Sunday, March 31, 2013

UCLA History: Westwood Dept. Store

The Myer Siegel Department store at 1025 Westwood Boulevard was one of the major businesses that moved into Westwood Village in the 1930s.  There were several branches of this company in the LA area; this branch was built in 1937.  The same location is shown below in a recent photo from Google maps. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

UCLA History: Pauley Construction

The photo shows UCLA Chancellor Franklin Murphy, basketball coach John Wooden, and donor Edwin Pauley at the groundbreaking ceremony for Pauley Pavillion, probably around 1964.  (The official opening was in 1965.)  Pauley - whose wealth came from oil - was a prominent Democrat.  However, the fundraising drive for the structure (which Pauley matched) was headed by H.R. Haldeman of Watergate fame.  Pauley, a Regent, played a major role in the dismissal of UC President Clark Kerr due to student protests, primarily at UC-Berkeley.

Speaking of firing, we haven’t featured sports on this blog.  But there is so much news surrounding the firing and hiring of the current UCLA basketball coach that the issue is worth noting:

UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero announced today the appointment of Steve Alford as the 13th Head Men's Basketball Coach in program history. With 22 years of collegiate head coaching experience, Alford led the University of New Mexico to a 29-6 record this season, winning back-to-back Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the third time as the Lobos' head coach."Steve is the perfect fit for UCLA," said Guerrero. "He is part of the storied history of the game of college basketball and understands the tradition and uniqueness of UCLA. Yet he also connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented brand of basketball to Westwood. We welcome Steve, his wife Tanya, and children Kory, Bryce and Kayla to the Bruin family and look forward to many years of success." Alford will be formally introduced to the Los Angeles media at a press conference on campus on Tuesday, April 2...

Full UCLA release at

Earlier views and news on firing of previous coach Ben Howland:,0,7489477.column,0,2664988.story,0,2294992.column

Friday, March 29, 2013

UCLA History: WWII research

Today's LA Daily News carries a story about a former UCLA student who is compiling records on UCLA students who died in World War II.

The story is at

A cautionary note on MOOC missionaries

William Bowen, the former president of Princeton, is generally a proponent of online education as a potential cost saver.  But in Inside Higher Ed today, there is a profile of Bowen and his views and it includes the following cautionary note:

Bowen... takes the hype about MOOCs with a grain of salt. “Missionaries don’t particularly want their methods tested – they are missionaries after all,” he warned. The missionaries include MOOC providers, the media, administrators and business-minded higher education policymakers, Bowen writes. “There is a real danger that the media frenzy associated with MOOCs will lead some colleges and universities (and especially business-oriented members of their boards) to embrace too tightly the MOOC approach before it is adequately tested and found to be both sustainable and capable of delivering good learning outcomes for all kinds of students...”

You can't take it to the bank exactly, but...

The state auditor prepares a kind of balance sheet for the state as a whole and for individual components of the state such as UC. For the year ending last June 30, the accounts show that UC had assets of $58.0 billion (including buildings - construction costs minus depreciation) and liabilities of $34.6 billion for a net asset total of $23.4 billion. (pages 58-60)

There is an ongoing issue of the degree to which the state is responsible for the UC pension.  The report indicates that $6.4 billion of the liabilities of UC are "net other postemployment benefits obligations" which probably comes from the pension. UC is described in the following language: 

From page 70: The University of California was founded in 1868 as a public, state-supported, land grant institution. It was written into the State Constitution of 1879 as a public trust to be administered by a governing board, the Regents of the University of California (Regents). The University of California is a component unit of the State because the State appoints a voting majority of the Regents and because expenditures for the support of various university programs and capital outlay are appropriated by the annual Budget Act. The University of California offers defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution pension plans to its employees through the University of California Retirement System (UCRS), a fiduciary responsibility of the Regents. The financial information of the UCRS is not included in the financial statements of this report due to its fiduciary nature.* Copies of the University of California’s financial statements may be obtained from the University of California, Financial Accounting, 1111 Franklin Street, 10th Floor, Oakland, California 94607-5200. 

*Editorial note: This statement appears to mean that the details of UCRS are not included as opposed to the net liability. On the same page, similar language is included for CalPERS and CalSTRS.

UC is listed as one of several "component units" which on page 69 are described as follows: 

Component units are organizations that are legally separate from the State but for which the State is financially accountable or organizations whose relationship with the State is such that exclusion would cause the State’s financial statements to be misleading or incomplete. The decision to include a component unit in the State’s reporting entity is based on several criteria, including legal standing, fiscal dependency, and financial accountability. 

If it ever came to a court determination of state liability for the UC pension, such language would come into play.  We'll leave it to legal types take this matter further.  

The audit report is at: 


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Complicated Monkey Business Involving UCLA

No, I don't know the full story behind the matter described below:

From the Winston-Salem JournalThe board of regents for the University of California system is accusing Wake Forest University Health Sciences of stalling through recent legal actions that seek the dismissal of a countersuit related to a primate colony in southern Forsyth County. The Wake Forest group and the University of California at Los Angeles are involved in a legal fight to end their joint venture in the research center in the Friedberg community. The primate center is based on a 200-acre farm and has about 80 employees, including 12 veterinarians, according to a Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center spokesman. The center has an average population of 800 monkeys. That includes the colony of 475 vervet monkeys, many of which came from the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. They contain family trees that have been tracked for eight generations by researchers...

An earlier story in The Business JournalThe research-focused division of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is suing the University of California, Los Angeles, over their joint operation of a monkey colony used for biomedical research at the Wake Forest University Primate Center. Wake Forest University Health Sciences (WFUHS) is asking the court to end the joint venture, which would allow WFUHS to sell off the assets, including close to 500 vervet monkeys. According to WFUHS, the colony has operated at a deficit after failing to land adequate federal research funding. With the lawsuit, WFUHS is seeking to recover more than $330,000 it claims UCLA has failed to provide...

Thanks, But No Thanks

Inside Higher Ed today notes that it appears that the Academic Senates of the three tiers of California public higher ed are decidedly unenthusiastic about the proposed legislation to mandate online courses under certain conditions.  Previous posts on this blog have reported on the controversy.

...Academic senate leaders from all three public higher ed systems – UC, Cal State and the California Community Colleges -- now outright oppose the efforts, though their full senates have yet to take formal votes...

In particular, faculty representatives are concerned California lawmakers are preparing to hand over untold thousands of students to for-profit companies that have not proven their courses can pass muster...

Full article at 

The moral for state political leaders is not to pick up every seemingly-bright idea you find before checking out the consequences:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Emisions Remissions?

UCLA co-generation plant
California's cash-strapped public universities would save millions of dollars under legislation by Orange County state Sen. Mimi Walters, but the bill's prospects are uncertain because it would alter a landmark global warming law beloved by environmentalists. Walters' proposal seeks to exempt University of California and California State University campuses from the new cap-and-trade program established under the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, otherwise known as Assembly Bill 32 or AB32, one of the nation's most ambitious environmental laws...

At least five UC campuses, including Irvine, UCLA and San Diego, qualify for the cap-and-trade program in 2013...

The UC system has budgeted $8 million to comply with AB32 – for just the next fiscal year.
For that much money, the UC system could accommodate another 800 students, UC Vice President Patrick Lenz told members of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee last month. He and the system later backed off those comments, saying there is "not a direct correlation" between student enrollment and the money for cap-and-trade. He also later noted in a letter to committee chairman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that it's possible the system won't have to buy any credits to cover its 2014 emissions...

Full story at

The following is the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in 2011 by UC campuses covered under the AB32 cap-and-trade program. The emissions are displayed in units of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

UCLA – 205,299
UC San Diego – 160,579
UC Irvine – 69,979
UC San Francisco – 68,566
UC Davis Medical Center – 63,693
UC Davis – 62,259

Well, the emissions could be worse:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Just Wondering

Inside Higher Ed today carries a story about the Office of Civil Right of the U.S. Dept. of Education requiring a South Carolina educational institution to make its websites accessible to those with vision impairments or blindness. 

Do the current crop of MOOCs (online courses) comply with that requirement?  Has anyone thought that issue through? 

The Inside Higher Ed article is at

It links to a press release from the Dept. of Education at

Monday, March 25, 2013

Banned in DC

Inside Higher Ed today has a lengthy article on debate within political science over what to do about the U.S. Senate vote to ban NSF support for most research in the field.

...A number of political scientists are calling for a new approach to lobbying, and for the discipline to become more engaged in ... politics. Why, they are asking, was a field devoted to the study of government unable to win support for keeping a mere $13 million in the budget? Could a different lobbying or public relations strategy have changed things -- and might it change things going forward? Also up for debate is an exemption added to the Senate measure that would permit the NSF to back political science research deemed essential to national security or economic interest. Some see this part of the measure as a giant loophole that (with a little grant-writing finesse) can clear the way for most projects to continue to receive support. Others see the measure as accepting the idea that only research with immediately clear practical implications is worthy of support -- a principle that would doom many social science studies (and potentially work done in other disciplines as well)...

An earlier article on the Senate vote itself is at

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Help Wanted


The Committee presents the following from its meeting of March 13, 2013


The President of the University of California must be a visionary leader with the judgment, creativity, and courage to enhance the quality and reputation of the University as one of the preeminent public research universities in the world. The President represents the University in its role as an international, national, and state exemplar in the education policy arena. The President will inspire public support of the University in its three missions of education, research, and public service, and demonstrate a commitment to excellence, diversity and inclusion, affordability, and accessibility. To provide this leadership, the President must understand and have demonstrated support for outstanding scholarship and possess the highest intellectual capacity; have extraordinary communication skills; exhibit the leadership qualities necessary to instill the highest ethical standards and conduct throughout the University; have the experience and reputation to command the respect of all the University’s constituents; and maintain limitless energy and enthusiasm, courage, and stamina.

The new President will have the capacity to lead change; have the ability to listen to those affected and make a decision; and the dexterity to identify a path forward and motivate others to follow. The President will have a vision for where the University is going (e.g. global innovations; application and uses of new and different technologies; social, economic, and health challenges), as well as the ability to be the face of the University and a strong spokesperson who will explain to all Californians why the University is of particular importance to the social, political, and economic vibrancy of the State.


The quality and complexity of the University, a multi-dimensional, public research, land-grant institution which includes ten campuses, five academic medical centers, the management of three distinguished national laboratories, and an agricultural division with operations in all 58 counties in California, requires a President who has the ability to attract and retain an exceptional, dedicated and ethical management team whose members come from prestigious careers in both the public and private sectors.

In a cooperative environment, the President will develop and implement long-range plans and policies and build teams across the University system. The President should have a proven ability and commitment to attract, promote, maintain, and support staff, as demonstrated by leadership of an organization with best practices in recruitment, retention, and financial support for staff professional development.

The President needs to exhibit a comprehension of the magnitude and complexity of the University’s financial environment and be able to utilize the resources available to the University effectively and efficiently.  This includes recognizing that UC, and public universities in general, have seen a gradual, but continued and significant reduction in financial support by the state over many years. The President must be innovative in addressing this constraint through private fundraising and creative revenue generation, administrative and educational delivery efficiencies, and many other solutions in order to maintain the mission and excellence of the University of California.

The ability to provide an affordable education for students within this overall financial environment is a critical component. To provide management excellence, the President must be able to inspire, mobilize, and consult effectively with the chancellors, faculty, students, staff, and alumni; guide the accurate allocation of authorities and responsibilities between the campuses and the Office of the President; be committed to the University’s tradition of shared governance with the Academic Senate; have respect for the collective bargaining process; and execute timely and full consultation on issues of concern to the Regents while recognizing the appropriate division of authority between the Board of Regents and the administration.


These necessary leadership and management skills will be most effective in a President who has demonstrated an ability to anticipate and direct change; who has experience interacting successfully with both state and federal government and is able to establish effective relationships with the Governor, the Legislature, federal officials, and all government agencies important to the success of the University, as well as with other public policymakers and California’s business community; who has the ability to increase public and private funding for the University; who has served as an effective representative and speaker in a variety of public settings; who has the ability to communicate effectively with the public and the media, the capacity to inspire all of UC’s internal constituent groups, the political acumen to develop, sustain, and encourage effective working relationships with the Regents, policymakers, the press, and stakeholder groups, including those who may oppose or be critical of administrative actions, and the intellectual stature to command the respect of the faculty.

It shouldn't be hard to find the ideal candidate. The Regents need only look up in the sky:

UCLA History: Work in Progress

Even after UCLA's Westwood campus opened, this 1929 photo indicates that there was still ongoing construction, at least in the vicinity of Powell.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hospital Takeover?

The original St. John's Hospital in the early 1940s
A report in the LA Times today suggests UCLA is considering a bid to take over St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica.  St. John's is only a few blocks from Santa Monica Hospital which UCLA previously acquired.

UCLA and the nation's largest Catholic healthcare system are teaming up on a potential acquisition of St. John's Health Center, a storied Santa Monica hospital up for sale after a recent management shake-up. The partnership between UCLA Health System and Ascension Health Alliance in St. Louis is one proposal under consideration by St. John's and its nonprofit Catholic owner, the Sisters of Charity Leavenworth Health System in Denver, according to people familiar with the matter...

A purchase of St. John's by UCLA would further strengthen its local market power, and that could draw extra scrutiny from government officials concerned about some healthcare deals reducing competition and boosting medical prices. The California attorney general's office is already examining the effects of healthcare consolidation statewide. A spokeswoman for UCLA said it "does not have a bid in alone or in partnership with any other party to purchase St. John's." Ascension, UCLA's potential partner, has been expanding in California. In December, it agreed to an affiliation with St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles and five other California hospitals owned by another Catholic system. Ascension runs more than 70 hospitals in 21 states and it had revenue of $16.6 billion in the year that ended June 30...

Full story at,0,420817.story

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Beginnings, Courtesy of LBNL

A supercomputer in downtown Oakland has identified the most ancient light in the universe, assembling an image that reveals that the universe is older, and slower, than we thought. The powerful Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory computer, housed in a former Wells Fargo Bank vault near the Paramount Theatre, analyzed data sent by NASA from Europe's Planck space telescope. It compiled a portrait of an infant cosmos that was hot, small and crowded -- and traced our creation back 13.8 billion years, about 100 million years older than previous estimates. Its analysis also revealed a rate of expansion that is slower than seen from other space telescopes, forcing some theoretical rethinking.
"This is the baby picture of our universe," said physicist Julian Borrill of the Laboratory's Computational Cosmology Center, who worked on the analysis, which was announced at a news conference Thursday in Paris. "It's as far back as we can look," he said...
UC manages the Lab.  Who knows what remains to be discovered?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Divergent Views (and that's all we know)

Apparently, a meeting on the legislative proposal to create some kind of commission for approving online courses at UC, CSU, and the community colleges took place Tuesday.  Exactly what transpired at that meeting, however, is unclear.  The only comment so far has come from the legislative side.  Excerpt from the Contra Costa Times:

...(State Senate President Darrell) Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the first-of-its-kind legislation is aimed at relieving classroom bottlenecks that are making it more difficult to graduate. Faculty leaders counter that course access is not an acute issue within the UC system, which has some of the highest graduation rates among public universities. In addition, UC already has more than 100 online courses and is developing many more, they said. The UC Academic Senate is responsible for overseeing curriculum and course development and has no plans to give that up, said (Academic Senate Chair Robert) Powell, a chemical engineering professor at UC Davis. "These students are expecting a certain level of rigor when they come to UC, and that's what we want to make sure they get," he said.

Steinberg's press secretary, Rhys Williams, said the legislation is written to give faculty control over the course-approval process and ensure high academic standards. During a Tuesday meeting with Powell, Steinberg emphasized that "faculty must be central to any policy discussion on post-secondary education and that the primary goal is to help students and their families," Williams said.

Actually, we did pick up a bit of audio from the meeting:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

LAO on Cost of College and Cost to State of Cal Grants

The chart above is self-explanatory.  The chart below shows that budget cuts produce tuition increases which then increase the cost of the state's Cal Grant program.

The LAO's full report is at:


Awhile back, we posted about a plan by the Westwood Business Improvement District to remove eighteen trees.  The proposal had sparked controversy.

Now LAObserved has posted a photo showing that the trees in question have indeed been cut down. No additional information is given with the photo.

So it looks as if that's it for the lumber:
The earlier posts can be found at:

The Never-Ending Story of the UC-Riverside Med School

UC-Riverside's quest for $15 million from the state budget - not supported by the governor - seems unending.  From the Desert Sun:

An Inland Empire lawmaker’s bill to secure $15 million in annual state funding for the UC Riverside School of Medicine cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday. AB 27, sponsored by Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, was approved by the Assembly Higher Education Committee and is now bound for the Assembly Appropriations Committee...

Much of the school’s start-up funding has come from philanthropic and other non-state sources, though the county committed $20 million over the last two years.

Note: It's a long path from this step to an actual $15 million from the state.  The quest has gone on for a long time and it may continue for a long time.  A little music while we wait:

Your collapsing privacy rights...

Prior posts on this blog have noted that public universities such as UC are subject to public records requests under state law.  Such requests can include emails you have sent or received.

Some faculty members may be under the impression that if they use personal accounts (such as gmail, etc.) or a home computer, their emails are not subject to such requests.  Note, however, that emails sent from personal accounts to public ones would clearly be subject to public records requests.  Moreover, a recent court decision suggests that emails sent from personal (non-public) accounts can be requested as long as they pertain to a public function.  So an email that related to a university matter would not be exempt from a public records request.

Note that private universities such as, say, Stanford are not subject to such requests.

From the Mercury-News:

A Santa Clara County judge has ruled that San Jose must provide city officials' private text messages, emails or other electronic communications about city affairs in response to an activist's request, a potentially far-reaching decision that could settle a growing dispute over what open-government advocates say has become a glaring loophole in the state's public records law...

City Attorney Rick Doyle could not say whether the city will appeal because he hasn't discussed the decision with the City Council. But he agreed that its potential would be broad, arguing it could be troubling on both practical and privacy grounds...

Full story at

Bad PR on MOOcs - But Don't Be Cowed

We noted yesterday that an article in the San Francisco Chronicle indicated that faculty leaders from UC would be meeting today with state senate president Darrell Steinberg to discuss his bill on online higher ed.

As the headline/extract below from the conservative news aggregator Flashreport suggests, it is easy to portray faculty objections as obstruction.  In fact, the objection is that the bill creates an external mechanism for course approval.

The challenge, therefore, is a) to make the faculty objection clear and b) to try to persuade the relevant politcos (and the Regents?) that there is an established mechanism for course approval at UC that needs to be respected.

The San Francisco Chronicle article is at:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Who Owns the Course?

Inside Higher Ed today carries a story about concerns at UC-Santa Cruz about the ownership of MOOCs.  UC-Santa Cruz is the one UC campus at which the local faculty association has collective bargaining rights:

Faculty union officials in California worry professors who agree to teach free online classes could undermine faculty intellectual property rights and collective bargaining agreements. The union for faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz said earlier this month it could seek a new round of collective bargaining after several professors agreed to teach classes on Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based provider of popular massive open online classes, or MOOCs... The union said the professors lobbied for a 12-year-old California law to guarantee that faculty - not universities - own the intellectual property rights to class lectures and course materials. But before professors can have their courses put on Coursera, they are expected to sign away those rights to the university so the university can give the professors’ work to Coursera...

Your own course could be singing:

UPDATE: A report in the San Francisco Chronicle indicates that state assembly leader Steinberg with meet tomorrow with unnamed UC faculty concerning his bill to establish online courses.  See the last sentence of:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Survey Suggests It's Time to Take a Deep Breath on MOOCs

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a survey of 103 of 184 faculty members who have taught MOOCs.  The article that accompanies the survey is at:

But the summary below should suggest anyone proposing rushing into this area on the grounds that it will save large amounts of money or even provide a route to credit at the institutions at which these faculty are based should take a deep breath before proceeding. The results are decidedly mixed and they come from a group of folks who are evidently enthused about the endeavor. 
[Clicking on the images above will provide a clearer picture.]

More detailed survey results are at:

For those among the powers-that-be (governor? legislature? regents?) that might have trouble taking a deep breath before plunging ahead, we offer the aid below:
Update: Perhaps the LA Times editorial board could benefit from some deep breathing, too:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

For the Record

Back in mid-December, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) produced a report saying all was well with UC faculty compensation, despite concerns about pay lags.  No one seems to have paid much attention to the LAO report so far, which is a Good Thing, since the report was poorly done. It is unclear what suddenly motivated the LAO to issue the report just when UC was entering intersession and the ability to respond was limited. In any event, the University Committee on Faculty Welfare (UCFW) prepared a response which was recently posted on the Academic Senate website.  For the record – because you never know when someone might haul the LAO report out - here are some excerpts from UCFW’s rebuttal to LAO report: [Links to the full UCFW report and the LAO report are below.]

The UC Systemwide Committee on Faculty Welfare (UCFW) carefully studied the recent report on faculty salaries, recruitment, and retention released by the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO). The LAO's major conclusions are the following: 1) total UC compensation is competitive with top universities; 2) few faculty members leave, and reasons other than salary are responsible for most faculty leaving; 3) the small number of tenured associate professors who leave shortly after receiving tenure is not a concern; and 4) UC continues to hire its top-choice candidates. UCFW questions the accuracy of these conclusions...

(P)rior to 2000, UC salaries closely matched the Comparison Eight average but started to lag behind the Comparison Eight universities shortly after 2000... The lag continues to grow. UC salaries now lag the Comparison Eight by more than 11%...

The LAO makes (an) error by relying upon UC's most recent, but outdated, analysis of total remuneration from 2009. At that time, although faculty salaries lagged the Comparison Eight by about 10%, the value of UC's retirement benefit partially compensated for the salary lag. This was entirely because employees were not required to make contributions to their retirement plan and not because the retirement benefits themselves were overly generous.  The LAO overlooked the predictions in this study, as well as and the update to examine the competitiveness of the "New Tier" retirement plan, that the UC retirement plan would become uncompetitive when faculty made a 5% contribution to retirement, as they are doing in 2012-13... If employee contribution rates rise even higher (6.5% for current employees in July, 2013 and higher thereafter), then UC benefits will not compensate for below-market UC faculty salaries whatsoever...

The LAO concluded that "most faculty do not leave UC or reject UC job offers due to compensation" on the basis of some exit surveys performed in the mid-2000's and summarized in ... the LAO report. The LAO noted that several reasons were given. "Salary" was cited by 33% of those who rejected UC offers and by 37% of those who left UC.  UCFW notes, first, that "salary" was the most prevalent reason for both categories. Secondly, an increase in salary could certainly mitigate concerns about "housing problems" (cited by 22% of those who rejected UC offers and by 13% of faculty who left) and "cost of living [besides housing]" (cited by 11% of those who rejected UC offers and by 7% of those who left). Taking into account not only the issue of "salary" but also the separately enumerated issues that an increase in salary could mitigate, then salary-related issues could account for up to 66% of the reasons for rejecting UC offers and up to 57% of the reasons that faculty leave UC. This is quite the opposite conclusion of the LAO...

UCFW is uncertain what point the LAO attempts to make with the data on the fate of Assistant Professors hired in 2000-01. These data have no reference point, either from when UC was in a more favorable economic environment than in 2000-01, or from other universities when the UC data were collected. In contrast to the LAO, UCFW believes that a 10% rate of departure of young professors after receiving tenure is of great concern. UC heavily invests in assistant professors, especially in science and engineering, by providing them with start-up packages worth several hundred thousand dollars each...

UCFW members, based on their experiences on search committees in their home departments, question whether the data provided to LAO by the UC administration concerning the top choices in faculty searches is truly representative of the current competitive job market.  ...(T)he data are almost 10 years old and do not reflect the current economic conditions in which UC competes for new assistant professors...

The December LAO report is at:

And - for the record - we'll try to maintain a sunny attitude and be optimistic that the LAO will do better next time:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

LA Marathon May Block Some Routes to UCLA Sunday

Basically, getting to UCLA from 5 am until a little after 2 pm on Sunday could be a hassle. A timetable of street closures is at:

A little online education for the folks in Sacramento

From the LA Times:

In a crossing of swords between academics and politicians, the University of California's top two faculty leaders on Friday strongly criticized legislation that would allow students bumped from overcrowded core courses at state schools to instead take online courses from other colleges or private companies. The bill, authored by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), "raises grave concerns," Robert L. Powell and Bill Jacob, the chairman and vice chairman of the UC system's faculty Senate, wrote in a letter to colleagues. Among other things, "the clear self-interest of for-profit corporations in promoting the privatization of public higher education through this legislation is dismaying," they said...

Full article at,0,6168458.story

Note that the main problem here is that the idea is increasingly afoot that the funding issues of UC will be resolved by online ed.  The state doesn't want to pay the full fare anymore.  Political leaders don't like tuition increases. Therefore - the thinking goes - the issue will be resolved through the "efficiency" of online ed. By endorsing the online approach, state political leaders a) show how modern and up-to-date and tech-savvy they are* and b) can remain in denial on the funding dilemma. All we can say to our friends in Sacramento is "dream on":

*Note how the conservative links to the LA Times' article:

Friday, March 15, 2013

With One Question on Funding, Regents Approve UCLA New Med Center Building

As predicted, the UC Regents approved the architectural and CEQA review for the planned new UCLA Teaching and Learning Center for the Health Sciences with a virtual rubber stamp.  There was one question on funding from a regent and the answer was that $120 million (!) would be raised from gifts.  No follow up on funding or costs was part of the approval.  By the way, if you raise $120 million by tapping donors, that means there will be less money from gifts that could be tapped for some other purpose.  In past regental reviews of this project, the issue of a high cost per usable square foot was raised.  No questions about that concern were raised this time.  The Center may well be a worthy project.  But as with the case of the UCLA hotel project, ultimately regental review of these big buck affairs - even if objections are raised along the way - ends up in approval with no follow up to see what actually occurs.  And there is no independent auditing capacity available for the initial approval or for any follow up.

Below is a link to the audio of the approval of the Grounds and Building Committee on 3-13-13.  Gov. Brown attended part of the regents meeting that day and, as a regent, had the full agenda available.  Apparently, despite his hopes that online education will save some money, the approval of large and expensive capital projects is not a gubernatorial concern.

The full regents agenda for this meeting with links to video is at:

Laptop Danger

No, we're not warning about computer viruses.  Inside Higher Ed yesterday had a brief note about a study indicating that students who are using laptops in class for non-class purposes - email, browsing of websites, etc. - not only are distracting themselves but also the neighboring students.

Some instructors forbid laptop use in class but the reason has typically been to avoid the negative effect on the direct user.  Now it appears there is a negative externality involved for non-users.

The Inside Higher Ed piece is at:

A news release on the study is at:

The release refers to some advice from the researchers about classroom policy at:

And the basic study is at:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Oh! So Clever!

When it came to unveiling a new push to create a series of online courses for California college and university students, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg thought it was fitting to deliver the news in a decidedly digital fashion. So instead of holding a traditional press conference, the Sacramento Democrat and other supporters of the effort logged into Google to stage a "Hangout" video conference. "(Technology) is overwhelmingly I think a positive force in our lives we want to use it to try to help as many young people, as many students, as possible be able to keep their dreams and compete in the modern economy," he said. "And so it felt like it was the right thing to do and consistent with that mission to hold this first-of-a-kind press conference using the very technology that we think can be part of the answer to the challenges our young people are facing today." ...

Read more here:

And more good news:
Speaking of higher education, the University of California regents are in day two of a meeting at UC San Francisco today. Brown visited their conclave yesterday, continuing his renewed interest this year in regents' meetings. A press release from the governor's office Tuesday said he would also attend today...


Update: The Steinberg bill is at:

A background story is at:  It includes: 
...Governor Jerry Brown, who has been supportive of online education in the state, said he was excited by the prospect of saving money and helping students graduate faster, but he did not think the bill was a finished product because of political forces at play. “But how are we going to proceed? I think that’s an open question,” the governor said Wednesday during a separate press conference when asked about the bill. “So I wouldn’t jump the gun too quickly. This is something I’m pushing, but I’m also talking to faculty. I respect their role.” ...
And there is more!

...UC President Mark Yudof applauded Steinberg for supporting online education, but said he needs more information and wants to be part of future discussions. “We have not yet seen any language for potential legislation, and we look forward to learning more about what is being proposed,” said Yudof in a statement...

There's a Place on Campus

From time to time, we like to remind you that even without a new hotel-conference center, events are routinely held on campus.  The photo is of yesterday's UCLA Anderson Forecast held at Korn Hall.  (Sometimes the event is at Ackerman.) Parking, food service, etc., was all accommodated. There were even some TV cameras from a local station.

Just a reminder that there is (already) a place for us somewhere:

And if you still can't find a place:

More on Yudof Private Thoughts

In an earlier post, we reproduced part of a Daily Bruin article that dealt with UC President Mark Yudof's comments on "privatizing" the UCLA Anderson School of Management at the March 7 IMED Seminar.  Below is a link to what he actually said (audio with a still picture).  Yudof's comments were more ambiguous than the news item suggested.  First, the interviewer, Prof. Lee Goodlick, used the word "privatize" without defining it.  (The P-word hasn't been used in actual proposals regarding the Anderson School; "self-sufficiency" is preferred.  In addition, the latest version of the proposal referred only to the MBA program and not the entire School.)  Yudof interpreted it to mean a stand-alone school which was affiliated with UCLA but more or less autonomous.  Using that definition, Yudof said it was incompatible with a public university, in part because a privatized school might disregard such public goals as access.  Second, he said he could imagine a situation in which Anderson paid more of its own bills and thereby freed up taxpayer monies for other departments.  Third, he noted the issue is before various levels of faculty review. The interviewer joked that the process might take a hundred years. Yudof said he hoped it would be faster. But, of course, after the end of August, it will be some other UC president's problem.

The actual Anderson portion of the interview can be heard below:

The earlier post is at:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Now here's a bright idea...

From Inside Higher Ed today:

A powerful California lawmaker wants public college students who are shut out of popular courses to attend low-cost online alternatives – including those offered by for-profit companies – and he plans to encourage the state’s public institutions to grant credit for those classes. The proposal expected today from Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat and president pro tem of the state Senate, aims to create a “statewide system of faculty-approved, online college courses,” according to a written statement from Steinberg’s office. (A spokesman for Steinberg declined to discuss the bill.)
Faculty would decide which courses should make the cut for a pool of online offerings. Likely participants include Udacity and Coursera, two major massive open online course providers, sources said. Another option might be StraighterLine, a low-cost, self-paced online course company...
I bet you're wondering why you didn't think of that!
And the good news never ends...  Gov. Jerry Brown has shown an unusually keen interest in meetings of the University of California regents so far this year, stopping by to push his proposal for expanding online education. He'll be at it again today, dropping in to a meeting at the conference center on the University of California, San Francisco's Mission Bay campus...

Full story at

Read more here:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nowhere to go on Sepulveda Boulevard

We might as well provide a pretty picture but the real news is:

Southbound Sepulveda Boulevard at Constitution Avenue will be reduced to one lane beginning Wednesday.  The closure will affect commuters between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. through Friday while traffic signal reconfiguration is completed at Constitution Avenue, according to a Metro construction notice...


Even if tempting, don't click on anything you find in the comments

Online fraudsters put spam-type "comments" on our blogsite regularly.  We delete them as we find them. Some explicitly claim to offer porn. Some just offer websites and invite you to click on them. Don't click on them!  You are more likely to get something harmful to your computer than anything else.

A typical comment of this type will have a message that may say something like "What a great post!"  But it generally won't have anything specifically relevant to the posting.  If you find such a comment that is more than a day old, we may have missed it when we looked for items to delete.  Let us know and we will delete them.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Harvard is Shocked and Appalled that Emails Aren't Private

We have noted that at public universities such as UC, emails you may consider private might be demanded as part of a public documents request.  At private universities, of course, those external rights of the public to see such material doesn't exist.  However, in this day and age, nothing online can be assumed to be private.  Recently, Harvard faculty and deans were shocked and appalled to find out that the powers-that-be in the administration were snooping in deans' emails to find a leak: 

From the Boston Globe: Harvard College issued a partial apology and a lengthy statement this morning offering its explanation to the search of resident deans’ e-mails as part of a leak investigation. In its statement, Harvard said the e-mail search was prompted by an investigation into a leaked e-mail and other information that described an Administrative Board case involving the university’s cheating scandal that became public last fall...

“I was shocked and dismayed,” said the law professor Charles J. Ogletree... “I hope that it means the faculty will now have something to say about the fact that these things like this can happen.” ...
ee more at:

Windfall Revenue Remains

In January, the state controller reported a surprise windfall of about $4 billion arrived in personal income tax revenue.  It was unclear why but possibly it had to do with speculation by wealthy taxpayers about the fiscal cliff or prospective income tax changes at the federal level.  No one knows.  An interesting question was whether the windfall would unwind in February, i.e., come in below estimates.  It did unwind a bit.  But basically, there still is an unforeseen extra $4 billion in revenue so far this year. What the impact might be on the state budget for the coming year has yet to be seen.  The governor's budget proposal was developed before the extra money arrived. He probably would not favor treating what may be a one-shot windfall as an ongoing flow. However, the legislature might see the matter differently.

The latest cash statement (through February) from the controller is at:

As the song says, it's hard to hold on to the wind as if it were permanent:

I guess the chemistry was good

UC-Irvine has put a chemistry course on the web.  But it doesn't give credit for it and isn't using the Coursera website (although UC-Irvine is affiliated with Coursera) because it wants to give the course away free.  As for labs, it says that if some other institution wants to offer the course, it will have to provide the labs, etc.  We are likely to see a bunch of such offerings from the campus. They show the campus is up-to-date, complying with the Regents/governor desires, and yet - in the end - they commit to nothing.  Actually, yours truly has put several lectures of his own on the web.  If anyone wants to see them, just let me know and I will supply the links. I am awaiting full praise from the Regents.governor but so far it hasn't happened.

You can find the UC-Irvine announcement at:

An Inside Higher Ed article about the Irvine course is at:

Actually, good chemistry has already been available for some time: