Former UCI Prof. Sued UC Regents

After the UC Board of Regents voted in January 2009 to cap freshman enrollment by 2,300, former UCI professor Juan Hong sued the UC Board of Regents, claiming the members violated substantive due process in addition to state constitution contract clauses.

After losing at the Superior Court of California in the initial lawsuit, Hong filed an appeal that was then denied at the Fourth Appellate District, Division Three on Nov. 29, 2010 under the logic that the UC Regents have rights to make internal policy and legislative decisions.

“The California Court of Appeal affirmed what the University of California had argued — that the university acted lawfully in taking steps to slow enrollment growth,” UCOP spokesperson Steve Montiel said. “[The UC system] will continue to offer a place to every UC-eligible California resident applicant.”

Hong — who worked as a chemical engineering professor for 25 years and is currently practicing as a lawyer — acknowledged that the Regents were not obligated to maintain enrollment and students had no rights for admission.

“I know well about the UC because I had been with the University of California for 20 years,” Hong said in an e-mail. “I thought the enrollment cut of 2,300 freshmen to save $20 million dollars was not right … I filed a lawsuit against the UC as a taxpayer of the state of California.”

In the original case, Hong cited Code of Civil Procedure section 526a — which states that tax-paying civilians can seek a judgment restraining wasteful government expenditures of funds for illegal expenses.

The case report for Hong v. Regents of University of California explains Hong’s reasoning as that “the students have a property and contractual interest in having their applications considered under the 14 published criteria [for enrollment], not the unpublished budget reduction factor.”

Hong cited Education Code section 66011 — which guarantees the top 12.5 percent of public high school graduates in California admission to one of the UC campuses — to file to prevent rejection of the applicants.

In addition, Hong pointed out that the brochures and catalogues containing requirements for admission do not include a factor based on budget problems.

“Students should be denied admission only for cause,” Hong said in a report. “Students have a property and contractual interest in having their applications considered under the 14 published criteria, not the unpublished budget reduction factor.”
He said $20 million is 0.1 percent of $19 billion, which was the total budget for the UC system last academic year.

“The projected $20 million resulting from the decreased enrollment was ‘a tiny[,] tiny fraction of the total budget,’” the case report said.

According to the UC systems’s Budget Plan to Direct the President to Curtail Enrollments, the system currently services approximately 11,000 students for a cost of $121.8 million without additional state funding. While this action decreased enrollment of freshman entries, it also increased enrollment of transfers by 500 and kept graduate enrollment the same.

Hong said he will not continue the case. “I will not appeal further,” Hong said. “The chance to be reheard is very low.

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