University of California, San Diego

March 23, 1994
Dear Colleagues:
Over the past week, there have been several articles in local
newspapers reporting on a meeting of our Council of Chancellors.
These articles have created a distorted image of that particular
meeting and of the process through which issues are debated and
decisions are made at the University. Nevertheless, distorted or
not, these articles can be damaging to morale and can make it
difficult for all of us to concentrate on the severe problems
with which we must deal: budget reductions, enrollment pres-
sures, maintaining quality. For these reasons, I want you to
hear directly from me on these matters.
First, there is the characterization of the meeting as "secret."
This is a false characterization. As many of you know, I hold
these meetings on a monthly basis to discuss a wide range of
issues affecting the University. In this case, more than 20
items, over a period of 6 hours, were discussed. The meetings
are certainly not "secret." They are private only in the sense
that most meetings of this type in any organization are confined
to those with a need to attend. There were actually three
meetings that are the subject of these articles. One was a
meeting of the Executive Program Committee, a group consisting of
three Vice Presidents and four Chancellors, whose charge is to
review certain personnel matters, including salary requests from
the campuses, and to make recommendations to me. There was also
a Chancellors Only meeting, which includes me, Provost Massey and
the Chancellors, and a regular meeting of the Council of Chancel-
lors, which includes, for most of the meeting, Vice Presidents
and other senior officers.
The second issue has to do with the impression that most of the
meeting was spent discussing compensation matters. This is
simply not true. This type of issue was discussed only in the
Executive Program Committee, which met for about 45 minutes prior
to the 5 hour Council of Chancellors meeting. It is true that
the Executive Program Committee discussed a number of specific
proposed salary actions from the campuses and vigorously debated
about the proper course of action to take. There is genuine
concern about the need to keep executive pay down, while trying
to attract and retain the very best people to do difficult jobs.
In the case discussed in the newspaper articles, involving the
recruitment of a person currently employed at one campus to a
more senior position at another campus, the Committee recommended
a salary lower than that requested by the campus.
The third issue in the newspaper articles concerned proposed
changes in the leave practice for senior administrators. The
discussion has been characterized as proposing "a new round of
paid leaves of absence for top administrators." In fact, what
was discussed was just the opposite: a modification of the
existing administrative leave practice. I told the Chancellors
of my plans to take to the Regents a new policy that would
effectively eliminate all administrative leaves except the normal
sabbatical leave accrued by those who hold faculty appointments
and who plan to return to a faculty position. It would reduce
the rate of pay for such sabbaticals. We also discussed the
issue of how to handle the situation of currently serving Chan-
The last matter is the report of some remarks concerning certain
legislators and the process for confirmation of Regents. These
remarks were taken out of context and do not reflect the nature
or ambiance of the setting. While not on the agenda, the immedi-
acy of the state Senate Rules Committee's apparent decision not
to confirm the appointment of a University Regent for the first
time in over 100 years evoked a spontaneous conversation. They
were "off-the-cuff" remarks made between discussions of other
items, and reflected a sense of frustration that I am sure
everyone feels at times. The remarks were unfortunate, and I
have spoken with those whose names were mentioned. It is clear
that the nomination and confirmation of Regents is not a matter
in which the University administration should be involved; rather
it is an issue for the Governor, the State Senate, and the
Regents themselves.
Finally, on a personal note, when I accepted the offer of the
Regents to become the President of the University of California,
I did so out of a deep sense of commitment to this great institu-
tion, where I have spent 13 years. The University is facing
difficult times, and we are all working to ensure that we not
simply survive, but emerge from this period as still the finest
public university in the world. It is important that you know
that those of us entrusted with the leadership of this institu-
tion are dealing with the serious issues confronting the Univer-
I know that things have been rough lately, and I empathize with
your frustrations. I would like to add my personal gratitude for
all of your hard work.
This affair, precipitated by what appears to have been an illegal
interception of a candid staff meeting discussion, unfortunate as
it is, will not undermine my resolve or that of my colleagues to
continue to work as hard as we can for the benefit of the Univer-
sity of California.
J. W. Peltason