Saturday, January 31, 2015

How About a Measles-Free Campus?

Editorial comment from yours truly: It's not that long ago that UCLA became a smoke-free campus.  I don't recall any exceptions for those folks who read on the internet somewhere that what "they" say about smoking being bad for you wasn't true.  I don't recall any exceptions or exemptions being granted for those whose "personal beliefs" didn't accord with the smoking ban.  No one who wants to smoke is forced to come to UCLA for health care, classes, or any other service.  There are other medical centers and other universities.  Part of the rationale for the UCLA tobacco ban was to protect those on campus from the risks of second-hand smoke.

Some K-12 school principals in California have already banned students without measles shots from attending their schools for an extended period.  They have done so to protect other students and employees at their schools.  Perhaps UCLA - given its prominent role in medical research and treatment - should consider a similar ban on those who refuse vaccinations.

I know.  You're going to want to tell me about rules about emergency room admissions, etc.  But the bells and whistles of such a ban can be worked out to deal with such rules.  I know.  If you have a libertarian streak, you're going to want to tell me about your right to do whatever you like.  But the essence of libertarianism is that you can do what you like, so long as you don't hurt someone else.

Note that most college students are of an age where they can make their own medical decisions, whatever their parents may choose to believe about vaccines.  A requirement that students and others get measles shots (or show proof of immunity) and get other basic vaccinations (with very narrow medical and religious exceptions), would sure get media attention, just as the smoking ban did.  The same rationale applies to the vaccine issue as applied to the smoking ban.  Why should members of the UCLA community be put at risk because of someone's "personal beliefs" about vaccines?

UPDATE: Glad to see today that UCLA moving slowly in the direction above:
But why do we have to wait until 2017, as the article at the link above indicates? ...Both Stanford University and USC require students to have two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine before enrolling. At Yale University, undergraduate students must have the MMR, chickenpox and meningococcal vaccines and a tuberculosis skin test before arriving at the university. Princeton University requires students to have the Hepatitis B, MMR, meningococcal and Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis, or Tdap, vaccines...

UCLA: Backside

The UCLA Grand Hotel is getting so big you can see it from a distance, albeit from the rear.
All that money brings music to your heart:

Friday, January 30, 2015

Stage III

Stage I was the unveiling of the Regents' tuition/funding plan. Stage II was the governor's response in terms of the Committee of Two and his January budget proposal. We are now in a PR/lobbying the legislature campaign: Stage III. The following email went out yesterday:
Dear UC Advocate,

As chairman of the Board of Regents, I am writing to you because we are entering a critical phase in efforts to put the University of California on the fiscal footing needed to ensure its ability to serve current and future generations of UC students as well as it has those in the past.

As you probably know, this is budget negotiation season in Sacramento, and for the 2015-16 budget cycle the stakes for the University – and, by extension, California -- could not be higher. For the next several months, you can expect state budget negotiations to be frequently in the news, and I wanted to make clear to our valued advocates the University’s position going into this process.

Last November, the board and President Napolitano adopted a long-term funding plan for the University. The idea behind this plan was too keep tuition as affordable as possible and as predictable as possible for California families contemplating a UC education. As you know, UC funding has been less than stable in the past, leading to large, unpredictable spikes in tuition rates.

At the same time, the five-year plan was meant to ensure the resources necessary to make room across the 10-campus system for an additional 5,000 California students, to re-invest in the University’s academic quality, and to maintain a robust financial aid program which at present fully covers the cost of tuition for half of UC’s undergraduates.

To achieve these fiscal goals, the Board approved contingency tuition increases of not more than 5% a year for the duration of the plan – with the full understanding that the state could eliminate the need for any tuition increases by increasing its contribution to the University’s core funds by an equal measure.

This will be the thrust of our negotiations, and the early indications from Sacramento leadership suggest a much-appreciated willingness to listen, discuss and negotiate going forward. In turn, and in the true spirit of any fair negotiating process, the University also is willing to engage and hear new ideas from our elected leaders. It is encouraging that the Governor and the President have begun a process of working through the University’s cost structure and budget options together.

Again, this is a high stakes proposition. The state and the University of California literally have grown up together, and in my view each has benefited from this symbiotic relationship. One would not be the same without the other. The need for a robust, public research university has not diminished; in fact, in the knowledge-based global economy of today it has only grown and will continue to grow.

For individual Californians, the importance of receiving the caliber of education the University of California provides also has never been higher. Californians know this. As evidence, consider the recently reported fact that UC’s applications for 2015-16 rose to a record 193,873 applicants – the 11th straight year the application pool has exceeded previous records.

As a society, all Californians owe it to these aspiring young applicants, and generations of new applicants to come, to do all in our power to keep the University on course and able to maintain the delicate but critical balance of excellence, affordability and access that has made it a model for the world.
We will be calling on you in the not-so-distant future to make the case for the University in the budget process, and I appreciate your interest in this cause. If you have a moment, please explore UC at a Glance, a web-based snapshot of the University that illuminates its breadth and reach throughout California and beyond. It can help answer a number of questions that often are raised about the University’s educational and research missions and their impact on all Californians.

Bruce D. Varner
UC Board of Regents

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Exit Strategy

We have posted in the past (and recently) about the lawsuit regarding non-veteran uses of the VA Westwood property on which UCLA has a baseball stadium.  A settlement has been announced:

...The government also pledged to develop an "exit strategy" for tenants that are leasing facilities for uses not directly related to veterans' care. Among those are UCLA's baseball stadium, the private Brentwood School's athletic complex, a hotel laundry and storage for an entertainment studio's sets...

Full story at

Well, if that's how they feel about it...

Romanian Food at Davis

Ernst Bertone and two fellow UC Davis graduate students began their experiment last fall with a simple idea: Build a closer community and reduce food waste by sharing food with their neighbors. They placed a community refrigerator on their lawn, called the project “free.go” and watched it take off...

But the food sharing project quickly ran afoul of state health and safety codes and was unplugged late last year by Yolo County health officials amid food safety concerns...

Bertone said (he had thee) idea before coming to UC Davis in 2012 for graduate school. “It was in Romania. We were talking about food waste at the time. When I came to Davis for grad school, it was the perfect moment.”

Full story at

Read more here:

Read more here:


Read more here:

Read more here:

Mixed message

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has a new opinion poll out.* As you can see on the pie chart, higher ed comes in a distant second to K-12 as a top priority for spending. On the other hand, there is a perception that the budget crisis is fading so there might be more willingness to put money into higher ed. The governor doesn't want to do so, but the legislature is more accommodating.

On the other hand, the general public and voters specifically have very little knowledge of the state budget. PPIC finds that 42% of adults (and likely voters) think that the prisons are the biggest expenditure in the state budget when K-12 (by far) is the biggest category. There is a tendency to think that what you don't like is what the state spends its money on. Half of Democrats think that prisons are the top category. A plurality of Republicans (38%) think its social welfare spending.


Listen to the Regents' Afternoon Meeting of Jan. 21

As promised, we are slowly beginning to archive the most recent Regents meeting.  This one is the afternoon of January 21 in which there was a review of the old UCOF report followed by a discussion of debt management and other matters.

Basically, the UCOF (University Committee on the Future) report was done in response to the last budget crisis. University officials reported on success stories that came out of the report. But the discussion then turned to the thorny issues of insufficient funding, use of revenue from out-of-state students, etc. There were complaints by former Assembly Speaker Perez (and now Regent Perez) about UC playing the "blame game" by pointing a finger at the legislature for the increase in tuition. There was discussion of the "sticker shock" effect of the official rate of tuition even though many students pay less or zero.

One point that emerged was that much of the cost saving UC points to came from an increase in the student-to-faculty ratio.  You may not think of that change as quite the same thing as, say, cutting the cost of some administrative function since it means larger classes and/or fewer classes, i.e., a quality cut.

The discussion ended with the approval of the formation of the Committee of Two (Brown and Napolitano) to review issues.  The temporary officially archived recording has a break at the point where the vote is taken and some material is lost during the vote and the beginning of the debt management discussion.

Although there is an audio link to the full meeting below, I have isolated three highlights of the UCOF portion as a separate link: 1) The governor notes that the new model is lump-sum funding for the university.  Funding is no longer contingent on enrollment. Blog readers will know that the Legislative Analyst's Office doesn't like the new approach. But now it's official policy. [This is also the point where the governor complained that normal people can't get into UC-Berkeley.] 2) The governor regards the Master Plan's separation of the 3 segments (UC, CSU, community colleges) as outdated, apparently because of technology. 3) Both Brown and Napolitano promise to consult in some way as part of their Committee of Two discussions.

During the subsequent debt management discussion, there was discussion of capital project spending. As we have noted, the governor - despite his interest in cost savings - seems not to focus on the big buck capital projects that are routinely approved. He did question the idea that new capital projects are needed for faculty recruitment.

The meeting ended with a statement by the head of the UC Student Assn. that the students would no longer cooperatively lobby with the Regents, presumably because of the tuition/funding proposal.

 The audio link to the full meeting is below:

The three highlights are at:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Eviction nearing?

It's not clear from the news article but it appears that UCLA is one step closer to be evicted from its baseball field at the Westwood VA.  Apparently, we will know more later today:

The federal government has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing the Department of Veterans Affairs of misusing its sprawling West Los Angeles health campus while veterans with brain injuries and mental impairment slept in the streets, people familiar with the agreement said Tuesday. Under the settlement, the VA will develop a master land-use plan for the campus that identifies sites for housing homeless veterans. Further details were not available. Veterans Affairs officials did not respond to requests for comment.  VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald has scheduled an announcement at the West Los Angeles Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon...

In its 2011 suit, the ACLU of Southern California argued that the VA should develop housing for veterans on the 387-acre campus. The suit accused the agency of illegally leasing land to UCLA for its baseball stadium, a television studio for set storage, a hotel laundry and a parking service. It also made a land deal with the private Brentwood School for  tennis and basketball courts. A federal judge in 2013 struck down the leases, saying they were "totally divorced from the provision of healthcare." More recently, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero halted construction of an amphitheater on the property...

Full story at

Good cop (CSU), bad cop (UC)

UC and CSU seem to have fallen into a de facto good cop/bad cop approach to the governor and state funding.  UC is threatening tuition increases and conflict with the governor.  CSU has avoided the T-word and talked about enrollment.  Earlier, it seemed to suggest that enrollment was going to be limited by insufficient funding (although tuition would remain frozen). Now it seems to be on a positive kick. It will do more in terms of enrollment but only if the state does more in terms of funding. Of course, it is more pleasant to be the good cop offering "more" and easier to do when UC volunteered in advance to play bad cop.  On CSU's latest approach, see

CSU's offer of "more" to the governor is so very nice:

Supreme Court provides a reminder

In an earlier blog post, we commented on Gov. Brown's push to start pre-funding retiree health care.  His push relates to state employees under CalPERS but, if adopted there, there would be strong pressure on the Regents to do the same at UC. We noted that at present, UC retiree health care - from the viewpoint of the university - is a nice thing it does, but it is not a guaranteed benefit.  And we noted that if you start to pre-fund retiree health in the same manner as the pension, the nice thing is more likely to be seen by courts as guaranteed in the same way that pensions are guaranteed.  (Yes, there have been some breaches of pension promises in some jurisdictions of late, but the pension promise is much stronger than the non-guarantee of unfunded retiree health.)

On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously seemed to undermine a lifetime promise of union-negotiated retiree health care and the distinction relative to a pension was made.*  I am, of course, giving a non-legal view here.  But it is hard even to know what pre-funding something that may or not be given even means.  Why would employees be contributing to a benefit that might be taken away at employer discretion before they retire?  Only if a promise is a promise does such a contribution make much sense.  So were UC to start pre-funding retiree health with some combination of employer and employee contributions, it would hard for the university to maintain the benefit was just a nice but not guaranteed thing it happens to do.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Too Low?

Undoubtedly, the Regents and UC's collective bargaining negotiators will be hearing more about a report done by the Economic Policy Institute for the Teamsters suggesting that eight out of ten UC workers are paid below a basic budget.

Today's Events

Gov. Brown and UC prez Napolitano are getting together today for their first session of the committee of two.  There is chatter in the news media about this meeting.  Columnist Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee speculates that Brown is seeking to redo his dad's Master Plan.*  How?  No one seems to know.  Not clear if Brown does, either.  An alternative interpretation, not considered by Walters, is that the guv wants to put them smarty-pants professors in their place.  We'll post more on the regents session of last week and what was said about such matters there later.

Today is also the day for a doctors' strike at UC student health centers about which we posted earlier.**

In short, everything is going well:


Monday, January 26, 2015

State Budget

Last week, yours truly gave a presentation in a UCLA course (California Policy Issues -  Public Policy 10b) on the state budget. 

For your viewing pleasure, it is available (in two parts) at the link below:

The direct link is

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Are we in the soup with the governor?

Tom Campbell was a former congressman, Stanford law prof, and budget director under Gov. Schwarzenegger.  Some may remember that he at one point had a brief campaign for governor and then US senator, neither of which was successful.  He is currently dean at the Chapman law school and interprets the latest governor's budget proposal in a piece in the Orange County Register: [excerpt]

Tom Campbell: Jerry Brown favors two-year colleges over UC, CSU

There are three components of public higher education in California. The University of California system serves 250,000 students, the California State University system serves 448,000 students, and the California Community College system serves 2.1 million students. Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2015-16 budget carries very different messages for each. His budget gives UC a 3.9 percent increase, but warns UC not to increase tuition and not to expand the number of out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition but take places from Californians. For CSU, Brown’s budget provides a 4.2 percent increase, saying those funds “should obviate the need for CSU to increase student tuition and fees.” There is no comparable order to the CCC about tuition and fees, and the community college system gets an 8 percent increase in the general fund budget, twice as large an increase as UC or CSU...

Budget is policy, and Gov. Brown’s budget is making a policy judgment in favor of community colleges over UCs and Cal States. What is the likely reaction from the UC Regents and the CSU Board of Trustees? The UC is protected under the California Constitution from intrusion by the governor or Legislature in its management or academics; CSU does not have that protection.
In real terms, however, the possibility of being coerced by the governor or Legislature is the same for each: the threat to withhold additional state money. The governor’s position is that the extra money will materialize only if tuition increases don’t. The additional money is so small, however, that it won’t buy the governor much leverage. To get the same $115 million the governor is offering, the UC system would, on average, have to increase tuition by $230 per student per semester. To get $128 million, the CSUs would have to increase tuition by $142 per student per semester...

Full column at

Campbell's view is partly that of a former budget director: The budget is a document that lays out priorities and the governor's priorities, expressed in his proposed budget, tilt toward community colleges.  If you read the entire column, it is clear that Campbell doesn't disagree with the governor.  Community colleges, in his view, provide a step up for disadvantaged students, etc.  What isn't addressed in the Campbell piece is the rationale - if the governor and legislature want to favor community colleges - for not letting UC and CSU raise tuition if their priorities preclude more funding.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

No Doctor

We posted earlier that there might be a one-day strike this coming week of docs at student health centers.*  Sometimes, labor disputes are settled before such strikes occur.  Apparently, this one has not been settled:

Doctors at all 10 University of California student health centers announced Friday that they will hold a one-day unfair labor practices strike on Tuesday. Organizers said the walkout will mark the first time in 25 years that fully licensed doctors have gone on strike against a U.S. employer. It will also be the first strike in the 43-year history of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, according to the labor organization. "Obviously, we're disappointed that the union has chosen to go on strike," said Shelly Meron, a spokeswoman for the UC president's office. The UAPD said doctors at the student health clinics unionized in 2013 and have been in negotiations on their first contract for over a year, during which they've filed multiple unfair labor practice charges against the UC system for what they consider to be illegal behavior at the bargaining table...

Full story at

Friday, January 23, 2015

Some Regents See Proposed Academic Standards for Athletes as a No Brainer...

...albeit in a different sense of that expression. As noted in prior posts a) the Regents have been considering requiring athletic coach pay to have a component based on academic performance of their athletes, and b) we will eventually get to view and archive the Regents' discussion. However, news items indicate that there was considerably resistance to low proposed standards. The matter is back under review as a result. This issue is wrapped up with litigation - about which we have also blogged - that essentially challenges the idea that, at least for some sports, college athletics is just a matter of student-athletes engaged in a kind of hobby rather than a big business.

On the Regents discussion, see, for example:

We'll come back to the no-brainer issue in some later blog post. Meanwhile, we offer:

Not there

Inside Higher Ed reports that UC (nor any of its campuses) is among the AAU universities taking part in a new sexual harassment survey.  (USC is taking part.)  One can imagine non-participation could become an issue unless UC has an alternative survey to roll out.  See:

You may be stuck in traffic today

The VP Joe Biden will be moving around the Westside this AM in areas that could affect your travels.

Motorists should avoid the following areas between 8:30 and 10 a.m.:
-- Wilshire Boulevard and Rodeo Drive;
-- Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards; and
-- Santa Monica and the southbound 405 Freeway.
From 9 a.m. to noon, motorists should avoid:
-- Jefferson Boulevard and the southbound 405; and
-- Jefferson Boulevard and Overland Avenue.
From 10:30 a.m. to noon, motorists should avoid:
-- Overland and Freshman drives;
-- Westwood and Wilshire boulevards; and
-- Wilshire and Rodeo drives.


You may be Biden your time in traffic:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Back to Normal

When things were normal.
UCLA evolved out of the State Normal school in downtown LA.*  Now, Gov. Brown wants us to go back to normal - although he spoke of Berkeley when he said it:

...Brown says much of his extended family was able to attend UC Berkeley. But he says that’s not the case now for many families now. "You got your foreign students and you got your 4.0 folks," he says. "But just the kind of ordinary, normal students, you know they got good grades but weren’t at the top of the heap there, they’re getting frozen out." ...

Sources:,-access/ by way of

*The Normal School campus moved from downtown to the corner of Vermont and Normal and later converted in 1919 into the Southern Branch of the University of California.  UCLA then moved to Westwood in the late 1920s when the new campus was constructed. LA City College occupies the Vermont Avenue site.

They can't fool us!

Yours truly received this email from the Anderson School yesterday. What are THEY really doing at this "landing"?

Please be advised there will be a helicopter lift this coming Saturday 1/24/15 between 6 am and 1 pm. The section of Charles E Young Drive North to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic will be closed, starting west of entrance to PS-7 to intersection with Sunset Entrance of PS-4 for construction vehicle use. The heli-pad will be the intersection of Westwood and Charles Young Drive at the Sunset Entrance to campus.  When the helicopter is being readied for flight and returning to finally land after taking and removing material from the Wooden Center; the street intersection at the Sunset Entrance to campus will be closed. There will be no entrance or exit to PS 4 at Westwood when the intersection is closed. Traffic will be held until the helicopter is safely in the air and its transportation is moved. I’m sure the delay will be as brief as can safely be done. The noise of the helicopter is quite loud and will be heard very well during lift off and landing in the nearby area and classrooms.

Helicopter! You don't expect us to believe that, do you?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Those folks getting a BA in mortuary work can first bury the Master Plan

Bachelor’s degrees in mortuary work, ranch management and consumer technology design will soon be coming to California community colleges. Under legislation signed last fall by Gov. Jerry Brown, the system’s governing board on Tuesday tentatively approved four-year degree programs at 15 community college campuses that will be introduced over the next three academic years. “This is an historic day in our system,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris said.

Changing technology and educational expectations have driven employers in fields such as dental hygiene, respiratory therapy and automotive technology – which once required only two-year associate degrees – to seek workers with a baccalaureate...

Full story at 

However, the burial of the Master Plan won't take place at Santa Monica College, the closest community college to UCLA, since it is offering only a BA in "interaction design."  See

Anyway, we offer appropriate music:

Read more here:

Yet more divestment demands (Turkey)?

We posted earlier today about a gun divestment demand (although it appears that the Regents already did that along with tobacco, by now possibly to their regret given the snowball effect for other divestments).  And we posted in December about an upcoming demand at UCLA for divestment from Turkey.  See According to the Daily Bruin, "the undergraduate student government voted 12-0-0 Tuesday to pass a resolution that calls for the University of California to divest from investments made in the Republic of Turkey." See 12-0-0!  So apparently there was not a doubt that it is a Good Thing to use the pension fund for political statements at a time when a) the pension is underfunded, b) there is a UC Regents dispute with the state over the state's responsibility to fund the pension, c) employer and employee contributions are being raised at UC to cover the pension liability, and d) students are wondering if in some way their tuition will go up to help pay for that liability. Interesting!

Yet more divestment demands (guns)?

Our previous governor wouldn't approve.
There is an article in the LA Times about various campus divestment movements.*  It contained this sentence:

...Gun control activists in the national Campaign to Unload group and student governments — horrified by the May rampage that left seven dead at Isla Vista near UC Santa Barbara — are now seeking a more formal ban on weapons industry investment and better public disclosure...

The Regents actually did divest from guns after the Sandy Hook (Connecticut) shooting so apparently this campaign wants something more. It's not clear what that is. I checked out the Campaign to Unload website and found articles with demands for the Regents to divest from guns but no further explanation.**


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Docs in UC student health centers schedule strike over pension contributions & other matters

Doctors in student health centers across the University of California will hold a one-day strike on Jan. 27 over what they call unfair labor practices, claiming the University has not negotiated in good faith with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which represents them...

UAPD spokeswoman Sue Wilson said the University has unilaterally changed how much employees contribute to their pension program before the University and the union reached an agreement on the matter...

Full story at 

Uphill Battle

In the LA Times, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block pens a piece endorsing President Obama's plan to make community colleges free.  At the federal level, given the current political configuration in Congress, such a plan is likely to be DOA.  At the state level, no such plan is likely to be enacted, despite the Democratic majority in the legislature.

President Obama's bold proposal to make two years of community college virtually free is the most encouraging idea for higher education to emerge from Washington in years. Just like the 1862 Morrill Act, which donated land on which to establish great public universities, and the GI Bill, which helped World War II veterans attend college, the president's plan is a game changer, potentially adding two years of college onto every young person's education...

Full op ed at

The op ed is not an entirely selfless endorsement of a plan that wouldn't - if implemented - directly benefit UC.  It goes on to note:

...At the very moment economists are predicting a shortage of 1 million highly skilled workers in California by 2020, the state's disinvestment of public higher education — at the community college, state university and UC levels — has resulted in diminished access for many Californians... More students could and should be using community college as a pathway to UC. In fall 2013, UC enrolled more than 15,500 community college transfer students...

They're back - tomorrow

And a good time was had by all.
The UC Regents are meeting Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Yours truly has teaching and other obligations those days. He will continue the practice of archiving the audio of the sessions long term (since the Regents won’t do it for more than a year).  But the archiving will be done with a lag and as time permits.  Below is the upcoming agenda with some possible highlights:

Wednesday, January 21
8:30 am Committee of the Whole (open session - includes public comment session)
Surely, we will hear public comments on the tuition/funding issue.
9:30 am Committee on Educational Policy (open session)
Includes the proposal to tie athletic coach pay to student/athlete academic performance about which we have blogged earlier and the plan for dealing with sexual assaults.
11:30 am Committee on Oversight of the DOE Laboratories (open session)
11:45 am Committee on Oversight of the DOE Laboratories (Regents only session)
There will be discussion of the (really big) penalty levied against Los Alamos, albeit discussion behind closed doors.
Noon: Lunch
1:00 pm Committee on Long Range Planning (open session)
Includes the setting up of the committee proposed by the governor on UC costs.  There is also reference to the old UC Commission on the Future report (UCOF) which was put together in the face of the Great Recession budget crisis (to which the governor has referred in prior Regents meetings).
There will also be discussion of UC debt for capital projects, given the state’s shift of responsibility for such projects to the university. Will anyone (the governor with his cost concerns?) want to look at whether such projects are being properly vetted? Don’t bet on it.  
2:30 pm Committee on Compensation (closed session)
Involves union relations.
2:45 pm Committee on Compensation (Regents only session)
Big buck executive appointments and pay.
3:30 pm Committee on Finance (Regents only session) 

This session is closed but will take up what appears to be a settlement in the UC Davis strawberry case about which we have blogged.  See  Also, it appears that our ever-overly-ambitious LA District Attorney tried to appeal the court dismissal of a totally ridiculous case against a UCLA faculty member and that the appeal was rejected by the California Supreme Court. (People v. Lofchie) For background, see  Finally, it appears that a suit challenging a UC patent by a “patent troll” was dismissed with prejudice.  We earlier reported on this case

4:20 pm Committee on Governance (Regents only session)

4:30 pm Board (Regents only session)

Thursday, January 22

8:30 am Committee of the Whole (open session - public comment session)

Probably more public comments on tuition/funding.

8:50 am Committee on Finance (open session)

Includes discussion of governor’s January budget proposal – about which the Regents (a majority of them) are not happy.

9:45 am Committee on Health Services (open session)

Ebola update.

10:15 am Committee on Compensation (open session)

Rubber stamp Wednesday’s big buck executive appointments and pay proposals. Possibly, there might be objections from elected officials and the governor’s new regents.

11:00 am Committee on Grounds and Buildings (open session)

More delegation to the campuses to approve capital projects which, of course, always are absolutely necessary and costless. Part I.

11:45 am Committee on Governance (open session) 

More delegation to the campuses to approve capital projects which, of course, always are absolutely necessary and costless. Part II.

Noon: Board (open session)

This is the session where the rubber stamp really gets busy regarding everything approved in committees.

Anyway, surely things will work out well:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Schrag on the UC-Governor Conflict

Peter Schrag, longtime journalist and author and commentator on the California scene reflects on the current UC-governor conflict over the UC tuition/funding plan:  [Excerpts]

...In fact, UC doesn't know exactly how it spends its money — and maybe it honestly can't know. Is the salary for a teaching assistant — who is also a doctoral candidate working in her mentor's lab — money for undergraduate instruction, for research or for graduate education? How do you distinguish a professor's teaching from his research on a spreadsheet? How do you allocate the budget for the library or for the custodians and groundskeepers?...

UC doesn't exist outside the rest of our corporate culture, in which the gaps between executives and the people who work for them get wider by the minute. If you don't pay your new budget guy or your personnel manager what he wants, will you lose him to Morgan Stanley or GE? How much will the quality of education be affected if you have to hire a second-choice provost, professor or dean? Although he's a Berkeley graduate, Brown, with his Jesuit seminarian's streak of austerity, was never known as a warm friend of the University of California — or probably of any other elite institution. In his first round as governor, starting in 1975, he was less generous in funding UC than Ronald Reagan, his predecessor, had been...

(Brown and Napolitano) may be able to resolve the immediate issue, because compared even with the inadequate $2.8 billion that the state kicks in this year, $120 million is peanuts. It ought to be an easy issue to compromise on. Nonetheless, like other major public universities, UC is inexorably privatizing, relying ever more on funding from sources other than the state...

Full op ed at

MLK at UCLA: 1965

The UCLA Newsroom website is carrying a story about a recently-found recording of Martin Luther King's speech at UCLA in 1965:

The recording can be heard at:

On Martin Luther King Day We Wonder: Will Duke Controversy Come to UCLA?

Students demonstrate at Duke.
You are probably aware of a controversy at Duke University concerning a decision of the university first to play the Muslim call to prayer over a chapel tower loudspeaker and then to reverse the decision when protests were received. (If you missed the controversy, see  By waffling, saying yes and then saying no, Duke created a bigger controversy than existed before. Yours truly was sent a link to a complaint over a similar practice of playing the call to prayer at UCLA, a practice which apparently has gone on without controversy or much notice. Probably because of the Duke affair, the issue regarding UCLA has been now been picked up in various websites on the right along with some religious ones. A quick Google search screenshot is shown below. [Click to enlarge.]  Whether the ACLU will join in - it often opposes religious symbols on public property on separation of church and state grounds - remains to be seen.  However, the US Supreme Court has tended to move away from strict separation recently.

Recent Google search: first few results.
Let's hope we can all get along here better than at Duke.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Grade Inflation Needed?

The LA Times is running a piece on grading hospitals in California for safety. An interactive link is provided.  One suspects there will be a reaction from our Westwood facility.

The Times' piece is at

Doilies and Tea? Probably Not at the Committee of Two

Not on the menu?
Jerry Brown in 2009 when he was state attorney general:

"Compromise... is not achieved by doilies and tea."*

Gov. Brown and UC prez Napolitano are - at Brown's request at the November Regents meeting - forming a committee of two to look at Brown's favorite cost-saving ideas.  Presumably, they will also be negotiating over the Regents' tuition/funding plan. The news media are likely to argue that such meetings should be open. There is a hint of that demand in the LA Times' current story on the committee of two.** Open meetings are unlikely to happen given the governor's quoted sentiment above (and the realities of such negotiations). However, an interesting question is who on both sides will be the technical backups. Presumably, there will be folks from the Dept. of Finance on the governor's side and folks from UCOP on the other. It would be nice if the Academic Senate could have some representation at the second tier. Possibly, some political representation at the second tier (from the legislature and the governor's staff) might be involved. [This blog has suggested that Anne Gust Brown's involvement might be helpful.]  It will be interesting to hear what is said about the committee of two at the upcoming Regents meeting.  Right now, everyone is playing nice:

"UC regent George Kieffer said he thought the study would be 'a constructive exercise' and would help resolve differences with Brown."

We shall see. Maybe there could be tea without the doilies:

*Brown was responding to a request he intervene in a dispute between Gov. Schwarzenegger and the legislature. See

The Melting of the Master Plan

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has a new report on CSU doctoral programs.  Under the Master Plan, CSU is not supposed to have doctoral programs except as joint ventures with UC.  But the Master Plan has been melting away of late as the state takes ad hoc steps in higher ed without any particular planning.

LAO's report indicates that CSU has 26 joint doctoral programs, although five of them are joint with a private university, not a UC campus.  Beyond those 26, there are 21 CSU doctoral programs that are not joint with anyone, as you can see below.  This development, and recent authorization for community colleges to offer four-year degrees, doesn't seem to bother the governor although it was his dad as governor who pushed the Master Plan because the three segments at the time seemed to be operating without any coordination.

Below is the list of CSU independent doctoral programs: [Click image to enlarge.]
It is apparently enticing to come inside into the warmth of having no plan at all (and to keep the ice outside):

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Some things are obvious

Self evident
Op ed from the Daily Bruin: ...The state has consistently shirked its responsibility to fund the University of California Retirement Program in the same way it funds other state-level pension programs, including CalPERS, the California State University pension program. (The official) contention has been that the UC’s pension program is autonomous and the state has no control over the level of benefits it doles out. But the logic here is flawed; the state helped fund UCRP before 1990. The UC and its pension plan were no less autonomous during the decades that the state made consistent contributions to UCRP, so using that fact as an excuse to keep funding at zero is nonsensical. The state’s reason for cutting funding in the first place had nothing to do with autonomy, but with the fact that UCRP was overfunded at that time and the state was going through a fiscal downturn. Ultimately, the legislature should keep in mind one basic fact: public institutions and public debts are the responsibility of the state. The University of California is a public institution. It owes a large public debt partially because the state stopped funding that debt for two decades. The UC has taken responsibility for its part in bringing that debt under control. But now, the state owes it to the University and the public at large to make its own contribution.

Full op ed at

Winning not the only thing?

Newly hired coaches and athletic directors at the University of California will lose lucrative bonuses — potentially millions of dollars — if student athletes fail in the classroom, under a new policy beginning Thursday. The change marks the first time UC coaches and others who make money from students’ athletic performance have financial incentives to ensure that academic performance is also up to par. The policy approved by UC President Janet Napolitano applies to new and renewed contracts for coaches and athletic directors across UC’s nine undergraduate campuses. Each campus will be required to “establish a minimum level of academic performance that teams must maintain in order for coaches (and athletic directors) to be eligible to receive any — academic or athletic — performance incentive awards.” ...

Academic performance will be evaluated according to the Academic Progress Rate of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which tracks the performance of each student athlete on an athletics scholarship of any level. The Academic Progress Rate evaluates students in two ways: their academic eligibility for their team, and whether they stay in school. Both are calculated as an average over four years.
It does not include the graduation rate, which is the measure that in fall 2013 so dramatically shook UC officials into action around the UC Berkeley teams. But campuses will have the option of including the graduation rate and other measures, such as students’ grade-point average, for additional coach bonuses...

Full story at

Next battle: What exactly is the "minimum level of academic performance"?  Note that it appears from the article above to be a team average of individual outcomes and not the result for any individual player.  And the UC version is left to the campuses separately so there could be differences among the campuses.  This is a situation in which you-know-who is in the details.

Friday, January 16, 2015

No Money for Turkey?

Editorial in the Daily Bruin:

Members of the Turkish Cultural Club tried to deny on Tuesday that the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians near the start of the 20th century was a genocide. Denying the existence of a genocide is a heinous act that degrades the experience of an entire people and is threatening to the prevention of future racism and genocides. To an audience of Armenian students and the undergraduate student government, members of the Turkish Cultural Club defended the Turkish government, which has failed to recognize the genocide for the last century. The presentation and public comments were part of the group’s efforts to sway councilmembers to vote against a resolution next week that calls for the University of California to divest from the Republic of Turkey...

Full editorial at

Just a reminder that the UC pension fund remains underfunded, that it requires significant annual employer and employee contributions (to which the state refuses to commit), and that it needs to earn 7.5% per annum to become fully funded over an extended period.  Proponents of each divestment plan claim their proposal is costless, if they address the issue at all.  Recently, however, there has been unease among UC students over the Regents' November tuition/funding proposal and whether some of that tuition will go toward covering the pension. These issues would seem to be connected, but recognition of the connection seems to be lacking.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Out of staters may be hard to stop

They keep coming.
Despite Governor Brown's proposed cap on out-of-state enrollments and despite higher tuition, out of staters keep applying to UC:

A surge in interest from out-of-state and international students drove another year of record application numbers at the University of California, according to data released this week by the university. As reported last month, 193,873 prospective freshmen or transfer students applied to at least one of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses this year, an increase of 5.8 percent over fall 2014 and the 11th consecutive year of growth. The increase was especially sharp among out-of-state and international applicants, whose numbers climbed by 16.6 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively, to 31,651 and 29,839. In recent years, UC campuses have aggressively recruited nonresident students who pay a supplemental fee that brings in hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the university.
California students still make up more than two-thirds of UC applicants, although they showed a more modest gain of 2.7 percent...

Full story at

Oil on Fiscal Waters

Venice, CA back in the day
There is much interest in California's oil producing potential these days, and not just because of environmental concerns:

The oil and gas potential of the vast Monterey shale formation will be the focus of an upcoming study by an independent panel of scientists operating under direction of the state Legislature.
The study will be part of a highly anticipated report on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, with the first volume released Wednesday. That report, covering existing well stimulation practices, underscored the profound uncertainties about the amount of developable oil beneath Monterey County and parts south. “We’re going to look at what it would really take to get a good estimate,” said Jane Long, who is spearheading the study for the California Council on Science and Technology.

The effort is one result of SB 4, a 2013 state bill that was the Legislature’s answer to a raging debate about the impacts of hydraulic fracking in California. Santa Cruz County banned fracking, and in November, San Benito County voters did the same there. The Monterey shale underlies the San Joaquin Valley and parts of Monterey County. In 2011, the U.S. Energy Information Agency estimated it held 15.4 billion barrels of untapped oil — more than any place in the U.S.  But in 2014, the agency dramatically lowered its estimate to 600,000 million barrels. The study released Wednesday found both estimates to be unreliable...

Full story at

California is a major oil producer among the states.  Back in the day, there was a major oil boom in California, complete with a related financial scandal:  Possibly, we could have another oil boom - which is what the legislature wants to determine.  Oil can be taxed.  It is a potential source of state revenue.  From time to time, there are attempts to put an oil tax initiative on the ballot.  Oil money for higher ed has been proposed.  But the oil industry is opposed to being taxed and raises the specter of higher gasoline prices.  However, because of the fracking issue, it is possible a deal could be cut - assuming there is lots of oil to be had.  We will see...
Also back in the day

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Periodic Email Reminder

Inside Higher Ed has an article dealing with a request for emails from a public university. While the story is somewhat different from past tales - usually, it has been a right wing group going after a left wing professor and this is the opposite - the basic lesson is that it is highly likely that if someone requests your emails as public records - he/she will get them.  Or at least you should assume so.  Even if you delete your past messages, they live on in a recipients computer which might also be at a public university.

The Inside Higher Ed story is at

There are issues of privacy, etc. One can argue that in a Good World, you would be able to keep your emails private. But that is not where we live. Use the phone for private communications. And we know even that may not do it!  Perhaps, whispering?:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

LAO Comments on Governor's Budget Proposal

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has issued its report on the governor's budget proposal. While not providing detailed tables revising the governor's proposal, the headline story will be that LAO projects more revenue than does the governor. Some of that revenue, a lot, will end up in K-14 and the Prop 2 rainy day fund thanks to formulas built into the budget mechanism by voters. However, the more-revenue headline will be an encouragement to those (including both UC and CSU) seeking increased funding.

LAO has never liked the way the governor simply allocates money to UC and CSU without some kind of formulas or principles that link to goals and enrollments. It repeats that critique in its latest report. Although LAO is supposed to be neutral in the sense of non-partisan, it is a creature of the legislature and thus favors approaches to budgeting that are not exclusively a matter of gubernatorial discretion. If there were formulas or principles driving the higher ed budget allocations, presumably these would be formulas and principles set by, or agreed to, by the legislature.

You can find the LAO report at:

They really want to get in

UC and UCLA are trumpeting the rise in applications for admission for the coming year.*  How does this development play out in the current tuition/funding conflict?  Hard to say.  But if enrollments were to be cut back as a result of the outcome of that conflict, there would be many frustrated parent/voters.  Gov. Brown might get some mileage out of his proposed cap on out-of-state enrollments.  But he could lose support if it appeared that his refusal to add funding led to fewer in-state students.  Some explanations he could offer might not be convincing:

* and

Reminder: Governor's budget proposal is not THE budget; UC Regents tuition/funding proposal is also not final

There is a tendency, when the governor announces a budget proposal in January, to forget that there is no budget until the legislature enacts one. And there won't be one until this coming June. So, in particular, what the governor had to say about UC and its tuition/funding proposal is not the last word. Between now and actual budget time, there will be legislative hearings and proposals, negotiations with the governor, a "May revise" in which the governor will modify his proposal, more information about state revenues, possible changes in the economic outlook for the next fiscal year, etc.

Already, legislative leaders have been pointing to their own goals, which may not be identical to those of the governor.  And don't forget the existence of "direct democracy" in California, i.e., the possibility that initiatives could override what the governor or the legislature might want. We have already seen an initiative petition filed - with credible interest group backing - for K-14 school construction bonds, even though the governor is not keen on having the state pay for local school construction.*

It is also the case that what the regents proposed regarding their tuition/funding plan in November is not their final position, either.  There will be regents meetings between now and June.

We have been pointing to these facts and that it is likely that over the next few months, there will be some kind of negotiation process between UC, the governor, and legislative leaders. What people say in public - for example, at the upcoming mid-January Regents meeting - may not be what they are saying in private.  Positions taken in public may not be bottom line positions.  It might be a good thing, therefore, if those of us on the sidelines weighed what we say - since we are commenting only on what is public.  We have previously posted about the less-than-thoughtful remarks of former Berkeley chancellor Birgeneau made in an op ed.**  Student groups, which are taking "no confidence votes" in the UC president and regents, might also want to weigh consequences of such actions.*** Folks who are not necessarily friends of UC take notice of such things.**** Unless you are a fly on the wall in the negotiations room, it's hard to know how much confidence to have in anyone. It's frustrating, as yours truly knows, but - then again - reality often is.
*See For the actual proposed initiative, see