Sunday, January 31, 2016

Suggestion: Fill it out before midnight

If you are a faculty member, you probably got the email below asking you to fill out an online survey of priorities for teaching assistance (with a deadline of midnight tonight). Yours truly is a great believer in priorities and I think the priority nowadays should be in the realm of use of technology. I filled out the survey consistent with that objective.


Dear Faculty Member,
As the Acting Co-Directors of OID, we are committed to support teaching excellence at UCLA. In line with this commitment, we have developed a survey to gather your input on various services and supports that impact teaching—including consultations, training, funding, assessment, and technology. This survey should take about five minutes to complete. You may complete it anonymously, although you will have the option to provide contact information if you wish to participate in a follow-up interview.
Please take a moment to complete this brief survey at your earliest convenience: {I am omitting the survey's address since only instructional faculty are eligible to fill it out; email me for the address if you don't have it.} Survey responses will inform our efforts to enhance instructional support at UCLA, and we very much appreciate your feedback! The deadline to submit your response is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, January 31st.
If you have already completed a survey, please disregard this announcement.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at
Professor Kathleen Komar and Robert Gibson, Ph.D.
Acting Co-Directors
Office of Instructional Development

Saturday, January 30, 2016

UC Email Spyware Disclosed

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Cal professors fear UC bosses will snoop on them

By Matier & Ross January 29, 2016

UC Berkeley faculty members are buzzing over news that University of California President Janet Napolitano ordered the installation of computer hardware capable of monitoring all e-mails going in and out of the UC system.

“The intrusive device is capable of capturing and analyzing all network traffic to and from the Berkeley campus and has enough local storage to save over 30 days of all this data,” Ethan Ligon, one of six members of the school’s Senate-Administration Joint Committee on Campus Information Technology, wrote in an e-mail Thursday to fellow faculty members.

Information that the hardware gathers, Ligon wrote, “can be presumed to include your e-mail, all the websites you visit, all the data you receive from off campus or data you send off campus.”

Napolitano’s office defends the action “by relying on secret legal determinations and painting lurid pictures of ‘advanced persistent threat actors’ from which we must be kept safe,” Ligon wrote. UC officials “further promise not to invade our privacy unnecessarily, while the same time implementing systems designed to do exactly that.

“This secret monitoring is ongoing.”

UC spokesman Steve Montiel confirmed that Napolitano, former head of the federal Department of Homeland Security, had a security system installed after a cyberattack on the UCLA Medical Center in July in which medical records of an estimated 4.5 million people were hacked into. Montiel said the system is capable of monitoring e-mails, but UC officials have no intention of peeking at professors’ correspondence or checking their website visits.

“We are not interested in any way in the content of anyone’s personal e-mails — we are interested in security across the system,” Montiel said. “You can’t have privacy without security.”

In a Jan. 18 letter to faculty and staff, UC Chief Operating Officer Rachael Nava said, “I understand that some faculty members may be concerned about storage and use of data collected through network security analysis, including questions about data being used by the university for other, unrelated purposes.”

She added, however, that UC policy “forbids the university from using such data for nonsecurity purposes.”

Benjamin Hermalin, chairman of the UC Berkeley Academic Senate, said the faculty understood the need for tighter security in the wake of the UCLA breach — but questioned how it was being done.

“What has upset a lot of the faculty was that the surveillance was put in place without consulting the faculty,” he said. “In fact, the people installing the system were under strict instructions not to reveal it was taking place.

Hermalin said there were also concerns about how and where the data would be stored and who would have access to it — questions that remain unanswered.

“This is a university. The students are not employees,” Ligon said in an interview, noting that the UC system could easily sweep up their correspondence with professors.

For faculty members, Ligon said, “the conditions of employment very explicitly do not include any restrictions on our speech.”

“And finally,” Ligon added, “this is Berkeley. We have both a vibrant, expressive population of faculty and students, and also a very highly qualified set of IT people who are already charged with dealing with security and privacy on our network.”

Full column at

No Eviction by the VA

Blog readers may recall that there was pressure to evict UCLA from its use of the Jackie Robinson Stadium in the VA complex. Apparently, the university has averted that fate (at a cost):

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald today announced a stronger academic affiliation to benefit our nation’s veterans as UCLA committed to providing $1.15 million annually in support of new programs and services, approximately $200,000 of in-kind contributions and $300,000 a year in fair-market rent for the continued use of Jackie Robinson Stadium. New and expanded services will include mental health, family support, legal advocacy and recreation services...

Full media release at

Friday, January 29, 2016

Apparently, there is nothing much to complain about

It seems that part of the Committee of Two deal is that whatever the governor offers is fine with just a little tweak and we sure hope the legislature gives us that:

Dear Advocate,

As the 2016-17 legislative sessions begins, the University of California has already been very active in Sacramento.  Your assistance has proven critical as we have worked to ensure that UC gets the resources it needs from the State. I wanted to provide you with a current update, and I hope to be able to call on your assistance again later this year as this session moves forward.  

Governor Brown’s 2016-17 budget proposal released January 7 demonstrates ongoing support for higher education.  Consistent with the framework we reached last year, his budget includes a continuing increase to the University’s base budget along with one-time funds to help UC address deferred maintenance and costs associated with the UC retirement system.  This state support is critical in ensuring that we maintain access, affordability and quality for our students.

The Governor’s 2016-17 budget proposal includes the following:
•   A 4% base budget adjustment ($125.4 million from state general fund)
•   $35 million from state general fund for deferred maintenance
•   $25 million from Cap and Trade for energy efficiency (originally proposed in the Governor’s 2015-16 May revision) 
•   $171 million in Proposition 2 funds dedicated to addressing unfunded liability in the UC retirement plan.  

The University respectfully requests approval of these items from the Legislature.  

Enrollment Growth Request for 2016-17 Budget

UC will be enrolling 5,000 additional California undergraduate students next year, with significant growth at every campus.   Many of these students will be transferring from California’s community colleges, where we saw a 12% increase in applications.   In order to ensure a quality education and to support the additional faculty required to teach these students, the UC Regents requested an additional $6 million from the State to enroll 600 additional graduate students. Unfortunately, the Governor did not provide the requested funding in his budget. We will be working with the legislature this session in order to secure these critical funds.  

The University will be looking to grow enrollment of California undergraduate students by 10,000 students over the next three years, and I look forward to working with you as we work collectively with the State to ensure that we have sufficient funding to meet this plan and to address the challenges and opportunities that this presents.  

Once again, thank you for your continued interest and engagement in public higher education advocacy.  We will be back at appropriate times in the legislative process to ask for your support.  In the meantime, we hope you will discuss our budget priorities with friends and colleagues as well as elected officials in your district.

Fiat Lux!
Janet Napolitano
University of California
So not to worry:

Listen to the Regents meeting of of Jan. 21, 2016

As promised, below is a link to the audio of the Regents meeting of January 21. As we have noted, the Regents “archive” their meetings for one year. We keep them indefinitely but that requires real time recording, i.e., one hour of meeting requires one hour of recording time. So we cannot always provide immediate posting.

The Jan. 21 meeting began with public comments. Topics included a teacher shortage in K-12, fossil fuel divestment, student housing costs, the student advisor proposal, and the Tier 3 pension proposal. In the case of the last, nurse representatives were especially adamant in opposition.

Editor's Note: Given the time frame and state labor law, if the nurses' union doesn't agree to a Tier 3 pension, it is doubtful that a legally-defined "impasse" could be declared soon enough for UC to implement the pension anyway by July 1 for nurses (or any other union group that fails to agree). Under state law, UC must bargain in good faith before changing the pension for any union group. So would newly hired faculty on July 1 get a degraded pension while unionized new hires don't? If UC tried to implement a Tier 3 pension for a unionized group without a legally-impasse on July 1, PERB would declare it an unfair labor practice and order the implementation undone retroactively.

The Committee on Educational Policy meeting was delayed briefly by noise as public commenters exited. The noise did not appear to be a demonstration but the mike was turned off. After the noise ended, the Committee had a presentation about CERN research including the UC component.

There were generally favorable remarks about the additional student advisor proposal which was eventually approved by the Committee on Governance. Questions were raised about why UC campus chancellors were not routinely in attendance at Regents meetings. (Chancellors tend to show up when they want something approved by the Regents – typically a building – for their campuses.)

Grounds and Buildings heard a presentation by UC-San Francisco about a $336 million building to be financed by gifts and “debt.” The proposal was incomplete and will return in March. Compensation packages were approved for athletic coaches and executives. Finally, UC prez Napolitano reported on various faculty awards.

You can hear the audio at the link below:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Don't Do It - Part 2

Another email fraud message has arrived, again seemingly from someone in the UCLA medical area. See our previous post. In this case, the name does not appear in the UCLA directory. So again, do NOT click on any links in the message if you receive it, or anything like it.

From: (name)
Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 9:17 AM
To: (name)
Subject: 2016 MAINTENANCE.
Login Now
Quota Check
Check your quota to see how much of your Mail Quota you are using. If you are at or near the limits, you should delete old messages or move them to your local computer.
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Login to add a message filter and prevent spam email into your inbox.
welcome back on campus.

Again, "© ADMIN TEAM 2016" is a pretty good tip off of email fraud. So is "welcome back on campus" coming in the middle of the quarter and without an upper case W.

Don't Do It!

Yours truly received this email which appears to come from a UCLA address but is likely to be a dangerous fraud. If you receive it, do NOT click on any links. There are two in the message. Delete the email. (Although there are some individuals in the UCLA directory with the name given in the email, none appear to be connected with Nursing.

From: (name)
Sent: Thursday, January 28, 2016 6:59 AM
To: (name) (Nursing MICU)
Subject: set up your filter preference.
Dear User,
We are checking incoming email to try to determine if it is spam. please Use our "My Email Options" to set up filter preferences to move them out of your Inbox into a new "SPAM" folder. No automated technique can determine with 100% accuracy if a message is spam. Check your "SPAM" folder regularly for legitimate messages that were incorrectly marked as spam, but with this set up all legitimate email will be sent to your inbox. as well as to delete the actual spam. You can also set up a list of email addresses to be ignored by the spam filter.

Apart from the name problem - I have omitted the name used above - "© ADMIN TEAM 2016" is another earmark of fraud.

The Irvine Flag Story Seems Endless: Interest in it doesn't flag

You may recall some time back there was an incident about a student group at UC-Irvine that didn't want to post an American flag. A brouhaha was set in motion. (If you don't recall it, use the search engine on this blog and put in the word "flag.") Somehow, the incident seems to have sprung back to life:

UC Irvine officials Wednesday rejected the campus’ black student union‘s demands that the university’s police force be disbanded due to allegations of abuse of power. The organization accused two educators* of “interrogating” a black student and buttonholing them into making a “public apology” or else “they would not receive protection against the multitude of death threats and vulgar insults they were receiving day and night from students on UCI’s campus and the citizens of Orange County.” The organization claimed one student “received multiple emails and phone calls in which people threatened to lynch and rape her.” The group alleged that university officials made her contact information public. The organization argues that the threats came after the student joined five classmates in voting to pass a resolution banning the displays of flags from any nation in a student government room.
UCI officials denied the claims and praised its police force...
The story is unclear about who the "educators" were.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pay Less; Say More

...Assemblymen Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, and Jose Medina, D-Riverside, on Tuesday announced a proposal to withhold state funding from UC unless it caps the amount of out-of-state and international undergraduates on its campuses at their current level of 15.5 percent systemwide. Assembly Bill 1711 also would mandate that at least half of the money generated from nonresidents’ supplemental fees be used to support more slots for California students...

Full story at
Read more here:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

UCLA History: Been There, Done That

1984 (Not the Orwell version)
The Los Angeles 2024 Olympic bid committee has announced it will propose putting the Olympic Village, where athletes are housed, at UCLA’s residential facilities, while the media village would be located at the USC campus.

Monday, January 25, 2016

It seems endless

Pension opponents - while unable to fund an initiative in 2016 - seem to go on and on and on...

A bipartisan group announced the end last week of an attempt to put a public pension reform initiative on the ballot this fall, aiming instead for the November 2018 ballot. Its refiled initiative also may be put into a bill in the Legislature. A bill that would cut the growing costs of state and local government pensions by reducing retirement benefits for new hires presumably would be dead on arrival...

But for the reform group, a bill could result in a legislative hearing publicizing a proposed initiative, expose flaws or errors that need correction, and provide a minor campaign talking point: We tried to get the Legislature to do it...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Unhappy Faces

Yours truly couldn't find a plaque saying what these faces (above) near the UCLA sculpture garden are unhappy about. Perhaps they are new UC hires starting July 1, 2016 contemplating their Tier 3 pension benefits. Just a thought.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Two Charts to Contemplate


Senate Meeting on Tier 3 Pension: Jan. 28

The UCLA Academic Senate will be holding a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, January 28, 2016, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. in Kerckhoff Hall, Grand Salon.

The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the new pension plan proposal which is under consideration by President Napolitano. As part of last year’s budget negotiations with Governor Brown, President Napolitano agreed to revise UC pensions under the 2013 agreement.

In spring 2015, the California Legislature, Governor Brown and President Napolitano agreed to the University of California imposing a maximum pension limit of approximately $117,000 for all UC employees hired after July 1, 2016; this limit is consistent with the limit used for all non-UC state employees. This agreement included a stipulation that, in return, the State would provide $436 million dollars over three years to help reduce UC’s unfunded pension liability.

President Napolitano appointed a Retirement Options Task Force (ROTF), with the charge to make recommendations for a supplementary pension benefits plan for UC Faculty and Staff that would complement the new pension plan. The Retirement Options Task Force report is available here; also available is a Guide to reviewing the Report and a Fact Sheet.

We realize that the timeline is short, but in order to provide comments to the Systemwide Academic Senate by February 5, we hope to you are able to attend the Town Hall meeting on Thursday, January 28, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. in Kerckhoff Hall, Grand Salon.

If you are not able to attend, please send your comments directly to Linda Mohr at



The screenshot above is one of our periodic warning not to click on emails that seem to come from reliable sources. The one above [click on it to enlarge] appears to come from YouTube. But the return email address is not YouTube. The English-language usage is unconsciously poor. These are the earmarks of malicious spam.

Friday, January 22, 2016


From the Daily Bruin:

The University of California regents voted on Thursday to add a new student adviser to their board, pushing through a resolution proposed by Student Regent Avi Oved last year.
The Committee on Governance unanimously approved the new position at the January regents meeting in San Francisco.
Oved spearheaded the effort to add the adviser position, saying its creation would bring a more diverse perspective to the regents.
The student adviser will serve on three committees, prioritizing the ones the student regent and the student regent-designate do not serve. The adviser will have no voting power, but will make recommendations to the board on issues of concern to the student population. Additionally, the student adviser will only have access to open-session regents meetings.
The project will be launched as a two-year pilot program with the search for the new student adviser beginning next academic year, Oved said. He added the new adviser will take office July 2017...
As we have noted in prior postings, this may be the occasion for looking at whether the faculty should have at least one voting Regent.
Also as noted, it takes time for us to record the Regents' meetings in real time so that they will be indefinitely archived. We will eventually get to it. We have already posted the prior day session.


The university seems to be making a distinction between non-sexual and sexual assault in the court case described below. It seems to say that in the latter case, it has a duty to keep students safe - given all the efforts surrounding sexual harassment and assault - but not in the former. Perhaps our non-legal minds is missing some point here.

In a unanimous decision, the court granted a petition to review a 2-1 ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeals last year that dismissed a lawsuit filed against the University of California regents by former UCLA student Katherine Rosen, who in 2010 was stabbed and had her throat slashed by a mentally ill classmate in her chemistry lab. The lawsuit alleged that in the months before the attack, UCLA officials and professors had received reports of disturbing behavior by Rosen's assailant, Damon Thompson.
Thompson had been diagnosed as having paranoid delusions, was possibly suffering from schizophrenia and had been expelled from student housing after a physical altercation with another resident, according to court documents. UCLA failed to respond to the warnings, and did not alert students to his potentially violent behavior, the lawsuit alleged.
In 2010, a judge found Thompson, who admitted to the stabbing, not guilty by reason of insanity.
A different judge previously denied a request by the UC regents to dismiss the lawsuit. That decision was appealed, resulting in the appellate court ruling…

Clarity would be appreciated

Inside Higher Ed has a story today about one UC-related survey of students replacing another. 

The University of California system has redesigned its undergraduate experience survey, positioning the questionnaire as an alternative to the National Survey of Student Engagement. This spring, the Student Experience in the Research University survey, as the California survey is called, will be administered to the nine UC campuses that offer undergraduate programs, 14 other members of the Association of American Universities and 11 international institutions in Europe and Asia.
The survey focuses on five facets of undergraduate education: social skills development, personal development, academic skills development, civic engagement, and economic opportunity and security. Steven Brint, vice provost of undergraduate education at the University of California at Riverside and co-chair of the committee that redesigned the survey, said the SERU survey is "a better fit" for public research universities than the NSSE survey...
Unfortunately, although you can poke around at the links in the story, no copy of the survey appears. Is it another campus climate survey but just for students? What are the costs entailed? Such things would be nice to know. 
Mysteries are fine but...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

CUCFA Statement on Pension Cuts for New Hires


This is the statement released today by the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA). A link to their petition can be found below.

The University of California is currently considering introducing a new pension plan for its employees hired after 2016.  These proposed changes will dramatically reduce pension benefits for most new faculty. The Academic Senate will be reviewing the proposals over the next few weeks. Your opportunity to provide input to the Senate lasts just a couple weeks. For some purposes, it will be most effective to provide input this week. Contact information is at the end of this document.

This ill-conceived and ill-advised plan, which was negotiated behind closed doors by President Napolitano and Governor Brown without any engagement with the Academic Senate, the Regents, the Legislature, or the larger university community, will do serious damage to the quality of the University of California.

While the details are highly technical the implications are not:

1) This is a serious cut in benefits to faculty and many other professional staff, such as staff scientists and nurses, hired after July 2016.  (See pages 44, 45 and 84 of the task force report.)

2) UC faculty are already much more poorly compensated than faculty at UC's peer institutions despite the fact that the cost of living in most parts of California is very high. This plan will make it much harder to attract faculty and other professionals and keep them here.

3) This plan does not do anything to make the existing pension system healthier and could actually decrease the rate at which the unfunded liability is retired. (See page 57 of the task force report.)

We agree with the assessment of Academic Senate leaders J. Daniel Hare and James A. Chalfant's analysis, who concluded:

"If salaries don't increase to compensate for these reduced benefits, then UC will have to settle for a lower-quality of faculty who did not receive better offers elsewhere. Many UC faculty members were hired in spite of more lucrative salary offers elsewhere, just as many have either declined outside offers or declined to pursue them. It may have been true at one time that benefits made up for our uncompetitive salaries. The 2014 Total Remuneration Study showed that no longer to be the case. While salaries and benefits continue to lag, and we are contemplating making the lag even greater with the new-tier options, it is important to note that most of the non-pecuniary attributes of UC employment also are declining."

As Academic Senate Chair Dan Hare stated in his remarks to the Regents in September:

"Any reduction in either salary or benefits surely will have consequences for the ability of UC to build and retain a future faculty that is as distinguished as the current faculty. As recommendations are brought forward in early 2016, I encourage the Regents to carefully consider not only the budgetary cost of future retirement options, but also their impact on how faculty members behave in terms of recruitment and retention. If we are not careful, small budgetary savings will risk far greater costs to the University, our students, and the citizens of California."

We urge you to sign our petition to express your opposition to proposed changes to the UC Retirement Plan. We will forward the names of those that sign to local campus faculty welfare committees so they are aware of local concern about this issue.

UCOP has also set up a comment link where you can provide your feedback on the task force recommendations. We urge you to express your concerns about the plan there and please also send a copy of your comments to us at

Webinars on Tier 3 Pension Proposal

UC Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, Rachael Nava, who chaired the task force that developed the Tier 3 pension proposal, will hold two webinars in February to discuss the recommendations with and field questions from interested UC faculty and staff:
  • Webinar #1: Monday, Feb. 1, 2:30 p.m.­ – 4 p.m.
  • Webinar #2: Wednesday, Feb. 10, 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
To join each webinar:
— Enter the participant code: 5854736

Listen to the Regents Meeting of Jan. 20, 2016

As promised, we provide an indefinite archiving of yesterday's Regents meeting at the link below.

The meeting began with public comments. Topics included overcrowding in classes due to the planned admission of an extra 10,000 students, a demand that UC divest from Wells Fargo in relation to that firm's connection with private prisons, UC's sexual harassment policy (the requirement that misconduct be reported even when the victim objects), antisemitism incidents including at UCLA, union issues of pay and concerns about the Tier 3 pension proposal for new hires, space needs for mental health services, and the proposal to add a student advisor to the Regents.

UC prez Napolitano described a plan to house the extra students (eventually) and spoke about climate change research. Faculty representative Dan Hare raised concerns about the problems caused by adding 10,000 students without adequate facilities and resources.

The Committee on Education Policy quickly approved a new Herb Alpert Music School at UCLA. Concerns were expressed about a reported drop in enrollment of California students despite a rise in applications.

At the Committee on Finance, there was a discussion of the governor's budget proposal for UC. A proposal for an increase in tuition for certain profession grad student programs was tabled, especially because of concerns about nursing programs. It appears that the proposal involved comparisons with tuition at other institutions and the proposed increases were out of keeping with prior regental policy concerning the results of such comparisons. The proposal will be re-presented at the March meeting of the Regents.

There was a progress report on the much-delayed and over-budget UCPath payroll and HR system which is now functioning for UCOP. it is supposed to be rolled out to three campuses - Riverside, Merced, and UCLA - some time this calendar year. There was also a report on the captive "Fiat Lux" insurance company run by UC. It appears that most of the business so far is contracted out to other commercial insurance firms.

Finally, problems faced by low-income students were discussed.

The afternoon part of the meeting consisted of closed sessions.

A link to the audio of the meeting is below:

Cart Before the Horse

UC officials scramble to prep housing for biggest boost in California students in years

Teresa Watanabe, LA Times, 1-20-16

The University of California is scrambling to make room for the largest enrollment boost of California undergraduates in years — 6,500 more for the fall 2016 term, with the most selective campuses taking the most new students.

UCLA, Berkeley, San Diego and Riverside will each accept 750 more students this year; systemwide, nearly 14% more state residents are expected to gain admission. That's good news for nervous high school seniors and transfer students who competed against 206,000 others in another record-shattering year for UC applications for 2016.

The expansion has pressed officials to find more housing, hire additional faculty and expand support services. On Wednesday, UC President Janet Napolitano announced new efforts to build at least 14,000 more beds for undergraduate and graduate students by 2020.

“A key priority is to ensure this housing is and remains affordable to UC students,” Napolitano said at the UC Regents meeting in San Francisco. “Many of our campuses are located in some of the most expensive real estate markets in California.”

Campuses are already busy hiring new professors and adding additional undergraduate courses.

In November, regents approved Napolitano's plan to boost enrollment of California students by 10,000 over the next three years, a response to criticism about the rising number of students from other states and countries taking UC seats. Out-of-state students pay triple the $12,200 in annual tuition Californians pay.

The Legislature approved $25 million for an additional 5,000 undergraduates this fall, but UC officials will actually admit 6,500 because enrollment dipped last year from 2014, the baseline year for the increase, according to UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein.

The funds, however, will pay for less than half the cost of educating the students. That prompted concerns at the meeting that educational quality could decline without more dollars.

Daniel Hare, a UC Riverside professor and chair of the Academic Senate, fretted that students could be deprived of more intimate, hands-on learning opportunities in teaching labs and performance studios that he said were crucial supplements to lectures.

“You're slowly filling the balloon, and eventually it's going to pop,” he said. “Everything we need to maintain for quality requires a commitment for resources that faculty are concerned are not being made.”

Mohsin Mirza, UC Student Assn. undergraduate committee chairman, told the regents that it was “highly irresponsible” to accept more students without making sure they had proper housing, classes, mental health services and other support.

He said one student was sleeping in the living room of his university housing, sharing space with two other students.

Julia Schemmer, a first-year UC Riverside student, said students are sitting on floors at her campus because classrooms are so crowded. Riverside is undergoing a faculty expansion, however, to lower class sizes from the high 20s to the low 20s, according to Provost Paul D'Anieri.

Officials at individual campuses also expressed concerns about how to pay for needed support for all the new students.

“It's a huge challenge,” said Steve Olsen, UCLA vice chancellor and chief financial officer...

Full story at

Maybe if we examine the problem of what is needed more analytically...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Enjoying that DC ride?

It's a great time to be contemplating Option B (Defined-Contribution only) rom the Tier Three pension proposal.

The New Sexual Harassment/Assault Policy

An email circulated today regarding the sexual harassment/assault policy:

The University of California (UC) Office of the President has issued the updated Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment (SVSH Policy). The SVSH Policy incorporates feedback and input from all levels of the University community and reflects the seriousness that UC has appropriated to the subject matter.
The following are some of the revisions that have been made to the SVSH Policy:

The definitions of sexual violence, sexual harassment and other conduct prohibited under the SVSH Policy have changed.

The processes for reporting complaints, and for the University to respond to such reports, are included in the SVSH Policy.

A new definition of “responsible employee” has been added to the SVSH Policy. It requires every staff member of the University (except for a few confidential resources defined in the SVSH Policy) to notify the Title IX office if they receive information that a student has suffered sexual harassment, sexual violence or other conduct prohibited by the SVSH Policy.

Additionally, managers, supervisors and faculty are “responsible employees” required to notify the Title IX office if they receive information from any University community member (including other employees) of sexual harassment, sexual violence or other conduct prohibited by the SVSH Policy.
As part of the University’s ongoing efforts to improve how it prevents and responds to sexual violence and sexual harassment on UC campuses, the Office of the President is developing a new e-course specifically geared towards the new SVSH Policy. The course will be required of all faculty and staff when it is launched later this year, and it will satisfy AB 1825 which applies to supervisors, as well. More information about the sexual violence and sexual harassment e-course will be forthcoming...

When you go to the link with the actual policy, it DOES allow for those filing complaints, those being charged, and witnesses, to have advisers in the hearing process. Apparently, such advisers can be lawyers. How much participation such advisers may have in the process seems to be uncertain. Up to this point, the due process aspect of the policy has been the most controversial element and the one that has led to external courts overturning internal university verdicts. 

You can find the actual policy at:

U of Minnesota faculty to file for union vote

For the first time in nearly 20 years, faculty members at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus are calling for an election to form a union. Organizers say they plan to file a formal petition Wednesday on behalf of some 2,500 full- and part-time instructors at the U’s largest campus.
If the vote goes their way, this would become one of the largest faculty unions in the country, according to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is sponsoring the organizing effort.
The group, which began its organizing campaign in the summer of 2014, said it has collected enough signatures — 30 percent of the proposed membership — to trigger a union election, and that a vote could come in three or more months.
One of the goals is to improve job security and pay for more than 1,100 contingent faculty members who are not on the tenure track, said Naomi Scheman, a philosophy professor who helped lead the unionizing effort.
She said the increasing reliance on low-paid instructors “with no job security” is one of the alarming trends in higher education. “There need to be more tenure track positions, I think everybody agrees,” she said. “We need to stop this creeping reliance on contingent faculty.”
University officials declined to comment on the union drive, saying they had yet to see the petition...

Regents Meet Today But...

Regents visit future site of UC-Santa Cruz, 1963
...Yours truly will post when he has time. As usual, the Regents will "archive" the recording of their session for only one year. So we will have to record it in real time, i.e., one hour of meeting time = one hour of recording time. Much of today's meeting is closed. But yours truly has a variety of other obligations today so be patient. We'll get to it. And in the meantime, you can ponder why the Regents only archive for one year. Note that many other public California events such as legislative hearings are routinely archived indefinitely and are available on the calchannel.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

One More Thing to Worry About

Yesterday, we posted about one less thing to worry about concerning UC retirement benefits.

But, of course, there is always something more, beyond the current problems with the pension and the Committee of Two bad deal. As we are reminded here...

...the governor's next item of concern is retiree health. Note that UC always takes the position that retiree health is not a vested benefit, unlike some other public retirement plans. Nonetheless, if the pattern on pensions is followed, we are likely to get swept into whatever happens to other plans.

Monday, January 18, 2016

One Less Thing to Worry About

We have been blogging about the problems related to the Tier 3 pension proposal. It could have been worse if some anti-pension proponents had gotten their initiatives on the ballot for 2016. But as it turned out, they couldn't find a sugar daddy to pay for signature gathering and a later campaign. So they have given up for now:

For the third time in five years, an effort to put a government pension measure before voters has stalled for lack of money. Former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio announced Monday that they are backing off plans to qualify a proposal for the November ballot. Instead, they said in a joint release, “we have decided to re-file at least one of our pension reform measures later this year for the November 2018 ballot.”...
Had a ballot initiative along the lines the proponents wanted, UC would have been faced with creating yet another pension tier (Tier 4).

What's the rush on Option B?

The Tier 3 pension proposal was set up to be rushed through the Academic Senate and the Regents without adequate consideration. What else can you say about a plan that was unveiled in mid-January for actual implementation on July 1? As it was unveiled, and as we have noted in prior posts, the proposal has two parts: There is Option A, a PEPRA-compliant defined-benefit plan with a defined-contribution supplement for pay over the PEPRA cap. And there is Option B, an alternative defined-contribution-only plan.

Given the bad deal that emerged from the Committee of Two, the task force charged with coming up with a Tier 3 plan did succeed with Option A in coming up with a plan that met the terms of the bad deal. Indeed, Option A was pretty much pre-ordained. Option A is all that is needed to get the $436 million pension contribution (assuming the legislature goes along with the governor). Option B is something extra.

As we have noted, Option B - with its feature allowing reversion to A after five years - raises a variety of concerns. Since Option A is the default in the proposal, UC will be shunting a lot of folks who optimally should pick B initially and then revert to A five years later into the wrong plan for them. On the other hand, if the default were B, we would risk turning the existing defined-benefit pension into an orphan plan over time.

While one can understand why B was created, it raises a lot of issues and, as noted above, is not required to get the $436 million pension contribution. If just Option A were approved now (and B were put aside for further consideration), nothing would preclude a study of adding some kind of Option B at a later date. Deferring consideration of B would allow adequate time for the matter to be properly considered by the Academic Senate and the Regents. Nothing in the Committee of Two deal says that UC can't consider adding later options down the road. Perhaps B should be a cash balance plan. Perhaps it could be combined with some type of annuity arrangement to deal with the problem of retirees outliving their savings. But none of these possibilities can be explored within the very abbreviated time-frame currently being imposed.

Right now, Option B is the source of controversy and of potential problems. In contrast, Option A - bad as it is - was more or less dictated by the Committee of Two. There really is no choice with regard to Option A. So maybe we should slow down and do a proper job in constructing an Option B that ameliorates as much as possible the strictures of Option A and which can be properly vetted. Put another way, what's the rush?