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Monday, April 15, 2024

Guest: Dear Chancellor May: Please restore a badly broken trust


Reuniting the community with truth and transparency after years of corruption

Dear Chancellor May,

The UC Davis campus, including its extended community, has been put through a lot these past eight years. In addition to whatever else you hope to accomplish as chancellor, your first challenge will be to restore a badly broken trust. First and foremost, please be willing to show us who you are and what your system of values looks like.

I hope you understand this is not about you — at least not yet. It’s about us and the wounds and divisiveness inflicted by your predecessor’s failed ethical leadership and UCOP’s and the Regents’ failed guidance and oversight. But the task of restoring trust and reuniting our community now falls to you.

Below are three things you can do that I believe will help. All are within your control, and all can be initiated immediately.

First, based on the prior administration’s misuse of nearly $3 million in student fees, which UCOP’s investigator Melinda Haag confirmed, and what the university’s own reports to the NCAA clearly show — that the cuts to intercollegiate sports in 2010 were based on a lie — you should commit to paying the students back in the most appropriate and meaningful way possible: by promptly and unconditionally restoring these sports, starting with women’s rowing and men’s swimming. You need to return to the students, past and present, what they’ve been paying for and what the Regents committed in 2003 to providing — without further delay. To not do so would be to perpetuate a shameful legacy of denial and cover-up that would necessarily involve you going forward.

Second, because the violations of Regent-approved student fee initiatives and the misuse of student fees may be even larger, broader and more prolonged than what’s been confirmed so far, you should commission a fully independent audit of the sources and uses of all student fees from July 1, 2010 to the present, with a specific focus on how well those uses comport with the intentions, terms and conditions of each source initiative. Even the administration’s use of facilities that student fees paid for should be examined. Better still, ask the California State Auditor, Elaine Howle, to do it. She’ll know exactly what to do. You should do this for your own protection, too.

Lastly, for now, please be willing to think again about your decision to continue participating on the board of any for-profit corporation. You’ve made it clear you don’t consider it a conflict of either interest or even just availability, and UCOP and the Regents seem to agree. But like I said, it’s not just about you. And not many expect to bump into UCOP or the Regents on the moral high road these days. When it comes to earning this community’s trust, what matters is what the community thinks. And in large measure, what it thinks about this issue was made clear last year when a group of incredibly brave students risked their futures by occupying what’s now your lobby for five weeks in protest. Please — be willing to reconsider your decision and show us that you understand.

There’s plenty more you can do, and it’s going to take time, but these would be good for starters. Please show the world that this university’s core values and commitment to the truth are back in good hands.


Written by: Paul Medved, ’78

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.


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