Regents Sign Off on Contentious Bonuses

The UC Board of Regents retroactively approved more than $6 million in payments criticized by internal and state audits for lacking proper approval at their meeting last month in San Francisco.

Included among the employees who had their payments approved were three UCSD vice chancellors with a total combined compensation in excess of $140,000.

For the nearly 140 employees involved, the regents decided against asking for the money back, reasoning that the employees should not be punished since they were not ultimately accountable for making sure payments were properly approved and disclosed to the public.

“We don’t feel that we can ethically do anything but honor those commitments,” Regent Judith Hopkinson said at the meeting.

The board’s action mirrors its July decision, when the regents signed off more than $1 million in payouts and benefits for multiple top executives.

UCSD Vice Chancellor of Resource Management and Planning John A. Woods was given approval to keep a $47,800 stipend he received for serving as interim vice chancellor of external affairs, on top of his base salary of $186,200. In addition, the regents approved about $58,000 that former Vice Chancellor of Marine Sciences Charles Kennel received as incentive pay that resulted from a deal negotiated in his offer package.

Thomas Jackiewicz, an associate vice chancellor at UCSD School of Medicine, was allowed to keep $40,000 he received as a “relocation incentive payment.”

“This payment was a relocation allowance, and it was on top of the actual moving expenses,” Associate Vice Chancellor of University Communications Stacie A. Spector stated in an e-mail. “The relocation allowance is used for things such as rent for temporary living arrangements.”

The actions are the regents’ latest effort to overhaul their beleaguered pay practices, which came under intense scrutiny last year after the San Francisco Chronicle discovered that the university paid out more than $800 million to employees across the 10-campus system without public notification and, in some cases, without proper approval.

The regents are scheduled to discuss how to deal with the individuals responsible for authorizing payments before seeking proper approval in the coming months.

UC President Robert C. Dynes, in an attempt to reform the university’s compensation practices, also recently announced plans to secure a seven-point list tailored toward tightening restrictions on compensation policy exceptions.

Moreover, Dynes’ new policies state that the university must provide annual electronic reports detailing salaries for all UC employees, including executives, and that the university will make employee job descriptions and information about base salaries, stipends, benefits packages, insurance packages, severance agreements and retirement packages available to the public.

In addition to compensation issues, the regents also discussed reforms aimed at limiting senior UC officials to serving on a maximum of three paid boards, although the regents will not release a copy of its board service draft proposal until faculty and administrators have had their input.

Presently, there is no cap on the number of paid boards on which a senior UC official can sit. A change in the policy could affect UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, an organic chemist who sits on seven paid boards, including boards of pharmaceutical, medical and chemical manufacturing companies. Fox sits on more paid boards than any other UC chancellor, and she also sits on numerous unpaid and nonprofit boards.

Spector did not specify which boards Fox would relinquish if the new policy is adopted.

“Chancellor Fox will continue to adhere to university policy,” Spector stated.

Fox has said that her board duties have improved her overall leadership capabilities and brought benefits to UCSD.

Readers can contact Matthew McArdle at [email protected].