Pages

Friday, November 30, 2012

More on the Stream

The Daily Bruin today has a report that UCLA got another favorable decision regarding the use of live-streaming videos for course purposes. Live-streaming means essentially what you see on websites such as YouTube, i.e., a video (or audio) that you click on and it plays from the web.  The video is not a file that is stored on your computer.  The analogy would be that watching a TV broadcast is similar to live-streaming.  Owning a DVD and playing it on your TV is like having a stored file that you play.

Background: There was a prior case in which the university was sued over alleged copyright violation involved in live-streaming for course use.  Briefly, UCLA halted such live-streaming, causing an interruption to classes that were using it.  But the university decided to fight the case and resumed the live-streaming.  In the case that the Bruin now reports, a refiled complaint against UCLA was rejected on a legal technicality, i.e., the merits were not decided.  You can find the article at http://www.dailybruin.com/article/2012/11/court-dismisses-copyright-lawsuit-against-ucla-a-second-time.

If you are using live-streaming, you should know that there is a simple alternative.  Presumably, you have a file in some format (wmv, flv, etc.) that is being used for the streaming.  You can simply provide the video file to students through your course website.  They can then download it and play it.  You should set access to your course website such that it is private, i.e., that only enrolled students can access files in it.  There is, in fact, an advantage in simply providing access to your video file in that manner.  The students can download at their convenience.  Once they have the file, they are not dependent on internet connections or other vagaries of the web to see it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

UCLA Tells Grad Students to Stick Around

Today's Daily Bruin reports that a tightening in the rules on grad students taking leaves of absence (and thus not paying tuition) is meeting protests from those students:

Graduate students discussed multiple ways to take action against recent changes to UCLA’s leave of absence policy at a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon. This quarter, UCLA stopped accepting thesis or dissertation writing as valid reasons for taking time off to help graduate students complete their degree paths on time, said April de Stefano, director of academic services in the UCLA Graduate Division...

The change was applied with the intent of encouraging continuous enrollment and uniform progression toward a graduate degree, since many graduate students may find it harder to return to campus after taking a leave of absence...

Full story at: http://www.dailybruin.com/article/2012/11/grad-students-plan-action-against-changed-policy

We did pick up some audio from the meeting in which a spokesperson from grad division had these words:
video

Our Advice: Delete

You may have gotten the email above which suggests the website is somehow linked to UCLA or the UCLA medical enterprise.  It actually comes from a Brazilian who probably wants to sell you something or worse.  See below:
I suggest you leave Luis to his own devices.  And if you need more from Brazil:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Whatever happened to grade inflation?

From the LA Times today:

UCLA Medical Center gets failing grade on patient safety: Leapfrog, a healthcare quality rating group, gives an F to UCLA Medical Center for performing poorly on several measures. UCLA officials dispute the failing grade.

A national report card on patient safety gave a failing grade to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, one of the country's most prestigious hospitals and one of only 25 nationwide to receive such low marks. In a report issued Wednesday, the Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed nonprofit group focused on healthcare quality, gave a letter grade of F to UCLA Medical Center for performing poorly on several measures tied to preventing medical errors, patient infections and deaths. Leapfrog withheld a failing grade for UCLA in June when it released its first-ever hospital safety scores to give low-performing hospitals time to show improvement.

"UCLA is not an F hospital in quality and safety," said Tom Rosenthal, chief medical officer at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. "It is not a fair scoring system and it does a disservice to the public."...

Overall, Leapfrog gave an A or B to 1,468 hospitals, or 56% of the 2,618 reviewed nationwide. The group issued a C to 1,004 hospitals, or 38%. At the bottom, 146 hospitals, or 6%, were labeled D or F.  Leapfrog reviewed 246 hospitals in California. The ratings are available online at http://www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ucla-hospital-grade-20121128,0,397898.story



Listen to Regents Meeting of Nov. 15, 2012

Now that the audio file has arrived, we are catching up with the parts of the mid-November Regents meeting not previously posted (not to be confused with the special meeting held yesterday).  Below is a link to the final day of the mid-November meeting.

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):
There is some irony in the report ultimately appealing only to those on the political right.

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:

More traffic woes tonight

If traffic were not bad enough near UCLA given the problems on Sepulveda Boulevard this week (see our earlier posting), now comes this: The Sunset bridge will be closed tonight 10 pm until 6 am tomorrow.  (It also happened last night but yours truly did not get the word until this morning.)

While you are stuck, you can think about happier traffic days:
 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Follow-Up on Today's Special Regents Meeting

 
We noted yesterday that there would be a special Regents meeting today to approve pay packages for the new chancellor of Berkeley and the new acting chancellor at Riverside. Also noted was the fact that yours truly could not record the live-stream of the meeting and so the posting of the audio would have to await our usual public documents request.  However, I am told there were three votes against the Berkeley salary of $486,800: the governor, the lieutenant governor, and Regent Zettel.  We will post updates.  And we again ask why the Regents' office, since it has recordings of the meetings, does not post an archive of them.

UPDATE: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-uc-pay-20121128,0,1435780.story

The Westwood Tree Issue Continues

We have previously noted the issue surrounding the proposed removal of certain trees from Westwood near UCLA.  From the Westwood-Century City Patch today:

Days after the city OK'd the Westwood Village Improvement Association's request to remove 18 trees in the area, the Westwood Community Council urged the preservation of as many trees as possible.  The council last week passed a resolution to support the preservation of mature Westwood Village trees and called on the Westwood Business Improvement District, managed by the WVIA, to save as many trees as possible as it embarks on a sidewalk repair and replacement project...

Full story at http://centurycity.patch.com/articles/community-council-calls-on-bid-to-save-village-trees

Too much eagerness to remove the trees?

Social Security Estimator Available

Faculty who are getting up there in years may find it useful to estimate what they will receive in Social Security from the website above at http://www.ssa.gov/estimator/.  Note that some old timers opted out of Social Security when the Regents joined the federal system and that the website will not be applicable for them. You can receive Social Security starting at age 62.  If you wait, your benefits will increase.  (But - and we hate to remind you of this existential fact - the fewer months you will have to receive those benefits.)

And a little music while you work on your estimates:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Silliness Insider

Publish first; ask questions later.



UCLA is a very safe campus located in a famously low-crime area of Los Angeles. You wouldn’t know this from a story on the website Business Insider that runs under the misleading headline, The 25 Most Dangerous Colleges In America.

The story puts UCLA at the top of the list. That erroneous claim came as a shock at UCLA, especially to the officials who report crime statistics to the FBI every year, as do most campuses. They knew immediately that the story was way off.  It got us wondering how Business Insider could get it so wrong.

It turns out that what Business Insider reports as "crimes on college campuses" is not that at all.  The statistics used by the website use crime reports taken by University of California police based at UCLA. Problem is, UCLA police take crime reports from a wide area: the campus itself, the neighboring residential and business districts of Westwood, West Los Angeles and beyond, and from UCLA medical centers and clinics around Los Angeles County, which has a population of more than nine million people. The statistics cited by Business Insider paint a picture of a much larger urban area than just the campus.

Westwood, where UCLA is located, consistently ranks as one of the communities most free of crime in all of Los Angeles County.  The Los Angeles Times publishes analyses of serious crimes and, for the latest six-month period, notes that Westwood has one of the region's lowest rates of violent crime – 186th out of  209 communities mapped, many of them small rural enclaves.  That’s the reality in UCLA’s neighborhood...

One of the contemporary problems in journalism today is that it's easy to get access to all kinds of data and publish them - thanks to the Internet - without knowing what they mean.  A shocking headline can go viral and attract "eyeballs" to your website, so the temptation is to publish first and ask questions later.

Anyway, perhaps Business Insider might ask Inspector Clouseau to investigate further:

Listen to Regents Meeting of Nov. 13, 2012

The UC Board of Regents, Committee on Grounds and Building met on the afternoon of Nov. 13, 2012.  On the agenda were public comments, approval of the UC capital budget plan, discussion of a long term plan for student housing at UC-Santa Barbara, and design approval of a $118.6 million faculty office building project at UC-San Francisco.

Two speakers in the public comments session referred to out-of-state students although exactly what was being suggested was unclear.

The capital budget is a wishlist of projects that it would be nice if the state funded through general obligation bonds.  However, given the governor's concern about the state's "wall of debt," that seems unlikely for the most part.  There is some receptivity toward seismic upgrades.

There was discussion of a long-term housing plan for students at Santa Barbara.  One regents suggested that housing might be handled more efficiently through a public-private partnership of some kind.  Campus reps from Santa Barbara said that the housing the campus provides is 40% cheaper than in the private market for students.  This discussion was followed by design approval the UC-SF office building.

We note, as we have before, that the Regents typically approve large projects - such as the UC-SF building - without having the capability of independent auditing or of verification that what was promised is what was delivered after the fact. 

You can hear the meeting (under one hour) at the link below:

Rice on Health: Event Sponsored by the Emeriti Assn.

Tom Rice
Thomas Rice, Professor, Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health.  “U.S. Health Policy: Prospects After Recent Elections”

Day/Date/Time/Place: Thursday, Dec. 6, Hacienda Room of the Faculty Center. 

An informal reception with light refreshments will begin at 1:00 p.m.  The presentations begin at 1:30 and will allow opportunity for questions and discussion.

Professor Rice is a health economist who received his doctorate in Economics from UC-Berkeley.  His research focuses on problems inherent in competition and markets in health care.  He has conducted studies on how large numbers of Medicare prescription drug plans affects the quality of choices made by Medicare beneficiaries. Author of The Economics of Health Care Reconsidered, Third Edition. Prof. Rice was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006.

We have seen major events, including the election of President Obama, the belabored passage of the Affordable Care Act, hailed as a major accomplishment by some, despised by others as “Obamacare” and leading to Republican congressional victories in 2010, the Supreme Court decision upholding the major parts of the Act, and the heated debates on health care as we approached the 2012 presidential election.  Issues ahead now are (a) the goal of universal coverage, (b) cost containment in the context of federal budget deficits, (c) the future of Medicare, (d) the goal of improved quality and efficiency, and (e) questions of financing.

Professor Rice will help us understand these issues and give a sense of what we might expect in the future. There will also be two discussants: Professor Gerald Kominski (Public Health) and Professor Allison Hoffman (School of Law).

Special Regents Meeting Tomorrow

The Regents are having a special meeting tomorrow, apparently to approve pay packages for the new chancellor at Berkeley and the acting chancellor at Riverside.  Yours truly cannot record the meeting due to other commitments.  However, as usual, we will request the audio and post it when it becomes available.  The agenda is at http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/nov27.html

New Berkeley chancellor bio at:
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/28634

New Riverside acting chancellor bio at:
http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/article/28698

If you have to drive on Sepulveda near UCLA, all we can say is...


Motorists navigating through Sepulveda Pass will have even less room to maneuver this week, as Sepulveda Boulevard is severely crimped next to the San Diego (405) Freeway.  Contractors working on the more than $1 billion freeway reconstruction and widening effort need to regrade Sepulveda Boulevard between Montana Avenue and Church Lane, the stretch of road generally north of the Veterans' Cemetery and below the Sunset Boulevard overpass...  Beginning at 9 a.m. Monday and lasting for seven days, Sepulveda Boulevard will lose half its capacity as workers limit it to just one lane in each direction.  And even those remaining two lanes of Sepulveda Boulevard will be closed to all traffic between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., starting Monday night. The adjacent 405 freeway lanes are the nearest detour.
"Head for the 405, or head for the hills," joked Metro spokesperson Kim Upton...

From Our Good Ideas from All Over Department: Empty Dorms

Inside Higher Ed today pointed me to an article in the Denver Post (excerpt):  

Since the University of Colorado's Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses began segregating dorms for students with valid concealed-carry permits this year, not a single student has asked to live where guns are allowed. On Aug. 16, CU announced that both campuses would establish a residential area for students over age 21 with a permit to hold a concealed handgun. In all other dormitories, guns are banned. "So far, no one has moved," CU spokesman Ken McConnellogue said… 



Such a surprise that no one wants to live there. Surely someone will want to give it a shot.

Crowded market for out-of-state students?

You may have overlooked this ad that appeared in yesterday's LA Times.  But seeing it now should remind you (and those seeking out-of-state students for UC for budgetary reasons), that UC is not the only player in the out-of-state student marketplace.  ASU is clearly trying to attract Californians by placing such an ad in a Los Angeles newspaper.  And other players will be coming along.

Not all campuses of UC have equal weight in the out-of-state market, of course.  But the market is getting crowded, is it not?
video

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Your California students will be able to sign their names...

 
Penmanship class
...but your out-of-state students that UCLA is recruiting may not.

From the LA Daily News: The pen may not be as mighty as the keyboard these days, but California and a handful of states are not giving up on handwriting entirely. Bucking a growing trend of eliminating cursive from elementary school curriculums or making it optional, California is among the states keeping longhand as a third-grade staple... 

Full story at http://www.dailynews.com/breakingnews/ci_22061429/california-is-preserving-penmanship-digital-age

Being able to sign one's name does seem like a worthwhile skill for a college student to have, at least to your blogmeister.

Sincerely,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

UC-R Students’ Tuition Plan: Media Coverage But Lack of UC Enthusiasm

UC administrator?  UC Regent?

Blog readers may recall that some UC-Riverside students came up with a proposal to have “free” tuition at UC in exchange for a tax on graduates’ future incomes.  This idea has actually been around for some time but more typically at the federal level, i.e., a program involving all universities. 

There are a variety of issues such as the lack of a cash flow immediately until the future graduates begin being taxed.  If such a plan were done only for one university system in one state, there are enforcement issues.  How would the tax be collected from graduates who moved out of state and didn’t pay California income tax?  Could there be federal cooperation?   

In short, the idea applied just to UC is not a simple proposal.  Nonetheless, the Regents claimed – when the Riverside proposal first surfaced – to be interested.  But at their September retreat when all sorts of unusual ideas were batted around (e.g., give the parking services to the pension fund), I don’t recall that the Riverside plan came up for discussion.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise has some coverage of the plan in its latest incarnation and says that UC has “participated” in looking at the plan but it does not seem have lent much support:

…Although UC officials have participated in those discussions, they say they have not been convinced that the plan is viable.  In March, the student group issued a revised proposal, addressing some of the initial questions surrounding the idea. The 5 percent that would come out of graduates’ paychecks would apply only to those making more than $30,000 annually, and it would be applied only to the first $200,000 in yearly income…

“Frankly, it doesn’t seem like a viable option for UC right now,” (UC spokesperson Steve) Montiel said. “It’s something we’ve looked at, but it’s hard to see how it could be done with a single university (system).” Montiel said if UC schools were the only ones offering such a pay model, they very well might be flooded by applicants from across the country, particularly those in lower-paying fields. He said officials also are concerned about the logistics of being able to collect from graduates. It would require the involvement of the federal government…


A video accompanies the story:

More coverage of UCLA hospitality service's marriage with commercial activities: How about a wedding?

Yesterday, we noted that UCLA seems to be using its conference facilities in ways that are explicitly not linked to educational functions.  How about a wedding?  No mention of research, education, or even a UCLA connection in the video below taken from the Facebook page (above). http://www.facebook.com/uclameetings  As we have noted (over and over), the planned UCLA hotel is not allowed to take commercial business.  Lots of tax issues have been raised about the hotel but the Regents were told not to worry.  At wedding ceremonies, the tradition is to ask whether anyone has any objection to the marriage.  If we keep going down the commercial path, particularly with the hotel, the objection may come from the IRS.
video 
Of  course, if the Regents aren't worried, and UCLA isn't worried, why should we worry?
video


Friday, November 23, 2012

Harvard Cooking

For those who, on the day after Thanksgiving, still have their minds into food - and for those interested in online education - we note the existence of the Harvard cooking class which seems to be a collaboration of cuisine and research.  One episode is below:

1959 Photo: Then-Senator John F. Kennedy Speaks at Royce Hall

Yesterday was the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963.

UCLA Advertises Its Conference Facilities and Notes that the Events It Hosts Don’t Have to be Education-Based


UCLA Hospitality and Catering has a Facebook page with videos advertising its facilities for conferences.  http://www.facebook.com/uclameetings There is no mention of such conferences being required to have a UCLA connection.  For example, one video touts the attraction by UCLA Hospitality and Catering of a meeting of the Southern California Chapter of Meeting Planners International (MPI), a trade group of event planners.  The group’s website describes its mission:

MPISCC is a member centric organization focusing on professional development for the meetings and events industries. Established in 1979, MPISCC is recognized as an award-winning chapter with approximately 700 members serving the Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and greater Los Angeles areas. As a volunteer organization, MPISCC relies on its members to craft, guide, and direct the local meetings industry in support of MPI’s overall vision and mission.
 
We note for the umpteenth time that the planned UCLA Hotel-Conference Center cannot take commercial business.  And we continue to note the various tax problems that arise if UCLA competes for commercial events with hotels and other private enterprises.  Of course, the Regents were advised not to worry about such matters when they approved the hotel project.  We advise the opposite.

Below is the video in which the MPI rep says they are trying to show their members different conference facilities in the LA area and that UCLA does not confine its conferences to those that are “education based”:
video

Thursday, November 22, 2012

When You Think About the UC Budget This Thanksgiving...

...remember that things could be worse.  Happy Holiday!  And if you are driving somewhere today, drive carefully:
LAPL collection

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lawsuit against Prop 13's 2/3 requirement reported rejected

Charles Young
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) has reported this afternoon via its email service that the lawsuit filed by former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young to overturn the 2/3 tax increase requirement in Prop 13 of 1978 has been rejected by the California Supreme Court.  So far, no other news source has so reported:

The California Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to significant aspects of Proposition 13, prosecuted by former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young...  Earlier this year, the 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with attorneys representing the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association that Young’s suit challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 13 lacks merit... After the Court of Appeal affirmed HJTA's victory, Young returned to... the Supreme Court, and he has again been rejected... 

Although the email contains a link to the HJTA website, as yet the message in the email is not reprinted there. If there is a confirmation from another news source, the update will appear on this blog.

UPDATE: Here is a confirmation from another source:
http://www.metnews.com/articles/2012/conf112112.htm

Would it work for UC?

We have noted in prior posts that the Regents (with a push from Gov. Brown) are interested in promoting online education at UC.  A somewhat different model is noted today in a brief article in Inside Higher Ed.  Online education, even if aimed at a mass audience, is often (not always) a pre-recorded program.  That is, something is put online and students access it at their convenience individually.  The article in Inside Higher Ed reports that Yale, Columbia, and Cornell are using video conferencing (so it's live and at a fixed time) for small courses (capped at 12 students in less popular languages.  Languages taught or to be taught include Romanian, Dutch, Zulu, and others. You can find the article at:
http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/11/21/columbia-cornell-yale-collaborate-languages

Yours truly regularly does an online video conference call with a systemwide Senate group roughly the size of the small classes described above.  Presumably, the participants in the language courses see each other (so up to 13 images at once).  If that is what is being done by the three universities, to be used in a class, their technology would have to be a lot better than the system used for my conference calls.
And can you see me?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Cultural Landscape Foundation Lists UCLA Japanese Garden as Among Major Threatened Sites

The Cultural Landscape Foundation included the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden on its "Landslide 2012" listing of endangered landscapes which appeared on Nov. 14.  As readers of this blog will know, UCLA's attempt to sell the garden with no guarantee that it will be preserved has been enjoined.

There is a long history which goes back to a gift to UCLA of the garden by former Regents chair Edward Carter with the university promising to maintain the garden in perpetuity.  You can find background on this blog by searching under "Japanese Garden."  We have urged the university to sit down with garden supporters and landscape groups rather than pursue litigation.  "Mediation" (something one does to avoid court battles) and "meditation" (something one does in a garden) are separated by only a few letters of the alphabet.  Perhaps that similarity might be seen as a guide to university legal strategy.  And perhaps someone in Murphy Hall might meditate over the mediation suggestion over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Information on the Cultural Landscape Foundation can be found at http://tclf.org/.

The Landslide 2012 listing of endangered sites is at:
http://tclf.org/annual-spotlight/landslide-2012-landscape-and-patronage

The specific listing for the Japanese Garden is at:
http://tclf.org/sites/default/files/microsites/landscape-patronage/hannah-carter-japanese-garden.html