Thursday, August 31, 2017

More on the Faculty Club

Report to Members of the UCLA Faculty Center: Where We Are, Where We Are Going, and What Is Needed - An Important Appeal!

From Patricia Greenfield, President, 2016-2017, UCLA Faculty Center Board of Governors

Dear Members,

As I end my year as President of the Faculty Center Board of Governors, the most challenging assignment of my career at UCLA, I want to report to the membership where we are, where we are going, and what is needed, finishing with an important appeal.

The Year's Accomplishments: Thanks to our General Manager, Luciano Sautto, in place for only a year, we now have rooms revealing beautiful views (no more curtains!) and a completely remodeled South wing. We also have a full breakfast and a tapas menu, augmented by Taco Tuesdays, in the Playa Lounge. During the summer, we have had beautiful al fresco barbecues on the Rose Patio every Thursday evening. The Faculty Center now provides take-out dinners, ordered online or in person, and new conference lunch services, including lunch purchase for those attending conferences in classroom buildings. Guests at the UCLA Guest House can purchase meals at the Faculty Center. We have reached out to the broader campus, instituting, with crucial help from the Registrar and his staff, graduation dinners for students and their families with a new online ticketing system.

With help from Campus Human Resources, we have also begun to address the problem of a large career staff in a seasonal business. Campus Human Resources has helped us to have more flexible staffing while preserving the jobs of our valued career staff.

Relationship to the University: The UCLA Faculty Center is a nonprofit corporation run by an elected Board of Governors. Currently it receives no operating funds from the University, but is subject to every charge that university departments pay out of the operating funds they receive from the Administration. Hence our business plan is of utmost importance. While the University had no problem when the Luskin Center lost more than three million dollars last year, the Faculty Center must pay all its bills to the University, our principal creditor, every month, under implicit threat of takeover if we fall behind. Because we are part of UCLA, some of these bills would be unheard of outside a university context. For example, the Faculty Center is charged every time a UCLA police car drives by our building. Not only that, but the policing fees, already unreasonably high last year ($800/month) has now doubled to more than $1600 per month! This kind of charge is both unreasonable and unaffordable for an entity that is receiving no financial support from the University.

At the same time, the Faculty Center has lost the financial partnership with the University that began decades ago when UCLA Faculty and the University split the cost of constructing our beloved mid-century modern building. This year the Board of Governors reached out to the Administration to develop the first-ever formal agreement with the University, hoping to reinstate the Faculty Center-University partnership. So far the response has been disappointing. One can only conclude that the Board and Faculty Center members are on our own to make the Faculty Center a financially thriving enterprise. The Board has therefore taken the following steps:

A New Financial Model

In the face of high labor costs, many if not most faculty clubs around the country have gone out of business. We have decided to follow the path of the few that have survived. That path is to open membership to a much broader community. Our main model in this has been the Harvard Faculty Club; that club has successfully gone from unlimited financial support from Harvard to zero financial support from Harvard. I visited, dined at, and interviewed the General Manager of the Harvard Faculty Club to see how they had made this financial transition. They had successfully done so by opening up their membership to the broader community. Most important, I observed that, despite this new community focus, the club still has the same ambiance as when their membership was exclusively faculty. Based on the steps Harvard has taken, our Board of Governors has modified its bylaws to greatly expand eligible membership categories; membership is now open to all staff, all retirees, all alumni/ae, parents of students and alums, local residents, and local business people. Like UCLA departments, college alumni clubs in the Los Angeles area will now be able to purchase membership for their alumni/ae clubs. At the same time, all current member categories remain in effect. In taking this path, we are also following the lead of the most successful faculty club in the Los Angeles area, the Cal Tech Athenaeum, which has had community memberships for many years.

Democratizing membership and opening up to the community are very much in line with UCLA's overall mission. In terms of financial survival, we are confident that reaching out in this way will increase our income through new membership fees and new business. Indeed, since the Board took this important step in June, we have already seen an uptick in new members.

Financial Situation

The Faculty Center has been losing money every year for the last nine years. It has also suffered from mismanagement on the part of the prior General Manager and inadequate financial oversight from a number of previous Boards. For the last year and a half, the Board has been making a diligent and successful effort to reverse this situation. We hired a wonderful new General Manager, Luciano Sautto, who has taken many measures to improve our financial situation. All controllable expenses are down, while long-deferred maintenance has been completed and long-deferred bills have been paid. New revenue sources are also in the works. Luciano's efforts, supported by the Board, have cut our loss in half this year. Nonetheless, it is still a significant loss: financial turnaround takes time. We are on track to meet the goal of breaking even and starting to replenish our reserve fund in a 3- to 5-year window. But we need our members' help in making this transition to fiscal health.


We have raised over $100,000, thanks to member donations during this last fiscal year. The Emeriti led the way with a successful matching fund of $12,000. Now it is time for active Faculty to step up to the plate! I am donating a fund of $25,000, to be matched on a one-to-one basis by active faculty, with a time limit for the match through the end of 2017. I hope we will get some large donations from active faculty -- as well as from all other categories of members. But small gifts from many people are equally important: If we could average $150 from each of our 2000+ members, we would be in a much stronger and stable financial position, giving us the time needed to succeed!

There are three great ways to donate: The Faculty Center has two funds at the UCLA Foundation, one for modernizing our facility, the other for operational expenses; donations to these funds are tax deductible; but the Foundation also keeps a percentage of your donation. To donate through the Foundation, please go online here:

If you are an active faculty member or researcher, write that information in the comments section, so that your donation is eligible to be matched. If you prefer to mail or bring a check to the Faculty Center, please make it out to the UCLA Foundation, specifying Modernization Fund or Faculty Center Fund (the fund for operational expenses) on the notation line.

The third way is to donate directly by mailing or bringing over a check made out to the UCLA Faculty Center; this donation will not be eligible for a tax deduction, but the Faculty Center will get 100% of your donation.


In a time when the social bonding created by face-to-face interaction has greatly decreased, due to the pervasiveness of electronic communication, the Faculty Center is needed more than ever to create and maintain a sense of community. The UCLA Faculty Center has been the members' club for the last 60 years; it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure it thrives for the next 60!


Patricia M. Greenfield
Distinguished Professor, Department of Psychology,
President 2016-2017, UCLA Faculty Center Board of Governors


Apparently, we are in a dull news period. So the news media seem to be rehashing earlier news related to UC. From (respectively), the Washington Post and USA Today:

After black-clad antifa members violently attacked conservative protesters in Berkeley on Sunday, the city’s mayor asked the University of California at Berkeley to cancel a conservative student group’s plan to host alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in September.

The university says it isn’t backing down.

“We have neither the legal right or desire to interfere with or cancel their invitations based on the perspectives and beliefs of the speakers,” said university spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Mayor Jesse Arreguin said bringing Yiannopoulos to campus for “Berkeley Free Speech Week,” which is hosted by a conservative campus newspaper called the Berkeley Patriot, could create the potential for violent protesters “to create mayhem.”

“I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,” Arreguin told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Berkeley Patriot also invited former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and conservative provocateur Ann Coulter to speak during the week, scheduled for Sept. 24-27.* Mogulof said the university is not able to confirm the speakers until administrators receive a finalized list from the student group this week...
*Note that different news accounts give different dates.
Full story at
This year, two public California universities handled relatively large incoming freshman class applicants very differently, shedding light on the challenges and possibilities that arise when more students want in than expected.

On one hand, there’s the University of California-Irvine, which rescinded 499 applications due to transcript issues and poor senior year grades. On Aug. 2, the UC Irvine chancellor reversed 290 students’ admissions decisions, re-admitting those with missing transcripts, leaving the fate of the remaining 209 students hanging in the balance.

At the same time, over the summer, California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo projected it would have its largest freshman class ever, at 5,000 to 5,200, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Yet Cal Poly rescinded the acceptances of just 227 students, some for failing to complete coursework.

Why did these two universities accept unusually large incoming freshman classes, and get larger than anticipated acceptances?

“We term that a good problem, to have more students than you need (rather) than too few. However, it’s a problem,” says higher education expert Tom Green of American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Green says he has witnessed some instances of more students than expected saying “yes” in past years — but not to this level. “That’s probably happened, over 23 years, three or four times, and they were typically small numbers over — not hundreds, but maybe 10 to 20 to 30. All of those presented challenges,” he tells USA TODAY College. “I think what was unusual in the Irvine and the SLO case were the numbers. The big numbers over, that’s what’s a little more unusual.”

Universities typically use several metrics of interest to gauge student intentions, Green says, but there was an X factor this year: an earlier application for financial aid.

Usually, Green says, low-income students tend to apply to college relatively late in the cycle, “when they have a better idea of what they can afford in the fall.”

But, he says, “Now that we have the earlier FAFSA filing date in October, those low-income students are getting answers from universities in December or January, so, months before they would have gotten it in the past.” Knowing sooner about financial aid gives students a better picture, earlier on, of whether they can accept an offer.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

UC Online & the Politics Behind It

A real estate agent in Laguna has filed an initiative calling for creation of something called UC Online. Here in an excerpt:

...The purpose of this measure is, without impacting the tax payer: to further the public's right to access publicly owned postsecondary knowledge; to further the public's right to access publicly owned postsecondary accredited degree programs; to minimize the cost of that access; to create a high quality, fully accredited, publically accessible, free/low cost online university, known as the University of California Online, to facilitate that access; to create an online university that will authorize UC, CSU, and CCC students to access impacted classes and finish their UC, CSU, and CCC degrees, respectively, online; to create a new path for students to earn credit for and possibly enroll into UC; to encourage the use of open educational resources; to require that tuition at the new university include course books and materials; to lower the costs of all UCO, UC, CSU, and CCC books- by creating large buyers of books (UCO and the UCO Bookstore) better able to negotiate lower book prices; to require tuition charged to students at the new university reflect actual costs and expenses, only; to require fully transparent tuition cost accounting at the new university; and, to authorize full funding of the University of California Online... 


Before you get too excited, note that it costs only $2,000 to file an initiative. If you really want to get it on the ballot, you need to hire signature-gathering firms which will probably run you $2 million. And if you get it on the ballot, you'll need to finance a campaign for it. So this is a snowball-in-hell in terms of its chances of going anywhere. But why is it being pushed?

Mr. Roberts is one of several Democrats hoping to unseat Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher. Apart from the changing demographics in Orange County, which are making Rohrbacher vulnerable, Rohrbacher has been doing bizarre things such as meeting with Julian Assange and claiming to have proof that the Russians didn't give Clinton's emails to Wikileaks. Rohrbacher, even before, was known for a soft spot for Putin.


Sometimes folks file initiatives hoping to be noticed. In this case, other than yours truly, no one seems to have noticed, at least so far.

Is there a Plan B on the menu for Berkeley?

In a Twitter thread posted Monday, conservative speaker and writer Ben Shapiro called for everyone attending his event to remain nonviolent and demanded that the Berkeley Police Department “do their jobs” to stop any violence from breaking out. Shapiro, who is scheduled to speak in Zellerbach Hall on Sept. 14, stated during a Fox News interview Friday that he anticipates Antifa will come to his event, and he asked that people not come to his event “ready to do violence in defense of my free speech.” He added that protecting free speech was the job of campus police exclusively, since the Young America’s Foundation had already paid the almost $16,000 security fee, which he called unfair. The Berkeley College Republicans have hosted Ben Shapiro in the past, inviting him to speak on campus in April 2016 to no backlash...

Full story at

It might be noted that the next Regents meeting (at UC-San Diego - far from the Shapiro event) is on September 13-14.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Audit Dispute

The University of California’s plan to update its payroll system will cost millions more than originally estimated and is several years behind schedule, according to a state audit released Thursday.
The audit estimated the UC Payroll, Academic Personnel, Timekeeping and Human Resources project, which seeks to replace campuses’ outdated payroll systems with one processing center, will cost $942 million, triple its originally estimated cost of $306 million. However, the UC maintains that UCPath will only cost $504 million.
Claire Doan, a UC Office of the President spokesperson, said the state audit includes additional costs that should not contribute to the overall cost estimate. In addition to the UC-estimated implementation cost of $504 million, the audit estimates the UC will spend an extra $183 million for UCPath Center operations, $115 million for financing and $140 million for campus implementation.
“We do not agree with (the audit’s $942 million budget estimate),” Doan said. “We primarily look at it as constructive feedback.”
California State Auditor Elaine Howle said the UC originally projected that UCPath would save the university $753 million primarily because of cuts in staff. However, auditors now estimate that the project will have no savings because officials at several campuses they visited said they do not plan to reduce staff...

Berkeley's upcoming events

Gone are the Days
After melees, Berkeley mayor asks Cal to cancel right-wing Free Speech Week

In the aftermath of a right-wing rally Sunday that ended with anarchists chasing attendees from a downtown park, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin urged UC Berkeley on Monday to cancel conservatives’ plans for a Free Speech Week next month to avoid making the city the center of more violent unrest.

“I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,” said Arreguin, whose city has been the site of several showdowns this year between, on the one hand, the left and its fringe anarchist wing, and on the other, supporters of President Trump who at times have included white nationalists.

“I am concerned about these groups using large protests to create mayhem,” Arreguin said. “It’s something we have seen in Oakland and in Berkeley.”...

Full story at

Also, from the LA TimesEditorial: Violent demonstrators in Berkeley are thugs, not activists

...Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said Monday that it’s time to call out groups like the masked anarchists known as black bloc. “I think we should classify them as a gang,” Arreguin said. “They have weapons — almost like a militia — and I think we need to think about that in terms of our law enforcement approach.” ...
Note: Unrelated item - in case you missed it:
UC Berkeley’s chief lawyer killed by hit-run driver in North Bay

UCLA History: Westwood Explosion

Although you may find this photo of the aftermath of a gas explosion in Westwood dated Feb. 9, 1971, it in fact was taken the next day. On Feb. 9, there was a major earthquake. The day after, the explosion occurred, attributed to leaking gas. Probably, the leak was due to the earthquake or aftershocks. If your truly's memory is correct, the explosion occurred in a building at the corner of Glendon and Kinross.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Listen to the Regents Health Committee: Aug. 16, 2017

Every once in awhile, the Regents run a surprise committee meeting that wasn't on the original calendar. There was a meeting of the Health Services Committee that escaped notice of yours truly on August 16th until yesterday. Click on the link below to hear the meeting.

The agenda involved approving a big bucks executive salary, a review of issues of branding and quality control for the various affiliated health care providers who carry the name of a UC health system, and financial "challenges" for the health enterprise at UCLA. As for affiliations, assurances were given that there is sufficient quality control and monitoring. Some regents were skeptical. UCLA is said to be suffering from costs rising faster than revenues - but, again, assurances were given that a way will be found to deal with the problem.

The audio link is below:

Faculty Club Vote

The Faculty Center has been having financial problems. A recent announcement (below) indicates a new board has been elected. How this development will play out in keeping the Center afloat remains to be seen.
Dear Faculty Center Association Members,
As the Faculty Center Board of Governors 2016-17 President-Elect and Chair of the Nominations and Election Committee, I am delighted to announce the results of our recent election:
President-Elect:  Kathleen McHugh
Secretary:  R. Michael Rich
Treasurer:  Jane Permaul

Elizabeth Brooks
Claudia Mitchell-Kernan
I congratulate and thank our newly elected colleagues.  I look forward to working with the entire board to ensure that the Faculty Center's invaluable contributions to intellectual and social life at UCLA continue and to enrich the Faculty Center experience for all.  
Best wishes,

M. Belinda Tucker

President Elect, 2016-17 Faculty Center Board of Governors
Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Saturday, August 26, 2017


The University of Texas System is planning to throw its hat in the ring and bid for a contract to run one of the Department of Energy’s national laboratories. This is the first time since 2005 Los Alamos National Laboratory has been open for new parties to apply to manage the lab.
At the meeting of the University of Texas System board of regents Thursday, UTS leaders announced they received “strong support” from the regents to pursue the bid to manage the New Mexico lab.
LANL is known for working in the areas of nuclear weapons, security, environmental management and energy. It is one of the Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories and was the site of the Manhattan project during WWII. It is currently managed under the University of California System along with Bechtel National Inc. The UC system managed LANL for more than 70 years.
Among the supporters of this bid are UT System Deputy Chancellor David Daniel, UT Austin President Greg Fenves and UT System Chancellor William Mc Raven, who presented a case to the board Thursday. They expressed that the scale of the UT system and its strengths in the sciences would make UTS a good candidate to lead the lab.
“For UT Austin, it would be a tremendous honor to help serve the nation. The important work at LANL is aligned with our research goals and priorities across the university,” Fenves said. “Our Texas Advanced Computer Center and Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences illustrate just two examples of those synergies, and we have a strong track record of meeting security clearances.”
If the UT system continues making a bid for LANL, this will be the second time it was in the running to manage the lab. The last time the UT system attempted was in 2005.
UTS said they expect the Department of Energy will submit a formal request for proposals in the next months.  The DOE would then announce a successful bidder in spring 2018.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Path

A state audit released Thursday rips the University of California again — this time for bungling a plan to streamline its payroll systems.

The payroll overhaul will cost UC nearly $1 billion — triple the expected cost — and will take five years longer than planned, says the audit that is the third deep dive into UC finances this year. The audit of the “UCPath” payroll system also faults the UC president’s office for failing to fully inform the governing Board of Regents about problems with the overhaul, which was supposed to save UC $753 million. Those savings — mainly from reduced staff — “will not materialize,” the audit says.

Independent State Auditor Elaine Howle agreed that the university has no choice but to replace its 11 aged, problem-plagued systems for dealing with payroll and human resources. Those systems were blamed for UC’s botched overtime payments to nearly 14,000 employees over three years, a problem that forced UC in May to agree to pay $1.3 million in back wages and damages.

The transformation to a new payroll system began in 2011 and was expected to be done in 2014. The announced price tag: $306 million. The audit determined it will take until mid-2019 and cost at least $942 million, although UC maintains it will be $504 million...

Full story at

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Clarification (partial)

Prof. David Lopez found a clarification regarding the change in mutual fund-type investments to be offered by UC:*

UC is updating the fund menu for the UC Retirement Savings Program—the 403(b), 457(b) and DC Plans. The scheduled changes are designed to make it easier for you to build a diversified, lower-cost investment mix based on your time horizon and risk tolerance. Beginning July 17, 2017, all participants in the Retirement Savings Program will receive communications (mail or email) to ensure you understand the changes and your investment options. 
Fund changes can be viewed in your account on October 3, 2017. If you’d like to make adjustments before these changes take effect, you’ll need to request investment changes before 1:00 p.m. PT on Monday, October 2, 2017.

What’s changing on October 2, and why

Three funds are being renamed

Three funds will have a new name but will keep the same investment manager, strategy, and holdings. Investment management fees (the “expense ratio”) will not change. The new names make it easier to understand how each fund invests and are consistent with the names of our other UC funds.
  • The Vanguard REIT Index Fund’s name will change to the UC Real Estate Fund.
  • The Vanguard Social Index Fund’s name will change to the UC Social Equity Fund.
  • The Vanguard Small Cap Fund’s name will change to the UC Domestic Small Cap Equity Fund.  

Three funds are being restructured

Three funds will have a new name and investment structure, but will keep the same investment manager and strategy. UC is switching these three funds from publicly available mutual funds to funds managed specifically for UC’s 403(b), 457(b) and DC Plans. All three funds will have lower investment management fees because they will have lower marketing and overhead-related costs than similar, publicly traded mutual funds.
Note that the Fidelity funds that currently provide a revenue credit to help offset plan expenses will no longer provide that credit due to the restructuring. 
  • The DFA Emerging Markets Fund will change to the UC Emerging Markets Equity Fund.
  • The Fidelity Growth Company Fund will change to the UC Growth Company Fund.
  • The Fidelity Diversified International Fund will change to the UC Diversified International Fund.

Two funds are being removed

The UC Balanced Growth Fund and the UC Global Equity Fund will be removed from the menu. These two funds are similar to other funds on the menu, so removing them eliminates duplication.
Balances in and future contributions to these funds will transfer as follows, unless you select different funds.
  • Investments in the UC Balanced Growth Fund will transfer 100% to the UC Pathway Fund closest to the year you turn age 65. Both funds invest in multiple underlying funds, but UC Pathway Funds adjust their asset mix to grow more conservative over time.
  • Investments in the UC Global Equity Fund will transfer 85% to the UC Domestic Equity Index Fund and 15% to the UC International Equity Index Fund. The UC Global Equity Fund is mainly a combination of two underlying funds. The fund invests roughly 80–85% of its assets in the UC Domestic Equity Index Fund and 15–20% in the UC International Equity Index Fund. Many Plan participants invested in the UC Global Equity Fund may not be aware that they hold a large position in U.S. stocks, and as a result, may not have a clear picture of their overall risk.

You may want to take action

If you prefer, you can have your account transfer funds differently than described here. Just request any investment changes before the fund changes are effective, at 1:00 p.m. PT on October 2, 2017. This may also be a good time to take a fresh look at all of your investment options and the funds available on the updated menu.
To learn more about all of the funds available to you, review your investments and make any needed changes, go to or call Fidelity at 866-682-7787. For even more support, call 800-558-9182 to schedule a consultation with a Retirement Planner.

Note that our previous post on this subject suggested there would be a difference in the regulatory regime regarding the new plans. It would be good to have a clarification on that aspect.

Things to Come

Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Stephen Bannon Are Invited to Speak at UC-Berkeley

Chronicle of Higher Ed  8-23-17

A set of conservative firebrands, including Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, and the Breitbart News executive and former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon have been invited to speak this September at the University of California at Berkeley.

The university is known as the birthplace of the free-speech movement on college campuses, and in recent months has seen violence erupt over speakers slated to appear there.

Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for the university, confirmed to The Chronicle on Wednesday evening that a student group, California Patriot, had invited the speakers for a series of events set to take place on the campus from September 24 to 27. Messages to the event organizer identified by Mr. Mogulof weren’t immediately returned on Wednesday afternoon. Carol Christ, the university’s new chancellor, also said in a statement on Wednesday that Mr. Yiannopoulos has been invited to speak on campus.

“The university has the responsibility to provide safety and security for its community and guests, and we will invest the necessary resources to achieve that goal,” she said in her statement. “If you choose to protest, do so peacefully. That is your right, and we will defend it with vigor. We will not tolerate violence, and we will hold anyone accountable who engages in it.”

Asked if the university was worried given the outbreak of violence that has emerged around recent rallies and demonstrations, Mr. Mogulof said yes. He added that it was important that the university host the event, though he said it would be “deeply upsetting” for some people.

Two of the speakers, Mr. Yiannopoulos and Ms. Coulter, had previously been scheduled to speak at the campus this year. But the event featuring Mr. Yiannopoulos, in February, was canceled after protests of the event turned violent. And Ms. Coulter’s planned speech was called off over safety concerns.

In the wake of the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., this month, at least four universities have refused to host the white nationalist Richard B. Spencer, citing security risks.


The difference is no deal

It's not clear why CNBC suddenly picked up last year's report from US News on the cost of attending public universities if you are out-of-state a couple of days ago.* That report noted that public universities for non-residents could be as pricey as privates. And it noted that UC campuses tended to be top of the tuition list for non-residents.

As it happened, US News did not calculate a tuition in its report for the U of Michigan which is often credited with the funding model UC adopted - the so-called "Michigan Model." (The U of Michigan wouldn't supply data.) As we have pointed out at various points in this blog, the difference between what UC did, particularly in the wake of the Great Recession, and the earlier Michigan Model was not the funding, i.e., get the extra revenue from non-residents to cross-subsidize residents and thereby offset (in part) what the state had cut back. It was in getting some kind a agreement with state politicos and interest groups to do so. There was no deal in the UC case; there was a deal in the case of the U of Michigan.

The lack of a deal here means that UC's arrangement continues to be a matter of controversy. Even the ongoing problems UC is having with the state auditor stem partly from that lack of a deal. Now maybe a deal couldn't have been reached in the UC case. No one knows for sure because reaching an accord of the Michigan type was never tried. UC and the Regents just announced what they were doing.

What wasn't done, wasn't done. But maybe now there should be an attempt. Isn't it worth trying? What is the alternative? The old 1960 Master Plan concept of essentially zero tuition for residents (with the state picking up the tab) died not long after it was written down. The state now has picked up other priorities for its money. Back in 1960, for example, there was no Medi-Cal program. Now there is, and it has acquired even more need for funding as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Could be clearer

There are external news reports of a new investment vehicle to be offered to employees and retirees at UC:

The University of California will offer in October a pair of collective investment trusts for its 403(b) plan, marking a rare instance of a 403(b) plan, other than a church-sponsored one, offering such an investment option. Collective investment trusts are allowed for most DC plans — 401(k), 457(b), 401(a) and church-sponsored 403(b). But the biggest providers of 403(b) plans — colleges and universities, public school systems and hospitals — cannot ​ offer these options, which many sponsors use to reduce costs to participants. "We saw an opportunity to lower fees," said Arthur Guimaraes, chief operating officer for the University of California, Oakland...

Full story at:

If you poke around on the web, the difference between a mutual fund and a collective investment trust seems to be a lower regulatory burden and - perhaps in consequence - a lower administrative fee.* Thing is that UC has offered its own internally-run menu of investments for decades. No one has to choose an outside option, although they are available. So it's not clear what the new option really is. It would be nice to have some clarification, rather that rely on external news reports.

Seriously, let's do a test and see what happens - Part 2

Testing, Testing
Ten days ago, this blog noted a newspaper critique of chancellor salary packages - that one in the San Francisco Chronicle.* Since then, there have been other similar complaints in newspapers.

There have also been complaints from the governor and lieutenant governor (both of whom are ex officio regents). We proposed that when the next chancellorial vacancy opens up, at whatever UC campus, a search committee be formed which would include reps from the editorial board of critical newspapers, and some regents, which could include the governor, lieutenant governor, and maybe some others. Let them decide in advance what they consider to be a fair compensation package. And then let them recruit and see what they turn up. If they get great candidates for less than the current search process produces, it would be all to the good. If they don't...

Here are the latest complaints:

And just a note to emphasize that this is a serious proposal. Maybe there are great candidates who would do the job for the prestige, or out of a feeling for public service, or whatever. There could be variations in the composition of the committee. They key point is to determine in advance what a fair and reasonable compensation package would be.

More State Audit Problems

The University of California broke the rules that govern when it is allowed to replace full time employees with contract workers, according to a state audit released on Tuesday.

The second audit of the university’s Office of the President this year also found some of its campuses cut corners in awarding some contracts.

Auditors said two contracts they reviewed that resulted in the replacement of full time employees with contract workers did not fully adhere to the employee replacement guidelines in either contract.

In one case, UC San Francisco entered into a contract to outsource some information technology services, which it estimated would save $30 million over five years by displacing 40 full-time employees and 12 contract workers.

The campus made the Office of the President aware of its plans, but did not provide the required paperwork with analysis justifying its decision.

UC Davis also failed to get a review from the Office of the President for a housekeeping services contract that replaced 12 full-time employees with contract workers...

Full story at

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bias in Econ

Anonymous Comments, Unmasked Bias (in Academic Economics)

New paper illustrates the brutal and sexist comments faced by women in economics, and likely other fields as well.

Inside Higher Ed,  Colleen Flaherty, August 21, 2017

Several recent studies suggest women have a harder time than men making career inroads in economics: female economists take longer to have their papers accepted by journals, for example, and they get relatively fewer tenure-track jobs. A new working paper is notable, then, in that it appears to shed light on some of the attitudes and stereotyping working against them.

The paper, by Alice H. Wu, a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, who is currently a research specialist at Princeton University and in 2018 will begin doctoral studies at Harvard University, investigates gendered language used on the popular Economics Job Market Rumors forum.

Using methods from text mining, machine learning and econometrics, Wu analyzed more than a million posts on the website over two years. Over all, she found that conversations between anonymous parties on the forum become significantly less academic and professionally oriented -- namely, more personal and skewed toward physical appearance -- when women are mentioned.

Using her own classification system, Wu counted the number of academic or professional words and personal or physical words in each post. On average, posts specifically about women contained 43 percent fewer academic or professional terms and 192 percent more terms about personal information or physical attributes...

On gender-related posts, words most strongly associated with women are mostly inappropriate, Wu says. “The occurrence of these words in a forum that was meant to be academic and professional exposes the issues of explicit biases in social media.” Top examples of such words are "hotter," "hot," “attractive,” “pregnant,” “gorgeous,” “beautiful,” “tits,” “lesbian,” “bang” and “horny.” By contrast, the list of top words associated with men includes references to sexual orientation but also "philosopher," "keen," "motivated," "slides," "Nordic" and "textbook."...


The working paper is at

Raiding faculty

Blog readers will remember - perhaps dimly - that there is a lawsuit against USC by UC over a raid of certain UC-San Diego medical research faculty and contracts. The LA Times now adds to the tale:

Of the many consequences of the Puliafito scandal for USC, few are as high-stakes as the possible effect on the court case that prompted his testimony last year.

Puliafito was expected to play a role in defending USC in the legal battle with the University of California over the defection of a star UC Alzheimer's disease researcher.

Puliafito helped woo the scientist and dozens of other prominent academics as part of a strategy by USC President C.L. Max Nikias to vault the university into the ranks of elite research institutions.

UC is seeking $185 million in damages along with a punitive award that could be several times that amount.

“With all that’s out there about him, he’s going to have a serious problem coming off as credible and being believed,” said Los Angeles attorney Brian Panish, a civil litigator who has represented clients in suits against both schools.

A Times investigation published last month revealed that Puliafito partied and used drugs with a circle of criminals and addicts while serving as dean. Puliafito engaged in this behavior during the period in 2015 in which he was recruiting the researcher, according to interviews with his associates and text messages they exchanged with him.

A UC spokeswoman said the school would not discuss its legal strategy “other than to say we are vigorously pursuing this case against USC.”

An attorney for USC said no decision had been made on whether to call Puliafito as a witness, but insisted the former dean’s testimony was not important to the university’s defense.

“He’s a bit player in this,” said attorney John Quinn.

In court filings earlier this year, lawyers for USC highlighted a portion of the dean’s testimony in arguing that the case should be dismissed.

Puliafito testified that the university wanted UC San Diego researcher Paul Aisen to join the faculty whether or not he brought along hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding, a rejection of UC’s claim that USC was motivated by money in recruiting the scientist.

Legal experts said that even if USC decides not to use Puliafito’s testimony, UC’s legal team could ask for copies of his personnel record and attempt to make an issue in court of his conduct. That would set up a fight between USC and UC over whether jurors should be told about the skeletons in Puliafito’s closet if the case went to trial.

“The trial judge would have to decide whether the prejudicial, inflammatory value is outweighed by the probative value,” said Manhattan Beach civil lawyer John Taylor, who has represented clients with legal claims against USC.

The judge, Taylor added, “might say, ‘Suppose he was out partying like a rock star? How does that make it more or less believable to a jury?’”

USC is anticipating that UC will try to make Puliafito’s drug use a line of attack.

“I believe that they would do anything they could to try to poison the well, including introducing the dean’s personal problems,” USC lawyer Quinn said, adding that he expected a judge to reject such attempts as irrelevant.

The case is on hold while USC appeals a U.S. district judge’s ruling that moved the suit from federal court to San Diego County Superior Court, where it was originally filed. No trial date has been set.

By the time Puliafito was scheduled to be questioned under oath, the case was in its second year and UC had brushed off entreaties by USC to settle the matter out of court. USC deputy general counsel Stacy Bratcher and other university lawyers met with the former dean three times to prepare him for the deposition, he later testified.

On the day of his testimony, Bratcher and another lawyer sat with him at a downtown law firm as he was questioned for about six hours, according to a transcript of the testimony. Portions of the transcript were redacted at the request of USC.

Puliafito said he had been deposed 20 times in his life, including in court cases where he was a medical expert. On a video recording of part of the deposition, he appears self-assured, offering short, precise responses and brushing aside many questions as hypothetical and difficult to answer.

A few minutes into his testimony, he was asked for “the circumstances of your ceasing to be dean of the medical school.” An attorney for USC’s outside law firm, Viola Trebicka, initially protested that the question was “overbroad” and “vague” — objections a judge would rule on a later date — and then directed him to “go ahead” and answer.

“I had a unique opportunity in the ophthalmic biotechnology industry, and I was able to continue my employment at USC on sabbatical and work for this biotech company,” he said.

The full story was more complicated. USC acknowledged after The Times’ report that the dean quit his post during a confrontation with the university provost about his behavior and job performance. That showdown capped years of complaints from faculty and staff about Puliafito’s drinking, temper and public humiliation of colleagues, according to interviews with former co-workers and written complaints to the administration.

He was not offered the biotech job at Ophthotech, a firm run by two longtime friends, until more than a month after he resigned, according to a company spokesman.

Quinn said he did not know whether lawyers for USC and Puliafito discussed how he would answer questions about his resignation before the deposition. He said that attorneys for his firm “would never sponsor false testimony. We would never knowingly permit a witness to lie.” In a statement, a USC spokesman said the university general counsel’s office, where Bratcher works, “would never encourage a witness to perjure himself.”

Experts said UC could ask a judge to reopen the deposition in light of the new information about Puliafito’s past conduct.

“I would get the personnel file and also question him about what happened. Maybe there is more that is not out there yet,” Panish said.

The court fight is being closely watched in academic circles. UC took the highly unusual step of suing its academic rival in 2015 after years of frustration over USC’s recruitment of faculty members who were the recipients of big research grants. These grants are an important income source for the state system.

These “transformative faculty,” as they are known at USC, have been key to President Nikias’ strategy for raising the university’s national reputation. Puliafito spearheaded the effort during his eight-year tenure as dean, recruiting more than 70 academics from the UC schools, Stanford, Harvard and other prestigious rivals.

After Puliafito helped woo away two well-funded UCLA neurology researchers in 2013, UC administrators were outraged, and complained to government regulators, according to court filings. It was not unusual for professors to move to other institutions, often with the first university cooperating in the transfer of grant funding to the new school. But in UC’s view, USC had acted beyond accepted norms by targeting academics based on grant funding and strategizing secretly with those researchers while they were still employed by UC about moving grants to USC. The schools reached a confidential settlement requiring USC to pay UCLA more than $2 million, according to a copy of the agreement obtained through a public records request.

Late the next year, the dean set his sights on another UC prize: Alzheimer’s expert Paul Aisen. The UC San Diego neurology professor was a global leader in the search for a cure for the disease, and federal agencies and drug companies were expected to send more than $340 million in research grants to the lab he ran over the next five years

“I am going to get more involved in this personally and quarterback the process,” he wrote in an email to Provost Michael Quick in April 2015. “We need this to happen.”

USC offered Aisen annual compensation of $500,000 — a salary bump of $110,000 — along with a home loan and other perks. He moved to USC in June 2015.

The loss reverberated at the highest levels of the UC system. President Janet Napolitano unsuccessfully lobbied the head of drug company Eli Lilly, a major funder of Aisen’s work, to keep its grant money at UC.

In July 2015, UC sued USC, Aisen and his lab colleagues for breach of fiduciary duty, interference with contracts, computer crimes and other claims. The university said USC had conspired with the researcher while he was still working for UCSD to interfere with the public university’s contractual relationships with grant funders and to seize control of critical clinical trial data.

Subsequent filings suggested the depths of the hard feelings. In one, UC complained that the departing scientists had even made off with paper clips paid for by UCSD. In another, their lawyers described USC as a “predatory private university” with a “law-of-the-jungle mind-set.”

USC and Aisen countersued for defamation and other charges. Their lawyers wrote in the complaint that they were ready to settle the litigation and suggested the blame rested with UC for failing to fund Aisen’s work adequately. When he found a school that would, they wrote, UC engaged in “petty academic politics,” including trying to make him sign a loyalty oath and cutting off his email and phone service, tactics that they claimed endangered patient safety.

Aisen, Puliafito and other USC administrators insisted in depositions that the university had done nothing wrong. In his sworn testimony, the former dean testified that he was prepared to offer Aisen a faculty position even if his lucrative research grants stayed behind at UCSD.

“You were indifferent to whether or not the grant funding transferred with Dr. Aisen,” the UC lawyer asked.

“Yes,” Puliafito said, adding: “That’s the risk we were willing to take.”

San Francisco lawyer Stephen Hirschfeld, who has defended UC and other universities in civil suits, said the involvement of other officials in Aisen’s recruitment could blunt the impact of Puliafito’s credibility issues.

The university provost, a faculty chair, medical school administrators, and human resources officers played key roles in luring Aisen, according to court filings and deposition testimony.

“You could have a situation where the dean says one thing and several other administrators confirm that it is true,” Hirschfeld said. Focusing too much on Puliafito, he said, might make UC look cruel or desperate to the jury.*

“You’ve got to think really hard if it’s worth it to attack this guy in this way,” he said.

Taylor, the Manhattan Beach lawyer, said that jurors could see Puliafito as a reflection “of the values of the university and the decision makers there.”

“If terrible evidence comes in about him, it is terrible evidence for the school,” he said.

The deposition offers tantalizing clues about the relationship between Puliafito and USC. At one point, the former dean was asked when he had last looked at the USC ethics code.

“Six months ago,” he replied. The deposition was on Sept. 23, 2016 — just a day short of the six-month anniversary of the meeting at which the provost confronted him with complaints from colleagues about his behavior.

*Interesting advice, but it's been said before:

Monday, August 21, 2017

In transit

Yours truly - having seen the eclipse from Columbia, MO - will be in transit. So blogging will be light for awhile and eventually will catch up with events. Sorry.

UCLA History: Postcard

Postcard view of Westwood, back in the day

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Friday, August 18, 2017


UCLA has been named the No. 2 public university in the United States and the 12th best in the world — public or private — in the Academic Ranking of World Universities compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The rankings, which were issued Aug. 15, use six criteria to measure excellence, including number of alumni and faculty winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, papers published in the journals Nature and Science, papers listed in major citation indices and the per capita academic performance of an institution.
Besides UCLA, two University of California campuses placed in the top 15: UC Berkeley (No. 5), the only U.S. public university ranked higher than UCLA; and UC San Diego (No. 15).
The top 11 in order were Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, Princeton University, University of Oxford, Columbia University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago and Yale University...
Well, not quite top, but a good tune:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Plan

Apparently, this (below) is the plan at UC-Berkeley in case demonstrations over speakers get out of hand: [Question: Is there one for UCLA and the other UC campuses?]

From the NY Times: After a planned speech in February by the right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos attracted demonstrators who started fires and shattered windows, the University of California, Berkeley realized it had a major hole in its event planning.

“We did not have enough police officers,” said Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor for public affairs at Berkeley.

So beginning this semester, student groups hosting large events are required to inform the college at least eight weeks in advance, so it has time to prepare a security plan. For the most controversial speakers, hundreds of police officers will be drawn from across the University of California system and also, under mutual aid agreements, from municipal police departments across the region. Security checkpoints and buffer zones will be erected around venues.

Berkeley is ready to spend as much as $500,000 to protect a single lecture, Mr. Mogulof said, and will do so regardless of the speaker’s ideology.

The new protocol was unveiled on Sunday, a day after a woman was killed and dozens of people were injured in Charlottesville, Va., after a series of white supremacist gatherings at the University of Virginia and in the city. The timing was a coincidence, but across the country, college administrators and law enforcement officials are bracing for a wild fall of protests as their campuses become battlegrounds for society’s violent fringes...

Naweed Tahmas, a Berkeley senior and external vice president of the Berkeley College Republicans, said he was concerned that the university’s new events policy allowed administrators to impose curfews or other limitations that would effectively prevent conservatives from speaking. Some colleges have required speakers to appear in the middle of the day, since nighttime events tend to draw more demonstrators and can be harder to control. The dates and times were points of contention when the appearances by Ms. Coulter and Mr. Horowitz were called off.

Mike Wright, a Berkeley senior and the editor in chief of The California Patriot, said the requirement of eight weeks’ notice before a large lecture would prevent student groups from responding to current events. “I think the university’s desire to exercise control in this manner is going to have the unintended consequence of restricting student speech,” he said.

The policy has been put in place on an interim basis, and the university is accepting public comment on it until Oct. 31.

Berkeley said it was prepared to spend money on security if the event required it. “We’re not looking for excuses to block anyone,” Mr. Mogulof said. “The exact opposite. We want to make sure that we have at our disposal every option to ensure these events are safely and successfully held.”

Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups, said colleges would be wise to not block extremists from appearing.

“We might want to shame them, or think they are sick, but students have a right to listen to who they want to listen to, and we don’t have the right to censor that,” he said.

He also pleaded, perhaps optimistically, that protesters refrain from shouting down or attacking white supremacists, so they would be denied the opportunity to portray themselves as free speech martyrs.

“Don’t give these fools an audience,” he said.

Full story at