Brown appoints 2 individuals to UC Board of Regents

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Update 11/18/14: This post was updated to reflect further information regarding the appointed individuals. 

Gov. Jerry Brown announced two appointments to the UC Board of Regents on Monday.

Brown appointed California State Assembly Speaker Emeritus John A. Perez and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the superintendent-president of Long Beach City College, to the board, both of whom await confirmation from the California State Senate. Both individuals have experience in higher education issues: Perez has written legislation addressing the affordability of higher education, while Oakley has worked a number of years as an administrator at California community colleges.

oakleymug“John and Eloy bring a wealth of experience and an extraordinary capacity to dig into the complexities of our great university system,” Brown said in a statement. “Their work has demonstrated a deep commitment to the students of California.”

Brown’s announcements came the day before the UC regents are set to convene for their November board meeting, beginning Tuesday. As the state Legislature is not in session, it may be a number of months before either individual is confirmed by the Senate.

Nominated individuals, however, can serve one year on the board pending their confirmation. Perez and Oakley are expected to appear at the board meeting Wednesday and Thursday.

Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano have clashed in recent weeks after the announcement of a tuition increase policy that would link tuition to levels of state funding, which will be discussed Wednesday.

If Perez and Oakley vote against the policy, their decisions will add to the dissent but will likely not be enough to vote down the policy, which is expected to be passed by a mostly supportive board.

Some have lauded the individuals’ backgrounds in higher education, distinct from a board comprised of many with backgrounds in finance and business.

Kevin Sabo, a UC Berkeley student who is the board chair of the University of California Student Association, said he thinks Brown’s appointment is a message to the board and a signal of his priorities when it comes to the university in terms of addressing access as well as transfer rates.

“It’s no coincidence,” Sabo said. “He’s sending a strong message to the regents that he’s aware of the vacancies, but if they want to continue having resource-allocation priorities, then he’s not going to support that with likeminded individuals on the board. It’s a shift, which is nice, but I wish he did this earlier.”

Perez, who attended UC Berkeley, was elected to the state Assembly in 2008, later becoming the speaker of the Assembly in 2010. He authored the Middle Class Scholarship Act, which grants financial awards to eligible students whose families make up to $150,000 per year and who may not qualify for institutional aid offered by the University of California or California State University.

Oakley has been the superintendent-president of Long Beach City College since 2007. He was previously the executive vice president of administrative services. Oakley has also worked at Golden West College and for the Coast Community College District and is an alumnus of UC Irvine.

“At a time when we are seeking to expand enrollment of California students and improve the process for students transferring from community colleges to UC, I’m very happy that we will benefit from the expertise and experiences of Speaker Pérez and President Eloy Ortiz,” Napolitano said in a statement.

Sabo said he was pleased in particular with the appointment of Perez to the board of regents, noting his reputation of working to address higher education issues such as access and affordability. But Sabo raised issue with the appointment of Oakley, whom he said was a driving force behind AB 955, which authorized some community colleges to charge more for certain classes during summer and winter sessions.

The UC Board of Regents meeting will be held Tuesday through Thursday at the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

Sophie Ho is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @sophanho.