First 2014 UC Regents Meeting Recap

The University of California’s Regents and its committees met for their first meeting of 2014 on Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 22 and 23, at the University of California, San Francisco.

Notable events that occurred during the meeting included a discussion between UC President Janet Napolitano, California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White and California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris; a voicing of complaints from several Jewish organizations; news of a possible strike vote by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299; and pay approval of two new executive hires.

In the discussion between Napolitano, White and Harris, the three voiced their desire to “break through some of the walls set up by the state’s 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The three systems hope to streamline transfers and have more transparency between the systems.

White believes the greatest challenge for the three public higher education systems is to plan “for the new economy for the next 50 years.”

Several members of the Jewish and pro-Israel community complained to UC Regents about the recent lectures by Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian scholar who has voiced support of boycotts of Israeli universities. He has held lectures at the UC Davis, Los Angeles and Riverside campuses. They claimed that his speeches violated UC policy and contributed to a hostile environment for Jewish students. The Regents did not respond to allegations during the meeting but have recently stated that they oppose a boycott of Israel, while at the same time supported Barghouti’s  right to free speech.

AFSCME Local 3299 said Wednesday that they were considering raising another strike, the third one in a year. They will be scheduling membership votes regarding this possibility in February.

On Thursday, the Regents approved two new hires: Jagdeep S. Bachher as the chief investment officer and vice president of investments, and Claude Steele as UC Berkeley’s provost and second in command.

The regents approved a $615,000 base salary for Bachher after a short public discussion. Officials stated that this money comes mainly from investment returns instead of tuition and tax revenues.

Steele’s salary was under relatively more scrutiny. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Regent Norman Pattiz voted against the proposed $450,000 annual salary for Steele. The salary is below Steele’s Stanford salary but higher than the salary of many UC campus chancellors.

“My concern is self-evident,” Newsom said. “It’s more than any other provost in the entire system.”

UC regents ultimately approved Steele’s package.