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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Good Vibrations

Newly Established UCLA Scholarship Named for Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys
UCLA Wednesday announced a new scholarship named for Brian Wilson, the co-founder of the Beach Boys.
According to a statement released by the university, the two-year award “will be presented every other year to a junior in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music whose career aspirations include any combination of composing, arranging and producing popular music.”
The scholarship was funded by a gift of $100,000 from David Leaf, a UCLA adjunct professor in musicology, writer and filmmaker. The music school has launched an online crowdfunding campaign with a goal of raising another $100,000 to match Leaf’s initial gift...
Music at:

Napolitano Resigns

From the LA TimesUniversity of California President Janet Napolitano, who has championed immigrant students and sexual abuse victims but whose management of the UC system has sparked criticism, announced Wednesday she was resigning.
Napolitano, who has battled a recurrence of breast cancer, made the announcement at the UC regents meeting at UCLA.
Since she became the first woman to lead the 10-campus system in September 2013, Napolitano has enrolled historic numbers of California undergraduates. She has aimed to increase the number of qualified community college students who transfer to UC and expanded efforts to support California high school students from all backgrounds in their pursuit of a higher education...

UPDATE: Below is a video of her announcement:

Additional CRISPR

Patent Office: 1924
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today awarded the University of California (UC), University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier a patent for CRISPR-Cas9 that, along with two others awarded this month, brings the team’s comprehensive portfolio of gene-editing patents to 14.
On Sept. 10, the USPTO issued to the UC team U.S. patent 10,407,697 covering single-molecule guide RNAs or nucleic acid molecules encoding the guide RNAs. And on Sept. 3, the patent office issued U.S. patent 10,400,253, which covers compositions of single-molecule, DNA-targeting RNA (single-guide RNA, or sgRNA) and a Cas9 protein or nucleic acid encoding the Cas9 protein.The newest patent, U.S. 10,415,061, covers compositions comprising single-molecule DNA-targeting RNAs or nucleic acids encoding single-molecule DNA-targeting RNAs, as well as methods of targeting and binding a target DNA, modifying a target DNA or modulating transcription from a target DNA with a complex that comprises a Cas9 protein and single-molecule DNA-targeting RNA.
Another patent is set to issue next Tuesday, Sept. 24, bringing the total U.S. patent portfolio to 15. Three other patent applications have been allowed by the USPTO and are set to issue as patents in the coming months, which will raise the total to 18. These patents and applications span various compositions and methods for the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, including targeting and editing genes and modulating transcription, and covering the technology in any setting, such as within plant, animal and human cells. The methods and compositions covered in UC’s CRISPR-Cas9 portfolio come together to comprise the widest-ranging patent portfolio for the gene-editing technology.
“This month, we have seen exponential growth of UC’s U.S. CRISPR-Cas9 portfolio,” said Eldora Ellison, Ph.D., lead patent strategist on CRISPR-Cas9 matters for UC and a director at Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox. “We remain committed to expanding our robust portfolio to include additional methods and compositions for CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing so that the range of applications can be fully utilized for the benefit of humanity.”
The team that invented the CRISPR-Cas9 DNA-targeting technology included Doudna and Martin Jinek at UC Berkeley; Charpentier, then at Umea University in Sweden and now director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Germany; and Krzysztof Chylinski of the University of Vienna. The methods covered by today’s patent, as well as the other methods claimed in UC’s previously issued patents and those set to issue, were included among the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology work disclosed first by the Doudna-Charpentier team in its May 25, 2012, priority patent application.
The 14 CRISPR-Cas9 patents in this team’s portfolio are 10,000,772; 10,113,167; 10,227,611; 10,266,850; 10,301,651; 10,308,961; 10,337,029; 10,351,878; 10,358,658; 10,358,659; 10,385,360; 10,400,253; 10,407,697; and 10,415,061. These patents are not a part of the PTAB’s recently declared interference between 14 UC patent applications and multiple previously issued Broad Institute patents and one application, which jeopardizes essentially all of the Broad’s CRISPR patents involving eukaryotic cells...

The Price of Admission

From the LA Times: A Chinese woman was arrested in Spain and charged with paying the mastermind of the college admissions scandal $400,000 to ensure her son was admitted to UCLA as a phony soccer player, federal authorities in Boston said Tuesday.
Xiaoning Sui — a Chinese national and resident of British Columbia — was arrested by Spanish authorities Monday night, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts, which is seeking Sui’s extradition. Sui, the 35th parent to be charged in the college admissions scandal, has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and honest services mail fraud.
To guarantee her son a spot at UCLA, prosecutors say Sui turned to William “Rick” Singer, the Newport Beach college admissions consultant who earlier this year admitted to overseeing a sprawling, decade-long scheme that defrauded some of the country’s most selective universities with rigged college entrance exams, fake recruiting profiles and six-figure bribes to college coaches and administrators.
Sui, 48, paid Singer $400,000 to have her son admitted to UCLA as a recruited soccer player, despite that the boy had not played the sport competitively, according to an indictment returned by a grand jury in March. The indictment was sealed until Sui’s arrest...

The Changing Climate

UC investments are going fossil free. But not exactly for the reasons you may think

Jagdeep Singh Bachher and Richard Sherman, Sept. 17, 2019, LA Times

Our job is to make money for the University of California, and we’re betting we can do that without fossil fuels investments.

We are investors and fiduciaries for what is widely considered the best public research university in the world. That makes us fiscally conservative by nature and by policy — “Risk rules” is one of the 10 pillars of what we call the UC Investments Way. We want to ensure that the more than 320,000 people currently receiving a UC pension actually get paid, that we can continue to fund research and scholarships throughout the UC system, and that our campuses and medical centers earn the best possible return on their investments.

We believe hanging on to fossil fuel assets is a financial risk. That’s why we will have made our $13.4-billion endowment “fossil free” as of the end of this month, and why our $70-billion pension will soon be that way as well...

Full op ed at https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-09-16/divestment-fossil-fuel-university-of-california-climate-change

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The University of California declares a climate emergency

Carolyn McMillan, UC Newsroom, Sept. 17, 2019,

The University of California has joined forces with more than 7,000 colleges and universities around the globe to declare a climate emergency and commit to urgent action to address the crisis.

UC President Janet Napolitano and all 10 UC chancellors have signed a climate emergency declaration letter that recognizes “the need for a drastic societal shift to combat the growing threat of climate change.”*

In signing the declaration, UC leaders agreed to a three-point plan that includes increasing action-oriented climate research; expanding education and outreach on environmental and sustainability issues; and achieving climate neutrality, a goal UC expects to achieve by 2025, five years ahead of the declaration’s pledge.

“We have a moral responsibility to take swift action on climate change,” said UC President Napolitano. “This declaration reaffirms UC’s commitment to addressing one of the greatest existential threats of our time..."

Full media release at https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/university-california-declares-climate-emergency

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*Letter at https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/higher-and-further-education-institutions-across-globe-declare
====
Note: The timing of the op ed and the media release coincides with the Regents meeting this week and follows a "fossil free" resolution by the Academic Senate. This timing coincides, but is unlikely to be a coincidence. Although yours truly doesn't want to rain on the parade, it seems unlikely that academic finance types would buy the rationale offered in the op ed above by UC's chief financial official and the chair of the Regents' Investments Committee, essentially that because fossil fuels are facing a declining market, they are risky and thus should not be included in a broad portfolio. All equities have a degree of risk. And financial markets are aware of the particular risks entailed in fossil fuel securities and presumably price related equities accordingly. In short, the divestment is a response to the changing university climate rather than a strictly financial decision. Whether over any given future period, the endowment and pension portfolios will gain or lose from the decision is unknown, but it is a deviation from the finance idea of having lots of different eggs in the portfolio basket.

PS: Fear not! Yours truly is downloading and archiving the audio of the sessions of the Regents occurring this week including the session of the Investments Committee. But, as usual, it takes time to go through the recordings.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Possible Trump Jam Today

President Trump will be landing at Santa Monica Airport today and going somewhere from there. Usually, the somewhere is fundraisers in places like Beverly Hills and Bel Air - which means potential traffic disruptions around UCLA.

President Trump to Use Santa Monica Airport Tuesday: Military presence expected around SMO

By Sam Catanzaro, 9-16-19, Santa Monica Mirror
https://smmirror.com/2019/09/trump-to-use-santa-monica-airport-tuesday/

President Trump is expected to use the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) on Tuesday, September 17 and in preparation for his visit, the City of Santa Monica anticipates military helicopter activity at and around SMO on Monday, September 16 and Tuesday.

Trump is in California Tuesday for several fundraisers in both Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Geoff Palmer, the real estate developer and one of the president’s biggest donors, is hosting a Los Angeles fundraiser for Trump.

Very few details have been made public about Trump’s visit to California, a state where his approval rating is under 40 percent according to a poll released by the Public Policy Institute of California.

As Airport staff release additional details about potential street closures as a result of the visit this article will be updated.

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Apart from possible disruptions from the presidential visit, the Regents are meeting at the UCLA Grand Hotel starting today and continuing Wednesday and Thursday. So there could be some on-campus traffic issues.
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UPDATE: The Trump visit largely will be felt this evening in areas near UCLA, possibly affecting some late commutes:

7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday

The area around Bundy Drive between Airport Avenue & West Pico Boulevard
The area around Sunset Boulevard between South Sepulveda Boulevard and Bedford Drive (Beverly Hills)

8 to 9 p.m. Tuesday

The area around Sunset Boulevard between Bedford Drive and South Sepulveda Boulevard (Beverly Hills)
The area around West 9th Street between the 110  Freeway and South Flower Street
The area around South Figueroa Street between Olympic Boulevard and West Sixth Street

Beverly Hills street closures
5-9 p.m. Tuesday

Sunset Boulevard between Ladera and Beverly Drives will be intermittently closed (suggested alternative east/west routes: Santa Monica, Wilshire and Olympic boulevards
Benedict Canyon Drive between Sunset Boulevard and Mulholland Drive will be intermittently closed (suggested alternate north/south route: Coldwater Canyon Drive)

Source: https://www.dailynews.com/2019/09/17/trumps-la-visit-is-closing-these-downtown-streets/

Monday, September 16, 2019

Distressed Governor: Telescope Saga Continues

Gov. David Ige said Friday he and other state employees received death threats amid the heated debate over building a giant telescope on the state’s highest peak.

Ige disclosed the threats as he and his cabinet members held a news conference asking people on all sides of the issue to be careful with their language.

Attorney General Clare Connors played a voicemail recording in which an unidentified man told a state employee, “I hope you die.”

She showed reporters a social media post offering a $5,000 reward for the identity of a law enforcement officer involved in last week’s demolition and removal of a small wooden house built by demonstrators near the camp where they are blocking the telescope’s construction.

“I hope that we can all agree that putting a bounty on the head of law enforcement officer is disturbing and deeply concerning,” Connors said. “It’s dangerous. This law enforcement officer showed up to work that day and was doing his job when he found himself in an untenable situation.”

The issue of the Thirty Meter Telescope issue has engulfed Hawaii since mid-July when the state announced construction would begin after a decade-long permit and appeals process. Protesters have blocked the road to Mauna Kea’s summit for the past two months, preventing the building from getting underway. They oppose construction because they believe the top of the mountain is sacred.

Ige said there’s been improper language on both sides, noting he’s seen “terrible and racist” things written about protesters in the comment sections of news sites online...

Full story at https://www.apnews.com/9d933d05c5614c9a993d1995d4ff74ab

Introducing the Bond


Statement from UC President Napolitano on Public Education Facilities Bond

The University of California is pleased the recently approved Public Education Facilities Bond will be on the March 2020 ballot and deeply appreciates the $2 billion that the measure allocates to UC, which sets the stage for the biggest capital investment in the University since 2006.

This would be a significant and much-needed investment in the safety and welfare of students in California’s public schools, from preschool through college. For UC, the funding would help modernize our campuses while addressing critical infrastructure needs, including seismic retrofits, and expand our capacity to serve even more California students.

We are immensely grateful to Gov. Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for their leadership as well as the dedicated public education advocates who helped craft this important legislation.

Now is the time to make a solid investment in our schools, our students and California’s future.

Source: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/statement-uc-president-janet-napolitano-public-education-facilities-bond

Note: "The... bond measure would allocate $15 billion in general obligation funds to modernize public education facilities, with $9 billion allocated to pre-K-12 schools, $2 billion for the California Community College system, $2 billion for the California State University system and $2 billion for the University of California."

Source: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/bond2020

Introductions are important:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Bill on Abortion Service on Campuses

A bill to require California’s public universities to offer abortion medication through campus clinics now awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature.

Senate Bill 24 is state Sen. Connie Leyva’s attempt to require the University of California and California State University systems to offer students “the abortion pill” as an on-campus medical service. The measure moved to the governor’s desk on Friday after the Senate approved it on a 28-11 vote during the Legislature’s final day in session...


Things to Come (at the Regents this week)

One of the early sessions at the Regents this coming week will be the Investments Committee reporting on how the endowment and pension portfolios did during fiscal 2018-19. And we pretty much know it will be a cheerful report showing good returns. How do we know? Well, first of all, from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, the stock market went up significantly. And interest rates were cut (which raises bond prices). So it would be hard to do badly in that period. Second, the cheerful news has already been touted on an official UCOP news release:

UC Investments posts strong gains, endowment up 8.24 percent

UC Office of the President, September 12, 2019

The University of California’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer (UC Investments) announced today (Sept. 12) that its assets under management grew to $126.1 billion as of June 30, a one-year jump of $7.4 billion and a five-year gain of $30 billion.

UC’s $126.1 billion is spread across seven unique financial products. The endowment ended the fiscal year at $13.4 billion, and the pension stood at $70 billion. Working capital was at $14.8 billion, with total return at $9.2 billion and short-term at $5.6 billion. The retirement savings program ended the year at $25.6 billion, Fiat Lux Insurance at $1.1 billion, and the newly created Blue & Gold Pool at $1.3 billion for the three months since its inception.

“What stands out for me in these numbers is our team’s growth and success,” said Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher. “When I joined UC in April 2014, our total assets under management were valued at $91.6 billion. Five years later they total $126.1 billion. We’ve added $2.4 billion in value above our benchmarks and saved $1 billion by reducing management costs.”

Said UC Regent Richard Sherman, chair of the Investments Committee, “Jagdeep and the UC Investments team have delivered solid absolute returns above their benchmarks. They continue to innovate and work collaboratively among themselves and with their partners. They’re right-sized: agile and well-placed to take advantage of economies of scale, best of breed managers and passive equity products. This leads to an extraordinarily low cost of management that enhances our net returns for the benefit of all UC stakeholders.”

“UC Investments has been key to the university’s success on some of our most important and exciting initiatives,” added UC President Janet Napolitano. “Their approach helps our long-term financial outlook and well positions us to meet the challenges of the next 150 years at the University of California. UC Investments has found ways to deepen its relationships with our 10 campuses and add value to the day-to-day benefit of UC.”

The UC endowment grew 8.2 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. The endowment has earned 10.7 percent over three years, 6.8 percent over five years, 9.4 percent over 10 years, 6.3 percent over 20 years and 9.2 percent over 25 years. Over the past five years the endowment has earned $710 million above the market gains of $2.9 billion.

The UC pension gained 6 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. The pension has earned 9.4 percent over three years, 6 percent over five years, 9.3 percent over 10 years, 5.7 percent over 20 years, and 8.7 percent over 25 years. It gained $1.2 billion over the market gains of $16.7 billion since 2014.

The UC Total Return Investment Pool (TRIP) earned 6.3 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. TRIP has earned 6.1 percent over three years, 4.2 percent over five years and 7.5 percent over 10 years. The UC Short-Term Investment Pool earned 2.3 percent for the year, 1.8 percent over three years, 1.6 percent over five years, 1.9 percent over 10 years, 3.2 percent over 20 years and 3.8 percent over 25 years. Working capital added value of $290 million over the past five years.

Performance results will be discussed at the September 17, 2019 meeting of the UC Board of Regents’ Investments Committee.

Source: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/uc-investments-posts-strong-gains-endowment-824-percent

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Looking for a Ray of Hope

Email on UCRAYS received yesterday:

Dear valued customer:

On behalf of the University of California, I want to extend my sincere apologies for any problems or delays you have experienced getting information about your UC retirement benefits.

As you may know, Systemwide Human Resources is in the midst of transitioning to a new software system to manage retirement benefits, and a new web portal (UCRAYS) that will allow you to view retirement information, update your personal information and make benefit enrollment elections.

Unfortunately, these systems changes have presented a number of challenges, resulting in a lack of up-to-date information online and impacting our Retirement Administration Service Center’s (RASC) ability to serve our faculty, staff and retirees.

We are working very hard to resolve the systems issues, and taking immediate action to improve service and get our customers the help they need as quickly as possible. This includes:
  • Hiring two dozen (43%) additional RASC staff to significantly reduce call wait and processing times
  • Cutting response times to emails sent to customerservice.reply@ucop.edu from 5 days to within 48 hours
  • Adding improved telephone services such as callback options

We will be providing additional updates about these efforts and how to use the new UCRAYS website via our UCnet website, our New Dimensions newsletter for retirees, upcoming Open Enrollment materials, and other communications.

We can and must do better. It is our privilege to serve the members of the UC community, and our highest priority is restoring the level of service you expect and deserve.

Sincerely,

Gary Schlimgen
Executive Director
UC Retirement Programs & Services

Friday, September 13, 2019

Telescope controversy continues...

and spills into California...

Attorney Michael Green is representing a couple that’s threatening to sue people who are spreading rumors that Gov. Ige has financial ties to the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The Governor strongly denies the online allegations. Social media posts claim documents show that Gov. Ige has financial ties to TMT, and that amounts to bribery and a conflict of interest. However it’s unclear who started the allegations.

TMT paid $3 million to Private Security Group run by Charles Long since 2015 for security at its construction site at Mauna Kea.

Long’s wife, Melanie, is the owner of the property management company for Ige’s personal home. Green says the rumors could lead to a defamation lawsuit and he believes anger over Mauna Kea has become vicious.

“Protest, everyone has a right to do that, but don’t be so vile so vicious to do something to this husband and his wife and their family,” said Green, Long’s attorney. The high profile attorney does not represent the Ige’s...

Full story at https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/09/12/high-profile-attorney-threatens-sue-over-vicious-tmt-rumors/
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Nearly a week after state crews used a saw to cut through the door of an illegal structure at a Mauna Kea protest camp, Governor Ige has accused activists of baiting law enforcement crews with the Hawaiian flag that had been affixed to the building.

Before the illegal structure was removed from Mauna Kea last Friday, an officer used the saw to cut through a boarded up door to make sure no one was inside. In doing so, he also cut through a Hawaiian flag that was affixed to the door.

The action quickly grew condemnation from protesters, who said the action amounted to desecration.

TMT opposition leader, Andre Perez, says the image incited anger and could have easily been avoided if law enforcement cut around the flag.

“They consciously chose to cut through the middle of the flag and I find that an egregious act of disrespect to Hawaiian people every where,” he said.

In a social media post published on Thursday, Gov. Ige said that the state’s law enforcement officers ‘serve proudly under the state flag’ and blamed activists for the incident...

Full story at https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/09/12/ige-hits-back-mauna-kea-telescope-protesters-over-flag-tactics/
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The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is investigating how the occupation of Maunakea Access Road might be harming a rare native Hawaiian plant and several other endangered species.

In particular, the DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement is concerned about the health of the ‘anunu vine (also known as the alpine bur cucumber or largeleaf bur cucumber), a particularly uncommon flowering plant only found on the Big Island. Investigators are determining whether specimens of the vine were possibly destroyed at Pu‘u Huluhulu, where the U.S. Army had attempted to reintroduce the plant...

Full story at https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/2019/09/12/hawaii-news/dlnr-protest-might-be-harming-endangered-plants/
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Native Hawaiian opponents of a giant telescope planned for Hawaii’s tallest mountain plan to protest outside the California home of one of the observatory’s major backers.

The opponents plan to gather outside the Redwood City home of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife today. The couple’s foundation has pledged $250 million toward the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope.

Protesters have occupied a road to Mauna Kea’s summit since mid-July to block construction. They say building a new telescope there will further desecrate a sacred place that already hosts 13 observatories.

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation spokeswoman Holly Potter says the foundation recognizes strong feelings in support and opposition to the telescope. She says the foundation respects the right of all to express their points of view. She asks that the Moores be respected as private citizens...

Full story at https://www.staradvertiser.com/2019/09/12/breaking-news/protesters-plan-to-gather-outside-tmt-backers-california-home/

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Gaining Admission

From the LA Times: Five years before William “Rick” Singer became known as the mastermind of the nationwide college admissions scandal, an internal investigation at UCLA uncovered key elements of his scam. The first indication of trouble came in a phone call to the school on May 13, 2014. The mother of a high school student wanted to appeal the university’s decision to reject her daughter’s admission as a water polo recruit. The daughter had never played the sport.

“During this conversation,” a report on the investigation said, “the mother stated she was ‘still willing to pay.’ When asked to what she was referring, [the mother] explained that she understood from [Singer] that she was expected to donate $100K to the program, for the admission of her daughter through athletics.”

The report shows UCLA had gathered evidence echoing the allegations in this year’s criminal case against Singer and showing that he was attempting to manipulate admissions to one of the nation’s most celebrated collegiate sports programs. University officials were concerned enough to interview Singer, who denied wrongdoing, and brief UCLA Chancellor Gene Block on the investigation.

Beyond water polo, the report said, Singer advised at least two students who were recruited for the UCLA men’s tennis team even though the school characterized their athletic ability as “limited.” After their admission, their parents made significant donations to the tennis program.

UCLA spokesman Tod Tamberg said the school responded to the report with a range of reforms, including a ban on donations from families of athletic recruits until they enrolled. A handful of coaches also were disciplined.

Singer, however, continued to forge close ties with the school, hosting summer workshops on the Westwood campus. Federal prosecutors allege he also paid $200,000 in bribes to UCLA’s men’s soccer coach to help admit two students as fake soccer recruits.

Several legal and higher education experts told The Times the report shows the university missed an early opportunity to stop Singer.

“UCLA should have immediately notified law enforcement authorities,” said Bradley Simon, a former federal prosecutor whose practice areas include white collar criminal defense and corporate investigations. “Had they done so at the time, UCLA would not be enmeshed in the current scandal.”

Tamberg defended UCLA’s response, saying Singer was not the focus of its investigation, which also examined a second suspicious athletic recruitment that did not involve the consultant. The inquiry, Tamberg said, was designed to ensure that UCLA’s athletics department policies complied with University of California rules prohibiting any consideration of financial benefits during the admissions process...

Additional records obtained by The Times show Singer’s connections to UCLA date back to at least 2008, when he donated $30,000 to the school’s recreation department. Internal emails also show Singer or his associates corresponded with three UCLA head coaches other than former men’s soccer coach Jorge Salcedo as early as 2012, though there’s nothing in the messages to suggest they knew about his illegal activities...

Full story at https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-11/ucla-rick-singer-college-admissions-scandal

Rise and Fall

Back in the 1950s when the Soviets launched Sputnik, the event served as a wake-up call and led to higher ed and research as a U.S. priority. No sign of that happening now, as one empire declines and another rises:

...The U.S. remained the dominant nation overall, with seven schools in the top 10 and 60 in the top 200, but China’s massive investment in higher education continues to generate dividends, including placing nine more schools than last year in the overall ranking of nearly 1,400 universities. For the first time, China is now spending more money than any other nation, according to one closely watched funding metric.

“China’s rise is due to decades of focused reform and strong investment, which is clearly paying off with powerful results and which is set to continue,” said Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer of Times Higher Education, a London-based magazine that produced the global rankings and last week published its fourth annual ranking of U.S. universities in partnership with The Wall Street Journal...

The University of California, Berkeley and UCLA are the only two U.S. public universities in the global top 20...

Source: UCOP Daily News Clips (9-12-19) from Wall Street Journal (9-11-19)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Temporary Interruption

Attention Faculty, Staff, and Student Employees
This is a reminder that the UCPath system will be unavailable to all UC employees while UC Davis and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources transition to UCPath.
Outage Dates and Times
  • Outage 2: Thursday, September 12 at 5 p.m. until Tuesday, September 17 at 6 a.m.
During this outage, you will not have any access to UCPath. This means you will not have access to:
  • View or download pay statements
  • View leave balances
  • Perform employee self-service actions, such as signing up for direct deposit or electronically enrolling in benefits because of a qualifying life event
Tips: How to Prepare for the Outage
  • View and print paystubs prior to the outage if you will require copies of your pay statements.
  • Get employment verifications in advance.
Contact Info
During the outage, the UCPath Center is available via phone to assist with questions related to benefits, including providing forms for benefits enrollment for new hires, and registering a qualifying life event (e.g., marriage, birth of a baby).
You can contact the UCPath Center, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (PT) at (855) 982-7284.
flyer about the outage is available online for departments to distribute to their staff as needed.
For any other questions, please contact:
UCLA’s Central Resource Unit (CRU)
Phone: (310) 825-1089, option 5
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The UCLA Parts of the Upcoming Regents Meeting

UCLA faculty survey: Click on image to enhance.
More detail on the upcoming Regents meeting is now available. Below we provide links to the UCLA-related items. The image above is from Item F6, new faculty housing for UCLA. We earlier had posted the general agenda of the Regents before the detailed links became available. See:
https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/09/the-regents-agenda.html

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Date: September 17, 2019
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: UCLA Horace Mann Community School !!!
7001 S. St. Andrews Place, Los Angeles

Agenda – Open Session

P1 Discussion: University-Assisted Community Schools: Mann UCLA Community School
https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/sept19/p1.pdf

P2 Discussion: UCLA Outreach, Recruitment, Retention and Alumni Engagement
https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/sept19/p2.pdf

P3 Discussion: The Role of Policy in Closing Opportunity Gaps and Building Healthy Communities
https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/sept19/p3.pdf
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FINANCE AND CAPITAL STRATEGIES COMMITTEE
Date: September 18, 2019
Time: 12:30 pm
Location: Centennial Ballroom AB
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – CLOSED Session

F1(X) Action: Approval of Acquisition of an Office Building and External Financing, Los Angeles Campus [NO DETAILS AVAILABLE.]
===

FINANCE AND CAPITAL STRATEGIES COMMITTEE
Date: September 18, 2019
Time: At the conclusion of the closed session
Location: Centennial Ballroom AB
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session

F6 Discussion: Hilgard Faculty Housing, Los Angeles Campus

See graphic above. Source:
https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/sept19/f6.pdf
===

GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE
Date: September 18, 2019
Time: 4:00 pm
Location: Centennial Ballroom AB
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – CLOSED Session
G4(X) Discussion: Contract Amendment for Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Los Angeles Campus [NO INFORMATION AVAILABLE but whatever it involves is slated for approval in the open session that follows.]

Here's something to worry about

Stone Canyon Reservoir above UCLA
Scene from "Chinatown"
Did you know that in the hills of Bel Air above UCLA, there are two reservoirs? Even if you didn't know, you may have seen the movie "Chinatown" where they were one of the filming locations. (See the still from the movie at the right.) Anyway, in the event of a major earthquake, there is a risk of dam failure according to an official survey with "inundation" of the Westwood area. See below (and ignore the fact that the authors of the survey don't know the difference between "affects" and "effects"):
Source of excerpt above: 

"CPA" = Community Plan Area.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Telescope - Could be

Kim’s Maunakea plan could be delivered to Gov. Ige this week

By Michael Brestovansky | Hawaii Tribune-Herald | September 10, 2019

No police action occurred Monday at the Maunakea Access Road despite fears from Thirty Meter Telescope opponents that a major push from law enforcement is imminent.

Over last weekend, opponents of the TMT project — who have camped on the Maunakea Access Road for nearly 60 days — warned their fellows on social media that, thanks to multiple unnamed sources, they believed police would soon mobilize to remove protesters from the road in order for construction of the telescope to proceed.

“TMT will be meeting with State and County officials this Sunday to coordinate their attack on peaceful and nonviolent protectors of Maunakea,” read one such warning on Friday.

Demonstrators returned to the access road Sunday in preparation for a confrontation with police on Monday morning, but a police action never materialized.

“Although it ended up being a false alarm, it did show, I think, that our people are very, very prepared, very determined and very disciplined,” said protest leader Kaleikoa Ka‘eo in a video posted to Facebook.

Ka‘eo said the demonstrators remain on high alert, fully expecting police action to come within the next several days.

No major police action has occurred at the protest area since more than 30 Hawaiian elders were arrested in the first week of the standoff, although police and state workers arrived at the scene on Friday to dismantle an unpermitted structure built by demonstrators.

However, Mayor Harry Kim on Monday said he believes that no police escalation will occur until his role as a mediator between the state and the Hawaiian community has been completed.

Having been tasked with finding common ground between TMT opponents and supporters by Gov. David Ige, Kim has held several meetings with Hawaiian community leaders, some in support and some in opposition to the telescope.

Kim said the results of those meetings, as well as his decades of experience with the community, will culminate in a lengthy proposal that will enumerate what the state must change in order to move forward with the TMT project. That proposal, he said, might be completed later this week, and will conclude his work as Ige’s mediator.

Until that proposal is revealed and explored by the state, Kim said there will “absolutely not” be any further police action to clear the access road.

“I guarantee the governor is committed to ensuring that I will be involved in whatever happens up there,” Kim said, explaining that he has not been informed of any such plans for the immediate future.

Meanwhile, TMT protesters have alleged that Ige has personal and direct financial ties to the TMT corporation, which would present a conflict of interest.

According to public records, David and Dawn Ige Enterprises — a domestic partnership established by the governor and his wife in 2015 — employs an agent from Honolulu real estate agency Pacific International Realty. That agency’s president and vice president — Melanie and Charles Long, respectively — also are listed as vice president and president of Private Security Group Inc., a security outfit that was awarded a $3 million contract by TMT in 2014.

Krishna Jayaram, special assistant to the attorney general, said such claims of an ethical violation are baseless.

“Our position is that if you hire a property manager, and that property manager also runs a security company, you are not also tied to that security company,” Jayaram said.

Jayaram said the allegations are attempts to attack Ige’s character and are in line with the demonstrators’ warnings about impending police actions, which use sensationalist terms to raise alarm.

“They use words intended to draw people to the mountain,” Jayaram said. “But they don’t worry about the sort of people who might be drawn … maybe people who don’t have the same motives as them.”

Jayaram could not comment on whether any actions by police are planned for the near future, citing operational security reasons.


Since no one in Hawaii seems in a hurry to resolve this matter, we provide some (extended) music while we wait:

We will see what happens

California Lawmakers Vote to Undo N.C.A.A. Amateurism: A bill passed by the State Assembly would allow college athletes to make endorsement deals. It is expected to reach the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Billy Witz, Updated Sept. 10, 2019, NY Times

SACRAMENTO — There were two guests of honor at the monthly meeting of the Oakland Rotary club in November 2015: the University of California marching band and a sports economics expert railing about the N.C.A.A.’s rules barring college athletes from collecting compensation for their play.

While the band riled up the crowd in the small theater — it was the week of Cal’s rivalry football game against Stanford — the conversation about a multibillion-dollar enterprise dependent on amateur athletes caught the ear of an audience member, Nancy Skinner. Her response could shatter the business model of major college sports.

Termed out of the State Assembly in 2014 and considering a run for the State Senate, Skinner had spent much of her adult life championing causes that one might expect from a Berkeley activist: organizing graduate assistant teachers, banning Styrofoam from fast-food businesses and raising taxes on the rich.

“All of a sudden the light bulb was going off,” Skinner said of the discussion at the Rotary meeting. “Rather than being the bystander going, ‘Gosh, this is so unfair, how do these people get away with this?’, I’m like, ‘Hey, if I’m in the Senate, can the state do something about it?’”

She is about to find out.

Skinner, who was elected to the State Senate three years ago, produced a bill that would allow college athletes in California to be paid for the use of their name, image and likeness — be they basketball stars signing their own marketing deals or water polo players advertising offers of swim lessons.

The Fair Pay to Play Act, which Skinner wrote with Steven Bradford, a fellow Democrat in the State Senate, cleared the State Assembly on Monday by a vote of 72 to 0, with support from civil rights advocates and free-market proponents. A version of the bill had already cleared the Senate.

Once the chambers work out any differences, which is expected to be a formality, the legislation will be headed for one more significant hurdle — Gov. Gavin Newsom will have 30 days to sign it.

The measure, S.B. 206, would go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, and it has provoked the expected opposition from the N.C.A.A., the University of California and California State University systems and prominent private colleges like Stanford and the University of Southern California.

But Skinner’s bill recently gained some very high-profile support.

LeBron James, a frequent critic of the N.C.A.A., took to Twitter last week to urge California residents to contact their state representatives and tell them to support the bill.

“This law is a GAME CHANGER,” James wrote.

A day later, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont retweeted James’s message and added one of his own: “College athletes are workers,” Sanders wrote. “Pay them.” ...

Full story at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/sports/college-athlete-pay-california.html

FYI

Email received today:
To the Campus Community:
On Friday, September 13, 2019 there will be an active shooter simulation drill conducted from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Strathmore Building. The simulation will be led by the Office of Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) and the UC Police Department (UCPD). This will be a live-action exercise, which will involve sounds of gun shots and active participants outside the building. Please be aware that this is only a drill.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me at amante@ehs.ucla.edu.
Sincerely,
Michelle A. Sityar, MPH
Executive Officer
Office of Environment, Health & Safety

Monday, September 9, 2019

UC Irvine Prof Stirs the Pot

From Politico: Everything was unfolding as it usually does. The academics who gathered in Lisbon this summer for the International Society of Political Psychologists’ annual meeting had been politely listening for four days, nodding along as their peers took to the podium and delivered papers on everything from the explosion in conspiracy theories to the rise of authoritarianism.

Then, the mood changed. As one of the lions of the profession, 68-year-old Shawn Rosenberg, began delivering his paper, people in the crowd of about a hundred started shifting in their seats. They loudly whispered objections to their friends. Three women seated next to me near the back row grew so loud and heated I had difficulty hearing for a moment what Rosenberg was saying.

What caused the stir? Rosenberg, a professor at UC Irvine, was challenging a core assumption about America and the West. His theory? Democracy is devouring itself—his phrase — and it won’t last.

As much as President Donald Trump’s liberal critics might want to lay America’s ills at his door, Rosenberg says the president is not the cause of democracy’s fall—even if Trump’s successful anti-immigrant populist campaign may have been a symptom of democracy’s decline.

We’re to blame, said Rosenberg. As in “we the people.”

Democracy is hard work. And as society’s “elites”—experts and public figures who help those around them navigate the heavy responsibilities that come with self-rule—have increasingly been sidelined, citizens have proved ill equipped cognitively and emotionally to run a well-functioning democracy. As a consequence, the center has collapsed and millions of frustrated and angst-filled voters have turned in desperation to right-wing populists...

What stirred the crowd was that Rosenberg has gone beyond pessimism into outright defeatism. What riled the crowd was that he’s seemingly embraced a kind of reverence for elitism no longer fashionable in the academy. When challenged on this front, he quickly insisted he didn’t mean to exempt himself from the claim that people suffer from cognitive and emotional limitations. He conceded that the psychological research shows everybody’s irrational, professors included! But it was unclear that he convinced the members of the audience he really meant it. And they apparently found this discomforting...

Full story at https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/09/08/shawn-rosenberg-democracy-228045

One new law affecting UC, and maybe more to come

We are now in the period in which a flood of bills are passed by the legislature and sent to the governor for signature or veto. Some bills will inevitably affect public higher education in California including UC. Here is one (below), which was signed by the governor on September 6.

Note that the legislature sometimes "respects" the constitutional autonomy of UC and in bills regarding higher ed will order community colleges and CSU to do something, but will simply "request" that UC do it. In the case of the bill below, that nicety was not observed.

AB-809 Public postsecondary education: child development programs: priority enrollment: Title IX protection: pregnancy and parental status.(2019-2020). Summary and analysis:

Requires public postsecondary institutions to post information regarding federal Title IX protections for pregnant and expecting students. Specifically, this bill: 

1) Requires each public postsecondary educational institution to notify pregnant and parenting students of the protections provided by Title IX through prominently posting a notice of the Title IX protections on the institution's internet website.

2) Requires each public postsecondary educational institution with an on-campus medical center to provide notice of the protections provided by Title IX through the medical center to a student who requests information regarding policies or protections for students with children or pregnant students and when otherwise appropriate.

3) Encourages child development programs established by the California Community Colleges (CCC), the California State University (CSU), and the University of California (UC) to give specified priority to children of students who are unmarried and meeting specified income requirements.

4) Specifies that if the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to the Government Code, as specified.

COMMENTS: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (United States Code Section 1681, et seq.) requires gender equity in every educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Specifically, it provides that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination.

While it is best known for providing equity to male and female athletics, the regulations implementing Title IX (34 Code of Federal Regulations Section 106.40(a) and (b), et seq.) prohibits discrimination against a student based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions. It is illegal for schools to exclude a pregnant student from participating in any part of an educational program, including classes, extracurricular programs, honor societies, and opportunities for student leadership.

This bill seeks to raise awareness of the rights provided by current law to pregnant and parenting students. 

According to the author, "Current federal and state law does not require universities to publish information regarding pregnant and parenting students' rights under Title IX. Enactment of AB 809 will make information available to pregnant and single parent students regarding their legal rights under Title IX so that they are aware of all the options available to them to stay in school and finish their degree."

"By simply posting Title IX protections for pregnant and parenting students to their websites, colleges and universities will provide students with information that can help them overcome challenges that otherwise may have caused them to leave school. It will also encourage oncampus childcare programs to prioritize children of single parent students to make it easier for students to secure childcare."

Arguments in Support: The California Catholic Conference writes that, "…single parents comprise a growing percentage of college students, but obtaining a degree while juggling the demands of parenthood causes some students to drop out. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, four in ten women attending community college nationwide report that are likely to drop out of school because of parental obligations While rights and protections for pregnant and parenting students already exist under Title IX, many students are unaware of these rights and protections. By 2012, the number of single mothers in college came close to one in five of all women in college…this bill helps single parents overcome challenges that otherwise may cause them to leave college."

Arguments in Opposition: No opposition on file.

Source: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billHistoryClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200AB809

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Regents' Agenda

A Regents committee meets, back in the day
The agenda for the Sept. 17-19, 2019 meeting of the Regents (at UCLA) has now been posted, although without attachments. See below:

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Date: September 17, 2019
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: UCLA Horace Mann Community School  (NOTE!)
7001 S. St. Andrews Place, Los Angeles

Agenda – Open Session
Public Comment Period
P1 Discussion: University-Assisted Community Schools: Mann UCLA Community School
P2 Discussion: UCLA Outreach, Recruitment, Retention and Alumni Engagement
P3 Discussion: The Role of Policy in Closing Opportunity Gaps and Building Healthy Communities

====
INVESTMENTS COMMITTEE
Date: September 17, 2019
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Centennial Ballroom CD
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Public Comment Period
Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of May 14, 2019
I-1 Discussion: Chief Investment Officer Update on Final FY2018-2019 Performance
I-2 Discussion: The State of the World Economy and the State of Private Markets

====
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON BASIC NEEDS
Date: September 17, 2019
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Centennial Ballroom CD
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of July 16, 2019
S1 Discussion: CalFresh Eligibility, Access, Enrollment and Partnership Across the University of California
S2 Discussion: Rapid Rehousing Efforts
S3 Discussion: Review of the 2017 Total Cost of Attendance Working Group Report

===
FULL BOARD
Date: September 18, 2019
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Location: Centennial Ballroom AB
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Public Comment Period
Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of July 17, 2019
Remarks of the Chair of the Board
Remarks of the President of the University
Remarks of the Chair of the Academic Senate

====
COMPLIANCE AND AUDIT COMMITTEE
Date: September 18, 2019
Time: 9:45 a.m.
Location: Centennial Ballroom AB
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of July 17, 2019
C1 Discussion: Internal Audit Activities Report
C2 Discussion: Update on Implementation of Recommendations from State Audit of Sexual Harassment Cases
C3 Discussion: University of California Herbicide Task Force Update

====
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Date: September 18, 2019
Time: 9:45 a.m.
Location: Centennial Ballroom
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meetings of July 17, 2019
P4 Action: Endorsement of Comprehensive Campaign, Irvine Campus
P5 Discussion: UC Research for California: Fighting Wildfires with Cameras

====
ACADEMIC AND STUDENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
September 18, 2019
12:30 p.m.
Centennial Ballroom CD
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of July 17, 2019
A1 Action: Establishment of a School of Public Health, San Diego Campus
A2 Discussion: Part II of the Annual Accountability Sub-report on Diversity – Health Sciences
A3 Information Annual Report on Regents Policy 3501: Policy on Student Athletes

====
Note: In the closed session of Finance and Capital Strategies before the open session below, there is a proposed purchase of an office building by UCLA. No other information concerning location, cost, purpose, etc., is available.
====
FINANCE AND CAPITAL STRATEGIES COMMITTEE
Date: September 18, 2019
Time: At the conclusion of the closed session
Location: Centennial Ballroom AB
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of July 17, 2019
Approval of the University of California 2020-21 Budget for State Capital Improvements
University of California Retirement Plan – Proposal to Adopt Changes in Actuarial Assumptions and Authorization to Increase the Employer Contribution Rates
Approval of the Budget, Scope, External Financing and Design, Verano 8 Graduate Student Housing and Approval of Long Range Develop.m.ent Plan Student Housing Amendment Following Action: Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, Irvine Campus
F6 Discussion: Hilgard Faculty Housing, Los Angeles Campus
F7 Discussion: Update on the 2020 Project, Merced Campus
F8 Discussion: 2020 Long Range Develop.m.ent Plan, Merced Campus
F9 Discussion: Integrated Capital Asset Management Program
F10 Discussion: Update Regarding the New Hospital UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center program at Parnassus Heights Integrated Form of Agreement and Procurement Strategy, San Francisco Campus
F11 Discussion: Preliminary Discussion: of the University’s 2021 Operating Budget

====
NATIONAL LABORATORIES COMMITTEE
Date: September 18, 2019
Time: 3:45 p.m.
Location: Centennial Ballroom CD
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Discussion: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of July 17, 2019
N1 Action: Approval of Preliminary Funding for Hertz Hall Complex at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

====
GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE
Date: September 18, 2019
Time: Upon adjournment of the closed session meeting
Location: Centennial Ballroom AB
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of June 17, 2019 and July 17, 2019
G1 Action: Approval of Salary Increases for Certain Level One Senior Management Group Employees and Authorization for the
President of the University to Approve Retroactive Merit-Based Salary Increases for Certain Level Two Senior Management Group and Management and Senior Professional Employees, as Discussed in Closed Session
G2 Action: Approval of Appointment of and Compensation for Vice President, UC National Laboratories, Office of the President as Discussed in Closed Session
G3 Action: Approval of Incentive Compensation Using Non-State Funds for Fiscal Year 2018-19 for Chief Investment Officer and Vice President – Investments
G4 Action: Approval of Contract Amendment for Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Los Angeles Campus, as Discussed in Closed Session
G6 Action: Approval of 2019 Benchmarking Framework/Market Reference Zones for Non-State-Funded UC Health Positions in the Senior Management Group and Approval of Market Reference Zones for All Other Senior Management Group Positions
G7 Action: Suspension of Bylaw 21.7 for the Limited Purpose of Enabling the Davis Campus to Appoint Regent Estolano to a Board of Advisors Position, Provided That Any Such Position is Uncompensated
G8 Action: Dates of Regents Meetings for 2021

====
Note: In the closed session agenda before the full board meeting on Sept. 19 below, there is an item regarding dismissal of a tenured faculty member at UC-Santa Cruz. Yours truly found that a bit of Googling will suggest a likely candidate.
====
FULL BOARD
Date: September 19, 2019
Time: Upon adjournment of the closed session meeting1
Location: Centennial Ballroom AB
UCLA Luskin Conference Center

Agenda – Open Session
Public Comment Period
Resolution in Appreciation
Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of July 18, 2019
B2 Discussion: Eliminating Gaps in Timely Graduation by 2030
B3 Discussion: Update on Cohort-Based Tuition
B4 Discussion: Annual Update on Investment Products Officers’ and President’s Reports:
Report of Materials Mailed Between Meetings
Report of Interim, Concurrence, and Committee Action:s

Committee Reports Including Approvals of Recommendations from Committees:
Academic and Student Affairs Committee
Compliance and Audit Committee
Finance and Capital Strategies Committee
Governance Committee
Health Services Committee (meeting of August 13, 2019)
Investments Committee
National Laboratories Committee
Public Engagement and Development Committee
Special Committee on Basic Needs
Special Committee on Nominations
====