UC Regents approve budget, discussing 1921 Walnut St., People’s Park

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At its virtual meeting on Wednesday, the UC Board of Regents adopted the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, Budget 2021-22, discussed student mental health needs, heard updates on open access agreements for research, and explored Opportunities to support campus innovation and entrepreneurship.

The opening speech by UC President Michael Drake focused on the UC system’s path to equality, information security and emerging from the pandemic as the “light at the end of the tunnel”. During the open session, public commentators voiced their concerns about housing construction, including the destruction of the People’s Park and Walnut Street in 1921.

During the meeting of the Financial and Capital Strategies Committee, the regents discussed at length the budget for FY 2021-22 for UCOP before approving the item with the addition of $ 50,000 in matching funding for a youth care award.

“We are cautiously optimistic and hope that we can restore full campus operations and bring the students back in person in the fall,” Drake said at the committee meeting. “California is on the way to recovery and the university has a lot to contribute to that process.”

The budget for 2021-22 will be larger than the budget for the previous fiscal year, Drake added. The proposed budget for 2021-22 is $ 960.6 million, an increase of $ 98.6 million over fiscal 2020-21. This is evident from the summary of the action point.

During the budget discussion, committee members raised issues related to cybersecurity and the budget assessment process. Drake said while UCOP is awaiting additional information on cybersecurity, he believes the proposed budget for 2021-22 will not be enough to support cybersecurity efforts and that additional funding will need to be made available.

UC Council of Regency chairman John Pérez criticized the budget assessment process during the meeting, arguing that more information should be shared with the entire board than in private briefings to strengthen the budget decision-making process.

The Financial and Capital Strategies Committee also discussed the Long Range Development Plans (LRDPs) of UC Berkeley and UC Riverside for 2021.

“The Berkeley campus currently hosts the lowest percentage of dormitory students in the system in an area with one of the closest housing markets in the country,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ at the meeting. “The LRDP 2021 includes our housing initiative with the most ambitious housing program in the history of the campus.”

During the discussion phase, Student Regent-designate Alexis Zaragoza raised the issue of community and student concern about the impact of the development of Walnut Street. Christ countered by claiming that UC Berkeley had extensively compensated the previous 1921 tenants of Walnut Street, adding that it was an “extraordinary” project.

UC Berkeley’s 2021 LRDP will appear as an action point for approval before the regents re-meet in July.

The mental health of the students was the focus of the Public Engagement and Development Committee meeting. Stress, anxiety, insomnia, and depression were the major factors influencing student academic performance. That was found in a 2019 UC-wide survey that Genie Kim, director of mental health and student wellbeing at UCOP, quoted at the meeting.

In light of the ongoing student mental health crisis, Regent Eloy Ortiz told Oakley that the UC system needs to review its role as a competitive academic institution in addressing the problem.

“It’s not just about more resources,” Ortiz Oakley said at the meeting. “It’s about redefining the way we organize ourselves and the expectations we have of students.”

UC Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Brown briefed on the Eligibility in Local Context (ELC) program and open access research publication agreements.

The ELC program is a race-neutral program that Brown says is designed to accommodate a wide range of different California students. He added that the program guarantees admission of UC-qualified students from the top 9% of participating high schools.

“The ELC program is at least starting to examine the school’s local context itself,” Brown said at the meeting. “ELC is an important tool for the university to increase and expand the (socio-economic) and geographical diversity of our student body.”

Han Mi Yoon-Wu, UCOP executive director for student admissions, noted that even more selective schools like UCLA are accepting ELC students at a higher rate of 26% than the general admission rate of 12-14%, which shows how the Campus is hosting ELC students as a priority.

Brown then congratulated the regents on open access agreements, particularly the university’s recent agreement with Elsevier.

“UC publishes approximately 10% of the US-based grant and takes seriously its commitment to share the fruits of this research with all who may benefit,” Brown said at the meeting.

Brown also addressed the concerns of international students about the visa challenges during the meeting, although the topic was not on the agenda. He noted that all students with an F-1 visa are automatically considered for national interest exemptions.

The UC system also accepts internationally approved vaccines approved by the World Health Organization and provides immunization facilities for those who arrive on campus unvaccinated.

Later, the Regents’ Governance Committee recommended the approval of a special committee focused on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship while limiting bureaucratic obstacles. The committee will primarily focus on supporting student and faculty success at the campus level and revising outdated guidelines.

Funding is a matter of justice, added Regent Richard Leib, explaining that many communities need additional help to be successful.

Another focus of the committee will be to pursue Internet Protocol (IP) protection. The committee will examine options such as using litigation finance firms to enforce existing contractual rights.

“We want to be masters of our own destiny. We should control and use intellectual property so we don’t have to raise tuition fees (while being able to) invest in student housing and mental health services, ”Regent Sherry Lansing said at the meeting.

The final approval of the special committee will be fully voted by the regents next week.

Contact Maria Young, Matt Brown, Dina Katgara, Kaleo Mark and Alexandra Feldman at [email protected].

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