My June newsletter

June 30, 2017

Dear friends and colleagues,

Although summer is typically a time for slowing down and taking stock and re-energizing, our work at UC doesn’t stop — groundbreaking research continues in our labs, lives are saved in our hospitals, and education continues in our summer session classrooms. We’re also keeping an eye on state and federal policy making that has an impact on the University.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017

The beginning of summer is also a time to celebrate our newest graduates. Their successes reaffirm our commitment to ensuring UC remains accessible to our talented youth.

I am inspired by and proud of our students’ tenacity, their deep commitment to service and their eagerness to tackle some of the world’s most vexing problems. They’ve used their time at UC to mentor prospective UC students, advocate for equal rights and freedoms, and build a student sustainability movement. Here are just a few of their stories:

  • Mother and daughter Gabriela and Danielle Abraham, of UCLA’s Class of 2017, credit each other with their academic success. Gabriela, who grew up in Mexico with no plumbing, graduated summa cum laude 25 years after leaving her home country with no high school education. As community college transfer students, the women, who helped each other study and stay focused, teamed up to mentor prospective transfer students as volunteers with UCLA’s Center for Community College Partnerships.
  • At UC Santa Cruz, Jesse Abrams was busy founding a student-led organization, the Freedom Coalition, which works to free villagers in India from debt bondage slavery. In establishing the program, Abrams got assistance from campus resources such as the Everett Program, a seminar in social entrepreneurship that helped him understand “what works and what doesn’t” in creating organizations to advance social change.
  • Andrew Hallak started UC Irvine intending to study medicine, but he soon discovered his interest lies in promoting interaction on a larger scale and uniting people to address global challenges. As a sophomore, the son of Palestinian immigrants took part in the Olive Tree Initiative, a 30-week conflict-resolution intensive project that culminated in a trip to Israel and Palestine. The experience brought him face to face with family he’d never met — and people of all sides of an emotional and nuanced issue. A recipient of UC Irvine’s Dalai Lama Scholarship, Hallak also founded Global Partners for Sustainability, which brings together students in disciplines from art to engineering to collaborate on projects that promote greener living. Now a graduate in international studies with a minor in earth and atmospheric studies, Hallak is interested in how more effective resource management can address global conflict.

You can read more inspiring stores about our recent graduates here. I know you’ll join me in applauding all of our graduates — all 67,000 of them — and wishing them the best as they step into the next stage of their journey.

Strengthening our procedures on sexual harassment and sexual violence cases

Combatting sexual harassment and sexual violence remains a top priority for UC, and I’m pleased to let you know that we will implement on July 1 new systemwide procedures for investigating, adjudicating and determining sanctions in sexual harassment and sexual violence cases involving faculty and staff.

These new procedures, which campuses must implement by Sept. 1, follow the systemwide model we issued last year for cases involving students and will increase consistency and transparency across the UC system, and ensure a timely and appropriate resolution to these cases.

This new milestone is part of UC’s ongoing efforts to more effectively prevent and respond to sexual violence and sexual harassment, and reinforce in every member of the UC community a shared responsibility in fostering a culture of safety and respect.

You can learn more about how the new faculty and staff models in our public announcement.

Progress report on implementing State audit recommendations

We have begun implementing all 33 recommendations contained in the State audit issued in April. Last week, we issued a 60-day report to the California State Auditor, which details the actions we are taking in all recommendation areas. Specific areas of focus include:

  • Enhancing the OP budget process and revamping OP budget presentations
  • Reviewing policies regarding our financial reserves
  • Reviewing funds that have been restricted as part of UC policy
  • Reviewing the external market benchmarks used for our compensation and benefits programs, as well as certain employee reimbursement policies and UCOP salary ranges
  • Developing additional guidance and tracking for systemwide and presidential initiatives
  • Including workforce planning in our divisional strategic planning efforts and the latest UCOP budget development cycle

We are on schedule and in some cases ahead of the recommended timelines that were established. Even before the State audit, we had implemented a number of measures to ensure the careful management of resources and increase the transparency of their use, and we are building on the strong foundation of those efforts as we respond to the concerns raised in the audit.

As I shared in my last newsletter, we have created a website to provide the UC community and the public a way to track our progress toward implementing the audit recommendations. I will also continue to update you about our progress in future newsletters.

Final State budget

Earlier this week, Gov. Brown signed a final State budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which includes a 4.2 percent increase in base funding for UC, consistent with our 2015 funding agreement with the State.

The budget is positive for UC on several fronts, and we are grateful for the funding augmentations provided by the Governor and the Legislature. For example, we were very gratified to see the preservation of funding for the Middle Class Scholarship, as well as an additional $5 million to enroll 500 more graduate students. The budget also provides funding in support of UC efforts to address important public issues, such as $50 million over 10 years for transportation-related research, and $82 million for medical research of cancer, heart, and lung tobacco-related diseases. We are also pleased to be receiving $2 million to help support our faculty diversity efforts.

For those of you who helped advocate for appropriate State funding through the UC Advocacy Network, I want to thank you for your support and partnership. It is vital to the future of both UC and California that elected officials hear directly from their constituents about the importance of ongoing State investment in public higher education.

Thanks for reading. As always, please email me at janet@ucop.edu if you’d like to share an idea or comment, and feel free to pass on this letter to friends and colleagues and invite them to sign up for future newsletters if they’d like.

Yours very truly,
Janet Napolitano