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Saturday, April 19, 2014

More Green

Talking of green - see the prior post - news accounts have been commenting on the increase in out-of-state students who pay full fare and thus add to campus budgets.  UC officials are at pains to say that no in-state students are being displaced which can only mean - and seems to mean - that total enrollment has been increased.  Of course, with enrollment up, there is a tendency for larger courses than would otherwise be offered or courses that fill up faster than would otherwise occur.  There has to be a cost or consequence somewhere.  Yours truly is not saying that given budget squeezes on UC, letting in more out-of-state students is a bad strategy.  But there has to be a down side to the decision for in-state students.

You can find various news accounts at the links below:

http://dailybruin.com/2014/04/18/enrollment-cap-more-ucla-applicants-leads-to-fewer-admissions/

http://m.sfgate.com/education/article/UC-gets-big-boost-in-admitting-more-out-of-state-5414161.php

http://m.sacbee.com/sacramento/db_325192/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=5HmPoUAh

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-79958021/

Actual admissions data are at:
http://www.ucop.edu/news/factsheets/fall2014adm.html

There really is no mystery behind the attempt to get more green dollars:

Green

Various UC campuses - including UCLA - have been singled out for having particularly "green" campuses according to the article below.  Others include Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and Irvine.  

The selection was made by the Princeton Review, a firm that offers courses to takers of the SAT and other such exams.  So the listing is presumably intended to make some green through good PR for the Princeton Review.  Nonetheless, you can find the article at the link below:

http://kcbx.org/post/uc-santa-barbara-makes-green-college-honor-roll

And it's not easy to be green:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Your Email Privacy

Blog readers will know that because UC is a public institution, it is subject to public records requests.  Some outside groups have approached various public universities around the country and demanded faculty email correspondence - mainly to make various political points.  Note that comparable private universities are not subject to such requests. 

A recent court decision involving the U of Virginia protects faculty emails, as described in an article in Inside Higher Ed.  An interesting point in the article is that apparently the Virginia legislature took note of the public/private discrepancy and bought the notion that a continued situation in which faculty correspondence was public at public universities but not at private universities put the former in an uncompetitive situation. 

You can find the article at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/04/18/virginias-high-court-protects-privacy-researchers-emails

Bias Away from Maintenance?

Bending towards new construction?
The Daily Bruin carries an article, based on a Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) report, on the problem of deferred maintenance of UC buildings.  Obviously, buildings have to be maintained or they fall apart - or at least become outdated in terms of such things as modern IT.  And there may well be temptations during budget crises to defer needed maintenance.  But are there other biases in the system?  The article notes that there can be a choice between spending on maintenance and building a totally new structure.  One suspects that when donors are approached, there is more of an appeal to building a new structure than just fixing up an older building.  More over, the empire that campuses, including UCLA, have built up seem to tilt towards demolition and building a new structure over maintenance and updating of existing structures. Faithful blog readers will recall the silliness of former UC prez Yudof's claim in a radio interview that donations are only put to new buildings if the donors really insist.  In fact, donors are enticed to favor new structures.  Something the LAO might look at in some future report?

The Bruin report is at http://dailybruin.com/2014/04/18/deferred-maintenance-may-cause-uc-physical-fiscal-harm/

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Unequal

You may have seen the headline that CalPERS is upping the contribution it requires from the state (and from local governments that are part of the system).  See http://www.sacbee.com/2014/04/16/6330671/calpers-adopts-pension-rate-hike.html

As various Regents have pointed out, CSU's pension is handled by CalPERS and so the state makes the CalPERS contribution for CSU and never disputes the fact that it is liable for the CSU pension.  As blog readers will know, the same treatment is not applied to UC.  Of late, although the state has put some money into the UC pension, it does not acknowledge its ultimate responsibility for the plan.  There is little justification given for this unequal treatment other than "that's the way it is."

Help Wanted (Thanks to the Errant 3)

You may have seen headlines about Gov. Brown calling for a special session of the legislature to consider placing a constitutional amendment regarding a "rainy-day" fund on the ballot.  Actually, such a proposition is already slated for the ballot, thanks to a deal that goes back to the Schwarzenegger era.  So what Brown wants to do is substitute his version for the earlier one.  When the Dems had a supermajority (2/3 in both houses of the legislature), he could have ignored the GOP.  But thanks to the errant 3 suspended senators (including our favorite Leland Yee), he will need the help of a few GOP votes. If he gets such help (a big IF), there will be a price to be paid.See http://touch.latimes.com/#section/602/video/p2p-79935319/.

Yours truly is skeptical about mandated rainy day funds, no matter how they are written.  The idea of building a reserve in Good Times for cushioning the budget in Bad Times is fine.  But it can be done simply by spending less than incoming revenue.  The General Fund has a reserve as part of its standard accounting and the governor and legislature can accumulate as much as they are willing.  Partitioning the reserve into categories by itself doesn't do much and such efforts at locking up money can be evaded in creative ways.  Then the question is what areas of the budget get the "benefit" of the evasion.  I'm willing to guess it won't be UC.

We'll see what happens when the governor seeks help from the legislative Republicans.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More on college athletes as employees

Worker at UCLA gets orders from his supervisor
We have previously blogged about a recent NLRB decision holding that college/university athletes are effectively employees entitled to unionization.  Although that decision arose from a case at Northwestern U (football), a former UCLA athlete has been prominently pushing the unionization idea.

An interesting article in today's Inside Higher Ed suggests that there may be more chiseling away at the idea of college athletes as just students.  As everyone knows, there is big money in college athletics - including at UCLA - at least in some sports.  The athlete-as-employee model could drastically change the business model in such sports.

Basically, the article raises the idea that athletes are employees effectively and that colleges and universities are engaged in antitrust violations, conspiring to hold down their pay.

You can find the article at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/04/16/sports-antitrust-lawyers-latest-target-ncaa-scholarship-limits

Excerpt:
"(A)n even bigger case (than the NLRB case) may be ready to unfold in a federal courtroom in New Jersey in the coming months, in the form of a lawsuit by a leading antitrust lawyer seeking to create a free market for how college athletes are compensated.  Jeffrey Kessler has a track record in the world of sports antitrust law that few can match, with major victories on behalf of the National Football League and National Basketball Association players' associations, among others. Now he’s turning his attention to the collegiate level. That’s because it’s hard to distinguish big-time college football and basketball, he says, from their professional counterparts... Kessler’s goal is simple: to have a court strike down as an illegal restraint on trade the restrictions that the NCAA and five member conferences collectively impose on what he views as the compensation of college athletes, in the form of their athletic scholarships."