Thirty-six UC executives think the university owes them money. A lot of it – $51.5 million, to be exact.
The executives, who signed a letter threatening legal action if they don’t get their way, claim that the Board of Regents promised them fatter pensions in 1999. The pension increases could not be made until the Internal Revenue Service granted a waiver, which it did in 2007. The letter threatened a lawsuit if the regents failed to act.
Four of the people who signed the letter are UC Davis officials: Steven Currall, dean of the UC Davis School of Management; William McGowan, chief financial officer of the UC Davis Health System; Ann Madden Rice, chief executive officer of the UC Davis Medical Center; and Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor, dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of the UC Davis Health System.
The gall of these administrators is shocking.
First, it’s not as if they’re are struggling to make a living wage. According to The Sacramento Bee, in 2009, Currall made $294,000, McGowan made $406,000, Rice earned $529,000 and Pomeroy earned $574,000. Information on existing pension benefits for these employees is harder to find, but rest assured they won’t be hurting for cash when they retire.
The letter comes at the same time that the average university employee is being asked to do more work for less pay. It comes just after the regents have approved yet another enormous fee hike for students.
This letter is exquisite in the way it reveals the “Screw you, I’ve got mine,” attitude of many who run this university. Sacrifices are to be made by those without power – students, teaching assistants, low-paid university staff – while the university’s rich should continue getting richer. Who cares if Gov. Jerry Brown wants to slash $500 million from the UC budget?!
To be fair, the letter was signed on Dec. 9, about a month before Brown’s budget was released. Nonetheless, anyone with half a brain could have predicted massive cuts to the UC budget in light of the state’s chronic lack of money.
On Jan. 4, UC President Mark Yudof, much to his credit, wrote an eloquent response to the executives explaining why they were wrong.
“In fact, the initial Regental action required that an implementation plan be developed and submitted by the President of the University and approved by the Chair of the Board and the Chair of the Finance Committee,” Yudof wrote in a statement co-signed by Regents Chairman Russell Gould. “For reasons of fiscal prudence in a changing economy, this step – necessary for the proposal to become effective – was never taken.”
Katehi released a statement on Jan. 7 announcing her support for Yudof and Gould’s position on the matter.
Katehi and Yudof deserve a round of applause for their handling of this situation. Currall, McGowan, Rice and Pomeroy, on the other hand, deserve a big, fat “fuck you” from the rest of us.