Friday, May 31, 2013


As a follow-up to yesterday's story about the announcement of deals with MOOC suppliers by various state university systems across the nation, Inside Higher Ed reports today that for many faculty, at those systems it was a surprise:

Some faculty leaders were surprised this week when state systems and flagship universities in nine states announced a series of new business partnerships with Coursera, the Silicon Valley-based ed tech company. The universities plan to work with Coursera  a provider of massive open online courses, to try out a variety of new teaching methods and business models, including MOOCs and things that are not MOOCs. Administrators and the company hailed the effort as new way to improve education. Some administrators said the faculty were involved or were part of the effort and the contracts themselves make clear faculty have some decision-making authority. But some faculty leaders were nevertheless caught off-guard by the deals that were widely reported Thursday in national and local media...

Well, doesn't everyone love surprises?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's getting hard to turn your back on the MOOc stampede

No one wants to be BEHIND the times.
The latest entries in the stampede to MOOCs:

From the San Jose Mercury-News: Coursera strikes huge online-education deal with state university systems 

The movement of "massive online open courses," which began with elite universities making their courses available online to the masses, is rapidly moving into the trenches of public higher education. On Thursday, 10 large public university systems -- including the giant state systems of New York, Tennessee, Colorado and the University of Houston -- will announce plans to incorporate MOOCs and platforms offered through for-profit Coursera of Mountain View into their teaching...

From the LA Times: Ten state universities join with online education provider

Hoping to take advantage of new technologies to expand online education, 10 additional public universities and state college systems around the country are affiliating with Coursera, one of the leading providers of online education. But the schools’ participation may focus more on their local campuses rather than on the worldwide audiences that Coursera previously had been courting...

Full story at,0,1863888.story

Clearly, the stampede is on:
UPDATE: The Chronicle of Higher Ed's story on this development is at:


On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate this instructor?
Exodus 4:10: Then Moses said to the Lord, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."  We don’t know how the Israelites evaluated what Moses had to say on a scale from 1 to 10 – ten is the obvious upper bound in his case - but those who are non-eloquent might take comfort from today’s Inside Higher Ed:

Imagine you receive the same lecture twice: once from a charismatic lecturer speaking fluently without notes and maintaining eye contact; and again from a hesitant speaker, slumped over her notes and stumbling over her words. Which is better?  In terms of what you learn there is surprisingly little to choose between the two, according to a team of psychologists.

...Researchers asked two groups of students to sit through the same lecture delivered in radically different styles. When asked afterward how much they felt they had learned, those who had experienced the more accomplished performance believed they had learned more than the second group. However, when tested, there was little difference found between them, with those attending the "better" lecture barely outperforming their poorly taught peers.  "The fluent instructor was rated significantly higher than the disfluent instructor on traditional instructor evaluation questions, such as preparedness and effectiveness," say the researchers, in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. "However, lecture fluency did not significantly affect the amount of information learned."

Well, you have to make do with what you've got:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Those Empty Westwood Stores

Despite efforts to revitalize Westwood, there remain all of those empty storefronts up and down Westwood Boulevard between campus and Wilshire. Yet there is lots of foot traffic related to the university in Westwood and the proximity of a large student community.

So why the empty stores despite all of those students? The LA Weekly thinks it has the answer:

Living in Westwood is like being trapped in Footloose's Bomont, Georgia.* There are no clubs, no open mics, no student centers, no anything. It's bad. They're even shutting down one of the only two bars students go to with much frequency -- Westwood Brewing Company -- to replace it with the chain The Boiling Crab. The campus tries as it might to offer some sort of relief, but there aren't many opportunities to get too crazy. As a recently-graduated student, I can attest: Our only respite on Thursdays and Fridays was trying desperately to convince the frat kingdom gatekeepers to let us in...

Full story at

* and

Harvard Was Shocked and Appalled that Emails Weren't Private: Now Comes the Aftershock

In an earlier post, we noted a brouhaha at Harvard in which a dean authorized a search of other deans' emails to determine if any of them had leaked some information about a cheating scandal. Faculty at Harvard were shocked and appalled that such a search could occur. We noted that at public universities, emails you may think of as private really aren't.  Apparently even at private institutions, the same cautionary note applies, although for other reasons.

Even if you use a private email account such as gmail to send messages to recipients at UCLA or any public university, the messages become part of the public record.  Our earlier post on the Harvard affair is at

Why mention this episode again? Inside Higher Ed today carries a note that the administrator who authorized the search is stepping down and returning to teaching, an event some see as related to the search.  See

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Udacity's MOOC Contract Details: Lesson in Audacity? (And then there is GlaxoSmithKline's invitation to UCLA faculty)

Inside Higher Ed today is running a feature on a contract between MOOC supplier Udacity and Georgia Tech to run a master's program in computer science.  The essence of the story is that the contract calls for some of the folks actually running the course to be company employees:

...Georgia Tech this month announced its plans to offer a $6,630 online master’s degree to 10,000 new students over the next three years without hiring much more than a handful of new instructors. Georgia Tech and Udacity, a Silicon Valley-based startup, will work with AT&T, which is putting up $2 million to heavily subsidize the program’s first year. The effort, if it succeeds, will allow one of the country’s top computer science programs to enroll 20 times as many students as it does now in its online master’s degree program, and to offer the degree to students across the world at a sixth of the price of its existing program... An internal faculty report generated by professors in the College of Computing says there were “significant internal disagreements," despite Georgia Tech’s portrayal of the deal as heavily supported by faculty.Interviews and documents also suggest that the full Georgia Tech Academic Senate had little chance to review the deal, which was negotiated at a “rapid pace,” according to the minutes of one faculty committee meeting. Many professors were unaware of the plans until they were announced at the end of the term...

Details, details:

And talking of things audacious, all UCLA faculty members received an email last week telling them NOT TO respond to an invitation by pharma firm GlaxoSmithKline to sign up for research grants through a new company process - which apparently circumvents UCLA's procedures.  More details about that episode are at

Monday, May 27, 2013

UCLA Pre-History: Cemetery

The veterans' cemetery in Westwood long predates UCLA's presence in the area.  The cemetery dates back to 1889 and originally was meant for Civil War veterans.  However, the statue at the Wilshire Blvd. entrance (see photo) refers to the Spanish-American War of 1898:

"The United Spanish War Veterans monument, also known as the Spirit of '98, is a bright white marble composition of three figures completed in 1950 by sculptor Roger Noble Burnham. The memorial crumbled after a 1971 earthquake. In 1973, sculptor David Wilkens re-created the monument out of concrete and plaster, reinforcing it with rebar. The plaque from the original sculpture survived and was imbedded on the new sculpture."


UCLA was founded just after World War I but didn't move to Westwood until the late 1920s.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Movie Delay

The old AVCO movie theater on Wilshire a block or so east of Westwood Blvd. was supposed to be reopened by now after reconstruction as a high-end, upscale affair with prices that seem beyond student budgets.

According to LAObserved, the reopening has been delayed until maybe Thanksgiving due to discovery of asbestos issues in the theater.  That is, the revamped theater will be open again around Thanksgiving or beyond as-best-as we can tell.

Full story at

UCLA History: Smile for the Camera

UCLA Dentistry grads in 1968

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Food Gift for Thought

From the Westwood-Century City Patch:

A $4 million gift to the UCLA School of Law will go toward establishing a program to study and improve food law and policy, it was announced Friday. The Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, said to be the first program of its kind at a major law school, will explore ways to hasten improvements in food safety, distribution and access, according to UCLA. The gift from the Resnick Family Foundation provides for as much as another $3 million in matching endowment funds. Lynda and Stewart Resnick ,who own such companies as POM Wonderful, Teleflora and FIJI Water, are longtime supporters of UCLA. "Our goal with this donation is to help consumers better understand exactly what they're eating,'' Stewart Resnick said. "It's also an opportunity to improve the clarity and accuracy of food labeling and broaden access to healthy food options. I'm very optimistic that this program can save lives.''...

Full story at

But then there is this item (totally unrelated, I'm sure) from the Jan. 16 Wall St. Journal:

Federal regulators on Wednesday released their final ruling against POM Wonderful LLC, makers of a popular pomegranate juice, saying ads for the juice such as one headlined "Cheat death" made misleading claims about the drink's health benefits. The ruling by the Federal Trade Commission, which has been battling POM Wonderful since 2010, could also affect food and drink makers more broadly because the agency detailed its standards for claims that a product treats a disease. The FTC said POM's claims must be backed by two randomized, controlled clinical trials, the same type of evidence the Food and Drug Administration seeks when approving new drugs.POM's owners, Los Angeles billionaires and philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick, don't see anything final about the decision and intend to fight on. "POM Wonderful categorically rejects the FTC's assertion that our advertisements made any misleading disease treatment or other health claims," said the company...

Full story at

Anyway, it's a healthy gift:

At Harvard, Apparently, Many Faculty Feel that the Oversight of Online Courses Was Overlooked

From the Harvard Crimson:

Fifty-eight professors from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences requested in a letter Thursday to FAS Dean Michael D. Smith that he appoint a faculty committee to draft “ethical and educational principles” that would provide a framework for FAS engagement with HarvardX, the University’s curricular contributions to edX. The letter, shared with The Crimson by one of its signatories, asks that those principles be brought to a faculty vote in the 2013-2014 academic year. "It is our responsibility to ensure that HarvardX is consistent with our commitment to our students on campus, and with our academic mission,” the letter reads. “Given the rapid pace of development of HarvardX, we believe it is essential to have a formal, sustained, and structured faculty discussion on these issues as soon as possible.”...

The faculty first extensively discussed HarvardX as a body at its monthly meeting last December, and a number of professors have voiced concern about the project in recent months. Most recently, at the May faculty meeting, a number of professors have questioned what they described as Harvard’s rapid advance into online education. That debate, which was part of a larger conversation about the faculty’s relationship with administrators, centered around what several professors called a lack of meaningful consultation on the development of HarvardX...

Full story at

The letter from the 58 faculty members (with a listing of their names) is at:

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a story about the letter which includes this information:

...(T)he 58 signatories of the letter, out of the hundreds of professors in the FAS, might not get their way. In a written statement to The Chronicle, a spokesman for the dean suggested that a new committee, consisting solely of FAS professors, was not in the cards...

Full story at


Friday, May 24, 2013

Hope for UCLA Commuters?

A new northbound lane of the 405 Freeway was opened Friday between the 10 Freeway and Santa Monica Boulevard... The additional lane stretches for 1.7 miles and opened at 5 a.m. It’s the latest mark of progress for the $1-billion, multiyear 405 Freeway widening project that has been inundated with delays and cost overruns, frustrating commuters and residents alike for years...

Full story at,0,4779451.story

A new dawn? Let's manage our expectations:

New Tax Graveyard

The governor and the legislative leaders have been tamping down expectations that the Democrats - with a 2/3 "supermajority" in the legislature would be enacting new taxes.  For one thing, the supermajority is shaky at best.  One Democratic seat in the Senate recently became a GOP seat in a special election.  Some of the Democrats were elected in swing districts under the new top-2 primary system and might not vote with the majority on a tax increase.

Today's Capitol Alert blog of the Sacramento Bee reports:

Measures aimed at creating new taxes on Californians were held by the Senate Appropriations Committee today, making it extremely unlikely that taxes on cigarettes, soda, strip clubs, plastic bags or oil extraction will become law this year...

Full story at

Although there will be some debate about exactly how much revenue the state can expect in 2013-14 as the final budget is put together, it's unlikely that revenue will be enhanced by new taxes.

And as for those tax bills:

Read more here:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur

Something for the Regents to consider:

Gov. Jerry Brown, whose public remarks occasionally include a phrase or two in Latin, explained Wednesday two reasons he liked learning it. "It's obscure and makes you smarter than everybody," he told about 1,000 people at a California Chamber of Commerce breakfast...

Full article at

Ipse dixit.

Read more here:

[And, for those who would critique the Latin phrases above, I learned them online so they must be correct.  Right?  Prima facie evidence!]

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bus Stop

Goodbye and good luck.

UCLA History: Santa Monica Hospital - now a part of UCLA - back in the day

Santa Monica Hospital in 1941:LA Public Library collection
Previous posts on this blog have dealt with the current strike at UC hospitals including UCLA.  News coverage tends to focus on Westwood. But UCLA also operates Santa Monica Hospital which it acquired a few years ago. The two-day strike is also occurring at the Santa Monica location.  (The photo above from 1941 shows a building - seen from 16th Street - that has since been replaced.)

Coverage on the strike can be found at,0,3925126.story

Meanwhile, the conservative FlashReport news aggregation website was so interested in the UC strike story that someone forgot to use a spellcheck:

UPDATE: If at first you don't succeed in using your spellcheck, try, try, again:
{And maybe again?)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

UCLA: It's Tufts to Get Into

The University of California system remains a popular destination for incoming freshmen – and getting into UCLA is now as hard as getting into Tufts and Cornell, at least for California students...  UCLA reported an in-state admission rate of 17.4 percent, Becker said, a level comparable to Cornell and Tufts, two of the nation’s most selective universities. Overall, the 10 campuses accepted 82,850 freshman, for an average acceptance rate of 59 percent. Berkeley and San Diego campuses were more exclusive than the average... But the prestigious public U.C. system is changing in one profound way: out-of-state students increasingly make up more of its enrollment. About a third of the 14,100 freshmen admitted at Berkeley, for instance, come from a state other than California. These out-of-state students pay premium tuition for being nonresidents.  At current tuition rates, they would bring in $112 million for UC coffers...

Full story at

Entrance is getting harder:

UC (& UCLA) hospital 2-day strike to go ahead this morning with court-orded exceptions

A Sacramento judge Monday refused to stop a strike today by thousands of employees at...  UC hospitals – but ordered a limited number of critical care employees to stay on the job.  The union for nearly 13,000 workers, including nursing assistants, pharmacists, medical technicians, operating room scrubs and other health care workers, was to begin a two-day strike at 4 a.m. today (Tuesday, May 21). The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees announced the walkout of workers at the UC Davis Health System and University of California hospitals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Irvine. The union, which is resisting demands for increases in employee pension contributions, claims the strike is about hospital staffing that has been reduced to dangerous levels. UC officials say the walkout is over an intractable contract dispute over wages and benefits...
Full article at

UPDATE: Below is a not-very-good cellphone photo of the strike today:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pension Promises and the UC Budget

One of the issues facing UC is pension liabilities.  As we have noted in prior posts, although it may seem paradoxical, liability for the pension is a young person's issue.  Old folks tend to worry about whether they will get their promised UC pension when the issue is raised.  However, the actual issue is that because they and everyone else will get what is promised, the UC budget going forward has to meet the promise in future years.  Dollars that will go to the pension won't go to something else.

Although you may read about this or that jurisdiction that is attempting to undo past pension promises, the law doesn't allow it.  For example, in today (at the moment, the piece seems to be misdated 5-13-13 but it was circulated today), we read:

One of the first local ballot measures aimed at cutting public pension costs, a cap on Pacific Grove payments to CalPERS approved by voters three years ago, was ruled unconstitutional by a Monterey County superior court judge last week. Judge Thomas Wills ruled Friday that Measure R violated the contract clause of the state constitution, reaffirming the view that pensions promised on the date of hire are a “vested right” that can’t be cut without providing a new benefit of equal value...

Full story at

It is clear, therefore, that public jurisdictions (including UC) can't walk away from past obligations.  It is also clear that lesser promises can be made to new hires.  There is a fuzzy area about reducing the benefit formula going forward for incumbent employees.  UC has not gone down the fuzzy route.  The Regents did create a lower-tier pension plan for new hires in 2010 (which has yet to go into effect).

There are two key aspects to the pension issue for UC:

1) The legislature is only gradually acknowledging that the state has a liability for the UC pension.  CSU is under CalPERS which the legislature does acknowledge.  So UC has been arguing that we should get at least what the state gives CalPERS for CSU. 

2) Administrators, particularly at the campus level, tend to take a short-run perspective.  As the employer contribution is scheduled to ramp up, they resist putting in the money since they won't be in charge when the consequences of underfunding occur.  The UC pension assumes a 7.5% return on investment.  So the liability for dollars not put in today grows at 7.5%. Borrowing at 7.5% in the current low-interest climate makes no sense - unless you think you won't be around in the long run to pay off the loan.  See our earlier post on this issue at

The Regents understand Point #1.  It is not clear they fully understand Point #2.

From the viewpoint of current younger faculty, therefore, particularly those who expect to make a career at UC, the pension issue is primarily a matter of the potential squeeze on the UC budget.  When the lower-tier goes into effect, younger faculty hired thereafter face the budget squeeze plus the reduced value of pension benefits.  Total compensation is the sum of salary plus value of benefits.  So in theory the lesser pension could be offset by more cash pay.  But the budget squeeze works against that solution. 

We have made these points before but it is useful, from time to time, to make them again.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Complete Regents Meeting for Your Listening Enjoyment AND a Note About the Governor's Legitimate Question and the Absurd UC Response

We have given you sections of last week's Regents meeting in various postings.  And we have noted that the archiving policy of the Regents is a problem.  According to the Regents website, "Video files for past open session meetings of The University of California Regents and its Committees are available for one year after the dates of the meetings."  So the files apparently vanish.  Prior to 2013, the Regents provided no archiving at all, just a live stream of the audio.  We would then request the audio files and archive them elsewhere.  Since it appears that files will eventually vanish, we have preserved audios of the most recent meeting as follows:

Morning of May 15 prior to demonstration which caused the meeting to be suspended:

Morning of May 15 after the demonstration ended and the session resumed:

Afternoon of May 15 including comments and questions by Gov. Brown:

And by the way, in the session above, the governor asked the right question and got the wrong answer.  He had been given data and charts on time to graduation across campuses.  There was considerable variation, both over time and cross-sectionally.  The governor essentially asked whether a multivariate analysis might be undertaken that would illuminate the factors behind the variation.  The right answer from UC officials should have been, "yes, but we haven't done it - and now that you have pointed it out, we will do it."  Instead, there was an evasive answer that came down to saying that it is all very complicated, maybe we should ask the local officials for anecdotal evidence, and despite all of our data you can't get any insights from an analytical statistical approach."  That response, my friends, is totally absurd There are plenty of faculty at UC who could conduct a meaningful statistical analysis, given the data and necessary support.  To the extent that additional data are needed, they could be collected.  If we don't like the governor and legislature coming in and micro-managing (which is what is happening with regard to online education), we need to do the micro-management in-house!  [To hear the back-and-forth with the governor, start at about minute 38.]

Session of May 16:

A link to the agenda for the sessions is at:

Note that there is an upcoming meeting of the Committee on Investments of the Regents on Tuesday, May 21.  A link to the agenda can be found at:

UPDATE: President Yudof's State of the University report to the Regents is at:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Something that didn't happen

Our prior post noted that the LA Times today carries a story about a deal that did occur - albeit not to the benefit of UCLA.  The Times also carries a story about a deal that did not happen, a possible purchase by UCLA of St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica:,0,3436718.story

An earlier post on this blog about this deal that didn't happen (when it was still a possibility) is at:

UPDATE: See also:

Brain Drain Story

The LA Times today has a behind-the-scenes story of the recruitment by USC of the neurology lab entourage:

...Some colleagues in Westwood were aware that Toga and Thompson "were having conversations" with USC but didn't know the specifics, said John Mazziotta, chairman of UCLA's neurology department and executive vice dean of the medical school. The Bruins would have tried to respond if given a chance, he said: "We always try to keep our top faculty." ...

Full story at,0,6963020,full.story

All in all, seems like someone was not fully alert:

Friday, May 17, 2013

New LAO Report on (More) State Revenues

The Legislative Analyst's Office has released a commentary on the governor's May Revise budget proposal.  It's headline feature is that LAO expects higher revenues than the governor projects.  That extra money is not pure gravy since it interacts with the Prop 98 formulas for K-14.  Nonetheless, the report will become part of the legislative process and negotiations which will go on between the governor and legislature.  The governor wants to be cautious and his way of doing it is to tilt toward less optimistic revenue projections.  LAO has a lot of cautionary notes in its report - things that could happen which would cut into revenues - but does not choose, as the governor did, to convey that message via its best guess on revenue projections.

One thing that may help UC in its attempt to pry more pension fund contributions out of the legislature is some combination of the governor saying there is a "wall of debt" that needs to be paid off (including pensions) and the legislature getting a message that there is more money around.  In effect, other things held constant, the more that the legislature puts into the UC pension, the more there is effectively in other resources for UC.

You can find the LAO report at:

The contrast between the revenue and transfers forecasts for the governor and LAO can be seen below (in $billions):

Fiscal Year | Governor    LAO
2012-13     |   $98.2    $98.9
2013-14     |   $97.2   $100.0
2014-15     |  $104.5   $107.0
2015-16     |  $110.2   $112.3
2016-17     |  $116.1   $118.9
Source: Page 12 of the LAO report.

Possible Two-Day UC Hospital Strike Next Week

From the LA Times today:

Facing a possible two-day strike next week by patient care and technical workers, the five large University of California medical centers are starting to cancel elective surgeries that had been scheduled as soon as Monday, officials said. Emergency care will not be shut and patients already in the five hospitals across the state will continue to receive care. But many elective procedures will delayed until after the potential strike, set for Tuesday and Wednesday... At UCLA's hospitals in Westwood and Santa Monica, ...administrators are planning to hire 600 replacement workers through agencies and are preparing to train them and move them past picket lines...While UC is seeking an injunction to prevent the strike, both sides said they now consider the walkout likely, starting at 4 a.m...

Full story at,0,4947148.story

UPDATE: A court decision on UC's request (or is it PERB's request? - not clear) for an injunction is due on Monday, May 20:,0,7957414.story

UPDATE: Apparently, food service for students will be affected by the strike:

Note: Much of the public comment session at the Regents on Wednesday was focused on the impending strike.  President Yudof began with a statement about it.  Most of the speakers thereafter were from the AFSCME local involved in the dispute and - after a demonstration began - the room was cleared.  You can hear it at the link below:

Need for Improvement

From the Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert blog:

Not a single member of the California Legislature earned an A from the tough graders at the University of California Student Association, who released their first-ever legislative scorecard at the regents meeting in Sacramento Wednesday. Not Sen. Marty Block, a former professor who chairs the Senate Education Committee. Not even Sen. Leland Yee, who holds a doctorate in psychology and takes every possible opportunity to publicly bash university management. "As students we get a lot of grades, and we're turning the table on legislators," said Justin Chung, a grad student at UC Irvine...

Full story at

The report card is at

But for those legislators with bad grades, there is hope:

Read more here:

Stay Home Tonight

Word has it that the 405 Freeway will be closed from Santa Monica Boulevard to Wilshire Boulevard tonight and Saturday night, 11 PM until 9 AM.

There's no place like home:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Appy days are here again

From an article in today's Sacramento Bee describing Governor Brown's visit to the Regents yesterday afternoon:

...UC President Mark Yudof said many factors influence the time it takes for students to graduate, including how much pressure their parents put on them, how much they have to work to afford tuition and how complex the requirements are for their majors of study.

Brown suggested that perhaps technology – "a little app," he said – could help students by alerting them of their progress toward graduation...


Clearly, an app't suggestion from the governor with no l'apps of his sound judgment.

The recording of the afternoon session of May 15 was not available at the time of this posting on the Regents' website.  However, we get the theme of the governor's remarks:

Listen to Remarks of UC Academic Senate Chair Robert Powell on Pending State Mandate of Online Courses

Yesterday, we posted some of the Regents' morning meeting.  Because of the disruption during the public comments period, the meeting was halted and the transmission was discontinued.  When it came back, it took me a few minutes to get the recording going and some of the remarks by Academic Senate Chair Robert Powell were missed.  However, they are now available and I have posted them (audio with still picture) at the link below.

Much of Prof. Powell's remarks deal with Academic Senate opposition to the bill pending in the state legislature that would mandate online courses.  He also spoke about pension funding and competitive pay.

Note: I remain concerned about the long-term archiving of recordings (video or audio) of Regents meetings.  The January and March 2013 meetings now seem to be available, although I couldn't find them yesterday.  (See the prior post.).  It is unclear if they will disappear after a year.

You can hear Prof. Powell's statement at the link below:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Listen to (Part of) Morning Session of UC Regents

I had some trouble with recording this morning’s meeting of the Regents.  It began with a statement by UC President Yudof which included reference to the impending strike at UC hospitals (which UC is trying to enjoin).  During the public comment period, however, various union spokespersons said a strike would take place next week and the public comment session ended in a demonstration which led to a halt in the meeting (and transmission) while the room was cleared.  I did record the later meeting of the Committee on Finance.  Below is a summary and a link to a recording.

Before that, however, you might ask why I recorded the session when the Regents are now providing online video and audio transmission online plus archives.  When I tried to access the archives this morning of the January and March meetings, the page on which they were supposed to be didn’t have them.  Instead, clicking on the past meetings just linked me to the current meeting.  Moreover,  a statement on the page indicates that the archived recordings (which I couldn’t find) would be available only for one year.  It was unclear whether the archives would be available in any form after one year.  I have inquired about all this to the Secretary of the Regents.  More news on the archive issue when it becomes available.
Lenz & Brostrom

In any event, here is an outline of discussion of the part I did record and the link:

  • Discussion of the governor's May Revise budget as it pertains to the University. 
  • Discussion of lack of state pension contributions to UC which would match CSU
  • Discussion of UC debt restructuring to enhance cash flow. 
  • Discussion of lack of state funding for UC-Riverside medical school. 
  • Discussion of possible funds from Prop 39 of Nov. 2012 for energy efficiency. 
  • Discussion of legislative performance standards hooked to budget and relation to Regental autonomy. 
  • Discussion of setting up a 501c3 entity at UCLA to enhance revenue from technology transfer.
  • Dorr & Economou
  • Discussion by UC President Yudof follows Committee session on his state of the university report.  Note: The report itself was not included with other online materials.  President Yudof did express some concern about loss of UCLA faculty to USC.  (See earlier posts.) However, his remarks were largely a suggestion to read the report – which we don’t have.

Click below to listen:

The official response

If you are wondering about the official UC response to the governor's May Revise budget proposal, here it is: 

Patrick Lenz, the University of California system's vice president for budget and capital resources:  

With this proposal, the governor is continuing his multi-year funding commitment to increase the University of California by 5 percent in the 2013-14 fiscal year and then 5 percent, 4 percent, and 4 percent in the subsequent fiscal years. In addition, the administration is continuing its support for UC restructuring debt to achieve $80 million in annual savings. Those savings will provide not only the additional fiscal stability to meet UC mandatory costs, but also funding to re-invest in the quality initiatives that will support the governor's plan for additional performance outcome measures.
Source: Capitol Alert blog of the Sacramento Bee:

Or, put another way:

Read more here:

Straws in the Wind

The Regents are meeting today and tomorrow.  While they are considering UCLA's loss of the neurology lab (see our earlier post), they can also consider this headline from a USC news release that was highlighted today in Inside Higher Ed:: 

Music Industry Icons and Entrepreneurs Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre Give $70 Million to Create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation

And they might also want to consider the new USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy:

Our earlier post on the neurology lab raid is at:

We can leave it to the Regents (and maybe the governor and legislative leaders) to think of the question.  As for the answer:
PS: From the Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert blog:  STUDENTS DO THE GRADING: While the UC leadership discusses its agenda, UC students will publicly grade their elected representatives. The UC Student Association has scheduled a 12:30 p.m. press conference at the convention center to release a series of report cards gauging legislators' support for higher education...

Read more here:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Quick Review of the May Revise and an Inadvertent Lesson on Online Education

As per our previous post this morning, the governor’s May Revise budget was released today in a presentation by the governor and his finance director.  But before we get to the numbers and issues relating to UC’s budget, yours truly cannot resist the following observation:

There is nothing per se about online education in the latest summary document that accompanies the May Revise.  (More budget details will come out in the days to come.)  However, the online transmission of the news conference was a fiasco of jerky images, frozen audio, and total breaks in the transmission.  The effort in real time to tune in online finally ended with the message below. Yours truly was using a reasonably fast connection.  Apart from the image failure, also below is a link to how the audio (didn’t) come across.  We can assure the governor that whatever UC does online, it is better than what was provided by his office today.  Folks in the legislature might also take notice.

And here is a sampling of what the live-stream of the media conference sounded like:

OK.  With that matter out of the way, below in a table are the summary budget numbers.  Despite the $4+ billion in apparently windfall money that came in(see earlier posts), the estimates of the reserve in the general fund at the beginning and end of the current fiscal year 2012-13 and the coming year (2013-14), are about the same as in the governor’s January budget.  The surpluses shown for each of the two years are about the same.  So that means that the $4+ billion dissipated somewhere.  Much of the dissipation presumably went to K-14 under Prop 98.  When asked, the director of finance said some of the windfall was allocated to different years.  Since no one seems sure exactly how the $4+ billion arose (i.e., what made taxpayers up their estimated income tax payments), exactly how one would know what years to which is should be allocated is an interesting question.

As far as I know, most of the questions put by the media reps to the governor and finance director focused on higher ed.  (I say "as far as I know" because – as noted above – the transmission was broken and failed.)  There was much more interest in the governor’s proposal for formulas to allocate funding to K-12 and what exactly happened to the $4+ billion.  (There was a question on the dropping of the limit on student credits in higher ed.)

Below is a general summary of the budget proposal in billions of dollars.  Note that revenue and “transfers” (transfers is a word that permits budget mischief) drop next year because – in part – the $4+ billion was a one-time event.  The governor also suggested that the underlying general economic forecast has been made less optimistic than it was in January because of sequesters and slowdowns in foreign economies.  A less optimistic economic forecast produces fewer dollars.

             2012-13     2013-14
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Reserve        -$1.6       +$0.9

Revenue &
“Transfers”    $98.2       $97.2

Spending       $95.7       $96.4

Surplus*       +$2.5       +$0.9

Reserve        +$0.9       +$1.7

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Note: Details need not add to total due to rounding
*Surplus = Revenue & Transfers minus Spending.

The document released summarizing the budget has the following excerpt on UC and CSU:

Multi‑Year Stable Funding Plan
University of California and California State University. The May Revision builds upon the multi‑year stable funding plan for higher education proposed in the Governor’s Budget. It prioritizes higher education by providing new funds to begin reinvesting in the public universities, with the expectation that the universities will improve the quality, performance, and cost effectiveness of the educational systems.

The plan is rooted in the belief that higher education should be affordable and student success can be improved.

Funding Stability
The Governor’s Budget increased the General Fund contribution to each institution’s prior‑year funding base. Each segment will receive up to a 20‑percent increase in General Fund appropriations (about $511 million each) over a four‑year period (2013‑14 through 2016‑17), representing about a 10‑percent increase in total operating funds including tuition and fee revenue.

[Editorial note 1 from yours truly: Tuition and state appropriations are roughly equal nowadays.  So a 20% increase in state funding and a zero increase in tuition end up being something like 10% in the core operating budget.]

[Editorial note 2: The change in the budget occurs over 3 years, not 4.  Ten percent over 3 years is a little more than 3% per annum.  Exactly what inflation rate is assumed in the budget over that period is not clear.  But we are probably talking about a real (inflation adjusted) increase of 0.5-1.0% per annum.]

The plan includes a freeze on UC and CSU resident tuition from 2013‑14 to 2016‑17 to ensure that the universities stay affordable for students and their families, and to a void high student debt and tuition levels.

Student Success
The plan expects UC and CSU to achieve the following priorities: improve graduation rates; increase the number of transfer students from community colleges; increase the number of degrees completed, particularly by low‑income students; and reduce the cost per degree. The multi‑year funding plan increases funding and strengthens accountability to encourage UC and CSU to become more affordable and to maintain quality and access over the long term. The Administration will continue working with the Legislature, the segments, and other stakeholders to strengthen the accountability plan.

To improve student success, the Governor’s Budget proposed capping the number of units students can take while receiving a state General Fund subsidy at UC, CSU, and the community colleges.
Given concerns that were raised, the Administration is withdrawing the proposal for this year and focusing on alternative incentives to increase cost‑effectiveness.
A reminder is in order: What the governor proposes is not necessarily what the legislature enacts.  And what the legislature enacts is not necessarily the final budget because the governor has line-item veto powers.  Under the current budgetary rules in the state constitution, the legislature must enact a budget by June 15 or lose a day's pay for each day it is late.  Finally, a budget can be based on assumptions that don't work out as the year progresses.  The ex poste budget is not necessarily the same as the ex ante budget.
UPDATE: When we talked about mischief in the budget, here is an example.  The budget includes borrowing from the cap and trade fund.  Borrowing is thus being treated as if it were revenue.  Note that if borrowing were revenue, no budget would ever be out of balance.  Why was this done?  Probably for cosmetic reasons so that the reserve at the end of the coming year in the May Revise would not be lower than it was in the January proposal.  For info:
UPDATE: Here is an easy to use audio recording of the news conference just below the two photos from the event: