The president of the University of California says nobody within the UC administration can remember any "deal" with Gov. Jerry Brown not to raise tuition for the next two years.
"I wasn't here then, so I asked," said UC chief Janet Napolitano. "Nobody can find it, the regents who were here at the time can't find it. The real question is, what kind of university do we want?"
Napolitano made the comments during a taping at NBC4 Los Angeles. The interview aired Sunday morning at 9 a.m. on the station's "News Conference" program.
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The proposed 5 percent hike in tuition for each of the next five years will be taken up at the UC Regents meeting on Wednesday in San Francisco. Napolitano says the increase can be less if the UC receives more general fund revenue than has been promised by the Brown administration.
Brown's office says there was an agreement with the UC not to hike tuition for five years in exchange for a 4 percent increase from the state for each of the next two years. Napolitano says the UC system needs more than that as part of an effort to provide "stability in the budget" and to help the it recover from years of budget cutbacks during the recession.
"The investment per student by the state to the University of California is much lower than it has been in decades," she told the program.
Brown, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Democratic leadership of the state legislature all oppose the proposed tuition hike.
The dispute represents the most difficult political challenge for Napolitano in her brief tenure as head of the 10-campus system. She took the position in September 2013. Napolitano previously served as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security during President Barack Obama's first term in office and prior to that held the office of Governor of Arizona.
Napolitano also discusses concerns over the number of out-of-state students admissions, the new "yes means yes" sexual assault code on campuses and the controversy over HBO talk show host Bill Maher's selection as commencement speaker at UC Berkeley.
NBC4's "News Conference" program, which first started in 1966, airs Sunday morning at 9 a.m. following "Meet the Press."
Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated the date when Janet Napolitano took the position as UC president.