Regents convene Wednesday for 1st regular meeting after state audit of UCOP

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On Wednesday, the UC Board of Regents convened at UCSF Mission Bay for its regular board meeting, the first since California State Auditor Elaine Howle raised several concerns about the University of California Office of the President in an April 25 audit report.

The state audit raised several issues related to the transparency level of the UCOP budget process and university policies, and it leveraged allegations that UCOP both failed to disclose $175 million in budget reserve funds and interfered with campus responses to an audit survey.

During the board’s morning open session, regents chair Monica Lozano addressed the findings of the state audit in her opening remarks. Lozano said at the meeting she will ask the board to implement several measures Thursday “designed to enhance oversight.”

“We are committed to serving as responsible stewards for the University of California,” Lozano said at the meeting. “This means exercising the appropriate oversight in ensuring proper systems, controls, policies and procedures are in place for the effective management of the university.”

Several attendees criticized the board and UC President Janet Napolitano in reference to the state audit’s findings during public comment, and the morning open session came to a temporary halt after the public comment period as various audience members began to chant in unison.

“You see hypocrites, I see hypocrites,” several audience members shouted at the meeting as regents and Napolitano briefly exited Robertson Auditorium.

The audience eventually dispersed without further incident, and the board’s Wednesday open session continued.

Natalie Ruiz, a recent UC Berkeley graduate, was recognized by Napolitano during the board’s open session and received a 2017 President’s Award for Outstanding Student Leadership.

Ruiz addressed the board at the meeting, relaying her experience as a campus student parent, and said she hopes her comments spark a dialogue with the regents.

“I have sheer gratitude for the opportunity to have painted a clearer picture of what the experiences of student parents are like,” Ruiz said. “The work I’m being honored for is being done by more people than just me.”

At the Academic and Student Affairs Committee open session, ASAC regents chair John Peréz led a discussion of the university’s policy determining a student’s residency status for the purposes of charging tuition.

Peréz said at the meeting he requested a “clear delineation” of the state’s policy that governs in-state residency versus the university’s policy, because as he understood it, the university’s policy was more “restrictive” than the state’s.

“There are students that under state law alone would be eligible to be considered residents, but under UC policy, there is a question, or sometimes, determination that they fall outside,” Perez said at the meeting.

UC Provost Aimée Dorr also discussed the university’s strategies to increase transfer student enrollment. Dorr said at the meeting the university expects to meet its commitment to the state to achieve a ratio of two new incoming freshman students to one new incoming transfer student “most of the way.”

Though the 2:1 ratio commitment does not apply to the university’s Merced or San Francisco campuses, the ratio will not be reached at UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz by the 2017-18 academic year either, according to Dorr.

Nathan Brostrom, the university’s chief financial officer, provided the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee open session updates on the UCOP Student Housing Initiative. Brostrom said at the meeting that the university had made significant progress on its goal of “14,000 affordable beds online by 2020,” adding that in the fall “there will be nearly 3,000 beds coming online at three different campuses.”

The regents will reconvene Thursday to further discuss the findings of state audit and vote on a proposed nonresident enrollment policy.

Bobby Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact Bobby Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @bobbylee_dc.