Editorial: UC's Band-Aid Solution for a Hemorrhaging Problem

When a university administrator misleads the UC Board of Regents, what is a good university to do? The correct answer certainly does not involve hiring yet another powerful and highly paid bureaucrat.

But this is exactly what the university’s top regent has proposed in response to the growing UC compensation controversy. Under the plan offered by Gerry Parsky, Chairman of the Board of Regents, UC President Robert C. Dynes would lose much of his authority over the operations of the 10-campus system to a new chief operating officer.

The proposal has many flaws, but the biggest is that it fails to address the underlying cause of the problems facing the UC system: The regents lack the necessary information about the university needed to provide effective oversight. Empowering a new administrator with as much opportunity to mislead as Dynes makes little sense.

As Parsky points out, administration is not Dynes’ strength; the president is most competent in setting the academic tone of the university, not in running the UC Office of the President. However, the problem seems to be not with the president’s position, but with the man currently occupying it: If Dynes is failing in his job, the regents should dump him and find a replacement who can accomplish both tasks.

Parsky should be recognized for his efforts to rethink the institutions governing the university. As this page has argued in the past, these institutions need change. But what the university needs is a staff of analysts to provide the regents with independent information, even if their efforts may sometimes duplicate the work of UCOP — not an additional executive on a long leash.

In the debate over the future of the university, Parsky has offered the first innovative idea. Hopefully, it won’t be the only one.