Dolores Huerta appointed UC regent

    The state Senate confirmed Governor Gray Davis’ appointment of farmworker activist Dolores Huerta to the University of California Board of Regents on Sept. 11.

    Huerta, who co-founded what is now the United Farm Workers union with the late Cesar Chavez in 1962, will serve the remaining six months of Regent Norman J. Pattiz’s term on the board. Pattiz, chairman of nationwide radio network Westwood One and a longtime Davis contributor, was confirmed to a new 12-year term on the same day.

    Davis nominated Huerta a day after Senate Rules Committee member Gloria Romero (D- Los Angeles) refused to vote to confirm Pattiz’s appointment, citing a lack of diversity on the board.

    Romero said she recommended Huerta for nomination, although Davis spokespersons deny that Romero’s demands were cause for Huerta’s appointment.

    Huerta, 73, is a former school teacher and current secretary-treasurer of the UFW.

    In a conference call with reporters, Huerta rebuked criticism that her appointment was politically motivated and discussed her goals as a regent.

    “”Governors do put people that they like on the board,”” Huerta said. “”I don’t think [the appointment] was politically motivated.””

    Huerta also noted that her nomination was initiated by Romero, not

    Davis.

    Huerta said that diversity and social justice in the UC system are among her primary concerns.

    “”Part of academic excellence is integration, not just ethnic but economic,”” Huerta said. “”[This] adds to the excellence of an education.””

    Huerta said she expected confrontations with fellow regent Ward Connerly on such issues, especially that of Proposition 54, which Connerly pushed onto the now-postponed Oct. 7 ballot.

    Proposition 54, also known as the Classification of Race, Ethnicity and National Origin initiative, would amend the state constitution to prohibit state and local government from collecting data on race or ethnicity.

    “”[Connerly is] out of step with most of the people on the board,”” Huerta said. “”I really applaud the regents decision to oppose Prop. 54.””

    Huerta also expressed concern over the University’s recent decision not to evaluate the Winter 2004 applications of 1,600 California community college students due the budget cutbacks.

    “”[Community colleges are] where most of the kids from working and families and people of color go,”” Huerta said.

    Californian students should be given priority before out-of-state students, Huerta said.

    Huerta acknowledged her term’s brevity, but was optimistic about its potential.

    “”I’m sure I’ll be able to learn a lot and hopefully I’ll be reappointed,”” Huerta said.

    In her first days on the board, Huerta has lobbied against further delaying the opening of UC Merced in response to projected funding cuts, calling the Central Valley campus “”payback”” for the children of farm laborers.

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