Monday, August 31, 2015

Getting the shakes

The UC Berkeley student newspaper has hints for students on what to do on the first day of class.

Among the bits of advice:

Don’t forget to shake your professor’s hand when you introduce yourself — professors love handshakes.

For the full set of advice, see

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Memory Loss Issues in the News

There are two memory-related pieces in the LA Times today. One is a follow up on the lawsuit and controversy between USC and UC-San Diego over the recruitment of a UC-SD faculty member by USC who headed a project on Alzheimer's disease. Blog readers will recall that UC-SD was initially successful in court in retaining the project, but apparently has been losing contracts its program had to USC. The piece is essentially an update:

The other piece is (yet another) op ed on microaggressions, trigger warnings, etc. This one, however, is co-authored by Northwestern U president Morton Schapiro. The theme of the op ed is maybe such things have their place. See What is remarkable is president Schapiro's apparent memory loss when it comes to events on his own campus, notably the infamous case of Prof. Laura Kipnis. Kipnis wrote an op ed which led some students to demand she be investigated by campus authorities because her views offended them. The investigation that followed turned into an Orwellian review which came to an abrupt halt when Kipnis exposed what was going on. Once exposed, Northwestern quickly retreated and shut down the investigation. Had Dr. Schapiro consulted this blog, he might have been reminded of these events:

More Med Art

Med Art in 100 Medical Plaza. Couldn't find any signs with title or artist.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Questions will be raised - probably the wrong ones

In recent past postings, we showed the ups and downs of the stock market over the past few days in charts like the one below taken just a few minutes ago:
Rather than focus on the ups and downs over the past few days, note that when you look back over the past year, the market essentially hasn't gone anywhere. Public pensions have been reporting their rates of return over the year ended last June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Not surprisingly, the news reports focus on the fact that they didn't hit their long run target of 7.5%/annum.* Questions are then raised about whether - over the long run - pension funds will hit their target and what that means for calculating pension underfunding. There will be questions about whether the target should be lowered and what the lower target should be.

But there is another set of questions that is typically omitted. Given the fact that the stock market is volatile, why would you expect ordinary employees - who are supposed to be concentrating on their day jobs - to do a better job of putting away adequate funding for retirement - and investing what they do put away - than financial professionals? That's another way of saying, why should you push people into defined contribution pensions rather than defined benefit? If in fact 7.5%/annum is too high a target going forward and a lower rate should be assumed, how would ordinary folks know that in their planning? How would they know whether their implicit targets are the right ones? And what about the insurance aspect? When you pool risk, volatility tends to be smoothed out. There are folks who will be retiring at different times. New folks are entering; retirees are leaving. If everyone has individual accounts, there is no pooling. Note that the facile response that you can always stay on the job longer if things don't come out as planned may not work for folks who - perhaps due to an adverse health event - don't have that option.

Too bad the Committee of Two didn't ponder such questions. Too bad proponents of the pension initiative currently in circulation have no answers, even if they did ponder the right questions. Apart from what might be said in the public comment periods, will any Regents be raising the right questions at their upcoming September sessions? That's one question for which there is a clear answer.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Let's hope

Let's pray:

What could possibly go wrong? (Apologies if the religious symbolism of this posting is a microaggression.)

Did we miss the $25 million brass ring?

We have previously blogged about how UC's prez and the governor negotiated a multiyear pension contribution but the legislature gave only one year with an explicit proviso that it was not obligated for more. Part of the Committee of Two deal - in addition -was that the governor wouldn't veto extra money UC might negotiate with the legislature for added enrollment. However, the legislature was willing to offer substantially less than UC wanted and with a condition that might not be met, specifically an added enrollment of 5,000 in-state students.

The offer was for an extra $25 million. Now the San Francisco Chronicle reports UC won't get that either, at least for this year. Next year? Who knows?

Lawmakers’ attempt to entice the University of California to enroll 5,000 more Californians by promising an extra $25 million has failed this year — in-state admissions actually declined — but the state’s offer will stand for one more year. Concerned that the coveted public institution is closing the door to so many Californians this year while admitting record numbers of students from out of state, lawmakers invited UC admissions officials to address a joint hearing of the Assembly’s Education Finance and Higher Education committees Wednesday...

Stephen Handel, UC’s associate vice president of undergraduate admissions, told the committee how UC bases admissions decisions on 14 criteria that include high school test scores (the top 9 percent of students are automatically admitted to at least one campus), special talents and achievements. He said UC complies with all state requirements on behalf of California students hoping for a spot in the world-class university...

To encourage UC to open the door to more Californians, lawmakers included a provision in the budget that would give UC the extra $25 million if it added 5,000 more California residents either this year or in 2016-17...

“The (UC) president takes this very seriously,” Handel said. “We’ll get back to you very soon.” 

Full story at 

Note: Whether the offer will really be on the table next year is open to question. Next year, there will be a new budget allocation for UC and whether some portion of the money is "extra" or not may be hard to determine.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Does anyone else see a problem?

From the Daily Bruin:

Police arrested a former UCLA personal assistant Thursday for embezzling about $80,000 from a bank account she was assigned to monitor for over a year.

Casandra Carmen Jones, 51, was a hired as a doctor’s temporary personal assistant at the UCLA Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in February 2014, where she was assigned to monitor a university bank account, said UCPD Detective Brian Washburn.

Police said she stole the money from April 2014 to February 2015. After she was moved to a different department, the new personal assistant that replaced her immediately found the discrepancies and told the doctor...

Full story at

A temporary personal assistant assigned to monitor bank accounts? There have been other such events over the years. It has always seemed to yours truly that the accounting rules are designed to prevent you from stealing less than $50. Much time is spent on scrutinizing de minimis amounts. $80,000 is more than $50, so no one notices.

You've got to watch your money:

Abbott & Costello - One Night In The Tropics... by Dunekoff

What would PERB say?

You may have seen the news that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ultimately declined to rule on whether football players at Northwestern U were actually employees who - therefore - had the right to unionize. It didn't say yes or no; rather it dropped the case on technical grounds.

There is an editorial today in the LA Times that reviews the Northwestern case.* Excerpt:

...Faced with (a) rat's nest of legal and jurisdictional issues, the NLRB threw the Northwestern players' labor rights under the team bus...

The NLRB covers most of the private sector at the national level. Public employees in California are covered by the state's Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) under various statutes.** Much of the language of these statutes was copied from the federal law and then adapted to state purposes. PERB is not bound, however, to follow what the NLRB does when similar cases arise. In general, both the NLRB and PERB make rulings as cases come before them; they don't make rulings in the abstract. So here is an interesting question: If someone - presumably a player - brought the same issues to PERB that were raised in the Northwestern case from a UC campus, what would PERB do?

Stay Tuned

Capitol Weekly does an annual list of the 100 most influential people in Sacramento.* It excludes elected officials such as the governor. Each name on the list comes with a short description.

As you scroll down the list (which is headed by Anne Gust Brown, Jerry's wife and chief advisor), you come to number 10:

10. Janet Napolitano: If you’re a connoisseur of resumés, Janet Napolitano’s is a stunner.  As president of the 10-campus University of California, she leads a world-class organization with 10 campuses, five medical centers, 238,700 students and 198,300 employees.  Before that, she was secretary of the sprawling Department of Homeland Security and before that, she was governor of Arizona.  (Time magazine named her one of the nation’s top five governors.) Wait, there’s more. She graduated summa cum laude from California’s Santa Clara University and she holds a Phi Beta Kappa key.  As a former governor, she went head-to-head with Jerry Brown early in 2015 on the university’s budget, threatening to raise tuition unless the state came across with more funding.  No one blinked — at least publically — but Napolitano got additional dollars.  Brown and the Legislature now know they are dealing with a tough and savvy political operative.  Stay tuned.

Stay tuned? OK, let's try it:

* and

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why do we need still more DC?

DC: It's a very old idea that the Committee of Two thought was just what was needed now as a retirement plan for new hires at UC. UC actually has long had a small DC plan plus 403b/457b options for employees that operate like DC plans. Did we really need more? Maybe for the excitement as per below?
Enjoying your DC?
And if you were hoping that you would get insight into the current slide from the news media in managing your DC plan, you might consider, Michael Hiltzik's column in today's LA Times:

"The Dow is trying to stage a recovery here." That's what I heard an anchorperson say on CNBC around 9 a.m. Monday (noon Eastern time). It was as distilled an indication as one could want of why no normal investor should be anywhere near the financial news network during frenetic trading days like this. 

It came as no surprise that many viewers' attention was riveted on CNBC on Monday, given the breadth and severity of the stock market decline Friday. But the remark pointed to one of the problems with CNBC as a source of financial information for the average investor. Personifying the financial markets as entities with will or desire, like human beings or dogs, will inevitably lead investors astray, especially on days like Monday when what appear to be cataclysmic events might prompt the easily spooked into stampeding for the exits. It's time to look at your children's funds; it's time to look at your 529 [college savings] plans.- A rare bit of good advice from CNBC's Jim Cramer on Monday

Yet it was the theme of CNBC's coverage all day: "Stocks staging a stunning comeback," declared anchor Amanda Drury around 1:45 p.m. Eastern. A few hours later, one of her colleagues, sounding like a play-by-play announcer at the World Cup, announced that the Dow Jones  industrial average were "trying to recover from an early 1,000-point plunge."

The truth, obviously, is that as the reflection of millions of individual investment decisions along with algorithm-based trading, the markets don't "stage" anything. Viewing the trading day in the same terms as the running of a horse in the Kentucky Derby or a ball club aiming for a Wild Card berth is a fundamental error. (In the event, the stock market disappointed itself Monday, "staging" several efforts to recover but ultimately closing with a loss of 77.68 points or nearly 4% in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and 588.47 points, or more than 3.5%, in the Dow industrials.) ...

Full column available at

What Hiltzik said about Monday's pop financial advice was even more on offer today when the market was said to be doing more "staging" - until it didn't. 

High-Tech Cheating

Researchers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have identified a way students are cheating to earn credit in MOOCs... According to the researchers, some students are creating at least two accounts in a MOOC — one or more with which to purposely fail assignments in order to discover the correct answers, which they use to ace the assignments in their primary account. The researchers analyzed data from nearly two million course participants in 115 MOOCs offered by MITx and Harvardx, and found that more than 1 percent of the certificates earned appeared to result from this kind of cheating. And among those students who have earned 20 or more certificates, 25 percent had used this strategy to cheat...

Full story at

Such students should clearly face the music:

Another Lesson from the Stock Market

You've probably seen headlines like the one above from the San Francisco Chronicle website in the wake of the big drop in the stock market yesterday (about which we posted yesterday). The essence of such articles - which are really aimed at folks with defined contribution pensions - is that the stock market goes up and down so you shouldn't panic; the down will inevitably be followed by an offsetting up. But wait! If that is the case, shouldn't the headline tell you to buy? In fact, since downs will inevitably be followed by ups, how could the market have gone down in the first place?

If you find all of that to be confusing, you have just discovered the key advantage of defined benefit pensions over defined contribution. With defined benefit, you don't have resolve such issues. You don't have to make your retirement dependent on pop advice from the news media. A defined benefit pension, however, doesn't work out so well if you hop from job to job like certain UC presidents, since it is based on - and provides incentive for - a long-term career attachment. Maybe there is a second lesson there somewhere.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Today's Lesson: Part 2

Our prior post showed a morning view of the chart above and commented on its lessons for the UC pension deal reached by the Committee of Two. But it asked, but obviously couldn't answer, what the chart would look like at the end of the day. Above you have the answer. (It looks worse.) As for tomorrow...

Today's Lesson: Why you should worry about the legislature's one-time allocation to the UC pension

Here is a chart of the S&P 500 stock market index showing the drop today as of about 8:55 am PDT. Do I know what the chart will look like at the end of the day? Next week? Next year? Do you? Does anyone, really? Even the facile news coverage - China problems so everyone was selling!!! - isn't going to tell you much.  (Have you ever stopped to think that every stock sold is a stock bought? It takes two to tango and two to make a sale, a seller and a buyer. So you could just as well say everyone was buying!!!)

In exchange for messing up the UC pension system big time, there was supposed to be a multi-year deal about pension contributions between the UC prez and the governor in the Committee of Two. But the legislature allocated only a one-time/one-year contribution with the explicit proviso that it was promising no more. Now the official line at UCOP and the Regents is not to look at what the legislature said and instead take the governor's word as an ironclad contract even though the legislature enacts budgets, not the governor. But even if we do have some kind of "understanding" with the governor as of now, what happens if the economy and stock market don't go as expected over the next year? What if revenues for the state don't arrive as expected? Revenues are very sensitive to perturbations of the stock market. The last governor had a "compact" with UC that evaporated when hoped-for revenues didn't appear.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Orphan pensions and their relatives

Michael Meranze, who writes for the "Remaking the University" blog, asked for a clarification of the problems of "orphan" pension plans. We don't know at this point what the task force charged with somehow fixing the UCRP plan will do. It already has two tiers, thanks to 2010 pension changes approved by the Regents, and may soon have a third thanks to the Committee of Two deal. (It might also have a fourth if the pension initiative that was recently filed were to pass - although, as noted on this blog, its prospects at the moment appear dim.)

Let's first note that there is a "political" problem when people doing the same work get different benefits, especially if one group gets a tangibly lesser benefit than another. This problem arises even if the two groups are in some sense in the same overall plan but one group has a less advantageous formula. There is a lesser degree of solidarity that results which undermines support for the system.

A strictly "orphan" plan is one in which the plan is totally closed to new hires and thus has obligations to a dwindling proportion of active employees and retirees. If there is any unfunded liability in such a plan, there is no new generation available to provide additional funding. As the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has pointed out, in such a case the trustees of the plan are under increasing pressure to be sure that there is enough money in the plan to pay off its liabilities. So there is both a political issue and a financing issue. There is no indefinite horizon in which to make up for any unanticipated declines in asset values. The only way to be sure all obligations are met is to invest the plan funds in relatively riskless - and thus low return - assets. But as returns go down, the cost of meeting plan obligations goes up. And there is no one new to cover the cost.

Even if a plan isn't strictly an "orphan" in the sense that there are groups of employees, some under less advantageous formulas than others but all in the same umbrella plan, there will be tensions if it appears that less advantaged groups are being "taxed" to make up for any unfunded liability that might be attributed to more advantaged groups.

Finally, let's note that creating a hybrid plan - which is what is likely to emerge from the Committee of Two deal and task force - creates orphan-type problems even if the task force somehow creates a defined contribution (DC) supplement to the now-capped defined benefit (DB) plan the deal envisions so that the sum of the DB and DC plan are by some measure equivalent to the former DB-alone plan. The essence of a DC plan is that the employer puts cash into an account which the recipient then invests with some discretion. Some investments will turn out better than others. There is an iron law that, by definition, 50% are always below the median!!  So even a carefully sculpted DC supplement, that for some "typical" retiree makes up for the Committee of Two cap, there will be after-the-fact situations for individual retirees whose investment choices didn't work out well that will lead them to a sense that they didn't get what was promised. You could in theory eliminate all investment choice so that everyone gets the same guaranteed return - a plan that is technically called a "cash balance" (CB) pension. But you then have to guarantee a rate of return that precisely makes up for the cap.* The problem is that a CB plan inherently has the potential to have an unfunded liability since you are guaranteeing a return in an uncertain world. What if your plan assets turn out to earn less than the guarantee? And would the governor/Dept. of Finance even accept a cash balance plan as meeting the Committee of Two criterion? Or would there be insistence on a DC plan? No one knows.
*We are skimming over yet another problem. What you get from a traditional DB plan depends on the age at which you retire, your years of service, and your final earnings. There is no simple linear formula under DB. DB plans tend to favor long service and older workers disproportionately. A CB plan is inherently a more linear (really log linear) program. (If the guaranteed return is, say, 5% per annum, every year a dollar in your CB account turns into $1.05 the following year.)  Thus, while you might make a DB+CB plan equivalent to a DB-alone plan for an employee with a certain, specified age-plus-service combination, you would be hard pressed to come up with a DB+CB combo plan that was equivalent for every retiree. To put the matter in Shakespearean terms, in the end it's either DB, or not DB. And the Committee of Two has decreed that it's not DB.

The outside pension threat differs from UC's internal threat

What you see above are different faces of a campaign by various unions representing folks covered by CalPERS. All of these three online efforts are currently aimed at the proposed pension initiative that would, over time, essentially kill defined-benefit public plans (such as the one covering UC employees).

While the pension initiative threat seems to have receded for now with the absence of funding to mount a viable signature-gathering campaign, the immediate pension problem for UC differs in an important way. The proposed pension initiative is an external threat. It was not generated by CalPERS or any state entity. The threat to UC is internal since it was negotiated by the UC prez as part of the "Committee of Two" deal. Given that fact, no one within the UC establishment - and certainly not within the Regents - can admit that "mistakes were made." For example, did the UC prez realize that the pension cap she negotiated is not just a cap on the final monthly pension but on the portion of salary that the pension would cover. That is, it would reduce the pensions of faculty who would not earn a pension as high as the cap. The fix that is needed to repair the damage - assuming that nothing can be done about the deal itself - is therefore not simple. Moreover, as a practical matter, a deal/fix has to be designed in the next few months. Unlike the 2010 UC pension changes, there is little time for the kind of forums and participation that occurred back then.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Worth Listening To

We have noted on this blog that UCLA Communication Studies has a YouTube channel with audio recordings of lectures, especially from the 1960s.

One of these is the well-known "Knowledge Industry" lecture at Harvard of then-UC president Clark Kerr, dated March 5-6, 1963. With hindsight, we know that 1963 was the lull before the storm at UC and other universities. But it is interesting to listen with hindsight to Kerr's views at that time about the role of the university ("multi-versity" as he put it) in the larger society. Particularly in the link to Part 2 of the lecture below, he notes the soon-to-be entering baby boomers, predicts that advances in the biological sciences would be the Big Thing of the late 20th century, talks about universities using TV to spread knowledge, says that universities are becoming cultural centers as well as traditional educational institutions. He worries about neglect of undergraduates and balancing research and teaching and takes up Cold War concerns.

Part 1 (poor audio quality at beginning)

Part 2 (a bit of overlap with the end of Part 1)

Another reminder of when campus parking was free and easy

Note the cars at the bottom of the hill in the athletics area.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Will Santa Monica Hardware Store Be Screwed by UCLA?

From the Santa Monica Daily Press:

Busy Bee Hardware, located at 1521 Santa Monica Blvd., is being sued by the Regents of the University of California for damages caused to their property at 1525 Santa Monica Blvd. The two properties are adjacent to each other and the dispute is based on a shared wall that is part of the Busy Bee business, but sits on the UCLA [health] property...

Busy Bee... hired a lawyer when the situation began in 2014; they cannot afford ongoing legal fees and are currently without legal representation. “[Busy Bee] has been running at a loss over the past few years, partially due to current economic challenges, but most severely impacted in a negative way over the last year while UCLA was demolishing the building next door, we saw an immediate and substantial loss of customer flow that coincided with the demolition project next door,” [Joseph Hunter, supervisor of Busy Bee] said. Hunter said that if this case goes to trial, “Busy Bee will most certainly go bankrupt.”

The Top 10 Ranking UCLA Missed

Inside Higher Ed took advantage of the recent hack of the Ashley Madison website - which promised confidential adultery - to calculate which universities' "edu" email addresses put them in the top 10 ranking of users.*

UCLA didn't make the top 10 ranking as per the chart below. [Click to enlarge.] In fact, no UC campuses made it. Perhaps if we had more of Gov. Brown's online education...


Thursday, August 20, 2015

No Sugar Daddies So Far for Pension Initiative Proponents

The State Worker blog of the Sacramento Bee has an article indicating that the proponents of the pension initiative - that would sweep in UC - haven't found a sugar daddy to fund a campaign to gather signatures or a full-fledged campaign actually to enact the initiative if it were to get on the ballot.*

You can read the whole article - which talks about mounting a "grassroots" campaign for signatures - but here is the key point:

...DeMaio’s political committee, California Reform, had $28,910.88 in the bank at the end of June. Contributions through the first half of the year totaled $45,974, including an $8,000 loan from DiMaio in March...

A signature-gathering campaign typically costs $2 million and up nowadays.

It's clear what the proponents need, but don't have:


No ofFence intended; Just a suggestion

The Sacramento Bee has an article indicating that a fence is being constructed around the chancellor's residence at Berkeley.* The house is in the middle of campus and has been subject to demonstrations, etc., over the years.

Despite the old good-fences-make-good-neighbors principle, there is an alternative, one already pioneered by UCOP. Back in the day, "University Hall" - where UCOP was then located - was right next to the Berkeley campus. So one day the powers-that-be just up and moved their headquarters to Oakland, far away from campus demonstrators. Why not do the same for the chancellor's house? There has to be a vacant lot somewhere in Oakland. Other universities have moved houses:

After all, who wants a fence?



From Inside Higher Ed today:

In Iowa on Monday, Senator Marco Rubio, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, spoke about his vision for reforming higher education, and encouraged more people to enter vocationally oriented programs. Rubio said it was important for students to know their chances at good jobs after finishing various programs. "So you can decide if it's worth borrowing $50,000 to major in Greek philosophy," The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier reported Rubio as saying. 

"Because after all, the market for Greek philosophers has been very tight for 2,000 years."...

Full article at

Hey, Marco! Check it out: [click to enlarge]

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Received from the authorities:

Starting today, repaving of two-thirds of the De Neve loop will begin per the attached plan. 

Phase 1: Wed. 8/19-Sat. 8/22 is the section from the Saxon basketball courts to Parking Lot 11;
Phase 2: Mon. 8/31-Thurs. 9/3 is the section from Bellagio to the Covel Stairs. 

These will be full closures of the work areas.  However, Charles E Young Dr. W and the top of Bellagio will only be affected from 4AM to 6AM to minimize the outages. 


Story at
Earthlings! Admit us! We pay full tuition!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Yet More Med Art

This item, which resides in a conference room in the 200 Med Plaza Building, is entitled "Tussah II" by Patricia Davis. The dark rectangular shape is a reflection of a monitor for conference calls, not a part of the artwork.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Are college football players employees? NLRB declines to decide

From NLRB emailed news release today:

In a unanimous decision, the National Labor Board declined to assert jurisdiction in the case involving Northwestern University football players who receive grant-in-aid scholarships. The Board did not determine if the players were statutory employees under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  Instead, the Board exercised its discretion not to assert jurisdiction and dismissed the representation petition filed by the union. 
In the decision, the Board held that asserting jurisdiction would not promote labor stability due to the nature and structure of NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). By statute the Board does not have jurisdiction over state-run colleges and universities, which constitute 108 of the roughly 125 FBS teams. In addition, every school in the Big Ten, except Northwestern, is a state-run institution.  As the NCAA and conference maintain substantial control over individual teams, the Board held that asserting jurisdiction over a single team would not promote stability in labor relations across the league. This decision is narrowly focused to apply only to the players in this case and does not preclude reconsideration of this issue in the future...

Cottage Industry

Cottage Industry: Where's Janet?
For the last four years, a little-known civil rights office in the U.S. Department of Education has forced far-reaching changes in how the nation’s colleges and universities police, prosecute and punish sexual assaults on campus...

Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California and a former prosecutor and secretary of Homeland Security, warned in an article in the Yale Law & Policy Review published online this month that "a cottage industry is being created" on campuses dedicated to handling tasks that fall outside the expertise of colleges and universities. "Rather than pushing institutions to become surrogates for the criminal justice system," she said, policymakers should ask if "more work should be done to improve that system’s handling and prosecution of sexual assault cases." Under pressure from the Office for Civil Rights, campuses are rushing to set up a parallel legal system to investigate and rule upon murky encounters that often involve inebriated students. They must decide within 60 days whether it is "more likely than not" that an alleged perpetrator was guilty. And they make those decisions without many of the legal protections associated with a criminal trial...

Full story at

The Yale Law & Policy Review article is at: 

(As you might expect, the article goes on for pages and pages describing the requirements and praising the intent of the requirements before sticking the knife in and twisting.)

Housing Alternatives

When he moves off campus this fall, UCLA junior Will Van Der Wey said, he will miss the variety of dining hall meals. His homemade sandwiches just aren't going to be as appealing. But even if his food options shrink, his budget won't. After sharing dorm rooms for two years, he is moving to a two-bedroom apartment in the Westwood area that he said will offer the chance to live and eat more cheaply, and have more independence from university-controlled housing. With rent shared by three friends and lower food costs, he anticipates saving about $2,000 by next summer, even after having to buy some second-hand furniture and dishes, silverware and glasses.

"Given the cost of tuition, a lot of students are eager to look for ways to save money. If moving off campus is a cheaper alternative than the dorms, that alone is enough to justify the decision," said the biology major from San Jose…

Among their many options, UCLA students this year can pay $11,436 for a bed in a triple and a food plan providing 11 meals a week, or $14,090 for a double room and 19 meals a week. (UCLA estimates that a student can reduce costs by about $4,000 by living off campus in an apartment and, of course, can cut costs much lower by living with family.)…

Of course, there’ll soon be the Grand Hotel! Why not stay there?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Med Art continued

"Homeless Fish" by Reza Kassai in the 200 Medical Plaza Building

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Count the bad ideas in CA pension overhaul proposal: Column by Michael Hiltzik

Along with taxation and immigration, one political issue that never seems to go away is the cost of public employees, especially their pensions. Public retirement plans are consistently blamed for local and state budget woes. Any time a community runs into fiscal trouble, its workers are among the first to be demonized, and often bear the brunt of the remedies. After all, pension obligations are typically among the largest liabilities any government entity must bear, so why not hack away? In California, pension overhaul proposals have become a perennial feature of state and local ballot campaigns. Failed proposals were aimed at the statewide ballot twice in the last four years, and the proponents of the last effort, in 2014, have started the ball rolling for a new measure. Like so many voter initiatives, the "Voter Empowerment Act of 2016" has a few reasonable-sounding nuggets buried within a landscape of bad ideas. Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris gave the measure its formal title and summary last week. So its proponents, former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, and former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican, can shortly start collecting signatures to place it on the November 2016 ballot. As one can tell from their name for it, the measure will be pitched merely as a way to give taxpayers a direct vote on the pension plans of their public servants. But there's much more to it than that. The Wall Street Journal described the measure as one that would "end defined-benefit pensions and save taxpayers billions of dollars." The measure would end defined benefit plans for new public employees as of Jan. 1, 2019, unless voters affirmatively continue them. But the second part of the phrase is arguable, as the cost of terminating plans could be high...

Full column at

As we have noted many times, UC is included in this proposed initiative. The only "iffy" element in the initiative is whether the proponents have a sugar daddy or daddies to finance a signature-gathering campaign and then an election campaign, all of which would cost in the tens of millions of dollars. Whether they do or not, being perpetual "bipartisan" proponents will likely guarantee them a good living and a nice retirement.

Our med art series continues

"Night Lights from 3000 Feet" by Saritha Margon
200 Med Plaza Building

Friday, August 14, 2015

FYI: Sexual harassment and sexual violence training

From: Dean and Vice Provost Robin L. Garrell
Sent: Friday, August 14, 2015 11:18 AM

To: (removed)

Subject: Sexual Violence Prevention Training for Graduate Students

UCLA logoGraduate Division
Deans, Directors, Department Chairs, and Administrative Officers
As we move into the new academic year, I’d like to provide an update on a new program to support the University’s commitment to maintaining an environment in which all persons who live, work, and learn in our campus community can be free of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence.
You may recall that UCLA is obligated under law and policy to provide our graduate and professional school students with sexual violence prevention education. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 requires that all new students be offered prevention and awareness programs with specific content mandated by law. In addition, the University of California’s Interim Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence (June 17, 2015) requires each campus to provide mandatory sexual violence prevention education to all incoming students to promote awareness of sexual violence, the definition of consent, options for bystander intervention, and risk reduction awareness information.
Starting this academic year, each incoming graduate or professional school student will be required to complete an online educational program Think About It: Graduate Students to fulfill our mandated legal and policy requirements for sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention education. Think About It: Graduate Students recognizes graduate students’ unique position on campus and gives them the tools they need to play an important role in UCLA’s sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention efforts.
Below are some questions and answers regarding the training requirements and the delivery ofThink About It: Graduate Students. Should you have other questions, do not hesitate to contact UCLA’s Title IX coordinator, Kathleen Salvaty (, who has been working with the Graduate Division in meeting these important mandates.
Thank you again for your commitment to eliminating sexual harassment and sexual violence in our UCLA community.
With best wishes,
Robin L. Garrell
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean, Graduate Division

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Suit May Be a Heads-Up for UC

College athletics is already in the news due to various legal actions that raise the issue of whether such activities are really university-run businesses. The injury angle now enters:

A former UC Berkeley football player has sued the University of California over alleged medical malpractice surrounding the prevention and treatment of concussions. Bernard Hicks played for the Golden Bears from 2004 to 2008 and suffered from multiple concussions during games and practices, according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 3 against the Regents of the University of California. The suit claims that the university failed to take reasonable measures to prevent head injuries. According to Hicks’ attorney, Matthew Whibley, the university did not inform players of the long-term neurological diseases associated with concussions and subconcussive injuries to the head...

Full story at

UCLA Med Art - still more

Bruce End of Day, by Osamu Saito (200 Medical Plaza Building)

Yours truly is in transit. Light blogging next few days.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lost UCLA data may be gain for someone

From the Daily Bruin:

A Los Angeles man filed a class action lawsuit against UCLA Health, alleging the health care provider did not adequately store private medical information of about 4.5 million patients during the recent cyber attack, a law firm announced Tuesday. Miguel Ortiz filed the complaint against UCLA Health, UCLA Medical Sciences and University of California Board of Regents in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on July 29. He and his family were patients at UCLA Health during the time of the cyber attack. The lawsuit seeks for UCLA to engage third party security auditors and internal security personnel to test computer systems on a periodic basis according to industry standard practices, and take other security and preventative measures. Ortiz also seeks monetary relief for any damage caused by the cyber attack. This is the second lawsuit filed by a patient since the attack. Another UCLA Health patient, Michael Allen, said in his lawsuit that he seeks monetary or statutory compensation and relief for patients affected by the attack from UCLA Health and the Board of Regents...

The lawsuit stated that though UCLA knew of its history of data breaches, it not take the adequate steps to safeguard patient information. In addition, the lawsuit asserted that by failing to invest in adequate security and take basic steps to protect information, UCLA Health failed to perform its duty to patients. The lawsuit accused UCLA of waiting eight months to notify patients of the attack. UCLA declined to comment further on these matters...

Full story at

Yours truly continues to advise freezing access to your credit at the three credit rating agencies. It's not hard to do. It is a bit of a hassle to arrange a temporary unfreezing if you need to do something such as acquire a new credit card, mortgage, etc. But it is doable and less of a hassle than having your ID stolen.