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Activist Dolores Huerta appointed to UC Board of Regents

| 17 September 2003


Newly appointed UC Regent Dolores Huerta, a longtime social activist, hopes to make the most of her six-month tenure — and to be appointed to a full regental term thereafter.
David Bacon photo

In the wake of her appointment to the UC Board of Regents last week, United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta said Monday that diversity — not only among UC students but also among faculty and administrative staff — will be one of her top concerns as regent. Huerta, 73, will fill out the remainder of the term of Norman Pattiz, which expires March 1.

In an interview with journalists Monday, the longtime activist expressed concern about the university’s recent decision to return the admission applications of 1,500 students from California community colleges, which typically attract many of the state’s low-income students and students of color. The university cited a $410-million cut to its funding in the new state budget as the reason for the unusual move.

“That’s really terrible,” she said of UC-eligible community-college students being turned away. “Before we accept out-of-state students, we should accept students right here in California.”

Press reports said that Huerta was nominated after State Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) — who supports greater diversity on state commissions and reportedly called the UC Board of Regents “a who’s who of donors in California” — threatened to block Pattiz’s nomination to a 12-year term as regent. Pattiz is owner of the nation’s largest radio network, Westwood One, and a contributor to Governor Gray Davis and the Democratic Party.

Appointed for a reason?
Questioned about the terms under which she was named a regent, as well as the regental appointment process itself, Huerta reiterated her support for Governor Davis’ role in nominating her to the board and expressed her hope to be reappointed once her initial term expires. She also asserted a strong personal belief that, details notwithstanding, her appointment as a regent “happened for a reason.”

Of her likely working relationship with affirmative-action opponent Ward Connerly, Huerta said that in the past, when she was part of protests against regental measures backed by Regent Connerly, “we’ve had confrontations, not meetings.” Huerta also noted, however, the regents’ recent vote, by a wide margin, to oppose Proposition 54 — the controversial ballot measure, championed by Connerly, that would ban state agencies from collecting racial or ethnic data — and the board’s decision to continue to fund ethnic graduations on the campuses. “There are other regents on the board who feel like I do,” Huerta said.