UC Board of Regents discusses National Laboratories, Governance committees at virtual meeting

screenshot of a zoom meeting
Riley Cooke/Staff
The UC Board of Regents met virtually to discuss several matters including the National Laboratories and Governance committees.

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The UC Board of Regents heard public comments, discussed the state of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and eliminated extraneous standing orders virtually Tuesday.

During public comment, the regents heard from lecturers across the UC system demanding a consistent review and rehiring process based on lecturer performance as well as fair compensation for their work.

According to UC Davis lecturer Bill Mead, 96% of the lecturers will go on strike if action is not taken.

“Let me be clear, I do not want to strike. I love teaching and my job at UC Davis; however, due to the egregious behavior of the university, I would strike and I would respect the picket line should it come to that,” Mead said during the meeting.

The board also heard from several UC students about the cohort-based tuition model, which they encouraged the regents not to approve as it would increase inequality in the UC system.

After the public comment session, the National Laboratories Committee discussed its budget for the fiscal year 2021-22. Committee Vice President Craig Leasure said the allocations will be largely similar to previous years, with the total fees projected at $27.6 million and the largest allocation being $10 million for the UC Laboratory Fees Research Program.

Berkeley Lab director Michael Witherell detailed the state of the lab, highlighting the ongoing scientific research and projects. Witherell noted the lab’s interest in addressing the climate crisis and shared its recently developed Carbon Negative Initiative.

The initiative is centered around the capture, storage and monitoring of carbon emissions, according to a meeting presentation. Berkeley Lab has also accelerated the development of clean energy systems by keeping track of hydrogen use as well as water and ecology-related innovation.

Witherell also emphasized Berkeley Lab’s dedication to developing a diverse workforce through a number of equity-centered internships and career development programs.

UC President Michael Drake thanked Witherell for his commitment to diversity at Berkeley Lab.

“I wanted to commend you on changing the lab and leading forward in recognizing the importance of making our scientific community more diverse and inclusive, and, as such, more excellent,” Drake said during the meeting.

The day closed with a session of the Governance Committee, whose members approved items surrounding classified information, rescission of standing orders and adoption of bylaws.

Cecilia Estolano, the chair of the board, was absent for the first action item because it was recommended to exclude her from access to federal classified information. With Richard Leib, the vice chair of the board, voting in Estolano’s place, the committee approved the item.

“I find it ironic that none of us have access to federal classified information, but we’re able to exclude somebody from having access to that,” Leib said during the meeting.

The committee then approved two items discussed in the closed session earlier in the day: a contract compensation for UC Berkeley director of athletics Jim Knowlton and a market-based salary adjustment for UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor of student affairs.

The final “exciting” item, according to Estolano, eliminates or amends standing orders on personnel matters that were incorporated into bylaws in 2016. It also adopts additional bylaws on officers of the UC system, leaves of absence and reemployment of retired employees.

UC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rachael Nava added that this package focused only on personnel matters and that additional packages of extraneous standing orders would be brought before the board eventually.

“The working group aimed to maintain policy as much as possible without making significant substantive changes,” Nava said during the meeting. “This is purely a technical cleanup.”

Contact Lianna Leung, Riley Cooke and Ryan Teoh at [email protected].