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The California Constitution grants broad institutional autonomy, with limited exceptions, to the Regents. According to article IX, section 9, "The University shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence and kept free therefrom in the appointment of its regents and in the administration of its affairs."
Administrative support is provided to the Regents by the Office of the Secretary of the Regents of the University of California, which shares an office building with the UC Office of the President in Oakland.
In May 2017, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Regents had been hosting costly dinner parties using university funds. After extensive public outcry, university leadership released a statement saying the university would no longer fund these dinners.
The Board also has two non-voting faculty representatives and two non-voting Staff Advisors. The incoming student Regent serves as a non-voting Regent-designate from the date of selection (usually between July and October) until beginning their formal term the following July 1.
The vast majority of the Regents appointed by the Governor historically have consisted of lawyers, politicians and businessmen. Over the past two decades, it has been common that UC Regents appointees have donated relatively large sums of money either directly to the Governor's election campaigns or indirectly to party election groups.
In its early years, UC had thirteen Honorary Regents, with ten appointed in 1868. "Honorary Regents" were full board members, with the word "Honorary" simply denoting their manner of selection (that is, they were elected to serve on the board by the other board members, instead of being appointed by the governor). Some were then appointed to another term, following their term as Honorary Regent, by the governor. One (Tompkins) was re-elected.
Frederick Low (1868), 9th Governor of California from 1863 to 1867; considered the "father of the University of California"
^Schaechtele, Molly Shoemaker. "Frederick Low". The Governors of California and their Portraits (excerpt). California State Capitol Museum Volunteer Association. Archived from the original on September 17, 2009. Retrieved 2009.