The Newest UC Regent Is Not IdealMembers on The UC Board of Regents Should Reflect Interest in Education
Monday, June 15, 2009
Category: Opinion > Op-Eds
Ever written a tuition check? You made it out to the UC Regents. Know who the UC Regents are? Probably not.
Neither did I until I got annoyed with my annual student fee hikes and started doing my homework to see who's in charge of this place.
The Board of Regents is the 26 member committee endowed by the California Constitution with "full powers of organization and governance" of the university and is to be "entirely independent of all political and sectarian influence." But 18 of the 26 regents are not democratically elected-they are appointed by the current governor to a 12-year term. That sounds ripe with political and sectarian influence to me.
On October 24th, 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed our newest UC Regent: Hadi Makarechian. As an Iranian, perhaps Makarechian will help the Board of Regents fulfill its constitutional obligation to be "broadly reflective of the economic, cultural, and social diversity of the State, including ethnic minorities and women." However, he is hardly reflective of the economics or social values of the majority of Californians. Founder and recently retired CEO of Capital Pacific Holdings, Inc, a multi-million-dollar real estate development corporation which builds McMansions along California's coast, Makarechian is also ... guess what? A huge GOP campaign donor.
According to the Associated Press, Makarechian's company donated $100,000 to Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign-ranking among the largest of his contributors.
CPH, Inc also contributed $23,000 to Schwarzenegger's
after-school Prop 49 in 2002.Throughout the years, Makarechian has personally donated to the Bush, Romney and McCain campaigns as well as to the California Republican Party at large.
For a governor who ran on a platform of not being beholden to special interests, this appointment looks suspiciously like a big "Thank You" card from Schwarzenegger and the Republican Party with Makarechian's name stamped right on the front of it.
But shouldn't Makarechian be commended for living the American dream and pulling himself up by his bootstraps-moving from Iran to the United States and building such a successful real estate company? According to the Orange County Business Journal, he had some help and some previous experience: Makarechian's family ran the "largest construction (and) development company that built U.S. military bases" and completed "other sizeable projects" in Iran. "Other sizeable projects?"
Considering the United States' military history with Iran, I am horrified to consider what such projects might have been. Makarechian might be a successful businessman. But I do not see how he is qualified to run a public educational institution, especially one as important as the University of California. He does not represent the type of education-centered non-partisan leadership our university needs and is supposed to have.
It is due to appointments like Makarechian's, void of the democratic process, that the regents run rampant with decisions like raising executive salaries while raising student fees.
Enough is enough! We must stand together to prevent more bad appointments and rein in the regents for good.
Make your voice heard, because the California State Senate must still confirm Makarechian's appointment before he can take his seat! Modify the message calling for UC accountability through SCA 21 and ACA 24 at www.reformtheuc.com to let your legislators know how you feel about Hadi Makarechian.
Call your district representatives. Inform your friends. Take back control of this great university so that it can remain great for future generations.
Rebecca Green is a UC Berkeley student. Reply to [email protected]
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