Regent Blum Slams UC System in Report

Julia Szinai is the assistant university news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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In a harsh critique sent to fellow members of the UC Board of Regents last week, Chairman Richard Blum called for a major overhaul of the UC system, which he said is suffering under “an outmoded and dysfunctional set of organizational structures, processes and policies.”

The report, called “We Need to Be Strategically Dynamic,” came a week after UC President Robert Dynes announced his intent to resign by June to spend more time with his wife. Reports that Blum had asked Dynes to step down began circulating soon after the announcement.

Blum’s report pointed to outdated, “cumbersome and enormously expensive layers of bureaucracy” that he said substitute motion for progress. He also criticized a slow and costly process for construction projects.

As part of the reform process, Blum highlighted a new Regents Committee on Long Range Planning, which is meant to integrate individual strategic planning efforts to improve diversity, admissions and affordability.

Provost Wyatt R. Hume, who took over as chief operating officer when Dynes announced his resignation, will receive progress reports from a group of administrators responsible for developing reform strategies.

“I will respond in the coming days with the outline of an action plan and expect to discuss the matter in detail with the regents at their September meeting,” Hume said in a statement.

The report focused on ways that the university can improve relations with the state, which has slashed its allocations to the university to 3 percent of the state budget from 7.5 percent over the last two decades.

Blum added that the university needs to create a $750 million to $1 billion scholarship fund to cover gaps not filled by existing programs.

He also emphasized the need for organizational restructuring in the Office of the President to boost efficiency.

“(The Office of the President) should become a model for transformation to efficiency and service, rather than the frequent butt of jokes and cynicism,” Blum wrote in the report.

While many administrators agreed with Blum’s suggested reforms, some called the report too harsh.

“I wouldn’t agree that there’s not progress ... (but) Mr. Blum is correct that these things take longer than they ought to,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. “I think all administrative structures can be made more efficient.”

Some criticized the timing and public handling of the report, released before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the state budget Friday.

Schwarzenegger approved allocating $3.27 billion to the university, vetoing $3.5 million in research funds. He approved the rest of the UC budget as adopted by the legislature, abiding by his compact with the university.

“I am doubtful that a public attack is the best way to achieve change, particularly when the governor (was) considering what cuts to make in the UC budget,” said William Drummond, chair of the Berkeley division of the Academic Senate, prior to the budget approval. “The UC is a big, fat, obvious enterprise. If the chairman of the Board of Regents says he has no confidence in it, it seems like an open enticement to cut (from the budget).”

Tamara Bartlett of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.


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