Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Listen to Regents Meeting of Nov. 15, 2012
During the public comment period, there were complaints about tuition increases and budget cuts. There was more about the swap deals - see earlier posts on this matter - in which UC swapped a variable interest rate for a fixed one. As it turned out, interest rates fell so that the "insurance" against a rise in rates provided by the fixed rate swap would have been better in hindsight not to have taken out. But - as we have pointed out and the university pointed out in response to the student report - insurance is often a bad deal in the sense that the contingency insured against does not occur. (My life insurance over the years has been costly and - as it turned out - a bad deal for me since I am here typing this message.) The lasting effect of the student swap report is that it has disappeared from the media (as of this writing) except from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. website (see the screenshot below):
My sense is that by Nov. 15, the authors realized the report had a "problem" so the complaint during the public comment period was mainly that the Regents should litigate to try and recover some of the lost money. It would be nice if the university did respond to the litigation issue, although it may be that legal counsel doesn't think there would be a case. (I would have little chance through litigation in getting my life insurance premiums refunded because I am still here.) But why not say so, if that is the reason?
There were also complaints about an actuarial report on the pension indicating that the expected return should be raised to 8% from the current 7.5% (which would lower the unfunded liability). It was noted in subsequent regental discussion that pension funds presently are dropping their expected future returns if they are above 7.5% and that the governor and others think 7.5% may be too high. Since the report was done for AFSCME, the university reps said they would look at it in the context of collective bargaining on the pension.
In any event, some time after the public comment period ended (about an hour and ten minutes into the meeting), a demonstration over the various complaints erupted and the room was cleared.
There were reports on student health centers and a proposed Davis med center partnership with a local nonprofit hospital which was said to be a way to lower costs. A DOE lab report featured a presentation with a video on the Mars landing. (It was after we landed on Mars that the demonstration reported above erupted. The timing was unclear to yours truly; such demonstrations usually occur after the public comment period. Regents are from Mars; demonstrators are from Venus?)
The Haas management school at Berkeley asked for approval of a plan to spin off its extension-style (non-credit) executive ed programs into a separate entity which would be more flexible than allowed under university rules, make a profit, and contribute its profits to the academic side of the school. Apparently, the Berkeley academic senate approved the plan. There were some questions by regents as to what exactly the flexibility (in hiring and pay, apparently) entailed but the plan was approved.
Reports on the retirement program followed. The pension was reported to be 77% funded on a market basis. The totally-unfunded retiree health program's unfunded liability was reported to be unchanged from last year. Finally, there appears to be a push at the Regents to get more money out of technology transfers. A regental committee is being set up to pursue that goal.
A link to the the audio is below: