Janet Napolitano, the ‘Political Heavyweight,’ Now Finds Herself Under Fire

Chris Newfield, a professor of literature and American studies at the Santa Barbara campus, said that state audits can have real power if there is a response from the Legislature, and that the recently concluded one represented a setback for public transparency. “Basically, [Napolitano] was hired because she was a political heavyweight,” Mr. Newfield said. “I didn’t agree with it, but I saw the logic of hiring someone like her. If you think your problem is Sacramento, then you hire a politician to deal with the pols of Sacramento,” he said. “I don’t think that’s worked out.” To regain the trust of the State Legislature, faculty members, and students, Mr. Newfield said it will take full disclosure from the president’s office of what happened with the audit, and a reform process that doesn’t hire outside consultants. Michael Meranze, professor of history at the Los Angeles campus, said the audit certainly has increased skepticism in the Legislature.

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by Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

UC revises its plan to limit the share of spots going to out-of-state students

The University of California, aiming to end fighting over how many out-of-state students it admits, on Tuesday announced a revised proposal to limit non-Californian and international undergraduates. Under the proposal, UC would restrict the percentage of nonresident students to 18% at five of its nine undergraduate campuses. UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Irvine — whose proportion of nonresident students exceeds 18% — would be allowed to keep, but not increase, those higher percentages. The new plan is a retreat from the proposal for a 20% systemwide cap on nonresident students that university officials presented to the UC Board of Regents in March… Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy, D-Sacramento, has been a leading critic of the increase in nonresident students but said this week he was generally pleased with the revised proposal. If the regents approve it, he said, he would support the release of the $18.5 million in additional funds for UC.

UC secret salary fund sparks bill to curb autonomy

John Douglass, a senior researcher at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education, agreed. In a 2015 paper on the history of UC’s autonomy, the scholar concluded that self-governance — and steady funding by the state — have been the essential ingredients in creating “one of the world’s premier research universities.” But none of that has stopped lawmakers from trying to step in. If Galgiani’s proposed Constitutional amendment is approved by the Legislature, voters would then be asked to decide whether to prohibit UC from raising tuition and paying “substandard wages” to cleaning and maintenance workers in any year when more than 600 UC administrators earn a salary higher than the governor’s.

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by Nanette Asimov, The San Francisco Chronicle.

The audit of UC’s management shows that the real threat to higher education is inside the house

We can identify many of the threats to public higher education in the United States: political attacks on faculty by conservative politicians, systematic budget cuts, selling out academic programs to big-money donors. Who would have thought that a major threat would come from a university’s own president? Yet that’s the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from State Auditor Elaine Howle’s scalding report on the University of California Office of the President… those flaws undermine the administration’s ability to make the case for UC’s mission and protect the system from its enemies.

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by Michael Hiltzik, The Los Angeles Times.

Janet Napolitano braces for showdown in Sacramento over UC ‘slush fund’

When former Arizona governor and then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was tapped to head the University of California nearly four years ago, supporters touted her political stature and experience running another unwieldy bureaucracy. Hiring a politician rather than an academic was a strategic choice: The powerhouse research university, with more than 230,000 students, needed to make inroads in Sacramento after losing $1 billion in state funding during a painful recession. But Napolitano’s bold plays for a greater share of the pie — most famously a threat to hike tuition unless the state ponied up the difference — rankled some Sacramento politicians. Now a blistering new state audit that found her office accumulated tens of millions of dollars in secret reserves and inappropriately interfered with the audit has brought simmering tensions to a boil.

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by Katy Murphy, The Mercury News.

Records show results of a survey by auditors were altered after intervention by UC administration

Howle’s audit, released Tuesday, asserted that the UC Office of the President paid excessive salaries and benefits to its top executives and did not disclose to the UC Board of Regents, the Legislature and the public $175 million in budget reserve funds that could have helped stave off a 2.5% tuition increase scheduled for this fall. Howle alleged in the audit and a letter to the governor and the Legislature that “the Office of the President intentionally interfered with our audit process.”

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by Patrick McGreevy and Teresa Watanabe, The Los Angeles Times.

University of California administration is paying excessive salaries and mishandling funds, state audit says

The administration of the University of California system pays top workers salaries and benefits significantly higher than that of similar state employees, and failed to disclose to the Board of Regents and the public that it had $175 million in budget reserve funds while it was seeking to raise tuition, a state audit found Tuesday… Auditors said salaries paid to those in the president’s office are much higher than the pay of comparable positions in other state government jobs… For instance, an accounting manager’s maximum annual salary is $169,000 at UC compared to $156,000 for other state employees. An information system manager can make $258,000 with UC, but $150,000 with other state agencies.

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by Patrick McGreevy, The Los Angeles Times.

Costly effort to cut UC employees’ paychecks

UCPath was originally budgeted at $156 million but has already cost $327 million, and it’s expected to cost as much as $504 million before it’s finally completed. Announced in 2011 as part of the university’s “Working Smarter” initiative, the project was expected to save $100 million per year by replacing a collection of separate 30-year-old payroll systems for 10 campuses, five medical centers and UC central administration… What’s unsustainable is Californians’ confidence that the UC system is being efficiently run for the benefit of Californians. The UCPath project is proceeding with a blank check and no accountability. The problem may not be limited to payroll computers.

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by The Editorial Board, The Orange County Register.

California State University cannot justify administrative growth, manager raises, audit says

California State Auditor Elaine Howle called out CSU for failing to adequately explain the number of new management personnel, such as campus vice presidents, deans, supervisors and head coaches, as well as salary increases that far outstripped faculty and support staff… Total compensation for managers also grew by almost a quarter over those nine years, nearly double the rate of increase for other employees… “(I)t is important to recognize the CSU’s management staffing levels and administrative costs are lower than other similar higher education institutions both within California and nationally,” White wrote.

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by Alexei Koseff, The Sacramento Bee.

Cal State’s Growth in Hiring of Managers Exceeds Other Staff, Audit Finds

The California State University system has increased its hiring of managers at a steeper rate than its hiring of other employees over the past 10 years, according to a new state audit. And in a report on the audit released on Thursday, the state auditor, Elaine M. Howle, wrote that the system could not sufficiently explain why it needed all the new managers, including deans, head coaches, and vice presidents, among other positions.

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by Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz, The Chronicle of Higher Education.