Transparency for Cal Poly Foundation
September 11, 2011
A bill aimed at opening the financial records of California’s institutions of higher education was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.
“It is a major move forward for transparency,” said Tim O’Keefe, retired Cal Poly faculty and current political action chair for the local California Faculty Association (CFA). “CFA has been trying for years to get an open books policy.”
Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) led the three-year legislative battle to bring greater transparency and accountability to California’s higher education institutions including Universities of California, California State Universities, and the state’s community colleges.
SB 8 requires auxiliaries and foundations associated with the state’s institutions of higher education to produce all financial records, contracts and correspondence to public disclosure upon request.
Prior to the signing of this bill, public education institutions were not required to disclose details on how donations were spent or how much money was in the foundations or auxiliaries.
The most recent scandal of an auxiliary organization made national headlines last year when the CSU Stanislaus Foundation negotiated a speaking contract with Sarah Palin. Students found parts of her contract as well as shredded documents in a campus dumpster after CSU refused to disclose her compensation. After a lawsuit filed by CalAware, a judge ruled that the CSU acted illegally and forced them to disclose the full contract.
The bill also protects the anonymity of donors. However, anonymity would not be provided to any donor who attempts to influence curriculum or university operations or receives something valued at $2,500 or more in return for their contribution.
Despite overwhelming bipartisan support, Yee’s two previous legislative efforts were vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Los Angeles).
“It was a long time coming,” O’Keefe said. “The chancellor was able to bottle it up and convince Arnold to veto the bill for the past few years. They finally got Brown to sign.”
Even though the law does not technically go into effect until January 1, Yee is “urging the UC and CSU to immediately begin complying and providing sunshine to the actions of their foundations and auxiliary organizations.”