Saturday, March 17, 2018

Listen to the Regents afternoon meetings of March 14, 2018

We continue to archive the audio of the Regents meetings of this past week. Below are links to the two concurrent sessions from Wednesday afternoon, March 14. In the finance and capital strategies, the controversial boost in nonresident tuition was approved (pending approval of the full board the following days). Also in the afternoon sessions, there were boosts in certain professional school tuitions. And it was reported that the Dept. of Energy decision on continuing UC's managerial role in Los Alamos will be made in May. (Earlier, it was said the decision would be in April or May.)

Links below:

Academic and Student Affairs (and National Labs):
Finance and Capital Strategies:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Listen to the Regents' Morning Session of March 14, 2018

We're behind in keeping up with the Regents who met earlier this week. However, we do have the morning audio archives from Wednesday morning, March 14, preserved for posterity. Probably the main event occurred at the public comment session of the full board meeting when there were protests over a planned increase in non-resident tuition. (The increase - to no one's surprise - was ultimately enacted.) We'll check for other notable items as time permits, but yours truly has term papers to grade at this time of year.

There are links below to the morning sessions:

Full board:
Public Engagement:
Compliance and Audit:
Governance and Compensation:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Helping Hand from OC for UC

The libertarian-leaning OC Register, which is not always supportive of UC, has the words below in an editorial:

Public universities in our nation, very much including the massive “land grant” institutions of the Midwest and then the West, were 19th-century America’s great good gift to both general knowledge and economic progress in the world. If the Oxfords and Sorbonnes of the Old Word were nominally public places, they were in reality for the most part bastions of upper-class privilege.

Our pluralistic society would allow the quality of our public universities to fall at our peril. And yet that’s exactly what is happening right here.

Reviewing a book of essays by the great novelist Marilynne Robinson, who teaches at the University of Iowa — a place that, as she notes, democratizes privilege — Donovan Hohn writes: “Between 1980 and 2017, the combined tuition and fees at four-year public colleges increased on average 319 percent. Between 2007 and 2016, meanwhile, state spending per student declined nationwide by 18 percent. To compensate for these austerities, students and their families have taken on more debt, and public institutions have had to entice more out-of-state and international students able to pay full fare. In the name of anti-elitism and economic populism, legislatures have helped make state colleges and universities more exclusive, not less.”

The University of California system, long considered the strongest and deepest of America’s public universities, is very much subject to these national woes. But there are deeper problems here.

An international survey released last month that included nine of the UC campuses and more than three dozen majors showed that rankings of individual departments against their peers around the world dropped in 80 categories and improved in just 24.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, UC Berkeley and UCLA still were ranked in the top 10 universities in the world, which in this survey, by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, included both public and private schools.

The good news is that UC Berkeley is still tied with Harvard for third and that UCLA, the most-applied-to university anywhere, is still in seventh place.

But the alarming news is that the biggest declines in department rankings also came at those two campuses, which have long been at the top of the University of California heap. UCLA saw its rankings go down in 22 subjects and improve in four while Berkeley went down in 15 areas and up in just two. In the economically crucial fields of civil and structural engineering, UCLA’s ranking went down from 40th to 51st and Berkeley’s from second to fifth.

“There has been a steady, sustained disinvestment in the UC and this is the inevitable result,” Shane White, chairman of the UC Academic Senate, told the Times. “This is probably the tip of the iceberg.”

It is impossible to overstate the economic and cultural impact the University of California has had on our state. If we don’t continue to invest both public monies and crank up the private fundraising each campus must now do on its own, we risk losing a very important Golden State asset for us all.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Listen to the Regents Investment Subcommittee: March 13, 2018

The Regents are meeting at UCLA. Yesterday, their investments subcommittee met. You can hear their discussion at the link below. As usual, we preserve the audio indefinitely because the Regents maintain their recordings for only one year. Normally, the subcommittee would have reviewed the portfolio for the endowment, the pension, and "working capital" through December. However, since the stock market since then has been volatile, there was reference to more recent results. Also approved were various policy changes including conflict-of-interest rules.

There were no public comments. According to the LA Times, there will be protests today over tuition increases.*

A brief reference was made to the belief of both the investment staff as well as Regents that the current discount rate is too high. (In the past, they have suggested that a rate in the 6% range would be more appropriate than one in the 7% range.) Lowering the rate produces a larger estimated unfunded liability. ("Estimated" is an important qualifier; the unfunded liability is what it is. The estimate is a matter of accounting methodology.)

Finally, it was noted that under the choice arrangements now allowed for new hires, more and more employees will end up with a defined-contribution pension. Among other problems, that situation leaves them at "longevity risk," i.e., the risk of outliving one's income. There was discussion of the need to educate employees about their investment and saving behavior and the virtue of targeted investment funds that focus on less risk as the employee nears retirement age. That approach does not address longevity risk. So there was also talk about offering annuity options, maybe by 2020.

You can hear the discussion at the link below:


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Update on Trump Jam

Here is an update on street/road closures in connection with the Trump visit this afternoon:

 A stretch of the eastbound Santa Monica (10) Freeway has been closed in West Los Angeles, along with the northbound San Diego (405) Freeway, as President Donald Trump makes his way from Santa Monica Airport to the Beverly Park area for this evening's fundraiser.



From the BruinA professor accused of sexual assault in 2013 has lost his employment, said university officials in a statement Monday.
The Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion released a statement on its website stating history professor Gabriel Piterberg has also been denied emeritus status and future employment with the University of California. The office added Piterberg will no longer have access to office space on campus.
Two of Piterberg’s graduate students accused him of making unwelcome sexual advances and forcing his tongue into their mouths in 2013. History graduate students Nefertiti Takla and Kristen Glasgow sued UCLA in 2015, saying the university did not properly handle their sexual assault complaints. UCLA suspended Piterberg for a quarter without pay in 2014, and settled the lawsuit with the graduate students in September 2016.
UCLA’s Title IX Office conducted an investigation against Piterberg in 2017 and found that Piterberg committed sexual harassment in violation of the university’s policies, the EDI office said in the statement. It added Piterberg’s removal from his position is a result of settlement negotiations between UCLA and Piterberg.
The university also removed Piterberg from his position as director of the UCLA’s Center for Near Eastern Studies in 2015, required him to attend sexual harassment training and prohibited him from meeting with students individually.
Piterberg resumed teaching classes in January 2017, amid protests by student groups such as Bruin Consent Coalition and Bruins Against Sexual Harassment. However, the history department restricted Piterberg to only using his office during weekends and only holding office hours on campus in Charles E. Young Research Library during business hours with the office door open.
Piterberg disputes and denies the Title IX Office’s findings, according to the EDI office’s statement.
Earlier post on this matter:

Maybe we'll get more

As California lawmakers wrestle over how to spend — or save — an estimated $6.1 billion budget surplus, a bipartisan coalition of legislators is pushing to spend some of the money on the state’s prized university systems, averting tuition hikes.
The proposal unveiled Monday would give the universities exactly what they are asking for: a $263 million boost in ongoing funding for California State University and $197 million for the University of California.
That’s more than double the $92 million that Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed giving to each university system.
“We’ve got to buy out these tuition increases. We’ve got to fully fund the budget requests of the California State University system and the University of California,” said Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “They are holding true to their promise to young people, but that promise has become increasingly out of reach.”
In January, amid an outcry from students and others, UC regents put on hold a proposal to hike in-state tuition by nearly $350 and out-of-state tuition by nearly $1,000. They plan to take up the proposals later this spring...