Dynes, Regents Start Road to Recovery

The UC Board of Regents finally outlined concrete reforms — made in an effort to “clean up” and abate concerns following public investigations into the University of California’s compensation practices — of the university’s current pay policies.

During the board’s meeting, UC President Robert C. Dynes accepted much of the blame for the scandal, where the university and state auditors found that many top employees received bonuses and perks against UC policy.

“In the Office of the President, for a decade or longer, there has been a view that benefits delegated to me did not have to be included in lists of compensation,” Dynes said. “It’s wrong, it’s inexcusable, but it is a fact. This will not happen again. Not anymore.”

Dynes outlined a five-point plan of action that would implement the findings of a task force on UC compensation policies. Dynes’ plan showed his intent to establish a new and better working relationship with the Board of Regents and ensure compliance with the task force’s recommendations and proper disclosure to the public.

The president also announced concrete goals, including investment in a better human-resources information system to accurately measure pay and compensation levels.

UC administrators have been under pressure to review their pay policies after recent financial audits revealed that UCOP had authorized millions of dollars in extra compensation without properly notifying the UC Board of Regents.

Although UC officials disputed the exact amount spent on unauthorized compensation for administrators, estimates by the San Francisco Chronicle estimated that more than $800 million was spent without the board’s knowledge. During the May 16 meeting, the board began discussing and passing motions to pursue the recommendations made by the investigative task force.

Currently, they have agreed to create a policy framework and timetable, with deadlines as soon as September to create policies that require transparency.

In addition, the board approved motions to create and maintain an advisory committee composed of administrators, faculty and staff from the Office of the President.

While Dynes did not excuse the policy infractions, he said that the money spent on compensation was the result of a university need to remain competitive.

“I’m driven by the fact that we must recruit the best and the brightest in faculty and administrators,” Dynes said. “We must be competitive in the context of being a public institution.”

Dynes explained that his desire to remain competitive with private universities led him to make under-the-table arrangements with the possible administrative recruits.

“We didn’t invent [extra compensation],” Dynes said. “In the last 10 years, privates have gotten richer, publics have gotten poorer. When I came to my presidency, I realized I had to hire as many as five or six chancellors, so we’ve been in a recruiting mood.”

Dynes also argued that the university’s commitment to excellence caused him to use what he called “dysfunctional” practices. In pursuing the university’s top-choice administrators, Dynes was reluctant to offer prospective candidates less than they could receive at other institutions.

“We don’t intend to enrich people in recruiting them, but we don’t intend to ask people to take substantial decreases in their compensation,” Dynes said.

While many lawmakers are pushing for UC President Robert C. Dynes to resign from his position in response to the findings, Dynes, as well as the regents’ board, has given no indication that he will be ousted from his presidency.