Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Business of College Sports Not What It Was

The Sacramento Bee ran a story June 4 that mysteriously reappeared for a time on its website today and that reminds us that the business of college sports is not what it was back in the early 1940s when Jackie Robinson played football for UCLA (photo). Excerpt:

Ending weeks of speculation, Eddie Vanderdoes made it official Tuesday: He will not attend Notre Dame on a football scholarship and will instead play at UCLA.
Vanderdoes, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound All-America defensive end from Placer High School, expressed gratitude to Notre Dame in a text sent to The Bee for being "gracious" in the process of his reconsideration. He nearly signed with UCLA in February after a whirlwind recruiting process in which he was listed as a top-10 national recruit. Vanderdoes did not explain why he changed his mind about Notre Dame, but he suggested the switch to UCLA is primarily because he wants to be closer to family. 

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the school will not release Vanderdoes from the letter he signed in February, meaning Vanderdoes would need to sit out one season under NCAA rules... "We did not release him from his national letter of intent in order to protect the integrity of that very important program," Kelly said in a statement released by Notre Dame...

Full article at

Did Robinson have to sign a letter of intent to play college football?  Yours truly doubts it.

Today's Daily Bruin says Vanderdoes will be allowed to play after all:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I know it's unpleasant to hear but...

When you listen to Regents’ comments at their meetings on the state budget, you have the impression at times that they think that the state and governor have reversed course and now acknowledge responsibility for the UC pension plan.  So, for the record, here is the Legislative Analyst’s summary of the latest state budget and the UC pension:

Contains Intent Language Regarding UC Retirement Costs. The budget plan does not designate any funding for UC employer retirement costs, though the university expects these costs to increase by $67 million in 2013-14. Budget trailer bill language states, however, that the absence of such an earmark does not imply legislative support for UC employees paying more toward retirement. In addition, trailer legislation requires UC to apply any reductions in annual debt-service costs achieved as part of a debt restructuring... towards its pension costs, including its unfunded pension liabilities.

Sorry to rain on your parade, Regents. What's that you said?:

Where the money is

Willie Sutton was supposed to have explained that he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is.”  As this blog has pointed out on numerous occasions, while the regents and the governor worry about finding efficiencies and about saving some money via online education, big bucks capital projects – such as UCLA’s Grand Hotel – get little scrutiny.  And even when questions are asked - as occurred with the Grand Hotel - the requests are ultimately approved.  The San Francisco Chronicle has an article about a nonprofit entity that works on tallying and “visualizing” publicly available data.  You can find the article at  

To help visualize UC capital budget, the group provided the chart below which we have embedded.  Use the tabs to move around and don't neglect the parenthetical statement on the chart that you should add 000 to all the dollar figures. Source:

Yes, I know.  Much of the money for capital projects comes from non-state sources and revenues from UC enterprises such as the hospitals.  That fact does not mean that every dollar is wisely spent or could not have been used for some other purpose.  We have noted that relying on regents - even those who happen to have some experience with real estate or construction - to scrutinize the projects inevitably results in a kind of pro forma overview. The regents would need to have an outside independent support organization to do the job properly.  Of course, back in the day when California and its state budget were outpacing the nation, maybe the system was good enough.  Unfortunately, the "day" in back in the day had its sunset sometime around 1990 when the Cold War ended and the federal infusion of military spending that had pushed the state's economy faltered.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Does everything have to be seen?

From time to time on this blog, we have pointed to the issue of privacy and potential ID theft posed by the practice of certain newspapers posting public employee and pensions by name.  While courts have seemed to see the handing over of raw payroll data as a required public disclosure, we have noted that whatever purposes such posting has - ostensibly "good government" - could be accomplished using job titles without names, statistical distributions, etc.

It may seem at this point that nothing more could be said or done about the impact on UC.  Note that private universities face no such requirement despite their large-scale receipt of public monies in the form of research grants, government scholarship and loan programs, tax-favored treatment, etc.

Yours truly writes a weekly "column" for another website, the Employment Policy Research Network (EPRN).  You might be interested in today's column on this subject which results indirectly from a brouhaha about posting CalPERS pensions.  It can be found at: [Click on the pdf link.]


So it continues at Harvard

Back in April, we noted that it was becoming evident that the way to show erudition was to begin answers to questions with the word "so."  See our earlier post for references at

On Harry Shearer's Le Show radio program, he began to provide a "So's of the Week" feature.  For those blog readers who might have thought that the so-thing was a passing fad, we - through Shearer - provide evidence from no less than Harvard that it continues.

So click on the link below:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Almost Secret Garden

In the past when we have written about UCLA and gardens, it has been about the Japanese Garden that the university has been blocked from selling.  The university would prefer that the less said about the Japanese Garden, the better.  (If you are unfamiliar with the saga of that garden, use the search engine for this blog for past postings.)  But there is another garden on campus which is not intended to be secret but at least was a discovery for yours truly.  On the south side of the Anderson School, you will find the Nix Garden - which according to the plaque shown above - has been there since 1999.  The landscaping of the garden is no secret since anyone walking near it will see the plantings.  (See the top picture.)  But the plaque is on the wall of the "B" building and is largely obscured by foliage unless you specifically are looking for it.

If you type "Nix Garden" into the search option on the UCLA website, you will get a map showing its location next to Anderson.  But you won't find out anything about James Nix.  Googling his name produced no further information.  Searching on the Daily Bruin website produced no results.  No references showed up when I searched the LA Times using the UCLA library link.  But below is a picture of Westwood and UCLA in 1939, the year Mr. Nix graduated from the predecessor of the Anderson School.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Campus Happenings Yesterday

Demonstrators return to campus
Yesterday, this blog noted that UC had imposed its terms on the union (AFSCME 3299) that had struck for two days recently at university med centers.  There was a demonstration yesterday the blocked traffic at Westwood and Wilshire Boulevards.  Yours truly happened to be in a coffee shop at Lindbrook and Westwood as the demonstration ended.  Photo above. You can find a news account at

In a totally different vein, there was some kind of children's program at the campus Fowler Museum which produced the two figures below.
Fowler fare  

Yours truly noted yesterday that the day before, nothing seemed to be going on at the blocked off site of the UCLA Grand Hotel.  Friday was no exception.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Looking Under the Egg

The latest "Our University" newsletter from UCOP has an article about the increase in pension contributions recently enacted by the Regents.  When you look at the newsletter, there is a illustrative "nest egg" illustration - shown above - which you click on to read the article.  Now it's not clear what the chart below the egg shows.  But let's hope the downward falling line on the chart under the egg isn't the future funded status of the pension plan.  As readers of this blog will know, while back in the day, the plan was (more than) fully funded, the long pension contribution holiday, the effect of the financial collapse of 2008, and the ongoing demographics of the university have created a significant unfunded liability.  To deal with that liability, there need to be contributions (some combination of employer and employee) that cover the ongoing growth in the liability and amortize - over a multiyear period - the unfunded liability.  In theory, it is Regents policy to do just that.  In practice, decisions are made year-to-year and there is no firm commitment to ensure that policy is met.  It is assumed that the assets in the pension fund will earn 7.5% per annum over the long haul.  Thus, when contributions fall below policy, the plan is essentially borrowing from the future at an assumed annual interest rate of 7.5%.  It's easy to shortchange the plan in any given year - it doesn't run out of money to pay pensions - but 7.5% per annum is a steep rate of interest at which to borrow.

The newsletter is at

UC Hospital Dispute Seems to Have Ended

Although UC and AFSCME 3299 - the union that called the recent 2-day hospital strike (including at UCLA) - seem to have gone their separate ways, it appears the dispute is over for now.  The Daily Bruin carries a report that UC has unilaterally implemented its last offer. Under state labor law, an employer can implement its offer unilaterally if negotiations have reached an "impasse."  In such instances, the union might challenge the implementation before PERB on grounds that an impasse had not been reached.  Or it could threaten or undertake a strike.  However, the media release by the union does not refer to either option.

The Daily Bruin article is at

The union's media release is at

UC's media release is at

The UCLA Grand Hotel: No Apparent Rush

Yours truly ambled by the site of the UCLA Grand Hotel yesterday afternoon.  The only difference I saw from last week is that the construction cones blocking off the entrance to the Ackerman bus turnaround are now supplemented by a makeshift fence.(!) 
There was a pile of dug up landscape but that was there last week.
And there was the usual dearth of any sign of work activity.  However, it was 3 pm so maybe everyone was on an extended lunch.

Anyway, no need to rush:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

We're 34! We're 34!

UCLA ranks 34th in the nation.
So says Forbes in its college and university rankings:

According to Forbes, "the FORBES list of 650 schools distinguishes itself from competitors by our belief in “output” over “input.” We’re not all that interested in what gets a student into college, like our peers who focus heavily on selectivity metrics such as high school class rank, SAT scores and the like. Our sights are set directly on ROI: What are students getting out of college?"  Source:

Now where is Forbes ranked?  Maybe I missed it.
Maybe it's here:
Or maybe here?
We'll just have to keep looking.

405 North Offramp to Sunset Blvd. to be Closed for 120 Days

Not to worry.  It's just that there is a bit of bad news for commuters to UCLA:

Beginning August 3, the northbound I-405 off-ramp to Sunset Blvd. will close, beginning a 120-day closure that will add a longer off-ramp. The new off-ramp, which will be 60 percent longer, will feature 60 percent more capacity to store vehicles and segregate traffic from Sunset Blvd. and the I-405...


Existing Conditions During 120-Day Closure

*Sepulveda Way acceleration lane will remain open as is.
*Sepulveda Blvd. and Church Lane intersection will see lane reduction and height restriction.
*Temporary false work bent at median will be added at Bronwood and Sepulveda; left-turn restrictions will apply.
*Sepulveda Blvd. will operate at full capacity in peak directions during peak hours.
*Sepulveda Blvd. off-peak hours configuration will be one lane in each direction from Montana Ave. to Moraga Drive.

Full release from Metro at

Well, maybe you could worry a little:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Obama Shake Coming

Shakey's Model for a Grand Bargain?
Higher ed excerpt from today’s presidential speech:

...(T)his week we're working with both parties -- (applause) -- this week we're working with both parties to reverse the doubling of student loan rates that happened a few weeks ago because of congressional inaction. (Cheers, applause.)

So this is all a good start, but it isn't enough. Families and taxpayers can't just keep paying more and more and more into an undisciplined system where costs just keep on going up and up and up. We'll never have enough loan money, we'll never have enough grant money to keep up with costs that are going up five, six, seven percent a year. We've got to get more out of what we pay for.

Now, some colleges are testing new approaches to shorten the path to a degree or blending teaching with online learning to help students master material and earn credits in less time. And some states are testing new ways to fund college based not just on how many students enroll but how many of them graduate, how well do they do.

So this afternoon I'll visit the University of Central Missouri to highlight their efforts to deliver more bang for the buck to their students. And in the coming months, I will lay out an aggressive strategy to shake up the system, tackle rising costs and improve value for middle-class students and their families. It is critical that we make sure that college is affordable for every single American who's willing to work for it. (Cheers, sustained applause.) ...

Full speech at

Are you ready for the shake up?

Why Jerry Should Love Higher Ed

Gov. Brown often seems a bit exasperated with UC at Regents meetings. But the latest Field Poll indicates higher ed is doing a great job for him:

Percent of Voters Supporting Brown's Re-Election in 2014:

High school graduate or less.....37%
Some college/trade school........37%
College graduate.................45%
Post-graduate work...............57%

Poll results at

So, the more we teach, the more they love him:

More Pepper?

Remember the pepper spray affair at UC-Davis?  The LA Times has a report on a lawsuit brought by the Times and the Sacramento Bee demanding that the names of all police officers listed in an official study of the affair be made public. That study was released with most names redacted.  A lower court ruled that the names had to be made public but that decision was appealed.  Now an appeals court indicates that the names cannot be withheld.  However, this may not be the end of the pepper story since a further appeal to the state supreme court by the union representing Davis-campus police officers could yet follow.

The LA Times account is at,0,6501817.story


For folks who need a reminder of what this affair was all about:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Would it get under your skin if university administrators poked around in your emails?

Located in Boston, not far from Harvard
Some blog readers may recall the brouhaha that erupted at Harvard when some administrators poked around in university emails trying to discover who was leaking info about a student cheating affair.  A dean apparently ended up resigning when the email searching became known.  The Boston Globe is reporting that a Harvard-commissioned report has determined that the administrators were acting in "good faith."  See  A shorter version of the story from Inside Higher Ed is at

Moral: Don't put anything in email you wouldn't want made public. Unless, of course, you believe that whatever you say will be used in good faith:

The Story of UC and the "Troll"

Bloomberg and other sources are reporting that UC and a firm described in the news media - particularly news media sympathetic to the high-tech sector - as a patent troll have lost an appeal concerning an internet patent.  On the other side of the appeal were Amazon and Google.  In an earlier trial in a lower court, the patent was invalidated.  Yahoo and J.C. Penney were also involved in the lower court case.

["Patent trolls" are companies that acquire patents - particularly patents that seem to involve a broad range of activities - and then sue firms that use the alleged patented idea.  The Obama administration - with support from Silicon Valley - has been trying to curb patent trolls and recent issued. Poke around the web searching for Obama and patent trolls and you will get articles such as and probably find the relevant White House media release.  If not, the release is at]

One version of how UC has a claim and a partnership with the firm pursuing lawsuits related to this particular patent is at The Bloomberg story mentioned at the outset of this posting is at

As earlier posts have noted, UCLA is forming an entity called "NEWCO" - now approved by the Regents - to pursue revenue that can be derived from technology originating at the university.  So one suspects there will be litigation in the future, particularly in the area of technology and medicine, over who owns the rights to what.  Nonetheless, trolls have never been popular:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Straw into Gold? More Positive Spinning on the New UC Prez

An earlier post noted that there seemed to be some effort at positive spinning on the Regents selection of the new UC president.  The latest example appears in the LA Times as the headline below suggests:

As Arizona governor, Napolitano put higher education on agenda,0,5155679,full.story

Of course, there are some dangers in such spinning efforts:

The Appeal of the Japanese Garden

The Facebook page of the group trying to save the UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden from sale and possible destruction is carrying this notice:

EXCELLENT NEWS! The Court of Appeals has scheduled Oral Arguments for the Appeal on August 28th. This means that they recognize the urgency and importance of the Garden and do not wish to keep us in limbo any longer! We may get their decision (and opinion) later in the fall.


No Wonder the Regents Wanted the New UC Prez to Have Washington Connections!

Inside Higher Ed alerted me today to this chart from the National Journal showing the university degrees of the top 250 Obama administration officials.  UC is not - shall we say? - prominent.  See:

and  [Includes link to methodology]

But don't worry about the apparent lack of a link between California and DC.  With the telegraph replacing the Pony Express, coast-to-coast communication will soon be easier.  Right, Janet?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pro and Con

In a TV interview airing today, Assembly Speaker John Pérez managed to be both pro and con the appointment of Janet Napolitano as the new president of UC.  He was against the search process which he said was not open enough.  On the other hand, due to what he said was luck despite the bad process, UC has ended up with an "incredibly talented" executive.  The fact that she has a political background, Pérez said, didn't have anything to do with regental concerns about interventions by the governor and legislature in UC affairs.  He said he had had concerns about her administration of immigration policies on the one hand but, on the other hand, she was just enforcing the law.  All in all, it was a very two-handed interview.

You can read about it at

Or you can listen at the link below:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Medium is the Message at the Site of the UCLA Grand Hotel

We noted in an earlier post that after blocking off the Ackerman bus turnaround and parking structure 6 - the site of the planned UCLA Grand Hotel - not much had been done other than messing up some landscaping in the area.  It appeared that the intent was really to mark the territory in the face of pending litigation.

In any case, yours truly went by the site late last Thursday to see if anything visible had been accomplished on the site.  As the photos below indicate, it's still much as it was earlier.  Messed up landscaping at some locations but no sign of work going on or workers to do it.

So it appears that the medium is the message UCLA intends to send:

Friday, July 19, 2013

Timing is Everything

The official UC announcement of the Napolitano appointment as president this coming September makes the following point:

...By virtue of her appointment beginning after July 1, 2013, she will be included under the new tier of the UC Retirement Program. 

Full release at

What is there to say?  Timing is everything and she's too late:

Listen to the Afternoon Regents Meeting of July 18, 2013 [UC prez appointment]

We continue to provide alternative audio archiving of Regents meetings due to the regental policy of maintaining archives for only one year.  As noted in the earlier post of the morning session, you can find this policy at  The statement there reads:

Video Archives of Regents Meetings: 2013
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.

Below is the official agenda for the afternoon session:

Agenda, Thursday afternoon, July 18 [Approval of Janet Napolitano as new UC president]

1:00 pm Special Meeting: Committee on Compensation (Regents only session)
1:15 pm Special Meeting: Committee on Compensation - includes public comment (open session)
1:45 pm Special Meeting: Board (open session)

Note: The audio has been edited to remove long pauses due to demonstrations in which the sound transmission was cut off.

During the public comment period, various speakers opposed the appointment, most based on Napolitano’s administering of immigration laws as Secretary of Homeland Security.  Bob Meister, president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, expressed concerns about national surveillance at UC.  [Editorial hint from yours truly, Bob.  It was not all that clear – given that this was a public forum – what you were saying.  You said literally that Napolitano was ideal to deal with preventing surveillance of UC which I suppose was a subtle way – too subtle for this kind of forum – to express a concern that she would in fact go along with excessive surveillance.  I should note that the UCLA Faculty Assn. is not currently a member of the Council of UC Faculty Associations.]  There were demonstrations during the meeting by individuals opposed to the appointment and at one point the room was cleared.  News reports indicate some arrests were made.

A compensation package was approved with a base salary of $570,000 about 4% below current UC president Yudof’s salary.  Also included were benefits, a 25% one-time bonus for moving costs, other moving expenses, a UC house, and a car allowance of about $8,900.  It was said this package would take effect Sept. 30, 2013 so presumably that is the date in which she will take office.

In the final vote, the student regent voted against the appointment.  The other votes were positive.  Various regents including the lieutenant governor spoke in favor of the appointment.

Napolitano, after the vote, was introduced and said that as governor of Arizona she was involved in and fostered higher ed in her state and that she would, as UC president, be a good listener.   She mentioned the DREAM policies of the Obama administration. However, she did not back off from the administration’s immigration policy and in fact said that until she stepped down from her current position at DHS in September, she would be fully engaged in its management.

Since the pay package was said to begin on Sept. 30, there is some ambiguity as to when Napolitano will officially be on the job at UC.  The next Regents meeting is in mid-September (Sept. 17-19) and president Yudof steps down at the end of August.

A news report on the demonstrations can be found at:

A news report on the appointment can be found at:

You can hear the meeting at the link below:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Listen to the Morning Regents Session of July 18, 2013

We continue to provide alternative archiving of Regents meetings due to the regental policy of maintaining archives for only one year.  For the record, you can find this policy at 

The statement there currently reads:

Video Archives of Regents Meetings: 2013
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.

Below is the official agenda for the morning session:

8:30 am Committee of the Whole - Public Comment (open session)
8:50 am Committee on Compensation (open session)
9:00 am Committee on Educational Policy (open session)
10:45 am Committee on Long Range Planning (open session)
11:00 am Committee on Oversight of the DOE Laboratories (open session)
11:30 am Board (open session)

Surprisingly, at both this morning’s public comment session and yesterday’s session, there were only off-hand comments on the appointment of the new UC president.   (The appointment was an afternoon agenda item, however, and that is when there were protests about the appointment both in the form of comments and demonstrations at various points.) Today there was discussion of transfers from community colleges, concerns about increases in tuition of professional programs, use of online education, the lawsuit by UC against certain financial firms for manipulation of the LIBOR interest rate to the university’s detriment, opposition to the tuition increases for certain nursing programs, and opposition for use of animals for medical research.  There were complaints by AFSCME concerning executive pay, understaffing, and other matters such as tuition. 

There was approval for appointment and compensation of two acting co-chief investment officers to replace the executive who suddenly resigned.  No word on why the resignation occurred.

The Committee on Educational Policy heard a report on online ed at UC.  One Regent noted that most of the courses reported to be given were non-credit extension classes.  The committee also reviewed a food center at Davis.  The code of faculty conduct was modified explicitly to protect the right of faculty to speak on matters of UC policy in response to a U.S. Supreme Court that limited rights of public employees to speak on agency policy. 

The Committee on Long Range Planning heard an accountability report.

There was a lengthy report on climate change research from the national labs.  In reaction, the new student regent-delegate indicated it might be a good idea to adopt divestment of fossil fuel companies, a suggestion that has been pushed by student speakers in prior public comment sessions at Regents meetings.  One Regent seemed to endorse that suggestion.  No other Regents commented on the suggestion.  The committee adopted exclusions of regents without security clearance from certain information about the labs.

In the open session, outgoing president Yudof reported on various UC faculty and other accomplishments.  Two Regents voted against the tuition increase for certain nursing programs which was adopted.

You can hear the meeting audio at the link below:

Pay for the New UC Prez: Mellowing Newsom Likes It

Gov. Brown is out of the country and missed yesterday's Regents meeting and won't be at the meeting today.  At the meeting scheduled for later today, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom might well attend.  In the past, he has been against high pay for UC executives.  But now he seems to have mellowed in the case of Janet Napolitano, the nominee for UC president.  The Sacramento Bee Capitol Alert blog indicates that Newsom thinks the pay in store for Napolitano is OK:

...UC has not yet revealed how much Napolitano will be paid. That information will be made public tomorrow after regents approve her nomination. Outgoing UC President Mark Yudof gets a salary of nearly $600,000 plus additional perks that brought his total compensation above $800,000 in 2008-09. Napolitano makes $199,700 a year as the head of Homeland Security. Newsom said he'd been briefed on her proposed UC compensation package and that it is "in the ballpark of what I think is reasonable."

Full story at

But maybe he has just decided to accept the inevitable:
P.S.: The Bee editorializes that the new prez should take a lot less in pay than the old one:

Read more here:

Listen to the Regents Afternoon Meeting of July 17, 2013

Most of the afternoon activity of the Regents on Wednesday, July 17, was in closed sessions for which no audio is available.  The main item of interest in the open period was the privacy initiative, noted in an earlier post, which is a work in progress.

Afternoon Agenda: July 17, 2013

1:00 pm Committee on Compliance and Audit (open session – includes privacy initiative)
1:30 pm Committee on Compensation (closed session)
1:45 pm Committee on Compensation (Regents only session)
2:00 pm Committee on Governance (Regents only session)
2:10 pm Committee on Compliance and Audit (Regents only session)
2:30 pm Committee on Finance (Regents only session)
3:15 pm Board (Regents only session)

We continue to post an indefinite archive of Regents meetings since the official archive policy of the Regents is to delete after one year.  You can hear this session at the link below:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Positive Spin for UC Prez Nominee

As prior posts have noted, there is a lot in the news media about questions being raised about the nominee for UC president, Janet Napolitano.  Now, with the nomination coming up in tomorrow's meeting, there is spin in the news media to put the nomination in a positive light.  From the San Jose Mercury-News:

If Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is appointed UC president on Thursday, Californians will be getting more than just a big-name politician who has wrangled unwieldy bureaucracies and responded to natural disasters, supporters say.Those who have known Napolitano since her undergraduate days at Santa Clara University note that she has been far more involved in university affairs than her résumé suggests. They say the state will gain a forward-thinking leader who can help the prized system find its way in a new economic reality. Her record as governor of Arizona reveals a concern to expand higher education and make it more accessible, even when money was scarce...

Full story at

As a practical matter, as noted in prior postings, it is a foregone conclusion that this nomination will be confirmed (just as it was a foregone conclusion that the nomination of the student regent would be confirmed).  The Regents don't overturn the recommendations of their own committees.  That doesn't mean that there won't be critical comments made, particularly in the public comment session.

Listen to the UC Regents Morning Meeting of 7-17-2013

University of California Regents: July 17, 2013 - morning session

Agenda: Wednesday, July 17

8:30 am Committee of the Whole (open session - includes public comment session)
9:30 am Board (open session)
9:40 am Committee on Finance (open session)
12:00 Lunch
(Note: Appointment of the student regent was moved from the 9:30 am session to after the Committee on Finance due to airplane delays that affected some regents.)


Outgoing UC President Yudof delivered observations that could be considered advice to the incoming president.  He included a skeptical off-hand remark on the MOOC industry, noted that UCOP bureaucracy will tend to grow unless checked, declared the UC funding model as “broken,” and – in what appeared to be directed at state politicos - urged gradual, not abrupt, adjustments for UC.

During the public comment period, as suggested in a prior blog, there were speakers for and against selecting Sadia Saifuddin as student regent due to her anti-Israel activities, requests by resident docs at UC-Irvine to recognize their union, opposition to tuition increases for certain nursing/medical professional programs, complaints by union representatives about increasing pension contributions and about staffing levels, and a proposal by a student group to divest from fossil fuel companies.

UC Academic Council chair Bob Powell made cautionary remarks about state demands for performance standards, the student/faculty ratio, online education, and the need for adequate total compensation for faculty.

A presentation from the UC Staff Assemblies focused particularly on benefits and benefit plan changes.

There was a review of the UC budget situation and an assertion that the legislature now recognizes its obligations for the UC pension.

Tuition was raised for certain nursing and medical professional programs and was set for certain new tech-oriented programs.

Funding for UCOP was approved.

Pension contributions were raised as of July 1, 2014.  Employer contributions were raised to 14% of payroll from 12%.  Employees in Tier 1 will have their contributions raised from 6.5% to 8%.  Employees in Tier 2 would remain at 7%.

Budget measures for the national labs were approved.

UC, whose credit rating is better than the state’s, assumed responsibility for certain general obligation bonds.  In effect, the interest rate is lower for UC because of its better rating which frees up $80 million for the UC budget in a deal with the state.

It was known that Gov. Brown would not attend and thus was not present for the vote on the selection of Sadia Saifuddin as student regent, the last item taken up in the morning session.  The discussion featured support for the appointment from all but one of the Regents who spoke.  However, Regent Blum indicated major reservations – although he officially abstained rather than opposed the appointment.

As we have noted in prior posts, we continue to provide an indefinite audio archive of the regents meetings since regental policy is to preserve the recordings for only one year.  You can hear the full morning meeting at the link below:

A short-cut to excerpts from President Yudof’s remarking on MOOCs, bureaucracy, and funding can be heard at:

A short-cut to the student regent appointment is at:

Bad Timing for UC Prez Nominee?

Inside Higher Ed today is running a lengthy story about how former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels - now president of Purdue - intervened to block use of a history book in public higher ed institutions in his state.  Excerpt below:

Mitch Daniels, as an unconventional choice to become Purdue University's president, has repeatedly pledged his strong commitment to academic freedom. And many professors -- including some who had questioned the wisdom of appointing a governor as university president -- have given him high marks for the start of his work at Purdue. But on Monday, the Associated Press published an article based on e-mail records it obtained under Indiana's open records laws. Those e-mail records showed Daniels, while governor of Indiana, asking that no public universities teach the work of Howard Zinn, seeking a statewide investigation into "what is credit-worthy" to see that similar works were not being taught for credit, and considering ways to cut state funds to a program led by a professor who had criticized him...
Some of the criticism of the nomination of Janet Napolitano, a former governor, has been answered by pointing to similar appointments at other institutions and Mitch Daniels is usually one of the examples.  Now that example doesn't look so good.

MOOC stampede

Inside Higher Ed today has a lengthy article on a MOOC stampede.  That is, according to the article, public universities are rushing to sign no-bid contracts with MOOC providers: [excerpt]

...While MOOC providers have been able to escape competitive bidding and sign major deals at large and prestigious institutions in a relatively short period of time, traditional technology deals by state-run institutions can require lengthy evaluations, said Phil Hill, a technology consultant who has advised higher ed institutions on learning management system procurements.
"We're in this situation that is sort of nonsensical,” Hill said. “So you have very strict procurement processes for pretty easy decisions, like a $30,000 piece of software. Yet at the same time you have a multimillion-dollar decision that is completely going outside of the procurement process."...

UCLA History: Murder in Westwood (in 1932)

Los Angeles Magazine this month in its online edition includes this photo from the LA Public Library picture collection.  A murder in 1932 is being investigated at the Village Theater in Westwood.  It wasn't a movie; it was real.

Listen to the Regents Meeting of July 16, 2013

The latest in regental recording archiving?

We continue our practice of providing an archived audio of Regents meetings until such time as the Regents commit to maintaining a permanent archive.  As noted on previous blog postings, the current regental policy is to preserve the recording for only one year.  We’ll leave it to readers to ask why a public board that seems to feel that UC isn’t up-to-date enough in using IT for educational purposes can’t permanently archive recordings of its meetings.

The UC Regents Committee on Grounds and Building met yesterday.  After a closed session, the Committee discussed and approved a repair and reconstruction of a student housing facility on the Santa Cruz campus.  Apparently, in the university’s view, a construction contract built the facility with major design defects that now require closing and a substantial repair.  Although there was much description of what was wrong with the facility and why it needed reconstruction, it was never clear how it happened that a major project was allowed to be built with the faults described. 

Similarly, a medical project was proposed for approval at San Diego.  When the chair of the Committee raised a question about a $40 million cost to induce local contractors to bid, the answer was initially that the local contractors were busy with other projects and had to be motivated to make bids.  The chair asked why contractors from out of the area were not asked, since in his view the national market was still soft and competitive after the Great Recession.  He essentially never got an answer.  But like the Santa Cruz project, ultimately the proposal was approved.

It also came out in the discussion that the policy is that if there is a cost overrun above the proposal, the Committee is only told about it if the overage exceeds 25%.  As members then noted, essentially current policy amounted to approving $1.25 for every dollar the Regents thought they were approving.  The Committee asked the administration to come up with something better.  But although a promise was made to do so, no date could be promised.

Also approved was a replacement of a pier in San Diego used for ocean research ships.

We have noted many times that the Regents – absent an independent auditing capacity – really cannot judge or track the outcomes of the major capital projects on the UC campuses.  The issue became apparent in the eventual approval of the UCLA Grand Hotel.  But it arises with every project, almost all of which involve really large capital expenditures.  Ultimately, when mistakes are made, the funds to deal with them have to come from someplace.  Despite assurances about reserves, business plans, donations, etc., money taken from whatever source means less for some other purpose.

You can hear the audio of the July 16 session at the link below:
And as for whose fault was it at Santa Cruz: