Five seats remain empty on UC Board of Regents under Jerry Brown

Nathaniel Solley/Staff

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Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to fill five empty seats on the UC Board of Regents, three of which have already been vacant for more than a year.

Currently, the board consists of 13 UC Regents, but with two members’ terms due to expire in March 2014, Brown may need to fill at least one seat, needed for an emergency quorum, in the coming year.

A quorum of nine regents is required for a regular regents meeting, and a quorum of 12 is required for an emergency session. One of Brown’s duties that largely impacts the UC system is appointing regents and selecting applicants to be confirmed by the California State Assembly and the state Senate.

In March, two seats opened up after the terms of former UC regents Leslie Schilling and Monica Lozano ended. The previous three seats have been empty for more than a year since former UC regents George Marcus’ and Odessa Johnson’s terms expired at the end of February 2012. Former UC regent David Crane lost his seat in December 2011 when the California State Senate did not move to confirm him to the board.

UC spokesperson Steve Montiel said to his knowledge, the board has not experienced any problems, and so far, no meeting has needed to be postponed due to low attendance.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Montiel said. “There have been vacancies through the years under various governors.”

Although only 11 regents may be left on the board in March next year, UC Student Regent Cinthia Flores said there is no real urgency to fill the spot needed for an emergency session. She and former student regent Jonathan Stein have already presented Brown with a list of potential candidates who would best complement incoming UC President Janet Napolitano and the rest of the board.

“In my candid conversations with the governor, he said he liked the dynamics of present board,” Flores said. “He said he was going to be cautious so that the productive dynamic of board wouldn’t be altered too much.”

Flores also said important decisions have been made with great efficiency, and if anything, having a smaller board is more conducive.

According to Chris Garland, chief of staff for the Office of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, he is unaware of any UC Berkeley professors or current regents requesting that the governor nominate new regents.

“It would be really helpful to have a full board, but … the board appears to be functioning quite well now,” Garland said.

Jim Evans, chief deputy press secretary in the Office of the Governor, said although the governor will move as quickly as possible to fill the vacancies, the quality of the candidate is foremost in filling the vacancies.

“As is the case with all of our appointments, our focus is selecting the best possible candidates,” Evans said. “That ultimately dictates our timing.”

J. Hannah Lee covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected].