Why did Nathan Fletcher graduate from California Baptist University five years after he was supposed to and what does UCSD know about it?
That's one of several major unanswered questions regarding the Democratic candidate for mayor and his hazy academic history in light of heavily redacted documents released by the University of California in response to a request under the state's public records act.
As previously reported, Fletcher had a tumultuous upbringing in Carson City, Nevada, and Smackover, Arkansas, before enrolling at California Baptist University in Riverside, California, in 1995.
Though the former Republican-turned-Democrat's biography doesn't mention it, his mother Sherrie had gone to school there and his maternal grandmother had been health-services director at the school, formerly known as California Baptist College.
By the summer of 2000, a newspaper clip shows, he was working as Southern California field director for a voter-initiative campaign to enact school vouchers, backed by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Timothy Draper.
But when Fletcher applied for a job as part-time “professor of practice” at UCSD last fall, following his defeat for mayor and before his impending departure from the state Assembly, a university staffer processing his so-called BioBib application form discovered something strange that caused her to send Fletcher an email.
Wrote the university’s Collette Isachsen to Fletcher on December 6:
We are (finally) ready to finalize all of your appointment paperwork and I just wanted to double check one thing with you. On the BioBib form you submitted, you indicate that you attended college from 1995-2000 and received your degree in 2005.
This caught my eye and just wanted to make sure the 2005 [is] correct.
“That is correct,” Fletcher responded ten minutes later. In the version of his email released by UCSD, the university blacked out multiple lines of the remainder of his explanation, leaving only the last sentence: “So the date on my diploma is 2005.”
Fletcher sought work at UCSD in October of last year, the records released by UCSD show. “I'm lining up things to do next and have been approached about teaching a class,” he emailed Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the university.
“State and local government, campaigns and elections, or something along those lines. If I do it, my first choice would be UCSD. I’m not looking for anything full time. Let me know if any possibilities.”
Less than two weeks later, a university executive was considering ways to use the appointment as an opportunity to raise money. Wrote social sciences dean Jeff Elman to assistant dean Joanna Mancusi in an email dated October 12:
Kristi [assistant vice chancellor Kristi Larsen] suggested that, since the campus now can move monies around much more freely than before, one might engage in creative financing.
The other strategy, which I'd like to pursue, is getting Fletcher and [redacted] to help us identify potential donors — people who have served as angels for them in the past — whom we could approach and who might cover their salary.
The salary range is from $80,100 to $281,000. The actual percent effort is adjusted to back into the amount we have available.
For example, if Fletcher were to teach 3 courses a year at the $7,500/course rate (just using the Lecturer scale for convenience), and he were appointed at the $80,100 base salary level, that would mean an annual % effort of 28% (and would cost us $22,500).
Those monies would have to come from development funds (e.g., Friends), or else we'd have to do some laundering.
However, my guess is that there are people like Irwin Jacobs and others who have contributed to Fletcher [redacted] and they might be willing to provide these monies — or even more. For example, a gift of $50,000 would allow us to appoint the person at 28% effort with a base of $178,500.
Regarding Fletcher's future fundraising role for the university, Elman wrote:
He's quite enthusiastic about this and I think would be a very successful teacher. I will talk with him again about tapping possible donors to help fund this.
On October 13, Dominique Cano-Stocco, UCSD's director of Advocacy, State & Local Government Relations, weighed in with her own pro-Fletcher endorsement in an email to Elman and Steve Juarez, associate vice president and director of state governmental relations for the University of California system.
By the way, I'm meeting Nathan next week on a personal matter [redacted], but I won't discuss any of this with him. If he asks, I’ll just state that I'm aware of the process under way, supportive, & that I hope everything can work out.
By the way, from where I sit, I don't actually foresee complications or issues. I think [UCSD public relations official] Jeff Gattas & I would welcome [redacted] and Fletcher both in terms of their practical insight, which will be helpful in a variety of academic disciplines on campus, and for their strategic advocacy value.
Requests that the university remove its redactions regarding questions about Fletcher's academic history have been repeatedly rebuffed by the school, which maintained in a letter:
Confidentiality in the academic review process is essential to ensure candid assessments of candidates for appointment, promotion and tenure.
The evaluative materials are accordingly held to be exempt from disclosure under Govt. Code § 6255(a) on account of the strong public interest in protecting the quality of the academic review process.
Challenged by his opponents, Fletcher himself has declined to make his academic records public.