UC Board of Regents approves tightened review of top executives’ outside activities, salary increases for chancellors

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At its Thursday meeting, the UC Board of Regents revised policy relating to senior management personnel in the UC system engaging in outside professional activities and approved increases in salaries for UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks along with eight other UC chancellors.

The policy revisions will require two reviewers to assess whether the outside activities by personnel represent conflicts of interest, time or reputation. Additionally, senior management will only be able to serve on two boards outside the university — reduced from three — and must receive approval before getting involved in outside professional activities. They will also be required to present mid-year reports on those activities.

The revisions were made in response to recent news that UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi served on the board of a for-profit college textbook company, which many saw as a conflict of interest and led to state hearings on public university policies.

“We take our relationship with state leaders very seriously and we take our relationship with the public very seriously,” said Regent Bonnie Reiss at the meeting. “So we began meeting to review our policy, reviewing those of other universities in the United States and what changes should be made to make sure we maintain the public trust.”

Reiss added, however, that senior management members who engage in outside boards, committees and journals make significant contributions in their field and to the UC reputation.

At the meeting, several board members raised concern that the additional constraints and steps for approval would deter people who are interesting in becoming senior management members and whether using vacation and personal time to attend to outside board commitments constituted a time conflict.

Reiss stated that these concerns were addressed in the amendments, which included a maximum of 30 days to review outside professional activities and the annual reports — which would also take into consideration where the time spent on those activities came from.

“Sometimes you’ll think something is not a conflict or a perceived conflict and someone else may point out to you that it is,” said Regent Sherry Lansing during the meeting. “I think these guidelines have been extraordinarily well thought out and do not think they will hurt us in any way in hiring anyone.”

At the meeting, regents also discussed the progress and future of food security initiatives across UC campuses. In 2015, a UC Student Food Access and Security survey found that roughly 19 percent of responding students — 14 percent of the students asked to participate — had very low food security, defined as “periodic reduced food intake” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while 23 percent had low food security, or “reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet.”

For the 2015-16 academic year, UC President Janet Napolitano allocated $75,000 to each UC campus for food security initiatives. Earlier this month, she approved more than $3.3 million total in funds for the next two years.

Student food security commissions have additionally been established at each UC campus — which Napolitano formally requested in 2015 — and educational programs on how to maximize financial resources for nutrition have also been implemented.

UC Board of Regents chair Monica Lozano congratulated the efforts of the initiative during the meeting, but also suggested that the initiative take a more targeted approach and produce data for each campus rather than for the UC system as a whole.

“I think the need is tremendous and very real and hunger has no place in our society, much less university campuses,” said student regent-designate Paul Monge. “I’m really hopeful and inspired about this $3 million investment, but I also hope that this is not just a one-time investment because hunger is not a one-time issue.”

Contact Lillian Dong at [email protected].