Documents released to the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that the University of California regents spent $225,000 on parties and events in the last 5 years — all of these parties were billed to the UC. These parties come at the expense of the thousands of students enrolled in the UC.
According to a state audit released last month, the Office of the President (UCOP) has also accumulated a $175 million unreported surplus and conducted questionable budget practices. The audit also found that UCOP pays its top employees a much higher salary than those of comparable public positions.
“Our report concludes that the Office of the President has amassed substantial reserve funds, used misleading budgeting practices, provided its employees with generous salaries and atypical benefits and failed to satisfactorily justify its spending on systemwide initiatives,” state auditor Elaine Howle wrote in a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Legislature.
UCOP denied many of these allegations, citing that
the size of the accumulated reserve is actually $38 million — a “modest” size for the UC according to UCOP — that is uncommitted and available, not $175 million. President Janet Napolitano said UCOP will implement all of the suggestions from the state audit.
Many of the parties were held around the same time as the January UC regents meeting, where the board of 26 regents voted and agreed to pass systemwide tuition increase for the next academic year. This will be the first hike in six years. Napolitano said the tuition hike was necessary to accommodate the 10,000 student increase approved in fall 2015. Annual tuition for in-state students will increase by 3 percent — or $282, with a $54 student services fee increase.
“It is outrageous and unjust to force tuition hikes on students while the UC hides secret funds, and I call for the tuition decision to come back before the Board of Regents for reconsideration and reversal,” said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in a press release. Newsom also serves as a de facto UC regent.
The auditor said because of recent tuition hikes, she recommends the Office of the President refund available reserve funding to the individual campuses. But UC media spokesperson Claire Doan said neither the reserve fund being distributed among the campuses nor reversing tuition increases is a feasible solution.
“The president stated that UCOP will implement a number of recommendations in the audit report, but that report does not, to my knowledge, mention a reversal of tuition increase,” Doan said.