UCI Professors to Help Advise on Fiscal Crisis

TIMES STAFF WRITER

UC Irvine management professors are joining a group of Orange County business leaders who are preparing to offer financial advice to county government leaders.

The Orange County Business Council is forming a task force to give the Board of Supervisors an independent analysis on how to rescue the county from its difficult financial situation. UCI officials announced this week that Chancellor Laurel L. Wilkening has pledged the help of university financial experts to the business group's task force. UCI Graduate School of Management Dean Dennis Aigner is already assisting the nascent group in developing its framework.

Members of the task force have not been selected yet, said Todd Nicholson, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council.

The group plans to meet with Board of Supervisors Chairman Gaddi H. Vasquez and Supervisor Roger R. Stanton within 10 days.

"It is my hope that the task force efforts and recommendations will include--but not be limited to--proposing financial restructuring alternatives, evaluating opportunities for privatization and examining the county structure," Vasquez said in his state of the county address Tuesday.

Nicholson said he expects the private sector and university representatives may share ideas with county officials on investment strategy and how to recover from bankruptcy.

"A number of corporations in the county have been through bankruptcy successfully and have worked their way out of it," Nicholson said. "Their experiences, and the approach they've taken, could be very helpful in making recommendations to the county along those lines."

UCI's Wilkening first met with business and county officials two weeks ago to discuss the financial crisis. Since the crisis developed in December, several UCI professors have been analyzing the county's bankruptcy, including management Prof. Philippe Jorion, who is writing a book on the subject.

"Our future is very closely connected with the county, in terms of relations with high-tech and bio-tech companies, as well as education programs," Wilkening said. "We're a part of this place, so we feel we should be a part of problem-solving."

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