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Monday, November 30, 2015

Critics of Academia as God-Forsaken Don't Read the Bruin

Daily Bruin op ed: Some problems are so easy to fix that there’s almost no excuse for their existence. The lack of a nondiscriminatory prayer and meditation space at UCLA is one of these problems. For years, it seemed as if the prayer space has been used as a political promise by Undergraduate Students Association Council candidates of all types – from former Internal Vice President Avinoam Baral to current General Representative Aaliya Khan. Now, it seems like something may be happening. In April, USAC officers voted unanimously on a resolution that called on the administration to establish an on-campus, nondenominational prayer and meditation space. Earlier this month, Khan presented a proposal for the space at an Associated Students UCLA services committee meeting. The discussion about the proposal will continue at the next ASUCLA’s board of directors meeting on Dec. 4. It’s good that the discussion is moving forward, as the creation of an open prayer and meditation space is long overdue...

Full editorial http://dailybruin.com/2015/11/29/editorial-asucla-should-set-up-pilot-prayer-space-for-more-permanent-solution/

video

Feel Good Story...

...but does anyone have any idea what it means? Invest what funds? How much?

The University of California has joined an international coalition led by Bill Gates to invest in clean energy technology, it announced Sunday.
UC will be the sole institutional investor in the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, according to the university. The coalition has 28 investors from 10 countries, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. The coalition’s goal is to invest in projects and ideas that have the potential to deliver carbon-free power and bring them to the market. “The University of California, with its 10 campuses and three national energy labs, is home to some of the best climate scientists in the world and as a public research institution we take the imperative to solve global climate change very seriously,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement. “The UC system — with its world-leading campuses and labs — produces the kinds of groundbreaking technologies that will help define a global energy future that is cheaper, more reliable, and does not contribute to climate change,” Gates said in a statement. Gates has committed $1 billion of his own money to the initiative, according to news reports. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is a counterpart to another clean-energy initiative called Mission Innovation. That coalition will be led by governments from around the world. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition and Mission Innovation will be announced this week at the high-stakes United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/green/article/UC-joins-Bill-Gates-clean-energy-investment-6663896.php

The official announcement suggests that this is old news (previously announced):

...UC’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer has committed $1 billion of its investment capital for early-stage and scale-up investments in clean energy innovation over the next five years, as well as an additional $250 million to fund innovative, early-stage ideas emerging from the UC ecosystem. It also has created an aligned intermediary, which will help large-scale, long-term investors channel significant amounts of institutional capital into resource innovation investments – including energy, waste and water – across the planet...

Source: http://universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/uc-only-university-join-coalition-led-bill-gates-invest-climate-solutions

There is a meeting tomorrow of the Regents' Committee on Investments. Perhaps some clarification then? In the meantime, it feels so good:
video
 

UCLA History: Westwood Blvd.

Westwood Boulevard in 1929 which at the time ran through the (brand new) campus. (And parking was free.)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Forgotten Man

The forgotten man
UCLA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pauley Pavilion Sunday, including offering tickets in several sections of the arena's upstairs level for $3.50, the price of a ticket for a game in the 1965-66 season. Nan Wooden, the daughter of the Bruins late legendary coach John Wooden, will serve as the team's honorary captain for the nonconference game against Cal State Northridge. Popular songs from the mid-1960s will be played during breaks in play. Several "fun facts" about the 1960s and UCLA will be displayed on the arena's video board.Fans who have held season tickets since Pauley Pavilion's opening will be honored at halftime, along with members of the family of the late University of California Regent and oilman Edwin W. Pauley, the principal donor to the arena's building fund...

Full story at http://www.smmirror.com/articles/News/UCLA-To-Celebrate-Pauley-Pavilions-50th-Anniversary-Sunday-/44660

Somehow, whenever there is a celebration regarding Pauley Pavillion, the role of H.R. Haldeman of later Watergate fame as fundraiser for its construction seems to be forgotten. But we don't forget: http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-ball-in-college-athletics-seems-to.html and http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2013/08/ucla-history-pauley-pavilion-and-report.html

Saturday, November 28, 2015

UCLA History: Tall Order

Pants fitting for Kareem Abdul Jabbar at age 20

Friday, November 27, 2015

UCLA History: Arroyo

A good pre-World War II view of the arroyo that ran through the UCLA campus until filled in.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Note on Purported UCLA-Related Facebook Page

If you have been following the news, you will know that UCLA, along with many other universities, has a purported "White Student Union" Facebook page. Facebook apparently takes some of them down after complaints but not others. The UCLA version is still operating at this time. When you look at the UCLA version, it appears to be the product of some white supremacist group; there is little specifically about UCLA. Obviously, it is impossible to rule out the possibility of some UCLA student involvement, however.

I looked to see what the official reaction was at UCLA and found a Google reference to a UCLA statement, but it could be obtained only using the cache function. Below is what I found:

This is Google's cache of http://nommomagazine.com/?p=6195. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Nov 25, 2015 07:57:50 GMT. 

UCLA Administration Responds to White Student Union
November 24, 2015


Today UCLA Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Janina Montero released a statement in response to the creation of a UCLA White Student Union Facebook group.


The Facebook group is one of more than 30 that has appeared on college campuses around the country. Other schools include UC Berkeley, Stanford University, Penn State, New York University, and the University of Missouri.


Although the groups occur only in social media form, it is unclear whether they were actually created by students of the institutions. In fact similarities in the descriptions of each group has led many to believe, including UCLA administration, that this is the work of outside forces “intending to disrupt our community. 


Below is Vice Chancellor Janina Montero’s full statement:

Dear Student Leaders:


I wanted to alert you to the unfortunate recent appearance of a Facebook group called “UCLA White Student Union.”  We have been very concerned about it since it surfaced during the weekend and we are working to have the UCLA reference and logo removed from Facebook.


There is good reason to believe that this group is the work of people outside the UCLA community. In fact, nearly identical copies of groups also called “White Student Union” surfaced this past weekend at more than two dozen other institutions across the country with similar postings and language. There is also no registered student organization at UCLA with this name. The page appears to be designed to fuel conflict and provocation rather than to foster a serious and  constructive dialogue among students about issues of race. 


While UCLA upholds the First Amendment rights of our students and the public, we reject efforts to generate conflict and satirize student activists who have raised serious issues about unequal learning environments and hostile campus climate at institutions across the nation. Because this page misrepresents itself as a UCLA group, we have been working with Facebook to have the page taken down.


These are disturbing and upsetting actions, in this instance, clearly from some groups or individuals intending to disrupt our community. Please, know that we want to  work against these hurtful actions and welcome your involvement. Thank you for your outreach, vigilance, and engagement.


Affectionately, Janina
Janina Montero
Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs

Leftovers


We'll deviate from the Very Serious Issues usually taken up in this blog to feature a piece from the Boston Globe about Michael Dukakis who comes to UCLA each winter quarter and, among other things, co-teaches with ours truly.

You’ve carefully stuffed, cooked, and carved the turkey. You’ve sliced up all the extra pieces, packing them in tinfoil for leftovers. And you may think you’ve used every possible aspect of that turkey.
You’d be wrong. Michael Dukakis would very much like your turkey carcass.

In his tidy Brookline kitchen, the state’s former governor and onetime Democratic presidential nominee has had a quirky but endearing tradition legendary among family and friends. He collects Thanksgiving turkey carcasses to make soup for his extended family for the year to come. 

The man is renowned for his thriftiness — he drinks coffee bought in bulk at Costco, at 3 cents per cup — and he preserves every last element of the Thanksgiving dinner. Right down to the bone.
“Throwing out a turkey carcass is sinful. Absolutely sinful,” Dukakis says, in all seriousness. “It’s a terrible thing to do. There’s so much richness and goodness in a turkey carcass, God.”

So eager is Dukakis to gather turkey carcasses that he offers his home address (see full article; link below) for anyone who wants to drop one off. 

He preserves the carcasses, stuffing seven or eight of them in his freezer after each Thanksgiving, which on its own is quite a feat, requiring sharp scissors to get the bones down to a more reasonable size. 

“You cut them up. And wrap them up,” he says. “You can fit them in there as easily as possible. When the time comes, you pull them out.”

Throughout the course of the year, once every month or two, he removes one of the carcasses. He gets out a pot. He pours enough water to cover the bones, adds an onion, and lets it simmer for at least three hours. He cleans the meat off the bones, he adds in rice and any assortment of vegetables (“Peas are good. Carrots are good”). He heats it up, and relishes the smell that permeates the house on Perry Street. 

Listening to an 82-year-old man who has been eating this concoction since his mother made it for him as a boy, it’s hard to imagine anything tastier.

“There’s no better meal!” he says. “Healthy. And delicious.”

It’s all part of Dukakis’s aversion to waste — be it fat in the state budget, litter on the street, or turkey bones in the trash after Thanksgiving.

In some ways, this turkey tradition started in childhood.

“I used to love the after-feast turkey soup my mother made,” Dukakis recalls. “It was better than the feast.”

But really, it’s a tradition that he began within his own household two decades ago.

“It all started when my dear wife after 23 years of marriage — and she was a good cook, I must say — one day said, ‘That’s it, I’m not cooking any longer,’ ” he said. “Just like that. At the time the only thing I knew how to make was French toast. So I was confronted with a choice: Starve or start cooking. So I’ve been doing all the cooking the last 29 years...

Full story at http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/11/25/michael-dukakis-loves-turkey-carcasses/0HQOSqiAfWBEdxh6di5ofM/story.html

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Unfair advantage

Why Can’t We All Fight On Like Old USC? California's Public Universities Could Learn Some Things From the Rise of the Trojans

By Joe Mathews |

The University of Southern California football team is likely to lose to archrival UCLA this Thanksgiving weekend. But away from the gridiron, USC is on a decades-long winning streak that has become one of the most important stories in our state.

Over the past generation, USC has transformed itself from an easily mocked regional school for rich kids (“University of Spoiled Children”) into a global powerhouse. That growth has coincided with the decline or stagnation of other local entities, and turned USC into one of the most influential institutions in Southern California. And, through its successes, USC has demonstrated the growth that might be possible for California’s leading public universities—if they weren’t subject to the whims of our dysfunctional state government.

Central to the growth has been a strategy of capitalizing on USC’s flexibility as a private school to raise the school’s endowment and profile. Public universities are hamstrung in fundraising by the perception that they are primarily state-funded institutions (even though state funding is a small and declining fraction of their funding) and by the possibility that a big gift might come from an unpopular source. USC doesn’t have a meddling minority investor like the state government, and thus can fundraise as relentlessly as it likes. Its endowment, at nearly $5 billion, is one of the fastest-growing in the country.

And USC has spent aggressively—without the required disclosure and resulting second-guessing over big salaries common at our public universities—to recruit a more qualified and diverse faculty and student body. It now ranks among America’s elite universities by most measures, from the GPA of entering students to the amount of financial aid it offers (nearly $500 million annually). And, as public universities in California were forced to cut during recent budget crises and the Great Recession, USC accelerated its growth. 

Public universities are prisoners of annual budgets and short-term political thinking. Just consider how UC President Janet Napolitano’s thoughtful proposal for a multi-year enrollment and funding plan won her criticism last fall from virtually every politician and editorial board in the state. By contrast, USC President Max Nikias, building on the success of his predecessor Steve Sample, has pursued a long-term strategy of better connecting the university to all elements of life in Southern California. 

The Trojans have been expanding their campus and adjacent sphere of influence. USC has secured effective control of the L.A. Coliseum and is developing the nearby $650 million USC Village complex of housing, retail, and commercial space. USC has gobbled up institutions elsewhere in greater L.A. (from Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale and the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena), and sought a stronger presence in San Diego. USC has also been a big winner in two big L.A. trends—the rapid revival of downtown as a place for new residences and businesses (USC is just south of downtown) and the construction of new rail lines (Metro’s Expo line, which will reach Santa Monica next year, has three different stops along USC’s campus).

USC has never wielded more political influence, as our academically inclined mayor, Eric Garcetti, seeks to redesign the city’s basic systems. And with so much money and clout in a city where most people have very little, USC has become the place to go when you need help getting something done. One small example: When the daughter of Alfred Song, the first Korean-American to serve in the state legislature, struggled to find money for his memorial, USC arranged for the 10-foot-tall steel monument at the subway stop at Wilshire and Western.

More than a Trojan horse, USC is viewed across the region as the ultimate white knight. Many struggling L.A. institutions fantasize of being rescued by a USC takeover. These institutions include the L.A. Times, which, in my view, could find long-term viability by becoming a publication of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

At the same time it grows locally, USC has unabashedly prioritized global expansion, especially around the Pacific Rim. USC leads the nation in attracting foreign students, a fact it rightly celebrates. That’s in stark contrast to the University of California system, which has been bitterly criticized in the legislature and the media for adding foreign students, even though they pay higher tuition fees that effectively subsidize lower in-state tuition for Californians.

California’s public universities are desperate to hold onto their reputations for academic prestige, and thus can be quite traditional in their hiring and academic cultures. USC has few such hang-ups. The language of its strategic plan—especially its support of “entrepreneurial activities through flexible structures that allow faculty to move swiftly into new areas”—would trigger protests (“hey hey, ho ho, those corporate stooges have got to go”) in Santa Cruz. And USC has proudly opened well-funded and attention-getting institutes led by noted academicians like Dr. Dre and Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

In L.A., Trojans are notorious for arrogance (and for alumni networks more tightly knit than most Mafia families), so it won’t surprise you that USC has been accused of being obnoxious in pursuit of growth. USC’s recent effort to steal a major Alzheimer’s research project from UC San Diego was so brazen that the University of California sued; the dispute has produced headlines and claims and counterclaims of conspiracy and bad faith. And indeed, as it catapults itself from mediocrity into the nation’s top-tier of private institutions of higher learning, USC will be facing the same questions now confronting the Stanfords and Harvards of the world—questions about whether its success contributes to widening class divides and inequality, and whether it should be doing more for those who have been left behind by poor high schools and circumstances.

I’ll be wearing a UCLA T-shirt this weekend for reasons personal (I grew up going to Bruin games at the Rose Bowl) and professional (UCLA is a vital partner of Zócalo Public Square, which produces this column). But I do root for USC as a powerful example for California. Yes, our public universities have found ways to remain excellent despite all the cuts and constraints. But just imagine how much more they could do if the state stopped its cuts and meddling, and allowed our universities to fight on with all the flexibility the Trojans enjoy.

Column appeared in Zócalo Public Square and various newspapers. See http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2015/11/25/why-cant-we-all-fight-on-like-old-usc/inquiries/connecting-california/

Reminder of Things We Have Noted in the Past

From the UCLA Legislative Assembly minutes of Nov. 5:

...Impact on UCLA (of the budget deal for UC reached by the Committee of Two):

Due to rebenching, UCLA will receive almost none of the base funding from the state over the next two years.*

UCLA will only see revenue from the enrollment of 600 resident undergraduate students which would generate $3 million in state funds and $5 million in tuition revenue. This would require the campus to increase resources such as faculty, classrooms, and other necessary elements to accommodate the increased enrollment...

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*Presumably, the sentence refers to the increment to base funding.

Inadvertent consequence

From Inside Higher Ed:

In an attempt to starve out a controversial student publication without violating the First Amendment, the student government at the University of California at San Diego voted last week to cease any funding of student media. [Editorial Note: Apparently, ALL student media are included.] The move -- which First Amendment experts said does not pass constitutional muster, despite the student government's maneuvering to avoid targeting a specific group -- came after UCSD administrators condemned the most controversial of the university's publications amid student protests about racism on campus. At a recent Black Lives Matter protest on campus, black students cited the student-run humor magazine, the Koala, for content they view as racist...

Full story at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/11/25/u-california-san-diegos-student-government-pulls-funding-all-student-publications

UCLA History: Thirties

The UCLA campus in 1938

An Occident Waiting to Happen?

From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

Occidental College [http://www.oxy.edu/] faculty members are considering the creation of a formal system to let students report them for microaggressions, according to a document first obtained by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian advocacy group. The proposed microaggression-reporting system is part of a broader plan to respond to black-student unrest at the California college, and is scheduled to be put before the faculty at its December 1 meeting. The plan, drafted by the college’s Faculty Council, includes among its other provisions calls for mandatory diversity training for faculty members and a proposed requirement that all academic departments incorporate “issues of cultural and racial identity and diversity” into the curriculum. The plan says the creation of a microaggression-reporting system would recognize “the power imbalance between faculty and students.” It calls for the faculty to work with students and the college’s chief diversity officer “to develop an effective mechanism for students to address and report microaggressions or other conflicts between students and faculty,” to begin next fall. Although faculty members at colleges elsewhere have been issuing statements in support of black-student protests, the Occidental Faculty Council’s embrace of student opposition to microaggressions appears likely to put it at the forefront of a broader national debate pitting advocates of racial sensitivity against advocates of free speech. Among statements that colleges elsewhere have classified as microaggressions — or subtle, and often unintentional, forms of discrimination — are expressions of opinion that free-speech advocates defend as protected by the First Amendment and the principle of academic freedom. Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech advocacy group, vowed in a written statement issued on Monday to challenge the Occidental plan if it is adopted...

Full article at http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/occidental-faculty-weighs-system-for-reports-of-microaggressions/106939

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015

Listen to the Regents Meeting of Nov. 18, 2015

The Nov. 18 session of the Regents dealt with audit and capital projects. Concerns were expressed about over-regulation leading to higher costs. Some issues were raised about general reporting on incidents that required corrections by management in that the severity of these incidents and what they involved were not reported.

It was announced that the long-troubled UCPath system would be issuing paychecks (including direct deposits) come December 1, apparently only for UCOP at first. But the next rollout - presumably assuming the UCOP experience proved OK - would be to UCLA (including ASUCLA), Merced, and Riverside.

Various capital projects were reviewed. Notably, one for the San Diego hospital had cost overruns of $100 million. Phrases such as "hard lessons learned" and words such as "incompetent" were used. Regent Makarechian noted that incomplete initial plans invite construction contractors to claim that actual costs were higher than projected and to obtain additional payments. He suggested suing the architect for providing such plans. The San Diego chancellor was duly apologetic.

Note: Although the full Regents don't meet again until January, there will be a meeting of the Committee on Investments on Dec. 1. Yours truly will (with a lag) provide a review and an audio link of that meeting.

In the meantime, you can hear the Nov. 18 meeting at the link below:

Evaluation






































Oh well...


Sunday, November 22, 2015

UCLA History: Campus View

Campus photo from Pinterest, said to be dated 1930

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Give and Take?

In exchange for the so-called PEPRA cap on pensions for new hires, UC is counting on getting a multiyear contribution towards its pension unfunded liability from the governor. (As we have noted in prior posts, the legislature is not part of the deal and committed to only one year.) As the items below indicate, the governor is currently in a conflict with CalPERS over its plan to reduce its assumed earnings rate gradually to 6.5%/annum. UC recently cut its assumption from 7.5% to 7.25%.

Whenever the assumed earnings rate is cut, the estimated unfunded liability goes up, requiring more contributions (employer and employee) to cover the increase.* As the items below indicate, the governor wants CalPERS to make a relatively quick transition to 6.5%. Were he to insist on the same assumption for UC, his contribution to the UC pension would be more than swallowed up. Would he begin to agitate for 6.5%? The only reason for insisting on the PEPRA cap for UC was because the other big state funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, have the cap. All we are noting at this point is that it would be wrong to assume that once we give the governor his PEPRA cap - with all the complications and damage that inflicts on the plan - he won't want to tinker any further with the UC pension.

"Brown said CalPERS chose to 'expose the fund to an unacceptable level of risk.'"

See: http://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article45350991.html and http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article45691569.html

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article45691569.html#storylink=cpy

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*As we have noted, the actual liability of the pension is independent of the assumed rate and will reflect what the rate of earnings actually turns out to be.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Listen to the Regents 2nd Afternoon Session of Nov. 19, 2015

The Regents session scheduled for this morning was in fact held in the late afternoon yesterday. An audio link is below. Highlights:

Modifications were made of the plan to establish a "captive" insurance company for UC liabilities. Apparently, a separate entity is being created just for medical malpractice insurance.

The UC mortgage assistance plan used sh for faculty recruitment is being extended to the Hastings Law School which the Regents administer.

A report on UCRP funding was made. Following that report, and in response to CalPERS moving (gradually) to a 6.5% assumed rate of return, there was discussion of whether the UC rate of 7.25% (recently cut from 7.5%) should be further lowered. It appears - based on the discussion that ensued - that UCOP et al are planning for another cut to 7%. There are two things to note. First, as you lower the assumed rate, the estimated amount that must be contributed to get to 100% funding goes up. So there is a potential budgetary impact. Second, by itself the assumed rate doesn't change what will actually be earned over the future. Whatever will be, will be. (Blog readers will recall that at the September meetings an off-hand remark was made by Chief Investment Officer Bachher about a 6%-ish rate being reasonable.)

Various big buck executive pay decisions were endorsed.

President Napolitano reported on various recognitions and awards.

The discussion of lowering the assumed pension earnings rate is below:
video


You can hear the full audio at the link below:


Hope

From the Sacramento Bee editorial page:

How much more budget wizardry will we demand of UC?

It’s unclear in the short term where the University of California is magically going to put 5,000 more in-state undergraduates and 2,000 more graduate students. 

Nonetheless, we applaud the latest plan to expand enrollment and hope it works out...

Full item at http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article45547677.html

Just have faith and look at the cost charitably and hope it works out:
 

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article45547677.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Listen to the Regents Initial Afternoon Session of Nov. 19, 2015

Although the Regents originally planned to meet on Friday, they got done sooner than expected and so finished with two afternoon sessions today. Below is a link to the initial afternoon session.

The initial afternoon session began with a review of the UC budget for 2016-17. President Napolitano repeated the plan for no tuition increase and the plan for adding 5,000 in-state student (and then another 5,000). There were concerns expressed about the capacity to add these students and the impact on the student/teacher ratio. It is evident that there are doubts among existing students about the wisdom of such expansion. See, for example, http://dailybruin.com/2015/11/18/casey-kovarik-uc-does-not-have-adequate-resources-to-enroll-extra-10000-students/. The student Regent went along with the resolution approving the increase but indicated he had doubts.

The meeting then turned to a presentation on university finances. Finally, pension funding Item F2 was taken up. As we have been noting, the item contained a sentence that appears to commit the Regents to offering a defined-contribution pension to new hires despite the fact that the committee appointed by President Napolitano has made no such recommendation. There was no reference to this matter in the discussion. No oral correction was offered. As has occurred in the past, the idea that there were going to be multiyear contributions from the state to the pension continued to be discussed as a done deal although the legislature provided only for one year and explicitly indicated there was no commitment beyond that contribution. Item F2 was passed as presented and written.

You can hear the session at the link below:

Listen to the Regents Morning Session of Nov. 19, 2015

As blog readers will know, yours truly preserves audio recordings of Regents meetings since the Regents refuse to "archive" their own recordings for more than one year.

Below is a link to the audio for this morning's session. (You might ask what happened to the audio from yesterday's opening session. Yours truly recorded it in absentia and will eventually listen to it and provide a summary.)

The public comments period actually occurred in two segments. The first segment ended in a demonstration, a long pause, and then other business. After some other business, more public comments were allowed.

Public comments in both segments combined dealt with statements in favor of the Merced public-private capital plan, concerns about the university possibly offering a defined contribution pension for new hires (opposed by union spokespersons), contract workers, issues of diversity and affirmative action, antisemitism, and student aid.

The Committees on Governance and Health Services presented proposals for more autonomy for the hospitals. These proposals had been aired in the past and were changed to given only Regents voting rights on the oversight committee (that would still have non-voting, non-Regents). The proposals were approved with only minor reservations expressed.

President Napolitano made remarks addressing the stabbing incident at Merced and the French terrorist attacks. She then previewed remarks made in the afternoon about admitting more in-state students, a tuition freeze, and other matters. Faculty rep Dan Hare made a report in defense of tenure.

The Committee on Educational Policy was mainly devoted to a review of its ongoing effort to come up with a policy on antisemitism and intolerance. It appeared initially that this would largely involve a brief report on the process currently underway. However, there were some impassioned speeches.

Following the Committee on Educational Policy report, the UC-Merced public-private partnership capital plan was approved. It was noted that some risks to UC remain despite modification of the plan from prior meetings. Regent Hadi Makarechian ended the session saying that the planned looked great on paper but if there is a failure in "execution" it could be a disaster. A cheery thought!

You can find the link to the audio:



No Change

As we have been posting, there is an inaccurate and misleading sentence in Regents Item F2 on the agenda for the Regents meeting that is scheduled for later today. Despite our numerous alerts, it has not been corrected. Item F2 effectively commits the Regents - without discussion or analysis - to offer a defined-contribution-only (DC-only) pension option to new hires. There is supposed to be a committee established by UC president Napolitano considering pension options. It has made no decisions. Unless the intent of Item F2 was to preclude appropriate consideration of DC-only by that committee, the item needed to be amended and reference to the DC-only option removed.

It appears that high officials in UCOP have given silent consent to an undermining of the president's pension committee and are seeking tacit approval of a pension option via an obscure sentence in a resolution ostensibly dealing only with pension funding. Of course, we won't know for sure until the pension matter is finally decided, presumably some time in winter. But if there is a DC-only option for new hires, you'll know what happened.

If you haven't followed our prior posts on this matter, here are the links:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/regents-pension-funding-item-short.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/history-of-pension-preemption-sentence.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/less-than-week-left-to-correct.html

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

LAO's State Budget Outlook

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) as a standard practice comes out with a "fiscal outlook" publication around this time of the year. The latest version has just been released. A good way to summarize it is to look at the reserves at the end of each year. There are now two reserves in the general fund, the regular reserve and Gov. Brown's rainy day fund. Below are the combined reserves at the end of the three fiscal years shown:

June 30, 2015____$2.8 billion
June 30, 2016____$7.9 billion
June 30, 2017___$11.5 billion

If you take the differences between these combined reserves from year end to year end, you get the implicit budget surplus. This current year (2015-16), the overall surplus is $5.1 billion. Next year (2016-17), the projection is for a surplus of $3.7 billion. (There is some rounding error here.) The combined reserve at the end of next fiscal year is approaching about a tenth of spending.

Obviously, the level of spending and taxing next year have yet to be enacted by the legislature and governor. (And there could be tax measures on the ballot in 2016.) There are also assumptions made about the pace of economic growth and - because we are dependents on capital gains taxation - the direction of the stock market. But the assessment is basically positive. Still, any recession could quickly erode even a 10% reserve.

As for UC, LAO projects general fund support going up at about 4%/annum through 2019-20. It might be noted that LAO projects that the pension support received from the state this year (assuming the Regents do what the legislature required) is a one-time payment. LAO doesn't assume the rest of the payments which the governor promised and the Regents seem to take for granted. (See page 28 of the report.)

You can find the report at http://lao.ca.gov/reports/2015/3305/fiscal-outlook-111815.pdf

Tomorrow is the deadline for correcting Regents Pension Item F2

As we have been posting, there is an inaccurate and misleading sentence in Regents Item F2 on the agenda for the Regents meeting of Nov. 19. So far, it has not been corrected. If the item stays as is, it effectively commits the Regents - without discussion or analysis - to offer a defined-contribution-only (DC-only) pension option to new hires. There is supposed to be a committee established by UC president Napolitano considering pension options. It has made no decisions. Unless the intent of Item F2 is to preclude appropriate consideration of DC-only by that committee, the item needs to be amended and reference to the DC-only option removed.

Each day that passes without a correction raises the suspicion that high officials in UCOP have given silent consent to an undermining of the president's pension committee and are seeking tacit approval of a pension option via an obscure sentence in a resolution ostensibly dealing only with pension funding.

If you haven't followed our prior posts on this matter, here are the links:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/regents-pension-funding-item-short.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/history-of-pension-preemption-sentence.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/less-than-week-left-to-correct.html

What will tomorrow bring?
video

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Only Two Days Left to Correct Regents Pension Item F2

As we have been posting, there is an inaccurate and misleading sentence in Regents Item F2 on the agenda for the Regents meeting of Nov. 19. So far, it has not been corrected. If the item stays as is, it effectively commits the Regents - without discussion or analysis - to offer a defined-contribution-only (DC-only) pension option to new hires. There is supposed to be a committee established by UC president Napolitano considering pension options. It has made no decisions. Unless the intent of Item F2 is to preclude appropriate consideration of DC-only by that committee, the item needs to be amended and reference to the DC-only option removed.

Each day that passes without a correction raises the suspicion that high officials in UCOP have given silent consent to an undermining of the president's pension committee and are seeking tacit approval of a pension option via an obscure sentence in a resolution ostensibly dealing only with pension funding.

If you haven't followed our prior posts on this matter, here are the links:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/regents-pension-funding-item-short.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/history-of-pension-preemption-sentence.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/less-than-week-left-to-correct.html

Technology Transfer

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), of which UC and UCLA are members, has issued a report suggesting that technology transfers should be included in tenure and promotion reviews.

Technology transfers wouldn't be required but would be rewarded where it occurs.

You can find the report at http://www.aplu.org/projects-and-initiatives/research-science-and-technology/technology-transfer/TenureTransferReport.pdf

Inside Higher Ed has an article on the report: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/11/17/university-group-pushes-technology-transfer-tenure-promotion

Memberships in APLU can be found at http://www.aplu.org/members/our-members/

Of course, not all commercial discoveries work out as planned:

MOOc, MOOc, Mao, Mao

From Inside Higher Ed:

Mao's MOOC Rehabilitation

EdX, provider of massive open online courses (MOOcs), hosts an assortment of offerings on Chinese history. There's The Study of Folklore from Peking University, a look at international politics from Seoul National University and a five-part series on everything from aristocratic culture to neo-Confucianism from Harvard University. One course, from China’s prestigious Tsinghua University, focuses specifically on Mao Zedong, his philosophies and role in China’s “socialist transformation.”

That course is raising eyebrows because, despite hours of video lectures and supplemental material in the course, students would still have to tab over to Wikipedia to learn about the millions who died as a result of Mao’s land reforms or that his economic initiatives led to what may have been the greatest famine in human history, which killed tens of millions. Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought references those events glancingly in passing as “mistakes,” and generally heaps praise on Mao and his philosophies. “Mao Zedong was a great Marxist, a great proletarian revolutionary strategist and theorist,” intones Wuzhong Feng, associate professor of Marxist studies at Tsinghua University, in one of the course's earlier video lectures...

Full story at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/11/17/edx-mooc-courts-questions-about-censorship-and-academic-freedom

Enthralled!

Text of email received from the high-tech version of the old vanity press (with linguistic oddities included):
  
Hello Prof . XXX,

Greetings from Journal of social sciences,

At the outset, we would like to appreciate your eminent contribution towards the new views and thoughts in the field of social sciences. We have been through your articles and we are enthralled to know about your reputation and commitment in your field. Thus on behalf of the Journal, we request you to present your research as a case report/ research/ mini - full review article for our upcoming issue. We strongly believe that this potential research would be beneficial to the people working in this field.
We strongly support Open Access initiative and promise International Standards of publication following Robust Peer-Review through Editorial Tracking System. Business, Economics and Management Articles also Included, The accepted papers (after peer-review) will be published within 7-10 days. We would truly gratify and appreciate receiving your submission before December 28, 2015, Else you can submit it as per your convenience. As the submitted papers undergo a robust peer-review (which usually takes time), early submissions would be deeply appreciated. Kindly let us know your feasibility regarding submission.
We also want to highlight one thing if you submit articles within your time limit then special discounts will be provided as we are having scientific week within the specified dates and we want to spread scientific information as much as we can. Based on All Fields and Key words related to Social subject articles are Accepted. Publishing fee USD$ 99.

Monday, November 16, 2015

VP Traffic Problems May Delay You This Evening & Tomorrow Morning

You may also be Biden your time.
VP Joe Biden is in town today and will be traveling in the general UCLA area:

From 6 to 8 p.m. today, motorists should avoid the areas around West Pico Blvd between Overland Avenue and Century Park East; Avenue of the Stars between Pico and Olympic; and Santa Monica Boulevard between Beverly Drive and South Beverly Glen Boulevard.

From 8 to 10 a.m Tuesday, motorists should avoid Santa Monica Boulevard between Wilshire and Sawtelle boulevard.


Source: http://patch.com/california/santamonica/vice-presidents-motorcade-jam-your-commute

The Lost Weekend for Correcting Regents Pension Item F2

As we have been posting, there is an inaccurate and misleading sentence in Regents Item F2 on the agenda for the Regents meeting of Nov. 19. So far, it has not been corrected. If the item stays as is, it effectively commits the Regents - without discussion or analysis - to offer a defined-contribution-only (DC-only) pension option to new hires. There is supposed to be a committee established by UC president Napolitano considering pension options. It has made no decisions. Unless the intent of Item F2 is to preclude appropriate consideration of DC-only by that committee, the item needs to be amended and reference to the DC-only option removed.

Each day that passes without a correction raises the suspicion that high officials in UCOP have given silent consent to an undermining of the president's pension committee and are seeking tacit approval of a pension option via an obscure sentence in a resolution ostensibly dealing only with pension funding.

If you haven't followed our prior posts on this matter, here are the links:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/regents-pension-funding-item-short.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/history-of-pension-preemption-sentence.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/less-than-week-left-to-correct.html

The Chart

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has set up an interactive website dealing with state revenue and spending. Above is a chart from that website dealing with higher ed spending. (Higher ed includes community colleges, CSU, and UC.) You can find the website at:
http://lao.ca.gov/Infographics/2015-16-state-budget

Postponed Plaza

Screenshot from Westwood BID website
The Westwood BID (Business Improvement District) still has a plan to turn Broxton into a car-free plaza. But the Bruin says that the plan is in fact on hold:

Westwood officials postponed plans to create a community plaza on Broxton Avenue and created a committee to address the proposal’s logistical and funding problems. The Westwood Village Improvement Association, also known as the BID, will research funding sources and budget details before agreeing next year to pursue a plaza that would create more walking and outdoor dining space. The BID’s Clean, Safe and Beautiful Committee voted 3-1 on Friday to not apply for the plaza this year because its members thought funding sources were inadequate. Instead, they decided to create a temporary committee to continue the planning process. The BID announced in October it will apply for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s People St program at the end of the year. In its October meeting, the BID’s board agreed it would not apply to the program unless an explicit budget outlined what the plaza would cost the BID, but staff members began to gather support for the plaza before the board approved it...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2015/11/16/westwood-officials-postpone-plans-for-plaza-on-broxton-avenue/

Pay it no mind

Click to enlarge the image
Just one of our periodic reminders to ignore such messages. (Particularly when they come from Zambia!) Clicking on "change password" could only lead to very bad consequences. (Don't worry; clicking on "change password" above will only enlarge the entire image. It is just a screenshot - a picture - of the original email.)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Today is Nov. 15: Time to Fix UC Regents Pension Item F2 for Nov. 19

As we have been posting, there is an inaccurate and misleading sentence in Regents Item F2 on the agenda for the Regents meeting of Nov. 19. So far, it has not been corrected. If the item stays as is, it effectively commits the Regents - without discussion or analysis - to offer a defined-contribution-only (DC-only) pension option to new hires. There is supposed to be a committee established by UC president Napolitano considering pension options. It has made no decisions. Unless the intent of Item F2 is to preclude appropriate consideration of DC-only by that committee, the item needs to be amended and reference to the DC-only option removed.

Each day that passes without a correction raises the suspicion that high officials in UCOP have given silent consent to an undermining of the president's pension committee and are seeking tacit approval of a pension option via an obscure sentence in a resolution ostensibly dealing only with pension funding.

If you haven't followed our prior posts on this matter, here are the links:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/regents-pension-funding-item-short.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/history-of-pension-preemption-sentence.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/less-than-week-left-to-correct.html

The clock is ticking:
video

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Today is Nov. 14 - There is still time to correct pension Item F2

As we have been posting, there is an inaccurate and misleading sentence in Regents Item F2 on the agenda for the Regents meeting of Nov. 19. So far, it has not been corrected. If the item stays as is, it effectively commits the Regents - without discussion or analysis - to offer a defined-contribution-only (DC-only) pension option to new hires. There is supposed to be a committee established by UC president Napolitano considering pension options. It has made no decisions. Unless the intent of Item F2 is to preclude appropriate consideration of DC-only by that committee, the item needs to be amended and reference to the DC-only option removed.

Each day that passes without a correction raises the suspicion that high officials in UCOP have given silent consent to an undermining of the president's pension committee and are seeking tacit approval of a pension option via an obscure sentence in a resolution ostensibly dealing only with pension funding.

If you haven't followed our prior posts on this matter, here are the links:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/regents-pension-funding-item-short.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/history-of-pension-preemption-sentence.html
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2015/11/less-than-week-left-to-correct.html

A communication from the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA)

A UC task force appointed by President Napolitano is charged with developing a new UC Retirement Plan (UCRP) Tier 2016 for faculty and other employees hired after June 30, 2016. Under consideration are reduced benefits within UCRP and a full defined contribution alternative instead of the defined benefit UCRP. The task force is preparing a report and recommendations to be delivered to President Napolitano in the first part of December. If you are concerned about a further erosion of compensation at UC, please contact task force members and your Academic Senate officers and key committee representatives to make your views known about reductions in pension benefits. Individuals to contact are available here. The description that follows reviews the issues and the views of the Council of UC Faculty Associations. A pdf version is available. Our main points are that:
* The long-term quality of the University must be prioritized above the short-term considerations of one-time funding and the political pressures of the moment.
* To avoid further erosion in the quality of the University, competitive total remuneration for faculty and staff must be maintained.
* Maintaining a defined benefit pension system best serves the interests of employees and of the University. There is no outside pressure on the University to adopt a full defined contribution alternative, and we oppose such an offering.
BACKGROUND
During the winter and spring of this year, President Napolitano and Governor Brown met as the “Committee of Two” to negotiate a budget plan for UC. Their agreement (Governor’s version, UC’s version) was reached privately and without any semblance of shared governance. Following that, elements of the Committee of Two agreement were included by the legislature in the 2015-2016 State budget ultimately passed by the Senate and Assembly and signed by the Governor.
Among other things, the President’s agreement with the Governor calls for UC to lower the UCRP Covered Compensation Limit (CCL) so as to be consistent with the 2012 California Public Employees Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) that applies to other State employees but not to UC. It would thereby reduce the pension benefits of UC employees hired after June 30, 2016 who will have salaries above the PEPRA cap at any time before they retire. UC has been using the IRS cap, which is currently at $265,000, while the PEPRA cap is currently $117,020 (both are periodically adjusted for inflation). The task force is considering a defined contribution supplement for such Tier 2016 employees to compensate for some of their loss in benefits.
The agreement with the Governor also calls for UC to offer new employees a full defined contribution plan as an alternative to UCRP, which is a defined benefit plan. In general a defined benefit plan is more advantageous to both the institution and to long-term employees. A defined contribution plan may benefit some short-term employees.
While the reduction in the CCL to the PEPRA cap is a priority of the Governor, the full defined contribution alternative appears to have been injected into the agreement by the Office of the President.
In exchange for these permanent changes to the UCRP, the agreement with the Governor calls for UC to receive one-time funds of $436M paid out over three years for the purpose of reducing the UCRP unfunded liability.
In contrast to the agreement in the Committee of Two, The budget bill for 2015-2016 carries the force of law, and it does not include large parts of the agreement with the Governor. It commits only to $96M to be paid in 2016 on the condition that UC implement the CCL reduction to the PEPRA cap for employees hired after June 30, 2016. In particular, it makes no mention of the need for a defined contribution alternative.
$436M in one time funds is far less than the $2.7B in ad hoc contributions to UCRP that UC has made since 2010 to pay down the unfunded liability that should have been paid by the state. The state’s ongoing obligation to cover pension costs associated with state-funded faculty and staff is $424M per year and growing. A one-time contribution of $436M would have only a minor impact on the time for UCRP to reach fully funded status. The Council of UC Faculty Associations believes that it would be a grave error to reduce employee total remuneration and thereby sacrifice the long-term quality of the University for this small amount of short-term money.
TASK FORCE
The task force is currently busy analyzing ways to implement a defined contribution supplement to UCRP to compensate Tier 2016 employees for reduced UCRP defined benefits due to a reduced CCL. It is also analyzing structures for and impacts of a full defined contribution alternative offering. While the task force will report on their analysis of various choices, as of this writing, it is uncertain whether they will have sufficient agreement to make actual recommendations to the President, especially on the point of whether or not to offer the full defined contribution alternative.
A major theme in the task force is the tension between maintaining total remuneration and realizing cost savings. Many argue that you cannot have both.
The possibility of having different plans for different employee groups has been discussed in the task force. It has been reported that there is little if any support for that in the task force at the moment.
The timeline is not precise, but the current plan is for the task force to complete a report by the first part of December and deliver it to the President before the end of the fall terms. Following that, there will be a period of expedited Senate review. So far, it has not been stated when that will begin and end. The retirement plan changes will be an action item for the Regents in March. They could be a discussion item for them in January. If approved, Tier 2016 will be implemented starting July 1, 2016.
DEFINED BENEFIT (DB) vs. DEFINED CONTRIBUTION
In a DB plan, such as UCRP currently is, employees and the employer make contributions to the retirement fund. It is invested for the long run, and employees are guaranteed set retirement benefits. Risk is spread widely. In a DC plan, the contributions of the employee and the employer are held in an account in the individual employee’s name, and invested with management by the employee. At separation or retirement, the employee’s benefit is based on whatever is in the account at that time. While the DC plan has the advantage of portability, all the risk is born by the individual employee.
The Council of UC Faculty Associations holds the position that, on balance, a DB plan such as UCRP is better for both the institution and the employee. DB retirement funds allow long-term investment strategies that produce superior returns relative to funds in DC accounts. So for the same level of retirement benefit, a DB plan requires less in contributions from the employee and the employer. A professionally managed DB fund will produce better long-term returns than most employees will obtain through their individual decisions. In a DC plan, the individual bears the longevity risk, i.e. the risk that the account will be depleted before death. In the DB plan, this risk is spread over the population and the fund need only account for the average longevity. The institution benefits from a DB plan because both faculty and staff quality are enhanced. It is less expensive to maintain competitive total remuneration in a DB plan, and a DB plan rewards long employment and employee development.
Thus the discussion of pension issues is a discussion about the quality of the University. The University is its people: students, staff, and faculty. The quality of each is strongly dependent on the quality of the others. To the extent that the discussion of pension issues focuses on cost savings, it becomes a discussion about how much more the University is going to cut quality than it already has as a result of diminished State support. The Council of UC Faculty Associations maintains that the quality of the faculty and staff depend upon competitive remuneration with a defined benefit pension plan that encourages excellent employees who know their jobs, understand the institution, and are committed to its public mission. We oppose a full DC alternative that would undermine the quality of the University.
If you share our concerns about the decreases in total remuneration and the quality of the University that could follow from a DC supplement that does not adequately compensate for a reduction in the CCL or from a full DC alternative to UCRP, please contact task force members and your Academic Senate officers and key committee representatives listed below.
COMMITTEES
In addition to the task force, which has the members listed below, there are several Academic Senate committees that will have influence in the decision process. Members of the task force and the other relevant committees sorted by campus can be found here.
2016 RETIREMENT BENEFITS OPTIONS ADVISORY TASK FORCE
This is the new task force appointed by President Napolitano. Members of the task force, sorted by campus. Note that not all campuses have a member on the task force:
UCD:
James Chalfant, jachalfant@ucdavis.edu, Universitywide Academic Senate Vice Chair, Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics
Lori Lubin, lmlubin@ucdavis.edu, UCFW Vice Chair, Professor of Physics
David Lawlor, dlawlor@ucdavis.edu, Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial
Officer
UCLA:
Shane White, snwhite@dentistry.ucla.edu, Professor of Dentistry
Michael Fehr, mfehr@library.ucla.edu, Computer Resource Specialist
UCM:
Deidre Acker, deidre.acker@ucop.edu, Systemwide UC Staff Advisor and Ombudsperson
UCR:
Dan Hare, daniel.hare@ucr.edu, Universitywide Academic Senate Chair Professor of Entomology
Maria Anguiano, maria.anguiano@ucr.edu, Vice Chancellor for Planning and Budget
UCSB:
Greta Carl-Halle, greta@cs.ucsb.edu, Business Officer
David Marshall, david.marshall@ucsb.edu, Executive Vice Chancellor
UCSD:
Pierre Ouillet, pouillet@ucsd.edu, Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer
UCSF:
David Odato, David.Odato@ucsf.edu, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Administrative Officer
UCOP:
Rachael Nava, Rachael.Nava@ucop.edu, chair of the task force, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, UCOP