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Former Regent Brophy Talks on UC History


by Julia Sommer, Public Affairs
posted November 4, 1998

Former UC Regent Roy Brophy came to campus Oct. 27 as guest speaker for the second in a UC history seminar series, presented by the Center for Studies in Higher Education.

Among the many aspects of higher education discussed, Brophy decried the growing tendency of California governors to appoint regents as a political payoff. "A regent should understand higher education and not use the position for self-aggrandizement," he said.

Appointed a regent by Gov. George Deukmajian in 1989, Brophy chaired the board from 1989 to 1991. His term ended this past summer.

Brophy called the debate over SP1 (banning affirmative action at UC, which he voted against) "the worst time of my life. It was a political intrusion into public education of the worst kind."

But he added that disruptive student demonstrations against SP1 "didn't help."

In Brophy's view, the regents' debate over SP1 was premature and purposely pursued to generate publicity for Proposition 209.

"Proposition 209 would not have passed if UC hadn't dealt with the issue first," he said.

Brophy praised the California Master Plan for Higher Education spearheaded by Clark Kerr, saying, "it's the greatest system in the world if the three systems don't step on each others' toes."

Brophy has served 31 years on various education boards, including those of the California community college system and California State University.

He said the UC Board of Regents has two purposes: to write policy and to monitor it. "It's up to the campuses to implement policy," he said.

Brophy called the regents' mandate "an awesome task. UC's budget would make it the 24th largest state in the nation and (if it were an industry) number 42 in the Fortune 500."

Following his presentation, Brophy answered questions from the Townsend Center audience, including students from Chancellor Berdahl's freshman seminar on UC history.

Brophy noted that recent regental approval of benefits for domestic partners of UC employees was "the reasonable thing to do." It passed by one vote.

He expressed disappointment in the current state of People's Park and criticized the movement by graduate students to unionize.

A successful builder/developer from Sacramento, Brophy graduated from San Jose State University in 1946 and attended Hastings College of the Law.

The next event sponsored by the Center for Studies in Higher Education is a colloquium on "The Changing Nature of Teaching and Learning," featuring Stanley Chodorow, president of the California Virtual University, and Lee Shulman, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, on Tuesday, Nov. 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Townsend Center.

For information on Center events, visit


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