Thursday, June 30, 2011

Time to Fold?

The saga of the UCR med-school-to-be continues in the Riverside Press-Enterprise (excerpts):

UC Riverside officials announced Wednesday that the opening of their proposed medical school will be postponed a year because they did not secure the ongoing state funding needed to gain accreditation. The announcement from Chancellor Timothy White came the day after Democrats in Sacramento passed a 2011-12 budget that did not include extra funding for the medical school. The budget, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed Wednesday night, cut another $150 million from the UC system on top of the $500 million reduction taken earlier this year…

"We can't focus on the negative," said Dr. G. Richard Olds, the medical school dean. "We had a shot and we came really close to getting it open. We better get it open in '13." He said he will work to develop the medical school's programs and secure funding to ensure accreditation. "If we fail, there will never be a medical school at UCR," Olds said. "It's not like I can keep trying forever. I've got five months to redo a business plan and an approach." …

Full article at

Time to fold them?

If the Trigger Is Pulled

As noted in earlier blog posts, the new state budget has a trigger provision that activates if assumed revenue does not materialize. Higher ed takes an additional hit if that occurs. So does K-12. But K-12 school districts are not permitted to make budget plans that assume an additional hit. From today’s Sacramento Bee:

…Lawmakers blocked K-12 districts from laying off teachers for the upcoming fiscal year. Teachers also won provisions requiring districts to ignore – for now – the prospect of a $1.75 billion "trigger" cut that could hit K-12 districts if optimistic revenue projections fall short. Instead, the state is requiring districts to assume they will receive the same amount of money as this past fiscal year "and maintain staffing and program levels commensurate with this funding level," according to an Assembly analysis. (The) Department of Finance said the latter provision could even cause some districts to rescind pink slips handed out earlier this year…

Full article:

If the trigger is pulled, however, school districts in midyear will have to make some kind of adjustment. And they will be highly constrained, particularly in midyear. The legislature could change its mind about the distribution of the pain. If one sector (K-12) is kept insulated, other vulnerable sectors (higher ed) will have to take a bigger hit than originally planned.

Of course, the trigger may not be pulled. But it ain’t over ‘til it’s over:

29-Story Wilshire-Gayley Hotel

Yours truly received a phone call yesterday from a reporter about a 29-story hotel project on the site of the old Hollywood video store, long closed, on the northwest corner of Wilshire and Gayley (adjacent to the UCLA parking lot).

This project has been in the works for some time. For example, you can read a description of it in a 2009 filing with the City of LA at

At that time, i.e., in 2009, the developer was describing it as either a mixed condo/hotel project or just a condo project. A more recent news article, however, terms it a “hotel.”

There was reference to this project in the FAQ list on the UCLA hotel/conference center project posted by the Faculty Center and dated 2/14/11. See (Scroll to the bottom.) But yours truly assumed the idea back then was more hypothetical than real. Apparently, it is real enough; bulldozers removed the Hollywood video building in May although the developer says project construction is not yet slated to begin. See

Below is a description of the project from CurbedLA as of 11/19/2010. A picture of the proposed structure can be seen in the rendition above.

In what would bring a 29-story hotel to Westwood, the proposed Robert AM Stern-designed Wilshire Gayley is moving closer to breaking ground. With many locals coming out to speak in favor of the development at a Tuesday Planning and Land Use Committee meeting, the subcommittee approved the supergraphic-blocking project, and now developer Kambiz Hekmat is in negotiations with the city for an agreement to waive the bed tax on the hotel for a certain time period, according to Christopher Koontz, Planning Deputy for Councilman Koretz…

Full article at:

The construction of a major new hotel in Westwood adding to the room capacity of the hotels already in the general UCLA area has obvious (negative) implications for the fiscal feasibility of a UCLA-built hotel/conference center.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Where Are They Going?

UC fears talent loss to deeper pockets

Larry Gordon, LA Times, 6/29/11

UC San Diego faced a losing battle recently when it tried to hang on to three star scientists being wooed by Rice University for cutting-edge cancer research. The recruiting package from the private Houston university included 40% pay raises, new labs and a healthy flow of research money from a Texas state bond fund. Another factor, unrelated to Rice, helped close the deal: The professors' sense that declining state funding for the University of California makes it a good time to pack their bags.

"What's happening now is that the UC and most of the public schools are getting in a much weaker position to play this game," said physicist Jose Onuchic, who has taught at UC San Diego for 22 years but will head to Texas next month, along with fellow physicist Herbert Levine and biochemist Peter Wolynes.

…UC officials say that, so far, they have managed to fend off most raids in a system that employs about 18,000 faculty members. But matching the growing number of outside offers comes at a cost, using funds that could help fill vacancies and hire additional professors. And when they don't succeed, grant money often moves with the departing researcher, along with a dose of academic prestige.

Last year, about 75% of UC faculty who received firm offers from other schools were persuaded to stay, about the same as in recent years, according to Lawrence H. Pitts, the UC system's provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. This year's figures were not yet available, but Pitts said he did not expect much change…

A recent report to the UC regents showed a troubling trend. Of tenured professors hired in 2000-01, 28 had left UC eight years later, compared with 19 hired the previous year, the study said. The most common destinations were Stanford, NYU, USC, Columbia and Harvard — private schools that tend to pay more — and the University of Michigan, a top public university.

The rise in departures of tenured professors "is of particular concern because these are high-quality faculty in whom UC has made a substantial investment," the authors wrote. In addition, new faculty hires dropped from 607 in 2008-09 to 379 last year, the most recent figures available.

Private research universities increasingly pay professors more than public institutions, with the gap growing from an 8% advantage in 1980 for full professors at private doctoral-granting schools to about 25% this year, according to the American Assn. of University Professors.

…UCLA and UC Berkeley reported no significant change in outside recruiting this year and some experts said that because the two campuses are seen as the most prestigious in the UC system, faculty may be more reluctant to leave. Nevertheless, Scott Waugh, UCLA's executive vice chancellor and provost, said concerns about state finances loom larger these days in faculty decisions to stay or move to UC, along with traditional factors of family and housing…,0,3320287.story

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Deeply Disappointed

When the previous (and now-vetoed) state budget was enacted, President Yudof and Regents Chair Gould put out a strong press release condemning the action. Now that we a new budget with the same cut and a trigger that could add still more cuts, the press release reaction seems rather tepid, given that this is the second time around:

UC statement on state budget plan


The following statement about the budget plan announced by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic leaders of the state Legislature was released today (June 28) by the University of California Office of the President:

The latest state budget plan is deeply disappointing. If the governor and Legislature impose $650 million in funding cuts on the University of California, the impact will be felt by Californians in every part of the state. Because cuts of this magnitude inevitably will drive up tuition for public university students and their families, we cannot stand silent. While we recognize the enormity of the fiscal challenge facing the state, we continue to oppose further cuts, and support any efforts that will restore long-term stability to state funding of higher education.

There is a Regents meeting coming up soon. Is this all that will be said?

No Parking (On the Sidewalk) Around UCLA

From the LA Times today:

After years of warnings, debate and delays, Los Angeles officials this week began ticketing the cars of drivers who "apron park" on the streets of Westwood, a move critics say will create a parking crisis around the UCLA campus.

For decades, Westwood residents — many of them UCLA students — have packed their cars into driveways in such a way that they block sidewalks and spill out into the street. They argue that the makeshift, but illegal, practice is the only way to deal with a critical lack of parking around the campus and in the Westwood Village area.

But in the last few years, apron parking has been attacked by a growing and eclectic group of critics, including former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis and a UCLA professor who is a leading authority on parking. They say blocking the sidewalks forces pedestrians to make needless detours and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The city decided to act after being sued by plaintiffs who said apron parking broke laws regarding the disabled...

(One student said) "I don't think there's anything... we can do," he said. "We were more just (sic) trying to bring publicity to the issue (on Facebook)."

The plaintiffs were not sympathetic with the complaints:

For $200, You, Too, Can File a Pension Initiative!

There are potentially serious threats via the direct democracy process that could override the Regents' December action on the UC pension. But there are also initiatives on pensions (and other public issues) that are filed with no prospect they will go anywhere since the authors don't have the $1-$2 million needed to hire signature-gathering firms.

Here is an excerpt from a recent example that is now pending at the Attorney General:

...The members of the retirement board of a public pension or retirement system shall on and after January 1, 2016, invest and maintain at least 85 percent of the system's assets in California-based businesses and shall diversify the investments of the system so as to minimize the risk of loss and to maximize the rate of return, unless under the circumstances it is clearly not prudent to do so...


The author of this particular gem - for his $200 - will get a title and summary from the Attorney General and a budget implication analysis from the Legislative Analyst. Needless to say, the cost of providing this service is well over $200. He has a website entry that says:

What I Want to Do: Change our world with good ideas

A Diversion from the Obvious: Doing What They Do Best?

Let's give the state and UC budgets a rest for a moment. Many faculty during the summer travel to conferences or just vacations. Yours truly has been traveling of late on American Airlines and noted that boarding the plane has become chaotic. There seems to be no pattern in use. Many airlines board from the rear on the idea that aisles closer to the front won't be blocked by passengers trying to stow luggage or get settled. If you randomize the entry, you get blocked aisles. But the airline has decided that random will be the new system.

Now it ain't just me who noticed this odd decision. The LA Times ran an article about the American Airlines "system" yesterday. Here is an excerpt:

...The airline says the new procedure, known as the "random" seating method, saves time because it minimizes the gridlock that occurs when people in the same row try to get to their seats at the same time.

"You definitely will not have 24 people in four rows boarding at the same time," said Scott Santoro, director of airport consulting for American Airlines. He said studies have shown that the random seating process reduces boarding times 5% to 10%.

The Assn. of Professional Flight Attendants disagrees. It contends the process has created "complete chaos" among passengers, forcing attendants to spend more time preparing the plane for takeoff. The attendants are irked, it says, because they are not paid for the extra time needed to load the plane...

And, indeed, the flight attendants are so irked that one of them gave me the official airline memo to flight attendants that attempts to rationalize the new procedure. You can find it here.

It could be worse:

Monday, June 27, 2011

State Budget Deal Retains Additional Cut to UC and May Trigger More Cuts

An earlier post today included an update reporting that the legislative Democrats have reached a deal with Gov. Brown on the state budget that can be passed by majority vote (without Republican votes) because no new taxes or extensions are involved. The deal is leaking out but contains the additional $150 million in cuts to higher ed that was in the budget Brown vetoed. It also has a trigger feature so that if assumed revenue does not appear, there will be midyear cuts including more to UC. Here is a summary:

Democratic aides provided details this afternoon on the handshake budget deal between Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders to bridge a $9.6 billion deficit.

It maintains parts of the package Brown vetoed nearly two weeks ago:

-- $150 million cut each to UC and CSU

-- $150 million cut to state courts -- $200 million in Amazon online tax enforcement -- $2.8 billion in deferrals to K-12 schools and community colleges -- $300 million from $12 per vehicle increase in DMV registration fee -- $50 million from fire fee for rural homeowners -- $1.7 billion from redevelopment agencies -- Higher tax receipts (now worth $1.2 billion from May and June)

The new budget rejects some parts of that package: -- $1.2 billion from selling state buildings -- $900 million from raising a quarter-cent local sales tax -- $1 billion from First 5 commissions -- $500 million cut in local law enforcement grants -- $540 million deferral to University of California -- $700 million in federal funds for Medi-Cal errors

And it adds the following: -- $4 billion in higher projected revenues in 2011-12, with triggered cuts -- 1.06 percentage point sales tax swap that redirects money to local governments for Brown's "realignment" plan rather than to the state. Sales tax rate will still fall 1 percent on July 1.

The $4 billion "trigger" plan bears some explaining.

First, the plan requires Brown's Department of Finance director, Ana Matosantos, to certify in January whether the $4 billion projection is accurate. She will use revenue totals for July to December and economic indicators to project the remainder of the fiscal year.

The "trigger" cuts are essentially in three tiers, based on how much of the extra $4 billion comes in.

Tier 0: If the state gets $3 billion to $4 billion of the money, the state will not impose additional cuts and roll over any balance of problem into the 2012-13 budget.

Tier 1: If the state gets $2 billion to $3 billion of the money, the state will impose about $600 million of cuts and roll over the remainder into the 2012-13 budget.

The $600 million in cuts include a $100 million cut to UC, a $100 million cut to CSU, a $100 million cut to corrections and a $200 million cut to Health and Human Services.

Tier 2: If the state gets $0 to $2 billion of the money, the state will also impose up to $1.9 billion in cuts, including a $1.5 billion reduction to schools that assumes seven fewer classroom days. It also includes a $250 million elimination of school bus transportation (except for that which is federally mandated). Cuts will be proportionate to how much of the first $2 billion in revenues the state gets. State will also impose the Tier 1 cuts.


Thanks to Jim Chalfant for this apt clip:

Better Learning Through Chemistry?

Yours truly is not sure this is exactly what those pushing for more online education at UC envisioned.

The Daily Bruin today carries a story about Chemistry 14D.
Students receive credits for putting together videos that communicate principles of the course.

Full story at

An example is below. Click on cc (closed captions) to see the words.

State Budget: Running the Clock

If you are wondering what is happening to the state budget, it appears that the closest analogy is the point in the film High Noon in which the train carrying the Bad Guy arrives at noon. After he arrives, there will be a confrontation/shoot-out with the Good Guy. In the case of the state budget, however, it is midnight - not noon - that is critical: midnight on June 30. At that point, the fiscal year 2010-11 ends and there is no budget to replace it. Also, the taxes that the governor wants to extend expire so that any ballot measure regarding them becomes an issue of tax increases, not extensions.

The Republican strategy seems to be to run the clock until after June 30. They can then offer to put a tax vote on the ballot, expecting that tax “increases” will be defeated, unlike tax “extensions.” And the price is some kind of pension proposition (that could override the pension changes the Regents adopted for UC last December), some kind of spending cap, and various regulatory changes.

Democrats could pass another majority-vote budget with no tax increases to replace the one the governor vetoed. If they pass another that he again vetoes, that passage could nonetheless restore their pay (and the pay of legislative Republicans), so long as it is “balanced” on paper. Contrary to some public impressions, the controller’s decision not to pay does not hinge on the realism of the “balance” but rather technical issues that the Dems could correct. There is brave talk about a Democratic budget that would somehow have retroactive taxes after July 1. No one has any idea what that means, or even could mean.

Nonetheless, the clock is ticking away:

High Noon - clock montage from Steve Parry on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Rather than wait for the shootout at high noon, there is now a report that the legislative Dems and the governor have a deal. It assumes more revenue will arrive than the May revise and contains a trigger; if the revenue does not materialize, that trigger reportedly will - among other programs - cut higher ed. No word about the retroactive taxes, whatever those were supposed to be. Since the Republicans are not part of the deal, the legislature presumably will not put the GOP's desired pension limits, spending cap, and regulatory relaxations on the ballot. Of course, such propositions could be put on a future ballot via the initiative process, assuming someone has the money to pay for signature-gathering firms. There will undoubtedly be more details by tomorrow. Early info at

Sunday, June 26, 2011

UCLA History: Moving Bonds

From the UCLA History Project comes this tale of an LA City bond measure approved by voters in 1925 that enabled UCLA to move from its Vermont Avenue campus to Westwood.

New media, record voter turnout and engaged young voters - these were the stories that riveted citizens on May 5, 1925. The biggest issue for Bruins was Proposition 2, a city bond measure that would raise about 70% of the funds needed to purchase a 200-acre parcel for the Southern Branch of the University of California.

Students and young alumni joined together to conduct a colorful and noisy campaign. They knocked on doors, distributed literature on street corners and exploited new technology. Local theaters screened a 10-minute advocacy film, and students took the case directly to voters over the radio airwaves.

The Los Angeles proposition passed by a 3 to 1 margin, and victories soon followed in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Venice and statewide measures. A final grant from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors allowed the UC Board of Regents to purchase UCLA’s current Westwood location at no cost to the university. Originally known as the Beverly site, the area was selected over proposed locations in Burbank, Fullerton and Palos Verdes.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

UCLA History: Building Royce Hall

Three pictures illustrate the construction of Royce Hall in the late 1920s, as the Westwood campus of UCLA was being built. We see a model of Royce being examined (bottom), the foundation for the building being laid (right), and (top) a shot inside Royce as it is being completed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

UCLA Extension and Steve Poizner (Remember Him?) Offer Online Ed

For those whose memory is a bit shaky, Poizner was the state insurance commissioner who lost to Meg Whitman in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010.

UCLA Extension to offer online courses aimed at boomers (excerpt)

Walter Hamilton, LA Times, June 23, 2011

UCLA Extension… is teaming with Encore Career Institute Inc. in Los Gatos, Calif., to teach baby boomers how to reinvent themselves in today's rapidly evolving job market… The Silicon Valley start-up will offer online coursework based on UCLA Extension classes. It will also give career assessment and job-placement assistance designed for baby boomers, who range in age from 47 to 65.

"We want to help people take advantage of where they are in life," said the company's chief executive, Steve Poizner, a technology entrepreneur and former California insurance commissioner. The company will offer certificate programs in expanding areas that provide the likeliest opportunities for boomers to get jobs, such as healthcare and green technology, Poizner said. Classes will begin in September 2012…

The programs, which will average about a year, will cost between $5,000 to $10,000. Encore Career Institute has raised $15 million in financing from two venture-capital firms.

Full article at,0,2952451

Some may recall Poizner’s apparent misadventure in secondary education reported on the radio program "This American Life." You can listen here:

UC-San Diego First-Generation Students Get Help From Retired Professors

Is this example from UC-San Diego a suggestion of something UCLA should consider doing?

At UC-San Diego, First-Generation Students Get Help From Retired Professors: Experienced scholars guide the uninitiated in an unusual mentoring program

Molly Redden, Chronicle of Higher Education, 6/19/11 (Excerpt)

When Lila Gitesatani arrived on the University of California's San Diego campus as a freshman, she had a multitude of questions: How should she choose a major, go about selecting courses, or even explore activities on campus? But Ms. Gitesatani was limited in where she could turn for advice. As a first-generation college student, she says, her parents could be of no help.

Within weeks of starting class, however, she was paired with Barney J. Rickett, a retired professor who could bring years of experience to such questions.

Like many colleges, UC-San Diego provides programs to acclimate first-generation students, who are more likely than their peers to struggle academically. But in 2005, the university took the unusual step of pairing such students with retired professors. "We were so intrigued by the idea that we could serve as surrogate parents for students who didn't have parents at home who could tell them all about what college is like," says John C. Wheeler, a retired chemistry professor who served as the Emeriti Mentoring Program's chair in the 2009-10 academic year.

The program serves mainly students who have received the university's Chancellor's Scholarships for California freshmen who are first-generation college students, defined at San Diego as those who do not have a parent with a bachelor's degree. The scholarships provide up to $5,000 a year for four years to students who also demonstrate financial need and a successful academic record. Based on their interests as freshmen and sophomores, the Chancellor's Scholars are paired with a retired professor who sees them regularly for the academic year.

"They have the good fortune to be hooked up with a mentor who happens to also be a top professor in their field," says Suzan Cioffi, director of the university's Retirement Resource Center.

The mentors may counsel students on anything from deciding between majors to the standards that the university demands. Some, Ms. Cioffi says, have helped their students find internships, research opportunities, and additional scholarships. They can also provide guidance when students face a crisis. When one of Mr. Wheeler's mentees was found to have cheated Mr. Wheeler evaluated the proceedings and, because he felt the student had been mistreated, helped him appeal for a second hearing. The student was exonerated in the second hearing.

...The mentoring program was founded by Mel Green, who had 42 years of experience as a biology professor when he retired. As a working professor, Mr. Green wanted to create a mentoring program for freshmen and sophomores, a group he believed was underserved by existing guidance programs at San Diego. But few faculty seemed willing to carve time away from research or teaching, so Mr. Green didn't push the idea until he retired and joined the UCSD Emeriti Association. "They didn't seem to be doing a lot more than going to lunch," Mr. Green laughs.

When he had gathered approximately 20 interested emeritus professors, he began to look for a student cohort small enough for them to focus on. Green himself was a first-generation college student, and he quickly realized how beneficial an emeritus, with his wealth of knowledge about San Diego, could be as a mentor to someone who may not know what to expect. So the newly established Emeriti Mentoring Program focused its services on the approximately 100 Chancellor's Scholars...

Full article at

Update: Paul Sheats informs me that the Emeriti Assn. at UCLA is starting such a program here. More info to come.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Anyone know what Regent Crane said? Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Anyone know what Regent Crane said about pensions at this fair and balanced seminar at the Hoover Institution? (Scroll down)

Hint: It might be good to find out.

From the Hoover Institution website:

June 20, 2011

State and Municipal Fiscal Default Workshop

On June 15–16, 2011, scholars and practitioners gathered for the State and Municipal Fiscal Default Workshop at the Hoover Institution. Experts from the fields of public policy, economics, finance, law, and state and local politics consulted about the nature of the problem, the current legal structures, and the possibility of legislative or other reform to avert the need for federal bailouts.

Introduction and Welcoming Remarks

  • Michael McConnell, senior fellow and Stanford Law professor

Session 1: Magnitude of the Budgetary Problem

  • Moderator: David Brady, deputy director and senior fellow
  • Discussants: Tom Campbell, dean of Chapman University Law School, former US Congressman
  • Mike Genest, former CA finance director

Session 2: What Can Be Done with Pensions?

  • Moderator: Joe Nation, Stanford public policy professor
  • Discussants: David Crane, Stanford lecturer in public policy and UC Regent
  • Amy Monahan, Univ. of Minnesota Law School associate professor

Session 3: Consequences of Inaction

  • Moderator: Michael McConnell
  • Discussants: Thad Kousser, UCSD associate professor of political science
  • Rob Stout, former finance director of the City of Vallejo

Session 4: Bankruptcy as a Last Resort

  • Moderator: Michael McConnell
  • Discussants: Clay Gillette, professor of contract law NYU School of Law
  • David Skeel, professor of corporate law University of Pennsylvania Law School

Session 5: What Can or Should Be Done?

  • Moderator: David Brady
  • Discussants: Tom Campbell
  • Bob Grady, chairman of the NJ Council of Economic Advisors for Gov. Christie

Session 6: Directions for Further Research

  • Moderators: David Brady and Michael McConnell

New Technology for Viewing This Blog's Archives

Technology marches on! Here is a new way to access this blog’s archives. You can view it in segments as a pdf. Of course, the videos and audios disappear with almost no trace in that format. And there is some odd formatting, particularly in tables. However, you also have the original format option running along the right side of the blog if you want everything to be as it was intended.

For the pdf versions, see below:

June-September 2010:

October-December 2010

January-March 2011

The April-June 2011 quarter will be added when it is completed.

We aim to keep up with the latest: