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Regents Pass Employee Compensation Reform By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday January 20, 2006

A month after announcing initial plans to regain public confidence over its handling of employee compensation, the University of California Board of Regents is considering several proposals to tighten controls over salaries of high-paid university officials and professors. 

The crisis began last November after a series of articles appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle charging that many highly paid university employees had gotten close to $600 million in additional compensation packages not publicly reported by the university. 

Coming as it did when the UC Regents were holding the line on lower-level salaries and considering steep student fee increases, the reports spurred an immediate call by legislators, salaried UC employees, and a systemwide coalition of university professors for an investigation into the high-end secret compensation practices. 

Last December, in a telephone press conference with reporters representing newspapers throughout California, regents announced the creation of a permanent Regents’ committee on compensation, initiated an independent audit going back 10 years and released the names of task force members charged with looking into the compensation issue. 

This week, meeting at UC San Diego, the regents formally considered a series of more detailed curbs on employee compensation recommended by UC President Robert Dynes. Included in Dynes’ proposed reform package was: 

• Submission to the Board of Regents for approval of all severance agreements for all top-level UC employees, including the President, Vice Presidents, Chancellors, Department of Energy Laboratory Directors, and Medical Center Directors. 

While the UC President will retain the power to approve all severance packages under $100,000, all severance agreements over that amount will have to be submitted to the Regents. 

The policy is intended to be a stopgap measure until more permanent measures are recommended by the various Regent-authorized committees and organizations looking into the compensation issue. 

• Adoption of a new salary schedule for senior leadership staff. That recommended schedule runs from a minimum of $94,000 to a maximum of $791,600 per year. 

Regents and President Dynes were still meeting at the time of this story deadline, and were not available for comment. 

This week’s meetings are the first for UC Regents on the UC San Diego campus. Regents normally rotate meetings between the UCSF-Laurel Heights campus and UCLA. The last Regents’ meeting, however, was held in November at UC Berkeley.