Thursday, November 21, 2019

Avoiding Bad Apples at Davis and San Diego

From Science: ...In California, ..the desire to avoid hiring faculty found to have committed harassment (at a previous institution) has spurred two UC campuses to change their approach to vetting finalists for tenured faculty positions.

At UC Davis, a pilot project begun in July 2018 asks those candidates to allow their current employer to share with the school any findings of harassment against them. Anyone who doesn’t sign the waiver allowing the disclosure of such information, which is normally kept confidential, is considered to have an incomplete application and is removed from consideration. The new policy appears to be having its desired effect, says Philip Kass, the university’s vice provost for academic affairs. Every one of the 21 finalists for tenured positions whom UC Davis has investigated since the policy was implemented has come up clean (based on responses from 30 of the 31 institutions that the university queried). His theory is that those with a negative finding in their files have chosen not to apply, and he’s not worried that self-winnowing will limit the talent pool available to the university.
“I’d rather err on the side of excluding someone with a history of harassment rather than allowing someone to sneak through,” Kass says. At the same time, he notes, discovering a finding of past harassment wouldn’t automatically trigger a rejection. UC Davis typically asks institutions to go back roughly 10 years into personnel records, on the assumption that rehabilitation is possible. “It’s not a case of one strike and you’re out forever,” Kass says. “If someone has admitted they made a mistake and learned from it, that’s a positive sign.”
This summer, UC San Diego (UCSD) launched a similar pilot. It was spurred by a “false alarm” involving allegations of past harassment by a newly hired faculty member, says Robert Continetti, senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. After completing the investigation, Continetti says, “We found ourselves without any policy to guide us going forward.”
The new policy applies only to tenured positions, Continetti says, because “it’s a laborious process to remove someone with tenure.” In contrast, those seeking “tenure-track appointment are already on probation,” meaning any harassment finding could lead to a denial of tenure. Overall, UCSD officials expect the 3-year pilot will affect roughly 20% of the 75 to 80 tenured faculty searches that the university conducts in a typical year.
UCSD officials worked closely with the faculty senate in designing the pilot, Continetti says. One concern they addressed is that the additional vetting could slow recruitment to the point that the best candidates might choose to go elsewhere. “We’re committed to taking no more than 5 days” for the background information requests, he says, “so we don’t think it will be an impediment to making an offer.”
Kass and Continetti believe the new procedures will weed out bad apples while maintaining an employee’s right to privacy. “It’s not going to be 100% perfect, but it is such a common sense approach that I’m surprised more universities haven’t adopted it,” says Kass, who this June testified before Congress at a hearing on ways to stop harassment in science...

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

$20 million

We recently took note of a $10 million donation to UCLA that did not involve a brick-and-mortar structure because we like gifts that aim at teaching, student support, and research.*

Here is a $20 million donation that also falls into that category.

UCLA to launch institute to advance scholarship on Armenia and its diaspora

Jennifer Wheelock | November 19, 2019

UCLA plans to launch The Promise Armenian Institute, an entity that will establish a world-class research center and platform for public outreach about Armenia while integrating and expanding the university’s existing Armenian studies offerings and connections to that country.

“This institute will be UCLA’s new hub for all initiatives and research related to Armenia and the diaspora,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “It will energize the teaching of Armenian history and culture in addition to reaching out to Armenians and Armenian institutions through research and public programs.”

The first initiative of its size and scope, the interdisciplinary institute will have a home in the UCLA International Institute and will focus activities around two pillars. The first pillar is the Center for Armenian Studies, which will attract top faculty and visiting lecturers, support graduate and postdoctoral research on Armenian studies and provide funding for language classes. Building on an in-depth study of Armenian society, culture and history — including scholarship about the 1915 Armenian genocide and the worldwide diaspora — the center will provide the academic foundation for the institute’s second pillar, Programs for Public Impact.

Programs for Public Impact will coordinate new and ongoing projects in archaeology, the arts, business and law, engineering, health policy and medicine, information technology and social policy, leveraging UCLA’s expertise to strengthen communities in Los Angeles, in Armenia, and throughout the diaspora. Among existing UCLA efforts that already contribute to this mission are the Armenian Genome Project, which includes the study of genetics and familial diseases; faculty collaboration with the Armenian Health Ministry to improve the country’s public health; and cultural heritage partnerships with the National Library of Armenia on digital projects. Ongoing and future cultural programs include art exhibitions, film screenings, music performances and other events featuring Armenian artists.

The institute, which has been in the planning phase for several years, is being created with a $20 million gift from the estate of well-known philanthropist and entrepreneur Kirk Kerkorian. Before his death in 2015, Kerkorian financed and served as executive producer of the film “The Promise,” a personal passion project raising awareness of the 1915 Armenian genocide. When the movie opened in 2017, proceeds and gifts inspired by the campaign around the film supported a number of charitable causes, including The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law.

“The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, which will support students, alumni and faculty for generations, is a testament to Mr. Kerkorian’s generosity and extends his unparalleled legacy,” said Dr. Eric Esrailian, chief of UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, a producer of “The Promise” and close friend of Kerkorian. “With this new institute, the university will continue to keep the promise to remember Armenia’s history, to recognize the impact Armenians are making at UCLA and in our community, and to facilitate scholarship and collaborations around the world in perpetuity.”

“The Promise” and the Emmy-nominated companion documentary “Intent to Destroy” have been used extensively in educational campaigns over the past two years, and in October, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide.

“The film ‘The Promise’ was Mr. Kerkorian’s gift to the Armenian people and the world. The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA will continue the legacy,” said Kerkorian’s close friend and personal attorney Patricia Glaser, an executive producer of the film. “The Armenian genocide needs to be acknowledged and the Armenian culture needs to be allowed to flourish.”

“Kirk would be proud and thankful to UCLA for the fulfillment of The Promise Armenian Institute,” said Anthony Mandekic, Kerkorian’s estate executor, close friend and another executive producer of the film.
Campus and community leaders announced the new institute at a reception Tuesday. Attendees included businesswoman Kim Kardashian, “The Promise” actor Christian Bale, writer-director Terry George, producer Mike Medavoy, and tennis icon and philanthropist Andre Agassi.

“The new institute builds on a 50-year history of Armenian studies at UCLA, which started in the 1960s, and the university’s first endowed chair in the field in 1969,” said Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement. “Joining the International Institute’s other research centers on world regions and global issues, The Promise Armenian Institute will be a model of UCLA’s engagement with our global and local communities. This generous gift will benefit all of UCLA and beyond.”

The gift is part of the Centennial Campaign for UCLA, which is scheduled to conclude Dec. 31.

Source of media release:

No "admission" that anything went wrong during his watch

No "admission" below that anything went wrong during his watch, not even through the "side door."*

UCLA hopes to select an athletic director by May

By Ben Bolch, LA Times, 11-19-19

The search committee that will select longtime UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero’s replacement is made up entirely of university officials, according to a letter that Chancellor Gene Block recently sent to high-ranking school officials.

Monroe Gorden, UCLA’s vice chancellor for student affairs, will chair the eight-person committee that is expected to initiate its search in January and announce Guerrero’s successor in May, according to the letter.

“In preparation,” Block wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, “search consultants will conduct meetings with campus constituents whose feedback will inform and guide the search effort. To that end, the committee welcomes input on current opportunities, challenges and priorities that could help set the agenda for UCLA Athletics; ideal qualities and qualifications for our next athletic director; and any other information or insights that will help guide the committee’s efforts.”

Candidates to succeed Guerrero could include Utah athletic director Mark Harlan, a former senior associate athletic director for external affairs at UCLA; Nevada Las Vegas athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois, a UCLA alumna; Fresno State athletic director Terry Tumey, a member of two Rose Bowl teams at UCLA, and Josh Rebholz, UCLA’s senior associate athletic director for external affairs.

The other members of the search committee are Gregg Goldman, UCLA vice chancellor for finance and chief financial officer; Anna Lau, a UCLA professor of clinical psychology; John Mapes, chair of UCLA’s Foundation Board of Directors and father of former Bruins defensive back Michael Mapes; Muriel McClendon, UCLA associate professor of history and associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion; Louise Nelson, UCLA vice chancellor for legal affairs; Christina Rivera, UCLA senior associate athletic director and Mike Teitell, a UCLA professor of pathology and director of the school’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Guerrero is scheduled to retire July 1 after 18 years at the school.


Like the man says:

Going Down? - Part 2

Yesterday's post noted issues of potential decreased attractiveness for international applicants to study in the U.S. The B-School at Berkeley has come up with a partial solution:

From Poets&QuantsThe STEM wave continues. The latest school to join the movement to craft or recognize MBA curricula as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs — thereby allowing international students to work in the United States for up to 36 months post-MBA — is a big one: UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, which announced the change last week (November 14) for all three of its MBA programs. The move is retroactive to December 2018.

The change means international students studying on F-1 visas will be eligible to apply for an extension of up to 24 months during the year they are currently allowed to work in the U.S. after earning their degree. However, as Haas makes clear, approval to extend Optional Practical Training (OPT) will still depend on the training plans that employers and individual MBA grads submit.
“I think it’s a great step for us,” Peter Johnson, assistant dean of the full-time MBA program and admissions, tells Poets&Quants. “It more accurately identifies what is happening in the program and the curriculum. An additional side benefit is that it makes our students eligible to apply for the OPT extension. I think will be a great thing for many of our students.”...
Yours truly has info that a similar process is underway at UCLA. It probably will also occur at other campuses and for whatever programs may qualify.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Going Down?

From the LA TimesCalifornia remains the top U.S. destination for foreign students, who primarily come from China and India, with enrollment dipping slightly in the 2018-19 school year for the first time in at least a decade, according to a survey released Monday. Nationally, new enrollments of international students declined for the third year in a row although overall numbers are at a record high of nearly 1.1 million, according to a survey of 2,800 U.S. colleges and universities released by the Institute of International Education and the U.S. State Department.

The number of students from China, who account for one-third of all international students in the United States, increased by 1.7% while those from India grew by 2.9%.

Some university officials have questioned whether the Trump administration’s harder line on immigration and China is driving international students toward more welcoming environments in other countries.

But U.S. college costs are the single largest concern expressed by prospective foreign students and their families, Allan E. Goodman, the Institute of International Education’s president, said in a recent teleconference to preview the report. 

A 2017 survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that the average U.S. public college tuition was the highest among some 35 member nations surveyed — about $8,200 annually, more than twice as high as the average. 

UCLA and UC Berkeley, the leading U.S. public universities, charge about $44,000 annually for foreign students compared with less than $10,000 at their top public counterpart in Japan, Tokyo University...

California continues to attract the most international students — 161,693 — with six of the nation’s top 20 host universities located in the state. USC remained the most popular campus, enrolling 16,340 foreign students in 2018-19, followed by 11,942 at UCLA, 10,652 at UC San Diego, 10,063 at UC Berkeley, 8,064 at UC Irvine and 8,048 at UC Davis.

About 42% of the California foreign students are from China and 12.6% from India. Overall, international students helped boost the state economy by spending an estimated $6.8 billion on tuition, housing, food and other items, the report said...

USC and most UC campuses reported continued growth in fall 2019, but are moving to diversify their international students beyond China. India, with its growing economy, enormous population and national network of technical colleges, is a leading target for U.S. universities seeking high-quality graduate students...

Full story at

Monday, November 18, 2019

Listen to the afternoon session of the Regents of Nov. 13, 2019

This posting of the three sessions of the afternoon of November 13th concludes our coverage of last week's Regents meetings. Some highlights:

Compliance and Audit: It was reported that the state auditor is complaining that the Regents should have a draft of the UC budget proposal earlier than in current practice. At the Herbicide Task Force, one member was asked to step down due to potential conflict of interest.

Public Engagement and Development: There was extended discussion of UC's DACA case now before the U.S. Supreme Court and what might happen if DACA is rejected.

Governance: The new policy that discourages outsourcing is estimated to cost $108 million. There was some controversy about a particular salary for a health executive position, although in the end the salary was approved.

Here is the Daily Bruin summary of the three afternoon sessions:

Compliance and Audit Committee

Alexander Bustamante, senior vice president and chief compliance and audit officer, said this year, the Office of Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services changed their annual report to better explain the function of the committee and its relationship with the campuses. They also aimed to make it more mainstream and readable in general, he said.

Bustamante added that some campuses have databases that track compliance and auditing, but a centralized system does not yet exist. He said ECAS is currently working with Human Resources on formalizing the mechanics of its reporting relationship with the campuses.

Irene Levintov, chief of staff at ECAS, said the California State Auditor provided an opportunity for recipients of its audits, which includes the UC, to give an update on their recommendations in October. ECAS submitted nine additional recommendations as complete this year, Levintov said.

Kurt Sjoberg, vice president and board chairman at Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting, and Marianne Evashenk, president at Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting said UCOP believes that they have 10 of the 12 recommendations that are due April 2020. However, Sjoberg Evashenk’s report concluded that only eight recommendations have been completed, primarily because the report was completed prior to the completion of the other two recommendations.

Ken Smith, executive director for the Environment, Health and Safety team at the UC, said the Herbicide Task Force has met six times since its previous update in September. Smith said the task force completed its report and submitted it to the president by Nov. 1 for review. He added the president will consult with the chancellors and the Herbicide Task Force in order to fully understand the potential impact of these recommended changes.

Smith said the task force recommends the temporary suspension of the use of glyphosate-based herbicides remain in place until the UC President Janet Napolitano reviews the recommendations. The task force will present its report to the entirety to the board at the meeting in January, along with the decisions of the president.

Public Engagement and Development Committee

Kieran Flaherty, associate vice president of state governmental relations, addressed the committee’s concerns about the Fair Pay to Play Act, a recently passed bill which permits college student-athletes to benefit financially from the promotion of their name or image. Flaherty said his team would keep in constant communication with the legislature and the National Collegiate Athletic Association until the act comes into effect in January 2023.

Aidan Arasasingham, government relations committee chair for the UC Student Association, and Varsha Sarveshwar, UCSA president, spoke about the UCSA’s involvement in the state and national legislatures, pushing for reforms such as further state support for mental health, reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and increased recruitment and retention of students of color in the UC system.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ introduced Rebecca Bourges, a third-year environmental economics and policy student at UC Berkeley, to raise awareness about the student population on the UC campuses that grew up in foster care. Bourges, who spent her first years of college sleeping on couches and living in boxes on breaks from school, asked the regents to implement better programs to ensure proper food and housing for foster youth.

Christ also introduced McArthur Hoang, a formerly incarcerated fourth-year sociology student at UC Berkeley. Hoang said his experiences at Berkeley have shown him there is a need for postgraduate programs and specialized mental health support for formerly incarcerated students in the UC system.

Governance Committee

The committee approved a motion to reschedule the next regent’s meeting from July 14-16 to July 28-30.The meeting will also change locations and will now be held at UC San Francisco instead of UCLA to accommodate scheduling conflicts of many of the regents.

The committee also approved a motion to greatly restrict outsourcing of employees. The new policy ensures that UC employees will receive the same pay and benefits as contractors doing the same work. The UC system will prioritize its own workers before turning to contractors, said Regents Chair John Pérez.

The committee voted to approve the creation of a new systems management position to oversee operations at the UCLA Health center. This motion had been previously approved by the Health Sciences Committee, and the position will be offered to an incumbent manager.

Full article at
Audio links below:

or direct to:
Compliance and Audit:

Public Engagement and Development:


Sunday, November 17, 2019

UC Study Abroad Program Suspended in Hong Kong

From the Daily Cal:

In the wake of protests in Hong Kong, UC Education Abroad Program, or UCEAP, suspended its study abroad program in Hong Kong on Tuesday out of safety concerns for students, as previously reported by the Daily Nexus.
The spring program was suspended at this time to give students more flexibility to change their plans for the upcoming semester, according to a Daily Nexus interview with UCEAP associate vice provost and executive director Vivian-Lee Nyitray. UCEAP is monitoring the situation in Hong Kong closely to ensure the safety of students currently studying abroad there.
“We felt that rather than have them go, potentially be in an unsafe situation and have to worry about evacuating them … it would be preferable to not have them go,” Nyitray said to the Daily Nexus. “This wasn’t a decision that was made either lightly or out of any kind of haste or panic.” ...