Sunday, October 31, 2010
An Offering for Halloween: Scary Things - Past, Present, & Future - As We Deal with the Retirement System
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Local UCR campus slashes budget by 40 percent: Executive director, five administrators laid off (excerpt)
Michelle Mitchell • The Desert Sun • October 30, 2010
Full article at http://www.mydesert.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=201010300321
The executive director of the University of California, Riverside, Palm Desert campus, and five other employees were laid off effective Monday, the school reported Friday. The cutbacks, which represented 40 percent of the graduate center's budget, should not impact academic programs and were caused by state budget cuts, not performance, said Marcia McQuern, associate vice chancellor for Strategic Communications at UCR…
“It's state money that we need to prioritize for the academic mission,” McQuern said.
…A full-time faculty member is expected to be appointed in 2011 to also act as a part-time director of the campus, McQuern said.
…The campus, which opened in 2005 with about 30 students, announced plans in February to create an environmental research center — the Roy Wilson Center in Sustainable Environmental Systems.
Officials hope the Palm Desert campus will be a part of the medical school planned at UC Riverside. The cuts will not impact any of those academic plans, McQuern said. ...
Capitol Alert, October 29, 2010, Laurel Rosenhall
California State University trustees will vote on a mid-year fee increase on Nov. 9 that would raise tuition by 5 percent for the spring term. If the action is approved, tuition for a semester at a CSU campus would rise to $2,220, not including fees that specific campuses charge or books, housing and living expenses.
The proposal is not unexpected. When CSU trustees voted in June to raise fees for the current semester they said they would consider another fee increase after a state budget was approved. The budget Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed earlier this month assumed CSU tuition would go up by 10 percent -- but trustees had raised fees by only 5 percent in June.
...Cal State officials also are officially changing the terminology they use to describe the money students pay to attend college -- instead of calling it "fees" they will now use the word "tuition." Historically both UC and CSU have used the term "fees" because California's 50-year-old master plan for higher education called for a tuition-free university system. Acknowledging how far the state has strayed from that vision, both of California's public university systems have now decided to start using the word "tuition," just like universities in the rest of the nation...
Full article at http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2010/10/csu-considers-spring-fee-hike.html
UPDATE: The San Francisco Chronicle has a more detailed account which says that the increase is 5.5% mid-year plus another 10% the following year. See http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2010/10/30/MN481G46C7.DTL
Is it too much?
Further UPDATE: The LA Times story includes info that UC will not have mid-year tuition hikes but is likely to have one next year, in the opinion of the Legislative Analyst's Office and UC administrators.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Its key point is that there should be offsetting increases in cash pay. It also opposes separating faculty and staff into two different plans.
The Council letter is at https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0BzVLYPK7QI_4OWRhYTYwMDUtZjFiYy00MmZhLTgwYTQtZTA3NjRkZjJhNjg4&hl=en&authkey=CNXzgOMD
Ex-UCSF employee sentenced for voucher scam
A former UCSF Medical Center employee was sentenced Thursday to a year and a day in federal prison for using the Social Security numbers of fellow workers to complete health surveys so he could receive hundreds of $100 vouchers good for purchases from Amazon.com.
Cam Giang, 31, of San Francisco pleaded guilty in July to wire fraud, two months after UC fired him. From January to April, Giang used other UC employees' personal information to create accounts for a website maintained by StayWell Health Management Inc., which conducts online health surveys for employees, federal prosecutors said. Giang created hundreds of StayWell accounts and completed 382 online health surveys. In return, StayWell sent him "hundreds of $100 online vouchers," authorities said.
...Whitman and Brown agree that higher education needs more money.
Whitman says she would get $1 billion from cuts to welfare and other reforms and would look to college officials on how to best spend those funds. Brown says he’d shift spending from prisons.
Brown also proposes a new Master Plan, the long-ignored 1960 document that defined the roles of the UC, CSU and community college systems and promised a tuition-free education for all Californians. He would emphasize online classes to expand access to education, he says, and would ease the transfer process from community colleges to UC or CSU.
Brown has said qualified students should be allowed to attend state universities regardless of immigration status. In fact, during a recent appearance at UCLA, he said that "would be one of the first bills I'd sign."
Whitman is strongly opposed to illegal immigrants attending state-funded institutions. Last month, she told the San Jose Mercury News editorial board: “I think at some point, you need to draw a line in the sand and say, 'We can't afford to do everything for everybody.'''
Allies of Syngenta, a company that produces a ubiquitous but controversial herbicide, have continued attacks on UC Berkeley Professor Tyrone Hayes, a leading critic of the chemical who has fought the company through outrageous e-mails laced with rap lyrics, original rhymes and raunchy put-downs...
...UC Berkeley has defended the professor's free speech rights. Hayes is preparing to submit a new study co-authored with dozens of scientists around the world that says atrazine is a reproductive toxin. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is planning to hold more hearings on the chemical's use. And Hayes is enjoying a newfound pop culture following...
The fight exploded this summer when Syngenta filed an ethics complaint against Hayes at UC Berkeley and publicized 102 pages of e-mails from Hayes to Syngenta employees and researchers, spanning nearly 10 years...
...Syngenta wrote a letter in July to UC Regent Russell Gould, UC President Mark Yudof and UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, saying that Hayes has subjected employees of Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. to numerous harassing e-mails. "These emails have not only been aggressive, unprofessional and insulting, but also salacious and lewd," Syngenta's attorney Alan Nadel wrote.
Full story at http://californiawatch.org/watchblog/hip-hop-uc-professor-battles-chemical-company-6198
Hayes is a chaired professor in the Dept. of Integrative Biology. A profile is at
A sample of Hayes rap is at:
From the AASCU website (excerpts):
The Red Balloon Project is a national initiative to re-imagine and then to redesign undergraduate education for the 21st century. Public colleges and universities are facing a complex set of challenges: transformational changes in technology, reductions in funding, shifting student demographics, growth of the private sector in higher education, demands for greater accountability, and more. The Red Balloon Project will help institutions restructure to respond to the rapidly changing circumstances of the new century.
The goal of the Red Balloon Project is to collaboratively create models of undergraduate education that:
- Created by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and its member colleges and universities, the project is creating a national dialogue, a repository of resources, and a collection of demonstration project to foster innovation among public colleges and universities.
- Utilize educational technologies to better engage students in authentic learning experiences more aligned with the ways that knowledge is being generated, aggregated and disseminated in an age of networked knowledge.
- Provide students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities they will need to become successful participants in careers, engaged citizens in a democracy, and thoughtful leaders in the global society of the 21st century.
Apparently, Fresno State is embarked on an effort related to the Red Balloon Project:
Thursday, October 28, 2010
UCLA, when it first was created as the Southern Branch of the University of California, operated in an old state "normal" school on Vermont Avenue where LA City College is now located. If you have been in that neighborhood, you may have noted that LACC is at the corner of Vermont and Normal Street. Above is a photo of the California State Normal School. (Normal schools were teacher training institutions. A quick internet, dictionary, and encyclopedia search failed to determine why they were called "normal.")
UPDATE: The comment by Andy Sabl seems to have it right. Normal school is a translation of the French "école normale." Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary says that the name "normal" stems from "the fact that the first French school so named was intended to serve as a model."
You can get a clearer image by going to the source document. The chart is from a College Board report entitled "Trends in College Pricing 2010" (page 19) available at http://trends.collegeboard.org/downloads/College_Pricing_2010.pdf
Seven may not be our lucky number:
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The folks behind the ratings are at the “Sustainable Endowments Institute.” It describes itself as follows:
Founded in 2005, the Institute is a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. The work of the Institute is guided by a diverse and knowledgeable 11-member board of advisors with expertise in many aspects of higher education, sustainability, governance, and endowment policy.
UC-San Diego (A-)
The letter, however, makes no mention of the proposal that incumbent employees would be given the option to switch future pension accruals to the new lower tier. I have been told that such an option is likely to be offered. However, because of the relatively high employee contribution envisioned for the lower tier, there would be little benefit for incumbent employees in making a switch.
The Yudof letter also refers to ending the subsidy for survivors in the lower-tier plan. Current law requires defined-benefit pensions to offer a basic spousal survivor benefit and UC does. However, employers are not required to offer the basic benefit at no cost to the employee. UC does offer it at no cost. Other employers make an actuarial deduction in the monthly pension payment to cover the basic survivor benefit but UC does not. In the new lower tier, UC would make the deduction. (Under the current UC plan, an employee can opt for more than the basic spousal benefit but the incremental cost - above the basic benefit - is paid for via an actuarial deduction.)
There may be other questions, too:
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I am writing to share with you the recommendations I plan to discuss in November with the UC Board of Regents about changes to the University’s post-employment benefits programs.
When I established the Post Employment Benefits Task Force, I made clear that the proposed changes needed to satisfy two critical objectives: Help address our financial challenges, and preserve good post employment benefits in support of UC’s commitment to excellence and in recognition of the vital role our faculty and staff play in the quality and delivery of UC’s service to the public. I believe these recommendations achieve th0se goals.
As you know, for the past two months senior UC leaders and I have been engaged in extensive discussions with faculty, staff and administrators about how to ensure the financial sustainability of UC’s retiree health and pension programs while still providing attractive retirement benefits.
Those discussions are continuing, but the feedback we’ve received to date has been very consistent, particularly as it relates to the design of a pension tier for future faculty and staff.
My recommendations – which have the support of the chair and vice-chair of the Academic Senate, UC’s Staff Advisors to the Regents, and leadership of the Council of UC Staff Assemblies – reflect that feedback.
In short, I am proposing a new pension program for future employees hired after July 1, 2013 that will preserve good pension benefits while also reducing UC’s long-term costs. Many elements are similar to the current UCRP program, including:
- A defined benefit or “pension” plan;
- A five-year vesting period;
- A pension benefit formula based on an employee’s highest average compensation over 36 months; and
- A maximum pension benefit equal to 100 percent of an employee’s working salary.
There are also some distinct differences that make it a more conservative pension plan than the State of California offers its employees, including proposals to raise the minimum retirement age from 50 to 55 and the retirement age for maximum pension benefits from 60 to 65.
I will also recommend that we no longer subsidize survivor benefits and that we eliminate the option of a lump sum cash out.
This recommendation does not affect pension benefits for current UC employees, or those hired between now and July 1, 2013 – only future employees.
The annual cost to UC and its future employees for this proposed new pension program is 15.1 percent of annual payroll, 2.5 percent lower than the 17.6 percent that our current UCRP pension program costs UC and its faculty and staff.
New employees and UC will together pay the full 15.1 percent cost of the new plan, with future faculty and staff contributing 7 percent of annual pay and UC paying 8.1 percent.
I think this is a very fair and balanced approach, and one that, if adopted by the Regents, will allow UC’s retirement benefits to continue to be an important component in attracting and retaining excellent faculty and staff.
Although the new pension tier would affect future employees, I will also recommend changes to our retiree health program that will directly affect current faculty and staff.
Most notably, I will propose that the Regents adopt in full the recommendations from the Post-Employment Benefits Task Force on changes to our retiree health program including:
- Reduce UC’s contribution to retiree health premiums over time to a floor of 70 percent;
- Change retiree health care eligibility rules, effective July 2013, so that UC’s contributions to retiree health care premiums are offered on a graduated scale based on years of service and employee age at retirement;
- Allow faculty and staff to remain under the current retiree health care eligibility rules if, on July 1, 2013, they have five years of UCRP service credit and their age and years of UC service together equal 50 or greater.
I will also recommend a course of action to erase the UC Retirement Plan’s $12.9 billion unfunded liability.
One of the most important components of that plan requires UC to increase its annual contributions to the UCRP by 2 percent per year, until UC is contributing roughly 20 percent of annual payroll to UCRP.
There is no question that without state funding support, it will be difficult for UC to find the resources necessary to contribute such a large amount to the UCRP each year. But given the size of our current unfunded pension liability, it is essential that we find a way to do so.
Although the state has not yet agreed to pay its share of the UCRP, we have made some important strides on that issue this year, and we will continue to press our case in Sacramento. In the meantime, we must take sensible action now to address our unfunded liability.
The Regents will hear and discuss my proposals at their board meeting in November, and will possibly take action at a special meeting in December. The full details on my recommendation will be contained in a Regents item that will be available in early November.
In closing, I want to thank you for your thoughtful input and suggestions on these difficult issues. And I encourage you to stay involved. Together we are doing the hard work that is essential to preserving this great institution.
With best wishes, I am,
Mark G. Yudof
An excerpt from the article in Insider Higher Ed:
Credit Card Companies Pay Millions to Colleges (excerpt)
Inside Higher Ed, October 26, 2010
Credit card companies made more than $83 million in payments to colleges and their alumni associations and foundations in 2009 as part of agreements that allowed the companies to make their cards available to students on the institutions’ campuses, the Federal Reserve said in a report Monday.
The report, which was mandated by the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the “Credit CARD Act”), offers the first broad look at the arrangements by which credit card companies market their products to students, alumni and others, with the help of postsecondary institutions and their affiliates. The 2009 credit card law imposed restrictions on such arrangements going forward, but also required significantly more reporting about the nature and extent of the agreements.
The Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors said its report was designed to provide information to the public about agreements that “provide for the issuance of credit cards to college students," although the report acknowledges that some of the agreements may include payments for “other financial products,” and for accounts opened by alumni, employees or other non-students…
(The article goes on to give a non-working address at the Fed which is supposed to contain the actual individual university credit card contracts. I couldn’t find the correct address on the website.)
Full article at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/10/26/credit_card
A little music for giving credit where it is due:
Putting a Price on Professors: A battle in Texas over whether academic value can be measured in dollars and cents (excerpt)
Wall St. Journal, 10/22/10, Stephanie Simon and Stephanie Banchero
A 265-page spreadsheet, released last month by the chancellor of the Texas A&M University system, amounted to a profit-and-loss statement for each faculty member, weighing annual salary against students taught, tuition generated, and research grants obtained.
Ms. Johnson came out very much in the black; in the period analyzed—fiscal year 2009—she netted the public university $279,617. Some of her colleagues weren't nearly so profitable. Newly hired assistant professor Charles Criscione, for instance, spent much of the year setting up a lab to research parasite genetics and ended up $45,305 in the red.
The balance sheet sparked an immediate uproar from faculty, who called it misleading, simplistic and crass—not to mention, riddled with errors. But the move here comes amid a national drive, backed by some on both the left and the right, to assess more rigorously what, exactly, public universities are doing with their students—and their tax dollars...
Efforts to remake higher education generally fall into two categories. In some states, including Ohio and Indiana, public officials have ordered a new approach to funding, based not on how many students enroll but on what they accomplish.
Details vary, but colleges typically earn points under such a system for pushing students to take science, engineering and math; for ensuring that they complete classes that they start; for improving on-time graduation rates; and for boosting more low-income students to degrees…
Monday, October 25, 2010
Recommendations are included to speed up undergrad degrees, make transfers easier from community colleges, pursue online education, change the word fee to tuition, have cohort-based tuition schedules, achieve more efficiencies, do more fund raising, wring more money out of grants, have more out-of-state students who pay full freight, etc. Maybe the most controversial is differential tuition across the campuses.
The future may be not-so-bright. No replicants are reported, however:
Distance Education Provides Additional Tool for Advancing Master Plan’s Goals. Fifty years ago, California adopted the Master Plan for Higher Education, a framework document designed to promote universal access for students and cost–effective coordination among the state’s colleges and universities. At the time, postsecondary education generally required students to travel to a campus for in–person classes with an instructor. Today, many students have another option: using technology (primarily the internet) to access instruction wherever they are. The California Community Colleges (CCC) are the largest provider of distance education among the state’s public higher education segments, with the California State University (CSU) also offering a considerable amount of instruction using this delivery method. (Currently, the University of California [UC] system’s use of the medium is limited, though UC is planning a pilot project that could eventually result in a much more extensive distance–education program.)
Distance education can offer a number of potential benefits to students, faculty, and the state—advantages consistent with the core principles of access and efficiency contained in the Master Plan. For example, distance education can:
- Make undergraduate and graduate coursework more accessible to students who otherwise might not be able to enroll due to restrictive personal or professional obligations.
- Provide opportunities for students attending one campus to find and get credit for courses at other campuses (thereby potentially speeding their graduation).
- Allow campuses to increase instruction and enrollment without a commensurate need for additional physical infrastructure (such as classrooms and parking structures).
- Make possible statewide collaborations, including “virtual” academic departments that are taught by faculty from more than one campus.
Recent research suggests that, on average, postsecondary students who complete distance–education courses learn at least as much as those taking the same courses solely via in–person instruction. Yet, research also reveals a gap in retention rates between students in distance education and face–to–face classes, and many faculty (particularly in the state’s research universities) remain skeptical of the value and legitimacy of the delivery method.
LAO Recommendations. While distance education is not—and is not intended to be—suitable for everyone (students as well as faculty), we find that it offers an important alternative means of providing instruction that can complement existing formats and expand options for the state’s students and segments. In order to take fuller advantage of this potential, we believe that the Legislature should guide a clearer statewide vision that specifies data which the segments should collect and report on distance–education students, and which clarifies expectations concerning intercampus collaborations and other partnerships. To that end, we make a number of recommendations. These include:
- Adopting a standard definition of distance education for UC, CSU, and CCC, and requiring the segments to report periodically on student enrollment and performance in distance–education coursework.
- Establishing competitive statewide grants to develop a repository of online curricula that would be made available to faculty throughout the state.
- Requiring that reviews of proposals for new academic programs evaluate whether shared distance–education programs would be a better alternative.
- Directing the Chancellor’s Offices of CSU and CCC to study the feasibility of developing online degree–completion programs for persons who started college but never obtained a degree.
- Creating a task force to pursue a public–private partnership with Western Governors University, a Utah–based nonprofit online university of which California is already a member.
Taken together, we believe that these recommendations would help the state make use of distance education in a more effective and coordinated way, thereby enhancing residents’ access to a high–quality and cost–efficient higher education.
The full report is at http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2010/edu/distance_ed/distance_ed_102510.pdf
A video summary is at:
Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2010 07:17:41 -0700
From: Daniel Simmons
Subject: PEB Update
There is a light at the end of the PEB tunnel. President Yudof informed me last week that he has reached his decision on the recommendations of the PEB task force recommendations. He will recommend to the Regents that they adopt a modified version of Option C with a consistent 2.5 percent age factor for all employees, an employer contribution of 8.1 percent of covered compensation, and an employee contribution of 7.0 percent. The total normal cost of the new-tier plan is 15.1 %, which is slightly below the total normal cost of revisions to the CALPERS benefits included in the recent State budget. The new-tier benefits will apply to employees hired after July 1, 2013.
President Yudof will carry his recommendation to the Regents at the November meeting. The Regents will be expected to act on the recommendations at a special meeting on December 13. Bob and I have discussed this option with a couple of key Regents, and I anticipate that the President's recommendation will be supported, but of course there is no certainty.
The Regents will not be asked to act on employee contribution levels for current employees under continuation of the existing benefits of the current plan. As you know, employee contributions will ramp up to 3.5 percent on July 1, 2011, then 5.0 percent on July 1, 2012. The finance plan in the PEB task force report contemplates an increase to 7.0 percent, then perhaps higher over time perhaps increasing to 8.0 %.
The recommendation will maintain the existing COLA provisions, unchanged for the new-tier.
President Yudof will also recommend that Appendix E not be implemented, rejecting the recommendation in the task force report.
At Wednesday's Council meeting we will need to consider the tabled UCFW resolution regarding the task force options and a position on President Yudof's recommendations. While the President's decision is taken in advance of a formal expression of opinion on the specifics of the proposal, I hope you all will appreciate the fact that the President has been fully aware of the Senate's views on the various options and that his recommendation is consistent with the positions expressed by almost all Senate agencies in their review of the task force recommendations. Bob and I, working with Joel Dimsdale, chair of UCFW, will attempt to craft a resolution for your consideration that reflects the UCFW positions, which have been endorsed in one form or another by almost all of the divisions and committees. I think it is important to memorialize the Senate's recommendations on the various options presented as a reflection of all of the hard work that has gone into examining those positions. I also hope that we will be able to agree on a statement in support of President Yudof's recommendations, along with a recognition that the University needs to focus on competitive remuneration for both faculty and staff.
I look forward to a lively an interesting discussion at Council. You may, if you wish, circulate this message to the members of your committees and to colleagues on the campuses.
Daniel L. Simmons
Professor of Law, UC Davis
Chair, Academic Senate
University of California
UPDATE: There are several pension-limitation propositions on local ballots in California this November. As pointed out in prior posts a) we could get hit with such a proposition statewide when the new governor takes over and b) the probability of UC being able to go its own way is improved (no guarantees here) if the Regents have a plan in place. On the local propositions, see http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/10/26/MNM51FVH6V.DTL
Raja Abdulrahim, Los Angeles Times, October 25, 2010
For two years, admissions to UCLA's small Islamic studies program have been frozen, pending a reorganization.
Now, students say they fear that the program, among the oldest in the country focused on a scholarly study of Islam, could be shut down.
On Friday, several dozen students rallied to support it, gathering outside a meeting of a faculty panel considering recommendations aimed at ending the admissions suspension. The students, mostly members of the Muslim Student Assn., had walked across campus chanting slogans and carrying signs that read, "Scared of Islam? Learn about it." ...
Full article at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-ucla-islamic-20101025,0,6924912.story
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Panoramic view of Westwood Village on December 13, 1937, taken from Sepulveda Blvd. looking east. The plowed field in the foreground is used for raising lettuce. UCLA can be seen on the extreme left of the photo in the distance. (LA Public Library photo collection)
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Marion Davies, for whom new Marion Davies Children's Clinic at UCLA Medical Center is to be named, examines architect's sketch of new facility with Congressman Joe Holt (R-22nd Dist.), left, and UCLA Vice Chancellor William G. Young. Clinic, to be under construction by spring, was made possible by Miss Davies' gift of $1,900,000 to Medical Center. (From LA Public Library photo collection.)
Davies - William Randolph Hearst's mistress - was not the bimbo depicted in the film "Citizen Kane." A contemporary photo is below:
And here is Davies in what was probably her first "talkie" in 1929: