Carmel Valley

Solana Beach's Richard Leib named to UC Board of Regents

Solana Beach’s Richard Leib was recently appointed to the University of California Board of Regents, the 26-member board that governs the UC system that includes nine undergraduate campuses, five UC medical centers and three national laboratories.

Leib was appointed to the post by Governor Jerry Brown on Aug. 6 and received a unanimous 37-0 vote at his State Senate confirmation hearing on Aug. 28. His confirmation came after a session with the Senate Rules Committee the week before on Aug. 22.

“I have known and worked with Rich Leib for many years,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins. “He is intelligent, energetic, passionate and driven to make things better for his community. He is a wonderful choice to help guide the crown jewel of California’s higher-education system.”

Leib has come a long way—during college he served as student body president of UC Santa Barbara in 1976 and now he sits on the UC Board of Regents.

“A lot of students in our area go to the UCs so I feel very good about representing our home area which has not been represented at all for several years,” said Leib, who believes he is the first regent to come from Solana Beach.

Leib, a member of the Solana Beach School District for the last 10 years, brings a lot of experience to his role—he believes he was selected by the governor to bring a new energy to the board.

“I’ve long-admired and worked with him before over a long career of public service,” Leib said of Governor Brown, whom he met for the first time when he was student body president at Santa Barbara and while in graduate school as a Coro fellow. He then worked on Brown’s 1980 presidential campaign.

After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, Leib earned a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School and a master of public policy degree from Claremont Graduate University.

He is currently president and chief executive officer at Dunleer Strategies and formerly was the executive vice president and general counsel at Liquid Environmental Solutions from 2002 until he sold the company in 2017.

His background also includes serving as the vice president at Lockheed Martin IMS and the executive vice president and general counsel at U.S. Public Technologies.

Leib has always been interested in education and higher education, serving six years on the California Community College System Board of Governors. Leib also has experience in legislation, working as a legislative assistant in the office of California State Senator Gary Hart from 1982 to 1988.

He additionally supports the arts as a trustee of the North Coast Repertory Theatre.

As a regent, Leib will be overseeing a UC system that includes more than 238,000 students, more than 190,000 faculty and staff, and a $35 billion budget.

.“It’s a big task and I’m really excited about it,” said Leib, who is excited to represent San Diego and the “powerhouse” that is UC San Diego and to help UC San Diego Medical Center continue to thrive.

The regents’ 12-year terms are unpaid positions and Leib will be taking over the last eight years of the term of Norman Pattiz, who was forced to resign in December 2017 after 16 years on the board following allegations that he made sexually inappropriate comments.

From his own experiences, Leib said he brings a lot of knowledge about the issues that UCs are facing.

During his confirmation hearing, Leib focused on the fact that some highly-qualified California students are having trouble getting into UCs, due to the incentive for schools to get more out-of-state students as the tuition is $27,000 higher.

“In my opinion, the pendulum has swung too far in allowing more out-of-state students over California students to come to UCs,” Leib said.

Last May, the UC Board of Regents voted to cap nonresident undergraduate enrollment to 18 percent at five UC campuses. Four campuses, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego and UC Irvine, already exceeded that level and will be allowed to keep their 2017-18 percentage, which is about 20 to 25 percent.

Leib believes those numbers are out of balance and that the UCs should admit as many qualified local California students as they can.

“My number one goal, like most others on the board, is to bring down the total cost of college and figure out how to keep it affordable for more students to attend,” Leib said. “Right now it costs about $35,000 total a year for an in-state student (tuition is $12,570). For four years, that’s $140,000. Most people don’t have that kind of money.”

Adding in the high cost of housing in the state and all the other expenses associated with being a student, Leib said he is troubled by the growing incidence of homeless college students throughout California, not just UC students, and cases of students forced to live in their cars. A recent University of California study estimated that 13,000 of the system’s 260,000 students have struggled with unstable housing.

“My goal on the finance committee is a long-term funding mechanism for the university so we don’t have to be raising tuition and can be helping parents and students,” Leib said.

Leib will be on the board until 2026, meeting every other month for two and a half days, mostly in San Francisco. However, September’s meeting will be held in Los Angeles. Leib is looking forward to tackling a lot of “interesting issues” and working with the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the state assembly, state superintendent of public instruction, and the president of the University of California as they serve as ex-officio members.

As he sold his business last year, Leib said he has a little more free time to serve, adding his volunteer job as regent to his position as trustee on the Solana Beach School Board, neither of which he receives compensation for.

“It’s a lot of time and effort but it’s an opportunity to be a public servant and give back to the university that was a big part of my life,” Leib said.

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