Two high-level University of California administrators resigned this week after they were allegedly caught interfering with a state auditor’s survey, according to a report from the Daily Californian.
According to the report, the UC President Janet Napolitano’s Chief of Staff, Seth Grossman, and Deputy Chief of Staff Bernie Jones were caught encouraging favorable responses to a California State Auditor survey. In April, the California State Auditor discovered that Grossman and Jones had explicitly asked three UC system schools to give positive responses to the auditor survey.
“Based on the foregoing review, we conclude that members of the president’s executive office did interfere with the surveys,” stated a report uncovered by the Los Angeles Times. “We further conclude that two members of the president’s staff undertook these actions with the specific purpose of shaping the responses to be less critical of” the Office of the President of the University of California.
Both Grossman and Jones resigned this year, claiming that they weren’t leaving as a result of a scandal but rather due to other job offers. Janet Napolitano, the President of the University of California system, claimed that she had no intent of her office interfering with the auditor survey.
“She said she regrets the allegation of interference because that was not the intent and it detracts from the fact that [the UC president’s office] accepted all of the state auditor’s recommendations in her audit report and has changed its procedures,” the Los Angeles Times report said.
Justin Deckard, the Campus Action Committee Chair for the UC Student Association blamed the corruption on a lack of state funding. “I think that these individual actions of these executives have to be taken into the context of the system they’re made in,” Deckard argued. “The issue sources from a problem that’s endemic to the UC system as a whole.” In 2016, the University of California system received more than $9 billion in federal funding.
In October, Janet Napolitano launched a First Amendment Center through the University of California to combat criticisms against UC system schools over their alleged lack of interest in upholding First Amendment rights for students.