Thursday, April 19, 2018

Union calls for speaker boycott at graduations

President Sproul at UCLA graduation in Hollywood Bowl, 1930s
University of California union votes for strike, commencement speakers urged to boycott

LA Daily News, 4-19-18

The union that says it represents more than 25,000 employees in the University of California system announced today that 97 percent of its members have voted to authorize a strike.
The union also called today on speakers invited to participate at upcoming UC graduation events to support workers by boycotting university engagements until the labor dispute is resolved. Scheduled commencement speakers include Sen. Kamala Harris, who’s due at UC Berkeley on May 12th, and Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, who’s scheduled to speak at UC San Diego on June 16th.
“With contract negotiations and post-impasse mediation procedures being exhausted after a year of bargaining, AFSCME Local 3299-represented workers at the University of California voted with 97 percent approval to authorize a system-wide strike,” according to a union announcement. “The union has also called on speakers invited to participate at upcoming UC graduation events to support workers by boycotting university engagements until the labor dispute is resolved.”...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It's the vision thing

The seemingly-endless drama of the Thirty Meter Telescope in which UC has a stake continues. It was originally planned for Mauna Kea in Hawaii, a mountaintop where other telescopes are already located. Objections by native Hawaiians held up the plan and seem to be a continuing barrier. Hawaiian Public Radio reports large majorities of the general Hawaiian population and native Hawaiians in fact favor the plan. But one house of the state legislature has voted to bar construction and there is an alternative plan, which sounds a bit like a bargaining chip, to move the project to the Canary Islands, a Spanish possession in the Atlantic off Morocco.

For a public radio program on these developments, go to: 

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Light at the End of the Retiree Health Care Tunnel May Be a Train

Below in italics is the text of a recent analysis of the options being circulated and debated for the future of retiree health care. I have not included the source and have slightly edited the text. (It's not yours truly). As blog readers will recall, a reduction in retiree health care support suddenly appeared on the Regents agenda without Senate consultation and then was removed after protest. A committee was set up to evaluate the options. A document outlining options was then circulated (and can be read below):


I’m pleased to see that these materials* are being distributed. A few observations:

Though in current form the date is April 2018, I am told by two reliable sources that much the same info and framing of alternatives has been bouncing around since around January 2017.  YES, 2017, a full year before the Task Force was formed.

Note the 4% growth rate for retiree health in the chart on page 9. THE 4% IS NOT A RANDOM OR HYPOTHETICAL RATE. MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT IT IS THE MAXIMUM THAT UCOP MONEY FOLKS ARE GOING TO ALLOW GOING FORWARD. IF CORRECT, THEN THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER IN THE DOCUMENT; EVERYTHING ELSE HAS TO DO WITH HOW THAT GOAL CAN BE MET. My understanding is that a/the major change since January 2017 has been a grudging agreement to allow up to 4% growth, rather than the 3% that the Finance folks wanted to impose early in 2017.  

I did a once-over of the full document (what else to do on a sunny afternoon) and it is pretty clear that by far the biggest saving to UC would come from the shifting of all of us to the Medicare Exchange alternative currently used for retirees living out of state.  No surprise, of course; HR has been saying this for years. The only other change with palpable impact on costs would be shifting the current Medicare PPO plans to a Medicare Advantage PPO or HMO.The rest is noise. 


*The "materials" refer to the report below:

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Aftershock at Riverside

UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox denies ignoring sexual harassment, abuse complaints at Michigan State

By BEAU YARBROUGH | Press-Enterprise | April 13, 2018

UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox on Friday denied allegations he ignored sexual harassment and abuse while he was provost at Michigan State University, saying he was unaware of his associate’s behavior.

William Strampel, the former dean of MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, was arrested March 26 as part of an investigation into how former sports doctor Larry Nassar was able to sexually abuse more than 250 girls and women while at the university, including many members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team.

It is the worst sexual abuse case in sports history.

Last year, Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting patients and possessing child pornography. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Strampel is the first person besides Nassar to be charged in connection with the case. He is charged with harassing, propositioning, sexually assaulting and soliciting pornographic videos of female students. He’s also accused of not keeping an eye on Nassar after MSU cleared the doctor in 2014 of inappropriate sexual behavior with a former student.

Complaints from students and faculty members about Strampel came up in a review process eight years ago.

In a 2010 letter in Strampel’s personnel file, obtained in part by the Detroit News, Wilcox wrote that Strampel would stay medical school dean after the review.

“Our several discussions over the past several months have reinforced my commitment and that of Dean Strampel to advancing the goals of the College within the broad mission of Michigan State University,” Wilcox wrote.

On Friday, Wilcox released a written statement saying he was unaware of Strampel’s behavior and expressing regret for Strampel’s alleged victims...

Full story at

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Friday, April 13, 2018

UCOP Likes Forbes

UCOP takes notes - as per above - of high rankings from Forbes based on a methodology that looks at (among other things) post-graduation earnings as well as tuition.

Forbes 2018 Best Value Colleges

UC BerkeleyNo. 2
UC IrvineNo. 9
UC San DiegoNo. 9
UC Santa BarbaraNo. 11
UC DavisNo. 13
UC RiversideNo. 64
UC Santa CruzNo. 77

We're not sure why our friends at Santa Cruz ended up at the bottom as number 77. Maybe there is something in the air there that impedes clear thinking:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Getting in

California community college students will be guaranteed admission to UC — if they meet requirements

Good news for thousands of California community college students hoping to transfer into the University of California: Succeed in a rigorous set of courses, and your UC admission is guaranteed.

Students who begin community college in fall 2019 and do well in courses that UC faculty helped develop — the required grade-point average is still to be determined — will win admission into a UC campus under an agreement announced Wednesday by the two higher education systems.

The courses will lead to an associate degree for transfer into UC, similar to the degree established in 2013 for guaranteed transfer into California State University. Applicants may not get into their first choice, but will be admitted into one of the nine undergraduate UC campuses.

“I’m pleased that President Napolitano and I and our two Faculty Senates were willing to come together and improve access to more transfer students,” California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said, noting that transfer students at UC do as well as or better academically than those who begin as freshmen.

UC President Janet Napolitano said in a statement that collaborating with the community colleges “will not only make it easier for qualified students to transfer to the university, it will help ensure that they excel once they arrive.”

Currently, 21 community college majors satisfy UC rigor, UC officials said. The majors are some of the most popular at UC, they said, including psychology, anthropology, business administration and sociology.

Gov. Jerry Brown has said he considers increasing the number of UC transfer students to be a money-saver for the state. He has withheld $50 million from UC’s budget in part until the university complies with state audit requirements, but another condition is that UC sign up one transfer student for every two freshmen who enroll...

Full story at

How UCLA Helped Break the Color Barrier in College Athletics

How UCLA Helped Break the Color Barrier in College Athletics: Jackie Robinson and Tom Bradley Were Among Sports Stars Who Proved That Integration Made Schools More Competitive

by James W. Johnson, April 12, 2018, Zócalo Public Square

The arrival of five athletes, all African American, on the UCLA campus in the late 1930s would prove to be a moment of destiny, not just for college sports but for the United States itself.

These five men could have been called the original Fabulous Five. And that designation was no exaggeration, because they went on to change the cultures of professional athletics, entertainment, the civil rights movement, and politics.

The athletes who played together in the 1939 school year were:

• Jackie Robinson, who would break the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 and become a prominent advocate of racial equality after his baseball years.

• Kenny Washington, who took down the color barrier of the National Football League when he played for the Los Angeles Rams in 1946.

• Woody Strode, who would join Washington with the Rams and later become an accomplished actor in movies such as Spartacus, Sergeant Rutledge, and The Professionals.

• Ray Bartlett, who would go on to serve on the Pasadena police department (at that time, only the second African American) and as a prominent Los Angeles area civic leader.

• And then there was the fifth, Tom Bradley, who would transform Los Angeles into a global city during his 20 years as mayor. He also would make history as L.A.’s first black mayor, and the first in a major city that had a white majority...

Full story at
*JAMES W. JOHNSON is the author of The Black Bruins: The Remarkable Lives of UCLA’s Jackie Robinson, Woody Strode, Tom Bradley, Kenny Washington, and Ray Bartlett.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Legal Tussle

From the Bruin: ...(Administrative VC Michael) Beck said UCLA plans to fight a recent lawsuit filed by a Westwood group alleging the university did not follow California Environmental Quality Act guidelines with its proposal to construct additional student housing in Westwood. Steve Sann, the chair of the Westwood Community Council, and the Westwood History and Architecture Association, sued UCLA in March over a building project that would replace a UCLA Extension building on Le Conte Avenue with a 17-story student housing unit.
Beck said he does not believe the complaint has any merit, and the university has already awarded the first contract for the building project.
(Chancellor Gene) Block also said he was impressed by Westwood Forward’s efforts to establish a new council for Westwood. Beck said while he would have preferred a solution that involved working with the current Westwood Neighborhood Council, he was also excited to see students engaged in the community and willing to push for a new council.

UCLA praised abroad for not terminating its Confucius Institute

From the South China Morning Post:


Tom Plate says the targeting of Confucius Institutes in the U.S. as potentially subversive threats shows how little many Americans know about China, and even about their own universities – where differences of opinion are gradually disappearing. Columnist Tom Plate taught at UCLA for 15 years before joining Loyola Marymount University as its distinguished scholar of Asian and Pacific studies: [excerpt]

...One major institution that, admirably, has kept its poise is the University of California at Los Angeles, which has dismissed the Confucius Institute controversy with the sort of clear-headed self-confidence one expects from a great research university. Its formal review, headed by UCLA political scientist Mark Peterson, assessed its campus chapter as a valuable instrument of cultural diversity, not some nasty ideological submarine. UCLA students pointed out the folly of broad-brushing Chinese instructors and students as propaganda robots... 

Full article at

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Billions Ahead

The state controller is reporting that in the current fiscal year through March, the state revenues are running about $3 billion ahead of the forecast made by the governor last January and over $5 billion ahead of the forecast made when the current budget was adopted last June.


Not to worry

UCPath introduces new, modern technology on the PeopleSoft platform that will integrate and align payroll, benefits and transaction processing across the UC system.  When implemented, all UC employees will have access to the new UCPath portal, where they will have the ability to view personal job data and payroll information, sign up for direct deposit, update tax withholdings, view/enroll in benefits, view vacation and sick leave balances, and more.  Employees will also benefit from the UCPath Center, the shared services hub which will provide dedicated and responsive customer service support.
UCLA will deploy UCPath in September, 2018. UCLA will partner with UC Santa Barbara as part of the UCLA/UCSB Pilot implementation, joining the Office of the President, which launched UCPath in 2015, and our sister campuses — Merced, Riverside, and ASUCLA — all of which are now live on UCPath as of January 2, 2018.

Well, at least you won't be alone:

Monday, April 9, 2018

Maybe more extracurricular activities would have done it - Part 4

If you've been following our series on the David Hogg UC admissions issue,* here's the final installment:

Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, famously mocked by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham for not getting into several University of California schools, actually did get accepted to UC Irvine, according to TMZ. Hogg, who has become a leading advocate for stronger gun laws in the wake of the Feb. 14 massacre at his high school in Florida, told TMZ Sunday that he received an acceptance letter from Irvine last week. The outlet reported previously that Hogg had been rejected by that school and UCLA, San Diego and Santa Barbara despite a high grade-point average. 

Ingraham last month ridiculed Hogg on Twitter for failing to gain entry into the colleges. The backlash was fierce. Hogg encouraged his Twitter followers to contact Ingraham’s sponsors. Several advertisers dropped the show, and the host departed on vacation. Ingraham is scheduled to return to the air on “The Ingraham Angle” Monday night. Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who rallied supporters at the March For Our Lives demonstration last month in Washington, didn’t say whether he accepted the offer to attend UC Irvine. He didn’t immediately respond to a HuffPost request for comment.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UC Irvine ninth among public universities and 42nd among universities nationally.

Full story at

We seem to be going separate ways from our Los Alamos partner on this issue

UC and Texas A&M reportedly have partnered in a bid to administer Los Alamos. But was we await a decision in May on whether that bid will win, the two institutions appear to have gone separate ways on another matter. UCLA has a Confucius Institute, apparently with the blessing (or acquiescence) of UCOP:

From Inside Higher Ed: The chancellor of the Texas A&M system said the university would terminate its agreement to host Confucius Institutes -- centers for Chinese language teaching and cultural programming funded by the Chinese government -- in response to the urging of two congressmen who described the institutes as threats to national security.
An increasing number of politicians have in recent months urged American colleges to sever their ties with the Chinese government-backed institutes, but this appears to be the first time a university has explicitly cited a recommendation from elected officials as its reason for terminating a Confucius Institute agreement. Critics and supporters of the Confucius Institutes alike said they are concerned about external political influence over university decision making...

Sunday, April 8, 2018

April (revenue) showers

Every April, the state controller provides a daily revenue tracker since April is a big tax collection month. State fiscal wonks can see how much is coming in. Income taxes are due April 17 this year. So if you want to be a wonk yourself, you can go to:
after that date.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Room for one more

It appears there is yet another bidder for the Los Alamos management contract, which UC has had (with partners in recent years) since the Manhattan Project. The contract is supposed to be awarded in May. There is an obvious political element here since there is no love lost between the Trump administration and California (and UC). UC teamed up with Texas A&M, however, which is Rick Perry's alma mater. We'll find out what that approach buys in a month or so.

Purdue University is among a handful of U.S. universities competing for the next $2 billion contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory, the nation’s pre-eminent nuclear weapons lab, Purdue President Mitch Daniels confirmed Friday to the Journal & Courier.
Purdue’s name and interest in the work at the lab in New Mexico had been floated in industry trade publications recently. But Friday was the first confirmation of the fact from Daniels.
Daniels confirmed that Purdue’s bid is a partnership with Bechtel National, a firm that has been part of a private consortium that includes the University of California that has run the Los Alamos National Laboratory since 2006.
“We’ve submitted a bid. And that’s all I know and really all I can say,” Daniels said Friday, when asked during a break in a Purdue Trustees meeting held at the Purdue Northwest campus in Westville.
“We’re proud to compete for things like this,” Daniels said. “I do believe this is the sort of level Purdue should be playing at, let me put it that way.”

(Gann) Room at the Top

From the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO): Proposition 4 (1979) added Article XIIIB to the Constitution, which established an appropriations limit on the state and most local governments. These limits are also referred to as “Gann Limits” in reference to one of the measure’s coauthors. The fundamental purpose of the Gann Limit is to keep real (inflation adjusted) per person government spending under 1978‑79 levels. The measure requires that a complex series of calculations be performed each year to compare appropriations to the limit. If in two consecutive years the state has revenues that cannot be appropriated because of the limit—meaning the state has “excess revenues”—the Constitution requires the excess to be split between taxpayer rebates and additional Proposition 98 spending...


Actually, the original Prop 4 didn't refer to Prop 98 since Prop 98 wasn't enacted until 1988. When Prop 4 in its original form caused rebates, the educational establishment put Prop 98 on the ballot which allocates funding to K-14 and modified Prop 4. There was a further modification a few years later under Prop 111. But that is history. The key point is that although the Gann limit was relaxed, it still exists. At the peak of the dot-com boom, we actually hit the limit but only for one year and so no rebates occurred. 

We have been getting close to the limit again and the Brown administration - in the eyes of LAO - has been doing some creative accounting to keep below it. LAO recommends less creativity. And if that were to occur, instead of a margin (dubbed "room") between the limit and actual revenue of $12 billion next fiscal year, there would be only $5.6 billion. Effectively, reducing the "room" would make spending beyond what Brown proposes (and which UC wants for itself), more difficult. Whether the legislature would go along with LAO's recommended accounting methodology is another matter. Of course, one could imagine litigation by anti-tax groups if under a plausible interpretation of the Gann limit, the "room" went negative.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Weekend Traffic

Traffic Notice Partial Closure


City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Street Services will cold plane and resurface the street on Sunset Boulevard, from Westwood Plaza to Veteran Avenue 

Traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction during scheduled working hours.
The public is advised to use Wilshire Bl. or other alternate routes. 

WHEN: Saturday, April 7, 2018 and Sunday, April 8, 2018, 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
WHERE: Sunset Boulevard, from Westwood Plaza to Veteran Avenue
This has been coordinated with UCLA Transportation.

Start Date/Time
Saturday, April 07, 2018    6:00 AM
End Date/Time
Sunday, April 08, 2018    6:00 PM

Master Plan

The Chronicle of Higher Ed carries a lengthy essay on the 1960 Master Plan:

A Grand Plan for Public Higher Ed Is Aging. Can It Be Reinvented?

Chronicle of Higher Education, Karin Fischer, 4-4-18

Not long ago, Nicholas B. Dirks, a former chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, visited Tsinghua University, in Beijing. He had flown halfway around the world to help the institution, one of China’s best, evaluate its approach to undergraduate education. But he found researchers and administrators there anxious to talk about his home state and its nearly 60-year-old plan for higher education.

Six decades on, the California master plan has come to be seen ­­— revered, even — as the blueprint for modern public higher education. In its day, it stood out for its ambition and audacity, so celebrated that its chief architect became a minor celebrity. At its core were a pair of goals previously thought to be antithetical: to provide a good education on a large scale while producing research to advance both the state and society.

The plan embraced mass and merit, access and excellence. It was at once populist and elitist.

"A noble vision," says John R. Thelin, a historian of higher education at the University of Kentucky.

"Revolutionary" is the assessment of Sheldon Rothblatt, a longtime scholar of education at Berkeley.

The plan spawned imitators and inspired the federal Pell Grant program. Leaders from other states trooped to California to study its approach. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, comprising the world’s leading economies, urged its members to adopt "development plans of the California type."

Even now, as Dirks discovered, as China wrestles with how to build world-class universities while educating more of its people, it, too, looks to the master plan for lessons.

"It’s alive and well everywhere," Dirks says. "Everywhere but California."

To be clear, the master plan remains the governing document for higher education in the state. But in the view of Dirks and many others, there has been a hollowing out of much of its promise, as the plan has aged and as economic and political forces have taken their toll. In a sense it is emblematic of American higher education as a whole, long the pacesetter but now scrambling to keep up with current demands. It is a cautionary tale about the wages of success.

While California’s research universities are still highly regarded, they are increasingly out of reach for students; each year, far more high-school graduates meet the academic qualifications for the University of California and the California State University systems than there are places allocated under the master plan.

Their capacity and budgets strained, even the community colleges have turned away students. California was the first state to commit to universal access. It also was the first to lose it.

And many students who do enroll struggle. The share of those who require remediation is high, and on-time graduation rates are low, especially in the Cal State system. The state does a particularly poor job of educating its large and rapidly growing Hispanic population. Just 12 percent of Hispanic adults have bachelor’s degrees, compared with 42 percent of white Californians and 51 percent of Asian descent.

By the end of the next decade, warns the Public Policy Institute of California, the state will be short an estimated 1.1 million college graduates to meet its economic needs. Once heralded for its educated population, California has fallen behind.

How did higher education in the Golden State, long the gold standard, lose its shine?

The master plan was both a response to the needs of its time and place and a product of them. In the wake of Sputnik, on the cusp of the Great Society, America in the early 1960s was a country with a determination to push forward and a willingness to invest in its dreams. This was an era marked by aspirations and institution-building, and the expansion of public higher education fit with a broader confidence in the efficacy of government.

Perhaps no place embodied the period more than California. Thelin, the Kentucky professor, recalls moving from the East Coast to California around the time of the master plan and being struck by what he calls the state’s "secular optimism."

"I cannot fully convey," he says, "the persistent sense among my friends and neighbors that things were going to work out, that everything, always, would be OK."

The plan’s chief architect was Clark Kerr, president of the University of California system. Promoted a year earlier from running the Berkeley campus, he was well suited to the task of drafting a plan that would change the shape and scope of higher education. Not only did he subscribe to the ideals it embodied, but in his pre-administrator days, as a labor economist, he was one of the busiest arbitrators on the West Coast, getting implacable adversaries like longshoremen and shipowners to the negotiating table.

Likewise, Kerr had to hammer out a compromise among public-college sectors that had been squabbling over budgets, missions, and construction of new campuses. The master plan organized the state’s cacophonous and competing web of public colleges into three defined tiers. At the highest academic level were research universities like Berkeley; they would award doctorates and accept only the top eighth of California high-school graduates. Next were the state colleges, focused mainly on undergraduate education; they were to enroll a third of California students. Community colleges would absorb the bulk of the coming baby boom.

The cost of all of this? For the students, nothing. A college degree should be possible for all those with the ability, Kerr believed, not just the means to pay.

The plan had something for everyone: greater autonomy and more coherence for the colleges and a road map for lawmakers to deal with a swelling population without sacrificing quality. In the end, the master plan passed the Legislature in 1960 with just a single dissenting vote — an outcome almost unimaginable in this day, when relationships between lawmakers and higher education are frequently fractious.

A few months after its passage, Kerr — bespectacled, looking slightly bemused — appeared on the cover of Time magazine. "Master Planner," the story’s headline read.

But the sense of harmony was to be short-lived. Berkeley became the center of nationwide student protests over civil rights, free speech, and the Vietnam War, and in 1966, a candidate ran for governor pledging to "clean up the mess" on campus.

Even Ronald Reagan’s advisers thought his anti-University of California campaign was a nonstarter and urged him to tone down his rhetoric. Against their advice, he excoriated administrators for their handling of demonstrations, derided student activists as "way out," and called for college budgets be cut by 10 percent. Berkeley, he suggested, could sell off its rare-books collection to cover the shortfall.

"His message was, here are these kids we busted our tails to create these magnificent universities for," says Patrick M. Callan, a longtime observer of California higher education, "and look what they’re doing."

Reagan won the election. Three weeks after he took office, Kerr was fired by the university’s Board of Regents.

Reagan never explicitly campaigned against the master plan. But his election pulled the thread that started the unraveling of the compact that underpinned it. Why should taxpayers, he asked, subsidize students — and institutions — that may not represent their values?

His position struck a blow to the consensus that college is a public good, and that an educated citizenry is worthy of collective investment. Higher education is, arguably, still trying to reclaim its lost standing.

In California, the next hit would come a decade later.

Like Reagan’s election, Proposition 13, an anti-property-tax ballot initiative overwhelmingly approved by California voters in 1978, wasn’t specifically about the master plan. But its passage nonetheless compromised the plan’s intent.

Led by Howard Jarvis — a retired businessman who adopted the signature line from the popular movie Network, "I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!" — the so-called tax revolt was a frontal assault on the principle that contributing to common services should be a civic priority.

In a memorable interview, Jarvis appeared unbothered by the severe spending reductions his referendum would force on many communities. "The most important thing in this country is not the school system, nor the police department, nor the fire department," he said. "The right to have a home in this country — that’s important."

Approved amid record inflation and spiraling home valuations, the measure caused property-tax revenues to plummet 60 percent almost immediately.

Because Prop 13 rolled back local property taxes, it hit the California Community Colleges system particularly hard, threatening to cut off crucial revenue to the very institutions responsible, under the master plan, for enrolling more than half of all college students in the state.

It also devastated public schools, the feeder into the higher-education system. In the wake of the referendum, California’s per-pupil spending fell from well above average to 42nd in the nation. The master plan had been built on a foundation of top-notch K-12 education, and that system was grievously undermined. Today eight in 10 community-college students and nearly 40 percent of Cal State students require some sort of remediation.

Alarmed, voters returned to the polls a decade later and passed a second referendum, guaranteeing 40 percent of state general-fund spending to public schools and community colleges. However well-intentioned, that had a grave effect on the state’s universities. At the University of California, state support per student, in inflation-adjusted dollars, has fallen from $23,000 before Prop 13’s passage to just $8,000 today. Students and families have had to make up the difference. In fact, one of the few substantive changes since the master plan has been the quiet abandonment of the idea of free college, and the imposition of tuition and fees.

Budgets in all states are a zero-sum game. Money dedicated to other parts of government — schools, health care, prisons — means less for public colleges. And in California, with its bold aims for higher education, the spending shackles imposed by Prop 13, and its subsequent "fixes," have been that much more restrictive.

But if unforeseen external forces weakened the plan, the greatest threats may have come from within. Some of the very systems and structures that Kerr put in place have undercut the plan’s success.

From the outset, the plan assigned an outsized role to community colleges. The reasons were twofold: limiting enrollments at four-year institutions would preserve their selectivity. And it brought the state’s costs way down — at that time, after all, most of the expense of educating a community-college student was borne locally.

"That was the genius of it, because you could meet everyone’s needs and do it relatively cheap," says Simon Marginson, author of The Dream Is Over: The Crisis of Clark Kerr’s California Idea of Higher Education (University of California Press, 2016). "Community colleges were the linchpin of access."

The plan envisioned that about 55 percent of California students would be enrolled in community colleges. Today, however, it’s closer to 65 percent. California ranks fifth in the nation in the share of its high-school graduates who enroll directly in community colleges, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. It’s 47th in the percentage who start at four-year institutions.

Significantly more students, however, meet the academic qualifications for Cal State and the University of California than enroll. Still, the master plan’s original admissions formula remains in place.

"We have one of the widest doors to access in the community colleges," says Brian Murphy, president of De Anza College, a two-year institution. "But we have one of the narrowest — if not the narrowest — doors to be admitted to a research university in the country."

The emphasis on community colleges made sense in Kerr’s time, when a credential or a two-year degree was more than adequate to secure a good job. In the current economy, though, a bachelor’s degree is often a prerequisite.

It also puts the burden of educating most students on the least well-financed institutions, says Joni E. Finney, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Research on Higher Education. The University of California’s per-student allocation is more than double what the community-college system gets from the state.

"There’s a mismatch between where the resources go and where the needs are," Finney says. "And that’s enshrined in the master plan."

The financial strain has jeopardized the access mission of California’s community colleges. Since Prop 13’s passage, two-year institutions have repeatedly slashed enrollments during budgetary shortfalls: by 250,000 in the early 1980s, 170,000 a decade later, another 150,000 when the dot-com bubble burst. During the recession that began in 2008, students often had to spend a semester or more on waiting lists for core courses. (The Cal State system has followed a similar pattern.)

As a result, many students are not getting into college, or not getting through. Fewer than a third of California community-college students earn an associate degree after three years. Of those who started in 2009-10, just 10 percent had transferred to a four-year college within six years.

Such statistics are troubling to many Californians. If the master plan envisioned that many students would start in the community colleges, they weren’t supposed to get stuck there. Students who earned a minimum grade-point average in community-college courses were supposed to gain a spot in a four-year institution; universities were required to allocate a higher share of seats to the upper divisions to accommodate transfers.

Then there’s who is being left behind: California today is a far more diverse state than in Kerr’s day. Two-thirds of Californians between 18 and 24 years of age are members of racial or ethnic minorities. But while four in 10 community-college students are Latino, just a quarter of the students at the University of California are. Likewise, although the state’s research universities have high proportions of low-income students compared with their peers — the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses each enrolls more Pell Grant recipients than all the Ivies combined — they fall short of the share of California public-school students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

"It’s un-American," says Audrey Dow, senior vice president of the Campaign for College Opportunity. "It’s un-Californian."

One of the master plan’s greatest flaws is its lack of detail on key subjects. Transfer is critical to the plan’s success, but it didn’t actually map out how that process should happen. The plan didn’t define a common core, specify admissions requirements, or include articulation agreements.

"We’ve set up a system that makes transfer very important, but we don’t have any mechanism for ensuring we do it well," says Colleen V. Moore, assistant director of the Education Insights Center, a think tank in the state. "We don’t even have anyone who asks if we are."

The difficulty is magnified by the plan’s design of three distinct and autonomous college systems. Each of the sectors has, at times, set out to improve the transfer process, but these have been largely discrete efforts rather than a synchronized, statewide strategy. Each of the state’s 114 community colleges had its own articulation arrangements.

The process was streamlined somewhat by the passage, in 2010, of legislation to develop associate degrees for transfer. Students who complete the two-year, 60-credit degree program are guaranteed admission to a Cal State institution as a junior.

Though creation of the associate degree for transfer is a step in the right direction, observers say it has been slow going. Faculty members in the community colleges and Cal State branches have had to come to agreement on the curriculum for a host of majors. And the pathway doesn’t apply to the University of California, although Janet A. Napolitano, the system’s president, said recently that she would be open to exploring ways of guaranteeing transfer.

The complications surrounding transfer are symptomatic of the broader challenge of coordination among three independent systems. While that structure was put in place to ensure differentiated missions, the effect has been to impede collaboration and, at times, seed conflict.

Dan Walters, a longtime newspaper columnist in the state, argues that this encourages the three sectors to see themselves as competitors, particularly for state support. "Talk to any of them off the record," he says, "and they see themselves as rivals, as enemies."

The master plan created a statewide higher-education board, but its authority was deliberately limited and, in 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated it, leaving California as one of just two states without a statewide oversight agency. (The other one is Michigan.)

As a result, the three systems largely operate in their own silos, with little agreement on priorities or ability to respond collectively to issues such as the college readiness of high-school graduates, labor-market volatility, and budgetary downturns.

"For public-policy purposes, the systems might as well be in different states," says Patrick Callan, who served as president of the former National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. When they do work together, he says, it is often "opportunistic" and done to further individual goals. "Collaboration just isn’t in their DNA."

For them to come together, then, to rethink California’s plan for higher education would be a particularly heavy lift. Nor do the sectors have much incentive to change, Callan and others say. While the three systems struggle with statewide priorities, the current governance structure gives them relative freedom to set and pursue their own institutional goals. It codified their turf.

"Someone with four aces," says Penn’s Finney, "doesn’t call for a new deal."

Clark Kerr didn’t intend for the master plan to be set in stone. In the final edition of his classic work, The Uses of the University  (Harvard University Press), published in 2001, two years before his death, he wrote about the need for new models to meet the evolving pressures on public higher education.

But Kerr didn’t come to the conclusion that the plan ought to evolve later in life. In fact, the use-by date is right there on its title page: "A Master Plan for Higher Education in California, 1960 to 1975."

Still, all these decades later, the plan remains in place.

A special legislative commission has been named to review the plan, but few observers expect the panel to recommend substantive change. After all, it is the 11th such study to be done since the early 1970s. In an interview, Assemblymember Marc Berman, the commission’s chairman, said he wouldn’t commit himself to any particular changes until it completed its review. But he said he didn’t see his charge as "blowing the master plan up."

Others say it would take the intervention of the governor, who has the leverage of the budget and appointments to university governing boards. But higher-education reform hasn’t been much of a priority in this year’s gubernatorial campaign.

Some advocacy groups, in fact, argue that doing long-range planning is such a herculean task that it makes more sense to leave the master plan in place. "To spend one or two years to come up with a plan that might not be relevant five years in, is that worth it?" says Lande Ajose, executive director of California Competes, an organization that works to improve college completion in the state. Instead, she favors narrowly tailored policy changes, such as legislation creating a new coordinating board, one with more teeth.

But most observers say it’s impossible to fix California’s higher-education problems without fixing the master plan. Some of the issues, particularly around governance, are baked into the plan itself. And the challenges facing the state, like access and completion, are so big and thorny that they can’t be tackled without doing what Kerr did: crafting a comprehensive, far-reaching strategy, a new master plan.

Just as its birth demanded attention, the current state of the plan is instructive beyond California’s borders. It shows what can happen when public investment doesn’t match ambition, when past successes can blind you to current shortcomings.

For all the criticism it comes in for, few see the plan as a failure. It arguably helped maintain the prestige of the state’s research universities, although budget cuts could be eroding that edge. While no state or country adopted the California model in full, its principles of opportunity and access have been widely embraced; Congress took Kerr’s ideas as the basis of the Pell Grant.

When it comes down to it, the problem isn’t that the plan failed. It’s that it succeeded.

"It’s hard to change public policy that fails," Callan says. "It’s even harder to change one that’s worked in many ways."

Thanks to the master plan, generations of Californians have come to believe that a college education is their birthright, their legacy.

It’s a powerful promise, but it has become an empty one. Through neglect and inertia, the plan can no longer do what it says it will. Yet it’s so iconic that it seems impossible to alter.

Source: via UC Daily News Clips


Under intense pressure not to raise tuition for the second consecutive year, California's public university systems have delayed votes to increase student fees and turned their attention back to the Capitol to lobby the state for more money.
Hundreds of California State University students and faculty, joined by Chancellor Timothy White, rallied in Sacramento on Wednesday, calling on Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers to cover the cost of an anticipated 4 percent tuition hike in the forthcoming state budget. University of California students, facing a possible fee increase of nearly 3 percent next year, visited the Capitol last week.
Legislative leaders are supportive of their efforts. Both Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon spoke at Wednesday's rally...
Brown has made it clear he's not interested in either raising fees or giving UC and CSU more than the 3 percent boosts to their state funding, roughly $92 million each, that he proposed in January. At a press conference, he said the universities would simply have to lower their cost structures and "live within their means."
"You’re getting 3 percent more and that’s it," Brown said. "They’re not going to get any more. They’ve got to manage. I think they need a little more scrutiny over how they’re spending things."
His office confirmed Wednesday that his position has not changed. Brown has also threatened that future budget increases could be smaller if the UC and CSU hike tuition, because more money set aside for higher education will have to go to the Cal Grant financial aid program rather than the universities directly...

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Bialik: Back story

An actress and UCLA alumna will deliver the 2018 college commencement address in June, UCLA officials announced Wednesday.
Mayim Bialik, who is known for her role in the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” will speak at both commencement ceremonies in Pauley Pavilion on June 15.
Patricia Turner, senior dean of the UCLA College, said in a statement that Bialik has shown Bruin values through her hard work, determination and civic duty that will help inspire graduates...
Bialik was involved in different student organizations at UCLA, including serving as a student leader for the Jewish group Hillel at UCLA and writing music for UCLA’s Jewish a cappella group.
There is a back story here. Bialik defended UCLA after an antisemitic incident involving the undergraduate student government:
She was also the victim an antisemitic incident involving a UCLA student/employee:

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Demonstration blocking Wilshire in Westwood

A UC workers' union protest has blocked both directions of Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood Wednesday afternoon. Protesters blocked the busy street, and motorists are being urged to avoid the area. Authorities don't know when the road will reopen.
That's all the info we have as of 5 pm today.

Chiang's Hail Mary Pass on Tuition

Editorial Note: Before reading the item below, it's worthwhile to give some background. First, under the top-2 primary system, John Chiang at this point needs to come in as number 2, since it appears that Gavin Newsom will likely be number 1. Polls have Chiang way down. So to get to number 2, he needs to make himself more visible and attractive. Second, up to this point in his career he has positioned himself as a fiscal conservative. He has served as state controller and treasurer and in both roles tended to echo Jerry Brown's cautions about budgetary matters. Some blog readers may recall the episode, back when state budgets were very precarious, when Chiang as controller refused to issue paychecks to the legislature for not passing a budget on time.

If Chiang made it to the general election (if he came in number 2 in the primary), he would have to revert to his old persona to pick up Republicans, independents, etc., who would see him as preferable to Newsom. Newsom, as an ex officio regent, always opposed tuition increases and Chiang would have a hard time trying to out-Newsom Newsom on that issue.

In short, Chiang's current position on tuition appears to be his Hail Mary pass to get into the number 2 position in the primary. Since he is termed out as treasurer and as state controller, he has nowhere to go but up (or out).  
From EdSource: Gubernatorial candidate and State Treasurer John Chiang wants to roll back a decade of tuition increases at the University of California and the Cal State systems, reducing those costs by more than 40 percent, while also providing two years of free community college.

Chiang, who previously was state controller, said he would use general fund revenues, money from cutting out government waste, tax revenues from legal marijuana sales and other sources to fund those savings for in-state students at the two- and four-year public campuses. “There’s a lot of pockets where we can find money so we can invest in education,” the Democrat said Monday evening at the second in a series of forums sponsored by the Campaign for College Opportunity for gubernatorial candidates to discuss higher education issues.

Chiang has held the elected state treasurer’s position since 2015 and before that was state controller starting in 2007. His bid to become governor has not caught fire although he has some admirers for his financial skills and wide grasp of complicated issues he displayed Monday. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California placed him in fifth place among the candidates in the June primary, with support from only 6 percent of the poll respondents. Still, Chiang ranks second in fundraising, with about $9 million in hand, topped only by frontrunner Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $19 million.

Tuition and mandatory systemwide fees for California residents are now $12,630 at UC and $5,742 at Cal State, and both systems are considering hikes for next fall. But if Chiang has his way, those would go back to the 2008-09 levels — just before very large tuition increases were adopted in response to state revenue cutbacks in the Great Recession. Such a reversal would bring annual undergraduate tuition to $7,066 for UC and $3,048 for Cal State, but could require upwards of $2 billion more in state funding a year, according to some estimates.

At the forum in Los Angeles, Chiang added that he wants state funding to be large enough so that more California students are admitted at the public universities of their first choice and are not squeezed out by out-of-state students, who pay much higher tuition. While he did not offer specifics on that goal, his website states that current caps on out-of-state enrollment at UC still permit too many residents outside of California to claim a spot at the already packed system and that he’d tighten the limits.

(Nearly 17 percent of the roughly 217,000 UC undergraduates are out-of-state students, but that figure is higher at some campuses like Berkeley and Los Angeles. At the CSU, about 5 percent of the roughly 430,000 undergraduates are out-of-state students.)

“When parents and other taxpayers have paid all through the life of that child with investment with the hope and opportunity and belief that their child has better access to the University of California or CSU than an out-of-state student, if you want to establish trust, you better keep that trust. That will be my priority,” he told the audience at the headquarters of the LA84 Foundation, the youth sports organization that grew out of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Chiang on Monday also promised the audience that he would make the first two years of community college free for students. Later, without offering many details, he told EdSource in an interview that community college should be free for those years “even without aid,” meaning that any other forms of financial aid could be used for other costs like books, transportation and living costs...

Full story at