Monday, May 22, 2017

Empty Seats on the Regents: Reminder

Jerry Brown Could Overhaul UC Leadership If He Wanted To. Here's How

Capital Public Radio, Ben Adler, 5-22-17

Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget proposal calls for withholding $50 million from the University of California until the UC improves its financial accountability and admits more community college transfers. It’s his way of pushing for change despite the UC’s constitutional independence.

But the governor has a far more effective tool to overhaul the UC that he has yet to take full advantage of: He could reshape the Board of Regents by filling its four current vacancies.

“I think it would be a game-changer if the governor filled the remaining four vacancies with people who were ready to roll up their sleeves and try to approach their love of the university through improving it – not just through defending what it is at the moment,” says Regent and former Assembly Speaker John Pérez, whom Brown appointed in 2014.

And when asked after Thursday’s board meeting if he’d like to see the governor appoint four regents to the four vacancies that would hold the president’s office more accountable, Regent and current Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon replied, “Absolutely.”

The anger and frustration from the state Capitol toward the University of California is bipartisan. A state audit last month blasted the president’s office for a lack of financial transparency, just weeks after UC regents voted to raise tuition. Lawmakers have also pushed the UC to admit more in-state students and cut costs in the president’s office.

“Absolutely, we want to ensure there’s greater accountability,” says Board Chair Monica Lozano. “But that can’t be the only criteria. (The UC) is a very complex institution.”

The governor appoints 18 of the 26 board members. The others are elected officials, the UC president, two alumni and a student.

Lozano says regents already exercise strong oversight of the president’s office, and are taking more action in light of the audit’s findings. But, she adds, there’s good reason for the UC’s constitutional independence – and the audit shouldn’t lead to an overreaction.

“It’s difficult to look at a snapshot of what is a very complex set of factors and think that because of this one moment, you have to move the spectrum to a particular end,” Lozano says.

Brown’s office says it’s taking the time it needs to find the best people to serve – especially because regents serve 12-year terms.


Listen to the Regents Meeting of May 18, 2017

As promised, we provide below a link to the full audio of the Regents meeting of May 18th. The main issue of focus of the four and a half hour session was the state audit.

The Daily Bruin provided a summary:

The governing board of the University of California met for the last day of its bimonthly board meeting at UC San Francisco on Thursday. The Board of Regents heard details about the state’s audit of the UC Office of the President, discussed UCOP’s budget and approved a cap on nonresident student enrollment. Ex officio regents Anthony Rendon, speaker of the assembly, and Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, attended the meeting.
Board of Regents
  • State Auditor Elaine Howle presented the results of her office’s audit of UCOP. She emphasized the audit aimed to look at UCOP’s protocols and procedures, not critique UC President Janet Napolitano’s leadership.
  • Howle also expressed concerns about UCOP’s schedule for implementing the audit’s recommendations. The audit recommended a three-year plan, starting April 2018, to begin implementing changes to align with the state’s legislative and budget cycle. However, UCOP had asked to begin implementing them by July 2018, which Howle said she thought was unreasonable.
  • Howle said the audit had difficulty measuring the cost of systemwide UCOP and the number of services campuses are actually using. She added she was concerned by UCOP’s interference with her attempts to conduct confidential surveys with individual campuses. The regents approved hiring an independent third party to investigate UCOP’s alleged interference May 11.
  • She also said she hopes regents will hold public meetings to discuss people’s opinions on systemwide initiatives and will continue overseeing UCOP.
  • Rachael Nava, UC chief operating officer and head of the task force in charge of implementing the audit’s recommendations, laid out UCOP’s plans for implementation, including changing budget practices. She said UCOP will now separately display past funds and provide reserve balances.
  • Regent Monica Lozano, chair of the board, said the recommendations were not just about complying, but changing the institutional culture of UCOP.
  • The regents voted to authorize a budget for UCOP for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, but the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee will review it in depth before the regents vote to confirm increased funding for certain programs at the July meeting.
  • The board also approved actions the committees voted on during Wednesday’s meeting.

Audio link below:

On the audit: Somebody missed the boat

With all the fuss about the state audit, one might have thought that the auditor would have focused on where the big bucks that the Regents oversee are. Consider the headline number that triggered the brouhaha that there was a "hidden reserve" in UCOP of $175 million that the Regents didn't know about, or have the ability to make policy about. UCOP, of course, disputes that number and says the "true" reserve is under $40 million. But consider the capital expenditures the Regents routinely approve, based on campus requests that are blessed by UCOP. The UCLA Grand Hotel involved an expenditure of over $150 milllion, and that was just one project!

In the course of a year, the Regents approve vast sums involved in capital projects without any built-in capacity to evaluate them. They approve projects basically on the say-so of the campuses and UCOP. If a member of the Board of Regents happens to have some professional experience in real estate, that's at best a lucky happenstance. Even when questions are raised, the campus typically comes back with the same project with some tinkering and eventually it is approved. The Regents have no independent capacity to evaluate capital expenditures.

Usually, there is some assurance by the campus and UCOP that a particular project will be built without state money so not to worry. The proposition seems to be that non-state funds have no opportunity cost which is dubious on its face. Moreover, it neglects the fact that if the project ends up costing more than expected, or its "business plan" fails, or outside fundraising proves to be inadequate, the costs will eventually have to be met by state funds and/or student fees of one kind or another.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

What the State Auditor Presented to the Regents

We continue our catching up with the Regents by skipping to the May 18 session. We have already posted audio of May 16 and the morning of May 17. We'll come back to the afternoon of May 17 and the full May 18 session in a later post. In the meantime, below is a video of what California State Auditor presented to the Regents as a summary of her earlier report. Her comments were followed by discussion of the report which UCOP has promised to implement. The report dealt with reserve funds, various initiatives by UCOP, and seeming interference by UCOP with the auditor's survey of the campuses of their evaluation of UCOP's services.

You can see her presentation below:

Listen to the Regents: Morning of May 17, 2017

Now available are the audio recordings of the meetings the Regents held on the morning of May 17, 2017.

The audios are preserved by this blog indefinitely because the Regents delete their recordings after one year. Under the revised format for Regents meetings, committees meet simultaneously in different rooms. On the morning of May 17, there was a full board meeting and then meetings of three committees. Academic and Student Affairs and then National Labs met in one room. In another room, Finance and Capital Strategies met. Here is a direct link to Academic and Student Affairs and National Labs:

All the sessions can be heard at this address:

Below is the Daily Bruin summary of the morning meetings:

The University of California Board of Regents, governing board of the UC, met at UC San Francisco for its bimonthly board meeting. The board discussed student housing, transfer student enrollment and the state budget.
Students and union workers disrupted the beginning of the meeting for about 15 minutes, chanting, “Whose university? Our university” in protest of the UC’s alleged nondisclosure of $175 million and generous salaries, which a state audit revealed in April.
Academic and Student Affairs Committee
  • The regents discussed reviewing student residency policy and planned to bring recommendations for classifying student residency by fall 2018 in preparation for newly admitted students.
  • Aimée Dorr, UC Office of the President provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, talked about implementing a one-year independent residency policy to replace the current two-year requirement. Regents also discussed how a student’s residency could impact their admission and encouraged implementing a UC policy that aligns with state laws.
  • Robin Holmes-Sullivan, vice president of student affairs, said that selected UC campuses will reach the goal of accepting one transfer student for every two freshmen by the end of next year.
  • Chancellor Gene Block said UCLA has been consistent with the two-to-one ratio since 2003. Block added UCLA achieved the admission ratio through approaching more transfer students by assigning staff members to work with community colleges in California.
  • UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox said how close a UC campus is to a community college is an important factor for transfer applicants, and thinks the UC should reach out to more transfer applicants so they have more incentives to apply. Wilcox added the UC could achieve the two-to-one ratio by reducing the number of freshman admissions.
Finance and Capital Strategies Committee
  • The committee approved budgets and designs for several new buildings at UC San Francisco and the renovation of the UCLA graduate art studio on Warner Drive.
  • The committee also approved funding to help UCLA explore the potential of five housing sites discussed at the March meeting. Regent Hadi Makarechian suggested condensing housing options because land is expensive in Westwood. Steve Olsen, UCLA vice chancellor and chief financial officer said the campus aims to house 60 percent of undergraduate students.
  • Nathan Brostrom, UCOP executive vice president and chief financial officer, updated the committee on UC President Janet Napolitano’s student housing initiative. He added the UC’s proportion of students housed on campus is lower than the proportions of private universities but higher than those of many public universities. He said campuses have added about 18,000 beds from 2006-2016.

The strawberry suit goes on, and on

Who gets it?
From time to time, we have noted this litigation which seems to go on without end. If any legal beagles want to provide an interpretation, we would welcome it.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Attorneys for the University of California, Davis, torpedoed its former researchers’ main arguments during day 4 of a contentious trial over who gets the right to breed multimillion-dollar California strawberries, raising questions as to how a federal jury will decide the case.
Former UC Davis researchers Doug Shaw and Kirk Larson ran the university’s world-renowned strawberry-breeding program until they retired in 2014. They say the school rejected their proposal to form a private breeding company once they retired that would license the strawberry plants they invented, develop new varieties from them, and pay the school royalties.
Shaw and Larson, who along with their company California Berry Cultivars (CBC) are cross-complainants in the case, claim that “powerful farming conglomerates” had the California Strawberry Commission pressure UC Davis to deny Shaw a license, by suing the school to keep the breeding program open once Shaw and Larson retired. Then, they say, the school froze CBC’s ability to work with the plants by filing a single patent application on 168 of the most valuable varieties they invented at the school – a move the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office called “inappropriate.”
The school, however, claims Shaw and Larson used its plants to develop new ones despite its denial of the license, and sued them and CBC in 2016 for violating nine patents on its most successful strawberries.
California strawberries generate $2.5 billion a year and are the state’s fifth most valuable crop. UC Davis’s agriculture school has developed 56 varieties since 1945, creating strains that are bigger, taste better, stay fresh longer and yield up to six times more per acre.
Shaw and Larson developed more than a dozen strawberry varieties at UC Davis that are grown throughout the world, and most of the strawberries currently eaten in California were invented by them. In 2004, they released the Albion variety, known for its sweetness and high yield.  It can be grown as many as nine months out of the year and is the most widely planted strawberry in California.
Although Shaw and Larson’s attorneys have argued throughout the week-long trial that the California Strawberry Commission nixed the license, it was only on Friday that they presented testimony to support their contention.
“We felt we were making a lot of progress,” farmer Jane Fujishige testified on Friday about a meeting between CBC and the California Strawberry Commission over the commission’s lawsuit against UC Davis. Fujishige Farms, which is owned by Fujishige’s family, is a member of CBC. “Then they said we would not settle, that the whole purpose of the suit was to prevent Shaw from breeding again.”
Fujishige didn’t explain her explosive statement, nor did defendants’ counsel ask her to elaborate. On cross-examination, Fujishige acknowledged the university had continued to negotiate with Shaw for a license even after the strawberry commission filed its lawsuit against UC Davis. She also confirmed that some of CBC’s own members are members of the strawberry commission.
Even more damning for the defendants on Friday, Yale plant genetics expert Stephen Dellaporta testified on UC Davis’s behalf that DNA analysis shows 85 percent of the plants CBC grew from seeds it imported from Spain contain genetic material from UC Davis’s patented varieties.
According to Dellaporta, a professor in Yale’s molecular, cellular and developmental biology department, CBC’s seedlings contained genetic material from five university-patented varieties that hadn’t been released at the time they were bred, and 19 that had never been released.
UC Davis claims that in 2010, Shaw and Larson began sending certain varieties from its strawberry program to EuroSemillas, a company in Spain that was a founder of CBC and a contractor for the university’s program, for breeding.
The school says Shaw and Larsen bred the seeds outside the United States because they knew they couldn’t do so here without violating U.S. patent laws.
Under agreements between UC Davis and EuroSemillas, the plants can be tested in Spain before going to market, but they cannot be used for breeding. However, the university says EuroSemillas harvested the seeds of the mother plants in Spain, and that CBC sent the seeds to the United States for use.
Attempting to cast doubt over Dellaporta’s results, Shaw and Larson’s attorneys suggested Shaw didn’t know that university-patented varieties had been used in the crosses – a suggestion U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria told them to “move on” from – and that Dellaporta hadn’t actually observed CBC’s plants to see whether they shared physical traits with the university’s plants.
“The DNA is the most accurate method to determine,” Dellaporta countered. “There’s no question about that.”
UC Davis is represented by Rachel Krevans with Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, and Shaw and Larson by Greg Lanier of Jones Day, also in San Francisco.

LAO Says There's More

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) continues to project more resources in the state budget than the governor projects:

...Our office assumes 2017-18 would end with $12.1 billion in budget reserves — about $2 billion higher than the administration’s estimate... The difference is the product of two factors. Compared to the administration: (1) our office estimates the state will end 2016-17 with about $1 billion more in revenue and (2) our office’s estimate of state General Fund spending on schools and community colleges is nearly $800 million lower in 2017-18...

Full report at

The LAO report sets the stage for bargaining between the Democratic leaders of the legislature and the governor on the budget, which must be passed by the legislature in mid-June.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Faculty Voice on the Audit

We have cautioned that it will take a bit of time to catch up with all the Regents recordings from last week. Fear not. Progress is being made. But one thing that has been noteworthy about all the reactions to the state audit report is that faculty input and voices seem to have been largely absent. However, the faculty rep to the Regents did have something to say about that issue and other related concerns. Below is what he said:

Sunday traffic around UCLA

This issue shouldn't affect many folks except for workaholics in the office on Sunday morning. Nonetheless, here is the warning:

For those of you coming to campus this Sunday, May 21st, please be advised of a number of road closures on campus between 8AM – 10AM because of the Walk to Cure Arthritis which starts and ends on Wilson Plaza.

The following road closures will be in effect from 8am until 10am on Sunday, May 21:  
·        CEY Drive North (both directions) closed between the Parking Structure 7 entrance and Royce Drive 

·        CEY Drive North & East (both directions) closed between Royce Drive and Wyton Avenue 

·        CEY Drive East (southbound only) closed between Wyton Avenue and Dickson Court 

·        Portola Plaza closed at Dickson Court South 

·        Parking Lot R closed  

Friday, May 19, 2017

More Regents Follow Up: Money Manager

Eduard van Gelderen was named senior managing director at the University of California’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer, said a news release Thursday from the university’s Board of Regents.

Mr. van Gelderen is CEO of APG Asset Management, the Dutch pension plan manager, and also an executive board member of APG Group NV.

Mr. van Gelderen will report to UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher...

Full story at

For those who can't wait

We will eventually catch up with the regents meetings that just finished with our audio capture for indefinite archiving. It's more time-consuming than you might think, and would be unnecessary if the Regents did not delete their recordings after one year.

For those who can't wait, here are two recent news accounts:

UC regents defend Janet Napolitano, blame media for ‘salacious’ coverage of state audit

Alexei Koseff, Sacramento Bee, 5-18-17

The University of California’s governing board on Thursday defended President Janet Napolitano against a critical state audit of her office and media coverage that some members felt unfairly maligned her.

Discussion of the audit – which slammed UC’s central administration for building up a secret $175 million reserve that it used to fund presidential initiatives – quickly turned to praise for Napolitano, who has disputed the report’s findings but promised to implement 33 recommendations to improve the transparency of budgeting practices.

“I was delighted when I found out we had a chance to have Janet Napolitano as our president. I’m still delighted,” Regent Norm Pattiz said. “I think, frankly, you lucked out that the president agreed” to the recommendations.

Chair Monica Lozano stressed the importance of “actually changing the culture” that led to the problems identified in the audit, but several regents continued to push back on the conclusion that Napolitano’s office had ever withheld information about its spending from them or the public. Some complained that newspaper headlines about the report were “salacious.”

“Seeing how some in the press have characterized it as a slush fund or a secret fund hurt my heart,” Regent Bonnie Reiss said. Regent Sherry Lansing wanted to clear up “distortions” that Napolitano had done anything wrong: “Her leadership of UC has been incredible.”

The regents largely steered clear of Auditor Elaine Howle’s assertion that UC interfered in the audit process by consulting with campuses on surveys meant to independently assess the value of its administrative operations. The board voted last week to hire a third-party investigator who will report at its next meeting in July.

The Legislature, meanwhile, has been less supportive. In a hearing on the audit earlier this month, lawmakers said the were troubled by the allegations of interference with the audit. Napolitano apologized and said that her actions had been misinterpreted.

On Thursday, Howle emphasized that her report was not a critique of Napolitano or her policy priorities, but rather the lack of a clear university policy for establishing and spending reserves.

“This is not an audit of the president. This is an audit of a process,” Howle told the regents. “The Office of the President is not doing a good job.”

Napolitano said she was committed to not only meeting the auditor’s recommendations, but exceeding them: “Our opportunity now is to look forward and work together to provide a solid foundation for the future of the university.”


State auditor urges UC regents to boost oversight of budget but says audit found nothing 'nefarious'

Teresa Watanabe   LA Times   5-18-17        

When state Auditor Elaine Howle told a joint legislative committee this month that University of California central administrators had amassed a $175-million undisclosed surplus, paid fat salaries and interfered in her audit, lawmakers cried foul. One compared UC administrators to corrupt officials in Bell. Another called for UC President Janet Napolitano to resign. Some wanted to know whether UC officials had committed any crimes and should be subpoenaed.

But UC regents struck a markedly different tone when Howle came to talk to them about the audit Thursday. Regents thanked her profusely for her work and said they would implement all 33 of her recommended reforms for more transparent and effective budget practices. She assured them, in turn, that she’d found nothing criminal or “nefarious” in Napolitano’s budget practices.

In their two-day meeting at UC San Francisco, the regents also adopted the public university system’s first limit on nonresident enrollment, but the audit was in the spotlight, starting with students protesting Wednesday that the university shouldn’t be hiking tuition if it had money lying around.

Many regents rallied around Napolitano, telling Howle on Thursday that the UC president was a leader of vision, action and integrity.

"It really hurt my heart" to hear people blast Napolitano's character, said Regent Bonnie Reiss of the harsh criticism after the audit was released. "There aren't many people of her quality" willing to step into such high-profile public jobs.

"This is not an audit of the president," Howle said. "I have great respect for her. I'm not here to critique her leadership. This is an audit of the process ... [the president's office] is not doing a good job."

Asked by several regents whether she considered the surplus a "slush fund" — as some critics have called it — Howle said: "You will not find 'slush fund' or 'hidden fund' in my report."

But she said her office found no evidence that regents had approved Napolitano's decisions on how to budget the extra money.

UC regents meeting disrupted by protests over state audit finding of undisclosed surplus
Napolitano has said that much of it was earmarked for such priorities as money to help prevent sexual violence and harassment, make progress toward climate change goals and support students who in the country without legal authorization.

Regent Harvey Brody told Howle that he and his fellow board members had fully discussed those initiatives and were proud of them.

UC officials told regents they have started working on financial reforms, such as developing more detailed and transparent budget documents, analyzing appropriate staffing and salary levels, creating a budget reserve policy and reviewing travel and entertainment expenses.

The regents themselves committed to stronger oversight through more frequent reviews of UC budgets and presidential initiatives, public meetings about spending decisions and the hiring of an outside consultant to implement a three-year corrective action plan. Last week, they unanimously voted to hire an independent investigator to help uncover facts about the intervention of central administrators in the confidential surveys auditors sent to campuses.

But several regents said they opposed the auditor's recommendation that the state Legislature directly fund the president's office, which currently is supported by campus fees. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, an ex-officio regent, told reporters later that legislators have not fully vetted that recommendation and he had not yet endorsed it.

For many regents, a major takeaway of the three-hour discussion was clearing up the confusion and innuendos of wrongdoing sparked by the audit.

"There has been no criminal activity. No slush funds. Nobody's integrity has been questioned," said Regent Sherry Lansing. "I feel it's important these distortions have been cleared up."

In other business Thursday, regents approved an $813.5 million budget for the president’s office for 2017-18 — an 18.5% increase over last year — with the condition that they will continue to review it and make adjustments if needed at their July meeting. Rendon was one of two who voted against it, saying it was inappropriate to expand the budget amid concerns raised by the state audit and student struggles to pay for college.

The regents’ approval of limits on nonresidents, which was proposed earlier this month, should settle for now the prolonged fight over who gets admitted into the prestigious public research university. The action also is expected to trigger release of $18.5 million held back by state officials until such a policy was in place.

Regents voted Thursday to limit nonresident undergraduate enrollment to 18% at UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside and UC Merced. Four campuses that already exceed that level — UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego and UC Irvine — will be allowed to keep but not increase the higher percentages they enroll in 2017-18.

Nonresidents currently make up 16.5% of the system's 210,170 undergraduates.

The new policy is a compromise between those who believe nonresident students squeeze out Californians and others who welcome their diversity and the $27,000 in additional annual tuition they pay. UC’s original proposal of a 20% systemwide cap drew so much disagreement that regents delayed a scheduled vote on it in March.

A state audit last year found that UC hurt Californians by accepting too many out-of-state and international students. UC has disputed those findings, saying the extra tuition has helped them enroll more California students and provide them with better services. UC added about 7,500 California undergraduates last fall, the largest increase since World War II.

Hadi Makarechian was one of two regents to vote against the limit. Makarechian, an Armenian born in Iran, noted that he once was a foreign student and that other university leaders who are immigrants include UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang and Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher.

"What are we doing to this university? Building a wall," he said.

Regent George Kieffer said he struggled with his decision but ultimately decided to support the limits as a "balance between conflicting and competing interests."


Thursday, May 18, 2017

More Audio Nostalgia Concerning How Bad It Was

Yes, we are working on getting the audio from the ongoing Regents meetings. But in the interim, here's a link to the Sept. 9, 2009 meeting of the University Committee on the Future which was formed in 2009 at the depths of the Great Recession and its budgetary consequences for UC:

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Listen to the Regents' Investment Subcommittee Meeting of 5-16-2017

The Investments Subcommittee of the Regents met on May 16, ahead of the other sessions. In the public comments period, there were complaints about investments in fossil fuels. A Teamsters spokesperson complained about fees in the savings plan. Later in the session, Chief Investment Officer Bachher said he preferred to invest in assets that promoted sustainability rather than divest. (However, it appears that in fact there have been moves to divest from various unpopular industries.) Most of the discussion involved reviewing recent developments in the UC portfolio. There were various comments to the effect of there being a great deal of uncertainty (risk) despite recent good returns. 

It was also mentioned that under the most recent tier, almost two thirds of new hires are picking the defined-contribution-only option. The new hires were said to be staff and faculty combined. It's not clear, however, what the breakdown has been and - in fact - since ladder faculty hires were made effective before July 1, 2016, whether any significant number are included in the two thirds. 

You can hear the audio of the meeting at the link below. As often noted on this blog, the Regents archive their recordings only one year (so "archive" is a misnomer). We preserve the audio indefinitely. 

UC-I to UC-B

Erwin Chemerinsky will be the next dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. The school announced Wednesday that Chemerinsky, a preeminent constitutional law expert and founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, will assume the deanship on July 1 for a five-year term.

He replaced interim Dean Melissa Murray, who took that position in March 2016 after former dean Sujit Choudhry stepped down amid a sexual harassment scandal.

“I believe he will be a phenomenal leader for our law school, someone who will ensure that Berkeley Law remains not only a powerhouse of legal scholarship and training, but also a community built on mutual respect and inclusion,” said UC Berkeley Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ in the announcement of Chemerinsky’s appointment. 

UC Irvine announced Tuesday that professor L. Song Richardson will be its interim dean.

Chemerinsky founded Irvine’s law school in 2009 with the ambition of being a top-tier law school. It made an impressive debut on U.S. News & World Report’s influential law school rankings, and currently sits at No. 28. Chemerinsky is among the nation’s top legal scholars, and is the author of 10 books and nearly 200 law review articles. He often publishes commentary on the nation’s top newspapers, dissecting the Supreme Court and major legal matters of the day.


We'll get to the Regents (eventually)

The Regents meetings are underway. And we will get to them as usual. But yours truly is traveling at the moment so there will be a delay. In the meantime, you can look at the preview in the LA Times:

As you will see from the link above, the state audit stuff will not come until Thursday.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Apart from the explicit content, the article below is interesting because essentially the staff comments cited, up to the level of the communications director at UC-Santa Cruz, can be interpreted as criticizing the campus chancellor. The article was also cited in the emailed UCOP Daily News Clips:

UC Santa Cruz staff say they feel unsafe after Kerr Hall takeover

By Ryan Masters, Santa Cruz Sentinel05/15/17

UC Santa Cruz staff who work in Kerr Hall, which was occupied by students from May 2 to May 4, are speaking up to say they felt terrorized and threatened by an incident that university officials have depicted as “peaceful.”

Staff members said they huddled in their offices, unsure of what was happening during the initial occupation, as students moved through the building, banging on doors and taunting them.

As a result, many say they no longer feel safe working at Kerr Hall — especially considering the fact that the Afrikan/Black Student Alliance has threatened to re-occupy the building if their demands aren’t met by Fall 2017.

The Afrikan/Black Student Alliance directed requests for comment to UCSC officials.

Lisa Bishop, a budget analyst who works in Kerr Hall, said the university provided no information or communication before or during the occupation.

“I am on the third floor, which I was told would be locked down in the event of an occupation, but it was not,” said Bishop. “The students rushed through the halls banging on the doors trying to break them down. They were screaming and yelling and using horrible language.”

Bishop said confused staff did not know whether the intruders were students or outsiders or if they were armed.

Another Kerr Hall staff member who asked to remain anonymous said she was frustrated when Vice Provost and Executive Vice-Chancellor Herbert Lee deemed the protest peaceful simply because “nobody was hurt.”

Officials have acknowledged the university’s official description of the incident may have contradicted the experiences of its staff. A Sentinel reporter also was taunted and threatened by the student group.

“Calling the protest ‘peaceful’ was at odds with how some staff members felt, and as a campus we recognize that. It is disruptive when protesters shout at our staff and bang on their office doors, even when they consistently communicated that they did not want to damage the building and that they wanted staff to evacuate the building safely,” said Director of News and Media Relations Scott Hernandez-Jason.

Yet staff members have sought out counseling after the traumatic takeover, saying they feel as if they have “bulls-eyes” painted on their backs.

“They were calling out our names, which were on plaques outside the doors and trying to intimidate us,” said Bishop. “Some staff on the second floor described their exit, saying the students actually assaulted the chancellor as he left the building and were screaming the most horrible things at them.”

Hernandez-Jason denied claims that Chancellor George Blumenthal was assaulted as he exited the building, but confirmed that students shouted questions and statements as he departed.

“Campus leaders recognize that staff members were not expecting a building takeover and that it was jarring and — for some — unnerving and even scary,” said Hernandez-Jason.

When Blumenthal met with Kerr Hall staff on May 10 to address their concerns, staff said the chancellor offered little more than “platitudes and excuses.” They also said Blumenthal told them “the news cycle about the occupation was over and it was too late to do anything about it.”

“Following the Afrikan/Black Student Alliance demonstration and based on feedback that we heard from staff, it’s clear that we could have done better with preparing staff members for an incident like this, as well as preparing them for any emergency situation,” said Hernandez-Jason.

A staff member said campus protests are usually orderly and respectful. She described the May 2 takeover, however, as “chaotic and terrifying.”

“While some of the staff managed to collect sensitive files and leave the building, others were trapped in their offices,” she said.

UCSC police did not play a role evacuating staff. Instead, the students appointed Associate Vice Chancellor Jean Marie Scott to re-enter the building and help remaining staff from the building, according to a witness.

Hernandez-Jason said police officers were outside of Kerr Hall during the occupation and “ready to step in, if needed.”

“If the protestors had peacefully come in and asked us to leave, there would have been no problem; but their goal was to scare and intimidate us,” said Bishop.

“The chancellor supports students exercising their First Amendment rights, but does not endorse the tactic of taking over buildings, impacting our staff, and disrupting student and employee services,” said Hernandez-Jason.

UC Santa Cruz agreed to the demands of the Afrikan Black Student Alliance after a three-day occupation of Kerr Hall.


Note to Chancellor Blumenthal. You might interpret the quotes above as supportive. Others may not seem them that way. When chancellors begin to get bad press and criticism from within, they seem to end up leaving ahead of schedule. Think Berkeley. Think Davis.


The UC prez has apparently been traveling about the state trying to deal with the fallout from the state auditor report. A recent sighting was at UC-Riverside:

Embattled UC president defends budgets during UCR visit

By MARK MUCKENFUSS | | The Press-Enterprise
PUBLISHED: May 15, 2017

University of California President Janet Napolitano says she believes her office will weather the current storm of criticism it has faced in the wake of a state audit released April 25.

“My management style is pretty straightforward,” Napolitano said on Monday. “When you have a problem, you fix it. And we will.”

Napolitano spoke during a break in meetings she had while visiting UC Riverside. She met with regional civic and education leaders, UC alumni and an ethnic advisory committee...

Full story at

With the Regents meetings starting today, she can report on her trips:

Monday, May 15, 2017

More Details on UCLA Projects Before Regents

The UCOP website came back online after its mysterious absence on Sunday. So more details on the upcoming Regents meeting this week are available, including details on the various proposed UCLA capital projects. These include the upgrading of an arts studio in Culver City (see above) for which fundraising is under way (and which, therefore, will require some interim borrowing by the project) and new dorms on campus (which displace some parking).

More details at:


[Click on image to enlarge.]
The San Francisco Chronicle conveniently breaks down the "secret reserve" the state auditor accused UC of having as in the chart above. See:

The Chronicle also reports that Regent Blum is quite unreserved in his opinion that the reserve accusation is "total nonsense." He has a similar, if stronger, negative reaction to the reaction regarding the reserve of fellow (ex officio) Regent Gavin Newsom (also Lt. Guv. and gubernatorial candidate):

University of California President Janet Napolitano may be on the hot seat with state lawmakers over the state auditor’s findings that her office had $175 million hidden away — but she is on firm footing with UC’s regents, even after their call to bring in their own auditor to review the state’s assessment.

“It’s total nonsense,” Regent Richard Blum, a major financial contributor to UC, said of the Board of Regents-ordered audit. “But if I were still (the board’s) chairman, I might feel the need to do it as well.”

...“I’m not easily snowed over, and in my opinion Janet Napolitano is an excellent UC president and I support her,” Blum said.

Blum is hardly alone on the board in his view of Napolitano. Even Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who sits on the board and who criticized Napolitano for holding back the money while raising tuition, said, “I continue to believe in her ability and capacity to turn it around.”

Not that Blum exactly embraces Newsom as an ally. In fact, he said the lieutenant governor’s criticism of Napolitano’s money handling was “chicken s—.”

“And you can print that.” Well, not in a family newspaper we can’t.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hiltzik on the UC loyalty oath controversy of the early 1950s

Regents require faculty loyalty oath: Aug. 1950
LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik reminds readers of the loyalty oath and related events in his column today:

Did UCOP get hacked?

As of 7 AM Pacific Time, this is what appears at

Saturday, May 13, 2017

More or Less?

The Legislative Analyst's Office has come out (quickly) with its (partial) reaction to the governor's budget. LAO projects that revenue for the current fiscal year will come higher than the governor projects, enough to turn the governor's projected half a billion deficit - see our prior post - into a slight surplus. LAO more or less agrees with the governor's forecast of revenue for next year. It doesn't comment in any detail on his proposed spending plan.

Probably, the legislature will want to add a bit more to spending, given LAO's forecast. In theory, the Democrats in the legislature could override any gubernatorial veto, given their 2/3 majority. But that is unlikely to happen. Some deal will be worked out over the next few weeks. If there is a bit more spending, UC is unlikely to see any benefit, given the fallout after the state audit.

The LAO response is in two parts: and

Friday, May 12, 2017

The May Revise Budget

As noted in a prior blog posting, yours truly is currently in transit. But here are some general points about the governor's May Revise budget proposal for 2017-18. Surpluses and deficits for any fiscal year can be calculated by the change in reserves from the beginning to the end of the year. However, in the California case, we have two reserves: the regular reserve for the general fund and the rainy-day reserve. So you have to add the two reserves together to get a picture of what is happening.

End of Fiscal Year ($Millions)

             2015-16     2016-17     2017-18
Reserve       $4,515        $723      $2,617  
Reserve       $3,420      $6,713      $8,488
Reserve       $7,935      $7,436      $3,669
Expenditure $115,571    $122,322     $11,105
Expenditure     6.9%        6.1%        9.0% 
Data for 2015-16 from enacted budget for 2016-17.
Source: and

Note that the change in the Total Reserve is a deficit of -$499 million for the current fiscal year (2016-17) and a projected surplus for the coming year (2017-18) of +$3,669 million.

The governor provided the usual warnings that the economy will eventually turn down - date to be determined - so reserves should rise and new programs should be avoided. Beyond the business cycle, there is the danger posed by Trumpcare.

In recognition of the brouhaha over the state audit of UC, he made $50 million of the planned allocation for UC contingent on UC doing what the auditor wants. In his news conference presenting the proposal, he said the auditor would determine whether UC is doing what it should. He did say that most people think the UC prez is doing a good job.

Some news accounts about the May Revise are at:

Listen to the audio of the special meeting of the Regents

The Regents held a special meeting yesterday to authorize hiring an outside consultant to investigate interference with the state audit by UCOP. As usual, we have preserved the audio since the Regents maintain their recordings of meetings only for one year. You can find a link to the audio below. In addition, below is a news account of the meeting:

UC regents take first steps to investigate alleged interference in state audit surveys

Teresa Watanabe, LA Times, 5-11-17

University of California regents took the first steps Thursday to investigate allegations that central administrators improperly interfered with a state audit on the financial operations of the UC office of the president.

In a unanimous vote at a hastily arranged special meeting, the Board of Regents authorized the hiring of an independent investigator to assist in uncovering the facts surrounding the allegations.

Board Chairwoman Monica Lozano said she called the special meeting — regents participated via phone from throughout the state — to demonstrate that the board took the allegations seriously and would swiftly address them.

“I believe it is imperative for this board to send a strong signal to our many constituents that the entire board is fully engaged in this effort and committed to full transparency and accountability,” Lozano said.

In her report last month, State Auditor Elaine Howle said her auditors sent confidential surveys to officials at the system’s 10 campuses, asking them to evaluate services and programs provided by UC President Janet Napolitano’s office.

But Napolitano’s office improperly intervened, she said, previewing the campus responses and in some cases suggesting changes that resulted in more positive evaluations.

Napolitano has said her staff was responding to campus requests for help and had no improper motive. But she has apologized for the actions and reiterated Thursday that such “coordinated efforts” would not be repeated in any future audits.

“I welcome quick action by the board,” Napolitano said, supporting the call for an outside investigator. She added, however, that she hoped that “all of the circumstances” surrounding the surveys would be examined, including the campus confusion over them.

Lozano said she and four other regents will lead a fact-finding review of the allegations, assisted by the outside law firm or consultant hired. The full board will then decide what, if any, action should be taken.

Howle will present the audit findings to the regents at their May 18 meeting in San Francisco.


Listen to the audio of the special Regents meeting at the link below:

Walton plugs UCLA Grand Hotel

We happened to notice that the money-losing UCLA Grand Hotel has posted a video of Bill Walton plugging the facility. Everyone should do their part, so we thought we would help, too, by posting the video:

We did note that Walton forgot to mention that the Hotel is only for UCLA academic purposes. So the video is a bit incomplete. But, as someone once said, you can't have everything; where would you put it?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Loose change

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Administrators at three University of California campuses changed their responses to a state auditor’s survey to reflect more favorably on UC President Janet Napolitano’s office after her staff directed them to make the changes, according to new documents obtained by The Chronicle that shed light on the controversy.

State Auditor Elaine Howle surveyed UC’s 10 campuses as part of her recent investigation of finances and spending at UC headquarters.

The surveys and previously unreleased emails show that administrators at UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego and UC Irvine removed criticism of Napolitano’s office or upgraded performance ratings in key areas at the direction of Napolitano’s staff. The interference — including a systemwide conference call conducted by the president’s office to coordinate responses among all campuses — prompted Howle to discard all the results as tainted.

“The tampering is absolutely outrageous and unbelievable,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who requested the audit last year with Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, amid concerns over increased spending and rising tuition and fees. Napolitano oversees an office with a $686 million budget and nearly 1,700 employees...

Full story at

Getting ready for the Regents

In preparation for the upcoming Regents meeting, when tuition and state audit will be on everyone's mind, the UC prez writes an op ed for the San Francisco Chronicle:


My management style is straightforward: When problems surface, you fix them. When mistakes are made, you correct them. When things appear confusing, you clarify them. And you do it all in the light of day. I believe I need to say this, as clearly as possible, because of the controversy and mischaracterizations that have surrounded the state audit report on the accounting practices and expenditures of my office, the University of California’s Office of the President.

We accept, and already have begun implementing, all 33 recommendations that the auditor made to my office. The recommendations, largely about transparency and best practices, are constructive. They will be implemented thoroughly and on time, and we will report back at regular intervals to the Legislature and the UC Board of Regents. Our progress will be posted on a UC website dedicated to this purpose.

I have been privileged to lead the University of California system since September 2013. Among the first actions I took when I arrived was to undertake a review of how the office is run and whether or not policies needed to be changed. This is standard procedure for me. I’ve done the same in my past public roles, as U.S. attorney for Arizona, as governor of Arizona, and as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

I’ve made many changes at UC, all of them with the intention of making wise and efficient use of public and private funds, ensuring that programs are well run, and that our stakeholders — students, faculty, staff, the Board of Regents and the public at large — are well served. We’ve made a lot of progress, and we know we have a lot more to do. This aligns with my experience running large organizations. As UC president and chief advocate, my role is to ensure that our 10 campuses, five medical centers and three affiliated national laboratories continue to thrive and, indeed, that our results enhance UC’s excellent reputation.

The Office of the President oversees the UC system’s annual operating budget of $31.5 billion as well as an investment portfolio of $106 billion. The office’s total budget is $686 million, which is equally divided among two functions: systemwide academic and public service programs, and central and administrative services. Here is some of what the office does, the sheer scope of which makes apples-to-apples comparisons difficult to undertake:

We run our retirement program, which is separate from the state’s program. We issue bonds, separate from the state, to fund our own capital projects. We run the systemwide student-application system and administer financial aid. We oversee our hospitals and research enterprise. We provide legal and IT services to the system, and we manage the national labs.

Also at the Office of the President is the division of Agriculture and Natural Resources — which helps everyone from farmers to consumers to children raising pigs in our 4-H program — and the Education Abroad Program, which allows undergraduates to see and study the world.

I understand that all this might be lost in a blur of daily headlines. As too often happens, incomplete details obscure the facts. There is no secret pot of money that funds dubious priorities. The systemwide and presidential initiatives — such as those that benefit undocumented students, that help prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment, that further our and the state’s goals on climate change — have been widely publicized. The monies spent are budgeted and accounted for.

We can do better, and we will. The hallmark of institutional excellence is the eagerness, and resolve, to continually improve. That is what the University of California has been doing for nearly 150 years.

Janet Napolitano is president of the University of California.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Coming up short

The state controller confirms what we already knew: That state revenue results for the current fiscal year are coming in below past projections:

Forecast revenue for FY2016-17 for July-April

As projected as part of last June's
budget for this year:                   $98.7 billion

As projected as part of last January's
budget for this year:                   $97.1 billion

Actual revenue through April:           $96.9 billion

Lost confidence

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) on Tuesday became the first legislator to call for University of California President Janet Napolitano to resign, saying she has lost confidence in her leadership. The call by a member of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education came two weeks after a state audit found that the UC Office of the President pays its executives salaries and benefits significantly higher than those given to state employees in similar roles, and failed to disclose up to $175 million in budget reserve funds as it recently proposed a raise in tuition.
“The leaders of our state university systems are duty-bound to maintain the highest levels of transparency, integrity, and accountability to California taxpayers, students, their families, and the Legislature, especially when it comes to public monies,” Quirk-Silva said in a statement. “President Napolitano no longer engenders the public trust required to perform her duties. It’s time she resigned.”
Napolitano has agreed to pursue changes in the budget process, but said most of the $175 million is committed to initiatives aimed at improving the University of California system. Monica Lozano, chair of the Board of regents, said Tuesday the panel will independently review the issues raised in the audit.  
"This does not in any way signify a lack of confidence in President Napolitano’s ability to continue her leadership of this exceptional public research university," Lozano said.
Meanwhile, Quirk-Silva also renewed her request that the UC Board of Regents rescind a planned tuition increase.