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Monday, January 21, 2019

Veterans-UCLA Dispute

The "Sawtelle Veterans Home" back in the day
From today's LA Times: UCLA and the Brentwood School are under fire from advocates who say that neither institution is providing the veteran services they agreed to under their leases on the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ West L.A. property.

UCLA, whose Jackie Robinson baseball stadium sits on the sprawling, 388-acre federal land tract, promised veterans a legal clinic, a family welfare center and game tickets. The Brentwood School pledged to share its 22-acre athletic complex on the property with veterans and to give their children 150 scholarships to its summer day camp.

But in September, then-Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) accused the Brentwood School of making it difficult for veterans to use the athletic facilities.

“It appears that veterans face an onerous process to access the facility,” Knight, who was defeated by Democrat Katie Hill in November’s election, said in a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “And the process is designed to discourage veteran usage of the leased land.”

Dan Garcia, chief executive officer of a veterans advocacy group, said the VA had fallen down on oversight of the UCLA legal clinic.

“UCLA’s performance in providing legal services to veterans is highly suspect,” Garcia said.

The VA and the schools said they are keeping their bargains, which also include annual rent payments from UCLA of $300,000, and from Brentwood School of $850,000, as well as $918,000 in non-monetary consideration.

“The services provided by Brentwood School and UCLA principally benefit veterans and their families, and service to veterans is the predominant focus of UCLA’s activities on campus,” VA spokesman Blake K. Anderson said...

Full story at https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-ucla-veteran-lease-20190121-story.html

What was yesterday's alert about?

We have this item from the Bruin on what happened:

A hazardous materials leak at a south campus building was reported by the Los Angeles Fire Department [yesterday] morning.
LAFD reported a hazardous materials incident at 7:14 a.m. [Sunday] after originally responding to an automatic fire alarm at the Neuroscience Research Building. Multiple chemicals were spilled, but were later determined noninfectious by an LAFD HazMat squad, according to an LAFD alert.
Ricardo Vazquez, a UCLA spokesperson, said the chemicals leaked from a freezer that contained biological materials believed to be noninfectious.
A Bruin Alert advised the UCLA community to avoid the Neuroscience Research Building and the surrounding area on Charles E. Young Drive from Tiverton Avenue to Westwood Plaza for the duration of the LAFD investigation...

Sunday, January 20, 2019

UCLA Alert Message

Message above received through the UCLA cellphone emergency alert system not long ago. What it says is all I know about the situation.

UPDATE: An all-clear message was received at 11:45 AM, but no information on what happened.

Listen to the Regents Working Group on UCOP Salary Ranges (1-17-2019)

As it turns out, the Regents tacked on a meeting of the Working Group on UCOP Salary Ranges after their Jan. 17 full board meeting. The Working Group is one of the responses to the state audit and its criticism of overly-wide salary ranges at UCOP. So, not surprisingly, one recommendation is to narrow the ranges.

However, according to a report prepared for the Working Group, UCOP is tending to fall behind Bay Area salaries for such occupations as IT professionals and technical types, accountants, and others. This situation is attributed at the meeting to the very hot economy in the Bay Area caused by the presence of firms such as Uber and other technology-related employers.

As a result, the recommendation is to narrow the ranges but also raise them. Only one individual is above the range and he/she may well be within range once it is pulled up. Sixty-four individuals are below-range and will get raises.

You can hear the discussion (about 14 minutes) at the link below:

or direct to:
https://archive.org/details/RegentsWorkingGrpUCOPSalary11719

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Listen to the Regents of Jan. 17, 2018

We are jumping from Jan. 15 to Jan. 17 below because one session of the meetings on the 16th seems to be missing from the official Regents' recordings. (Possibly, the session was cancelled or it didn't get recorded.) So we'll hold off a bit on that date.

We have two summaries below of what the Regents did on the 17th. The audio recording link is at the bottom of this post. Note that the official recording cuts off before the end of the session, so ours is also cut off. (The problem of early cutoffs of recordings seems to have affected some the recordings on the 16th, too.)
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Student adviser position discontinued at 3rd day of UC regents meeting

By Mallika Seshadri | Daily Californian | 1-18-19

The UC Board of Regents ended the pilot program for the position of student adviser at Thursday’s meeting, held at UCSF Mission Bay. The board also called for increased collaboration between the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, and individual campuses.

“(The motion to eliminate the student adviser position) drives more student participation into the normal board governance … as opposed to an isolated student at the table,” said UC President Janet Napolitano at the meeting, while expressing appreciation for the contributions of both former student advisers.

The student adviser role, a position that provided the regents with student input, was approved in 2016 as a pilot program. Now, the UC has decided to end the program, leaving students with two options for future participation within the UC regent system.

One of these options is through the Student Advocates to the Regents program, which allows students to attend meetings and participate in public comment. The other is through student observer positions, which allow students to make statements to the board.

Napolitano, who was in favor of the motion to end the student adviser position, said the older programs allow more students to participate. Only 19 students applied to be student advisers, according to Edward Huang, the current student adviser and a UC Berkeley senior.

According to Regent George Kieffer, the chair of the board, each UC campus was surveyed in late 2017 for the “University of California 10 Campus Study,” which he referenced as “one of the most important things to happen in the last 18 months.”

Napolitano said that while the report did not provide a complete depiction of each campuses’ needs, it did identify the essence of the relationship between the UCOP and individual UC campuses.

“The effort has allowed us to improve collaboration and coordination between the campuses and the office of the president,” Napolitano said during the meeting. “And our goal is to promote a culture of continuous progress, continuous improvement — always necessary in an organization as diverse, as large, as the University of California.”

Each comment of the study has been discussed, and the whole document has been reviewed for potential areas of improvement over the past five months, according to Napolitano.

According to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, this kind of assessment is important. Because each UC is its own research institution — rather than one university with several satellite campuses — many logistical challenges arise with respect to delegating power. When UC Berkeley was the only UC, it had one president who held all power. Eventually, more UCs were created.

Christ added that while the organization of the system is complex, it is a defining feature in the system’s governance, with both “opportunities and challenges.”

Source: http://www.dailycal.org/2019/01/18/student-adviser-position-discontinued-at-3rd-day-of-uc-regents-meeting/

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UC regents relax rules restricting paid outside jobs for chancellors and top managers

By Teresa Watanabe, Jan. 17, 2019 | LA Times

University of California regents voted Thursday to weaken the rules for allowing chancellors and other senior managers to engage in outside professional activities, two years after cracking down on former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi for moonlighting.

UC rules had required pre-approval for all paid and unpaid activities. But before wrapping up a two-day meeting in San Francisco, regents agreed to drop requirements for pre-approval for any outside activity — such as a position on a corporate board — that pays less than $2,500 from a single source in a year, unless required by a higher-up.

But senior managers, a group that includes about 290 people, still will be required to report all outside professional activities, both paid and unpaid.

After Katehi was ousted in 2016 over revelations that she had accepted paid positions with a for-profit education company and a textbook publisher, regents voted to decrease from three to two the number of paid for-profit board seats senior managers can accept. They also created an extra layer of approval for outside activities, as well as an independent review committee to assess any real or perceived conflicts of interest and potential damage to the reputation of a campus or UC.

But chancellors soon complained that the approval process had turned into a bureaucratic nightmare.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said it often took two months to get pre-approvals for her unpaid speeches to the Rotary Club, for instance, or royalties for work editing an anthology of British literature. Another chancellor who wrote an acclaimed book on free speech was told he should have received pre-approval for the project, Christ said.

“I'm sure the policy wasn't intended to create these incredibly burdensome and bureaucratic reporting requirements,” she said in interview. “Nobody has any problem whatsoever with there being strict scrutiny of service on for-profit boards or for-profit activities.”

Scholarly work will no longer be subject to the UC policy.

Christ called the changes that were approved Thursday “common-sense reforms.”

Other rules, including the limit of holding two paid positions on for-profit boards, remain in place. Exceptions must be approved by regents.

In 2017, four of 10 chancellors reported payments for outside professional activities: Pradeep Khosla at UC San Diego was paid $52,500, Christ at Berkeley received $1,500 and Samuel Hawgood at UC San Francisco got $1,000. UC Davis Chancellor Gary May reported $255,420 in cash and stocks from one corporation and one nonprofit, but much of it was earned in a previous job before joining UC in August 2017.

Board of Regents Chairman George Kieffer said UC’s moonlighting rules remain among the strictest in the nation.

The policy encourages its senior managers to serve on scientific boards, foundations and corporations as a way to share their expertise and learn about other administrative and educational operations.

But regents passed the stricter rules in 2016, after disclosures by the Sacramento Bee that Katehi had taken paid board positions with the DeVry Education Group, which was under federal investigation at the time for fraud, and John Wiley & Sons, a college textbook publisher. The revelations prompted both a state legislative hearing on UC moonlighting and a directive in the state budget to review and adjust policies on outside activities at UC.

Also Thursday, regents voted to phase out the board position of student advisor and instead add other opportunities for students to get involved with decision-making at UC. The position was established two years ago on a pilot basis and had been set to expire in July.

Student advisor Edward Huang pushed to keep the position, saying it would ensure more diversity and amplify student engagement with the Board of Regents. But Student Regent Devon Graves and Caroline Siegel Singh, president of the UC Student Assn., said the advisor position had not worked out as hoped and backed alternative approaches.

In other action, regents discussed a multiyear plan to boost enrollment, improve graduation rates and eliminate achievement gaps among students who are low-income, underrepresented minorities or the first in their families to attend college.

UC campuses are aiming to hit a 90% graduation rate within six years for freshmen and within four years for transfer students by 2030. However, some regents pushed UC officials to try to achieve that rate among all freshmen within four years.

Regents also discussed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget, saying they hoped to secure more funding to enroll an additional 2,500 Californians in 2019-20.

Source: https://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-edu-uc-regents-budget-20190117-story.html

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Audio link below:


Or direct to:
https://archive.org/details/RegentsFullBoard11719

Friday, January 18, 2019

Higher Hurdle at Med School?

From the Bruin:

The medical school is raising admission standards for next year’s applicants.
The David Geffen School of Medicine is raising its math and science GPA and MCAT cutoff scores to 3.4 and 512, respectively, according to a policy proposal released by school of medicine faculty and students. Many students said they are worried this will negatively affect the school’s diversity...

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Listen to the Regents Sessions of Jan. 15, 2019

We continue our practice of preserving audio recordings of Regents sessions. Links are provided all the way down in this posting.

There were two Regents sessions on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The Investments Subcommittee session included a presentation summarizing the UCLA Anderson Forecast by Jerry Nickelsburg. Thereafter, there was the usual review of portfolio developments including the pension and endowment. The Bloomberg story below summarizes that part of the session.

The Special Committee on Basic Needs session is summarized below the Bloomberg article by a Bruin piece.

University of California Assets Fell $9 Billion in Market Rout

By Michael McDonald

January 16, 2019, 9:25 AM PST, Bloomberg

Stock market turmoil in the fourth quarter hit the University of California’s retirement and endowment assets, which fell $9 billion in the period, according to the state system’s investment office.

Total assets were $114 billion at year end, the office reported at a Jan. 15 board meeting. Losses were concentrated in the public equity portfolio, which was $53.1 billion, or 47 percent of assets, down from 52 percent on Sept. 30.

The S&P 500 Index dropped about 14 percent last quarter on concerns over rising rates and geopolitical uncertainty in the U.S. and Europe.

The endowment lost 3.7 percent in preliminary investment performance for the six months through Dec. 31, according to the office. The pension fund declined 4.9 percent in the period. The state system is on a fiscal year that ends June 30.

Jagdeep Bachher, the university’s chief investment officer, said the returns were mainly the result of poor stock performance.

“Our goal is to remain conservative through these times,“ Bachher said in a video broadcast of the meeting. “Just stay cautionary.”

After public equities, fixed income in the state system’s portfolio made up about a third of the assets on Dec. 31, with the rest allocated to alternatives such as hedge funds, private equity, real estate and other real assets and cash.

There was a strong pipeline of private investments in the last six months of 2018, Edmond Fong, senior managing director overseeing absolute return, said at the meeting. In the fourth quarter, 40 percent of new investments in the endowment were in private equity and another 40 percent in hedge funds, he said.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-16/university-of-california-assets-fell-9-billion-in-market-rout

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...Special Committee on Basic Needs

On Tuesday, Student Regent Devon Graves said the goal of the committee is to produce a report after two years that provides an overview of basic needs at UC campuses and discusses ways in which the campuses and the UC Office of the President are helping to solve these issues.

UCOP Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Jerlena Griffin-Desta said all UC campuses had established basic needs committees.

Student Regent-designate Hayley Weddle recommended the committee examine the intersection between federal and state policy and basic needs insecurity across the UC, consider what data are needed to properly understand and address food and housing insecurity, and explore long-term funding strategies to support basic needs resources...

Full story at http://dailybruin.com/2019/01/17/uc-regents-recap-jan-15-16/

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Listen to the Investments Subcommittee at:


Or go direct to Investments:
https://archive.org/details/1RegentsInvestments11519/1-Regents+Investments+1-15-19.wma

and to Basic Needs:
https://archive.org/details/1RegentsInvestments11519/2-Regents+Basic+Needs+1-15-19.wma

We'll get to yesterday's session later. But I might note that two of the three morning official recordings provided by the Regents cut off before the sessions ended. One session in the afternoon either wasn't held or wasn't available, not clear which.

For those who can't wait, the morning sessions of Jan. 16th are at:
https://archive.org/details/13PublicEngagementAndDevelopment11619

I will delay uploading the afternoon sessions until the situation with the missing session clears up, if it does.