, but the UC system needs to work on providing the same level of mental health support to graduate students as provided to undergraduates.
  • Additionally, Regent Anguiano said she was concerned with the large number of students who think the curriculum quality is not outstanding.
  • Regent Designate Blas Pedral said she was worried about how marginalized communities feel less financially secure.
  • Blas Pedral added that the UC system should increase student grants so that low-income students can have the opportunity to have hands-on experience in unpaid internships that financially stable students have.
  • The committee said their goal is for 41% of doctoral students to have a bachelor’s degree from a UC or CSU, or a bachelor’s or graduate degree from institutions that serve primarily minorities.
  • The committee also said course expectations for similar majors across different UC campuses are not uniform because schools approach their academic studies differently, though such differences can make it harder to apply and transfer into the UC system.

Finance and Capital Strategies Committee

  • Nathan Brostrom, the UC chief financial officer, spoke about the 2021-2027 capital financial plan, which determines the financial needs of each UC campus and medical center over the next five years. He said the plan identified a collective need of $75 billion in funding, of which $46 billion remains unfunded. The committee voted to unanimously approve the university’s 2021-2027 capital financial plan.
  • Brostrom said high-performing investments helped the UC significantly improve its financial position despite pandemic-related setbacks. Brostrom added the UC received $456 million from the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, while university medical centers secured an additional $424 million. The committee approved the 2021 financial statements for university medical centers and the UC retirement system
  • Brostrom said the board needs to approve the 2022-2023 budget to request funding from Gov. Gavin Newsom during his January state budget. He added that because the UC was met with record-high enrollment rates this academic year, the proposed budget would aim to increase funding for students through various investments.
  • Drake motioned for an amendment to the budget to request an additional $50 million for staff funding, which the committee unanimously approved along with the budget.
  • The committee approved an amendment to the strategy wherein UC contributions would return to 15% in 2024 and be incremented by additionally raised by 0.5% in accordance with Regents policy, along with the original changes to the employer contribution strategy.
  • Rachel Nava, the UC chief operating officer, said UCOP received $46 million from the state this fiscal year, of which $35.3 million was allocated to appropriating agricultural natural resources and $10.7 million to supporting student outreach. Nava added this was a 4.8% increase to the UCOP budget. The committee approved the UCOP budget amendment.

Thursday, Nov. 18

Board

  • Esmeralda Quintero-Cubillan, the president of the UC Student Association, said UCSA has established budget priorities that focus on aiding marginalized students. She said they recommended allocating $22.5 million for the Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnership program, $4 million for system impacted resource centers, $5 million ongoing for the support of undocumented students in UC and $6 million ongoing to help UC students who are former foster youth.
  • Gwen Chodur, the president of UC Graduate and Professional Council, said she is glad to hear that UC graduate enrollment will be increased, but noted it is important to improve housing options, redesign courses and provide hybrid class options in addition to this change. She added that since the faculty-to-student ratio will be altered, many aspects of instruction must be readjusted to maintain a high quality of education.
  • Carrie Byington, the executive vice president of UC Health, said although 66% of adults are fully vaccinated in California, cases of COVID-19 have recently increased and the country seems to be entering its fifth surge of the pandemic. She added it is crucial to stay safe when traveling during the holiday season by taking COVID-19 tests before and after breaks, receiving the booster vaccine and keeping gatherings small if possible.
  • Drake said he endorsed the decision of the Smarter Balanced Assessment study group to not recommend the use of the Smarter Balanced standardized test for admissions because it would have similar equity issues that were present with the SAT and ACT.
  • Michael Brown, the provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, said the UC plans to move forward with a holistic application review that does not require standardized test scores, connect with California high schools to improve educational opportunities and discover new ways to increase equity in high school education throughout the state.
  • Regent Lark Park, the chair of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, said Brown brought up a new goal for the UC to accept transfer students from a wider range of community colleges in California because the majority of acceptances come from nine schools. She also said Horwitz said it would be helpful to make UC online classes available to prospective UC transfer students to supplement their education at community colleges.
  • Sam Hawgood, the chancellor of UC San Francisco, said there will be a partnership between UCSF and UC Merced that will allow students from around the San Joaquin Valley to complete their medical degrees without having to leave the region. He said UCSF will give conditional acceptance to high school students who will complete their bachelor’s degrees at UC Merced, a UCSF pre-clerkship at UC Merced and clinical clerkships at UCSF.
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