Student adviser position discontinued at 3rd day of UC regents meeting

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The UC Board of Regents ended the pilot program for the position of student adviser at Thursday’s meeting, held at UCSF Mission Bay. The board also called for increased collaboration between the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, and individual campuses.

“(The motion to eliminate the student adviser position) drives more student participation into the normal board governance … as opposed to an isolated student at the table,” said UC President Janet Napolitano at the meeting, while expressing appreciation for the contributions of both former student advisers.

The student adviser role, a position that provided the regents with student input, was approved in 2016 as a pilot program. Now, the UC has decided to end the program, leaving students with two options for future participation within the UC regent system.

One of these options is through the Student Advocates to the Regents program, which allows students to attend meetings and participate in public comment. The other is through student observer positions, which allow students to make statements to the board.

Napolitano, who was in favor of the motion to end the student adviser position, said the older programs allow more students to participate. Only 19 students applied to be student advisers, according to Edward Huang, the current student adviser and a UC Berkeley senior.

Each UC campus was surveyed in late 2017 for the “University of California 10 Campus Study,” according to Board of Regents chair George Kieffer, who referenced the study as “one of the most important things to happen in the last 18 months.”

Napolitano said that while the report did not provide a complete depiction of each campuses’ needs, it did identify the essence of the relationship between the UCOP and individual UC campuses.

“The effort has allowed us to improve collaboration and coordination between the campuses and the office of the president,” Napolitano said during the meeting. “And our goal is to promote a culture of continuous progress, continuous improvement — always necessary in an organization as diverse, as large, as the University of California.”

Each comment of the study has been discussed, and the whole document has been reviewed for potential areas of improvement over the past five months, according to Napolitano.

This kind of assessment is important, according to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ. Since each UC is its own research institution — rather than one university with several satellite campuses — many logistical challenges arise with respect to delegating power. When UC Berkeley was the only UC, it had one president who held all power. Eventually, more UCs were created.

Christ added that while the organization of the system is complex, it is a defining feature in the system’s governance, with both “opportunities and challenges.”

Mallika Seshadri is the lead higher education reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SeshadriMallika.