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PLATFORM : Regents' Role

February 01, 1996|JAMES K. LOONEY is secretary of the Board of Fellows of the Claremont University and Graduate School

The actions of the University of California regents regarding the implementation of their ill-conceived directive on affirmative action illustrates that the board doesn't understand its fundamental responsibilities and the nature of university governance.

First and foremost, it is not a corporate board; it is a board of trustees. This is more than nomenclature. Trustees "hold in trust" the university on behalf of a variety of constituencies, including the people of the state of California, students, faculty, alumni, donors and future generations. Part of that trust is the explicit agreement to consult and share governance with key stakeholders of the university: faculty, administration and others.

UC President Richard Atkinson has the unenviable task of attempting to moderate the trustees' directive with a university community that finds it generally abhorrent. To do so, he must determine how to best implement this policy without causing complete disruption of admission processes and the university community as a whole.

Whatever blame he holds for not adequately communicating this to the regents pales by comparison to the regents' failure to communicate with and involve the constituencies on whose behalf they govern.

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