Six-Part Plan Aims to Define UC Admin Roles

    After last year’s call for an administrative overhaul of the
    University of California, a UC-commissioned working group presented a report
    outlining organizational changes it felt
    should be made to the university system’s often-criticized Office of the
    President.

    The report, released at the Jan. 8 UC Board of Regents
    meeting, made recommendations on ways to clarify and organize the structure of
    UCOP, which has been chastised by UC Regents Chairman Richard Blum as a system
    weighed down by bureaucracy.

    The working group framed most of its suggestions around how
    to streamline and update the methods UCOP uses to interact with the chancellors
    and regents. The report clarified and narrowed the regents’ roles, and
    suggested ways to make them more efficient in those roles. It also proposed a
    reconfiguration of UCOP, along with six mechanisms to ensure the changes.
    Members of the working group, which included two regents, stressed the
    importance of restoring the public’s credibility in the UC.

    The six mechanisms included two-way accountability, clear
    decision rights, better communication between UCOP and the university’s 10
    campuses as well as more modern and timely management systems.

    UCOP spokesman Paul Schwartz said the reports’ proposals
    were intentionally left broad so that the board could identify points that
    needed to be addressed. More concrete solutions will be discussed at later
    meetings, he added.

    At their Jan. 16 meeting, the regents applauded the working
    group’s thoroughness but were quick to point out that the report did not delve
    deep enough into clear definitions of their roles.

    “I am 100 percent behind this,” said Regent Judith L.
    Hopkinson, who added that defining regents’ roles would allow them to better do
    their jobs.

    Regent Eddie Island said he did not think the report got to
    the heart of the university’s problems, which he stressed were rooted in the
    bureaucratic complexity that the regents face. Regent George Marcus added that
    that issue needs to be addressed “so we can concentrate on our business, not
    the business of the business.”

    Other board members said that tips for new regents would
    also be useful in helping them transition into the jobs and make them more
    efficient.

    “What would be really helpful would be something that
    defined the regents … some basics do’s and don’ts for new regents,” said Regent
    Bruce D. Varner, who was appointed to the board by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
    in 2006.

    The report included a description of the president’s role,
    which will aid the regents’ search to replace outgoing President Robert C.
    Dynes, who will step down in June or when a successor is found.

    The regents also expressed hope that streamlining UCOP would
    help with the 10-percent budget cut Schwarzenegger announced last week. In his
    proposal, Schwarzenegger recommended that 10 percent of the $332 million dollar
    reduction to the UC’s budget next year come from administrative spending.

    When asked for a schedule of implementing the changes,
    Regent Leslie Tang Schilling said she was pushing an “ambitious timeline” that
    the regents would vote on at the next meeting. She urged the rest of the
    regents to provide input on the report before that time.

    “I am hopeful that in March we will be able to codify
    something,” Schilling said.

    In August, Blum released a report that called for change in
    a system he said had not been updated in 40 years. The working group was formed
    by UC Provost Wyatt R. Hume to address some of the problems Blum raised about
    UCOP operations.

    The Monitor Group, an external agency commissioned by
    university officials to perform an internal review, had also called for an
    “organizational restructuring effort.”

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