Monday, March 23, 2015

Listen to the March 18, 2015 afternoon session of the Regents

At the March 18 afternoon session of the Regents, there was a continuation after lunch of the Committee on Long-Range Planning, essentially statements by the governor and the UC prez about the results so far of their "Committee of Two."  Their Committee is officially looking at the "cost structure" of the university but is also where the current negotiations between UC and the governor over tuition and state funding of UC are taking place. Since this report was interim, only general statements were made. UC prez Napolitano said the discussions had been "far reaching." She said the legislative leaders of both houses had been "engaged" but it was unclear whether that meant they were actually taking part in some way in the Committee of Two. There were staff meetings reported between UC and the Dept. of Finance. Among items Napolitano mentioned were social and economic mobility and access, graduation rates, STEM programs, and the effect of UC research on the economy. Gov. Brown said the Committee "works very well," indicated an interest beyond economics, etc., in humanities, history, and political science, said everything is costly and he will say no if he has to, tuition can't rise sharply indefinitely, students debt is going up fast, and noted that he was getting pure intellectual pleasure from the exercise.

The governor in particular expressed an interest in "activity based costing" applied to university activities. It seems to be an accounting technique for spreading overhead which you can read about at Yours truly urges caution about any technique that attempts to treat fixed costs as if they were marginal costs.

After the Committee of Two report, the president of the UC Student Assn. urged more mental health funding, more involvement of students in UC funding/tuition issues (of the type currently being discussed by the Committee of Two), divestment from guns, fossil fuels, and "human rights" abusers. The last seemed to be a reference to the Association's resolution passed after those pushing for anti-Israel divestment - to answer complaints about singling out a particular country - enlarged the resolution to encompass a wider range including the U.S.

The Committee on Educational Policy at the urging of Regent Kieffer had a presentation by UC-Berkeley chancellor Dirks on the history of undergraduate education. His presentation was followed by a presentation by Berkeley Prof. Panayiotis (Panos) Papadopoulos on undergraduate programs at his campus. Most of the Regents' discussion after these two presentations ended up on admissions standards. Regents noted that parents asked them how come their kid with a brilliant record didn't get admitted. There was then discussion of "holistic" admissions which consists of more than test scores and GPA (but then makes it difficult to tell someone how come their kid didn't get in).

It might be noted that there were audio difficulties with this session. Audio volume seemed to vary and at one point Regent Lansing's comments were not picked up properly. There are also short losses due to streaming. As yours truly has noted many, many times, the Regents "archive" their recordings only for one year. To preserve them, he has to play the recording and record it in real time, i.e., one hour of meeting = one hour of recording time. Live-streaming sometimes leads to gaps when the streaming "hangs."

You can hear the session at the link below.

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