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UC Regents discuss financial investments, research hub

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The UC Board of Regents met in a hybrid format for the first day of their November meetings Tuesday, hearing public comment and a presentation about the Southern California Hub, as well as discussing the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Mary Petrella, a nurse at UC Davis, urged the regents to focus on nurse retention. UC San Diego nurse Michael Kennedy also alleged the university is “routinely” noncompliant with state law, stating the UC violated the state-mandated nurse-patient ratio and issued oncology gowns that do not protect against chemotherapy chemicals.

“You, the regents, are responsible for oversight,” Kennedy said during the meeting. “We hope that you actually follow up.”

Additionally, members from the Teamsters Union called upon the regents to follow the UC policy of contracting out labor. Edwin Bish, administrative officer at UC Berkeley, implored the regents to offer “fair and competitive” wages for administrative officer positions at all UC campuses.

During the UC Investments committee meeting, board members reviewed their performance during the first quarter of the 2021-22 fiscal year. Jagdeep Singh Bachher, chief investment officer and vice president of investments, said the university began and ended the quarter with roughly $168 billion in assets.

In the 45 days since the end of the first quarter, however, Bachher noted that assets have risen to $173.5 billion, or a 4.3% return on endowments. At that rate, the university will have $250 billion in assets by 2032, even in the face of “almost certain” crises in the coming decade.

One major area for investment Bachher identified is real estate, particularly in light of the growing need for more buildings to conduct research and increased housing for students, staff and faculty. Over the next five years, Bachhar pointed out investment opportunities in digital infrastructure and data centers along with possible alternatives to international UC investments.

Following the UC Investments committee meeting, the regents heard a presentation about the Southern California Hub. Pramod Khargonekar, vice chancellor for research at UC Irvine, described the hub as “harnessing synergies” between UC campuses in Southern California and UC-managed national laboratories for collaboration on high-impact research.

The hub consists of UC Irvine, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“The opportunity really is rich to build on lots of common causes between the campuses and the national laboratories,” said John Sarrao, deputy director for science, technology and engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Khargonekar and Sarrao discussed the first pilot year of the hub during their presentation, as well as long-term goals.

The presenters closed with an “open invitation” to all other campuses and labs to become members of the hub.

“Join us in making the Southern California Hub a great asset to the University of California,” Khargonekar said during the meeting.

Contact Anna Armstrong, Riley Cooke and Aditya Katewa at [email protected].