Governor appoints 4 to UC Board of Regents

August 7, 2018 GMT

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown appointed the head of California’s largest union and three others Monday to the University of California Board of Regents, which sets tuition and other policy for the university system.

Three of Brown’s appointees are Democrats, while the fourth isn’t registered with a party. The position isn’t paid and the state Senate must approve the appointments.

One of Brown’s appointees is Laphonza Butler, the president of SEIU Local 2015, which represents 378,000 caregivers and nursing home workers. It is California’s largest union. Several unions representing university employees, although not the SEIU Local 2015, have organized strikes in recent years to fight for higher wages.


In a statement, Butler said she’ll be an advocate to “ensure that California’s higher education system prepares all residents of our state for their brightest possible future, including groups like women & minorities whom have been traditionally excluded or underserved.”

Brown’s other appointees are Michael Cohen, director of the California Department of Finance; Cecilia Estolano, chief executive officer of a consulting firm; and Richard Leib, a consultant and co-founder of a liquid waste recycling company.

Cohen is a longtime employee of California state government, serving as chief director for the state budget and in the Legislative Analyst’s office. Estolano worked in both local and the federal government before launching her own consulting firm. Leib was a top executive at Liquid Environmental Solutions for 15 years and in various other private sector jobs.

The Board of Regents is the university’s governing body, responsible for setting policy including executive compensation and tuition. Last year the board gave a rare public admonishment to UC President Janet Napolitano over her office’s interference in a state audit. In 2016, the board adopted new guidelines on sexual harassment after one of the regents was caught on tape making inappropriate comments to a female employee.

Brown’s appointments will fill four of five vacancies on the board. The governor appoints 18 regents and there are seven additional ex-officio members.


This story has been corrected to say SEIU Local 2015 represents 378,000, not 180,000, workers.