On the same day that the state auditor released her scathing report on the UC Office of the President, I was complying with my duty to complete the required online ethics training. How ironic. As I was being told about my ethical obligation to report anything and everything to staff and upper management, the world was learning that the UCOP office tampered with the official audit. Although it is still unclear if the unethical actions of the administration will result in criminal charges, what is clear is that the administration has once again failed to live up to its own ethical standards.
Not only did UCOP change answers on the campus surveys to make them look better and hide any real criticism, but it is clear that President Napolitano clearly misrepresented the truth during the state legislative hearing. Not only was she wrong when she said that her office did not interfere to make UCOP look better, but the recent discovery of new emails shows that she was directly involved in the process of undermining an official state investigation.
Of course, one of the other main findings of the audit was the continued increase in the number of high-paid administrators at UCOP and the use of non-transparent accounting mechanisms. What this audit revealed is what many faculty and critics of the university have always argued, which is that administrative bloat not only takes money away from the core mission, but it also creates a super-class of unethical actors. Virtually no one at UCOP has a background in education or can be said to be committed to scholarly values. In short, transplants from politics and business have taken over the system, and they do not share our fundamental values or concerns.
Making matters worse is that almost none of the UC Regents have an academic background or deep understanding of what it means to teach a course or perform a research study or produce a departmental budget. Like their UCOP counter-parts, the Regents combine their lack of knowledge with an imposition of a business-oriented mentality that threatens the public mission of the university.
UCOP’s main problem is its sustained arrogance and insularity, and while many of the president’s pet projects may have been well intentioned, they appear to have been void of any oversight or accountability. Moreover, the fact that the campuses changed their own responses on the surveys show that they are either afraid of UCOP or believe their main mission is to conform to the chain of command.
We have clearly not heard the end of this investigation, and what would be a horrible outcome is if the legislature or the governor used this scandal as a reason to not fully fund the university.
Faculty need to wake up and take back the university.