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Friday, October 22, 2021

UC president creates group to address issues of campus climate and inclusion

On June 16, UC President Mark Yudof named the 17 members that will comprise his UC Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the group tasked with determining effective methods for maintaining tolerance and inclusiveness across the UC system.

Formed after acts of racial, religious and cultural discrimination shook several UC campuses, the council draws on the experience and varied perspectives of student, faculty and administrative representatives from the 10 campuses.

Members also include: Alice A. Huffman, president of the California NAACP, Uri D Herscher, president and CEO of the Skirball Cultural Center, Henry Der, senior program officer of the Four Freedoms Fund, Imam Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs for the Islamic Center of Southern California and Shannon Price Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The group, chaired by Yudof, will seek to identify “promising practices” from national and state universities conducive to preserving and strengthening diversity and equal opportunity for campus communities, according to a June press release.

“This council will bring us experience and reasonvoices that will help enrich our campus climate so that every single member of the UC community feels welcome, comfortable and safe,” said Yudof in the press release.

While appointed members will serve a three-year term, slated to end June 30, 2013, student members will serve until their graduation and will subsequently be replaced. The Council first met on June 30 and plans to coordinate their efforts with local Campus Climate Councils.

Teenie Matlock, associate professor of cognitive science and UC Merced affiliated member, said she felt the commitment of her fellow council members in addressing the challenges toward tolerance in light of the recent incidents.

While she expects the three-year effort will take time to coordinate and identify appropriate approaches to the issues, Matlock hopes that open communication will facilitate progress.

“We should ensure that all students feel included and feel their voices are heard,” Matlock said. “And that they’re valued regardless of color, race, sexual orientation or gender.”

The Advisory Council’s next meeting will occur in late October at The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

LESLIE TSAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

1 COMMENT

  1. UC Berkeley’s recent elimination of popular sports programs highlighted endemic problems in the university’s management. Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau’s eight-year fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians in Sacramento, since they stopped giving him every dollar he has asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.

    A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies in the system and then crafting a plan to fix them. Competent oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the California legislature would have required him to provide data on problems and on what steps he was taking to solve them. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million….until there was no money left.

    It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies in the system. Faculty and staff have raised issues with senior management, but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($3 million) consultants, Bain , to tell him what he should have been able to find out from the bright, engaged people in his own organization and the academic senate..

    From time to time, a whistleblower would bring some glaring problem to light, but the chancellor’s response was to dig in and defend rather than listen and act. Since UC has been exempted from most whistleblower lawsuits, there are ultimately no negative consequences for maintaining inefficiencies.

    In short, there is plenty of blame to go around. But you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. An opportunity now exists for the UC president, Board of Regents, and California legislators to jolt UC Berkeley back to life, applying some simple check-and-balance management principles. Increasing the budget is not enough; transforming senior management is necessary. The faculty, students, staff, academic senate, Cal. alumni, and taxpayers await the transformation.

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