My company is having a bad week. 246 (so far) faculty members signed a petition to the chancellor asking him to try to get the Alameda DA to drop charges recently filed against protestors whose brutalization by police in last fall’s demonstrations (including a prof holding her hands out for arrest being thrown to the ground and dragged by her hair) was widely viewed in videos. I can’t imagine what the DA expects to get out of these prosecutions, but they have put a very sorry episode back in the news, one that earned the administration a remarkable dope-slap from the faculty and another round of embarrassment last month.
Today the chancellor announced that he is resigning at the end of this calendar year. Good, and not surprising: he’s a decent person with many admirable instincts who was just over his head in the job; a day late and a dollar short on one challenge or crisis after another. I wish him well back in the lab.
Most of that is old news, but this is a really disgusting revelation. A senior campus executive, earning $188K, has given her 30-year old subordinate boyfriend raises from $58K to $110K over two years. OK, any organization can have someone fall from grace, and this couple doesn’t need their personal problems raked over in public. The scandal here is the administration’s response.
Let’s be clear what happened here: there’s no evidence so far that the purchasing manager boyfriend demonstrated the kind of incredible on-the-job performance that would justify this treatment, so Leite spent the university’s money on personal, um, services: I estimate the total is about $58K so far (not clear if Caniezo’s pay has been cut back). This could pay for about three graduate student instructors. [The campus has a flat rule against romances between supervisors and subordinates (including faculty and students in our classes or likely to be) with or without embezzlement.] A large fraction of this money is taken from taxpayers by force, so our responsibility to use it properly is especially grave. Incredibly, Leite still has a job,she still has some authority over use of university resources, and the wrist-slap the campus thought appropriate was a pay cut of about 3.5% after taxes. It will take more than seven years for her to “pay back” what she stole at this rate. If she has the good grace to quit now, she will walk away with a very nice pension, unless something is done about it.
Opponents of restoring public funding for UC have pointed to administrative bloat and overpaid managers as evidence that we don’t deserve to be trusted with public money. I’m skeptical of a lot of this line of argument; I think management matters and generally it’s expensive and worth it. Now I’m a lot less skeptical: this story is devastating to our political credibility and to the internal credibility of our whole administration.