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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Round 1

A UC Berkeley Republican group that sued the university over restrictions on a planned speech in April by conservative commentator Ann Coulter has failed — at least for now — to point to any facts showing discrimination by campus officials, a federal judge said Friday. While U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney said she planned to dismiss the suit by the Berkeley College Republicans against the university and its leaders, she said they could refile the suit within 30 days if they presented plausible assertions that UC officials were ideologically biased or imposed unnecessary restrictions on Coulter and like-minded speakers. A lawyer for the group said the task won’t be difficult...

Bryan Heckenlively, a lawyer for the university, said the policy provides neutral standards for reserving indoor forums for speakers, based on reasonable forecasts of the need for security.

Chesney said the claims of bias would have to address the fact that UC Berkeley offered the controversial Yiannopoulos a “great venue and time” for a speech that was scheduled in February but never took place because of violent clashes.

Full story at http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Judge-unpersuaded-by-claims-of-UC-bias-over-12241916.php

Doing the split

From the Bruin:

Graduate student associations in University of California campuses are no longer part of the UC Student Association, following a vote by graduate student leaders Thursday.
The UC Graduate-Professional Coalition, which consists of graduate student representatives from 10 UC campuses, voted to leave UCSA in a conference call Thursday night. Several graduate student leaders said they think UCSA does not focus enough on graduate student needs. UCGPC also passed a motion that allows it to consider rejoining UCSA after two years.
UCSA is an advocacy organization that represents UC students and works with UC administrators and lawmakers at the state and federal level. Graduate student leaders created UCGPC in July to better advocate for graduate student interests.
During the conference call, graduate student leaders from various campuses debated the proposal to leave UCSA. Some argued graduate students should have more independence to advocate for their specific needs, while others argued graduate students can benefit from UCSA’s large funding and advocacy experience.
Kim McCabe, vice president of external affairs for UC San Diego’s Graduate Student Association, said she thinks UCSA is an inefficient advocacy group.
“Every (graduate student) group every year has conversations about leaving UCSA. I’ve felt really frustrated by the lack of professionalism … at the UCSA space,” she said. “I believe we can be better advocates for our (graduate students) outside UCSA.”
Michael Skiles, president of UCLA’s Graduate Students Association and chair of the Graduate and Professional Summit that founded UCGPC, said he thinks undergraduate students do not fully understand the challenges graduate students face.
For example, Skiles said undergraduate students may not be familiar with graduate student issues like dissertations or the number of quarters a graduate student can be a teaching assistant.
He added that because UCSA usually elects undergraduate students to senior leadership positions, many graduate students feel they are not represented well.
“The concern is, UCSA tends to spend almost all of its time working on a lowest common denominator issues that (graduate students) and (undergraduate students) agree on – things like lowering tuition, housing affordability,” he said...

Friday, September 29, 2017

Uber and Lyft on campus

UCLA Transportation has partnered with ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber to designate 12 on-campus passenger pick-up locations that will be active Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m..
This new initiative begins Monday, October 2, 2017, and is an effort to prioritize pedestrian and bicyclist safety, improve traffic flow, and reduce traffic impediments.
Both providers will utilize geo-fencing to create a virtual perimeter in order to implement these locations in their mobile apps. After 6:00 p.m. each weekday and all weekend long, Lyft and Uber drivers will be able to pick up riders on campus anywhere it is safe and legal to do so.
Passengers who are on campus requesting rides from either of these two ride-hailing companies during these weekday daytime restricted hours will need to select from one of 12 locations across UCLA:
  • Dickson Court
  • Slichter Hall
  • Molecular Garden
  • Gateway Plaza
  • Dykstra Hall
  • Carnesale Commons
  • Rieber Hall
  • Hedrick Hall
  • Sunset Canyon Recreation Center
  • Anderson School of Management
  • Melnitz Hall
  • Wyton Circle
These locations are all within a three- to five-minute walk from most campus buildings and will be clearly designated with appropriate signage. Drop-offs can continue to occur throughout campus as long as motorists adhere to traffic regulations that restrict stopping in locations such as pedestrian priority zones, fire lanes, bus stops, gated areas, and the middle of traffic.
Designated ride-hailing pick-up locations support UCLA Transportation’s policy of optimizing campus roadways and infrastructure in order to prevent dangerous traffic conditions.
With an average daily campus usage of Lyft and Uber at a combined total of 5,500 pick-ups and drop-offs, the increasing popularity of these services has created a need for regulating where passengers can be picked up on campus. This need has become more apparent when factoring in the biking and pedestrian safety improvements UCLA has undertaken over the past few years, as there are more than 70,000 pedestrians on campus daily.
Campus locations everywhere south of Charles E. Young Drive South will continue to be available for ride-hailing pick-ups and drop-offs, such as at the 200 Medical Plaza building.
(Nothing at the hospital??? At the emergency room??? At the 100-200-300 medical buildings???)
Here's a reminder of the issue we posted earlier:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Another Norman Conquest?

A new lawsuit accuses University of California Regent Norman Pattiz of requiring an employee to fake data to boost advertising revenue, brandishing loaded handguns to force compliance, and illegally firing the employee for complaining about it. The lawsuit, filed Sept. 22 in Los Angeles Superior Court against Pattiz and his company, PodcastOne, also accuses the regent of directing employees to bad-mouth the plaintiff, Raymond Hernandez, at his next job, getting him fired.

The lawsuit says the reason for this bullying was that Pattiz believed that Hernandez had given another employee, Heather McDonald, a recording of Pattiz sexually harassing her last year. McDonald quit and made the recording public in an embarrassing episode for which Pattiz publicly apologized. Pattiz denied the accusations.

Hernandez worked as a producer at PodcastOne from July 2014 to July 2016. His suit says Pattiz often required him to falsify the number of times certain podcasts were downloaded so advertisers would believe they were more popular than they really were. When Hernandez balked at providing the fake numbers, Pattiz, who is also a reserve officer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, “brandished loaded handguns at PodcastOne’s office in Beverly Hills, pointing directly” at him, the suit says. It says Pattiz also waved his knife belt “to intimidate (Hernandez) to comply.”

In a statement, Pattiz responded: “This guy must be crazy. I’ve never met alone with him. I didn’t hire him or fire him. I barely know who he is.

“The fact that I’m a law enforcement reserve is well known,” the statement says. “I didn’t and would never act in the manner that’s been described.”

Source: http://www.sfchronicle.com/education/article/Suit-accuses-UC-Regent-Norman-Pattiz-of-12236346.php

We'll wait to hear the defense:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

No Gloating, Please

The Best Public Colleges in the U.S.

Wall Street Journal, Melissa Korn, 9-26-17

Despite limited state support and more crowded classrooms, nearly two dozen public schools cracked the top 100 in this year’s Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings.

These institutions proved they could offer a lower-cost option, often to a more diverse student body, and provide comparable outcomes to the private schools that dominate the top of the charts.

The University of California, Los Angeles was the highest-ranked state school, coming in at No. 25. It was followed by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor at No. 27 and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill at No. 33.

Twenty-one public universities made it into the top 100 of the WSJ/THE rankings, and eight reached the top 50.

The University of California system has four campuses among the top 10 public schools. Besides first-place UCLA, Berkeley comes in at fourth, followed by Davis, sixth, and San Diego, seventh.

Public universities get relatively little funding from state coffers these days—even many of the states that have put money into higher education in recent years are still spending significantly less than they did before the 2008 financial crisis...

Full report at https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-best-public-colleges-in-the-u-s-1506467341

UCLA Forecast

The UCLA Anderson Forecast was presented earlier today. It was in fact presented within Korn Hall, the auditorium in the Anderson School and serves as a reminder that it was, and is, possible to hold big events on campus without having added a Grand Hotel. But that is an old story.

As for the Forecast itself, there is nothing projected that suggests either a boom or a bust. If that is what occurs, i.e., the federal and state economy continue chugging along pretty much as has been the recent trend, Gov. Brown will avoid a rocky fiscal situation next year when he presents his last state budget (ever). And that outcome would be a contrast with how, in his first iteration as governor back in the 1970s and early 1980s, he ended with a big budget crisis that he bequeathed to his successor.

A brief summary of the forecast is at:
http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/lib/email/MARCOM/2017/PR-2017-sept-forecast.html

$250

Here’s how to get tickets for Hillary Clinton’s book event at UC Davis

Alexei Koseff  9-26-17  Capitol Alert of Sacramento Bee

Do you have a desire to see Hillary Clinton live and $250 (!!) to spare?

The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts has announced that additional tickets for the former Democratic presidential candidate’s formerly sold-out Oct. 9 event at UC Davis will go on sale Wednesday at noon. Purchases can be made online, in person at the Mondavi Center Ticket Office, or by calling 530-754-2787.

Director of marketing Rob Tocalino said the number of available tickets is a “moving target,” but there may be about 100. Customers can purchase up to two tickets per household, all at the premium price of $250, though discounts are available for Mondavi Center subscribers, students and active military members...

Full story at http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article175575286.html

It's a business:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Something to think about

From an interview with Harvard economist Lawrence Katz:

...What the government (did)—in the ’50s and ’60s, even into the ’70s—is invested heavily in high-quality colleges. Think of University of California campuses or Florida State. But since then, there’s been very little investment in expanding quality higher education. There’s increased crowding at community colleges and state universities, and states have greatly cut back on appropriations for higher education, particularly in the Great Recession.

The federal government has continued to have an important role, but it’s done it with flexible support through Pell grants targeted to low-income students. The problem is that we’ve had a surge of really low-quality colleges, and the worst of that is the for-profit sector, which Claudia, David Deming and I have studied. Particularly from the late ’90s to 2011 with this very large wage premium and funneling more federal funding into loans and Pell grants, a big part of that marginal growth—particularly for disadvantaged individuals—was at for-profit institutions for both associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees.

It’s been a bit of a disaster. Even though these for-profit institutions have tried to be up to date, very flexible, with high-quality online instruction, we have repeatedly found very little economic return to degree programs at for-profit institutions; instead, it’s become a massive debt trap. I think there is something to be said for the quality and capabilities, the faculty, the peer effects of a traditional public or private nonprofit university.

So, rather than what would’ve been the equivalent of the (earlier) high school movement—developing more University of California campuses or more Florida public universities, so we weren’t rationing access to quality public colleges—we allowed the for-profit private sector to come in both as a nimble creative but also as an agile predator.

The market choice approach, of course, is really good for commodities someone can buy repeatedly and assess. And it works in some cases for higher education as well. Where there are clear state certification requirements, the for-profit education sector has been reasonably good. For becoming licensed in cosmetology, for instance, or hair stylists or health tech occupations, it works, and we wouldn’t want to shut down the whole sector.

For things like getting a more ambiguous business degree or getting a nursing degree, though, the quality and infrastructure just haven’t been right. But recent work has shown that where people can get into quality institutions, a state university like Florida International University, say, on the margin, they get like a 14 percent a year return. That’s clearly telling us we’re not having enough access to good quality education. Seth Zimmerman at the University of Chicago has shown this...

Full interview at https://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications/the-region/interview-with-lawrence-katz

Maybe it's just me...

...but I have a bad feeling about doing this (below) just as the quarter begins and folks need to access their course webpages, etc.

Email today addressed to administrators:

============

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) for UCLA Logon will become mandatory for all campus faculty, staff, and student workers on Tuesday, October 31, 2017.
Dear Colleagues:
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security enhancement that requires two forms of verification when logging into your account and adds critical protection for user sign-ins and transactions. You likely already use MFA to access your ATM (swipe your bank card + enter your PIN) and online accounts (enter your logon credentials + a numeric code sent to your phone).
The deployment of MFA for UCLA Logon accounts is in response to a dramatic rise in the scope and sophistication of phishing, spear phishing, and malware attacks that are targeting our faculty and staff. The high rate of compromised credentials associated with these campaigns is an acute threat to information security at UCLA.
As you may know, many departments have already opted into MFA. MFA is painless to deploy with the right support, and the daily use of MFA is quick and easy. The deployment plan has been shared with campus IT staff, and IT Services is providing support to ensure a smooth transition. An announcement to all faculty and staff will be sent on Monday, October 2, 2017. You can review information about UCLA’s MFA program at MFA Deployment at UCLA.
As the nation’s top public university, our research, intellectual property, and institutional data are of high interest to state sponsored and organized cyber-criminals. Your financial and personal assets are also targets. Please provide your support for a successful MFA deployment by October 31. It will greatly reduce risk to our information security and also the likelihood that you too may be the next victim.
If you have questions or concerns, please send us an email at security@it.ucla.edu.
Sincerely,
Andrew Wissmiller
Associate Vice Chancellor
Information Technology Services
============
By the way, when I clicked on the link for more information above, Gmail popped up with:
You can ignore the warning above if you get it. But just saying...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Slow

20 is Plenty. That's UCLA Transportation's new campaign to promote a campuswide speed limit change.
Effective September 26, 2017, UCLA is lowering its roadway speed limit from 25 mph to 20 mph. The goal is to make the campus even safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Plus, lowering the speed limit encourages more people to use active transportation modes, which will, in turn, make UCLA a healthier campus.
Studies have shown that the chances of a serious injury or death for a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle rise rapidly as speed increases. A motorist traveling at 16 mph, for example, has a 10% chance of sustaining serious injuries, while a motorist going 31 mph has a 50% chance.
The risk of death for a pedestrian also increases as vehicle speeds increase. A pedestrian faces a 10% risk of death when struck by a vehicle traveling at 23 mph and a 50% chance at 42 mph.
“For years, UCLA Transportation has worked with its campus partners to transform the car-centric campus built environment to a more walkable, bike-able, livable campus,” said Dave Karwaski, senior associate director of planning and traffic.
The effort to reduce the campus speed limit has occurred incrementally over time. UCLA first reduced campus roadways speeds from 35 mph to 25 mph in 2005. Lower speed limits have in recent years been introduced in several cities as well.
We certainly don't support excess speed:

Aftermath

Maybe these nice folks would like to contribute to pay for it.
There was a brief rally of some kind at Berkeley yesterday, all that was left of "free speech week." Lawyers said to represent the spotty student group that was the sponsor are saying they will file a complaint against the university:

The Berkeley Patriot filed a civil rights complaint Tuesday against the UC Berkeley administration for allegedly “systematically and intentionally violating” its members’ civil liberties by suppressing their First Amendment rights.

Marguerite Melo, one of the attorneys from the law firm Melo & Sarsfield representing the conservative campus online publication, said her clients are requesting that the U.S. Department of Justice conduct an investigation into the campus’s conduct.

She alleged in the complaint that members of the Berkeley Patriot feel that their freedom of speech, freedom of association and right to equal protection have been denied by UC Berkeley...

Full story at http://www.dailycal.org/2017/09/22/berkeley-patriot-files-civil-rights-complaint-against-uc-berkeley/

Given evidence that there wasn't actually a plan for a free speech week, and/or that the organizers knew in advance it would not occur, look for the university to countersue to recover the costs which it says were $800,000. (So says non-lawyer yours truly.)

UC Berkeley spent about $800,000 on a massive security detail that drew police from eight law enforcement agencies and campuses across the state.

“It feels like probably the most expensive photo opp in the university’s history,” said UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Wearing an American flag hoodie under a jean jacket and his ubiquitous sunglasses, Yiannopoulos signed autographs, posed for selfies, sang the National Anthem and chatted informally with about 150 supporters, many donning “Make America Great Again” hats, as counter-protesters and members of the media watched from behind barricades.

Without a public address system, it wasn’t clear what Yiannopoulos told the crowd in brief remarks that substituted as a kickoff to his Free Speech Week, which a sponsoring student group canceled on Saturday.

Full story at http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/24/update-barricades-ring-sproul-plaza-as-berkeley-braces-for-milo-yiannopoulos/

As for the $800,000, if the folks in the picture above don't want to contribute, we could ask the hot dog vendor in our previous post. Just a thought.

Hot Dog Follow-Up

Remember the hot dog man given a citation and having his money confiscated at a UC-Berkeley football game? If not, the link is below. And the video is below. Here is the follow-up, or at least some of it:

A Berkeley hot dog vendor who ran afoul of the law for doing business without a permit has generated so much public support that he’s now within reach of realizing his dream of owning a food truck. A University of California police officer cited Rigoberto Matias on Sept. 9 following a football game for selling on the Berkeley campus without a permit and reportedly took cash from the street vendor’s wallet as evidence.

But a disapproving customer captured the incident on video and posted it to Facebook, touching off an outpouring of sympathy among the those who watched it nearly 13 million times. And when the same patron turned to the GoFundMe website to raise money on behalf of Matias, donations flooded in, far exceeding the original $10,000 goal. On Saturday, Martin Flores returned to the campus to present Matias with a check for $87,921 encircled by dozens of wellwishers and reporters...

Full story at http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/09/23/berkeley-hot-dog-vendor-cited-by-police-gets-87k-from-supporters/

Original blog post at http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2017/09/priorities.html

Original video below:

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Milo the Marxist

Milo's first coming was a tragedy of sorts;
the second is looking more and more
in line with the Marxist view above.
...(Milo) Yiannopoulos explained that without a student sponsor, he couldn’t hold an official university event. So he announced that he’d be holding an “unofficial” rally at the campus on Sunday.  “We are going to be hosting an event, come hell or high water, tomorrow,” he said...

Then came the sell. Yiannopoulos promoted some future events at other California universities — part of what he’s dubbed his “Troll Academy” tour — and took time to announce that his company, Milo Inc., would be publishing a new book by Pamela Geller: Fatwa: Hunted in America.  

Yiannopoulos had wanted his “Free Speech Rally” in Berkeley to be the Woodstock of the far-right: a big, bad gathering of prominent far-right figureheads, including Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon. And his student co-organizers had hoped left-wing riots at the event might amplify Milo’s message.

But here was Milo on Saturday, his Woodstock canceled, talking to a camera in a poorly lit hotel room, hawking a yet-to-be published book to less than 3,000 live viewers. It was as if no one but Sha Na Na had shown up at Yasgur’s Farm.

Full story at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/milo-yiannopoulos-berkeley-canceled-rally-free-speech-week_us_59c66026e4b0cdc773319bf8

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Disappearing Act (at Berkeley) - Part 3: She Has Sung & It's Apparently Over

‘Free Speech Week’ is officially off, UC Berkeley announced Saturday morning.
“Representatives of the Berkeley Patriot student organization have informed UC Berkeley’s administration that all of the events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled,” said Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof in an emailed statement. “It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”
The event, sponsored by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, had been scheduled to start Sunday and was expected to bring a host of right-wing speakers to the famously left-leaning school, which has been battered with claims in recent months that it doesn’t support conservative free speech. The official announcement ends days of speculation and uncertainty around whether the event would take place.
In a Saturday letter to the school, an attorney for Berkeley Patriot, Marguerite Melo, wrote, “On their behalf, you are hereby notified the Berkeley Patriot is canceling all Free Speech Week activities it sponsored.” The letter accused administrators of putting up roadblocks and said the group was “contemplating initiating litigation against the responsible parties and the administration for violation of our clients’ civil rights.”
But in a separate email chain obtained by this news organization, Lucian Wintrich, one of the supposed speakers, told Mogulof the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote in an email around 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” wrote a clearly surprised Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?” “Yes,” came Wintrich’s one-word response...
Note: Despite the threat of a lawsuit against Berkeley, look for the reverse to happen to recover the university's costs.

The Disappearing Act (at Berkeley) - Part 2

Poof!
More on the rapidly disappearing "free speech week" at Berkeley:

...Right-wing provocateur Ann Coulter, one of the highest profile speakers, said Friday that she won’t attend. Nor, reportedly, will former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, another high-profile speaker on the agenda.

Mike Wright, a student leader with the Berkeley Patriot, said Friday the group had not decided whether to cancel Free Speech Week. But he said, “We are concerned about threats and our safety.” ...

Full story at:
http://m.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Cal-student-group-backs-out-of-Free-Speech-Week-12221042.php

The Disappearing Act (at Berkeley)

Poof!
RE: The rapidly disappearing act at Berkeley

...Yiannopoulos says he's coming back with a lineup of high-profile conservatives, but the star power faded Friday when conservative commentator Ann Coulter announced she's not coming. Coulter told The Associated Press that Yiannopoulos' team was in touch with hers about speaking but she heard "the administration was dead set on blocking this event" so she decided not to bother...

Full story at:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-ann-coulter-berkeley-free-speech-20170922-story.html

Friday, September 22, 2017

End of Title 9 Dear Colleague Letter (Kind of)

News reports indicate that Secretary of Education De Vos has scrapped the Title 9 "Dear Colleague" letter:

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos scrubbed Obama-era guidance for universities investigating sexual assaults on campus, replacing the program with temporary rules.

DeVos has called the existing rules unfair against those accused of an assault.

“Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on,” she said in a statement Friday. “There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes.”

DeVos released a temporary Q&A to guide schools on investigating assaults under the Title IX law, which prevents sexual-based discrimination in higher education.

It will allow them to choose which set of standards they want to use when probing an assault.

Her move does away with a 2011 directive that became known as the “Dear Colleague Letter," on how to enforce the 45-year-old Title IX law...

Full story at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/devos-obama-era-rules-title-ix-article-1.3513555

Note: Item from before the announcement:

...Under the guidance of the (Obama-era) letter, which was issued in 2011, colleges are mandated to adjudicate cases based on a "preponderance of evidence," a lower standard of proof that finds guilt in cases where an assault is more likely to have occurred than not. Ms. Napolitano said that the "preponderance" standard is appropriate in sexual-assault cases, adding that the University of California would continue to employ it regardless of whether the federal government dictated as much...

Source: http://www.chronicle.com/article/Napolitano-Riffs-on-DeVos/241251

Free Speech Website/Video at Berkeley

UC-Berkeley has created a free speech website* with a video by Chancellor Christ in preparation for the so-called "free speech week" that is supposed to occur next week. (But, if you have been following our blog posts, who knows if it will?)

The video is embedded in the website from an unlisted URL on YouTube. Such things can be taken down over time, particularly if things don't work out so well. So we have archived the video where it won't disappear.

You can see it at our alternative website at the link below:

===
*http://freespeech.berkeley.edu/

Thursday, September 21, 2017

New 9 Director

UCLA officials announced the appointment of a new director for the campus Title IX office Tuesday.
Mohammed Cato will replace interim Title IX coordinator Jessica Price and will start in his new position Sept. 25. Price took over for Kathleen Salvaty after she became Title IX coordinator for the University of California system.
The Title IX Office operates under the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and is responsible for UCLA’s compliance with policies and procedures to prevent and respond to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual violence...
Cato received his bachelor’s degree from UC Irvine and a law degree and master of urban planning degree from UCLA. He will transition to UCLA from his current role as the assistant director of the Equal Opportunity Office and deputy Title IX coordinator at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

What could possibly go wrong - Part 2

A $200 million gift promotes alternative therapies at a California medical school — and critics recoil

When billionaires Susan and Henry Samueli this week announced a $200 million donation to the University of California, Irvine to launch a new health program dedicated to integrative medicine, they drew a standing ovation and glowing coverage.

But for those who have been watching the steady creep of unproven therapies into mainstream medicine, the announcement didn’t go over quite as well.

“This is ultimately a very bad thing,” said Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale University and longtime critic of alternative therapies.  “It’s putting emphasis and the imprimatur of a university on things that have been discarded as medical fraud for 50 years.”

University of Alberta health law professor Tim Caulfield, who has made his name debunking celebrity health fads, has raised red flags about the adoption of alternative therapies — from “energy healing” to homeopathic bee venom to intravenous mineral infusions — at top medical centers including Duke, Johns Hopkins, and UC San Francisco. The new school at UC Irvine “is more of the same, and I find it very frustrating,” he said. “I worry this legitimizes practices that aren’t valid.”

But two physicians at UC Irvine who will lead the new initiative — both with solid pedigrees in traditional medicine and years of experience conducting  research funded by the National Institutes of Health — pushed back against those depictions.

They argue that medical schools are too slow to adopt  new approaches, including alternative therapies that show clinical promise — and that UCI can do so in a way that is solidly grounded in science.

“We take patient safety as our highest calling and we will never deploy any approach — integrative or not — that put patients at risk,” said Dr. Howard Federoff, a board-certified internist and Ph.D who serves as CEO of UC Irvine’s health system and runs a lab working to develop a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. “Any non-proven or non-evidence based approach? We will not deploy it.”...

Full story at https://www.statnews.com/2017/09/20/uci-integrative-medicine-gift/

Sharing

The University of California will chip in at least $300,000 to help UC Berkeley pay security costs for controversial speakers, an unprecedented step as criticism mounts over the financial toll the events are taking on the campus.

“Free speech is not free, it turns out,” UC President Janet Napolitano told the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau on Wednesday. She said UC would underwrite security costs through “Free Speech Week” — which begins Sunday and will feature right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and others — but that such support may not continue.

“The question, or the rock and the hard place that Berkeley is in, and other university campuses, is the value put on free speech and the safety and security issues that are implicated,” Napolitano said.

“Milo and his cast of speakers will be on Sproul Plaza, which is a public space … and we will underwrite the safety and security expenses associated with that. At a certain point, that position — i.e. that we will have these speakers and pay for the security costs associated with that — may not be sustainable.”

The mounting costs to the campus — which is struggling to reduce a crippling budget deficit from $150 million last year to $56 million by June — are sparking growing concern.

Berkeley has shelled out at least $1.4 million in security costs since February, when Yiannopoulos’ last appearance sparked violent protests. The campus spent $200,000 on security for that event, $600,000 for conservative commentator Ann Coulter — whose event ultimately was canceled by the sponsoring campus groups — and an estimated $600,000 for the talk last week by conservative writer Ben Shapiro, according to UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-uc-berkeley-security-20170920-story.html

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Med School Assn. Opposes Latest Obamacare Repeal Effort

Note: UC's various medical schools are part of this organization.*

Medical Schools Oppose Plan to Kill Obamacare

By Andrew Kreighbaum, September 20, 2017, Inside Higher Ed

The Association of American Medical Colleges came out against the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act in a letter to senators Tuesday. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill has been gaining momentum as Republicans attempt to meet a Sept. 30 deadline to pass repeal legislation with a simple majority in the Senate through a process known as reconciliation. But AAMC's president and CEO, Darrell G. Kirch, told senators they should pursue a bipartisan health-care deal through the committee process. And he said the latest repeal legislation failed to meet key principles the group considers fundamental to a successful health-care system.

"These principles include offering high-quality, affordable health insurance to all; preserving and fortifying the safety net through Medicaid and other policies; and encouraging innovation in the delivery system, among others," Kirch wrote. "The GCHJ legislation does not meet these principles, as it repeals the individual and employer mandates, repeals Medicaid expansion, and caps traditional Medicaid funding. Under this legislation, the number of uninsured patients nationwide will increase dramatically and important existing patient protections will be at risk."

He added that the proposal should be scored by the Congressional Budget Office before further action. But the CBO will only have a partial analysis of the legislation available by the Sept. 30 deadline.

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/09/20/medical-schools-oppose-plan-kill-obamacare

Letter from AAMC:
https://www.aamc.org/download/482922/data/aamclettertosenateongraham-cassidyproposal.pdf
===
*https://members.aamc.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?webcode=AAMCOrgSearchResult&orgtype=Medical%20School

China Reported to Retaliate Against UC-San Diego

Beijing has a lesson for overseas universities: Don’t invite speakers who oppose the Communist Party to big events. A branch of the Chinese government has barred Chinese scholars from receiving state funding to study at the University of California, San Diego, according to people at the school. The freeze highlights how Beijing is steadily placing pressure on overseas universities to suppress viewpoints that run counter to Communist Party orthodoxy.

In June, UCSD hosted the Dalai Lama to speak at its school-wide commencement ceremony for the 2016-2017 academic year. The invitation generated controversy among some members of school’s Chinese student population. The Chinese government strictly controls information within its borders about the Dalai Lama, who it views as a separatist and a symbol of China’s feudal past. Many Chinese citizens hold these same views...

The application freeze does not bar undergraduates, graduate students, or other academics from attending UCSD—it merely prevents scholars from obtaining CSC funding to do so. As a result, these specific measures alone will likely do little to curb the school’s influx of Chinese students. In the fall of 2015, Chinese students made up 10.6% of UCSD’s student population and 55.7% of its international student population...

Full story at https://qz.com/1080962/china-is-retaliating-against-the-university-of-california-san-diego-for-inviting-the-dalai-lama-to-speak-at-commencement/

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Listen to the Regents Afternoon Meeting of Sept. 13, 2017

With this post, we complete our archiving of the Sept. 2017 Regents meetings. Here is a summary from the Bruin (below). It might be added that there was reference to the upcoming rebidding on the Los Alamos lab as well:

...Academic and Student Affairs Committee (includes labs subcommittee)
  • UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman apologized for rescinding a large number of new student admission offers during the summer for those who did not submit transcripts and test scores on time. Gillman said the university had to over-enroll students because more applicants had accepted offers than the university expected.
  • Ruben Canedo, a research coordinator at UC Berkeley and co-chair of the UC’s Global Food Initiative Basic Needs committee, said the UC will be releasing a Basic Needs report in November with details on students’ experiences with food and housing insecurity.
  • Several regents, including Regent John Perez and Newsom, said they think the University should do more to help student athletes and make sure that they are performing well academically. Michael Williams, director of athletics at UC Berkeley, said the campus provides student athletes with academic support and mentoring, and said that athletes at UC Berkeley have been improving their academic performance.
Finance and Capital Strategies Committee
  • The committee approved plans and funding for several construction projects, including the Northern Regional Library Facility at UC Berkeley, a science and engineering building at UC Irvine and a medical building at UC San Francisco. However, several regents, including Makarechian, said they think the costs for the building in UC Irvine are too high, and asked the campus to look into offsetting some of the construction costs.
  • Napolitano said the University needs more funding to support increases in enrollment and added the University also faces costs for compensation increases from collective bargaining and expanding and maintaining infrastructure. She added that any tuition increases proposed for the 2018-2019 year would be offset by need-based financial aid, with a third of the revenue from a tuition increase going to financial aid.
  • Brostrom gave the regents updates on the UC’s development of its budget for 2018-2019. Brostrom said when developing the budget, the UC is considering costs associated with enrollment growth, improving the student to faculty ratio, employee retirement benefits and financial aid. He added the UC is looking into additional sources of funding, including a tuition increase.
  • Brostrom said that while the UC has not yet developed a specific tuition proposal, it is currently consulting with campus and student leaders. He added the UC will present its budget proposal for approval by the regents during the board’s November meeting.

Link below to audio: (Academic & Student Affairs with labs)

Finance and Capital Strategies:

Berkeley May Cancel - Part 2

Cancelled?
The "free speech" event at Berkeley next week is looking progressively more dubious, although "progressively" is probably not the preferred word of its sponsors. From the Washington Post:

Organizers of the “Free Speech Week” at the University of California at Berkeley insisted Monday that the event will go on, despite school officials’ announcement that some large indoor venues could not be rented for the events.

“We’ll do it outdoors if we need to,” said Pranav Jandhyala, a sophomore who is a member of the Berkeley Patriot, the student group that invited provocative writer Milo Yiannopoulos and others to campus. He said that conservative commentator Ann Coulter, frequent critic of Islam Pamela Geller and former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon are all planning to speak there next week.

Coulter, and a spokeswoman for Bannon, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday. Geller said she is planning to speak. University officials released a list of speakers they said had been confirmed that did not include Coulter, Geller or Bannon...

Full story at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/09/18/organizers-of-free-speech-week-at-uc-berkeley-vow-to-hold-events-even-if-they-cant-get-indoor-venues/

Somewhat related: A UCLA faculty member does a study on student attitudes toward the First Amendment/free speech for Brookings:
https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/09/19/study-casts-doubts-student-support-free-speech
and
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2017/09/18/views-among-college-students-regarding-the-first-amendment-results-from-a-new-survey/

What could possibly go wrong?

Orange County philanthropists Susan and Henry Samueli will donate $200 million to UC Irvine, one of the largest gifts ever to any public university, to create a college that educates medical students in holistic practices as well as traditional ones and treat patients with a wide-ranging perspective...

“Susan has completely converted me into an advocate for integrative health,” (Henry Samueli) said. “When I feel a cold or flu coming on, rather than run to the doctor, I run to Susan to figure out which homeopathic remedy or Chinese herb I should be taking.”...

Full story at http://www.ocregister.com/2017/09/18/uci-receives-200-million-gift/


What do ducks say?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Strawberry Settlement

For those blog readers who have followed the Davis drama, this item from the Sacramento Bee appears to be the grand conclusion:

Fear not, strawberry lovers. A nasty lawsuit over the strawberry breeding program at UC Davis – the wellspring of about half of California’s strawberry crop – is history.

The university on Friday settled a lawsuit against two berry breeders who quit UC Davis, formed their own company and began developing new strawberry varieties without the school’s permission. The scientists can continue using some of the strawberry plants they developed at UC Davis, but have to return others. They also will forfeit $2.5 million in royalty payments they stand to collect from the university for work they did at Davis.

The lengthy dispute has been closely watched in the food industry. California’s $1.9 billion-a-year strawberry crop accounts for more than 80 percent of the nation’s supply. About half of the berries grown in California are grown with seeds developed in UC Davis’ greenhouses.

Over a two-decade run, UC Davis plant breeders Douglas Shaw and Kirk Lawson bred new generations of plumper and sweeter strawberries that boosted sales and helped cement California’s leadership in the business. While many of the largest strawberry growers breed their own varieties, including Driscoll Strawberry Associates of Watsonville, the UC varieties have been licensed by major brands like Dole and California Giant, as well as many independent farmers.

The strawberry breeds have generated tens of millions of dollars for the University of California, and Shaw and Larson have earned millions themselves through a royalty-sharing arrangement.

The relationship soured, though, and Shaw and Larson quit UC Davis in 2014. They formed a company called California Berry Cultivars in Orange County. The divorce quickly turned messy. UC sued the two men and their new company, saying they had violated their “duties of loyalty” by attempting to breed new varieties using plants that were the property of UC Davis. California Berry sued back, accusing the university of stifling innovation by refusing to grant Shaw and Larson a license to use the plants.

“If you want more and better strawberries on your table … you should care about whether the university should be able to keep these varieties in a lockbox,” the breeders’ lawyer Greg Lanier said in an interview earlier this year. “Strawberry farmers need new varieties to battle changing weather – it’s rain, it’s drought, it’s changes in what pesticides you can use.”

UC won. In May, after five days of trial testimony in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, a jury found that California Berry had improperly used the UC plants. But the case wasn’t over. Damages hadn’t been sorted out, and after the jury rendered its verdict the judge said he believed UC Davis was as guilty of “bad conduct” as the two scientists. Settlement negotiations ensued, leading to the agreement filed in court Friday.

University officials declined to comment on the settlement. California Berry’s chief executive, A.G. Kawamura, a former secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Source: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article173591931.html

Yes, but

The Chronicle of Higher Ed runs a flattering piece largely about Secretary to the Regents Anne Shaw:

Six times a year, 10 days ahead of each meeting of the University of California system’s Board of Regents, a notice goes out to the public. In that document is a carefully prepared agenda, complete with extensive background write-ups and relevant attachments — compliance reports, audits, budget documents.

Anne Shaw, secretary and chief of staff to the board, is responsible for these meticulous preparations. But Ms. Shaw, like many university board secretaries, fills far more roles than just that of fastidious note taker and organizer. Board secretaries are diplomats — strategic advisers who have the ear of the president and the responsibility of liaising with the governing board...

Ms. Shaw and her staff of about eight essentially exist as the bridge between the two most powerful entities in a university: the chief executive and the trustees. Much of the work of the president’s office will eventually come to the governing board for approval: new degrees and programs, approval of tuitions and fees, budgets, all end up on board agendas.

Ms. Shaw is a conscientious record keeper, archiving information from public commenters at board meetings — for example, their opinions on the system’s immunization and vaccine policy. Following up after a meeting, Ms. Shaw and her staff will take down "reminders" about questions regents had that couldn’t be answered at the time. She and her staff will then work to compile and present that information to the inquiring regent...


The reference on archiving caught the eye of yours truly, who continues to note that the Regents do not really archive the recordings of their meetings. They post them for only one year. Yours truly, in contrast, does archive them - at considerable time cost. So we ask for the umpteeth time, why - if the Regents are now putting their meetings on YouTube for just one year - they can't just leave them their indefinitely? How about the UC Regents stepping into the 21st century in that regard? The only answer we have ever gotten regarding the one-year rule is that CSU does it that way. Is that a reason? Let CSU be CSU. Bad practice there is no excuse for bad practice at UC.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Listen to the Regents Meeting of Sept. 14, 2017

Yes, we have a gap in our coverage so far of the recent Regents meeting, namely the afternoon of Sept. 13th. We will fill that gap in a later posting. But, in the meantime, below is a link to the audio of the full board meeting of Sept. 14th, which in part summarizes what came out of the various committees that met the day before, both morning (which we have covered) and afternoon.

Some of the topics on the 14th: DACA (in the public comments), controversy - with some negative votes - on a pay increase for chancellors, discussion of the state auditor's report on contracting out procedures, the rebidding of the management contract for the Los Alamos lab, pension funding and the gap between the assumed earnings rate of 7.25% and the actual long-term earnings rate in the past of 6.7%, and the cost of carbon neutrality in construction standards for UC.

You can hear the discussion at:

Berkeley May Cancel

We noted yesterday that the "Berkeley Patriot" which is the supposed organizer of "free speech week" at UC-Berkeley seems to be a flaky organization with a largely non-working website. Some of the speakers that are supposed to come know nothing about the event.

The LA Times reports that the organization has not put down a contractually-required deposit for the event within a specified deadline, raising the possibility that the entire affair will be cancelled.

UC-Berkeley officials said Saturday that organizers of a far-right speakers’ series scheduled for later this month have missed the deadline to reserve two of the largest indoor venues on campus for the event, but that they will continue to work with organizers on planning for the festival.

“The University cannot defend spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide security arrangements for events” based on the press releases of organizers, Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor of the university’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, said in a statement.

Mogulof said the Berkeley Patriot student group that is working with right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos on the “Free Speech Week” festival had failed to meet the university’s requirements to reserve Wheeler Auditorium on Sept. 24 — the first day of the festival — and Zellerbach Auditorium on Sept. 27. He said organizers failed to submit the necessary payments to reserve the halls by 5 p.m. Friday.

Berkeley Patriot also failed to provide the university “with evidence that speakers are actually confirmed, such as e-mails, evidence of travel arrangements, or contracts,” Mogulof said. In both instances, the student organization missed three previous deadlines set by the university, he said.

“This failure to confirm, combined with the refusal to provide unqualified speaker lists and schedules has led the campus to question whether Berkeley Patriot actually intends to, and/or is able to, carry out the proposed events,” Mogulof said in his statement...

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-berkeley-security-20170916-story.html

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Listen to the Regents Meeting: Morning of Sept. 13, 2017

We are gradually catching up with archiving the recent Regents meetings.

Just a technical note and rant: The Regents currently put their recording on YouTube for one year. There are various web-based programs by which yours truly extracts the audio from these temporary YouTubes and then archives them. Given the revised format of Regents meetings, there is substantially more to record at the meetings than their used to be, due to the various sessions that go on at the same time.

In one case for the morning meetings, the recording was posted in such a way as to make it impossible to use the online programs to preserve the audio directly. In that case, the audio had to be played into an audio recorder in real time.

All of this hassle could have been avoided if the Regents simply kept their recordings on YouTube indefinitely. We ask for the umpteenth time: Why isn't this being done, especially since the Regents are already posting to YouTube? What is the point of removing the recordings after one year.

Below are links to the audio of the meetings. One highlight from the public comment session of Sept. 13 was the many speakers protesting potential cuts in retiree health care. A cut was proposed and then withdrawn after protest from the agenda of the July meetings due to lack of Senate consultation.

Full Board:


Other links to the morning meeting:

Governance and Compensation:
https://archive.org/details/PublicEngagementAndDevelopment91317AMedited/GovernanceAndCompensation9-13-17AMedited.wma

Public Engagement & Development:
https://archive.org/details/PublicEngagementAndDevelopment91317AMedited/PublicEngagementAndDevelopment9-13-17AMedited.wma  Note: After the meeting ended, the mike remained on briefly and a regent can be heard complaining about state audits and opining that "Sacramento" wants to control the university.

Compliance and Audit:
https://archive.org/details/PublicEngagementAndDevelopment91317AMedited/complianceAndAudit9-13-17AMedited.wma