Richard C. Blum is a regent of the University of California and the husband of Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein. He has found himself caught in the middle of the recent college admissions scandal.
According to a California state audit, a regent had written an “inappropriate letter of support” for one student who was unlikely to be admitted into the University of California in Berkeley, based on merit alone. The student had only a 26% chance of getting admitted into the university.
The state audit did not reveal the name of the regent, but the university spokeswoman, Margarita Fernandez, confirmed to the Mercury News that it was Blum.
Blum admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s “been doing it forever.”
“My cousin’s brother wanted to get into Davis. They’d send me a letter and tell me why the person is a good kid, and I’ll send it on to the chancellor. Been doing it forever.”
“I’m not convinced I’ve done anything wrong. It all sounds kinda boring to me,” he added. “This is the first time I’ve heard that maybe I did something that wasn’t right. I think it’s a bunch of nonsense.”
The UC Board of Regents Policy 2201 says that “members of the Board of Regents should not seek to influence inappropriately the outcome of admissions decisions beyond sending letters of recommendation, where appropriate, through the regular admissions process and officers.”
UC Regents Chair John Pérez said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle that these matters are taken seriously, and “any violations will be promptly and appropriately addressed.”
According to the audit of the applicant:
“This applicant had only about a 26 percent chance of being admitted to UC Berkeley on their own based on the ratings that readers had assigned their application. The email records we reviewed indicate that staff in the admissions office consulted with the development office about who should be admitted from the waitlist. The admissions office also prioritized the admission of applicants on the waitlist whom staff had recommended, as well as applicants on a list that the former admissions director created. It is therefore likely that the applicant whom the Regent recommended would have been on a list that received priority admission from the waitlist. Given the low likelihood of this applicant’s admission and the prominent and influential role that Regents have within the university, we conclude that the decision to admit this applicant was likely influenced by the Regent’s advocacy.”
How can he be convinced that he did nothing wrong despite all of that?