Possibly strengthening his sway on the UC Board of Regents, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday named a top aide from his office to serve on the university system's governing board.
Brown's appointee, Gareth Elliott, 44, has worked as the governor's legislative affairs secretary since 2011. Elliot joins a board currently tussling with Brown and state legislators over a proposed tuition increase of as much as 28% over the next five years.
In November, days before the board voted on the tuition hike, Brown appointed to the regents Assembly Speaker Emeritus John A. Pérez and Eloy Ortiz Oakley, superintendent and president of Long Beach City College, bolstering opposition to the increase.
The tuition proposal prevailed, triggering weeks of protests at campuses across the UC system.
Leaders of the state Assembly and Senate have since offered plans to defeat the proposed increase and boost funding to the state's public universities.
Brown, a member of the UC Board of Regents, has proposed a 4% annual increase in state funding for the system if the current three-year tuition freeze continues. He has also urged regents to consider cost-saving measures to address projected shortfalls.
UC President Janet Napolitano has said that she will consider the proposals, but also has said that a 4% increase is not enough to pay UC's payroll and retirement costs, cover plans to increase faculty and enroll 5,000 more California undergraduates in the next five years.
Elliott fills the final vacancy on the 26-member board, which includes 18 members appointed by govenors for 12-year terms. Brown has been slow to fill vacancies, with as many as five empty seats last year. The positions are unpaid.
Before joining Brown's staff, Elliott was an aide to former state Sen. Alex Padilla.