Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Open and Closed

This is a reminder the 2018 UC Open Enrollment window closes today,Tuesday, November 21st at 5 pm. For UCLA employees who were unable to attend an Open Enrollment Learn-at-Lunch review session, Campus Human Resources is providing a self-tutorial overview available until 5 pm on November 21st .
·         Go to the CHR website:; click on “2018 Open Enrollment Presentation”

Remember, employees are required to re-enroll with the Flexible Spending Account every year; participation with the FSA plans do not rollover into the new calendar year like other UC health and welfare plans. IRS rules mandate the re-enrollment provision. Participants need to visit the Open Enrollment website to add/change their FSA elections and confirm their changes using the 3-step confirmation process.

Open Enrollment closes Tuesday, November 21 at 5:00 p.m. sharp!!  This is the Tuesday before the Thanksgiving Day Holiday. Don’t wait until the last minute to elect your 2018 plans!!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

After all, it's only money

...Who knew that the UCLA athletic coffers would suddenly be so accessible, as the school will pay (fired football coach Jim) Mora nearly $12 million without help from boosters to buy out a contract that was guaranteed through 2021?...

Full story at

The SF Chronicle Points a Finger

San Francisco Chronicle editorial:

UC Regents were right to discipline President Napolitano


The University of California regents took disciplinary action against President Janet Napolitano last week, and it was right to do so. Napolitano’s actions were inexcusable, and they point to the larger problems at California’s prized public university system.

The chain of events that led to Thursday’s public admonishment is clear. In October 2016, the state auditor’s office sent two sets of survey questionnaires to each of the 10 UC campuses to obtain honest feedback from the campuses about Napolitano’s administration. Each of the surveys directed the campuses to return them to the state auditor and not to share them outside of the campus.

That’s not what happened, according to an independent report written by retired State Supreme Justice Carlos Moreno and released by the regents last week. Instead, Napolitano approved a plan that involved her chief of staff and his deputy pressuring campuses to change their responses on the surveys from negative responses to positive ones. In some instances, her office also reviewed the responses submitted by the campuses. Napolitano even called the chancellor of UC Santa Cruz after that campus submitted its surveys to the auditor without allowing her office to see them first, suggesting the campus withdraw its responses.

“In short, the review plan was likely to, and in at least one case did, chill campuses’ responses to the State Auditor,” Moreno wrote in his report. That this is inappropriate behavior should have been obvious to everyone involved.

Certainly this seems to have struck Napolitano’s office after the fact. Her chief of staff, Seth Grossman, and his deputy, Bernie Jones, have resigned. Napolitano herself is contrite. “I apologize to the board, the university community and the public at large,” Napolitano told The Chronicle. “I take responsibility. This is a situation that we’ve already taken steps to ensure will not happen again.”

Pressed for details, Napolitano pointed to a new policy issued by UC’s interim chief auditor in May 2017 that said future inquiries from the state auditor’s office should be returned directly to that office. She also said that, in an effort for her office to be “open, transparent and above reproach,” it has reformed its process for making and communicating the university budget.

“Ensuring that our budget, and our process for creating that budget, is clear and transparent to the board, the state Legislature and the public is a big priority for me right now,” Napolitano said. A lack of transparency has been an issue with UC for years — whether the subject is budgets, sexual harassment claims, or survey responses. It infuriates the Legislature and undermines the public’s trust.

Moreno’s report didn’t find sufficient evidence to conclude that Napolitano approved the most damaging interference claims, and the regents have expressed confidence in her continued leadership. But she should understand how serious this matter is — and how it underlines every other problem at the university.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Afterwords Game

President Trump on Sunday lashed out at the father of a UCLA basketball player who downplayed Trump’s importance in getting his son released from shoplifting charges in China.
“Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!” Trump tweeted...

UCLA History: Westwood '38

Westwood in 1938

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Listen to the Morning Regents Sessions of November 15, 2017

We continue here our process of catching up with the Regents. Below are the audio recordings of the morning session of November 15, 2017.

The session began with the full board, much of which was devoted to public comments. Comments include demands for removal of Regent Pattiz, possible cutbacks in retiree health care, concern about pay increases, mandatory overtime for nurses, past pension cuts, campus visits of regents, renewable energy, Pell grants, outsourcing of parking valets, provision of mental health care for students, status of DACA students, and fossil fuel divestment. Regent Pérez raised the issue of how items get on the agenda and expressed dissatisfaction. President Napolitano and faculty rep White made reports.

The Public Engagement and Development Committee discussed fundraising, advocacy, and political developments at the state and federal levels. It was noted that the current federal tax bill disadvantages higher ed in various ways.

At the Compliance and Audit Committee, the aftermath of the state audit was the major issue. Also discussed was UC's creation of a captive insurance company.

Governance and Compensation discussed adding responsibility to the Investment Subcommittee. An item was pulled from the agenda. Regent Pérez raised concerns about the process for pulling items off just as he had earlier raised concerns about the procedures for putting things on the agenda.

Link to Board:

Alternative Link to Board:

Compliance and Audit:

Governance and Compensation:

Public Engagement and Development:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Regents Require Apology from UC Prez on State Audit

We'll be catching up with the recent Regents meeting as time permits. The full audio for indefinite archiving has now been captured (it's trickier than you might think) and has to be edited to remove blank areas where there was no open session. Some of the editing has been done; other parts remain.

In the interim, you probably know that there has been an investigation into UCOP and UC prez interference with a state audit. At the meeting of November 16, 2017, the Regents implemented some new procedures and required the UC president to make an apology - which she did.

From the San Francisco ChronicleThe University of California regents took disciplinary action against President Janet Napolitano on Thursday, publicly admonishing her for authorizing actions that led to her staff’s interference with a state auditor’s investigation last year. The regents also ordered Napolitano to apologize for approving the scheme that resulted in her chief of staff and his deputy pressuring campuses to change their responses to a confidential state auditor survey to remove negative remarks and instead have them reflect positively on the president’s office.

“The president’s decision to approve a plan to coordinate the survey responses reflected poor judgment and set in motion a course of conduct that the Board of Regents finds unacceptable,” UC Regents Chair George Kieffer said during a UC regents meeting in San Francisco with Napolitano sitting beside him.

“I regret deeply that I did not show better judgment,” Napolitano said in her apology. “I made this decision. I made a serious error in judgment. I apologize.”

The regents’ action came after an hours-long closed-door session and as the board publicly released an independent fact-finding report by retired state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. The report found that Napolitano’s chief of staff, Seth Grossman, and his deputy, Bernie Jones, directed the interference and then tried to cover their tracks. Both executives resigned from their jobs last week and have denied wrongdoing. During a news conference after the meeting, Kieffer said Grossman and Jones would have faced “serious disciplinary actions” if they had not resigned...

Video of relevant Regents session with UC prez apology:

New Westwood Neighborhood Council?

Westwood in 1949
From the Bruin: Student leaders said at a town hall meeting Thursday they want to create a more representative and democratic council to represent Westwood.
Westwood Forward, a student-run coalition that is also comprised of local homeowners and business owners, held a town hall meeting in Ackerman Union to address more than 45 members of the public about plans to subdivide the Westwood Neighborhood Council. The proposed North Westwood Neighborhood Council will serve those who live, work or own property near UCLA, the North Village and Westwood Village.
The WWNC is the official adviser to the city on Westwood-related matters. The council provides recommendations to the Los Angeles City Council for housing projects, business permits and proposed infrastructure for Westwood.
Student leaders announced plans to create a new council at the Graduate Students Association forum Nov. 8. Chloe Pan, Undergraduate Students Association Council external vice president and a member of Westwood Forward, said at the event she and other student leaders want to create the new council because they believe the WWNC stifles business operations, opposes student interests and makes it difficult for students to vote...
Student organizers for Westwood Forward said the coalition plans to hold a larger town hall meeting in two weeks.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Not an anthem of praise for a major UC provider

The California Department of Managed Health Care announced Wednesday that it had leveled a $5 million fine against Anthem Blue Cross, saying the insurer demonstrated a systemic pattern and practice of failing to identify, process and resolve grievances for enrollees in its managed-care plans.

“The grievance process is fundamental to protecting consumers’ health-care rights and ensuring consumers receive the care they need,” said DMHC Director Shelley Rouillard. “Anthem Blue Cross’ failures to comply with the law surrounding grievance and appeals rights are longstanding, ongoing and unacceptable. The plan must correct the deficiencies in their grievance and appeals system and comply with the law.”

Including this latest enforcement action, DMHC leaders said, the agency has fined Anthem Blue Cross $11.66 million for grievance system violations since 2002. This figure far outstrips the $1.76 million in fines leveled against Blue Shield of California, the insurer with the next highest enforcement actions in this category.

In a statement emailed Wednesday, Anthem spokeswoman Suzanne Meraz said: “Anthem strongly disagrees with the DMHC’s findings and the assertion that these findings are systemic and ongoing. Unfortunately the DMHC has not fulfilled its obligations to clarify the regulatory standards and definitions being applied in the audits, despite multiple requests from Anthem to do so.”...

Full story at

Coming soon to Westwood?

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

For decades, a Berkeley elementary school has carried the name of a prominent conservationist and co-founder of the Sierra Club.
But that 19th century geologist, Joseph LeConte, was also a slave owner and munitions supplier to the Confederacy during the Civil War, and parents want his name off their children’s school.
The Berkeley school board honored that request Wednesday evening, voting to strip the LeConte name off the school and launch a process to select a new moniker.
The decision follows similar ones across the state to remove the names of those with pasts stained by racism. Palo Alto last year rebranded two schools that were named after men who supported eugenics, the belief that selective breeding and sterilization can improve the human race.
The vote in Berkeley follows a months-long process initiated by community members to rename the south Berkeley school that included meetings, straw polls and conversations about LeConte’s record...
In 1892, when the school was named, LeConte was a renowned professor at UC Berkeley, joining the faculty after the Civil War...
LeConte still has a waterfall, canyon, glacier and mountain named after him in addition to schools and university buildings, including one at UC Berkeley...

End of the Unfortunate Incident (for now)

The three UCLA Basketball players at the heart of an international incident when they were arrested in China on shoplifting charges have been suspended from the team.

According to basketball head coach Steve Alford, the three players have been suspended indefinitely from the team. They will not travel with the team or suit-up for home games, and they will remain suspended as the players go through the university's disciplinary review process.

The trio — freshman players LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill — were detained last Tuesday on suspicion of shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team's hotel in Hangzhou. ESPN reported Monday that Chinese authorities have surveillance video showing the players taking merchandise from as many as three upscale shops.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said Tuesday the players will to through the university's disciplinary process.

"I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law," Block said. "In this particular case, both Athletics and the Office of Student Conduct will review this incident and guide any action with respect to the involved students. Such proceedings are confidential, which limits the specific information that can be shared."

LiAngelo Ball's brother is Los Angeles Laker Lonzo Ball.

Earlier Wednesday, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to suggest that the three young men give thanks to him for intervening on their behalf. The players promptly did so.

Riley thanked President Donald Trump for his help resolving the shoplifting case against him and two of his teammates in China. "We really appreciate you helping us out," he said. Hill followed suit also thanking President Donald Trump for his help resolving the shoplifting case.

"President Xi has been terrific on that subject," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday. "But that was not a good subject. That was not something that should have happened....What they did was unfortunate. You know, you're talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games."


It remains to be seen how long indefinite is - or what the players will do.

Below is the NY Times version:

How Trump Helped Liberate U.C.L.A. ‘Knuckleheads’ From China

By Mark Landler and Michael D. Shearnov, Nov. 14, 2017

MANILA — President Trump found out about the great U.C.L.A.-China basketball episode of 2017 when members of his staff saw it on CNN just before Mr. Trump’s dinner with the president of China in Beijing last week.

They learned that three American college basketball players — representing a storied sports program visiting China for an early-season game sponsored by one of China’s largest companies — had been arrested on Nov. 8, accused of stealing designer sunglasses at a high-end shopping mall.

The alleged offense was hardly life or death. But what had begun as a simple accusation of celebrity shoplifting threatened to escalate into a full-blown international incident just as Mr. Trump arrived in China on a 12-day mission through Asia, his first foreign trip to the region.

“These are law and order guys; they have pretty swift justice,” John Kelly, the president’s chief of staff, said of the Chinese authorities in a telephone interview later. “An awful lot of American kids don’t realize that the kinds of things that in United States society we tolerate with a slap on the wrist, a lot of countries they take very seriously.”

In addition to Mr. Trump, the weeklong diplomatic drama involved the players themselves, who remained detained at their hotel in the provincial city of Hangzhou for most of the week; U.C.L.A., an elite American university with an international reputation; and the Chinese retail giant Alibaba, which sponsored the team’s visit.

In other cases, detained Americans have become geopolitical pawns, often trapped in a kind of legal limbo for months or years.

And in a few instances, the outcome has been horrific, as in the case of Otto Warmbier, an American student in North Korea who was tortured and later died after being detained on charges that he tried to steal a poster from his hotel.

But just as concern deepened about the fate of the three young athletes in China, their detention abruptly ended, aided, it seems, by Mr. Trump’s direct intervention with the country’s president, Xi Jinping. On Tuesday, the three players, including the star freshman LiAngelo Ball, the brother of the N.B.A. rookie Lonzo Ball, were allowed to leave their hotel and board a flight back to California.

“The three U.C.L.A. men’s basketball student-athletes involved in the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China, are on a flight back home to Los Angeles,” the Pacific-12, the athletics conference to which the university belongs, said in a statement, adding that “the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities.”

“We want to thank the president, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution,” the statement said.

Mr. Kelly, who arrived back in the United States with Mr. Trump Tuesday night aboard Air Force One, provided details about the president’s diplomatic outreach on behalf of the U.C.L.A. players.

“Our president said to Xi, ‘Do you know anything about these knuckleheads that got caught allegedly stealing?’” Mr. Kelly said. Unaware of the episode, the Chinese president dispatched an aide to get more information. “The president was saying, ‘It’s not too serious. We’d love to see this taken care of in an expeditious way,’” Mr. Kelly added.

The three players had been accused of shoplifting from a Louis Vuitton store next to their hotel in Hangzhou, in eastern China, where they were preparing to play in a tournament. (Playing without the three freshmen, U.C.L.A. defeated Georgia Tech, 63-60, in Shanghai on Friday.)

Mr. Kelly said Mr. Trump’s intervention, as well as diplomatic efforts by State Department diplomats, led to the reduction of the charges to the equivalent of misdemeanors as well as the release of the three players to their hotel, where they were placed under temporary house arrest. It was there that Mr. Kelly talked to Chris Carlson, an associate athletic director at U.C.L.A., and to the players on the phone the next day.

“To say the least, they were very apologetic,” said Mr. Kelly, who pointedly did not ask the student-athletes whether they had, in fact, attempted to steal the merchandise they were accused of taking. “They were just profuse in their apologies for embarrassing the country and embarrassing the team.”

Mr. Kelly told the players that Mr. Trump had intervened on their behalf and that he was “very optimistic that this would be taken care of in short order.”

In China, where the justice system has a very high conviction rate, theft can bring punishment ranging from a few days to years in prison. Mr. Kelly said that had the players been charged with the equivalent of felonies — because of the high cost of the merchandise — they could have received prison sentences of five to 10 years.

“I bet they learned a lesson in their lives,” he said.

Mr. Trump was uncharacteristically quiet about the players and their situation until his overseas trip was winding down. He did not tweet about the case as the players sat trapped in their rooms. American officials did not put out any statements about the situation.

But once he was headed home, Mr. Trump provided the first indications that the actions of the three young men had prompted a conversation at the highest of levels.

“I will tell you, when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi,” Mr. Trump told reporters during a brief conversation Tuesday before the students were formally allowed to leave their hotel. “He was terrific, and they’re working on it right now. And hopefully everything is going to work out.”

Mr. Trump called the alleged actions of the basketball players “unfortunate,” and grimly noted the toughness of the Chinese judicial system. “You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences,” the president told reporters. “They do not play games.”

Mr. Trump has made much of his personal rapport with Mr. Xi, who hosted a lavish state visit last week for the president in Beijing. The two leaders met again at an economic summit meeting on Sunday in Vietnam, where Mr. Trump raised the case of the detained basketball players.

“He’s been terrific,” the president said. “President Xi has been terrific on that subject.”

The warm presidential relationship appeared to pay off with the release of Ball, a freshman guard; and Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, both freshman forwards. Mr. Trump emphasized that it was a “very, very rough situation, with what happened to them.”

The highest-profile of the three who had been detained was Ball, the middle of three sons in a basketball-playing family so well known that it has its own reality show on Facebook, “Ball in the Family.” The eldest brother, Lonzo, plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, and the youngest, LaMelo, is a high schooler who has committed to play at U.C.L.A. Their father, LaVar, has become a public figure, and has started a sports-apparel company, Big Baller Brand, to market both his sons and the family name.

The U.C.L.A. team’s trip to China had been seen as a way to raise the profile of the university in that country, possibly attracting students who have well-to-do parents and who want to study abroad. Many American universities in recent years have increasingly relied on tuition payments from foreign students.

The arrests of the three young men could have derailed efforts to bridge the cultural divide. Hours before their release, Mr. Trump told reporters that the incident “was not something that should have happened.”

But even then the president seemed to know something positive might be in the works. Asked if he expected to see the basketball players coming home soon, he answered: “I hope so. I hope so.”

Just hours later, they were on a plane, too.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Echo of 2016 Election: Lawsuit at UC-San Diego

Student Hit by Car After Entering Freeway During Election Night Protests Sues UCSD

November 15, 2017, Lauren Holt, UC-San Diego

Exactly one year after a car struck Revelle sophomore Mariana Flores as she entered Interstate-5 during the election night protests, Flores’ attorney filed a personal injury and property damage lawsuit against UC San Diego and several other entities. According to the complaint submitted to the San Diego Superior Court last Wednesday, Flores suffered wage loss, loss of earning capacity, hospital and medical expenses, general damage, property damage, and loss of personal property as a result of the incident.

The protests during which Flores was injured began shortly after Donald Trump was announced the projected winner of the 2016 election. Students living in all six colleges gathered on Library Walk and spread throughout campus, chanting criticisms of the president-elect as they moved. The protest then spilled off-campus near the freeway, where demonstrators walked onto the interstate.

As an emergency vehicle was attempting to shut down Interstate-5 by driving in an “S” formation across the southbound lanes, the driver hit Flores, crushing her pelvis, fracturing her leg, and causing other serious injuries.

Flores’ attorney Gene Sullivan informed the UCSD Guardian that due to the nature of her injuries, Flores’ medical bills over the course of her life will be in the millions of dollars, so he and his client hope that the university will offer assistance in covering the costs.   

The lawsuit, which also names the UC Board of Regents, the City and County of San Diego, the State of California, and the driver of the vehicle as defendants, states that the protest was organized by the university and that UCSD is responsible for failing to end the demonstration.

“Plaintiff was participating in a citizen protest that had been organized by the University of California, San Diego and/or the University of California Regents,” the complaint reads. “The protest continued all over campus for hours and was never stopped, controlled, or refrained by the County of San Diego, City of San Diego, State of California, University of California Regents or the University of California, San Diego.”   

Sullivan explained that there are a number of people culpable for the accident, including Flores herself, but because the university is partially responsible, it is also partially responsible for the harms and damages. Under the doctrine of tort law known as “comparative responsibility,” the jury will determine what percentages of responsibility the university and other defendants comprise for the incident and assign damages accordingly.

Elaborating on the notion that the university “organized” the protest, Sullivan told the Guardian that the university “planned, organized” and knew the protest was happening for hours but did nothing to stop it. According to Sullivan, not doing anything and failing to act is legally the same thing as supporting the protest.

Sullivan further alleged that the protest was encouraged by people in positions of authority at the university, and that “if anyone that is in authority with the university – a [Residential Advisor] – says ‘let’s go,’ the university would be responsible.”

The complaint additionally claims that UCSD is liable for Flores’ injuries because it allowed the protesters to enter the freeway and failed to warn Flores that there was no one providing security for the demonstrators along the freeway even though campus police officers were present during the protests on campus and shut down the surrounding streets.

“It’s a long-established rule that a university or any public entity has a duty to protect their students and have them be safe,” Sullivan said.

UCSD has not yet informed Sullivan of its position on the lawsuit.

The UCSD Guardian contacted UCSD representatives for comments, but they did not respond. 


Regents Report

As noted, we will be tracking the Regents and archiving the audio - but with a lag. (We already posted yesterday's audio, however, earlier today.) In the interim, here is an item from the LA Times:

Top aides to University of California President Janet Napolitano interfered with a state audit of her office’s finances, suppressing campus criticism of its services and operations, according to findings of an investigation ordered by the UC Board of Regents.
Napolitano approved a plan instructing UC campuses to submit responses to confidential questionnaires for review by each college’s chancellor and her aides before returning them to the state auditor, according to the fact-finding report obtained by The Times. Those steps and others “constituted interference,” the investigation said.
“Based on the foregoing review, we conclude that members of the president’s executive office did interfere with the surveys,” stated the report by former state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno and the Hueston Hennigan law firm. It added: “We further conclude that two members of the president’s staff undertook these actions with the specific purpose of shaping the responses to be less critical of” the UC Office of the President.
Though Napolitano knew about the plan to review the survey responses, investigators said there was “insufficient evidence to conclude that she was aware of [the aides’] conduct in purposefully and systematically targeting unfavorable responses.”
Napolitano’s chief of staff, Seth Grossman, and deputy chief of staff, Bernie Jones, resigned last week. They told investigators that the plan to review the responses was a “bad decision and an error in judgment.”
Napolitano told investigators that she regretted approving the plan and said she did not intend to interfere with the surveys, but instead wanted to ensure that campus responses were within the audit’s scope and accurately reflected the chancellors’ opinions.
“She said she regrets the allegation of interference because that was not the intent and it detracts from the fact that [the UC president’s office] accepted all of the state auditor’s recommendations in her audit report and has changed its procedures,” the report said...

LAO Report on Budget Outlook

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has come out with a budgetary outlook report (as it usually does around this point in the year). One element is a simulated recession. Basically, as the chart above shows, there has been enough reserve build-up to deal with a "moderate recession" for a year or so. The image above assumes no new commitments in the upcoming fiscal year. Were such commitments to be made, the LAO simulation - as you might expect - shows reserves would be exhausted faster.

You can find the LAO report at:

Listen to the Regents Investments Subcommittee of Nov. 14, 2017

The Regents Investments Subcommittee met one day ahead of the other components of the meetings this week.

There was a general review of rates of return of the various funds under management of the Regents plus discussion of the individual campus foundations' returns.

Notable in the discussion of the pension plan were two elements. It was noted that the inflow of contribution funds into the pension fund is roughly equal to the outflow (benefits) and is projected to continue in that balance for the next five years. In effect, that fact means that the funding ratio (assets/liabilities) depends heavily on rates of return of the trust fund for the plan. The second, related, item is that it has been clear for sometime, and was made explicit at the session, that the chief investment officer and his entourage believes that the official assumed long-term rate of return of 7.25% is too high.

Note that the actual return over the long run is not dependent on what is assumed today. The actual rate will be what it will be. The assumed rate affects the calculated funding ratio. The higher the assumed rate, the higher the projected funding ratio will be. So you could say the assumed rate is cosmetic. But it does have one behavioral effect. A high assumed rate lowers the discounted value of an individual's pension. So a high assumed rate means that someone who elects a lump-sum payout will get less at a high assumed rate than a lower one. Therefore, it might be expected that a lower rate would encourage more cash-outs. That outcome would likely not be a Good Thing.

It was pointed out at the meeting that when the Regents at the behest of the "Committee of Two" (governor, UC prez) adopted the third tier, with the diversion of some inflows into a separate defined contribution plan, the inflow-outflow balance referred to above will be damaged. Less will flow in than otherwise would have occurred. The outflow, however, will not be much affected for a long time to come. It's not clear that outcome was fully foreseen when the state and the Committee of Two pushed the Regents to adopt the degraded plan for new hires.

You can hear the Subcommittee at the link below. Discussion of the 7.25% starts at roughly minute 51.

Regents Action

The Regents are meeting this week. Yours truly will dutifully archive the audio of their meetings since the Regents refuse to preserve their own recordings for more than one year. However, it takes time to capture the audio so patience as usual will be required.

In the meantime, their is an added special session of the Regents to take action with regard to the issues raised by interference with the earlier state audit.

From the Sacramento Bee:

...“While we believe we did things appropriately, it is clear in retrospect that we could have handled this better,” Napolitano said at time. “I am sorry that we did it this way, because it has created the wrong impression and detracted from the important fact that we accept the recommendations in the audit report.”

That would not be the end of the controversy. With lawmakers rushing to introduce a bill making it a crime to “intentionally interfere” with a state auditor’s investigation, and one even calling on Napolitano to resign, UC’s governing board wanted to show that it was taking the matter seriously.

At a hastily arranged meeting in May, the Board of Regents authorized an independent investigation into the allegations of interference. The results of that review will be publicly released on Thursday, at the conclusion of the regents’ three-day meeting in San Francisco.

According to an agenda item, the board is set to take undisclosed “personnel actions,” and adopt new policies on audit compliance, related to the investigation. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that Napolitano’s chief of staff and his deputy, who directed campuses to reveal and sometimes alter their survey answers, had both “resigned to pursue other opportunities.”...

Full story at

The proposed action to be considered by the Regents is at:
A notable theme is to put more control in the hands of the Regents rather than UCOP and the UC prez when audits occur.

There will be a closed session in which personnel actions resulting from the episode will be discussed (with a promise that what was done will be revealed after the closed meeting):

UCLA Crime Report

From the LA Daily News: Rapes reported in UCLA’s jurisdiction doubled in 2016 while reported aggravated assaults tripled, according to an annual crime report issued by the university.

There were 31 alleged rapes reported last year, up from 15 reports the previous year and 25 reports in 2014, according to the 2017 UCLA Annual Security and Fire Safety Report released last month.*

Thirteen of the rapes reported last year were said to have occurred in on-campus student housing facilities, the report found. The federally-mandated report covers reported crimes that occurred on university property, affiliated buildings, or public property immediately contiguous to the campus.

“We believe the increase in the number of sexual assault reports is related to increased outreach and educational programs by various entities within the University,” Lt. Scott Scheffler of the UCLA Police Department’s Investigations Division said in a recent email.

“On-Campus Housing, the Dean of Students office, and the Title IX office provide education throughout the school year, and the UCLA Police Department gives presentations to entities such as fraternities and sororities,” he added.

It was not immediately clear how many of the alleged rapes occurred in 2016 and how many occurred in previous years. But Scheffler said Monday that he believes most of those reported last year allegedly occurred the same year.

There were also a significant rise in aggravated assaults, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, according to the report.

The number of reported aggravated assaults, which involves a clear intent to commit serious bodily injury to another, spiked from 10 in 2015 to 31 in 2016.

There were 14 reports of domestic violence made last year, up from two in 2015.
Reports of dating violence surged from one in 2015 to 10 in 2016.

The number of reported stalking incidents jumped to eight in 2016, up from one each in 2015 and 2014.

Information regarding any arrests made or charges filed in connection to these reported crimes was not immediately available from UCLA police officials.


Room Without a View

Yours truly had lunch at the UCLA Grant Hotel yesterday. (See! He's not prejudiced, although he did notice that the place was not bustling.) One of the guests at lunch reported finding the view from a hotel room window in the building blocked off with "a temporary window treatment" so that no one could spy on the the "closed practices" of the football team. I'm just reporting the news, not making it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Further update on unfortunate incident

Via email if you haven't seen it:

To the Campus Community:

I know many of you have heard the news over the past week about three of our men’s basketball student-athletes who were detained by police in connection with a shoplifting incident in China. Since that time, our primary focus has been on bringing our students back safely, and I am pleased to report that they are now returning home.
I would like to express my gratitude to all who helped us get to this point. I also want to acknowledge everyone who wrote or called to express their thoughts and concerns. We have heard and appreciate everyone’s views. I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law. We remain one of the world’s top academic institutions in large part because of our values and standards, which we work hard to infuse throughout our campus community.
When members of the UCLA family fail to uphold these values, we review these incidents with fair and thorough processes. In this particular case, both Athletics and the Office of Student Conduct will review this incident and guide any action with respect to the involved students. Such proceedings are confidential, which limits the specific information that can be shared.
Our primary concern remains the safety and well-being of all members of our community, particularly our students. I am grateful they are headed home.
Gene D. Block

Update: "Unfortunate" incident appears over

An update from our prior post this morning:

The three UCLA freshmen basketball players held in China for a week were seen at an airport Tuesday night checking into a flight bound for Los Angeles, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley have been detained at a hotel in Hangzhou, accused by Chinese authorities of shoplifting a pair of designer sunglasses from an upscale store during the Bruins’ visit last week.

Airline staff spotted the three players checking into the Delta flight at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport, the Journal reported. The flight left at 9 p.m. local time...

Full story at

What action UCLA takes after they arrive remains to be seen. (But it will surely be watched.)

Latest Speech Event at UCLA...

...apparently went off without major turmoil. (You probably didn't know it was happening. No riot. No damage. No national headlines. Just some over-the-top comments.)

From the Bruin:

About 150 individuals attended a protest against a speech by a conservative commentator at Bruin Plaza on Monday.

Several student groups, including Socialist Students UCLA and the Young Democratic Socialists at UCLA, organized the protest in response to a lecture by Ben Shapiro at Ackerman Union. Shapiro, who was invited to campus by the Bruin Republicans, graduated from UCLA in 2004 and is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Wire, a conservative news and opinion website.

Protesters chanted, “It isn’t a debate when you’re just spreading hate” and “Nazis go home,” while marching around Bruin Plaza and along Bruin Walk. Several protesters also held signs saying “Racists, sexists, anti-gay! Right-wing bigots, go away!”

Tala Deloria, an organizer for Refuse Fascism UCLA, said the group held the protest because its members think Shapiro’s speech hurts marginalized communities on campus. She said she thinks Shapiro is xenophobic, racist and sexist, and added she thinks he has made controversial statements in the past, including saying that transgender individuals have a mental illness.

Henry DeGroot, a fourth-year political science student and organizer with Socialist Students UCLA said the group organized the protest to demonstrate that most students do not agree with Shapiro’s rhetoric. DeGroot added he thinks UCLA broke with campus policy in paying for the event’s security costs after facing pressure from Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal organization.

“This is not really just about one small chapter of Bruin Republicans. It’s about the whole right-wing establishment organizing a cultural war on campuses,” DeGroot said. “We’re here to say that this is coming from the outside, that most students don’t support this and that most students are calling for progressive values, not for anti-gay bigotry.”

Attendees also included counterprotesters and individuals observing the event.

Carol Cruz, the vice president of College Republicans at Pierce College, brought her group to the protest to interact with and learn from the protesters.

“I think that it’s great that people are exercising their right to protest. But I do feel a bit concerned that a lot of (Shapiro’s) quotes are taken out of context,” Cruz said. “As someone who listens to all of Ben Shapiro’s podcasts, I can tell you there are a few words to those sentences that would change the meanings.”

Several individuals who said they supported Shapiro and wore “Make America Great Again” hats got in arguments with the protesters. Some also filmed protesters on their phones, and began chanting “show your face” when students said they did not want to appear on camera.

One individual asked the crowd of protesters if they did not like him because he is white after they yelled profanities at him. Some Shapiro supporters then told students to go back to their parents’ basements as student protesters began to leave Bruin Walk.

Arthur Schaper, a member of Los Angeles County for Trump, said he protested to stand up for free speech.

“I’m fed up with kids being indoctrinated with everything like cultural Marxism,” Schaper said. “(Students think) everything is bad, and people don’t have a right to speak.”

Several students and alumni said they participated in the protest because they did not agree with Shapiro’s views.

Teyahja Wysinger, a first-year business economics student, said the event made her feel unsafe on campus.

“I feel like I’m going to be targeted now from people that don’t even belong here,” she said. “UCLA should be a safe space for everyone.”

Daniel Phelan, a graduate student of structural earthquake engineering, said he thinks Shapiro’s views on LGBTQ individuals can endanger those individuals on campus.

“He is so vehemently against and spewing hatred of (LBGTQ) groups,” Phelan said.

Luna Hernandez, who graduated from UCLA in 2017, said she thinks students should protest against conservative views and speakers.

“I think it’s very right that students are out here protesting (against) someone who upholds white supremacy, ” she said.


"Unfortunate" - The Saga Continues

The latest from the LA Daily News:

President Donald Trump said today Chinese President Xi Jinping is helping out regarding three UCLA basketball players suspected of shoplifting

“President Xi has been terrific on that subject,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One, bound for Honolulu following the conclusion of his 12-day trip to Asia. “But that was not a good subject. That was not something that should have happened.”

Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were detained last Tuesday on suspicion of shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou. They remain under house arrest at the hotel.

“What they did was unfortunate,” Trump said. “You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. They do not play games.”

When asked, “Do you expect to see them coming home soon?” Trump replied, “I hope so, hope so.”

The Washington Post reported Monday that a U.S. official indicated that shoplifting charges against the players have been reduced, and the case could be resolved soon.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Update to Previous Post

Three UCLA basketball players suspected of shoplifting remained under house arrest in China Monday, amid a report that President Donald Trump intervened in the case by asking Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the investigation.

According to The Washington Post, Trump discussed the players' arrests during his visit to China, and Xi promised to look into the case and ensure the players are treated fairly and expeditiously.

There was no immediate response to an email sent by City News Service to a White House official seeking confirmation of the report.

The Post reported that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has been in touch with the players' families and spoken to UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford. According to The Post, a U.S. official indicated that shoplifting charges against the players have been reduced, and the case could be resolved soon...

Full story at

Not Good - Part 4

From the LA Times: The three UCLA basketball players enmeshed in a legal fiasco in China emerged publicly for the first time Monday and a spokesman insisted they are “doing fine.”

LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley walked out of Hangzhou’s Hyatt Regency health club in Bruins workout gear and lumbered toward the elevators. Chris Carlson, UCLA associate athletic director, accompanied them.

“We’re doing fine,” Carlson said politely when asked while the players slipped into the elevator behind him. Ball wore brown headphones draped around his neck.

The three Bruins remain holed up in the Chinese lakeside city of Hangzhou nearly a week after police questioned them under suspicion of shoplifting designer sunglasses. The men stayed behind when the team continued on to Shanghai for its season opener Saturday, a tight win over Georgia Tech.

The team then returned to Los Angeles that day, but the young men continue to await their fate in this southeastern coastal city as Chinese authorities determine how to proceed. Officials have permitted them to remain where the team initially stayed -- a Hyatt Regency on the lake with evening jazz performances and a glass-enclosed pool.

A person familiar with the situation said both representatives from UCLA and the Pac-12 are accompanying the players. Ball’s family – in China to film its Facebook reality show “Ball in the Family” – is not. Lavar Ball, the vocal father of Ball and Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, said Monday in a tweet that he and his youngest son LaMelo Ball were in Hong Kong to market his $495 Big Baller Brand shoes.

The players are said to be suspected of stealing from a Louis Vuitton outlet around the corner from the hotel, where some sunglasses go for $740. ESPN cited anonymous sources Sunday that said surveillance footage shows them shoplifting from three stores in the high-end mall.

Louis Vuitton employees and headquarters declined to comment. A Salvatore Ferragamo employee confirmed Monday that the three had visited the store, but said nothing unusual took place.

“Three tall gentlemen, right?” he said. “They came through here, but just browsed normally.”

A Gucci employee, in a spot nearby, also said no one stole from the store. Those at Italian luxury shop Ermenegildo Zegna declined to comment.

The Bruins visited China to play in the Pac-12 China Game sponsored by Alibaba, an e-commerce giant based in Hangzhou. Alibaba has assumed that role for the last three years, and recently acquired broadcast rights to Pac-12 games including basketball and football.

Company co-founder Joe Tsai spoke warmly about the Bruins when the team visited its headquarters Monday. Tsai, who has a home in San Diego and recently agreed to buy a stake in the Brooklyn Nets, even mentioned seeing one of the freshmen team members play in high school.

The online marketplace company has an outsized role in the city. Jack Ma, an English teacher who became one of China’s richest men, dreamed up the business from his cramped apartment here. Alibaba is now the world’s largest retailer. It helped transform Hangzhou, a city of 9 million known for its shimmery lake, into an affluent, thriving tech center.

Alibaba spokesman Robert Christie said the company was satisfied overall with this year’s game. He referred further inquires to UCLA.

Hangzhou police, whose guarded headquarters is located less than a mile from the stores where the suspected shoplifting occurred, didn’t answer calls.

The investigation began just before Alibaba’s most important event of the year, Singles’ Day, a parade of consumption that offers deals on everything from airline tickets to floor mops which far outstrips Black Friday. On Saturday, the company garnered a record $25 billion in sales in just 24 hours.

Even so, Duncan Clark, author of “Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built,” thought it unlikely that company officials would intervene on the players’ behalf – or, if they did, that it would amount to much.

“For Jack to weigh in himself would be inadvisable,” he said. “It could be seen as being excessively deferential to foreigners, and foreigners who – indirectly at least – were sponsored to visit China by his company.”


More on 70%

Excerpt from letter from Academic Council chair Shane White to UC president Janet Napolitano concerning the possible removal of the 70% limit on retiree health contributions by UC:

...The 2010 Post-Employment Benefits Task Force process resulted in an understanding that 70% would be the absolute floor for University contributions to retiree health, a social contract by the employees with the employer, a reduction in the employer contribution so that the benefit would be sustainable. Breaking this commitment could undermine the confidence of current and future UC employees, so it should not be a choice that is made casually. If a new policy is to come out of this process, the Senate’s view is that we look for ways to convey some form of commitment.

While we recognize that the administration wants to emphasize that these are not vested benefits, it is also worth keeping in mind that any benefit has value only to the extent that employees feel it can be expected to be maintained with a reasonably high degree of confidence. Put differently, the recruitment and retention benefits from any program are attenuated by anything that casts doubt on their permanence. Such an outcome is not in anyone’s interest...

The full exchange of documents on this issue is now on the Academic Senate website at:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Not Good - Part 3

From the LA TimesUCLA’s basketball team returned from Shanghai after its season-opening victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday without the three players ensnared in a legal imbroglio over the alleged theft of designer sunglasses.

Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley remained in a hotel in Hangzhou, China, along with a contingent of UCLA and Pac-12 Conference officials, according to a person close to the situation not authorized to comment publicly because of the sensitive nature of the information...
The players are expected to remain in the hotel until their legal situation is resolved...

Saturday, November 11, 2017

UC Regents Moving Ahead; UT Regents Seem to Falter

Trinity test of first atomic bomb: July 16, 1945
As we have noted in recent posts, the UC Regents are about to approve a bid for UC to continue in its management role at the Los Alamos lab, an arrangement that goes back to the Manhattan Project of World War II and the co-director of the Project, Berkeley professor J. Robert Oppenheimer. 

The U of Texas was apparently also planning to submit a bid to the U.S. Dept. of Energy but apparently is now holding back for reasons unknown:

The University of Texas System regents postponed a vote Thursday on submitting a bid to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory. The surprise move would not immediately stop the university from working toward potentially bidding on the lab contract, according to a university official. The regents discussed the matter in a closed-door session earlier that day, but made the decision in a meeting Thursday without giving a reason.

Deputy Chancellor David Daniel told the Los Alamos Monitor Friday the bid process would continue. “The University of Texas System team continues to work diligently on a potential bid to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, and looks forward to sharing its work with the UT System Board of Regents at the scheduled meeting ‪November 27,” he said in a written statement.

The university system had approved $4.5 million in university funds to pursue the bid. They are among the educational and business institutions expected to bid on the National Nuclear Security Administration management and operations request for proposals recently released. Bids are due by Dec. 11. The university regents are expected to meet again Nov. 27 to vote again on the bid proposal.

According to former staff member-turned-consultant for the University of Texas Susan Rogers, who spoke with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Oct. 13, university system researchers have received the largest share of research grants funded by the Department of Energy during the most recent 10-year period. “We have demonstrated abilities to assemble robust and mutually accountable partnerships with private industries and premier institutions that will be necessary to ensure LANL’s success,” Rogers said. The current multibillion-dollar management contract held by Los Alamos National Security LLC expires in 2018. NNSA announced in late 2015 that LANS would be losing the contract after failing to earn high performance reviews.

Los Alamos National Security's partners include the University of California and Bechtel National Inc. Both entities have expressed interest in bidding for the new contract. 


Note: Other institutions, such as Texas A&M, may bid, even if U of Texas doesn't.

As we always do when this matter comes up, we recommend the 1980 BBC series - free on YouTube - dealing with Oppenheimer, Los Alamos, and politics at Berkeley in the World War II era:

Part 1: [link below]
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:
Part 6:
Part 7:

Friday, November 10, 2017

State Revenues Ahead of Estimate

The state controller's latest cash report indicates that revenues to the General Fund through October are running ahead of estimates made when the budget was passed last June to the tune of around half a billion dollars.

You can find the report at:

The Michigan Model

Politico reviews the "Michigan Model," a semi-privatization of the U of Michigan during a state budget crisis.

In Trump country, a university confronts its skeptics

The University of Michigan, like many public flagship universities, faces a crisis of confidence in working-class communities.

By BENJAMIN WERMUND 11/09/2017 Politico

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan’s most legendary president coined what’s become an unofficial mission statement for one of the nation’s first public universities: to provide “an uncommon education for the common man.”

Michigan, he declared, would be an antidote to aristocracy.

“Have an aristocracy of birth if you will or of riches if you wish, but give our plain boys from the log cabins a chance to develop their minds with the best learning and we fear nothing from your aristocracy,” that president, James Angell, said in 1879. “In the fierce competitions of life something besides blue blood or inherited wealth is needed to compete with the brains and character from the cabins.”

Angell’s words are still a part of life at the Ann Arbor campus these days, but the spirit is missing: Today’s University of Michigan includes more than its share of blue bloods and people with inherited wealth. Like many other flagship state universities that were founded to provide a leg up for the common man, Michigan has become a school largely for students with means. A full 10 percent of its student body comes from families in the top 1 percent of earners, according to data from the Equality of Opportunity Project. Just 16 percent come from families in the bottom 60 percent of earners combined. The median income of parents of students at the university is $156,000, roughly three times the median income of Michigan families.

Tuition, which has shot up to compensate for steep state budget cuts, is a major culprit. So, too, is an elite reputation that serves to drive away potential applicants in the state that sealed Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election: There’s a sense that working-class students don’t belong there.

“It’s ingrained at an early age — ‘You’re not going to go there,’” explained Benjamin Edmondson, the superintendent of one school district in nearby Ypsilanti, Michigan, where almost every student is poor enough to qualify for a subsidized lunch. “Why? It’s expensive. Why? It’s not attainable.”

Indeed, many flagship state universities like Michigan have, despite their public missions, come to operate more like elite private universities, closer in spirit to the Ivy League than the desire for equal opportunity that helped create them. It’s a trend that’s brought increased selectivity but also a crisis of affordability and deep alienation from lower-income communities in the states they’re supposed to serve. The University of Michigan, like some others, appears to have been slow to respond to the dangers of encroaching elitism, but officials have taken steps in recent years to turn it around — most notably announcing that, starting next year, the university will offer free tuition to Michigan families making less than $65,000 per year.

The efforts have shown some promise, but they’ve also encountered surprising resistance.

That resistance is visible in Ypsilanti, the working-class city just seven miles from the university’s campus in Ann Arbor, one of America’s iconic college towns, with coffeehouses, boutiques and upscale eateries. Ypsilanti — once an automotive powerhouse, home to a storied auto plant that made bomber parts during World War II — is a place where students would, in theory, benefit greatly from the opportunities that open up to Michigan graduates.

But Edmondson can recall just one Ypsilanti student who has gone to Michigan out of more than 400 graduates of his district over the past two years, a fact that frustrates people in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti alike.

The sting is especially great because Michigan has earned a reputation as a champion of diversity. For a time, the university aggressively — and successfully — promoted racial diversity. In the 1990s, the university nearly doubled its percentage of black students and more than quadrupled its share of Hispanic students. The policies sparked legal challenges and yielded two Supreme Court decisions.

But economic inequality never got the same fervid advocacy. As James Duderstadt, the former president who led the university during the era of affirmative action in the 1990s, put it, the university actually adopted policies that worked against economic diversity. University leaders compensated for declining state funding by aggressively recruiting out-of-state students who could pay a higher price — “more characteristic of the ‘top 1%’ than the ‘common man,’” Duderstadt wrote in his book “A 50 Year History of Social Diversity at the University of Michigan.”

It’s a fact that frustrates those who believe public universities should help spur social mobility.

“If you’re a poor person in Michigan and you don’t hate the University of Michigan, you deserve to,” said Walter Benn Michaels, an English professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studies diversity issues in higher education. “That has to be a completely obnoxious institution.”

But if that’s true, Michigan isn’t the only one. The University of Virginia, which was such a source of pride to Thomas Jefferson that he insisted its founding be etched on his gravestone, caters to an almost identical demographic, according to the Equality of Opportunity Project data. More than 8 percent of University of Virginia students are from the top 1 percent and just 15 percent of the student body is from the bottom 60 percent of earners. At the leafy University of Vermont, the figures are 7 percent and 21 percent. At the University of Alabama, it’s 6 percent and 21 percent.

A recent analysis of the Equality of Opportunity Project data — which used tax data to study campus economic trends from 2000 to 2011, the most recent years available — by the D.C.-based think tank New America found that since the late 1990s, nearly two-thirds of selective public universities increased the share of students in the top 20 percent and reduced the share from the bottom 40 percent.

Another recent report, by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, found that at 24 public flagship universities, out-of-state students represent at least 40 percent of freshman enrollment. At 11 public flagships, out-of-state students account for more than half of all freshmen. Out-of-state enrollment at prestigious public flagship research universities like the University of Michigan grew by 80 students per year, on average, from 2013 to 2015.

“We are shutting the doors of higher education — of public higher education — to low-income students,” said Stephen Burd, who led the New America analysis. “That’s incredibly distressing considering public higher education is supposed to be the cheaper option that common people — real people — could go to. Now you see these public colleges are acting just like the private colleges. It’s kind of scary in terms of what this means for opportunity in this country.”

Americans, meanwhile, are increasingly losing faith in higher education. Republicans see universities as out of touch, pushing a liberal agenda on their students. Democrats see them as too expensive. Increasingly, the working class sees higher education as not worth the cost — despite the fact that a growing share of jobs require a postsecondary degree.

President Donald Trump played to that sentiment on the campaign trail, railing against elitist universities that he declared “a place of extreme censorship,” while calling the rising cost of college “very unfair.” His administration has questioned the value of four-year degrees, saying elite universities aren’t for everyone and more students should attend community colleges or technical schools.

That message likely resonates in Michigan, which Trump won unexpectedly.

“After the election … I looked at the state and how red it was,” said Sarah Anthony, deputy director of a group called the Michigan College Access Network, which seeks to boost college readiness, participation, and completion — particularly among low-income students and first-generation college students. “The [areas] that did go for Trump — there’s a low educational attainment rate.”

Those were the areas, Anthony said, where “we’re having the toughest time building college-going culture.” In some areas of the state, the group has presented parents with facts about how much more people earn with a college degree or how many jobs require a higher education “and just gotten thrown out of room,” she said.

"These are non-negotiable facts and people are just like, ‘We don’t think that’s true,'" she said. "'We’re going to encourage our kids to go into farming because that’s worked for us.'"


The working class was for a long time the lifeblood of the University of Michigan. In 1935, the university’s vice president batted away the notion that the university had become a “rich man’s school,” writing in the alumni magazine that “anybody on campus knows how false and how silly this statement is.”

“Those who know the campus, who have watched students in the main going to and from classes in clothing that is inexpensive, serviceable and worn; those who have collected student fees and know how hard those fees ‘come'; those who have sat in Loan Committee meetings and heard the stories of individual efforts; those who have watched the speed and rapidity with which students go after every possible job that appears on the horizon — all these know that any statement that the University of Michigan is solely or largely a rich man’s school is a falsehood out of whole cloth,” Shirley Smith wrote.

To make his point, he included a list of occupations of students’ parents: Farmers and factory workers were among the most common.

“It is unthinkable that the boys and girls from the vast majority of the homes whose support comes from the occupations listed do not know from hard experience the value of each dollar they spend,” he wrote.

“The University of Michigan was indeed a ‘working-class’ public university for most of its history,” Duderstadt, the former president, told POLITICO.

After World War II, veterans poured onto campus with their new GI Bill benefits. So many came that the university opened satellites in Dearborn and Flint, which are now full-blown universities.

When Duderstadt arrived on campus as a professor in the late 1960s, there were still many working-class students. But he’s watched that change.

Like flagships in nearly every other state, Michigan has been wracked by budget cuts as the state legislature, beginning in the 1970s, has steadily squeezed what was once a robust funding stream.

In the late 1960s, the state covered 70 percent of instructional costs. By the late 1990s, state support covered less than 10 percent of instructional costs, which were largely unchanged when adjusted for inflation.

The trend has persisted. One recent report found that, since 2002, state support for higher education in Michigan has declined 30 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

The university, like nearly every other state school in the nation, leaned on tuition to make up the difference. In-state tuition rose, but university leaders also focused on another, more lucrative, funding stream: out-of-state students — many of them elite students from wealthy families who couldn’t get into the Ivy League. Michigan was the next best thing.

“The university had no choice but to increase out-of-state enrollments of students paying essentially private tuition levels,” Duderstadt said.

Tuition rose to $14,826 a year for Michigan students; room and board adds about $12,000. In the 1970s, tuition was less than $600 per year. Out-of-state students, who now pay $47,476 per year, make up roughly half of the student body at Michigan, up from 30 percent in the late 1960s.

But as tuition rose, wages stagnated. The median family income in Michigan in 1984 was $50,546, in 2016 dollars. In 2016, it was $57,091.

The working class was priced out.

Despite that, Michigan remains the pride of the state (except for those who attended rival Michigan State). People still identify with the university’s powerhouse — and powerfully branded — football program. Yellow “M's” are ubiquitous — on blue flags outside houses, on car bumpers, hats, T-shirts.

Even some street signs in Ypsilanti bear the university’s signature blue and yellow.

“It’s home,” Alexus Chambers, a senior at Ypsilanti Community High School, said of the university. “I’m from out here.”

The University of Michigan says it has enrolled between 27 and 34 students from Ypsilanti each of the last three years. That figure accounts for all high schools within Ypsilanti, including the district run by Edmondson, but also others, such as an International Baccalaureate school that has sent every one of its graduates to college over the last three years.

But many students in Ypsilanti still don’t see a way in. Many have to work part-time jobs to help their families. They don’t have time — or money — to take test preparation courses or, in some cases, sign up for electives like band or sports that would give them a leg up.

They see the University of Michigan’s sky-high admissions standards and think it’s just not worth it — especially when they can stay in Ypsilanti and attend Eastern Michigan University. Half of Michigan’s students scored between a 29 and a 33 on the ACT, a few points shy of a perfect score on a test shown time and again to favor wealthy students. According to ACT data, students from families making $80,000 or more scored a full 4 points higher on the test than those making less than $80,000. That gap actually grew over the past five years.

“Most of these students, it’s more about survival,” said Tonysha Emerson, a counselor at Ypsilanti Community High School. “If I can get a 22 on the ACT and go to Eastern [Michigan University], that’s easier for me.”

But the type of university a student attends makes a big difference. The University of Michigan has a graduation rate of 90 percent, and graduates make $60,100 on average after attending, according to federal data. Eastern Michigan has a 38 percent graduation rate and graduates make just $37,500 on average after graduating.

That pattern is replicated across the country: High-achieving students who attend more selective schools graduate at higher rates, earn higher incomes, and are more likely to pursue a graduate degree, according to a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation report. It cited another study that underscored the power of attending a school with prestige: According to that study, 49 percent of corporate industry leaders and 50 percent of government leaders graduated from just 12 institutions, mostly elite private universities along the East Coast.

“If we want a nation where at least some of our leaders know first-hand what it is like to grow up poor, then the doors of selective institutions must be open to students from all communities,” the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation report said. “Low-income students depend on higher education as a route to social mobility, but college will never be the great equalizer if the brightest of the poor cannot even get in the door.”

Emerson said she tries to push students — especially the school’s best students — to think about the public ivy down the road. But, she said, “most of our 17-, 18-year-olds are working at local fast-food restaurants. They’re coming from classes, going right to work; they’re helping out” their families.

It’s a problem the university is starting to address. It launched a slew of initiatives and efforts meant to diversify its student body racially over the past five decades — including the push in the 1990s that led to two Supreme Court decisions and an eventual ban on affirmative action in the state. But officials have never sought to reach the state’s poorest students in the same way — until now. The latest diversity plan includes a concerted effort to reach more low-income students.

One aspect is a sort of college prep program in Ypsilanti, Detroit and Southfield. Students can start the program in seventh grade. Theoretically, it prepares them for admissions to the flagship, and if they are accepted after graduation, then they can attend for free.

Chambers is in the program, dubbed “Wolverine Pathways,” and she said she’s gotten help with writing and SAT preparation. Without the program, she said, she doesn’t think she’d stand a chance at getting in — much less affording to attend.

“Tuition at the University of Michigan is very high,” she said. “I’d be at Eastern or Wayne State.”

But the program is extremely intensive. It requires students to attend classes after school and show up nearly every Saturday of the school year. And it has a very strict attendance policy. Emerson said one student “who’s a total ideal candidate” for the program was kicked out after a medical condition caused her to miss some of the classes.

Jordan Massey, a senior at Ypsilanti Community High School, said he wants to go to Michigan — his cousin graduated from the school and he thinks he could do it, too. But he couldn’t do the pathways program and band, which he called a “big priority,” so he chose to keep playing the alto saxophone.

“I love the program, but it’s very strict,” said Edmondson, the Ypsilanti superintendent. “You have to give every weekend. It’s difficult on a family that has other priorities. Everybody is not buying into, ‘I want to be at the University of Michigan — I’m going to give up all of this to go.”

And, it doesn’t guarantee admissions.

“That’s a hard sell,” he said. “If we don’t get in, then what?”


That many working-class families in Michigan see the state’s flagship as out of reach is not lost on university leaders.

“It drives us nuts,” said Kedra Ishop, vice provost for enrollment management. That’s because the university has long covered costs for the low-income students who get in, spending more than $170 million a year on need-based aid for undergraduates. Still, the perception persists that it’s too expensive.

It’s not just at Michigan. Research has shown that the vast majority of high-achieving students from low-income families don’t apply to any selective college — despite the fact that selective institutions with generous aid may actually cost them less than two-year colleges and less selective four-year universities to which they do apply.

It’s a perception that makes sense to Ishop, who grew up in a small town in southeast Texas. It stems from a mix of things: a sticker price much higher than that of other schools in the state, financial aid policies that make parents’ eyes glaze over, lingo — such as “demonstrated need” — that makes little sense to first-generation students.

But it also goes deeper, to issues beyond the university’s control. Ann Arbor is among the state’s wealthiest communities. Sandwiches at Zingerman’s Deli — an Ann Arbor institution that is one of the city’s most famous eateries — cost $15 or more. Street parking around the university is nearly three times as much as it is in Ypsilanti.

“Students are coming from communities that don’t have these kinds of gilded towers and fancy restaurants downtown and students from means from all over the world and the country,” Ishop said.

She recounted stopping in Bivouac, an outdoor clothing store along State Street’s strip of boutiques, when she first started working at Michigan and being stunned at the cost of coats.

“Who does that? Who pays that?” she remembers thinking.

“Perception matters,” she said. “That’s human nature. Our challenge is how do we push through that human nature tendency to explain what we do have.”

The key to reaching low-income students, she says, may be in better marketing. The highest-achieving low-income students aren’t all grouped in one community or high school. But many of those schools don’t have strong relationships with universities like Michigan and rarely send students to elite colleges, so counselors, teachers and principals may not know how to help students to apply.

A 2013 study found that reaching out to those students directly helps quite a bit. Students who received semi-personalized information about financial aid, as well as fee waivers and application guidance, were significantly more likely to apply to more schools, the study found.

So the university launched a new scholarship program aimed at low-income students in the state. Deemed the High Achieving Involved Leader (HAIL — a play on the school’s fight song, which goes “Hail! Hail! To Michigan, the leaders and the best”), the scholarship program served as an experiment, as well.

The university teamed with Susan Dynarski, a well-known education policy expert, who was able to get a list of all of the students in the state who qualified for free and reduced lunch.

Dynarski, who herself is a first-generation college graduate, had an idea of where these students were coming from. They needed something personalized, something that would catch their attention and make it very clear that they could both apply to and attend the university for free.

So the university put together a hefty packet in bright yellow and blue that they sent to the best-performing low-income students in the state. Parents also get a letter, and the university gives high school principals a list of students who received the offers, so they can make sure the student pays attention to it.

Inside is a can’t-miss hard-sell from university President Mark Schlissel: “You are an academically excellent student who has worked hard for your considerable achievements. Congratulations!” a signed note from Schlissel says. “I’m excited to make you an outstanding offer.”

The packet contains a stack of materials about the university, but perhaps most importantly, is a sheet with easy-to-read instructions on how to apply and at the bottom, a strip of tear-off coupons: “NO FEE FAFSA,” says one, promising that students don’t have to pay a dime for the federal student aid application.

It’s a marketing gimmick. The first “F” in FAFSA stands for “free.” The coupon makes no difference. The same is true for the others in the pack, which promise to waive application fees that the university wouldn’t have charged these students anyway.

But the gimmick worked. Students who received the HAIL packet applied at three times the rate of a control group. The university enrolled 262 students from 52 Michigan counties in the first year. It sent out over 1,200 more packets to students in October.

Now the university is betting on an even bigger gimmick: promising free tuition to families making $65,000 or less — even though those students already were attending free of charge for the most part. The university has begun advertising online and in movie theaters across the state.

The idea is to get the message to students early, so they can make it a goal to get into Michigan. The university wants seventh graders to hear they can go to the college for free when deciding whether or not to take algebra in the eighth grade. They want to reach eighth-graders weighing whether to sign up for Advanced Placement classes in high school.

“This is a marketing campaign,” Ishop admits. “It’s meant to be a signal to families and to students, reaching as far back into their education as possible to motivate their academic choices so they’re better candidates.”


Michigan’s efforts have shown some promise. The number of students on Pell Grants, federal aid for low-income students, have risen, though the gains are modest and have leveled off. Just 16 percent of undergraduates receive Pell Grants. Michigan still ranks among the bottom of state schools in the nation in terms of Pell enrollment.

Some want the university, and other elite publics like it, to do more by moving away from economically biased admissions standards like standardized test scores, for instance.

“They’re still creaming the cream of the cream,” said Arizona State University President Michael Crow. “The University of Michigan is worried about losing their elite status. Their elite status is not on what they produce, it’s on who they don’t admit. What elite status is that? That’s not elite status.”

Crow is also president of the University Innovation Alliance, a group of 11 colleges that have banded together to create strategies to help low-income students. Some of those schools, including Arizona State, have started caring less about grades and test scores. Crow says the school will accept just about anyone with an A or B average.

“If everybody that ends up going to the great universities are the ‘A’ kids in high school, then we’ve got something wrong,” Crow said. “We’re not drawing from a breadth of talent.”

Some universities, like the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, which isn’t part of the alliance, have made the decision to care less about things like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses that aren’t available in every high school and look at other aspects of a student’s résumé. For instance, did they work part time to help their family get by?

“Maybe people don’t have the same flashy credentials that students 10 miles from them may have,” said Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions.

Farmer said UNC-Chapel Hill, one of the nation’s most elite public universities, had put too much emphasis on students taking “extraordinarily difficult courses of study in high school — all college-level courses from ninth grade to when they graduate.”

He said many students had taken “16, 17, 18 [International Baccalaureate] courses.”

“We’d fallen into the trap where we sort of intuitively felt students taking hard classes in high school would help them become better students here ... that if a student took one, then taking two must better … all the way out to infinity,” he said. “That wasn’t fair. Not everybody has access to those courses.”

Ishop, the enrollment chief at Michigan, says it’s taking a more holistic approach in admissions, too.

“What we know in our world is that test scores are correlated to income, AP courses are correlated to income, applying to selective schools is correlated to income,” Ishop said. “We take all of that in context to the student’s academic environment.”

Despite some students' sky-high test scores, the university does not disqualify applicants without them.

“When you have a student that’s presenting … a 21 on the ACT — that is well below our 31 average, but that 21 might be 6 points higher than the average test score for that school,” Ishop said. “That’s one of the best scores that school has ever seen, and that student is still very attractive to us, and has shown they have fortitude and academic skills. … That’s a student we’ll pay close attention to.”

But some students don’t understand that. Ishop acknowledged that showing high school students the average test score at Michigan “can be a dream killer.” They’ve stopped presenting the figure at some high schools.

And few high school students realize the lengths the university may go to to help them attend.

Courtney Morris, a transition coordinator at the River Rouge school district near Detroit, said she took some of her students to Ann Arbor last winter to show them the campus, which many had never seen.

“My students loved it,” she said. “But a lot of the comments I got were like, ‘I would love to be here, but I know I can’t be here — I don’t have the grades to be here, I don’t have the money, I can’t afford it.”

The perceptions have become deeply ingrained, and no university has yet found a completely effective way to combat them. Universities like Michigan are finally waking up, but their reputations have already suffered. According to recent Gallup polling, very few working-class Americans have faith in higher education. Just 49 percent of those making less than $75,000 a year and identified as Democrats had confidence in higher education. The figure was 34 percent for Republicans.

It’s a stark shift — and one that college leaders say needs to be turned around quickly.

“The notion was that these institutions were powerfully important for the success of the democracy,” Crow said. “If you want the democracy to work, if you want people to have more productive lives, if you want the economy to be more competitive and adaptive, if you want more participation in the democratic process, then educational attainment is really important.”