Gov. Jerry Brown on Executive Pay at the University of California & Many Other Topics

At the University of California (UC) Regents meeting of Jan. 17, 2013, Regent Leslie Tang Schilling asked Gov. Brown not to protest about UC executive pay.  The state portion of executive pay can be capped, she seemed to agree, but the Regents should then be free to raise private donations for increments of pay above the state portion.  She argues that UC will need high-quality leadership and must be free to compete for talent.  She expresses skepticism about psychic income.

Brown responds at length with a learned discourse ranging from his one-time vow of Jesuit poverty to the history of higher education in California and more generally.  He resists the idea that he opposes high pay for “political” reasons.  He is uncertain about what terms such as “quality” mean in the context of research.  He questions rankings of educational institutions.  Brown also talks about his support for high-speed rail, the need for water infrastructure to avoid floods, and global warming.  Income inequality is a concern for the governor and California is big enough, he thinks, to resist that trend rather than endorse it.  Brown says we don’t really know where online higher education will lead but that we should go for it (anyway).  On the other hand, he is skeptical about the need for a new medical school at UC-Riverside.  He cites the two-decade holiday of contributions to the UC pension fund as showing that even smart people can make bad decisions.
As prior posts have noted, the problem with the governor’s approach is that – while entertaining – it doesn’t lead to more than regental seeming agreement.  No one wants to offend the governor.  The main challenger to the online education pushed by the governor is from a student regent.  But no process is being set in motion that would lead to something like a new Master Plan to deal with the challenges and issues about which the governor is concerned.  
You can hear Schilling and then Brown’s response below:

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