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UC Regents Retroactively OK Executive Raises and Perks Flagged by Auditors

September 22, 2006|Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California's regents took further steps Thursday to try to resolve its long-running controversy over executive compensation, in many cases by giving retroactive approvals for deals previously granted without the required board signoff or disclosure.

The corrective actions came in response to several audits last spring that detailed scores of instances in which UC leaders had failed to follow their own policies in granting additional pay or benefits to top managers. In most, the extras were provided without explicit regent approval.

Those audits followed media reports that the university system had given millions in bonuses, housing allowances and other perks to its senior managers, even as it repeatedly raised student fees.

The regents spent much of their meeting at UC San Francisco on Thursday grappling with continuing fallout from the compensation controversy. They were briefed by UC President Robert C. Dynes and Provost Wyatt R. Hume on the progress of reforms, including plans to tighten internal controls and strengthen oversight of travel and entertainment expenses.

But Hume said several major issues, including new guidelines governing leave policies and the number of outside boards on which senior managers may serve, required more research before they could be brought to the regents.

In April, a task force of business and academic leaders urged the regents to adopt tighter limits on administrators serving on such panels and on paid administrative leaves for departing chancellors and others.

Among the cases that drew criticism was the decision by Dynes to grant former UC Provost M.R.C. Greenwood a year's leave at her $300,000-a-year salary after she resigned during a conflict-of-interest investigation.

Also still to be resolved by the regents is the question of how to discipline those who authorized such policy exceptions without the knowledge or approval of the board. Many were granted by Dynes or his predecessors.

And without discussion, they approved the list of corrective actions involving about 140 senior managers, in nearly all cases retroactively approving the deals for housing and relocation allowances, bonuses and extra vacation days. In others, the regents approved staff recommendations to waive repayments of relatively small amounts, from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, in honoraria granted to employees later found to be ineligible.

In a handful of cases, including that of a UC Riverside dean who received a salary overpayment of $10,300, the university has demanded repayment, the list showed.

Also Thursday, the regents gave final approval to UC entering the competition for the new contract to run the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The university has run the nuclear weapons center east of San Francisco for the federal government for nearly six decades but is now required to compete for the contract.

The regents also signed off on a long-term development plan for UC Santa Cruz, over the objections of community leaders who asked the board to delay the vote. The scaled-down proposal would increase the student body at the campus to as many as 19,500 students, from about 15,000, over the next 15 years.

UC officials said the expansion is necessary to accommodate population growth; community members said the coastal city cannot support the larger numbers.

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