Why Bob Berdahl hates public records access

Not sure why this took me so long to find. The San Francisco Chronicle, 2005:

UC’S PAID LEAVES CALLED ‘BETRAYAL’ – REGENTS’ EDICT IGNORED – 3 top managers were given lucrative furloughs in violation of university policy:

Former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl received a 13 1/2-month leave at $315,600 a year. … UC granted the leaves despite a policy approved by the university’s governing Board of Regents in 1994 limiting paid administrative leaves for senior managers to a maximum of three months. The regents reaffirmed the limit in September.

“It’s a betrayal,” said former state Sen. Quentin Kopp, who helped push UC to declare an end to the paid leaves in 1994. “You can’t depend on the probity of university leaders.” … Both the state Assembly and Senate have scheduled hearings in the wake of stories in The Chronicle reporting that UC quietly paid hundreds of millions of dollars to employees in bonuses, relocation allowances, administrative stipends and other compensation.

The revelations come at a time when the university has said budget constraints have forced it to boost student fees, cut services, increase class sizes and freeze pay for thousands of lower-paid workers.

Sounds familiar. Another headline on Berdahl from 2006:

Ex-chancellor to leave UC, pocket cash – He won’t need to return salary he was paid during year’s leave:

At the time, UC said all three executives were faculty members who otherwise would have qualified for yearlong academic sabbaticals to do research in their fields of expertise. But because of their administrative service, UC said it decided instead to grant them “administrative leaves in lieu of sabbaticals” at their full executive salaries. Berdahl, for instance, received his chancellor’s salary of $315,600 a year, instead of his faculty salary of $130,900, while on leave. 

Sounds remarkably similar to the sabbatical deal Pernsteiner gave Frohnmayer, or what Lariviere gave Bean.

In reaction to these and other similar scandals the CA legislature appointed a “Task Force on UC Compensation, Accountability, and Transparency”. Their report here calls for an end to these sweetheart deals for administrators, controls on income from corporate boards, and for improved transparency and public records access. UC-Irvine seems to have implemented a pretty reasonable process to do this – and UO had one, until Berdahl took it away. 6/12/2012.

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23 Responses to Why Bob Berdahl hates public records access

  1. Anonymous says:

    I guess he wasn’t the messiah you thought he would be, huh?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hell hath no fury like a transparency watchdog scorned.

    • UO Matters says:

      It’s just so humiliating – I never checked the google news archives. Newby mistake!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone heard how much we are going to pay Berdahl for “consulting” after the new President starts? And will Lorraine Davis go back on half-time? (I hope the later is yes, Bean needs supervision.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Wouldn’t keeping Davis on be a little like leaving the fox to guard the hen house?

  4. Robert Berdahl says:

    Once again, UO Matters fires a shot that misses its target. My leave was consistent with UC Regent’s policy in 2004 and it was approved by Chancellor Birgeneau and President Dynes. Had Professor Harbaugh bothered to inquire of the facts, he would have learned that I fulfilled my teaching obligation completely by teaching one term at Berkeley and a second term, without salary, at the UC’s Center Washington, DC.

    • Anonymous says:

      He didn’t actually say anything, just posted some links and the content of those link. If the stories were as inaccurate as you claim, why didn’t you demand a retraction from the Chronicle?

    • Anonymous says:

      Well the title of the post is, “Why Bob Berdahl hates public records access” which implies that he was covering something up. My take is that Berdahl is saying that he wasn’t covering anything up as the information in the linked stories was consistent with the rules of the time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Read the stories. The deals were not consistent with state and UC rules at the time.

    • UO Matters says:

      Berdahl’s problem is that he’s too much about the noblesse, and not enough about the oblige.

    • Anonymous says:

      Berdahl is saying he did nothing wrong because after he got caught by the newspapers and after the legislature started investigating him he agreed to teach a course in DC, without a salary – excepting of course the $315,600 he’d already received. Got it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Still sounds like an awfully sweet deal to me.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Is any of this honestly helpful? Whatever you think of Bob Berdahl, and I have no personal interaction with him, he came into a thankless situation that he did not ask for, has seen through many of the things he said he would do, and appears to have managed to attract someone with strong credentials as his successor — something that frankly I was skeptical would happen. Let’s thank him and wish him well. Having someone with Berdahl’s credentials was essential to steering us through this with external parties. And if he called it like he saw it with our internal dealings, that was his prerogative. You don’t need to agree, but you don’t need to get snarky. Tone and tenor of the arguments on this site are moving beyond the watchdog role that I welcomed. This community has moved so far from the unity that existed with “stand with the hat”. Let’s try to remember that and move towards collective progress.

    • UO Matters says:

      This blog was never about “stand with the hat”. It was and is about the faculty standing up for ourselves, because we sure as hell can’t expect our administrators too. Berdahl’s UC dealings are a case in point. They need to be public.

    • Anonymous says:

      To UO Matters: public, yes, but the tone and tenor…

  7. Anonymous says:

    To me, there are two bigger questions that rise above both this particular incident at UC, similar cases on our campus and similar issues elsewhere: (1) Why is university administrator compensation (and all its aspects: cars, leaves, trips to football games…) set in a fluid, laissez faire fashion while university faculty salaries are intransigent and mired in bureaucracy (with public university faculty often going years without even cost-of-living pay raises). I suspect the answer has to do with tenure and the associated rigidity in the market for faculty. Much faculty hostility to administration arises from these differences. And, (2) why do university administrators apparently fail to either care or understand (not sure which) the problems caused by the appearance of possible abuse or excess. I suspect the answer to the second question lies in the realm of psychology, but I’m no psychologist (really). Or maybe the answer to the second question lies in markets as well…they do it because they can.

  8. Anonymous says:

    You’ve got me wondering how much UO is going to have to pay Berdahl to step down. We’re still paying Frohnmayer and Moseley and Davis, and now probably Dyke, Tomlin, etc. Is Berdahl going to get some “special advisor to the president” deal too?

  9. Anonymous says:

    I hope you are doing due diligence on Gottfredson?

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog says

      I believe the comments from self identified UCI people is pretty due-diligence. For all you UOmatters haters, this is actually pretty neat. When was the last time something like this happened. I sure wish this comment forum would have been around when Linda Brady was hired – then we might have backed off. Indeed,
      imagine what this dog might have said in a similar forum if someone was trying to hire JTM …

    • UO Matters says:

      Bark it out about JTM, Dog. He’s still on the UO payroll!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why is this the lead article? It is just reposting something you put on originally June 12, with no new information or comments, until this one.

  11. UO Matters says:

    Summertime reruns, while we work on the new shows