Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Listen to the Regents Governance Committee Meeting of June 22, 2016

As part of the Regents' restructuring of their committee functions and procedures, there were several off-cycle meetings this month. The link below is to the Governance Committee which is preparing proposals for the July meeting of the full Board. This meeting popped up suddenly; if you listen to the recording, they go through a bit of legal stuff to OK having a session without the usual pre-announcement.

There is a lot of reference to "transparency" and the need for it including a statement that everything in the future will be archived. As blog readers will know, your truly has had to record sessions in real time in the past because the so-called archiving that the Regents do has a one-year duration. And the actual recording files have not been made available - only a stream. In this case, although no video was recorded, the audio was available as a file. Since unless the Regents announce a new policy of indefinite archiving rather than one year, we will keep doing our own archiving. But we continue to urge the Regents to archive indefinitely.

The Committee opened with public comments, entirely from anti-vaccination folks. Then in got into the proposals to implement new Regents procedures. One issue, for example, is the current practice that any single Regent can put an item on the full Board agenda. The original proposal was to maintain that rule but to clarify that the UC prez and the chair of the Regents would determine the scheduling of such agenda items. However, there was sentiment to put some kind of hurdle into the process such as requiring a majority vote before an item proposed by a single member would get on the agenda.

You can hear the audio of this meeting at the link below:

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Can Do!

From an email circulated today by the UC prez:

Dear Friend of UC:

I am writing to provide you with an update on the state budget for the University of California, which has been signed into law by the Governor...

UC will... receive $18.5 million in ongoing funds to enroll 2,500 additional California students...

Note: $18.5 million/2,500 = $7,400 per student. So if each extra Californian comes as a displacement of one out-of-state student, we get a net reduction of revenue. If each extra Californian is just added to total enrollment, the amount received is less than what UC thinks an extra student costs.

Well, there's always room for more:

No-Veto Budget Signed

Gov. Brown signed the state budget yesterday. (Policy wonks will point out that there are various trailer bills to be enacted and that other changes may be made as we get into the new fiscal year which begins Friday.) We noted yesterday that the governor has a line-item veto. But Brown did not use it at all, which is unusual. Budget details are not yet posted but there is little change from the May revise budget proposal.

As we have noted in past postings, under current budget arrangements, we have a rainy day fund and a regular reserve. To determine what's happening in terms of de facto surpluses or deficits in the general fund, you have to sum the two. If reserves rise, we have a surplus. If they fall, we have a deficit. In the enacted budget, the regular reserve in the rainy day fund is estimated to fall from $4.874 billion to $2.158 billion by the end of 2016-17 for a deficit of -$2.158 billion. The rainy day fund reserve, on the other hand, rises from $3.420 billion to $6.714 billion for a surplus of +$3.294 billion. The sum of the two is a net surplus of $1.136 billion.

Note that Brown insisted on having an extra $2 billion tucked into the rainy day fund beyond what the automatic formulas for that fund would have accumulated. But as the arithmetic above shows, he got the extra $2 billion by moving it from the regular reserve to the rainy day fund, which can be viewed as a cosmetic action. Nonetheless, the total reserve (regular + rainy day) rises from an estimated 7.2% of total general fund spending as of June 30 of this year to 7.7% of total spending as of June 30, 2017. In case of a recession, that might give the legislature something like a year to make budgetary corrections - maybe.

Maybe being up to date ain't so great

If you are a PC user, you may have been getting automatic messages telling you that you are about to be updated to Windows 10, the latest version. Be very careful if so. Fiddling around with the operating system of your computer is a Big Deal. If you are happy with your PC as is, you may want to cancel any such updating. Read below:

A Californian woman has won $10,000 in compensation from Microsoft after Windows 10 automatically tried and failed to install on her Windows 7 computer.
The automatic install of Windows 10 failed, leaving her with a unstable and often unresponsive computer used to run her travel agency from an office in Sausalito, California.
Teri Goldstein reportedly said: “I had never heard of Windows 10. Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update.”
After attempting to fix the problem with Microsoft’s support, Goldstein sued the company for a new computer and loss of earnings, winning $10,000. Microsoft dropped its appeal to avoid further legal expenses, leaving Microsoft footing the bill.
Goldstein’s case is just one of a long line of complaints against Microsoft, which has followed an increasingly aggressive roll out of Windows 10. The operating system, which is still being offered as a free upgrade from Windows 7 or later until 29 July, was first offered as an optional upgrade in which users had to express an interest.
Microsoft then made Windows 10 a “recommended update” for Windows 7 or later, which meant that it started automatically downloading through Windows Update in February this year.
In March, users started complaining that Windows 10 automatically started to install on their computers without their permission...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Budget Week

The state budget is supposed to be in place by July 1, Friday of this week. In the old days, when the economy was in trouble and you needed a 2/3 vote to pass a budget, there were long delays beyond the deadline. An improved economy and a ballot proposition cutting the requirement to a simple majority have ended budget delays. However, the governor has a line-item veto and in the recent years has made minor cuts in what the legislature enacted, which adds a bit of suspense. He has some problems to deal with, notably a failure of the cap-and-trade program to produce anticipated revenue - which is a potential threat to his high-speed rail project. We await.


With various political events at home and abroad not turning out as intended or expected of late, we present below something along those lines from academia:

Equal but Inequitable: Who Benefits from Gender-Neutral Tenure Clock Stopping Policies?

IZA Discussion Paper No. 9904, April 2016 

Heather Antecol, Claremont McKenna College and IZA 

Kelly Bedard, University of California, Santa Barbara 

Jenna Stearns, University of California, Santa Barbara

Abstract: Many skilled professional occupations are characterized by an early period of intensive skill accumulation and career establishment. Examples include law firm associates, surgical residents, and untenured faculty at research-intensive universities. High female exit rates are sometimes blamed on the inability of new mothers to survive the sustained negative productivity shock associated with childbearing and early childrearing in these environments. Gender-neutral family policies have been adopted in some professions in an attempt to “level the playing field.” The gender-neutral tenure clock stopping policies adopted by the majority of research-intensive universities in the United States in recent decades are an excellent example. But to date, there is no empirical evidence showing that these policies help women. Using a unique data set on the universe of assistant professor hires at top-50 economics departments from 1985-2004, we show that the adoption of gender-neutral tenure clock stopping policies substantially reduced female tenure rates while substantially increasing male tenure rates. 

Longer summary from Inside Higher Ed:

...The study included data from 49 top economics departments and examined the impact of clock-stopping policies that are open (as has become the norm) to both male and female professors who become parents. Stopping the clock typically involves giving tenure candidates an extra year before they are evaluated for tenure. Notably, stopping the clock does not require a leave of absence, so the extra time covers a period when faculty members are in many cases working and being paid. The study was based on data about 1,299 assistant professors hired by these departments between 1985 and 2004.
The findings are based on comparing the tenure rates for male and female candidates before and after adopting clock-stopping policies that cover all faculty members who have a child. At these universities, only a minority of men and women were earning tenure prior to the adoption of the policies -- so earning tenure was not a given for anyone.
The bombshell finding was that, when comparing candidates for tenure, the success rate for male candidates increased by 19.4 percentage points after stopping the clock was offered. For women, the rate fell by 22.4 percentage points. (Many appeared to go on to win tenure at institutions whose economics departments were not as highly ranked as those where they started.) While each tenure case is unique, the authors did not find other changes in tenure policies to explain the numbers.
The authors of the paper then tried to look for factors that changed in the productivity or success of the job candidates. They found one factor: male professors, after adoption of stopping the clock policies, were more likely to publish in the top five economics journals, and women were not. This appeared to raise the tenure bar for all, but with men more able to get over that bar.
In economics, journal articles are the coin of the realm in tenure decisions, and top-ranked departments pay a lot of attention to which journals publish an assistant professor. The paper defines the top five journals as American Economic ReviewEconometricaJournal of Political EconomyQuarterly Journal of Economics and Review of Economic Studies.
Trying to publish in those journals, while desirable to any up-and-coming economist, is also risky, due to their higher rejection rates than other journals. The authors of the new paper speculate that male economists who become fathers are taking the extra year on the tenure track not to nurture their offspring, but to write more articles and to have time to submit them to top journals. They then had time, if rejected by those journals, to submit elsewhere...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

UCLA Grand Hotel: The Joke's on Us

Funny, what you can do with $150+ million: (Won't work in iPhone.)