Monday, May 01, 2017

UC President Janet Napolitano hid $175 million while raising tuition, paying excessive salaries

A state audit released Tuesday concludes that the University of California Office of the President, led by former Obama administration DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, hid away $175 million while paying excessive salaries to staff and raising tuition on students. Auditor Elaine Howle also says someone from Napolitano’s office interfered with questionnaires sent to various UC campuses as part of the audit. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The UC Office of the President amassed millions in the secret reserve funds in part by overestimating how much it needed to run the 10-campus university system — and then spending less than budgeted, the audit said. From 2012 to 2016, the office sought increased funding based on the inflated estimates, not actual spending, according to Howle…

About $32 million of the $175 million that Howle’s audit found in the secret reserve came from campus assessment fees — money that the auditor said could have been spent on students and should be returned to the campuses.

Even as it accumulated the campus fees, Napolitano persuaded the Board of Regents to increase those fees in two of the four years audited, Howle said.

There are nearly 1,700 people working in the Office of the President. The audit notes that number is significantly higher than other similar offices. This chart makes the comparison. Note that the California State system has more than twice as many campuses and nearly twice as many students but manages to get by with 1/3 the amount of staff of the UC system:

In addition to having an outsized staff, the Office of the President was also paying significantly higher salaries than comparable state workers were earning, plus offering a special retirement plan, and other questionable expenses. From the LA Times:

The audit said: “10 executives in the Office of the President whose compensation we analyzed were paid a total of $3.7 million in fiscal year 2014-15 — over $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest paid state employee counterparts.”

On benefits, the Office of the President provided a regular retirement plan but also offered its executives a retirement savings account into which the office contributes up to 5% of the executives’ salaries—about $2.5 million over the past five years, the audit found.

“The Office of the President also spent more than $2 million for its staff’s business meetings and entertainment expenses over the past five years—a benefit that the State does not offer to its employees except in limited circumstances,” the audit said.

Given how bad this looks, perhaps it’s not surprising that Napolitano’s office interfered with the auditor’s efforts to investigate the situation. In order to gather information on how much the services being offered by the Office of the President were actually being used by the system’s 10 campuses and whether the campuses thought the cost of those services was reasonable, the auditor sent out two surveys to each campus. The auditor specifically asked the campus executives who received the surveys not to share them with the Office of the President. But that didn’t stop one of Napolitano’s deputies from interfering and arranging a call to manage the responses. From the report:

Although we explicitly asked each campus not to share its survey results with anyone outside of the campus, we learned in February 2017 that the Office of the President had requested campuses to send their survey responses to it and that the deputy chief of staff of the Office of the President (deputy chief of staff) organized a conference call with all campuses to discuss the survey and screened the surveys before the campuses submitted them to us…

When we compared the prescreened versions of the surveys to the versions the campuses subsequently submitted to us, we discovered trends that concerned us. Specifically, we found that the survey responses were changed in ways that made the Office of the President appear more efficient and effective. The most extensive changes were in the open-ended comments that campuses provided in response to our broad questions. Table 15 summarizes several examples of those changes. Further, after the Office of the President’s review, campuses also changed 13 ratings that we know of; 12 of these made the Office of the President look better. For example, in the prescreened version of its survey, San Diego stated that it was dissatisfied with the transparency regarding what the campus assessment pays for within the Office of the President. However, the survey we received stated that the campus was satisfied with the level of transparency. In addition, San Diego’s comments documenting concerns with the Office of the President’s budget process were deleted.

As a result of this clear effort to massage the data, the auditor determined the results were unusable:

Because of the Office of the President’s involvement, we believe that the survey results carry an unacceptably high risk of leading us and users of the survey results to reach incorrect or improper conclusions regarding the efficacy of the Office of the President’s operations. Auditing standards prohibit us from using such evidence as support for findings and conclusions.

For the record, Napolitano has denied the claims made in the audit. She says the reserve fund was only $38 million which was set aside as a reserve in case of emergency. But needless to say, all of this stinks to high heaven. Howle, the auditor, told the SF Chronicle, “I’ve never had a situation like that in my 17 years as state auditor.” Lawmakers plan to hold a hearing on the results of the audit next week.


In response to Berkeley, Rep. Sean Duffy asks Betsy DeVos to take action on taxpayer-funded campuses

On the heels of Ann Coulter's canceled lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, Congressman Sean Duffy, R-Wis., is asking Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for a list of actions her department can take to address the problems caused by recent free speech controversies on taxpayer-funded college campuses.

In a new letter sent from Duffy to DeVos on Friday morning, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Examiner, the Wisconsin Republican says he is "deeply concerned" by UC Berkeley's decision to "suppress free speech" by canceling Coulter's lecture.

"If university officials feel that it is their priority to keep students safe," Duffy wrote, "they should do so by addressing the culture of violence that accompanies these lawless riots, not by suppressing the constitutional rights of everyday American citizens."

"By canceling the original event," he continued, "UC Berkeley has sent a clear and disturbing message to protesters everywhere: continue the violence and you will win."

The congressman detailed examples from his home state in the letter as well, noting, "Students tell me all the time that they spend four years enduring rather than learning, and never once have the opportunity to study under a conservative professor."

In response, Duffy is asking DeVos to provide him with "a set of specific actions the Department of Education can take to ensure that taxpayer-funded institutions of higher education create and support a fair environment that protects speech and fosters dialogue." He also requested "specific recommendations" for actions that Congress can take to ensure taxpayer-funded colleges and universities "foster an honest, equitable, and fair discussion of political issues and thought."

"I implore you to be mindful of these politically intolerant environments that our taxpayer dollars are funding throughout the United States, and to take any and all necessary action to prevent this systematic suppression of free speech," Duffy wrote.

"Universities are a place for our best and brightest to be educated, not indoctrinated," he concluded.

Given her previous statements, it is likely DeVos will be sympathetic to Duffy's plea.

At this year's CPAC she decried the silencing of conservative voices on college campuses, telling students in the audience, "The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say and, more ominously, what to think."

She continued, "They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you're a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree."

Given the bipartisan uproar over Coulter's canceled lecture — even Duffy's congressional colleagues Sens. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., both criticized the decision made by Berkeley — his sentiments are likely shared by many others on Capitol Hill.


The Death of Higher Education

As tuition and far-left ideologies rise, many universities are experiencing a plunge in enrollment and donations.

The average graduate of the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt. Altogether, that’s almost $620 billion more than the total of U.S. credit card debt. But the staggering cost of tuition isn’t the only reason why many liberal arts colleges have observed a steady decline in enrollment over the past decade. The radical suppression of free speech and the blatant touting of far-left ideologies have caused many students to seek their degrees in a more tolerant environment.

The University of Missouri is closing down three dorms this year due to lack of enrollment since its infamous Melissa Click incident and its announcement of an “open season” on student journalists last year.

And it’s not just Mizzou. Alumni of colleges and universities nationwide are awakening to the fact that their beloved alma maters are nothing like they remember. “As an alumnus of the college, I feel that I have been lied to, patronized, and basically dismissed as an old, white bigot who is insensitive to the needs and feelings of the current college community,” one 77-year-old wrote in a letter to Amherst College’s alumni fund. He proceeded to reduce his support to the college to a mere $5 per year before cutting off his donations entirely. A 1982 Yale graduate said he was on campus last fall when activists tried to shut down a free speech conference, “because apparently they missed irony class that day.” He concluded, “The worst part is that campus administrators are wilting before the activists like flowers.” Not surprisingly, Yale College’s alumni fund was flat between this year and last.

To put it plainly, alumni from a range of generations and schools say they are baffled by today’s college culture. Their predominant lament is that students are irreparably embroiled in racial and identity politics. Let’s put it more plainly: Colleges are America’s most racist consortiums. They encourage black dorms and black graduations; they praise minority hatred of whites through “white privilege” indoctrination seminars and ethnic-and-black-studies courses; and they shamelessly tear down statues of their old, white, male founders and re-name academic buildings that were christened for bigoted, slave-owning misogynists. Modern universities have eviscerated and dishonored their heritage by judging them by today’s standards rather than in the context of their times. Not even Thomas Jefferson is safe at the University of Virginia he founded.

Is this academic moral decline worth upwards of $60,000 a year in tuition? Not by a long shot. To add insult to injury, most college students graduate without taking any courses that enrich their intellect or develop their character (which was, after all, the original purpose of universities). Today, one can obtain a bachelor’s in English lit at UCLA without even cracking open a book of Shakespeare’s plays while being required to read the lesbian interpretation “Juliet and Juliet.” Other colleges freely spend their students' tuition dollars to put free condoms and lubricant in every student dorm or free bus rides to the nearest Planned Parenthood.

Even more shocking is the Institute of Education Statistics estimate that 40% of students at a four-year college drop out before completing their degree. For the 60% who do complete their degree, 64% take longer than four years to graduate, costing themselves nearly $70,000 in lost wages and educational expenses per year. In light of these facts, many young people are forgoing the traditional BA for trade and vocational schools after realizing the obvious truth: higher education is no longer worth the social and financial costs. The prediction that college closures will triple by 2017 only confirms this.

While wealthy fools will continue to fund Yale and its fellow left-wing seminaries, a day of reckoning may well be on the horizon for our institutions of “higher education.”


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