State Senate committee greenlights new UC Board of Regents appointees for Senate approval

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In a meeting Wednesday, a committee of the California State Senate unanimously approved four individuals’ appointment to the UC Board of Regents to pass on to the state Senate for confirmation, which was met with frustration by some students and faculty members.

Initially appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in January, Regents Richard Blum, Monica Lozano and Norman Pattiz were reappointed to the board, while Richard Sherman was newly nominated.

Blum, a UC Berkeley alumnus, has been on the board since 2002 and is the founder of the Blum Center for Developing Economies on campus. Pattiz, who has served on the board since 2001, is CEO of Courtside Entertainment Group. Lozano, who has also served since 2001, is the chair of the board of US Hispanic Media, Inc. Sherman is the CEO of the David Geffen Company, an investment firm.

When their appointments were first announced, board chair Bruce Varner praised the amount of regental experience of the three reappointed individuals and Sherman’s financial and investment background.

Some student and faculty groups, however, protested the appointment at the hearing, citing their concerns with the transparency of the appointment process and the lack of academic background among the regents.

Kevin Sabo, board chair of the University of California Student Association and the ASUC director of legislative affairs, said he was concerned about a potential conflict of interest between Brown and the new appointees, some of whom made large financial contributions to his gubernatorial campaign. He was also critical of the appointees’ backgrounds  though Blum is a UC Berkeley alumnus, none of the new board members have a professional background in education.

“I think it’s important that we have leaders in industry guiding the UC system so that when we graduate, we have people who are employers to help us find a position,” Sabo said. “But I think when you have an entire board made up of some of the wealthiest and well-connected corporate CEOs and investors, it’s a little unsettling to the rest of us.”

Jefferson Kuoch-Seng, the external vice president of UC Merced’s student government, expressed frustration with the lack of political change during the board members’ previous 12-year term. He said UC students need representatives with backgrounds in education rather than in business and media.

“The students deserve better,” he said.

The Council of UC Faculty Associations has also come out against the new slate of appointees, citing a flawed selection process that lacks input from students or faculty members, which is constitutionally required. Joe Kiskis, a representative with the association and a UC Davis professor, called the results of the committee hearing “demoralizing.”

The next Board of Regents meeting will be Sept. 17-18 at UCSF Mission Bay Campus.

Contact G. Haley Massara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @BylineGraph.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Monica Lozano as the CEO of ImpreMedia. In fact, Lozano stepped down from this position on June 1 and is now chair of the board of US Hispanic Media, Inc.

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