Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Legislative caution

At a legislative hearing yesterday, UC prez Napolitano was questioned in the aftermath of the state audit affair and the "Moreno report" that followed. However, one member of the legislative committee were surprisingly friendly, given the past heat that had been generated. (Not all were friendly.)

State senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica, a one-time student regent) in fact expressed concern that because of political pressure resulting from the audit affair, there was now an effort to spin off programs from UCOP to the campuses in order to shrink UCOP for cosmetic reasons. You can see that portion of the hearing at the link below:

You can also find a description of the hearing below:

Investigator pressed on why UC president not blamed for audit interference

San Francisco Chronicle, Melody Gutierrez, 1-30-2018

State lawmakers on Tuesday questioned retired state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno over why an investigation he conducted last year did not find University of California President Janet Napolitano responsible for her office’s interference with a state audit.

Lawmakers told Moreno it was clear to them he had evidence that Napolitano did intentionally and improperly interfere with the state auditor’s review of her office’s spending and business practices in 2016. But Moreno told lawmakers that as a former trial judge, he “just didn’t think there was enough there” to conclude that Napolitano should be held accountable. His probe pinned the blame on her two top staffers, who resigned.

The grilling by lawmakers at the state capitol came during a nearly 4-hour joint committee hearing on Moreno’s report, which was commissioned by the UC Board of Regents to determine whether Napolitano meddled in the state auditor’s 2016 review of her office. Lawmakers had ordered the state audit over concerns that spending had dramatically increased at the UC president’s office.

Moreno’s report found that a “furious” Napolitano phoned UC Santa Cruz’s chancellor because the campus had submitted a confidential survey to the state auditor without first allowing the president’s office to see it.

“It does appear very clear that she was involved in the surveys and involved in providing instruction as to how the surveys should turn out,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco. “Why wasn’t that enough evidence?”

Moreno told lawmakers: “We reported the facts and conclusions I submit you can probably argue differently, but this is the best that I can do.”

Lawmakers also grilled Napolitano about her honesty last year when she told lawmakers at a May capitol hearing that her office did not interfere with the audit and merely helped campuses who had sought her office’s help. Moreno’s report found that Napolitano’s aides actively initiated the contact with the campuses with the intent to change campus responses to the auditor’s confidential survey to make UC headquarters look better. Napolitano apologized repeatedly during the committee hearing Tuesday, saying “I made a mistake and I am sorry for it.” ...

Assemblywomen Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon, and Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, called for Napolitano to resign after Moreno’s report was made public and again pressed for her to step down on Tuesday. Baker said Napolitano was “not forthright” when she testified before the Assembly joint committee last year about whether she knew survey responses were being intercepted and ultimately sanitized.

“I flat out asked were surveys recalled at your direction and the answer was no,” Baker said.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Higher Ed Abortion Bill

Note: UC seems not to have commented on the proposed bill below - and maybe is relying on CSU to provide the reaction. The actual bill does not - as some legislation does - require CSU to do something but just suggest or urge that UC follow (in view of UC's constitutional position).

You never know how Gov. Jerry Brown - now termed out and thus less concerned with political considerations - might react, were the bill to end up on his desk. He might veto it on fiscal grounds (it costs something) or on "subsidiarity" grounds (a Brown concept that favors local decisions rather than state). Or he might sign it. Hard to tell.

California Senate approves medication abortion on campuses

By Jonathan J. Cooper, January 29, 2018, Sacramento Bee

California would be the first state to require public universities to offer medication abortion under legislation approved in the state Senate Monday, a bill that if signed into law would mark a vast expansion of a service that's rare on college campuses.

None of the 34 University of California or California State University campuses currently offer abortion services at their health centers, instead referring students to outside providers. A group of private donors, some of them anonymous, plan to pay for up to $20 million in startup costs, including ultrasound equipment and training for both medical and billing staff.

The bill, SB320, still needs Assembly approval.

It would require all university campuses to offer the service by 2022, assuming the donors come through with the money. Medication abortion can be administered up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy.

"I firmly believe that all students should be able to decide what to do with their own bodies and when to factor a family into their life," said Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, the bill's author. "After all, women do not lose the constitutional right to end a pregnancy simply because they are a college student."

One medication is administered in the clinic and a patient is given a second drug to take later at home. The medications induce bleeding similar to a miscarriage, according to legislative records.

The bill's supporters say time is of the essence for women seeking a medication abortion, which must occur within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Dispensing the medication on campus will ensure that women have access, even if they don't have a car or have trouble fitting an outside appointment into their school schedule, Leyva said. Outside providers also may not accept student health insurance plans.

But CSU officials worry the mandate would impose severe costs for liability insurance, safety improvements, medical training and round-the-clock phone support for medical emergencies, said Toni Molle, a spokeswoman for the CSU chancellor's office.

"Currently our CSU health centers offer basic health services, however, the administration of medications still requires a level of expertise that our health center staff may not have," Molle said.

It's unclear how many colleges outside California offer access to medication abortion on campus. Marj Plumb, chief strategist for the Women's Foundation of California, said no other state requires campus health centers to offer medication abortion.

A 2015 survey by the American College Health Association found that just one of the 139 schools that completed the survey offered medication abortion services on site, said Joanne Brown, chair of the organization's Sexual Health Education and Clinical Care Coalition.

"We believe that if they just learned what was required and were trained that they would realize that it's very straightforward and a huge, huge value to their patients," said Dr. Ruth Shaber, an obstetrician/gynecologist who heads the Tara Foundation in San Francisco.

The foundation, which funds health and wellness programs for women, the Women's Foundation of California and another donor have agreed to cover implementation costs estimated between $14 million and $20 million, Shaber said. She and Leyva declined to identify the other donor, saying the organization wished to remain anonymous.

The bill's sponsors estimate that 10 to 17 women would seek a medication abortion per month on each UC campus, and nine to 15 at each CSU school.


Bill text at:

Monday, January 29, 2018

A UCLA Title 9 Story With a Twist

From the Bruin: A graduate student is accusing the communication department of misusing the Title IX process to threaten him. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into UCLA on Wednesday for possible sexual harassment under Title IX, a department spokesman said. The investigation follows a complaint filed on behalf of Justin Gelzhiser, a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, which claims the communication department staff threatened to report Gelzhiser to the Title IX office unless he left his teaching assistant position in the department.

UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said the university will respond to any inquiry it receives from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and added the Title IX office processes all allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence carefully and impartially. Gelzhiser said he thinks he was targeted by the communication department because he sent a letter in support of former communication lecturer Keith Fink* on June 5 to Laura Gómez, then-interim dean of social sciences. Fink, who had been undergoing a review process, was notified by Gómez on June 27 that his contract would not be renewed.

“The Department of Communication wanted to get rid of me because they had just got rid of (Fink), who they didn’t want anymore,” he said.

More than a week after Gómez terminated Fink’s appointment, on July 13, Gelzhiser met with communication department staff, who he said told him a student accused him of inappropriate behavior. Department staff also questioned him about his sexual history and said they would report the claim to the Title IX office unless he left his teaching assistant position, he said...

Full story at

*...A group of UCLA students and alumni called Keep Fink at UCLA claims the university treated Fink unfairly during the review process because he is politically conservative. Last month, the group organized a protest to support Fink and demanded the university retain him...


Hard to walk in her shoes

University of California President Janet Napolitano is considering a potentially sweeping overhaul of her office in the wake of sharp political criticism over its size, cost and budget practices. An extensive outside review of the office provided to The Times found relatively little fat in its oversight of the most complex university system in the nation — a $33-billion operation of 10 campuses, five medical centers, three national laboratories and global research.

But the review suggested streamlining the office in what could amount to a 50% budget reduction. Suggestions for those potential savings include spinning off the UC medical and health system to a new statewide network, moving some programs to campuses and eliminating others, such as the UC-Mexico Initiative. The proposals by Huron Consulting Group Inc. mark the latest of more than 10 reviews of the Office of the President in the last decade, including one last year by the state auditor. Another outside assessment is set for completion this spring.

"Part of that is the continual search for the Holy Grail, which is to run the best OP office one can imagine — the most efficient, the most streamlined, the most effective that contributes the most value to the university," said Napolitano, explaining the serial reviews...

Full story at

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Listen to the Regents Meeting of Jan. 25, 2018

The Regents meeting last Thursday was more abbreviated than originally planned. It would originally have taken up voting on a proposed tuition increase. But as readers of this blog will know, that decision was first rescheduled to the Wednesday meeting to avoid a conflict with the governor's State of the State address. Then, because of the political opposition, the decision was postponed to a later meeting.

As a result, the Thursday meeting was largely devoted to reviewing and endorsing recommendations from the various committees that met on Wednesday. Included were approvals for various new dorms at UCLA.

You can hear the Thursday meeting at the link below:


Saturday, January 27, 2018

More Computer System Problems?

From the Bruin: UCLA Extension will lay off about 25 percent of its employees this summer because its revenue will be approximately $10 million less than projected for the 2017-2018 school year.
Wayne Smutz, dean of UCLA Extension, announced the staff cuts and relocation of extension at a town hall Monday. Extension plans to cut $7 to $8 million from the budget for the next fiscal year because decreasing international and domestic enrollment is reducing its revenue, said extension spokesperson Ted Kissell in an email statement.
UCLA Extension employees who spoke to the Daily Bruin asked to remain anonymous because they were concerned for their job security.
Employee A said they think extension enrollment has fallen because Destiny, a new internal service system that relays information from the website to extension staff, has made it more difficult for students to register for classes.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of the yelling and frustration,” employee A said. “I have to apologize to students on behalf of extension because of a malfunctioning website.”
Employee B said the internal services were unable to honor early registration discounts for waitlisted students when new class sections opened. This meant potential students had to call in and wait on the line for up to an hour and a half to receive their discount.
Kissell said UCLA Extension followed UCLA policies when adopting Destiny and added the system was chosen from among the vendors who submitted proposals.
Several employees said they think Smutz has failed to demonstrate sufficient leadership over extension and misused resources.
Employee B said they think the dean has not been transparent with employees because he does not share information with staff and does not take their feedback.
“This is a culmination of missteps: We are not facing layoffs simply because we have fewer international students – we’re technologically behind the times,” employee B said. “We are facing layoffs because we lacked the leadership to navigate and negotiate all of these things.”...

Friday, January 26, 2018

Sin of Omission

There has been a lot of celebration of Jerry Brown's final State of the State address. Only governor to serve 4 terms, 16th State of the State address, etc., etc. In the address, as you might expect, he listed all the things he thought were either accomplishments or things he wanted to complete (high speed rail project, Delta fix water project). But despite the fact that Brown is ex officio president of the UC Regents, there was only one celebratory reference to UC, and it was off-hand and mentioned with other private universities:

Here in California, we follow a different path. Enlightened by top scientists at the University of California, Stanford and Caltech, among others, our state has led the way:

- Building and appliance efficiency standards;
- Renewable electricity --reaching 50 percent in just a few years;
- A powerful low-carbon fuel standard;
- Incentives for zero-emission vehicles;
- Ambitious policies to reduce short-lived climate pollutants like methane and black carbon;
- A UN sponsored climate summit this September in San Francisco; and
- The nation's only functioning cap-and-trade system.


In short, the tension between UC and the governor - well known from his first iteration as governor back in the 1970s and early 1980s - remained in the second iteration. It showed up most recently on his reneging on his understanding with UC that there would be a period of tuition freeze, after which tuition would go up with inflation. UC has had experience with understandings with governors that are voided. Remember the "compact" with Schwarzenegger that fell apart? But at least the non-compact with Schwarzenegger occurred in the context of a budget crisis. With Brown, it's the old antagonism that never went away and shows up even in Good Times.

So what is the legacy of Brown when it comes to higher ed? A plan for an online associate degree in community colleges as per his latest budget proposal? (Everyone knows it won't amount to much - even those who have to implement it.) The continued erosion of Jerry Brown's Dad's Master Plan via ad hoc legislative decisions?

Of course, we don't know who the next governor will be. But possibly, it could be someone who will make us look back on the Jerry Brown year's with nostalgia. Enough said.

DOJ v. Berkeley

ICYMI: The Trump administration is jumping into the fracas over free speech at UC Berkeley.
The Justice Department on Thursday filed a statement of interest supporting two conservative groups who sued the school last year. The groups alleged that administrators and campus events policy unfairly hampered their ability to book right-leaning speakers like Ann Coulter and ultimately led to the events being canceled or modified... In its legal brief, the Justice Department took aim at the campus events policy, writing that the "allegations, if proven, would sufficiently demonstrate the high risk of viewpoint discrimination inherent in the Policies' grant to administrators of unchecked discretion over student-sponsored speech." ... In an emailed statement, Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof called the entire lawsuit "unfounded," adding that political views don't factor into who gets to speak on campus. "The campus is committed to ensuring that student groups may hold events with speakers of their choosing, and it has expended significant resources to allow events to go forward without compromising the safety or security of the campus," said Mogulof... 

Full story at

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Listen to the Afternoon Regents Meeting of Jan. 24, 2018

As you probably know by now, the Regents delayed any decision about tuition increases to a later meeting, despite scheduling a special session yesterday which was supposed to produce a decision. The special session had been arranged because the session scheduled for today conflicted with the governor's State of the State address.

Amid fierce objections from students, lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown, the University of California’s governing board agreed Wednesday to delay its vote on a proposed tuition increase.

“This will give us time to make our case to the Legislature,” UC President Janet Napolitano said during a meeting of the Board of Regents in San Francisco, as she announced plans to move the vote until May. “It is just the beginning of the budget process. The need for funding is obvious.”

The regents were deeply divided over the tuition hike, which likely would have failed had it come up on Wednesday, according to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who sits on the board and is a vocal opponent of the proposal. In an interview, he applauded the delay for putting Brown and the Legislature back on the hook to boost funding for UC and avoid a fee increase...

Full story at

The audio for the special meeting and other parts of the afternoon session are now preserved. Links below:

Academic & Student Affairs:

Special session:

Academic & Students Affairs:

Finance & Capital Strategies:

Yours truly, in due course, will go through the various archived recordings to see what other items might be highlighted. Today's session of the Regents will also be archived.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Listen to the Regents' Morning Session of Jan. 24, 2018

As always, yours truly is going about archiving the audio of the Regents meeting taking place today and tomorrow, since the Regents won't do it (for more than one year).

That said, particularly given the Regents' procedure with concurrent meetings, it takes time to review all of the sessions and summarize. So we will post the audio for the morning here and provide information on what occurred as we go in later posts. However, much of the public comment period in the morning full board session was devoted to protests about planned tuition increases.

Note: In the afternoon special session that was put on today's agenda after complaints about a conflict with the governor's State of the State address tomorrow, voting on the proposed tuition increases was delayed to later meetings. There was a presentation about the proposal, however.

Below is a link to the morning session of the full board:

Full board:
Compliance & Audit:
Public Engagement:

This is all I know about it

January 24, 2018, Inside Higher Ed
The University of California and California State University are sharing a new procurement system in what leaders are billing as the largest effort of its kind in higher education and an opportunity to significantly reduce costs.
The two public university systems with 33 combined campuses believe a new software platform called California Universities Sourcing, or CalUsource, will allow them to streamline procurement, cut costs, drum up more competitive bids and improve their contract management, according to a Tuesday news release. The two systems have about $10 billion in combined expenditures.
Leaders credit a common procurement technology system at UC with saving hundreds of millions of dollars over the last four years.
(I did like a comment someone added to the item that pointed out with marijuana now legal in California, joint procurement should be easier.)

Easy Come

$20M windfall for UC law schools in wrongful foreclosure suit shrinks to $150K

Debra Cassens Weiss, Jan. 24, 2018, ABA Journal

A federal judge has vacated a punitive damages award against Bank of America that gave $20 million to the University of California’s five law schools in a wrongful foreclosure case.

The five law schools will now receive $150,000 as a result of a bank settlement with the plaintiffs, Erik and Renee Sundquist, the Recorder reports. Bloomberg News also has coverage.

The law schools weren’t involved in the initial litigation, but U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein of Sacramento had awarded them $20 million of the punitive damages last March. He had also designated $10 million for the National Consumer Law Center and $10 million to the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center. The plaintiffs were to get $5 million in punitives and $1 million in actual damages.

The settlement calls for the Sundquists to receive an award of $6 million plus a multi-million dollar, undislcosed “premium,” Klein said in a Jan. 18 opinion. The Sundquists also agreed to donate $150,000 to the five law schools and $150,000 to the two consumer groups.

Klein’s opinion leaves intact his decision in which he accused the bank of a “mortgage modification charade” that created a “a Kafkaesque nightmare.” Klein said in that earlier decision that Bank of America had “willfully violated” a bankruptcy court stay by foreclosing on the Sundquists’ residence.

The bank had initially offered to settle in exchange for dismissal of the adversary proceeding “so as to vitiate” the the opinion from last March, Klein said, but he did not agree.

“This was a naked effort to coerce this court to erase the record,” Klein said the opinion. “No chance. No dice.”


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Med Art

We return to a periodic feature namely artworks in UCLA medical buildings. This one is in the 200 building: "Blue Palm" by Barry Dukoff.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Getting Closure

...The National Science Foundation announced that researchers who have received funds may continue to use them, but new payments will not be made during the shutdown. Many NSF grant recipients receive their funds in portions, so some may miss funds due soon. While the shutdown continues, no new grants will be awarded and peer-review panels won't meet, delaying new grants after the shutdown ends.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that the National Institutes of Health would continue patient care for those in clinical trials at the NIH. The HHS guidance did not discuss grants awarded to universities.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement saying that the shutdown "impedes the U.S. scientific enterprise," which has already been hurt by limits on funding for research programs.

Full story at

Sunday, January 21, 2018

How long?

The LA Times ran a story yesterday indicating that brain damage from football is not just the result of concussions, but seems built into the structure of the sport, at least as played at the college level - including at UCLA - and professionally. Of course, the "business model" that keeps college football going depends in the long run on resolving this issue. It's not clear it can be resolved. So it's not clear how long the current business model can last, given the legal liability as such studies continued to be aired.

The article is at:

The Shutdown

UC reports on how federal shutdown affecting California universities

The University of California announced that the statewide system will be affected as a result of Friday night’s federal government shutdown...

How will a government shutdown impact the University of California?

The impact will depend on the length of a federal government shutdown as well as guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and each of the federal agencies.


We expect little to no immediate impact on research funding. Of course, our assessment will change depending on how long a federal government shutdown lasts.

Additional background: We expect that the Office of Management and Budget will release guidance to address activities conducted by federal employees during a shutdown. We will review those materials when they are issued. (During the government shutdown in 2013, generally, federal employees were not allowed to conduct routine activities in oversight, inspection, accounting, administration, etc. No new grants or contracts were allowed to be issued. We expect that each agency will provide additional and detailed guidance regarding a government shutdown and may have some discretion.)


It is important to underscore that the fiscal year budget that the government is trying to finalize now applies to academic year 2018-19, which will start on July 1, 2018. The final funding totals would impact Pell Grants that are issued after July 1, 2018. The University of California has urged Congress to preserve Pell Grant funding as well as other key financial aid programs.

If a short federal government shutdown were to occur, we expect it to have limited, if any, impact on our educational services and financial aid programs. If the shutdown were to become prolonged, we would feel an impact, but we are hopeful that Congress will be able to reach agreement on a budget that includes strong funding for education and research programs.

The university will do all it can to shield UC students from harmful effects of a short government shutdown, including — if need be — advancing UC funds to substitute for federal financial aid so that financial aid reaches students when promised. Again, we do not expect a short federal government shutdown to have an immediate impact on our students, but the final appropriations totals could affect the student aid they receive next year.

With $377 million in federal Pell Grants and $1.1 billion in federal student loans annually, holding students harmless during an extended shutdown could require a significant amount of forward funding by the university.

Furthermore, students who have not completed the required processes to receive federal financial aid (e.g., filing a FAFSA or completing loan forms) would be required to wait during any government shutdown before the university could verify their eligibility.

Perkins Loans

The Perkins Loan program expired on Sept. 30, 2017. UC continues to urge Congress to reinstate this important student financial aid program.

How many UC students receive Perkins Loans?

Perkins Loans, which in 2015-16 provided nearly 16,000 very low-income UC students with almost $25 million in financial aid, are a vital resource to those students who otherwise would have difficulty accessing funds from a private lender.

How will current UC students who receive Perkins Loans be impacted?

Based on grandfather provisions included in the Higher Education Act, UC will be allowed to make Perkins Loans to certain students for up to five additional years (through Sept. 30, 2022) to enable students who received loans prior to Oct. 1, 2017 “to continue or complete courses of study.”

What about new Perkins Loans?

The program ended on Sept. 30, 2017 and campuses are not able to issue new loans. UC continues to urge Congress to save this important student financial aid program.

Health care

UC is committed to delivering medical care to the many patients for whom we contract with the federal government to provide services, including patients enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. However, UC’s five medical centers are among the most significant providers of medical services to these patient populations throughout California, and we need to pay our bills, including paying physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other hospital staff, while meeting all our obligations. While we can help ensure services continue, there is no precedent for a prolonged government shutdown.

National labs

The national labs are federally funded through contracts with the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The labs will receive detailed guidance regarding a government shutdown from those federal agencies. Media questions regarding the impact of a government shutdown on Berkeley, Los Alamos or Livermore National Labs should be directed to the public affairs offices at the respective lab.

Full story at

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tuition Vote Moved to Wednesday

According to the LA Times, the Regents' vote on a tuition increase will take place next week and will not be delayed - as some have requested - until the March meeting. The date of the vote was moved to Wednesday since the ex officio regents will be attending the governor's state of the state address on Thursday. From the LA Times:

The University of California is proposing to raise tuition and the student services fee for state residents by 2.7%, an increase of $342 to a total of $12,972 for the 2018-19 academic year... The vote on the tuition proposal was moved up a day, to Wednesday, to avoid a conflict for ex-officio regents who will attend Brown’s State of the State address on Thursday.

State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and others had asked UC President Janet Napolitano to change the date so more could attend the meeting. Student regent Paul Monge and two other student leaders had asked that the vote be moved to the March meeting at UCLA, because the Westwood campus is accessible to more students than UC San Francisco, which has no undergraduate campus.

Despite the scheduling change, Rendon will not attend the regents meeting because he has a “fully booked day in the Capitol,” his spokesman said. (Lt. Gov.) Newsom is scheduled to attend.

Full story at

As we noted in prior posts, the governor in his budget message is opposed to a tuition increase.

UCLA History: Faculty Club Fundraising

The latest Faculty Center newsletter contains this photo of a fundraiser in the 1950s to establish the Center.

DACA message

FYI: An email message concerning DACA-eligibles went out yesterday from Professor Abel Valenzuela, Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Immigration Policy, and Jerry Kang, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion:

UCLA Advisory Council on Immigration Policy

To the Campus Community:

Updates on DACA: As of January 9, 2018, due to a preliminary injunction in the case of Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Dep’t of Homeland Security, the Department of Homeland Security has resumed processing DACA renewal applications. However, this is only a preliminary injunction, which means that renewals will be allowed pending a final decision in the case. We do not know how long this renewal opportunity will last – it could only be a few days, so we urge students and staff who are eligible to renew their DACA [or? and?] to seriously consider doing so as quickly as possible...

The message goes on to provide various informational links.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Vandalism incident sparks responses from Jewish student leaders

Vandalism incident sparks responses from Jewish student leaders

Daily Bruin, 1-18-18, Thomas Lim

The president of UCLA’s undergraduate student government rededicated a new mezuzah outside of her office Thursday after her previous mezuzah was vandalized over winter break.

Rabbi Dovid Gurevich led the rededication with a speech about the cultural significance of the mezuzah in the Jewish faith and closed the event with the installment of the new mezuzah. The previous one was torn off Undergraduate Students Association Council President Arielle Yael Mokhtarzadeh’s doorframe between Jan. 2 and Jan. 8.

A mezuzah outside former USAC President Danny Siegel’s doorpost was damaged in 2017 as well, Mokhtarzadeh said.

A mezuzah is a small ornament that is placed on the doorframe of Jewish homes and synagogues. It contains two passages from the Torah that symbolize protection for practitioners of the faith, Gurevich said.

UCPD Lt. Kevin Kilgore said the department is investigating the incident as a potential hate crime because the mezuzah is religiously significant to the Jewish faith, and Mokhtarzadeh identifies as Jewish. He added there are currently no suspects or leads in the investigation...

Mokhtarzadeh said she plans to take measures to prevent these types of incidents from occurring again by working with Associated Students UCLA to install security cameras on the third floor of Kerckhoff Hall.

Full story at


CRISPR case never seems to draw to a conclusion

A decision from the European Patent Office (EPO) has put the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on shaky ground with its intellectual property claims to the gene-editing tool CRISPR. EPO yesterday revoked a patent granted to the Broad for fundamental aspects of the technology, one of several of its patents facing opposition in Europe.

In the United States, the Broad has had better fortune. It has so far prevailed in a high-profile patent dispute with the University of California (UC), Berkeley. Last February, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled that although a team led by UC Berkeley structural biologist Jennifer Doudna had first laid claim to the use of CRISPR to cut DNA in a test tube, the use of the method on human cells by molecular biologist Feng Zhang’s team at the Broad was still an advance.

But in Europe, a dispute that has gotten much less attention could derail several key Broad patents. The patent just revoked was filed in December 2013, but to show that its claims predate competing publications and patent filings from UC and other groups, the Broad cites U.S. patent applications dating back to December 2012.

Unfortunately, those earliest U.S. filings include an inventor, microbiologist Luciano Marraffini of The Rockefeller University in New York City, who was not listed on the European filing. Disagreement between Rockefeller and the Broad over Marraffini’s role in key CRISPR inventions led to a bizarre dispute, creating conflicting, identical patents with different authors, The Scientist reported in 2016.

The two institutions settled the disagreement earlier this week. But because of strict rules in Europe about the listing of inventors on patents, Marraffini’s exclusion from the European filing meant the Broad couldn’t claim the “priority date” of the earliest U.S. patents, and therefore couldn’t lay first claim in Europe to the technologies described.

The invalidated patent is one of several facing formal “oppositions” filed with EPO. One opponent of the now-revoked patent was CRISPR Therapeutics, co-founded by microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier, now at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, who collaborated with Doudna on early CRISPR technology and is listed on key patents. And the same issue could threaten more of the Broad’s intellectual property in Europe, says Jacob Sherkow, a patent specialist at New York Law School in New York City. “If the Broad can’t get the priority date that they want in their patents, things are just going to be really bad for them,” he says. “It looks like UC Berkeley and Emmanuelle Charpentier are going to have the dominant patent position in Europe going forward.”

The Broad said in a statement that it plans to appeal the decision. But the likelihood that EPO will reverse course is “slim,” says Catherine Coombes, a patent attorney with HGF Limited in York, U.K., who has handled some CRISPR-related litigation but is not involved with what she refers to as “the foundational” intellectual property at the center of these disputes.

She notes that the decision doesn’t threaten the many follow-on patents the Broad has filed for gene-editing technologies, including alternatives to the Cas9 enzyme used in the early CRISPR work. And the new blow to the Broad doesn’t change the fact that companies commercializing CRISPR-based products will likely have to license technology from multiple patent holders. “The CRISPR landscape is a lot murkier in Europe because it’s perfectly feasible to have lots of overlapping rights,” she says. “I can’t say that it’s suddenly a winner-takes-all scenario.”



Yesterday, yours truly noted an article in the Bruin indicating that a ban had been imposed on alcohol at frat parties. There was no further information. Below is what happened:

A former UCLA fraternity president was free on bail Thursday following his arrest in Westwood last weekend on suspicion of assault with intent to commit rape and oral copulation. Benjamin Orr, 21, was arrested after police were called about 9:15 a.m. Sunday to the 500 block of Gayley Avenue to investigate a report of a sexual assault that allegedly occurred the previous night at an off-campus party, according to UCLA Police Department Lt. Scott Scheffler.
Orr, who was arrested at 547 Gayley Ave., was booked into sheriff's custody and was freed after posting $100,000 bail, Scheffler said.
The address is that of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. The Daily Bruin reports that Orr was the fraternity's 2016-17 president. On Tuesday, the UCLA Interfraternity Council Executive Board and President's Council met and voted to impose "an indefinite ban on events involving alcohol that take place within IFC chapter facilities," according to a statement from the council's executive board.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

UCPath now at ASUCLA

The UCPath payroll system, which has featured repeated delays and large cost overruns, is now in place at ASUCLA. It was due originally to replace the local system at UCLA as a whole, but was confined initially to just ASUCLA to see what happened. Details can be found in the Bruin:

UC DACA Statement

UC statement on government’s push for Supreme Court ruling on DACA

UC Office of the President, Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The University of California looks forward to defending the federal district court injunction on appeal. U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup’s order rightly rests on the correct application of settled legal principles, which do not permit an agency such as the Department of Homeland Security to act based on a mistaken view of the law. Judge Alsup correctly recognized that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was a lawful exercise of enforcement discretion and rejected the government’s argument to the contrary.

We will oppose the government’s highly unusual attempt to take an appeal directly to the Supreme Court. The administration’s disregard for ordinary appellate procedures echoes the irregular manner in which it tried to rescind DACA.

Judge Alsup’s injunction requiring DHS to accept DACA renewals remains in place, and we urge all DACA recipients to submit renewal applications as soon as possible. This does not, however, negate the urgent need for a legislative solution that will allow DACA recipients to permanently remain in the United States.



University of California President Janet Napolitano and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Wednesday urged young immigrant students to renew their applications for an Obama-era program that protects them from deportation amid reports that immigration officials in Northern California could conduct a sweep of undocumented people in the coming weeks...

Full story at

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Regents and Tuition (or Not)

As we noted in our postings on the governor's proposed budget, he has assumed no tuition increase at UC for next year. But the Regents are reported to be planning to raise tuition (or to be considering a raise) at their upcoming meeting, Jan. 24-25. Some Regents are now reported to be requesting a delay. The agenda for the Regents as of this morning does not include an explicit overall tuition item, but here is the LA Times on the issue:

Controversy is brewing over whether University of California regents should vote next week on another possible tuition increase — or delay a decision to allow more people to weigh in.

UC officials have floated the idea of another increase of 2.5%, which would amount to about $290 more in tuition for the coming 2018-19 academic year.

The regents approved a similar increase last year — the first since 2010-11 —  which brought tuition for California resident undergraduates to $11,502.

Regents last year also increased the student services fee by $54, but offered enough financial aid to cover the higher costs for two-thirds of the university system’s roughly 175,500 California resident undergraduates. 

State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, an ex-officio regent, asked UC President Janet Napolitano over the weekend to delay a vote because he and some of the other regents won’t be able to attend the budget discussion scheduled for Jan. 25 at UC San Francisco. That’s because Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State address is scheduled for the same day.

At least two other ex-officio regents, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torklakson, also will attend Brown’s address and miss the regents meeting. Newsom opposes any tuition increase, his spokesman said.

“To start, it lets the Legislature off the hook of addressing the state’s underfunding of public higher ed,” Rhys Williams, Newsom’s spokesman, said in a text Tuesday. 

[Note: Newsom is running for governor.]

Students also have asked Napolitano to delay any vote until the March meeting, to be held at UCLA. Student Regent Paul Monge said he and two other student leaders met with Napolitano on Friday and asked for a delay, saying more students would be able to voice their views at a meeting at UCLA than at UCSF, which has no undergraduate campus. 

“We’re wanting to provide access to the meeting and make sure there’s robust input from students,” Monge said Tuesday. 

Monge said UC officials told students that they wanted a decision on tuition in January to give families time to prepare for any increase. But students countered, he said, that admission decisions for freshmen and transfer students usually are not released until the spring anyway. Freshmen have until May 1 to commit to enroll and transfer students, until June 1.  

Delaying a vote, Monge argued, also would give the UC community more time to lobby the Legislature and governor for more money. That, in turn, could eliminate the need for another tuition increase, he said.

Brown made it clear in the 2018-19 budget proposal he unveiled last week that he did not support another tuition increase at UC or Cal State.

“The Administration remains concerned about the impact of tuition increases on lower income students and families and believes more must be done to reduce the universities’ cost structure,” his budget proposal said. “Further reforms should be implemented before the segments consider charging students more.”

At the same time, Brown proposed a 3% increase in base funding for 2018-19, down from a 4% increase in each of the last few years. Leaders of UC and Cal State have expressed concern over the smaller funding increases. 

Napolitano and UC Board of Regents Chairman George Kieffer could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. 


Items on the Regents' agenda include a "Master of Management" degree at Merced to be run by the School of Engineering (with a tuition premium):
and a look at the total cost of attendance for students - as opposed to just the tuition element:

There is a report scheduled on the bid to continue UC's managerial role in Los Alamos, a legacy of the Manhattan Project. UC has been reported in the news media to be bidding in partnership with Texas A&M, but nothing about the details of the bid appears in the agenda item:

Budget approval for additional student housing at UCLA is also on the agenda:

The overall agenda (as of this morning) is at:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Big Blue Bus UCLA-Subsidized Ridership Up

The Big Blue Bus took a hit last year, losing 12 percent of its overall ridership, according to a year-end performance report on fiscal year 2016-2017. While ridership has declined across agencies in Los Angeles County, local analysts say the biggest competition in Santa Monica came from the Expo Line. BBB routes that run parallel to light rail lost 1.5 million passengers year over year, accounting for 46 percent of ridership loss system wide...The report also blames changes in demographics, income, car affordability, low gas prices and Uber and Lyft, for declining ridership...

(But) ridership numbers were good for bus lines that provided subsidies for students and gave them access to areas with expensive or restrictive parking, like UCLA. In fact, UCLA students rode 14 percent more trips in Fiscal Year 2016-2017 than they did the year before...

Full story at

AEA professional conduct review

After disclosures of inappropriate sexist comments on an unofficial website used by economists, the American Economic Association (AEA) set in motion a review. The AEA is the primary professional association of economists. A report on what occurred and a response is at:

An announcement of a proposed code of conduct is below:

January 16, 2018

To: Members of the American Economic Association
From: Peter L. Rousseau, Secretary-Treasurer
Subject: AEA Draft Code of Professional Conduct – comments requested

In October 2017 Alvin E. Roth formed an Ad Hoc Committee to Consider a Code of Professional Conduct for Economists, and charged it with evaluating various aspects of professional conduct, including those which stifle diversity in Economics. The ad hoc committee, composed of John Campbell (chair), Marianne Bertrand, Pascaline Dupas, Benjamin Edelman, and Matthew D. Shapiro discussed an interim report* and draft code with the AEA Executive Committee at its meeting on January 4, 2018, and provided an update to the AEA membership at the Annual Business Meeting on January 5 in Philadelphia. The interim report and draft code are now ready and available for viewing and comment by the AEA membership at large, and the Executive Committee encourages your participation and assistance in bringing these items ahead to final versions.


Draft AEA Code of Professional Conduct

January 5, 2018:

The American Economic Association holds that principles of professional conduct should guide economists in academia, government, and the private sector.

The AEA's founding purpose of "the encouragement of economic research" requires intellectual and professional integrity. These demand honesty and transparency in conducting and presenting research, disinterested assessment of ideas, and disclosure of conflicts of interest.

The AEA encourages the "perfect freedom of economic discussion."  This goal requires considering each idea on its own merits and an environment where all can freely participate. Economists have a professional obligation to conduct civil and respectful dialogue in all venues including seminars, conferences, and social media. This obligation applies even when participating anonymously.

The AEA seeks to create a professional environment with equal opportunity and equal treatment for all economists, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, health condition, marital status, parental status, genetic information, professional status, or personal connections.

Economists have both an individual responsibility for their conduct, and a collective responsibility to promote responsible conduct in the economics profession. These responsibilities include developing institutional arrangements and a professional environment that promote free expression concerning economics. These responsibilities also include supporting participation and advancement in the economics profession by individuals from diverse backgrounds.

The AEA strives to promote these principles through its activities.


Similar concerns coming to UCLA?

Chinese institute at UMass Boston is accused of promoting censorship

By Laura Krantz, Boston Globe, Jan. 16, 2018

A group of UMass Boston students, professors, and alumni as well as outside advocates are raising concerns about the Confucius Institute that operates on its campus, accusing it of promoting censorship abroad and undermining human rights.

The Chinese government oversees the center, one of more than 90 on campuses across the United States and abroad and one of two in the state.

“Confucius Institutes use their foothold in prominent academic institutions to influence and steer academic discourse,” the group said in a recent letter to interim chancellor Barry Mills, asking for a meeting to discuss their concerns.

The organizer of the objectors said she hopes to persuade the university to shut down the campus institute.


10 AM

UCLA is pushing its "TIE-INS" program:

If you go on the website listed below, you will find that the application process becomes available at 10 AM today. From an email circulated today:

Now in its tenth year, as an initiative developed at the Chancellor’s behest by the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS), the program enables children of UCLA employees to attend eight public schools:
  • Beethoven Street Elementary School
  • Broadway Elementary School
  • Brockton Elementary School
  • Nora Sterry Elementary School
  • Walgrove Avenue Elementary School
  • Emerson Middle School
  • Mark Twain Middle School
  • University High School
For your convenience, the 2018-2019 application is online at the TIE-INS website.* Please check the website for application deadline dates for each school.

Monday, January 15, 2018

UC's Los Alamos Bid

University of California official promises better management at LANL

By Mark Oswald / Journal Staff Writer / January 14th, 2018 / Albuquerque Journal

OHKAY OWINGEH – A top University of California official acknowledged Friday that there have been shortcomings at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the past but said the school remains “deeply committed” to the future of the lab as UC bids for LANL’s next management and operations contract.

Kim Budil, the university’s vice president for national labs, said UC, which has been involved in running LANL since 1943, had adapted and improved since an accident caused by LANL shut down the nation’s nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad in 2014.

Budil also admitted there had been “missed opportunities” for the university to establish more of an institutional presence in northern New Mexico over the decades, but she touted new programs to support tech start-ups and for entrepreneurial fellowships as ways to do more in the future.

Budil as well as representatives of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas – also bidders for the lab contract – spoke at a meeting of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities at the Ohkay Owingeh Casino Resort Hotel north of Española.

The Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration is scheduled to award the new LANL operating contract, worth more than $2 billion annually, later this year. It was rebid after Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS), a private consortium that includes UC and Bechtel, failed to receive adequate performance reviews in recent years.

Most of Budil’s remarks came in response to polite but pointed questions from Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, the coalition chairman. He said there has been “a lot of disappointment with the mistakes that were made at Los Alamos,” citing the radioactive contamination that closed the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in 2014 when a waste drum improperly packed with a combustible mix at LANL burst open.

He also said it appeared that the university had been “passive” on addressing issues such as poverty, air quality and drug addiction in northern New Mexico.

“Donating money to a foundation and feeling like that might be the end of the obligation is not necessarily what I consider (being) a good corporate citizen,” Gonzales said.

And the mayor said leaders of the local communities that make up the Regional Coalition have had to go to Washington, D.C., “alone” to lobby for more funding to clean up LANL’s hazardous waste from decades of nuclear weapons work, without help from lab researchers to make the case that “there are some real health issues” to address.

Concerning the WIPP accident, Budil said that when management at the lab shifted to the current consortium in 2006 – in the first open-bid process for the LANL contract after UC had run the lab alone since World War II – the idea was to bring the strengths of the university together with best practices from the private sector. “Some aspects worked exceptionally well” but others didn’t, she said, with the WIPP contamination “highlighting” shortcomings in how the partnership was built.

“People with deep expertise of the chemistry of nuclear waste weren’t necessarily deeply embedded” in the operational side of the lab. “It’s not operations and science,” Budil said. “Those things have to come together in a very seamless way.”

Budil said the lab had responded vigorously since 2014 and made lab operations much better, citing successes like the successful remediation of dozens of additional drums containing wastes similar to those that leaked at WIPP. “I stand by that record,” she said, adding, “We transformed the way we operate in very fundamental ways.”

On community issues, she said UC has been a strong contributor to the LANL Foundation and will continue that beyond the current LANS contract and is trying to find ways to do more, but she acknowledged the California school should have stronger relationships with local universities and more local presence in economic development efforts and other issues. Budil added that’s why she wants to push new public-private partnerships and tech transfer efforts, and using resources from “the greatest public research university in the world” on the regional problems cited by Gonzales, Budil added.

UC is reportedly teaming with Texas A&M in a joint bid for the lab contract, although neither school has publicly confirmed the partnership. A&M’s Scott Sudduth touted his school’s history in nuclear engineering and community service.

Susan Rogers, a consultant for University of Texas system, said that school’s primary goal in bidding for the lab contract was to fill the “critical need for effective national security” and that UT has “unmatched qualifications and scientific accomplishments.” The school also knows it “must play a significant role in the community that is its home,” Rogers said...

Full story at

As we always do when this matter comes up, we recommend the 1980 BBC series - free on YouTube - dealing with Oppenheimer, Los Alamos, and politics at Berkeley in the World War II era:

Part 1: [link below]
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:
Part 6:
Part 7: