Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year Starts Tomorrow...

...And there is not much else to report with UCLA closed and all.  The photo is from the LAPL collection and shows three children welcoming in 1910, although they don't seem overjoyed about it.

In 2014, we will continue to post about the fames and follies of UC and UCLA.  Meanwhile, the Faculty Association at UCLA wishes you a happy New Year.

And since we are in an historical mode, below are links to a description of a New Year's Eve during World War II, roughly seventy years ago.  The recording itself was broadcast about fifty years ago on New Year's Eve.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Clock Is Ticking Towards UCLA's Reopening on Jan. 2 and What Block Will Say or Not Say on the Israel Boycott Issue

We noted in a previous post that the chancellor at UC-San Diego commented (negatively) on the Israel boycott called by an academic group called the American Studies Assn.  See:

Since that time, Inside Higher Ed has run stories on university officials and others who have also commented along with faculty reaction, pro and con.  For example:


The closure of UCLA until January 2nd gives Chancellor Block a temporary period in which he can avoid commenting.  It will be interesting to see he says - or doesn't say - when the university reopens.

Happy New Year Chancellor!
Update: From Berkeley



Our Fault?

You might have noticed the map on the front page of today's LA Times that shows that the Santa Monica fault is rather close to the campus. See:,0,1585622.htmlstory

However, unlike UC-Santa Cruz, we don't get naming rights:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Events May Divert the Governor from MOOCs, etc., at the Regents in 2014

Jerry Brown will almost certainly be running for re-election in 2014.  It doesn't look like there will be much of a contest but there will be at least some effort devoted to the campaign.

But apart from re-election, Brown is facing some "legacy" problems.  During his first iteration as governor, he wasn't big - to say the least - on grand infrastructure, unlike his father Pat.  However, this time around, there is the high-speed rail project and the water tunnel project, both grand and expensive.  These projects are analogs to his dad's freeways and state water project. 

The high speed rail is running into problems of financing and negative court rulings.  The water project also has financing and environmental obstacles.  Currently, dry weather is causing water rationing in the Sacramento area.  But it is unclear that the proposed water tunnels would address that issue.  Indeed, the drought could raise the issue - very sensitive in the Bay Area - of diverting water to southern California.

Of course, the third legacy of Father Pat was higher ed expansion in the form of the Master Plan.  But we are not going to be building more campuses of UC or CSU in the immediate future.  And tuition isn't going up in an election year.

So UC may get a break from gubernatorial attention in 2014.  Brown wouldn't want his rail and other plans to end like this:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Rewards of Good Behavior (and the penalties for the reverse)

With a possible pension initiative coming to the ballot, it would be nice if public pension plans stayed on Good Behavior.  Alas:

Federal investigators are looking into allegations that CalPERS violated insider trading laws this year when it purchased $26.6 million in restricted stock and then decided it didn’t need to reverse the trades when they were discovered. Two sources with knowledge of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s inquiry say on condition of anonymity that it involves stock purchases that the nation’s largest public pension fund made in March, including nearly $24 million in global financial firm JPMorgan Chase & Co. and almost $2.7 million in Access Midstream Partners LP, an Oklahoma-based energy company. 

According to an internal memo and a fired employee’s challenge of her termination by CalPERS, some staff at the fund contend that the purchases – and a subsequent decision not to rescind them – calls their managers’ qualifications and judgment into question. 

"We wanted to reverse (the trades),” said Ted Nishio, a retiree who worked in CalPERS’ Division of Enterprise Compliance who said he was fired after he told his boss that the fund should quickly act. “But the higher ups said, ‘Let it be. "...

Full story from the Sacramento Bee at

Were those higher ups, by any chance, named John, Paul, George, and Ringo?

Read more here:

Sunday Detour

Authorities will close the southbound San Diego (405) Freeway between Sunset and Wilshire boulevards in West Los Angeles for six hours Sunday morning while crews realign lanes to accommodate roadway widening and drainage work along the median, according to Metro.

The full closure will run from midnight to 6 a.m. Sunday, but crews will begin closing freeway ramps in the affected area starting at 7 p.m. Saturday. They will start closing southbound lanes at 11 p.m. Saturday, according to Metro...

Full story at

Read the signs:

Friday, December 27, 2013

UCLA: The Visitor

Marilyn Monroe visits UCLA in 1952.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Motorists traveling south on the 405 Freeway through West Los Angeles will be made to take a short detour during an early morning five-hour full directional closure on Friday, Dec. 27.

From midnight on Thursday, Dec. 26 to 5 am on Friday, Dec. 27, the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project contractor is scheduled to implement a full directional closure of the southbound 405 Freeway traffic between Santa Monica Boulevard and National Boulevard.

The closures will facilitate the realignment of lanes to accommodate roadway widening and drainage work along the freeway median.

Lanes will begin to close at 10 pm on Thursday; Ramps will begin to close at 7 pm. Although the southbound 405 closure is only from Santa Monica Boulevard to National Boulevard, the Sunset Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard southbound 405 on-ramps are also being closed as a traffic mitigation effort...

Full story at

You'd probably like to be somewhere else.  Maybe Switzerland?

Yesterday's news

Christmas day tends to be a slow news day.  However, for those who didn't see it, the LA Times carried a front page story about UC's online offerings which allow cross-campus credits.  You can find the article at:,0,6798231.story

Blog readers will be familiar with these offerings.  We noted in a prior post that UCLA seems to be a taker rather than a giver in this endeavor.  That is, other campuses' online courses are available to UCLA students.  But UCLA is not offering courses to the other campuses.  Berkeley, Irvine, Davis, and Riverside seem to be the offerers.  

Now, how about next year's UC budget, governor?  The headline above should make you happy:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

UCLA History: Christmas Party

Actress Marion Davies (older woman towards the right) attends Christmas parties (1953 - top, 1954 - bottom) at the UCLA Marion Davies Children's Clinic.  [Photos from LAPL]

And - for today's holiday offering - a happy ending for another child:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Seasonal Post

Above is a sketch of 29 Palms by famed LA architect Richard Neutra, Christmas 1938, held by special collections in the UCLA library.  And below as a tale of the season, told on Dec. 24, 1974:

Trying to Weigh the Court Decision on San Jose Pensions

We have been posting about a potential state ballot initiative allowing California government employers (including UC), to change pension benefit formulas of current employees going forward.  We have noted that inclusion of UC is not a Good Thing.  Please see prior posts for info.

A news item that appeared yesterday about a similar measure that was enacted in San Jose indicates that the city measure seems to have been voided in part by a court decision.  Readers will know that Mayor Reed of San Jose has been the front man for the state initiative.  What is odd about the article is that although Reed is quoted as reacting to the court decision, he doesn't say what you might expect.  The obvious thing to say from his viewpoint is that the court decision proves that there is a need for a statewide initiative.  But he doesn't say that, suggesting - perhaps - that the decision potentially is an impediment to the state initiative, too.  We will try and follow up.  Meanwhile, here is the article on the court decision:

It might be noted that Reed had some problems with the finances of his pension committee that promoted the city measure:

For legal types that might want to weigh in, the court decision is below:

UCLA History: Driving Into Westwood

Driving into Westwood in the early 1940s.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Campus Art

Art can be found in various locations around UCLA.  The item above is in the Anderson complex.  See description below.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Factoid: When UCLA first moved to Westwood in 1929 (dedication ceremony above), the state's population was far less likely than today to have been born in California.  (See below.) The contrast of today with the situation just after World War II was even more dramatic on that score. Thus, although we think of today's California population as "diverse," in terms of state nativity, it is less diverse than in the past.

Let's Hope the Courts Are Again Sensible

Van burned by animal rights terrorists, June 2008
From the Daily Bruin website:

An animal rights activist group filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the University of California Board of Regents demanding that UCLA release documents regarding its use of animals in research. Stop Animal Exploitation Now, the organization that filed the lawsuit, claimed the organization does not know whether UCLA is violating any laws regarding animal use in research. The lawsuit seeks to obtain information that would enable the organization to learn whether any violations have occurred, the organization said...

Stop Animal Exploitation Now said it submitted a request for specific records on the care of nonhuman primates in August of this year. The organization said it was willing to redact and withhold the identities of any researchers as well as the location of UCLA research. In a statement in response to the lawsuit, UCLA said the release of such information has in the past led to violent and criminal acts against the university’s employees. The university said it constantly tries to balance the public’s right and the critical need to protect its researchers...

The Los Angeles Superior Court ruled against Stop Animal Exploitation Now in a similar case in 2010. The court said UCLA is not obligated to produce certain records about animal research, stating such a release “would result in a significant and specific risk of unlawful intimidation and physical harm to the researchers … and to their families.” ...

As we have noted in prior posts on privacy of emails and other documents, no such lawsuit could even be filed against private universities which conduct medical or biological research such as Stanford or USC.  Given the history related to this issue, the court should be very cautious about any releases it orders.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Dividing the $5 Million Pie for Undocumented Students

The Daily Bruin is carrying a story on its website detailing how the $5 million for undocumented students allocated by President Napolitano is to be spent: [excerpt]

...UCLA will receive $848,000 of the total $5 million for undocumented student services and financial aid, the most out of any UC campus, according to the letter. UCLA currently enrolls more than 450 undocumented students, a 65 percent increase from last year. There are about 900 undocumented students in the UC system.  Of the amount allocated to UCLA, $250,000 will provide services for undocumented students and $598,000 will go toward undocumented student financial aid...

Pension/Retiree Health Initiative that Includes UC Just Keeps Advancing

Readers of this blog will know that an initiative has been filed - which appears to have some serious money behind it for a campaign - that would cover UC's pension and retiree health care programs.  In principle, it would be up to the Regents to make any plan revisions the initiative would allow.  However, they would be compelled to produce an analysis of what such revisions would be and it might be politically difficult to resist implementing such plans, particularly if other state and local entities are doing it.

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has now prepared its analysis of the initiative.  It can be found at  That step means that signature gathering, which typically costs $1-$2 million can get underway soon.  Up to now, the Regents have no formal position on the initiative and won't even be meeting until January.

Proponents of the initiative argue that they would not take away any past accrued pension benefits of existing employees.  Only future accruals would be potentially affected.  That innocent-sounding statement is both true and misleading.  In the context of defined-benefit pensions, most formal accruals occur toward the end of long careers of older workers.  Those workers who don't fall into that category yet have in fact not accrued very much in a formal sense.  Up to now, however, those workers had the expectation that if they stayed under the plan in a long career, the currently promised future benefits would be paid.  The initiative would allow government entities, including UC, to void that expectation.  In effect, even if the Regents were to elect not to revise their plans, the current value and attractiveness of the UC retirement promise would be reduced.  The Regents would be making a retirement promise that they did not have to keep.

At present, UC has taken no steps to try to remove itself from the initiative's coverage, as we have previously reported.  So if the backers have the $1-$2 million needed, nothing can stop the initiative - with its UC coverage - from getting on the ballot, either in 2014 or 2016.

It just keeps coming:

Friday, December 20, 2013

This is really a scream

UC-SD Chancellor’s Statement on American Studies Association Israel Boycott

From Inside Higher Ed today:

The chancellor of the University of California at San Diego has issued a statement in opposition to the American Studies Association’s resolution which backed the boycott of Israeli higher education institutions. 

“We affirm the right of the faculty to advance their scholarship and research through open dialogue with academic colleagues in all countries,” Pradeep K. Khosla said. “UC San Diego faculty collaborations draw on richly diverse ideas and views around the globe, including in the Middle East. Excluding scholars limits discussion and conflicts with the University of California’s highest aspirations."


The official statement is at

It is likely that the Khosla statement will lead to responses from other UC chancellors and UC president Napolitano.  Or at least they will be asked.  Conceivably, it could be raised at the January Regents meeting.

Further background:

UC Prevails in Public Disclosure Case

UC invests in pension and other funds in a broad array of assets including investments in private equity firms.  Such firms are exempt from most forms of public disclosure since investments with them are not publicly available.  However, there have been attempts to get at their records through UC by demanding the reports that UC receives from the firms as an investor.  The firms reportedly will refuse to allow future UC investments if their records are subject to disclosure.

Finance types generally view having a broad array of assets in a portfolio as a Good Thing and therefore exclusion by UC from private equity investments is seen as a Bad Thing. 

A recent case to obtain such records has failed, according to a Bloomberg report excerpted below.  The attempt to obtain such records did not really involve an investigation of UC investment strategy but was a back door for a Reuters financial news service to getting records of a private equity firm that would otherwise be unavailable.

The University of California won a court ruling that it doesn’t have to obtain and make public records of its investments with Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. A California appeals court in San Francisco reversed a trial-court ruling and denied a petition by Reuters America LLC to force the university to get the records of its investment returns and release them. "This is a complete and total victory for us,” Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for the UC Regents, said in a phone interview. The records sought by Reuters aren’t covered by California’s Public Records Act, and the appeals court recognized that Reuters “overstepped the boundaries of the act” when it sought to compel the university to obtain records about investments made with Sequoia and Kleiner, she saidThe ruling came in a public records lawsuit against the university...

Full story at

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Word from the White House: Go Easy on MOOCs

That's the headline for an article in today's Inside Higher Ed.  According to the article, "President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has a message for the federal government and regional accreditors: Go easy on the MOOCs."  You can read the article at

It's probably OK, however, to sing to them as they are guided along:

Receive a Dubious Email: Don't Click! Delete!

Yours truly received the email below today, ostensibly from UCLA.  Did you get it?  If so, you might have noticed that it doesn't come from a UCLA address.  Best advice: Don't click!  Instead, delete.
important Notice For UCLA Faculty and staff of our email database(University of California, Los Angeles UCLA)We currently updated our UCLA email database.IT Help Desk requires all our faculty and staff (University of California, Los Angeles), to confirm their email account or sending and receiving emails will be difficult. For full access of your email account, follow the reference link bellow to confirm your email account.UCLA FACULTY AND STAFF EMAIL CONFIRMATION LINK

Protecting your email account is our primary concern.This has become necessary to  serve you better. 
© Copyright 2013 IT help desk Management Team.
Always be dubious!  Anyone can claim anything.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Research Funding

Edison: R&D was cheaper back then
Thirty institutions reporting the largest FY 2012 R&D expenditures in all fields: NSF Data
(Millions of dollars)

All institutions

Leading 30 institutions

Johns Hopkins U. a

U. MI Ann Arbor

U. WI Madison

U. WA Seattle

U. CA San Diego

U. CA San Francisco

Duke U.

U. CA Los Angeles

Stanford U.

Columbia U. in the City of New York

U. NC Chapel Hill

U. Pittsburgh Pittsburgh


U. MN Twin Cities

MA Institute of Technology

Cornell U.

Harvard U.

PA State U. 
University Park and
Hershey Med Ctr

OH State U.

U. CA Berkeley

U. CA Davis

Washington U. St


TX A&M U. College Station

GA Institute of Technology


Yale U.

Northwestern U.


U. Southern CA

a Johns Hopkins University includes Applied Physics Laboratory, with $1,121 million in total R&D expenditures in FY 2012.