Thursday, May 31, 2012

Psychic Income

Old time faculty who remember UC during Jerry Brown’s earlier terms as governor will get nervous when he talks about “psychic income.”

Jerry Brown on pay cut: 'I derive a lot of psychic income'

Don't expect Gov. Jerry Brown to lose much sleep over the Citizen Compensation Commission's decision to slash his salary by $8,699.  "I'd run for governor whether it was a paid job or not," he said today. "I derive a lot of psychic income." The seven-member panel, which sets pay levels for legislators and constitutional officers, voted 5-1 today to reduce pay for the elected officials by 5 percent. It will take effect in December…

If you’re not an old timer, find one and ask him/her about “psychic income” in that early-Brown era and its connection to faculty pay.  One good thing about psychic income though… It’s not taxable.

And from that very period:

A Real Good Bet

From today's Daily BruinThe university will hold a hearing next week to allow public comments on the proposed UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference and Guest Center’s environmental impact report. A 700-page draft of the report, which was released by UCLA earlier this month, outlines the environmental consequences of the conference center and hotel project… All comments voiced at the hearing will be recorded and addressed in the final version of the report. Drafters of the report will also include comments that are sent in by June 29, said Tracy Dudman, a senior planner for UCLA capital programs.
While the hearing will let community members address concerns about the report, Dudman said she anticipates other ongoing concerns about the project to also be discussed.

The hearing will be at the Faculty Center, Tuesday, June 5, 7 PM.

A good bet you will hear "opinions" there:

Two Thirds?

There are two bills kicking around in the legislature that would, if both are passed, provide a $1 billion subsidy for tuition at UC, CSU, and the community colleges financed by a change in corporate tax law.  However, one of these bills – the tax bill – would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature.  Assembly speaker Pérez claims he has the necessary Republican votes, although that seems unlikely.  It is unclear from an account today in the San Francisco Chronicle whether that claim also applies to the state senate:

Assembly Speaker John Pérez, who introduced AB1501, which he is calling the "Middle Class Scholarship," noted the ballooning tuition costs in making the case for his proposal…

The Assembly passed the [non-tax] bill 55-17, with four Republicans in favor. The bill sets up the technical structure of administering the grants, which would provide significant aid to students whose families make less than $150,000 but too much to qualify for a Cal Grant.  However, a second bill that comprises a significant part of the proposal - a change in the tax code that would generate about $1 billion annually to pay for the grants - has yet to be heard by the Assembly. Pérez said he is confident he has the necessary Republican support to pass that measure, as it requires approval by two-thirds of lawmakers.  He did not say when that bill will be heard…

There is a saying about this; something about chickens…

Another version of the story appears in TopEd and suggests getting 2/3 will be difficult: (excerpt)
Modesto Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, vice chair of the Higher Education Committee and one of the Republicans who broke ranks and supported the measure, defended her position during the floor debate as a vote for the state’s economic prosperity.  "We have slashed state investment in higher education, and that’s criminal,” Olsen said. “One of the only ways we’re going to grow a strong economy over the long term is by investing in our public universities to make sure that we are graduating educated employees who are prepared to compete in a global workforce.”  ...But her colleague in the GOP caucus, Assemblymember Tim Donnelly from Twin Peaks, wasn’t moved, except to sarcasm. “I see these programs and they sound so nice – middle class scholarship fund – woo-hoo, hallelujah, Praise the Lord! I love it, sounds wonderful, why don’t we give one to everybody?” he quipped. “Oh yeah, there’s a slight little problem: we don’t have the money.”  Donnelly blamed union wage demands and injudicious spending decisions by UC and CSU for their financial problems, especially giving huge pay raises to new campus presidents while increasing student fees. Then he offered this sage advice: “I remember when I went to school. I went to the University of California at Irvine; I got three jobs to pay my way through. My idea of a middle class scholarship is a job.”...
Full story at

And there is this political analysis: (excerpt)  …A spokesman for Speaker Perez says given that there's more time, the tax companion bill wasn't fast tracked (though Wednesday's was also an 'urgency' measure and thus could have waited).  Still, Perez clearly sees a greater political value to the scholarship package -- especially if, as expected, the taxes fail to get bipartisan support by the end of the legislative session on August 31.  After all, Democrats could then easily criticize GOP legislators on the campaign trail this fall as being more interested in protecting big business than helping middle-class kids.  Passage of the plan to actually create scholarships, one could argue, helps his cause... because it now forces a showdown on the taxes.  But Republicans who voted for the AB 1501 scholarships clearly see things differently.  A spokesperson for one of them --Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto -- says Olsen agrees that students need more financial assistance but thinks a different funding source needs to be found, even if means additional cuts in programs Democrats like.  In other words, the GOP play on the issue may be this: if Democrats really care about the kids and not just politics, they'll work to find the money from somewhere that both parties can support…

Full article at 


As the image to the left suggests, grade inflation doesn't get good press for academia.  Inside Higher Ed today points to an interesting story on grade inflation concerns at the U of Minnesota that appeared in the The Star Tribune:

A University of Minnesota chemistry professor has thrust the U into a national debate about grade inflation and the rigor of college, pushing his colleagues to stop pretending that average students are excellent and start making clear to employers which students are earning their A's.

"I would like to state my own alarm and dismay at the degree to which grade compression ... has infected some of our colleges," said Christopher Cramer, chairman of the Faculty Consultative Committee. "I think we are at serious risk, through the abandonment of our own commitment of rigorous academic standards, of having outside standards imposed upon us."

National studies and surveys suggest that college students now get more A's than any other grade even though they spend less time studying.  Cramer's solution -- to tack onto every transcript the percentage of students that also got that grade -- has split the faculty and highlighted how tricky it can be to define, much less combat, grade inflation.  Some professors caution that forced standards could backfire and punish high-achieving students. Others also argue that doling out fewer A's and more B's and C's could result in harsher student evaluations, which factor into promotion and tenure decisions...

There ARE other letters:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tobacco Tax Ahead in Poll for June Has Indirect Implications for November

The USC-LA Times poll is reporting that the initiative that would raise tobacco taxes with the funds earmarked for cancer research is supported by 62% of voters.

Since the funds raised by the tax would not go into the general fund, there is no direct benefit for UC (except perhaps for future UC cancer researchers).  However, a defeat of this tax, especially since it affects only the minority of Californians and voters who smoke, would be taken as a symptom of an anti-tax mood of voters more generally.

Obviously, the tobacco industry opposes the initiative and is spending a lot of money on TV ads in opposition.  However, apart from that campaign, there has been opposition to the tax as one more example of ballot-box budgeting on the part of some editorial writers and columnists.

The poll results can be found at:

Shall we have a cigarette while we wait for the vote?

UPDATE: The PPIC poll shows much narrower support for the tobacco tax - 53% - and that the support is dropping with the TV blitz against it.  See:

The Field poll shows only 50% support for the tobacco tax:

Listen to Updated and Complete Audio of May 16 Regents Afternoon Session

Our earlier post of the May 16 Regents meeting did not include the full afternoon session.  Readers of this blog may recall that the meeting was disrupted in the morning and thus created uncertainty as to when the afternoon session would resume.  The Regents cleared the room and went into closed session elsewhere.  As a result, yours truly – who was recording from the live stream – did not know when the afternoon session would begin.

[And a repeat of question made several times on this blog before: If the Regents can live-stream and record their sessions, why can’t they simply post the resulting audio on their website after each meeting as an archive?  Why do we have to request the audio recording after each meeting and await its arrival by mail?  For example, the City of Santa Monica makes available video and audio recordings of its meetings as an archive on its website.  See:

The missing piece of the afternoon included a report by Dean Edley on his UC-Davis pepper-spray report plus part of the subsequent discussion of the UC budget and the May revise. 

Dean Edley praised UC-Davis Chancellor Katehi for her post-pepper-spray actions.  When asked whether the Regents should have a position on the arrests of students in a post-pepper incident that involved blocking access to an on-campus bank, Edley gave a long answer but concluded that the Regents should stay out of such matters. 

Regent Norman Pattiz was annoyed that the Regents were spending so much time on the pepper and bank incidents when the UC budget was much more important and was angered that demonstrators had disrupted the morning meeting.  Academic Council Chair Anderson said he wanted the Academic Senate to look at the issues covered in the Edley report.

In the budget discussion, there was praise of the governor for not cutting UC more than he did in the May revise.  Some listeners might find this praise to be overly effusive.  There was reference to discussions with the governor and other state officials about a multiyear agreement but nothing that suggested that such an agreement was being reached.  It was noted that the governor’s proposed Cal Grants cuts would tend to undermine the Blue and Gold program that subsidizes tuition.  There were comments that assuming the state adopts a budget on time, i.e., before July 1, the Regents should make a tuition decision at their July meeting.

Audio of the full afternoon session is at:

The earlier blog post on the afternoon meeting which takes up the story from the text above is at:

UPDATE: With regard to the cuts in Cal Grants the governor proposed, the Legislative Analyst is recommending the legislature reject the cuts and instead create a commission to look at the issue of focusing the grants on the neediest students.  However, the commission would not report until January 2013, so there would not be cuts this coming fiscal and academic year.  Of course, proposals and recommendations are not enactments.  Only the legislature can enact.  The Leg Analyst's view can be found at:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Great Gazbee

“Gazbee” is how you pronounce GASB, the acronym for the Government Accounting Standards Board.  GASB determines accounting standards for public employers, including public pension plans.  (It’s equivalent for the private sector is FASB – the Financial Accounting Standards Board which is pronounced – you guessed it – “fazbee.”)  From today comes this item:

New public pension accounting rules scheduled to be issued next month, once expected by some to reveal massive hidden debt, now seem less likely to trigger a shake-up and are even getting applause from pension officials.  Under the new rules, experts say, most California pension systems will make little if any use of a lower “risk-free” government bond-based earnings forecast, currently about 4 percent, that causes debt to soar.  Pension systems can continue to use earnings forecasts critics say are too optimistic, now 7.5 percent for the three state funds, to offset or “discount” estimates of the cost of pensions promised current workers in the decades ahead.

But if the assets (employer-employee contributions and investment earnings) are projected to run out before all of the pension obligations are covered, the pension system must “crossover” to a lower bond-based forecast to calculate the remaining debt…

So what does this mean and specifically what does it mean for the UC pension system?  Defined-benefit pension systems take in employer and employee contributions and guarantee a future retirement benefit based on age, earnings history, and length of service.  Their trustees, in the case of UC the Regents, are supposed to aim at 100% funding which means that current assets and the projected inflow of contributions and investment returns will cover future liabilities.  To estimate the funding ratio, it is necessary to make a long-term forecast of what assets in the pension trust fund will earn.  The higher the earnings assumption, the higher will be the estimated funding ratio.

“Estimated” is the key word.  In fact, the earnings on the portfolio will be what they will be and the estimate by itself doesn’t change what the earnings will be.  However, if the official estimate is that the ratio is below 100%, then the plan trustees are supposed to raise contributions sufficiently to bring the ratio back to 100% over some time period.  Currently, the Regents officially assume a long-term earnings rate of 7.5% and project that those earnings plus a schedule of ramped up contributions will bring the UC pension funding ratio to 100% circa 2040.

Essentially, what the italicized excerpt means is that GASB rules allow the 7.5% assumed earnings rate to be used as the sole rate applied to the estimate of unfunded liability because under the Regents' assumption, the plan will not run out of money and is projected to get to 100% eventually.

Again, it is important to stress that accounting estimates do not change what actual earnings will be.  If 7.5% increasingly looks to be too high, at some point actuaries advising the Regents might suggest a lower rate.  Were that to happen, contributions would have to be further ramped up to aim for an eventual 100% funding ratio.  That is, the less the plan can count on earnings to meet its liabilities, the more it must rely on contributions.

But there are other points to stress, too.  First, the plan will not run out of money and the Regents are obligated to pay pensions they have promised.  So for old timers, you will get your pension.  Second, and maybe most important (and emphasized from time to time on this blog), the pension issue is a young folks' concern.  It is not a young folks' concern because younger folks won’t get promised benefits.  It is a young folks concern because ultimately future pension contributions come out of the UC budget (state supported part of the budget and the larger part of the budget paid by hospital revenues, research grants, etc.) plus employee contributions. 

The state has yet to step up to the plate – despite what you may have heard – and provide the funding for its share, as it once did.  But the GASB rules – which at one time were feared as likely to undercut the 7.5% earnings assumption and create more pressure for hiked immediate pension contributions – effectively will spread the funding burden over a longer period into the future.

Monday, May 28, 2012

T'was Not to Be: Part 2 for Memorial Day

Yesterday’s posting included a photo of a peace rally at UCLA in 1937 under the heading “T’was not to be.”.  Above is another photo of such a rally, this one taken in April 1941, a few months before the official U.S. entry into World War II.  By that time, the War – which began in 1939 - was raging in Europe.  As we have done on other holidays, below are links to an item you might find of interest on Memorial Day.  It is a one-hour compilation of World War II radio broadcasts broken into 4 parts due to YouTube’s 15-minute duration limit.

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yesterday’s Letter to the Editor by the Chancellor and Senate Chair: What’s It All About?

Some blog readers may have seen a letter to the editor in the LA Times by Chancellor Gene Block and Senate Chair Andrew Leuchter which responded to an earlier op ed in the Times by John M. Ellis and Charles L. Geshekter of a group called the National Assn. of Scholars and its California branch.  Yours truly suspects that many blog readers did not peruse the letters section of the Times this holiday weekend so here is a summary and explainer.  The op ed was based on a larger document published by that group and sent to the Regents.  It accuses UC faculty of liberal bias and of indoctrination of students in various courses.  If you didn’t see it, the Block-Leucther letter (along with other letters to the editor on the same topic) appears at:

Excerpt: …UCLA, like our sister campuses, welcomes and embraces all points of view. Though we agree that faculty should not inject political views into the classroom, Ellis and Geshekter have merely strung together anecdotes from handpicked courses across our system to try to prove a crisis. The plural of "anecdote" is not "data," however, and they cite no meaningful evidence. In fact, credible studies have shown that left leanings are typical of young Americans, and college does not make them any more liberal…

The earlier (May 20) op ed is at:

Excerpt: …In California, the state Constitution contains this unambiguous statement: "The university shall be entirely independent of all political or sectarian influence and kept free therefrom." Yet despite that, a bias to the left is now accepted as a routine part of a University of California education. That's the finding of a recent study by our organization, the California Assn. of Scholars...

The study to which the excerpt refers is at:

Excerpt: …This report is concerned with the corruption of the University of California by activist politics, a condition which, as we shall show, sharply lowers the quality of academic teaching, analysis, and research, and results in exactly the troubling deficiencies that are being found in the studies to which we have referred...

UCLA History: T'was Not to Be

A peace rally at UCLA in 1937 as events in Europe increasingly pointed towards war.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

UCLA Legislative Assembly to Review Anderson Self-Supporting MBA Proposal

On June 7th, the Legislative Assembly will be taking up an appeal filed by faculty members of the Anderson Graduate School of Management regarding the Graduate Council’s rejection of a proposal to convert the “regular” MBA program to a self-supporting basis.

In the Academic Senate letter transmitting this decision to the Chancellor, it is reported that “the MBA proposal in particular revealed significant and deep divisions of opinion within the Senate faculty regarding the advisability of converting programs, and in particular a ‘cornerstone’ program, to self-supporting status. The AGSM faculty voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal, the school’s FEC voted narrowly in favor, the Council on Planning and Budget provided an overall positive opinion, and a majority of Graduate Council members were opposed. The bylaws of the Senate specify that the Graduate Council’s opinion is final on new degree programs.” [Leuchter to Block 4-10-12].

Below are links at which you can read the Anderson proposal for the self supporting MBA and the Graduate Council’s negative decision.  As the quote above suggests, there is a tendency for outside reviewers and observers to view the Anderson proposal in symbolic terms, i.e., as part of the gradual withdrawal of public support for the academic core of UC and its replacement by tuition. The Graduate Council’s decision was reported as “3 members voted in favor, 7 were opposed, 2 abstained, and 1 registered a ‘no vote’ (7 members were absent); GSA Representatives: 3 were opposed (1 was absent).”

The Anderson faculty seems to be about 2/3 in favor of the proposal and 1/3 against – but less on symbolic grounds and more on the evaluation of the plan’s internal pros and cons and its assumptions.

The Anderson MBA Proposal is at:

The Graduate Council Report on the Proposal is at:

Note: The document above was extracted by cutting and pasting from a larger pdf file and so may not have the same formatting as the original.  Its wording is the same as the original.

The UC Budget in the May Revise: Allusion Leads to Illusion

The Legislative Analyst has released a summary of its recommendations regarding UC and CSU reflecting the governor’s May Revise budget proposal.  Below, in italics are excerpts related to pension funding for UC.

As noted in prior blog posts, in January, the governor designated a sum of $90 million which he said could be used (or not) for UC pension funding.  The problem with that approach is that UC has always been free to allocate what it gets from the state for the pension.  By alluding to use for the pension, the governor triggered a recommendation from the Leg Analyst that since the $90 million exceeded pension contributions, it should be trimmed to equal them.  

Given past cutbacks, however, $90 million could just as well be seen as a general allocation, unrelated to the pension.  So cutting it back to match the pension was as arbitrary as the governor’s allusion to the pension.

In the May Revise, the governor cut the $90 million down to $52 million which now falls short of the pension contribution. So now the Leg Analyst says to raise it to the contribution.  It’s not clear whether this give and take should be considered the result of pension allusion (by the governor) or pension illusion (the latter being the notion that the state is somehow taking responsibility for the UC pension, as it once did).  In any case, excerpts from the Leg Analyst are below in italics:

January Proposal. ... For UC, the Governor … proposed to forgo any future adjustments for retirement costs. For 2012-13, however, the Governor proposed a $90 million base augmentation for UC which the administration suggested “could” be used for retirement contributions. Yet, the administration emphasized that this funding was not being proposed specifically to fund UC’s pension costs.

Revised Amount Proposed for UC’s Pension Costs Still Arbitrary. In addition, we find that the Governor’s May Revision proposal for a $52 million increase for UC is just as arbitrary as the $90 million increase he had proposed in January. We continue to encourage the Legislature to link any state funding for UC’s pension costs to actual costs. In January, we were provided with information from UC that indicated that its additional costs for pensions in 2012-13 for state General Fund and tuition-funded employees would be about $78 million. (Specifically, $36 million is related to the General Fund and $41.5 million related to tuition.)
…(W)e recommend that the Legislature only provide UC with an augmentation for its pension costs that is based on actual cost data provided by the university.

    [Click on image above for clearer view.]

There is discussion in the document to which the link above applies about efforts by the governor to move both UC and CSU away from a “workload” methodology for calculating their budget needs to some kind of fixed dollar allocation system in future years.  Certainly, there are issues related to that concept but each year a new budget is ultimately adopted.  Thus, whatever might be said about future years is not binding.  It’s not clear, however, in an era of arbitrary cutbacks, what workload methodology means.  The drivers of workload budgets are enrollments and costs.  When the state doesn’t pony up for the workload total, tuition goes up and/or services are cut.  Seems like there is illusion regarding general funding as well as pension funding.

Scam-A-Lot (More Phony Emails to Delete)

Scammers seem to be aiming at UCLA these days.  As an earlier post noted, you may receive messages such as the one below saying that through UCLA someone is trying to reach you.  Just click on a link to find out. Don't click. Delete.

Here is the latest version as received by yours truly:

Bruin OnLine Info Center Inbox


You have a private message from your old friend who wished to get in-touch with you, use the Private link below to login and view your message if possibly get in contact with your old friend again.


Computer Support
Bruin OnLine Webmail
© Bruin OnLine Webmail, All rights reserved

[Note the grammar: "...if possibly get in contact..."]

It's tough to get money by illicit means:

Friday, May 25, 2012

UC-Berkeley Chancellor Protests Proposed Constitutional Amendment Pending in Legislature Capping Out-of-State Enrollment

(Any thoughts from UCLA about this issue?)

Media Release from UC-Berkeley Below:

Chancellor expresses concerns about proposed constitutional amendment

Public Affairs, UC-Berkeley, May 24, 2012

A message from Chancellor Birgeneau

On May 16, California state Sen. Michael Rubio introduced a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would restrict the enrollment of out-of-state and international students on University of California campuses to 10 percent of undergraduate enrollment. If cleared for the ballot by both houses of the Legislature and passed by voters this November, Senate Constitutional Amendment 22 would take effect in the fall of 2013. Its provisions would mandate that at least 90 percent of every incoming undergraduate class, on each of the UC campuses, be comprised of in-state students.

While passage of the amendment is far from certain, the proposed legislation has already attracted significant opposition. Critics, including university officials, say that the amendment poses a direct threat to university autonomy by enabling the legislature to dictate admissions policies. Others, including myself, have cited a long list of unintended consequences that would result from passage. In addition to enriching the educational experience of California students, non-residents represent a crucial revenue stream for the campus. The loss of funding generated by non-residents would mean a reduction of funds available for financial aid provided to in-state students including especially middle class and undocumented students, increased pressure to raise in-state tuition, and reduced access to required gateway courses that would in turn mean longer times to graduation for California students. Importantly, increasing the percentage of out-of-state and international students to 20 percent of undergraduate enrolment does not eliminate slots for Californians on the Berkeley campus.

Since the amendment’s introduction, representatives of the university and other, independent organizations have been contacting legislators to ensure that they understand the full extent of the amendment’s potential impact on a UC system that has been forced to deal with unprecedented cuts in state funding. Earlier this week I sent the following letter to Senator Rubio, the amendment’s author:


The Honorable Michael Rubio
California State Senate
State Capitol, Room 2066
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Senator Rubio:

I write to express my deep concern over Senate Constitutional Amendment 22 (SCA 22), a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit non-resident enrollment to 10% at each UC campus. I believe that we share the common goal of providing a high-quality, accessible education at UC Berkeley for California’s most promising students as well as bringing to our state extraordinarily talented young people who would make great global ambassadors for the State and prospective future citizens of California. We both want these students to be able to contribute fully to the economic and social vitality of our state. Unfortunately, SCA 22 would have unintended consequences that would make it extremely difficult to achieve what I believe to be our common goals.

Our policy of increasing non-resident undergraduate enrollment to 20% of our student body is crucial to ensuring a predictable and reliable revenue stream and maintaining affordability for our California students while also enriching the educational experience for our students. Students from other parts of the United States, and from around the world, are valuable members of the Cal community and it has been my long-held view that an increase in out-of-state and international undergraduate students is a critical educational goal at Berkeley. In addition to generating funds for educational support and financial aid, they also bring perspectives, experiences, and cultures to the campus, that benefit all students.

A fundamental feature of our enrollment strategy is that non-resident students do not displace California students. Specifically, we enroll more California students now than we did in 2003, when the State provided nearly twice the amount of funding for UC Berkeley than it does at the present time. We are committed to maintaining that level of resident enrollment (21,000 California residents) moving forward. This means that we are meeting our commitment to the Master Plan for California residents and we intend to do so for the indefinite future, barring a continuing collapse in state funding of UC. Importantly, the out-of-state and international students are accommodated by an increase in the size of our undergraduate student body, not by eliminating slots for Californians.

So, what would the consequences be for our California undergraduate students at Berkeley if the number of out-of-state and international students were capped at 10%? First, this would lead to a shortfall in revenue of nearly $60,000,000 which would inevitably have to be made up by an increase in tuition. This would amount to about $3,000 per student, thence increasing the burden on Californian students to a near intolerable level. For Berkeley undergraduates who must take out loans this would increase their indebtedness on graduation from the current value of $16,000 to as much as $28,000.

Second, we would have to eliminate our recently announced middle class access financial aid plan (MCAP). MCAP provides substantial financial aid to students from families whose incomes range from $80,000 to $140,000; it also guarantees these students that their costs will not go up during their time as undergraduates. Berkeley is the only public university in the country which offers such financial aid to middle class students. This program would no longer be affordable.

Third, Berkeley has led the way in California in providing substantial financial aid to undocumented students, made legal by AB 130; this would also be no longer affordable. Specifically, we would not be able to provide support in place of federal Pell Grants since Californian undocumented students remain ineligible for federal aid in spite of the passage of AB 130 and AB 131. As you know, Assemblyman Cedillo and I worked hard to ensure the passage and signing of those two bills and it would be a tragedy if our undocumented students would remain so disadvantaged.

Fourth, it would become significantly more difficult for California residents to graduate in four years; before our increase in the number of out-of-state and international students many of our large gateway courses were heavily impacted.   We have been able to expand enrollments in our science, social science and language gateway courses using the resources provided by the increased tuition paid by our out-of-state and international students.  This would no longer be possible.

I could go on but I believe that these examples show that the matter is very complicated and that Californians benefit enormously both financially and educationally from having a substantial number of out-of-state and international fellow students.  At Berkeley, capping the number at 10% would do irreparable harm to Californians.

When I arrived at Berkeley in 2004, our primary source of revenue was state general fund support. In just eight years that situation has changed drastically. State support has fallen to fourth place as a source of revenue for UC Berkeley, behind research funding, philanthropy, and tuition. Several years ago, we recognized that the current financial model would be unsustainable and since then have identified, developed and implemented a carefully crafted plan to place Berkeley on a firm financial footing well into the future. Although increasing non-resident enrollment is one important element of that plan, our first act was to reduce significantly our administrative costs. Operational Excellence, a program we launched to make the University’s operations more efficient, has already achieved more than $30 million in annual, ongoing operational savings thus far.

Through our efforts in improvements in areas such as procurement, organizational simplification, energy efficiency and infrastructure improvements, we are on track to achieve savings of at least $75 million per year when our Operational Excellence program is fully implemented.  Additionally, UC Berkeley has focused intently on maximizing non-state funds. We have succeeded in increasing significantly federal research dollars and philanthropic support despite the challenges of a flagging economy. Unfortunately, we also have had to respond to the decline in state support through layoffs, furloughs, frozen salaries and system-wide tuition increases. Capping undergraduate enrollment at 10% for international and out-of-state students would require more such actions, seriously harming our educational mission.

I know that we share common goals for the education of our California students. I hope that, in light of the above, you will withdraw your proposed constitutional amendment SCA 22.

 With warm regards.

Yours sincerely,
Robert J. Birgeneau


Concerns Over Proposed Cal Grants Cuts in May Revise Budget

Cal Grant program faces cuts in governor's budget (excerpts)

Wyatt Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, May 25, 2012

Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to cut a state program that helps thousands of low- and middle-income California university students pay for tuition and other costs.  Under Brown's revised budget plan, thousands of California college students who start their education in fall of 2013 would either be unable to qualify for a Cal Grant or would receive a much smaller grant than if they had applied this year.  Currently, students who qualify and attend either the University of California or California State University systems receive enough of a grant to cover the entire cost of tuition.

The governor … wants Cal Grants tied to the federal Pell Grants for student aid. That means if a student qualified for only half of the maximum federal award, that student would qualify for just half of the maximum Cal Grant award. Students receiving the full Pell Grant would receive the full Cal Grant. Students who currently receive a Cal Grant would be grandfathered into the program and would not be affected.

…Pell Grants take into account a number of factors - including family size, income, assets and other criteria that are combined in a complex calculation - in determining how much of an award a student receives. The current maximum award is $5,550.  Cal Grants have minimum grade point average requirements, along with basic family income and asset requirements to qualify. The maximum Cal Grant is $12,192 for UC students.  The governor's latest proposal comes in addition to other changes in Cal Grants that he called for in his January budget. Those would increase the minimum grade point average to qualify…

…(F)inancial aid for about 11,200 CSU students would be affected, along with about 8,900 UC students. Just under 3,600 community colleges would see a cut, and if such students apply late for aid, they would actually see that reduction this year. …

An assessment of the governor’s proposal by the Legislative Analyst indicates that about a third of Cal Grant recipients would be affected.  See slide 7 of:

The Commission that administers the Cal Grants program has voiced opposition:

Carmageddon II Now Rescheduled for August or September (Thanks to the FBI?)

From today's LA Daily News:

Officials initially hoped to shut down a segment of the San Diego (405) Freeway next month, but delays to the $1 billion project are pushing the massive closure back to August or September.  Unexpected utility work, a $300 million lawsuit and bickering with FBI representatives over security clearances are all delaying completion, Metro officials said Thursday…

… A $300 million lawsuit - filed last year by a Bel Air landowner - forced Metro to move a freeway on-ramp near the Getty Museum 150 feet to the west.  …And then there's the FBI. The agency works out of a building at 11000 Wilshire Boulevard, near the construction site. Government officials are demanding Metro workers go through security clearance before working on the sensitive FBI lines.

…The FBI didn't return calls…

Full article at

Note that a September date, even if on a weekend, could begin to affect the UCLA academic year.  What more is there to say than klaatu barada nikto?:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Listen to Audio of Regent Committee on Compliance & Audit: Feb. 28, 2012

The Regents Committee on Compliance and Audit met on February 28, 2012 ahead of the March meeting.  When the Faculty Association requested a copy of the audio for this meeting, as it now always does, it turned out that the meeting had been taped (analog-recorded) rather than recorded digitally.  Thus, the Regents’ office sent the analog recording out for conversion to digital format.  There were then other delays which account for why only now are we able to post the audio.  It remains unclear why the audio of meetings of the Regents, which are streamed live, cannot simply be posted as an archive on the Regents website.  However, as long as that simple step is not being taken, the Faculty Association will continue to post the audios as received.

Below is the agenda of the Feb. 28 session followed by a link to play the recording.  The Committee did not take up the tenth item although it was on the agenda.  Since there was no quorum, no actions (votes) were taken – just discussions.  Concern was expressed over a plan to consolidate audits for medical centers with others.  There was a review of ongoing efforts to create single systems for payroll and IT services.  Discussion about privacy protections for med centers noted in particular UCLA’s problems in the past with inappropriate access to celebrity medical records.  There was also general discussion about conflict of interest reporting with an observation that the more that is spent on training for such matters as conflict of interest, the less money there is for core academic functions.

Date:  February 28, 2012
Time: 1:15 p.m.
Locations:  1111 Franklin Street, Room 12322, Oakland; 3104 Mosher Alumni House, Santa Barbara Campus; 550 East Shaw Ave., Fresno; 6840 Carothers Parkway, Ste. 600, Franklin, Tennessee
  • Public Comment Period
  • Action   Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of November 7, 2011
  • A3  Action  Approval of the Scope of the External Audit for the Year Ending June 30, 2012
  • A4  Action  Approval of External Audit Plan for the Year Ending June 30, 2012
  • A5  Discussion Organizing Technology for Shared Systems
  • A6  Discussion University of California Health Sciences Privacy Compliance
  • A7  Discussion Internal Audit Activities Report
  • A8  Discussion   Ethics and Compliance Activities Report
  • A9  Discussion Chief Financial Officer Division AIM Report: Actionable Information for Managers
  • A10  Information University of California International Activities Update

Committee membership: Regents Makarechian, Mireles, Pelliccioni, Ruiz, and Zettel (Chair); Ex officio members Brown, Gould, and Lansing; Advisory member Anderson; Staff Advisor Herbert

The audio (about 90 minutes) can be heard at:

Opening the Pepper

Sacramento Bee, LA Times sue to force UC disclosure of pepper spray officer names
Sam Stanton, Sacramento Bee, 5-23-12

The Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times filed suit today against the University of California Board of Regents in a bid to force the release of police officer names that have been kept secret from the public since last November's pepper-spray incident on the UC Davis campus.  The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, seeks a court order forcing the release of the names that were redacted from a task force study of the incident that was released in April...

Full story at:

Read more here:

Warning Letter Sent to Chancellor, Regents, Real Estate Agent on Disclosure to Buyers of Japanese Garden

A group pushing for preservation of UCLA's Hannah Carter Garden sent a letter to Chancellor Block, the Regents, and the real estate agent handling the sale noting that potential buyers should be warned about the controversy and possible roadblocks to modifying or removing the garden.  Real estate agents are required to disclose complications regarding sales to such buyers.  Readers of this blog will know that the sale has been delayed until August.  Excerpt from the letter:

Should the University choose to proceed with the sale and transfer ownership to a private entity, the Coalition is prepared to submit an application and seek Historic-Cultural Monument designation of the historic garden. Local landmark designation will ensure that this historic garden receives protection from both wholesale eradication and inappropriate alterations via design review by the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources and the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. Additionally, because of its documented historic significance, the Coalition believes the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden qualifies as a historical resource for the purposes of future project review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  This process will require public agencies to deny approval of a project with significant adverse impacts on historical resources when there are feasible alternatives or mitigation measures that can substantially lessen such effects.

The full letter can be read at the link below:

Lawsuit: Urban Wildlands Group Takes Aim at UCLA Over Proposed Archery Facility

Readers of this blog may recall an earlier post about a proposed UCLA archery facility to be located  south of the Child Care Center along Veteran Avenue. Concerns have been raised about the proposal on ecological and other grounds.

Readers who have been following the UCLA hotel issue will know that UCLA was not forthcoming in response to Public Records Act requests by the Faculty Association and other groups and did not provide the requested information on a timely basis.

The original post regarding the archery facility is at:

The Urban Wildlands Group has filed a lawsuit against the Regents regarding similar stonewalling by UCLA regarding documents it requested related to the archery facility.

You can read a cover letter regarding this lawsuit at:

The lawsuit itself is at:

And while we are awaiting the response to the lawsuit, we can listen to the Will You Tell Overture:

Another Email Phishing Scam Purportedly from UCLA

Welcome Ucla user,

You have received a private message from your old friend who wished to get back in-touch with you. Please use the UCLA Private link below to login and view your message and possibly get in contact with your old friend.

[Link shown]

Information Centre
ANGELES,CA 90095 310.825.4321
University of California © 2012 UC Regents

Note the British spelling of Centre.  Note that Signed is spelled Sign.

Don't click on it.  Delete it.  Then just listen:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Economic Disclosure

The American Economic Association has published a new disclosure policy for authors of papers submitted to its various journals.  Although the policy was developed out of concerns that there may be at least the perception of potential hidden bias among economists absent such disclosures, the rules may be of interest to other academic disciplines. Highlights:

American Economic Association Disclosure Policy

(1) Every submitted article should state the sources of financial support for the particular research it describes. If none, that fact should be stated.

(2) Each author of a submitted article should identify each interested party from whom he or she has received significant financial support, summing to at least $10,000 in the past three years, in the form of consultant fees, retainers, grants and the like. The disclosure requirement also includes in-kind support, such as providing access to data. If the support in question comes with a non-disclosure obligation, that fact should be stated, along with as much information as the obligation permits. If there are no such sources of funds, that fact should be stated explicitly. An “interested” party is any individual, group, or organization that has a financial, ideological, or political stake related to the article.

(3) Each author should disclose any paid or unpaid positions as officer, director, or board member of relevant non-profit organizations or profit-making entities. A “relevant” organization is one whose policy positions, goals, or financial interests relate to the article.

(4) The disclosures required above apply to any close relative or partner of any author.

(5) Each author must disclose if another party had the right to review the paper prior to its circulation.

(6) For published articles, information on relevant potential conflicts of interest will be made available to the public.

More detail is in the full document at:

It's tough to be an academic economist with all of these rules:  

UCLA History: Paving

With construction of the new UCLA campus soon to begin in the neighborhood, street paving in Westwood is undertaken in 1926.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More Ready, Fire, Aim from the Legislature (although UC was amended out)

The pay cap bill described below passed the state senate yesterday. UC was amended out of the original version and - because of its constitutional autonomy - had been subject only to a suggestion. As in the recent tuition-cap bill cited in an earlier post, there is no recognition that rising student fees (said to be the motivation for the bill) are the result of actions by the legislature. Were this pay cap to be enacted, there would be blowback to UC, despite the exemption.

An act to add and repeal Section 89517.5 of the Education Code, relating to postsecondary education, and declaring the urgency thereof, to take effect immediately. 


SB 952, as amended, Alquist. Public postsecondary education: employee compensation. 

Existing law establishes the California State University, under the administration of the Trustees of the California State University, and the University of California, under the administration of the Regents of the University of California, as 2 as one of the segments of public postsecondary education in the state. 
This bill would prohibit, from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014, inclusive, the Trustees of the California State University from entering into, or renewing, a contract that provides for a compensation increase for a California State University employee whose annual salary exceeds $200,000 from General Fund sources, as defined, in the fiscal year during which the contract is executed, relative to the immediately prior contract for that same position. The bill would prohibit, on or after June July 1, 2014, and until July 1, 2018, the trustees from entering into, or renewing, a contract that provides for a compensation increase of more than 10% for a California State University employee whose annual salary exceeds $200,000 from General Fund sources in the fiscal year during which the contract is executed, relative to the immediately prior contract for that position. 

The bill would encourage the Regents of the University of California to adopt a policy that reflects the goals of this bill. 

This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as an urgency statute. 
Vote: 2/3. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. 
State-mandated local program: no. 


SECTION 1. Section 89517.5 is added to the Education Code, to read: 
89517.5. (a) From July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2014, inclusive, the Trustees of the California State University shall not enter into, or renew, a contract that provides for a compensation increase for a 
California State University employee whose annual salary exceeds two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) from General Fund sources in the fiscal year during which the contract is executed, relative to the immediately prior contract for that same position. 
(b) On or after July 1, 2014, the trustees shall not enter into, or renew, a contract that provides for a compensation increase of more than 10 percent for a California State University employee whose annual salary exceeds two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) from General Fund sources in the fiscal year during which the contract is executed, relative to the immediately prior contract for that position. 
(c) For purposes of this section, "General Fund sources" includes appropriations from the General Fund and student fee revenues. 

(d) The Regents of the University of California are encouraged to adopt a policy that reflects the goals of this section. 


(d) This section shall become inoperative on July 1, 2018, and, as of January 1, 2019, is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that becomes operative on or before January 1, 2019, deletes or extends the dates on which it becomes inoperative and is repealed. 
SEC. 2. This act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are: 
In order to respond to and alleviate the effects of the state's current fiscal crisis and the resulting additional budget cuts and tuition increases for the California State University, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately.