Prompted by concerns about millions in reported bonuses and other benefits paid to top University of California executives, state legislators plan to hold hearings next spring to investigate the university's pay practices.
"It has become painfully obvious that one of California's most respected institutions needs to enhance the transparency and disclosure of how they compensate their top management," Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement Friday.
Nunez said he had approved a request from Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton), chairman of the budget subcommittee on education finance, to hold hearings on the issue in May or June. Nunez also is asking the joint legislative audit committee to look at UC's compensation and compare its salary disclosure policies with those of comparable universities.
The legislative activity follows recent reports in the San Francisco Chronicle that UC has spent millions in bonuses, relocation packages and stipends for senior executives in recent years despite a funding crisis that has meant five straight years of student fee increases and significant cutbacks.
UC officials have defended the spending as necessary to recruit and keep the best administrators, and they say that the university's top executives, on average, make less than their counterparts at similar institutions.
But UC President Robert C. Dynes also has said the university could do a better job of explaining the issue and being more open about the compensation packages.
On Friday, UC spokesman Paul Schwartz said university leaders "welcome the opportunity to discuss with state leaders our compensation practices," but said they also hoped those hearings would come after the university's own investigation into the matter was complete.
Dynes recently appointed a task force co-chaired by UC Regent Joanne Kozberg and former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg to look into the compensation issue and decide if policy changes are needed.