The University of California Regents and its committees convened on Tuesday, Sept. 17, through Thursday, Sept. 19, to hold the first Regents meeting of the school year — making it the last meeting before newly appointed Janet Napolitano officially joins the UC. The meetings were held at the University of California, San Francisco, campus, concluding at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab with a tour of the laboratory’s facilities. Highlights of the meeting included the launching of a social media fundraiser, talks on renovating the Blake House and constructing an engineering building at the University of California, Los Angeles.
On Wednesday, UC launched an online crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising grants and scholarships for UC students. Lasting for six weeks, the social media fundraiser Promise for Education asks the public to use media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to campaign for donations to the university by making a promise and then setting a fundraising goal to be reached before fulfilling the said promise. The program cost is $700,000 funded by private, non-tuition funds.
“The beauty of this idea is the democratization of fundraising. We’re trying to get everybody involved,” Regent Sherry Lansing said to the Los Angeles Times.
A few notable celebrity promises include Governor Jerry Brown pledging to host a brown-bag lunch with a student from each UC for $10,000 and Jamie Foxx pledging to “rap like President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama and Monique — from everybody’s favorite movie ‘Precious’” for $20,000.
On Sept. 30, Napolitano is scheduled to begin her term as the University of California president, and the UC released that it has agreed to a two-year lease of an Oakland residence for her at $9,950 a month. Compared to the current UC President Mark G. Yudof’s housing situation, housing for Napolitano is estimated to cost $2,250 to $2,550 less per month. Though her housing plan already saves money for UC, the Board of Regents voted to spend an initial $620,000 toward renovating the 13,269-square-foot UC-owned home that was used to house UC presidents until five years ago: the Blake House.
“We were just trying to keep it together so it doesn’t fall apart,” Frederick Ruiz, current Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents, said to the international news agency Reuters.
The total cost of renovations is estimated to be anywhere from $3.5 to $6 million. During Yudof’s presidency, when he increased tuition by 32 percent, he elected to not renovate the house. At that time in 2010, renovation estimations cost around $10 million. UC Vice President for Budget Patrick Lenz, who proposed the renovation, said, “We’re kind of at a point where we need to retain the value that we have.”
The Regents also approved $3.15 million in preliminary funding on Tuesday for another engineering building at UCLA. The new building, the Engineering VI-Phase 2 building, will be constructed next to the under construction Engineering VI-Phase 1 building in Westwood Plaza. Covering 60,000 square feet, the research laboratory will be used by the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science in order to — according to the item’s executive summary — “foster scientific discoveries; support the development of new technologies, inventions and educational programs; and create new commercial opportunities for high-growth industries dependent on computation research.”
The total cost of the project is estimated to be about $70 million and hopes to be funded through gifts. So far, $27 million in pledges and cash have been raised for the project, and the Regents have now officially approved preliminary plans funding in the amount of $3.17 million through gift funds.