UCOP Report Hints at Accountability, but It’s Not Here Yet

    When Mark G. Yudof left the dusty state of Texas for the presidency of the prestigious 10-campus UC system earlier this year, he brought along a one-word philosophy oft-flaunted in attempts at reformed governance: change.

    Specifically, Yudof promised steps to increase transparency following his predecessor’s boggling of a multimillion-dollar scandal involving improperly reported, unapproved pay raises for UC higher-ups, a debacle that embarrassed the UC Board of Regents, angered students weighed down by ever-increasing tuition costs and caused a massive public outcry for more systemwide accountability.

    While far from being a panacea for the university’s numerous bureaucratic, financial and institutional woes, Yudof made a significant dent in delivering on his promise at last month’s regents meeting by releasing a comprehensive report that presents 102 measures of university performance and operations in an attempt to restore public confidence.

    Much of the information detailed in the report was already available for review, but this condensed version is a refreshing move away from the university’s typical modus operandi. Jargony rhetoric decorated with complex charts and tables has been replaced by a coherent, clearly designed format that not only compares UC campuses to each other but also to other public and private institutions in areas as diverse as graduation rates and affordability to research competitiveness and even progress in seismic structural retrofitting projects. Though useful, necessary and long overdue, the information presented, however, is not accountability — it’s merely public documentation.

    Now, the report has entered the comment phase, giving the public a four-month time frame to respond to the information’s structure and relevance. Californians must heed this time to push UCOP to use the data trends presented by the report to outline solutions to the nagging issue hovering around UC administrators: How exactly does the university develop and implement efficient planning, budgeting and performance strategies? It is only when this question is finally effectively answered by the university that accountability will be achieved.

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