The UC Board of Regents convened virtually Wednesday to discuss changes to the UC admissions process, professional program tuition and sources of external funding, among other topics.
After public comment, UC Board of Regents Chair John Pérez and UC President Michael Drake acknowledged the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. Following a commemoration of the lives lost and changed by the pandemic, Drake noted that as of this month, the UC system has administered more than 537,000 vaccine doses to more than 360,000 individuals.
“It’s difficult to ask for patience when so much patience has already been expended,” Pérez said during the meeting. “There has been progress in terms of vaccines and funding and there will be more progress to come, but we must still take the necessary precautions and keep following science.”
The Compliance and Audit Committee then met to discuss updates on improvements that UC admissions have made in response to the California State Auditor’s, or CSA’s, audit recommendations.
Between 2013 and 2018, the CSA found 22 students who were inappropriately tagged as athletic admissions across the UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UCLA and UC Santa Barbara campuses. Most students did not significantly participate on an athletic team; however, all but one student was found to be eligible for regular UC admission, according to Margaret Wu, UC Legal deputy general counsel.
UC Office of the President, or UCOP, Academic Affairs reviewed 41 nonathletic cases from UC Berkeley and found all of the applicants to be UC-eligible or to have comparable credentials, according to Michael Brown, UC provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
Some improvements to the admissions process include implementing policy to address conflicts of interest, protocols to verify athletic participation and regular audits of campus admissions, Brown noted. By June 15, the implementation is estimated to be complete.
“No admissions process is perfect,” Brown said during the meeting. “We continue to work towards perfection. The steps we outlined today bring us closer.”
After a thorough review, the UC Regents approved 17 multiyear plans for Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition during the Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting. According to Brown, the plans allow professional schools to maintain their program quality and diversity by supplementing state support
The committee also discussed several curricular innovations to address equity gaps in the UC system and stressed the importance of focusing on large undergraduate gateway classes, even as research universities.
“In the UC, we don’t talk a lot about teaching, we talk about the research arm of the university, which is critically important,” said UC Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley during the meeting. “For undergraduate students, particularly those coming from communities of color, low-income, first-generation students, the teaching component of these gateway courses is critical to their success at the UC.”
In terms of budgeting, the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee reported $390.9 million in expenditures during the second half of 2020. This is $50.6 million below budget, approximately 11.5% below anticipated expenditures during the six-month period, according to the midyear report of the UCOP’s budget for the fiscal year 2020-21.
The Public Engagement and Development Committee, however, discussed federal and state funding to the university, as well as the UC system’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change.
Claire Holmes, UCOP spokesperson, recognized California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature for an agreement to restore the UC system’s base budget appropriation, allowing UC campuses to avert “hundreds of layoffs.”
Regarding new funding, Holmes explained that Newsom’s budget proposal requires the UC not to increase tuition in 2021, increase online course availability and implement a plan to close graduation equity gaps by 2025, among other policy actions, in exchange for $103.9 million in added funding.
According to Chris Harrington, UCOP associate vice president, the UC system is also on track to receive $684 million in higher education relief funding. The bill also includes billions toward vaccine-related expenses for COVID-19.
UC faculty then explained a variety of university efforts to combat climate change and work toward climate justice. Later this year, the UC system will launch a systemwide Center for Climate Justice, aimed at integrating social justice and climate science, according to Tracey Osborne, associate professor and UC presidential chair at UC Merced.
Dina Katgara, Jacob Souza, Katia Pokotylo, Shylie Ati and Vani Suresh contributed to this report.