Regents Renew Tuition Surcharge
The Board of Regents voted on Thursday, March 14 to renew a $60 surcharge for students to cover the costs of two previous lawsuit judgments. All UC students have been paying the fee since the 2007-08 year, and it will continue for another five years into 2017-2018.
The UC increased tuition mid-year in response to state budget cuts in 2003. Two groups of graduate students filed class-action lawsuits in 2003 and again in 2010 (Kashmiri v. Regents of the University of California; Luquetta v. Regents of the University of California), and the court determined in both cases that the UC raised tuition without properly notifying affected students and despite promises that their tuition would not rise before graduation.
The surcharge faced opposition from students, including Student Regent Jonathan Stein and Raquel Morales, president of the UC Student Association. Both said it was unfair that the university charge students for the costs of a lawsuit that they lost against students.
UC President Mark Yudof responded to criticism regarding the surcharge by saying students would have ended up paying for the lawsuits indirectly in some capacity, such as cuts to UC programs and services.
Other administrators defended the move in saying the university was very transparent in its reasons for the fee, and they promised it would not continue past the five years.
The Daily Bruin quoted UC spokesperson Diane Klein, who said the total costs of the litigation process and judgments came to nearly $100 million. The surcharge extension will expire once the costs of the second lawsuit have been paid off. The first is expected to be paid off this year, and 33 percent of the fee will go toward financial aid, as per UC policy.
Search for a New UC President Underway
The UC Regents opened discussion on Wednesday regarding search criteria for the new UC President during the Board of Regents meetings from March 12-14.
The UC Regents announced an international search for a new UC President on March 1 to follow current President Mark G. Yudof. Yudof, who began his tenure in 2008, will be stepping down in August.
The Special Committee to Consider the Selection of a President will lead the search process, as established by the Board of Regents’ bylaws. The committee includes 10 regents, including the chair of the board, the state governor, the student regent and the alumni regent. It will be responsible for creating a list of potential candidates, interviewing them and recommending a candidate to the Board of Regents.
The Special Committee will consult with all constituent groups of the university. An appointed Academic Advisory Committee will help screen potential candidates. Student, staff and alumni advisory committees will make suggestions to the committee on qualifications and selection criteria.
The committee will also be working with Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm that has history with UC campuses in filling various academic and leadership positions.
The Board of Regents emphasizes both strong leadership and academic background in an individual who has demonstrated these abilities in managing a “complex organization.” The Office of the President is responsible for managing all 10 UC campuses, including more than 240,000 students, 190,000 staff and faculty, and a $24 billion annual budget.
The UC Newsroom reports that the special committee is expected to make a recommendation to the Regents at their July meeting, where they will then vote to appoint or reject the recommended candidate.
Fundraising Through Social Media
The UC is turning to social media platforms in its latest efforts in raising more money for student scholarships and aid. On Wednesday, March 13, the Board of Regents discussed a new program for fundraising, “Promise Platform,” which will ask students and recent alumni to use social media to solicit donations from friends and family by pledging to do something if they raise the specific amount of money to do so — a large-scale pledge drive.
This something can range from nearly anything; Regents Chairman Sherry Lansing jokingly suggested during the meeting that President Yudof and Governor Jerry Brown should sing a duet.
The program is ready to begin in October, and the money raised will go toward Project You Can, a system-wide initiative that began in 2009 and aims to raise $1 billion for student scholarships by 2014. Project You Can has raised $671 million as of February of this year.
The Promise Platform will go for 30 days and will focus on engaging as many students and businesses as possible. The university will be partnering with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, the group behind the “Stand Up To Cancer” campaign, to help recruit celebrities to endorse and publicize the fundraising effort, as well as corporate sponsors.
The university has not outlined specific incentives for students and alumni to participate, but they have worked with and received support from Student Regent Jonathan Stein and the UC Student Association in developing the program.