Friday, October 31, 2014

The Other Election

Not the one next week.  The one in the College in which faculty voted on whether to adopt a diversity requirement in the undergraduate curriculum.

According to the Daily Bruin:

The UCLA College faculty approved a diversity requirement proposal for the College of Letters and Science Friday afternoon.  In a 332-303 vote, faculty decided to support the requirement, which would have students take a course about inequalities based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion, among other factors. Students would be able to fulfill the requirement through a general education course, an elective or upper division course.  UCLA College faculty began talks about a diversity requirement more than 25 years ago. Since then, official proposals for a requirement have failed twice – once in 2004 and again in 2012.  About 46 percent of eligible faculty members voted this week, compared to about 30 percent in 2012 and about 20 percent in 2004...  The new requirement would apply to all first-year students in the College of Letters and Science enrolling in 2015 and all transfers beginning in 2017.

Berkeley Graduation Controversy Continues to Roll Along

An earlier post noted the controversy surrounding an invitation to comedian Bill Maher to speak at the December graduation ceremony at UC-Berkeley.*

You know that a controversy has hit the Big Time when columnists in the New York Times write about it:


Happy Halloween

Credit: Original from Facebook page of MJ Rose via Susan French
And for our Halloween scary offering: [Click on the links below.]

This story aired on Season 2 of Rod Serling's beloved macabre TV masterpiece Night Gallery entitled “The Caterpillar.” Based on a short story by British author Oscar Cook (1888?-1952) and written by the master himself (Mr. Rod Serling of course), it aired on March 1st 1972 and featured the cast that included British actress Joanna Pettet, renowned Lithuanian-born actor Laurence Harvey (October 1st, 1928-November 25th, 1973) and the awe-inspiring English stage, film & television actor John Williams (April 15th, 1903-May 5th, 1983); directed by famed French film/TV director Jeannot Szwarc.

Laurence Harvey in "The Caterpillar"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Can Faculty Just Stay Out of It?

We repeat our request - which as a previous post noted is likely not to be granted - that faculty not be involved in yet another "training" program on this issue.

Faculty Renewal and Diversity Depends on Retirements

There is concern within the UC hierarchy about faculty renewal, i.e., new hires replacing older faculty, and the related issue of faculty diversity - which depends on having new faculty FTE to fill.  The chart above refers to UC-Berkeley, but a similar chart for UCLA would undoubtedly show the same thing.  The early retirement incentive programs of the early 1990s (the three"VERIPs") dropped the number of older faculty (who took advantage of the incentives).  Since that time, the faculty has tended to age.  Note that the impression that the pension plan is threatened, even though not a reality for any current older faculty, may play a part in reluctance to retire.  The same concern about retiree health benefits - more of a reality - may also play a part.

Note further that even if aging of the faculty were somehow reversed, a second element in renewal and diversity involves recruitment and retention of new faculty as replacements for retirees.  The current lag in faculty pay (including benefits) relative to comparison institutions creates a challenge on that side of the equation.

Controller on UC Pension: Willing to State the Obvious

State Controller John Chiang has a new option on his website for tracking state and local pension data.  Under "state," he includes UCRS along with CalPERS, CalSTRS, and two plans for judges.  So, although the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) continues with the notion that the UC pension is not a state plan, the controller is willing to state the obvious (as can be seen above).

An article about the pension website is at

You can find the controller's webpage for defined benefit public pensions (including UC's) at

Now that the controller has seen things clearly, we need the Leg Analyst to sing along with the controller:

A Step Towards a Strike Out for UCLA's Baseball Field

It appears from a piece in the LA Times that UCLA may be closer to losing its baseball stadium at the VA:

Mediation between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Civil Liberties Union has failed to resolve a long-running dispute over leases on the sprawling West Los Angeles campus. Tenants on the 387-acre property include a private school, a laundry service for nearby hotels, a parking lot operator and a UCLA baseball stadium. In a 2011 lawsuit filed on behalf of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, the ACLU challenged the legality of those agreements, arguing that VA real estate should be used to house homeless veterans. The VA argued that the leases produce revenue for healthcare. A U.S. district court judge ruled in August that the VA had abused its discretion in issuing the leases and gave the agency six months to enforce his judgment...  Both sides appealed to the 9th Circuit, which sent the parties to mediation. On Tuesday, the court issued an order calling for opening briefs in the case. Mediation was officially over...

Full story at

So apparently, there will be more litigation to come.  In the meantime, you can go out to the ball game:

(Free?) Speech at Berkeley

A brouhaha is developing at Berkeley - where there were recent celebrations of the 1960s Free Speech Movement - over an invitation to TV personality Bill Maher to speak at a December graduation ceremony.  A student group has protested that Maher has made anti-Moslem remarks on his program.  Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks has said, however, that the invitation stands:

UC Berkeley’s administration is insisting that a campus speech by Bill Maher will proceed as scheduled in December despite opposition from students who say the offer should be rescinded to protest what they allege were anti-Muslim statements by the political satirist.  Citing Maher’s right to free speech, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks said in a statement that “the invitation will stand, and [I look] forward to welcoming Mr. Maher to the Berkeley campus." The statement noted that the decision “does not constitute an endorsement” of any of Maher’s views although it supports the television personality’s right to express them.  “More broadly, this university has not in the past and will not in the future shy away from hosting speakers who some deem provocative,” the statement said...

Full story at

Dirks' statement at

Dirks' position has been supported by news commentators of various persuasions:

The current student regent, Sadia Saifuddin, who has supported the anti-Israel divestment movement, is quoted at the above link:
"I believe there is a fundamental difference between free speech and hate speech as well as a difference between Maher being allowed to express his views, and being given the honor of giving the keynote address sponsored by the university … I don’t stand for any university-sponsored action that makes students feel unsafe and unwelcome.”

There is some irony in that statement since Jewish groups have complained that the divestment proponents make Jewish students feel unsafe and unwelcome.  For example, a complaint to the regents about anti-Israel demonstrations refers to such events creating a "hostile environment for Jewish students."

Undoubtedly, there will be more to come on this issue.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Block That MOOC!

Chancellor Block is quoted in a Wall Street Journal piece on online education:

...If massive open online courses, or MOOCs, become more prevalent “all of a sudden you have a new reverse digital divide,” Gene Block, the chancellor of the University of California in Los Angeles, said at the WSJD Live global technology conference.  He said that students from wealthy families will continue to send their children to residential four-year colleges, where they learn in the classroom, and in interactions among students and between students and faculty. But community colleges or other non-residential higher-educational institutions are at risk of getting usurped by the MOOCs, he said...

Full story at

Note: Inside Higher Ed has a faculty survey on attitudes toward online ed (which tend to be skeptical).  You can access it by following the link at:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


UCLA Officials Announce $15 Million "Self-Replenishing Fund" For Energy Projects

Posted Oct. 28, 2014

Santa Monica Mirror

UCLA officials announced today the creation of a $15 million "self-replenishing fund'' to support energy efficiency projects, such as the installation of motion-sensor light switches to water-saving plumbing fixtures. The announcement makes UCLA the 46th institution in the nation to join the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, which was created by the Sustainable Endowments Institute to encourage universities to pursue energy-efficiency projects.UCLA officials said the university has already invested $20 million in such projects...

The fund will be created with bond financing and not involve any student tuition or fee money.
UCLA's previous sustainability projects include the installation of occupancy sensors that turn off lights in empty rooms and hallways; retrofits of heating, ventilation and cooling systems; and replacements of old light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. The new fund will be self-replenishing, with savings realized by the energy-efficient upgrades injected back into the fund for future projects.

... Half of the savings... would go back into the revolving loan fund until that million is paid back. People realize these projects aren't just an expense, they're an investment.  The university will be conducting an annual energy audit of campus buildings to identify future projects to fund.

Full story at

A reward is in order:

Response Time

In an earlier post, we noted a campaign by animal rights activists to discourage student research, as reported in the Daily Bruin.*  Now a faculty member, David Jentsch,** writes an op ed response. [excerpt]

...A recent Daily Bruin article, “Animal rights activist groups target student vivisectionists,” which was published on Oct. 23, indicates that animal rights groups are trying to target students who participate in life science and medical research at universities in the U.S. and the U.K. that involves experimentation on animals. They are opposed to this research, despite the fact that it is crucial to medical progress, well regulated and ethically justifiable. Having failed to use reason and civil debate to adequately advance their ideas with the broader public, they now quite cynically opt to offer rewards to those who expose student researchers, thereby enabling the intimidation and harassment of those identified. Their obvious goal is to harass you out of your studies and research and to prevent the future that will lead to new therapies and cures of tomorrow. I know their tactics well, because for more than five years, animal rights activists have worked day and night to suppress my voice and my research that deals with the causes and treatments for addictions. They firebombed my car. They sent me razor blades in the mail. They have harassed me and my loved ones with endless home demonstrations, where they scream their threats and obscenities. They want to ensure that I am unable to express my humanity, my ideas and my work. They believe their right to speak stands above those of others. All Bruins should unanimously reject such hateful behavior...

Full op ed at

Monday, October 27, 2014

Here we go again

In prior posts, we have expressed the hope - which seemed to be supported by remarks by Chancellor Block - that the new state affirmative consent law would not lead to yet another training program for faculty on sexual harassment/assault.  Pressure for such policies is coming at the federal level.  An article on the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that more training programs are on the way:

New federal rules issued on Monday aim to make campuses safer by requiring colleges to train students and employees on preventing sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. The rules also include new categories for identifying hate crimes (gender identity and national origin) and specify that students can choose advisers, including lawyers, to accompany them in campus disciplinary proceedings...

Colleges are required to provide training to faculty and staff members as well as students. The training must clearly define terms such as "consent" and outline campus policies on sexual misconduct...

Full story at

CalSTRS Report Could Spark Same Issue for UC Pension

The CalSTRS board was told this month that financial experts are forecasting investment earnings of 7 percent a year or less during the next decade, below the 7.5 percent assumed by the pension fund.  If the new forecast turns out to be correct, long-sought legislation in June that phases in a $5 billion CalSTRS rate increase over the next seven years could fall short of the goal of projecting full funding in three decades.

It’s even possible that with new power granted by the legislation the California State Teachers Retirement System board could, in three to seven years, add another rate increase for the state and school districts to get full funding back on track. The new forecast from eight consultants and five asset managers also casts a shadow on the 7.5 percent earnings assumptions of the California Public Employees Retirement System and the UC Retirement Plan...

Full story at

Our UC Prez Keeps Signaling Interests in Non-UC National Affairs

Our traveling UC prez keeps signaling - inadvertently or not - an interest in a post-UC national career.

Former homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano is supporting executive action by President Obama to change immigration policy if Congress fails to pass a broad overhaul, citing what she calls her successful 2012 push to delay deportations of many younger immigrants. “If Congress refuses to act and perform its duties, then I think it’s appropriate for the executive to step in and use his authorities based on law . . . to take action in the immigration arena,’’ Napolitano, a lawyer and former U.S. attorney in Arizona, said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post. Napolitano spoke ahead of a speech she is scheduled to give Monday in Georgia in which she will publicly detail for the first time the sometimes heated internal administration debate over the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program...

Full story at

Conflict Within UAW Grad TA Union at UC Over Israel Boycott Resolution

History Lesson: Isn't California the home of "settler-colonialism"?
Boycott California?
Inside Higher Ed carries a report on the union representing graduate teaching assistants and its internal debate over an Israel boycott:

United Automobile Workers 2865 represents 13,000 graduate student workers – mostly teaching assistants – across nine University of California campuses. And while the union is no stranger to political activity – it advocates for the rights of undocumented students, for example – it focuses on and has won advances on student worker employment and quality of life issues, such as paid parental leave, class size and pay. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that a planned December vote on whether the union will join the academic boycott against Israel has some members concerned...

Opponents within the California graduate student union say the boycott goes against a previously stated UAW position on the Israel boycott, is anti-academic, and would ultimately hurt the California graduate student union and others like it. Proponents, meanwhile, say that joining the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel is a moral and intellectual obligation...

The 80-some member joint council of the graduate student worker union announced its support for the academic boycott this summer, saying a union-wide vote was forthcoming...

(S)ome union members say there was little tolerance for dissenting opinion at the meeting. Two separate proposed statements – one supporting a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine and one saying Israel has the right to self-determination – were voted down. Another proposal to extend the boycott to other countries accused of human rights violations, including China, was tabled...

Karra Greenberg, (a) member of Informed Grads, who is studying sociology at the Los Angeles campus, said it was problematic that union leaders had proposed the boycott during a small meeting in the summer, when many graduate students were away. Especially concerning about the initial announcement was the mention of educators’ “responsibility” to talk about Palestinians’ struggle for “liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid,” she said. Greenberg said that suggested the union may be “encouraging students to teach undergrads the merits of BDS.” She said that violated university policy, could raise questions about the legitimacy about UAW 2865 within the greater union, and provided fodder to critics of organized labor who say that it’s too political...

(UC Provost Aimee) Dorr said the university’s position on academic student employee conduct was “rooted” in the Regents’ statement on course content and others similar in spirit. Dorr also referenced the UAW unit contract, which says that decisions regarding “who is taught, what is taught, how it is taught and who does the teaching involve academic judgment and shall be made at the sole discretion of the university.” ...

Full story at

Sunday, October 26, 2014

UCLA History: Front Page

The item above in the Daily Bruin of July 15, 1969 announced what would eventually lead to the Internet.  Although an announcement in the Bruin may not seem like much fanfare, given the later history, the story did make the front page (as can be seen below).
You can read the full text of the article in

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More Med News from Westwood (after our previous post)

It's always good to be prepared for the worst:


The "joint" described below can be seen in the center above.
Federal officials were mum today about what led them to raid two marijuana dispensaries, one in West Hollywood and another in Westwood, whose staff claimed they were operating within the bounds of California’s medical cannabis laws. The raids by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration happened Thursday at two dispensaries operated by the same company, known as The Farmacy, said Vijay Rathie, special agent and public information officer for the DEA’s Los Angeles field division. He said no details were immediately available about why the dispensaries were targeted...

Bill Kroger, the lawyer for The Farmacy’s owners, denied any wrongdoing on the part of his clients...

Full story at

Note: Poking around on the web produced results that suggested that this store specialized in vegan pot products

The sounds of the silenced:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Could There Be More?

Could there be even more?
When it comes to litigation regarding college athletes (such as the O'Bannon case involving a former UCLA athlete), there seems to be no end to the lawsuits testing whether scholar-athletes are de facto employees.

The legal attacks on the NCAA and its limits on what athletes can receive while playing college sports have been spread across a much wider front with the filing of a lawsuit that names the NCAA and every Division I school as defendants. The suit — filed this week in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, where the NCAA is headquartered — alleges that the NCAA and the schools are violating the wage-and-hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The allegations are framed by the schools' employment of students in work-study positions that pay hourly wages...

Full story at

Resisting the Urge at UC-SB

Our compatriots at UC-Santa Barbara have received a donation of $65 million.  The Good News is that they are spending it on physics research and resisting the urge to spend it on a Grand Hotel.  (There is no Bad News; UC-SB has its priorities straight.)

You can read about the big donation at

We know.  It's hard to resist the immediate gratification of a big, tangible structure. 

The Next Culture Clash: Coming Soon to UC

It looks like the next culture clash is on its way to UC via CSU.  Maybe we would do better with a "don't-ask; don't-tell" approach.  Or just "don't-ask."

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship members say they just want to spread the word, to provide a welcoming space for believers and non-believers alike on college campuses that sometimes can seem cold and isolating.  But because it requires its leaders to hold Christian beliefs, the evangelical student group said, it now is fighting to preserve its religious soul and very existence.  Chapters of InterVarsity and some other Christian groups were stripped of recognition at California State University campuses this fall because they refused to sign a non-discrimination policy requiring clubs and organizations to open their memberships and leadership to all students. (Fraternities and sororities still can limit membership by gender.) ...

It appears that trouble also may be looming for its University of California chapters. UC spokeswoman Shelly Meron said the system — which now does not specify that leadership positions must be open to all — is reevaluating the language it uses to charter campus organizations...

Full story at

Do we really have to reevaluate anything?  What if we didn't?  If it ain't broke... etc.

Slippage Worth Noting

State spending on higher ed as a percent of personal income
The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has put out a series of charts related to the state budget.  Above is one of the charts.  The Master plan era - which also featured increased baby boomer enrollments and related funding - came to an end in the early 1980s as the effects of Prop 13 (state bailouts of local governments especially school districts) were felt.  Since then, the story has been one of a downward trend.  Note that "higher ed" includes community colleges which are covered by Prop 98 and its protections.  UC and CSU are not so-protected.

The full set of charts is available at