UCOP > A Brief History of the University of California > Access and Excellence >
 
 

The Master Plan

Decentralizing the University

Student Unrest

The Steady State

Planning for Hard Times

The Tax Revolt

Bakke vs. The Regents of the University of California

New Intellectual Horizons

The Booming 1980s

A Pacific Rim State

Growth Again

Conflicts and Controversies

The University Under Fire


 

Chapter 30: Conflicts and Controversies

There were, of course, problems as well as progress. The national movement against apartheid in the mid-1980s led to pressure on many organizations to divest themselves of stock in companies doing business in South Africa. UC students brought this matter to the forefront in 1985 and, at the request of student Regent Fred Gaines, the Board held a series of discussions on the pros and cons of the issue. President Gardner opposed divestment on the grounds that it would embroil the University in what was essentially a political issue and violate the Regents' fiduciary responsibility as trustees of UC's investments. In June 1985, the Regents adopted a plan proposed by President Gardner that would create a UC committee to monitor the University's investments in South Africa in terms of social responsibility.

The issue continued to generate discord, however. A year later, at the urging of Governor George Deukmejian, the Regents voted for divestment—a rare instance of the Board's dissenting from a Gardner position.

A second and later controversy involved the President himself. Gardner announced in November 1991 that he would step down the following October, a decision precipitated by the recent death of his wife. At the time of his announcement the California economy had entered one of its cyclical downturns, and the generous UC budgets of earlier years had evaporated. To help UC attract and retain skilled administrators despite its budget constraints, the Regents had approved the awarding of deferred compensation and a supplemental retirement annuity to certain UC executives, including the President, as long as they remained with the University for a specific period of time. President Gardner's planned retirement date would have made him ineligible for these benefits, but in recognition of his contributions and the special circumstances of his decision to retire, the Board voted to waive the vesting date and award him both deferred compensation and supplemental retirement funds.

In a period of cutbacks and early retirement programs, the Board's decision became the subject of heated controversy when it was made public. Months of sensationalized press accounts of alleged administrative overspending, excessive executive salaries and perquisites, and lax Regental oversight shredded the University's image in Sacramento and among the public.

President Gardner retired on October 1, 1992. His final months in office were shadowed by dissension and criticism, despite the great strides the University had made under his leadership. The most significant of these was the rebuilding of the University's fiscal foundation—an accomplishment that was crucial to the University's success in sustaining its academic quality through the hard times that lay ahead.

 


 
 


 

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Last updated 09/29/05.