Regents of the University of California

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Regents of the University of California
The University of California 1868.svg
Seal of the University of California
Governing board overview
FormedJune 18, 1868 (1868-06-18)[1][2]
TypeState university system governing board
JurisdictionUniversity of California system
HeadquartersOakland, California, United States
Annual budget$21.1 billion[3]
Governing board executives
WebsiteRegents website

The Regents of the University of California (also referred to as the Board of Regents to distinguish the board from the corporation it governs of the same name) is the governing board of the University of California (UC), a state university system in the U.S. state of California. The Board of Regents has 26 voting members, the majority of whom are appointed by the Governor of California to serve 12-year terms.

The regents establish university policy; make decisions that determine student cost of attendance, admissions, employee compensation, and land management; and perform long-range planning for all UC campuses and locations.[4] The regents also control the investment of UC's endowment, and they supervise the making of contracts between the UC and private companies.[5]

The structure and composition of the Board of Regents is laid out in the California Constitution, which establishes that the University of California is a "public trust" and that the regents are a "corporation" that has been granted the power to manage the trust on the public's behalf. The constitution grants the regents broad institutional autonomy,[6][7] giving them "full powers of organization and government."[8] According to article IX, section 9, subsection (a), "the regents are "subject only to such legislative control as may be necessary to insure the security of its funds and compliance with the terms of the endowments of the university".[8]

Throughout the history of the university and in recent years, a number of regents have been implicated in a number of corruption and misconduct scandals.[9][10][11][12] An investigation by the Sacramento News & Review found that in 2003 members of the Board of Regents who were "Wall Street heavy hitters" began placing hundreds of millions of university dollars into investments that were concurrent with their business interests, at a loss.[9] These actions financially benefited individual regents while draining the university endowment, precipitating an institutional budget crisis that the regents used to justify their decision in 2009 to significantly increase the cost of student attendance, sparking statewide protests.[13]

In May 2017, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Regents had been hosting costly dinner parties using university funds.[14] Only after extensive public outcry, university leadership released a statement saying the university would no longer fund these dinners.[15] In 2019, a doctoral student at UC Santa Cruz came forward to voice that UC Regent George Kieffer had sexually assaulted her during a UC function in 2014.[16] Her accusation was later dismissed by the university, which claimed in a statement that the assault could not be confirmed as having occurred due to lack of evidence.[17]


Section 11 of the Organic Act establishing the University of California begins with the following sentence: "The general government and superintendence of the University shall vest in a Board of Regents, to be denominated the 'Regents of the University of California,' who shall become incorporated under the general laws of the State of California by that corporate name and style."[18] As required by Section 11, the Board of Regents proceeded to form a corporation denominated the Regents of the University of California on June 12, 1868, and filed the certificate of incorporation on June 18, 1868 with the California Secretary of State.[19] The corporation's official name today is still the Regents of the University of California.[20] Today, it is unusual for universities (or any other kind of corporation) to incorporate in the names of their boards, but it used to be a common practice among American universities. For example, Harvard University is still legally incorporated as the President and Fellows of Harvard College.[21]

Incorporating the university under the exact same name as its board was just as confusing in the 19th century as it is today. In an 1894 wrongful death case, the plaintiffs did not understand this; they sued 16 regents individually, which forced the Supreme Court of California to analyze Section 11 and the June 18, 1868 certificate to hold that the original members of the Board of Regents had properly formed a corporation as a legal entity distinct from themselves. Therefore, the current members of that board could not be held liable in their individual capacities for the torts of the corporation.[22]

The current Board of Regents is a "policy board," as a result of reforms unanimously adopted from 1957 to 1960 at the instigation of UC President Clark Kerr. Before Kerr's reforms, the regents operated as an "administrative board" (in Kerr's words) for almost a century. The board met 12 times per year and its finance committee (with full authority to act on behalf of the board) met an additional 11 times, and the university budget was excruciatingly detailed. The result was that the board collectively supervised every aspect of university affairs—no matter how trivial or minor. One sign of the regents' unusually extreme level of micromanagement during this period was that it was seen as a major milestone when acting UC President Martin Kellogg gained the power in 1891 to independently hire janitors (as long as he reported on what he had done at the next meeting of the regents).[23] Another example is that until 1901, replacements for lost diplomas required the approval of the regents.[24] At Kerr's encouragement, the Board of Regents cut down on the number of meetings, delegated powers and responsibilities to the university president and the campus chancellors, delegated more power to the Academic Senate, simplified the UC budget, and greatly reduced the amount of detail that flowed upwards to the regents.[23]

Over the years, a number of conflict-of-interest investigations have revealed instances in which members of the UC Board of Regents used their positions for personal gain. In 1970, responding to public outcry, the Board of Regents passed an internal policy prohibiting university officials from "making personal gain out of university transactions."[9]

In 2003 regents Blum, Wachter and Parsky consolidated control of UC's investment strategy, bypassing the university treasurer's in-house investment specialists, and hired private managers to handle a number of transactions. This action increased management costs and limited transparency (since these external managers are not subject to public record laws).[9] The amount of money placed in private equity soon more than tripled, and by March 2009, the university's books carried a balance of $6.7 billion in 212 private equity partnerships, which consist primarily of risky leveraged buyout funds—more than 10 percent of the university investment fund total of $63 billion. These did not prove to be good investments, and by spring of that year UC's private equity returns were running at a negative 20 percent.[25] After the financiers took control of the investment committee, the university's allocation to private real-estate deals also increased from nearly zero to $4.5 billion in less than a decade, and by mid-2009, the private real-estate portfolio had lost an astonishing 40 percent of its value.[9] This notable shift in investment strategy, which has proved harmful to the university, has had clear benefits for individuals on the board of regents.[9] During this period, the board of regents perennially voted to drastically increase tuition costs, a move which further benefited individuals on the board of regents with investment holdings related to student lending and private postsecondary education.

By 2009, in an effort to curb the budget deficits that had created by these actions, the Regents passed a tuition hike for all 10 universities in the system, increasing tuition by 32%, which pushed the annual costs of attendance above $10,000 for the first time.[26] UC President and Regent Mark G. Yudof's response to the tuition increase was "When you have no money, you have no money," propagating the claim that the budget shortfall was due to the recession rather than the regents' mismanagement of university funds.[26] The tuition increases sparked the 2009 California college tuition hike protests, which have been described as a precursor to the Occupy Movement.[27][28]


The majority of the board (18 Regents) is appointed via nomination by the Governor of California and confirmation by the California State Senate to 12-year terms. One student Regent is selected by the Board to represent the students for a one-year term through a hiring process that is conducted by the board.[29] The remaining 7 Regents are ex officio members. They are the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the State Assembly, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, President and Vice President of the Alumni Associations of UC, and President of the University of California.[30]

The Board also has two non-voting faculty representatives and two non-voting Staff Advisors. The incoming student Regent serves as a non-voting Regent-designate from the date of selection (usually between July and October) until beginning their formal term the following July 1.

The vast majority of the Regents appointed by the Governor historically have consisted of lawyers, politicians and businessmen.[31] Over the past two decades, it has been common that UC Regents appointees have donated relatively large sums of money either directly to the Governor's election campaigns or indirectly to party election groups.[32][33]

Administrative support is provided to the Regents by the Office of the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Regents of the University of California,[34] which shares an office building with the UC Office of the President in Oakland.[citation needed]

Significant corruption scandals[edit]

In 2007, the Board of Regents signed the EBI contract, a $50 million university privatization contract funded by the BP oil company.[35] The contract gave financial control over all clean energy research at UC Berkeley to BP, with $15 million directed towards proprietary research allowing the oil company able to keep around a third of the patents produced by the academic employees while also financially controlling all other clean energy research upon the campus. The contract likewise allowed BP oil to construct a building on the UC Berkeley campus with entire floors that only BP employees are allowed to enter.[35] Before the signing of the contract, a number of environmental organizations, including Greenpeace penned a letter to the regents, which was read during the regents meeting on November 2, 2007, which stated "The prospect of giant carbon polluters directing research related to and gaining control of key energy technologies is very troubling – especially when the research is conducted at, and the technologies are developed in collaboration with, public institutions."[36] Following the signing of the contract by the UC Regents, professors complained that BP Oil bypassed normal university hiring and tenure protocol and hired professors directly, without consulting any academic department.[37] Opponents have also argued this and other privatization contracts are a way to replace middle class engineering jobs with cheap graduate student labor.[38]

Regent Richard C. Blum, financier and husband to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, currently serves on the board of regents' Investment Committee. Allegations of conflicts of interest have arisen because, during Blum's tenure, UC has invested hundreds of millions of dollars where he had concurrent business interests.[9]

According to an investigation by the Sacramento News & Review, conflict-of-interest dealings by the UC Board of Regents accelerated in the years prior to the 2008 recession. Beginning in 2003, "[M]embers of the board of regents benefited from the placement of hundreds of millions of university dollars into investments, private deals and publicly held enterprises with significant ties to their own personal business activities, while simultaneously increasing the cost of university attendance."[9] Additionally, the investigation found that some members of the regents’ investment committee, individuals who are also "Wall Street heavy hitters," modified long-standing UC investment policies, specifically, steering away from investing in more traditional instruments (such as blue-chip stocks and bonds) toward largely unregulated and risky "alternative" investments, such as private equity and private real-estate deals.[9] These changes in UC investment policy brought personal gain to individual members of the board of regents Investment committee, while also reducing the funds within the UC endowment that might have otherwise been used to cover costs related to the operations of the university.

In May 2017, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Regents had been hosting costly dinner parties using university funds.[14] Only after extensive public outcry, university leadership released a statement saying the university would no longer fund these dinners.[15]

In 1970, the California state auditor found that regent Edwin W. Pauley, who owned Pauley Petroleum, personally profited when university officials steered $10.7 million dollars into one of his company's business deals.[10][11]

In 1970, the California state auditor investigated regent William French Smith and regent Edward Carter for conflict of interest dealings. The actions investigated included the joint purchase of a $253,750 piece of property for Carter's personal use, with the university paying $178,750 and Carter paying the remaining $75,000.[12] Smith, who was Governor Reagan's personal lawyer and a Reagan appointee to the board, was a lawyer at the law firm representing the Irvine Company, a private real estate company. Carter was a lifetime board member of the Irvine Foundation, which has a controlling interest in the Irvine Company.

In 1965, free-speech movement activist Marvin Garson responded to a call by the California Federation of Teachers to "investigate the composition and operation of the Board of Regents." He produced a 19-page report documenting prior cases of corruption, concluding that, "taken as a group, the Regents are representatives of only one thing—corporate wealth."[39]

Sexual misconduct allegations[edit]

In 2019, a doctoral student at UC Santa Cruz came forward to voice that UC Regent George Kieffer had sexually assaulted her during a UC function in 2014.[16] Her accusation was later dismissed by the university, which claimed in a statement that the assault could not be confirmed as having occurred due to lack of evidence.[17]


Appointed regents[edit]

The eighteen appointed regents are appointed by the Governor of California to serve 12-year terms.

Appointed Regents[40]
Name Occupation Year Appointed Appointed by Reappointed Term expires Notes
Sherry L. Lansing Businesswoman 1999 Gov. Davis 2010 (by Gov. Schwarzenegger) 2022
Hadi Makarechian Businessman 2008 Gov. Schwarzenegger 2020 (by Gov. Newsom) 2032
Richard Sherman High Finance 2014 Gov. Brown 2025
Eloy Ortiz Oakley Education 2014 Gov. Brown 2024
John A. Pérez Politician 2014 Gov. Brown 2024
Gareth Elliott Lobbyist 2015 Gov. Brown 2025
Howard "Peter" Guber Businessman 2017 Gov. Brown 2029
Lark Park Policy Research 2017 Gov. Brown 2029
Maria Anguiano Finance 2017 Gov. Brown 2028
Michael Cohen Finance 2018 Gov. Brown 2030
Cecilia Estolano Businesswoman 2018 Gov. Brown 2022 current chair
Richard Leib Businessman 2018 Gov. Brown 2026 vice chair
Jonathan "Jay" Sures Businessman 2019 Gov. Brown 2020 (by Gov. Newsom) 2032
Janet Reilly Businesswoman 2019 Gov. Newsom 2028
Jose M. Hernandez Businessman 2021 Gov. Newsom 2033

Student regent[edit]

The student regent is hired by the board of regents to serve for a 1-year term.

Student Regent:

  • Jamaal Muwwakkil, appointed in 2020 by the board of regents, term expires June 30, 2021

Ex officio regents[edit]

The Ex officio regents serve on the board of regents by virtue of holding positions elsewhere.

Ex officio regents:

Non-voting participants[edit]

The following positions do not carry voting abilities or regent status.


Regents-designate are non-voting participants who are scheduled to transition to full board membership at later date.

  • Eric Mart (given alumni Regent-designate status 2019; designate status expires June 30, 2020)
  • Debby Stegura (given alumni Regent-designate status 2019; designate status expires June 30, 2020)
  • Jamaal Muwwakkil (given student Regent-designate status 2019; designate status expires June 30, 2020)

Faculty Representatives[edit]

Faculty Representatives to the Regents are non-voting participants who may be assigned as representatives to certain committees.

  • Kum-Kum Bhavnani (became a representative in 2018; representative status expires August 31, 2020)
  • Mary Gauvain (became a representative in 2019; representative status expires August 31, 2021)

Staff Advisors[edit]

Non-voting participants who are assigned as representatives to Regents' committees.

  • Lucy Tseng, UCLA, July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022)
  • Priya Lakireddy, UC Merced (Staff advisor-designate, July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022; Staff Advisor, July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023)[41]

Past Regents[edit]

Past Honorary Regents[edit]

In its early years, UC had thirteen Honorary Regents, with ten appointed in 1868.[47] "Honorary Regents" were full board members, with the word "Honorary" simply denoting their manner of selection (that is, they were elected to serve on the board by the other board members, instead of being appointed by the governor). Some were then appointed to another term, following their term as Honorary Regent, by the governor. One (Tompkins) was re-elected.[49]

Notable legal cases[edit]


  1. ^ Certificate of Incorporation of The Regents of the University of California.
  2. ^ Incorporation date, as shown in the records of the California Secretary of State.
  3. ^[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ Akkaraju, Maya (May 25, 2020). "'Mysterious body of people': A look into the UC governing board". The Daily Californian. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  5. ^ "'Regents Policies, The University of California". Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  6. ^ Grodin, Joseph R.; Shanske, Darien; Salerno, Michael B. (2016). The California State Constitution (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 243. ISBN 9780199988648. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  7. ^ Myers, John (April 30, 2017). "Political Road Map: So why can the UC regents thumb their noses at the Legislature?". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Codes Display Text".
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Byrne, Peter (July 10, 2010). "The regents club: Conflicts of interest are nothing new at the University of California, but they may be getting worse". Sacramento News & Review. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  10. ^ a b "UC President facing probe of business deals". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Associated Press. June 25, 1970. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Reagan, Hitch Disagree on Handling of UC Problems". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Associated Press. July 19, 1970. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "State Auditor Names 2 Regents in Possible Conflict of Interest". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Associated Press. June 25, 1970. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  13. ^ Lewin, Tamar; Cathcart, Rebecca (November 19, 2009). "Regents Raise College Tuition in California by 32 Percent". The New York Times.
  14. ^ a b Gutierrez, Melody; Asimov, Nanette (May 28, 2017). "Regents throw parties at UC's expense". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Asimov, Nanette; Gutierrez, Melody (May 29, 2017). "UC reverses policy, won't pick up tab for regents' parties". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Elew, Mo Al (June 25, 1970). "UC Regent George Kieffer Accused of Sexually Assaulting Student". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  17. ^ a b "UC clears Regent George Kieffer of allegations of sexual misconduct". Los Angeles Times. June 8, 2020.
  18. ^ See Cal. Stats., 17th sess., 1867–1868, ch. 244, § 11.
  19. ^ Certificate of Incorporation of the Regents of the University of California, filed June 18, 1868, California Secretary of State.
  20. ^ Bylaw 10, Bylaws of the Regents of the University of California (as adopted on July 20, 2016).
  21. ^ Chait, Richard P.; Daniel, D. Ronald; Lorsch, Jay W.; Rosovsky, Henry (May–June 2006). "Governing Harvard: A Harvard Magazine Roundtable". Harvard Magazine.
  22. ^ Lundy v. Delmas, 104 Cal. 655, 658–659 (1894).
  23. ^ a b Kerr, Clark (2001). The Gold and the Blue: A Personal Memoir of the University of California, 1949–1967, Volume 1. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 191–205. ISBN 9780520223677.
  24. ^ Pelfrey, Patricia A.; Cheney, Margaret (2004). A Brief History of the University of California. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 37. ISBN 9780520243903. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  25. ^[bare URL PDF]
  26. ^ a b,8599,1942041,00.html
  27. ^ "Thousands Gather for Occupy Cal as Two Years of Protest Comes Home". November 11, 2011.
  28. ^ "From Master Plan to No Plan: The Slow Death of Public Higher Education".
  29. ^ "Application for 2021–22 Student Regent, University of California". Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  30. ^ Hollender, Allison (September 29, 2016). "Rundown on the Regents". City on a Hill Press. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  31. ^ Brian Pusser; Imanol Ordorika (2001). "Bringing political theory to university governance" (PDF). Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  32. ^ "Regents Fact Sheet | #OccupyUCDavis". Archived from the original on November 19, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  33. ^ "Welcome -". Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  34. ^ Bylaw 23.5(a) of the Bylaws of the Regents of the University of California.
  35. ^ a b "11.14.2007 - EBI: Highlights of the Master Agreement".
  36. ^ "Opponents ask UC regents to delay signing BP contract". November 3, 2007.
  37. ^ "UC-BP Debate Reveals 'Two Cultures' Schism. Category: Features from the Berkeley Daily Planet".
  38. ^ "5- Corporations off campus: Time to expel BP and Monsanto – Slingshot".
  39. ^ Garson, Marvin (1965). "The Regents".
  40. ^ "Members and Advisors UC Regents". UC Regents. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  41. ^ "About the Staff Advisors | Staff Advisors".
  42. ^ Sumers, Brian (May 30, 2014). "Ben Allen, Santa Monica school board member, seeks state Senate seat". Daily Breeze. Retrieved September 26, 2014.
  43. ^ Kalem, Stefanie (May 9, 2007). "Parsky's Party". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  44. ^ "U. of California Regent Resigns Abruptly – Graduate Students – The Chronicle of Higher Education". November 13, 2007. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  45. ^ Mecartea, Shauna. "Regent Stephen Nakashima leaves board after 11 years". Daily Bruin. No. April 15, 2001. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
  46. ^ Greg Lucas (August 29, 1997). "UC Regent Rejected By State Senate / Democrats say del Junco too partisan". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  47. ^ a b "The Regents of the University of California Through the Years". Days of Cal. The Bancroft Library. 1997. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  48. ^ "University of California History Digital Archives: Regents' Biographies – N". John Douglass, Sally Thomas. Retrieved November 8, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  49. ^ "University of California History Digital Archives". Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  50. ^ Schaechtele, Molly Shoemaker. "Frederick Low". The Governors of California and their Portraits (excerpt). California State Capitol Museum Volunteer Association. Archived from the original on September 17, 2009. Retrieved September 6, 2009.
  51. ^ "California State Normal School History, 1862–1889". Historical Sketch of the State Normal School at San Jose, California. State Printing Office. 1889. Retrieved January 24, 2012.

External links[edit]