Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Whatever happened to....?

In case you were wondering, UC (really UC-Irvine) appears to have lost its one contact with the Trump administration. UC-I Professor Peter Navarro* - an economic adviser to the Trump campaign and then a White House appointee - is characterized by the LA Times as a former UC-Irvine professor.** Yours truly checked it out and he is indeed listed as a professor-emeritus. He has now been promoted to "assistant to the president," according to the Times.

The Great 150

Much is being made about the 150th anniversary of UC. The Academic Senate is going to have a program in the fall:

UC prez Napolitano is giving a talk;

In the meantime, practice saying "sesquicentennial."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Official DACA statement

UC statement on Supreme Court decision regarding DACA 
UC Office of the President

Monday, February 26, 2018

The University of California issued the following statement regarding a decision today (Feb. 26) by the Supreme Court of the United States to not review UC’s case on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals takes up the case.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court has denied the government's petition. As we argued to the Court, it was inappropriate for the Trump administration to short circuit standard appellate procedure and attempt to skip the U.S. Court of Appeals — a precipitous approach that echoes the government's procedurally improper rescission of DACA at the heart of this case. Now that the administration's extraordinary maneuver has been rightfully rejected, we look forward to defending U.S. District Judge William Alsup's injunction in the Court of Appeals.”


Monday, February 26, 2018

Framing at a Gallup

It has long been known that the way questions are framed in opinion polls can have a big effect on the results.

A recent Gallup Poll illustrates this point with regard to public attitudes toward higher education (or is it colleges and universities)?

Two charts below illustrate the impact of framing. (And note that the difference between higher ed and colleges and universities does not seem to involve incorporation of community colleges in the former but perhaps not the latter.


Push Back - Part 2

An earlier post reproduced an article from a local newspaper concerning a Woody Allen film course at UC-San Diego.*

A more complete article has now appeared in Inside Higher Ed:

Woody Allen and Academic Freedom: UC San Diego Academic Senate rejects student-led push to cut a course on the filmmaker from the curriculum over sexual abuse allegations.

By Colleen Flaherty, February 26, 2018

Calls to boycott Woody Allen movies over allegations that he sexually abused his daughter Dylan Farrow when she was a child have been renewed amid the growing Me Too movement. Critics also cite other concerns about his treatment of women and girls in art and in life. At the University of California, San Diego, in recent weeks, those calls took the form of a student-led petition to end a theater class on Allen’s work.

But even some 22,000 signatures didn’t convince the faculty: the class will stand, the campus’s Academic Senate determined this month, after a review.

The matter is one of free inquiry, San Diego’s senate chairs said in a statement, summarizing the decision of the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom.

The senate “supports the right to the continued teaching of this course now and in the future,” Senate Chair Farrell Ackerman, professor of linguistics, and Vice Chair Robert Horowitz, professor of communication, wrote. “As importantly, the senate supports and will vigorously maintain the right of all faculty to participate in the principles of academic freedom: these advance and preserve the university as a singular institution for the free exchange of ideas and debate that cannot and should not be diminished by forces that seek to restrict and canalize course content in favored directions.”

Savanah Lyon, a theater major at San Diego who organized the petition and lobbied the theater department to stop offering the course, responded to the news in her own statement, saying she was “disappointed but not surprised.”

“I had hoped that the senate would listen to a student who is advocating for herself and for her peers in an institution that seems to be incapable of recognizing and listening to us, but they sided with the university and the protection of ‘academic freedom,’” she said. “I will continue to stand up and speak out against what I feel is wrong and I know that there will be people beside me helping me along the way. I pay money to this university, all students do, and therefore, we should have a say.”

In an earlier op-ed published in San Diego’s student newspaper, Lyon challenged the idea that academic freedom is a legitimate defense for teaching Allen's work. “We’ve reached a time where it no longer stands,” she said. “There are some issues that are crystal clear: Allen has a number of longstanding sexual abuse allegations and, therefore, shouldn’t get his own class devoted to him. That’s it. Line drawn. It may seem small, but removing this course from UCSD’s catalog speaks heavily to what we as a community and campus will allow. We can’t let anything slide, no matter how ‘small’ they might seem.”

Allen has denied Dylan Farrow’s allegations against him, and a decades-old criminal inquiry into the matter resulted in no charges. But Farrow, now an adult, continues to say that Allen molested her when she was 7. Mia Farrow, Allen’s former partner, also alleges that Allen began having an affair with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn when Previn was still in high school. Allen and Previn later married.

Beyond personal matters, critics have questioned Allen’s portrayal of relationships between minors and adults on film, such as in the 1979 film Manhattan. Allen cast himself as the love interest of actor Mariel Hemingway, who was 16 years old when the film was shot. She later said that Allen “attacked” her like a “linebacker” during an on-screen kiss. Richard Morgan, a writer who was the first to read the “Woody Papers” archive at Princeton University in its entirety, has described Allen’s work as “flatly boorish. Running through all of the boxes is an insistent, vivid obsession with young women and girls.”

Still, Allen is far from the only artist associated with an obsession with young girls or women -- indeed, a staggering number of short stories, books and films are based on what Morgan, critiquing Allen, described as "young women who are compelled to lackluster men merely by the gravity of the men’s obsession." Vladimir Nabokov’s Dolores Haze in the literature class staple Lolita, was 12, for example.

Allen is also far from the only artist accused of being a bad person, criminally or otherwise. And while a number of institutions have in recent years moved to sever ties with morally abhorrent people or ideas -- revoking honorary degrees to accused serial rapist Bill Cosby or removing monuments with links to slavery, for example -- most haven’t touched on the curriculum, which remains on most campuses the exclusive domain of the faculty and therefore protected by academic freedom. Reed College, for example, has resisted student demands that it overhaul an introductory humanities course over concerns that it is too oriented toward the West.

There are exceptions. Wendy MacLeod, a professor of drama at Kenyon College, called off the production of her original, co-curricular play this semester after some on campus complained about how it portrayed Latinos. Knox College also canceled a production of Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechuan over student concerns about how it portrayed Asians.

Steven Adler, professor emeritus of stage management at San Diego, has taught the all-Allen course since the 1990s and is doing so this semester. The upper-division class looks at screenwriting, directing, cinematography and editing in Allen’s films, as well as the “intersection of comedy and tragedy” therein, recurring themes and critical responses. Students view 13 films, writing two three-page essays and one 10-page research paper.

Adler has declined to speak publicly about the case and did not respond to an interview request. Lyon wrote she had met with him, however, and shared her concerns. In response, she said, Adler compared “banning this class to banning classes on black history and climate change. I was asked time and time again about hypotheticals of this or that being taught or not taught in class, when it all comes down to one statement: art is not required, it is chosen. You do not have to teach Allen; you choose to. It isn’t like history -- it’s not set in stone.”

There isn’t “an exact timeline to follow or strict figures to feature,” she said. “Art is something that we as consumers of media get a choice in, and despite personal beliefs, there should be a moral obligation in these fields to feature artists that don’t have a history of abuse.”

Historians would probably take issue with the idea that the field is “set in stone.” And the senate subcommittee disagreed with Lyon in a twofold finding.

“First, we recognize that the university is responsible for vigilantly maintaining and promoting the First Amendment guarantee of free expression of ideas and opinions on campus and for encouraging critical, deliberative and informed debate on controversial issues,” it said. “This responsibility is manifested both in our valuing and respecting the right of students to express their deeply held views, and our valuing and respecting the right of our faculty, in accordance with fundamental principles of academic freedom, to choose what they teach.”

Moreover, it said, citing the American Association of University Professors’ statement on academic freedom and tenure, “we conclude that canceling or removing this or any other course for the reason that it contains the study of controversial material, or even material widely regarded as morally problematic, would undermine both the value of free inquiry and the associated rights of faculty to engage in such inquiry by choosing their course content.”

Charles Means, chair of the theater department, did not respond to a request for comment. A university spokesperson referred questions about the class to the senate’s statement.

Valerie Ross, director of the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania, has taught Allen on her campus. She said she supported the San Diego faculty’s decision to protect freedom of inquiry as well as the the #metoo and related Time's Up movements, and didn't see them as contradictory.

“What I do not support is censorship," Ross said via email. "Censoring a course on Woody Allen simply eliminates an opportunity for thoughtful, fact-based discussion about him and his work.”

The question of whether one should teach or research a particular person has been “vexed” for some time, she said. “Learning and scholarship — academic structure itself — is predicated on such friction, such differences of view.” 

During the heyday of critical theory, for example, Ross recalled, there were “incredibly substantive, heated debates about how or whether to teach, and how or whether to consider, the work of Paul de Man, who was revealed as a Nazi sympathizer and, over time, whose very theory was seen as linked to a Nazi world view; or Louis Althusser, who strangled his wife and whose critics, like those of de Man, came to see his philosophy as inextricably linked to maintaining an oppressive system, in this latter case, patriarchy.” 

“Foreclosing” upon such discussions in the classroom or scholarship “serves no one's interests,” Ross said. “We learned from studying these men the subtle relationships between our ideas and our ideologies, our theories and our practices.”  

A class on Woody Allen, therefore, “provides an excellent case for revitalizing a question that extends back to Plutarch and is very much at the core of the liberal arts: the question of the extent to which one can or should read a text (a film, a book, a theory, an action) through the character of its author or vice versa.”


Sunday, February 25, 2018

In case you missed it

A major gift was provided to UCLA's Hammer Museum:
In yet another major infusion of cash for Los Angeles' art museums, the Hammer announced on Thursday the largest gift in its history: $30 million from L.A. philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick to help pay for an ambitious renovation and expansion. The museum will still be called the Hammer, but its building will be renamed the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Cultural Center. The project is scheduled to be completed in two years. The Hammer also announced that board chairwoman Marcy Carsey has donated $20 million, a gift made about a year ago but not made public until now.
Together, those gifts will anchor a $180 million capital campaign, also announced by the Hammer on Thursday. About $80 million of that money is earmarked for the building transformation, which will expand gallery space by about 60%, and the rest of the funds will go toward the museum's exhibitions, programming and endowment...

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Listen to the Regents Working Group on Executive Pay, 2-23-2018

The Regents Working Group on Executive Compensation met yesterday in advance of the March Regents meeting at which the group's report is due. Unfortunately, the official recording (which the Regents preserve for only one year) cuts off before the meeting ended. You can hear the audio at the link below (which, of course, also cuts off).

The main controversial element is that the consultant hired to make pay comparisons was instructed - to comply with the demands of the state auditor - to include CSU and state government positions. At the end of the recording, UC president Napolitano expresses concerns about a "slippery slope" in making such comparisons on the grounds that UC looks for a different pool of talent than CSU. It might be emphasized that the positions involved are executives, not ordinary faculty. However, they cover academic executives, e.g., chancellors, who normally start their careers in faculty positions. According to the report, if the CSU and state positions were removed, the medians in the applicable compensation ranges would rise on the order of ten percent.

The audio link is below:


The consultant's report is at:

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Court of Academic Opinion is Preferable to the Other Kind

An interesting column by Michael Hiltzik today reports on a lawsuit, filed and no withdrawn, by a Stanford professor who didn't like a critique of a published paper he had written.
Stanford environmental professor Mark Z. Jacobson made a big splash in 2015 with a paper predicting that renewable sources could provide 100% of the energy needed in the 48 contiguous states by 2050. But he made an even bigger splash last September, when he responded to a critique of his claim published in a leading scientific journal by filing a $10-million defamation lawsuit. After taking months of flak for what seemed to be an effort to stifle legitimate scientific debate by bringing it into the courtroom, Jacobson withdrew the lawsuit Thursday... 

(As a result of the lawsuit) the discussion got sidetracked by the issue of whether research publications or courtrooms were the proper venues to hash out scientific issues. By withdrawing his case, Jacobson has given us an answer.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

How do you spell UC?

The quotation "I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right." is widely cited in journalism, public relations and advertising books where it is variously meant to reflect the importance of the media, the power of publicity, and/or the arrogance of celebrities. Some people believe it; others dispute it. Either way, it perfectly captures the now out-dated but once-popular notion that there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Because it's clever and easy to remember, it's been widely quoted for a hundred years or more. Ironically, those who have quoted it have attributed it to a wide-range of speakers. It appears that lots of people have said it, or are given credit for saying it, but no one seems to know who said it first...

Full source at

The final tally is in — UC's highest one-year payout for sex harassment settlements

Sexual harassment payouts at the University of California spiked in 2016-17 at more than $3.4 million, with students and university employees filing claims ranging from inappropriate hugging and kissing to sexual assault, according to new documents released by UC to The Bee. The UC system, whose president has pressed for changes in the institutional culture, was hit especially hard last year by two settlements that exceeded $1 million each.

A [Sacramento] Bee investigation published last month showed that UC was second only to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in the number of sexual harassment settlements and their costs in recent years. Both entities also are the largest in state government, with UC the No. 1 employer, followed by Corrections...

Full story at

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Push Back

A student who demanded that UC San Diego cancel a class about Woody Allen because she thinks the director is morally offensive has been told no and given a bit of a lecture on free speech from the school.

The university was responding to Savanah Lyon, a 23 year-old theater student who pressed her demand in an online petition that got more than 14,000 signatures.

Lyon says UC San Diego should not teach “The Films of Woody Allen” because he was accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter when she was young. Allen has never been charged with such conduct, and the director has denied the allegations.

UC San Diego said in a statement, “The (Academic) Senate supports the right to the continued teaching of this course now and in the future.

“As importantly, the Senate supports and will vigorously maintain the right of all faculty to participate in the principles of academic freedom: these advance and preserve the University as a singular institution for the free exchange of ideas and debate that cannot and should not be diminished by forces that seek to restrict and canalize course content in favored directions.”

The controversy centered on a class that is being taught by Steven Adler, a prize-winning theater professor who has not responded to requests from the Union-Tribune for an interview.

However, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla was blunt on Tuesday when asked what he would have done if Lyon had asked him to cancel one of his own classes for the same reasons.

“I would have told her to move on and get out of my classroom,” Khosla said. “I get to teach in my class.”

In an email, Lyon said Tuesday, “I am disappointed but not surprised in their decision. I had hoped that the Academic Senate would listen to a student who is advocating for herself and for her peers in an institution that seems to be incapable of recognizing and listening to us.

“But they sided with the university and the protection of ‘academic freedom.’ I will continue to stand up and speak out against what I feel is wrong and I know that there will be people beside me helping me along the way. “


A matter of good governance:

Asking for more

At a legislative hearing yesterday, students lobbied for more UC funding. Everyone at the hearing was polite. Whether "more" results is another matter:

Students from across the UC system attended a hearing held by the California Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance on Tuesday afternoon to lobby for increased state funding for the university.
About 30 students from various UC campuses were set to speak during the hearing’s public comment, according to UC Office of the President spokesperson Dianne Klein. She said the student-led lobbying campaign is part of a combined effort between the University of California Student Association, or UCSA, and the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, to campaign legislators for increased state investment in the university.
“While it’s the height of irony for students to miss their classes while advocating for those classes to be properly funded by the state, we’re ready to show our legislators that we will hold them accountable for decades of disinvestment,” said Varsha Sarveshwar, the ASUC’s “Fund the UC” campaign manager, in a public statement released by the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP.
Klein said the alliance has grown from both organizations’ shared dissatisfaction with Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to increase the higher education budget by only 3 percent — which is about a $32 million deficit from the 4 percent increase originally negotiated by UCOP.
Since the UC Board of Regents voted in January to postpone their vote on tuition hikes, UCSA and UCOP have created a partnership based on a mutual understanding of the UC’s need for increased state funding, according to UCSA President Judith Gutierrez...
Full story at
When pressed about the long-term diminution of UC funds, a representative of the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) basically said it was a matter of legislative priorities.
You can see the hearings at the link below:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Any adults at UC-Berkeley watching over this?

BERKELEY, Calif., Feb. 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Neighborly Corporation, a San Francisco-based public finance technology platform, today announced it is partnering with the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, and Berkeley elected officials, to launch the Berkeley Blockchain Initiative (BBI). The BBI will leverage blockchain technology to develop a first-of-its-kind tokenized municipal bond compliant with all regulatory requirements.

Through ongoing research and collaboration, the initiative will seek to identify ways that Neighborly's secure platform can be used to deliver low-cost, tax-exempt public finance offerings that could benefit residents of Berkeley and other municipalities. More importantly, the BBI will look to channel funds raised toward addressing some of the City of Berkeley's most pressing issues, including a lack of affordable housing and recent surges in its homeless population...

By working with Neighborly and the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, Berkeley is looking to harness the power of blockchain and the cryptocurrency movement for social good. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin commented: "Cities must look toward new funding methods to solve their most intractable problems, especially in the face of diminished federal support. Berkeley is proud to once again be leading the way in solving problems through public financing."...

Full release at

What could possibly go wrong with creating cryptocurrency at UC-Berkeley?

Keep 'em smiling

How's everyone doing so far? Am I being clear? Anyone confused?
Professors might ask these questions midway through a lecture to get a sense of students’ moods. The scattered answers often aren’t very helpful, if they’re even accurate.
With sentiment analysis software, set for trial use later this semester in a classroom at the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, instructors don’t need to ask. Instead, they can glance at their computer screen at a particular point or stretch of time in the session and observe an aggregate of the emotions students are displaying on their faces: happiness, anger, contempt, disgust, fear, neutrality, sadness and surprise.
The project team hopes the software will help instructors tailor their teaching approaches to levels of student interest, and to address areas of concern, confusion and apathy from students. If most students drift into negative emotions midway through the session, an instructor could enliven that section with an active assignment. If half the students are happy and the other half aren’t, the latter group might be getting left behind.
Meanwhile, the "creepy" factor that pervades many new technology tools lingers over that potential. "Inside Digital Learning" talked to some analysts who worry that the superficial appeal of this affective computing technology might be obscuring larger concerns. Others, though, think this tool could be a worthwhile addition to a professor's own emotional judgment...
Full story from Inside Higher Ed at:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Our Presidents' Day Post

Our contribution:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Sunday, February 18, 2018


Former Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks is apparently writing a book about about the history of universities. This endeavor may be a continuation of a project that was underway when he was chancellor and delivered what amounted to a lecture on undergraduate education to the regents.*

In an interview today in the LA Times, he is quoted as follows:

While the American university has become the world standard for excellence in teaching and research, it has also been under growing attack. It’s the whole set of headlines from the cost disease, the irresponsibility of administrators, the runaway nature of college sports, the prohibitions on free speech, the coddling of students, the incidents of sexual harassment. … It’s a call to arms for people to step up and … call out the fact that this kind of generalized attack has really been chipping away at any kind of previous consensus that public universities really do provide a significant public good. … A lot of it is a function of our polarized political situation. But I also think it’s because there's a sense that universities like Berkeley are public in name only and they're not really open to the public.

Full interview at
*Lecture at the link below:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Open for business

From the BruinUCLA said it has no plans to shut down a Chinese language and culture center affiliated with the Chinese government, despite comments from federal authorities who believe the center expands China’s political influence.
Christopher Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a Congressional hearing Tuesday that the bureau was concerned about Confucius Institutes, which are educational centers for Chinese language and culture at universities worldwide. Wray’s comments followed a question from Sen. Marco Rubio, who last week called on universities to close Confucius Institutes.
“It’s one of many tools that (China) takes advantage of. … It is something that we’re watching warily and in certain instances have developed appropriate investigative steps,” Wray said at the hearing.
Wray added the FBI has seen instances in which Chinese students and professors collect intelligence on behalf of Chinese agencies and the government.
Confucius Institutes are funded by both Office of Chinese Language Council International, a Chinese government-affiliated organization, and universities at which they are based. UCLA opened a Confucius Institute in 2006.
UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said in a statement the UCLA Confucius Institute provides training and programs for students and members of the public who want to become proficient in the Chinese language and learn more about Chinese culture. He added the institute helps train K-12 Mandarin-language teachers in California schools...

Friday, February 16, 2018


Bird Scooters Pose Campus Safety Concerns

A growing number of people on campus are using electric scooters from Bird Rides. UCLA prioritizes the safety of the campus community, and as such, UCLA Transportation would like to highlight the importance of campus road safety and California laws regarding electric scooters. UCLA currently does not have an agreement with Bird but has begun discussions regarding a potential partnership.

California Vehicle Code (CVC) 407.5(a) defines a motorized scooter as any two-wheeled device that has handlebars, has a floorboard that is designed to be stood upon when riding, and is powered by an electric motor. CVC 21235 mandates that all scooter riders in California:

  • Must wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet
  • Have a valid driver license
  • Ride on the road and remain off sidewalks
  • May not park scooters on a sidewalk in a position that blocks pedestrian paths

Be aware of your surroundings as you may not be seen or heard by other vehicles. Drive defensively. Please be safe and ride responsibly. Use common sense; these scooters are motorized vehicles, not toys, operating on streets.


Note: Casual observation suggests that the four rules listed above are generally violated. The City of Santa Monica sued the operator and recently reached a settlement. See the link below:

LAO on higher ed funding

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has issued a new report on higher ed funding (UC, CSU, community colleges). As in previous reports, the LAO continues to fret about whether UC is admitting more than the top 12.5% of high school students, as per the old Master Plan of 1960. It also doesn't like the tendency for funding to be detached from actual enrollment.

LAO notes that faculty pay is below the comparison-8 because it is below the private universities in that grouping. But pay is above the public universities. After pointing to this (now longstanding) situation, LAO seems to draw no conclusion.

Below is an executive summary of its findings on UC:

UC’s budget is affected by certain key cost drivers—most notably employee compensation, enrollment growth, its academic quality initiatives, and facility projects. The Legislature likely will want to consider supporting certain faculty and staff compensation increases in 2018‑19. We note, however, that UC faculty salaries remain very competitive relative to other public universities that conduct intensive research. Regarding enrollment growth, we believe UC’s funding redirection plan to support 1,500 additional students in 2018‑19 generally is consistent with legislative intent. We recommend enrollment decisions for 2019‑20 be made within the context of any broader discussion on UC eligibility. We recommend the Legislature consider additional funding for UC’s academic quality initiatives as lower priority. Though UC’s student‑to‑faculty ratio has increased the past several years, its student outcomes have continued to improve. Finally, several of UC’s proposed capital outlay projects lack sufficient justification. For example, four projects entail relatively large, expensive expansions despite UC providing no systemwide analysis of existing unused capacity. Whatever cost increases it ultimately supports for UC, we encourage the Legislature to think about how to share those costs between the state and nonfinancially needy students. (The state covers tuition for financially needy students.)

And below are LAO's recommendations:

University of California
  • Determine which University of California (UC) cost increases to support in 2018‑19 and consider sharing these cost increases between the state, nonfinancially needy California students, nonresident students, and other savings and fund sources.
  • Use UC’s planned programmatic reductions and redirections as a starting point to fund enrollment growth in 2018‑19.
  • Make enrollment growth decisions for 2019‑20 consistent with any broader decision regarding UC eligibility pools.
  • If UC is unable to attain a 2‑to‑1 transfer ratio at each campus, consider establishing a systemwide ratio to give UC more flexibility to meet the target while still ensuring transfer access. Also encourage UC to pursue efforts to simplify the transfer process and accelerate time to degree for entering transfer students.
  • Signal to UC that funding for its academic quality initiatives is a lower priority for 2018‑19. Were the Legislature interested in providing additional funds for more targeted purposes, specify the use of the funding in the budget act.
  • After making decisions regarding eligibility, direct UC to develop a systemwide enrollment plan that includes (1) enrollment projections based on anticipated demographic changes and eligibility criteria, (2) strategies to maximize the use of existing facilities across the system before adding new space, and (3) clear justification for the need to add space within the system.
  • Direct UC to report on construction costs per square foot and explain any variation in these costs for the same type of space across campuses. To the extent UC is unable to provide sufficient justification for the differences contained in its four 2018‑19 proposals for new academic buildings, we recommend the state withhold authorization of those projects.
  • Require UC to develop a long‑term plan to (1) retire its maintenance backlog and (2) improve its ongoing maintenance practices moving forward to prevent a backlog from reemerging.
  • Direct UC to report in spring hearings on its current efforts to reduce pressure for new physical library storage space and expand its digital collections.

The full publication is at:

Much of what is to be found in the recommendations is micro-management. Now you can argue that the Regents, or UCOP, or someone, needs to do it. I think, however, that you would have a hard time arguing that the legislature (120 members) attempting to do it is feasible. An interesting question (not asked) is whether other top universities do it better.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Money Loser for UC/UCLA

House Republicans’ rewrite of the Higher Education Act was a dud in almost all respects for student aid advocates and higher education associations. But in its proposal for the Federal Work-Study formula, the bill appeared to deliver on calls to make the program’s funding allocation more equitable.

The work-study formula has long been criticized for unfairly favoring elite private colleges in the Northeast.

Under the PROSPER Act -- as House Republicans have deemed their bill -- those are the institutions that would lose out the most on funding, according to an analysis by the American Council on Education.

The new formula would distribute funding in some surprising ways, however. Community colleges would see a big boost in work-study funding. But for-profit colleges would, too.

...The list of colleges potentially losing the most under the new formula does include some large public institutions with high proportions of Pell recipients, like University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Washington Seattle. But they also include elite private colleges like Harvard, Northwestern and Cornell Universities.

The formula in the PROSPER Act was designed to move the distribution of work-study funds away from a system that awards traditional participants in the program like those institutions. It phases out existing base allocations over several years, instead rewarding institutions that serve a high proportion of Pell students. A separate formula for any program funding above $700 million would reward colleges that have success working with Pell students.

According to ACE’s projections, big winners in terms of total new work-study funds under PROSPER's formula, meanwhile, include public four-year institution Georgia State University, the for-profit Florida Career College and the private American Baptist Theological Seminary.

House Republicans say that’s because those campuses are the ones serving the students with the most need. A GOP committee spokesman said the PROSPER Act is the biggest expansion of the work-study program ever.

“Through the much [needed] formula reform, work-study dollars would flow to those institutions serving the neediest students rather than those charging students the highest tuition,” the spokesman said.

But ACE said the work-study formula shouldn’t be discussed without acknowledging the elimination of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the other major remaining campus-based aid program. While critics of work-study have said it is not distributed equitably, SEOG was weighted toward campuses with the most Pell recipients. And while the bill proposes doubling the size of the work-study program, it eliminates the $732 million in campus-based aid from SEOG.

The group also says the exclusion of graduate students from work-study fits within a larger framework in the PROSPER Act that disadvantages those students.

In 2016-17, more than 13,000 students in the University of California system received work-study aid, said Claire Doan, a spokeswoman for the system. That figure included about 800 graduate students, who would be ineligible for the program under the House legislation.

The University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA, the two biggest recipients in the California system, would lose about $2.2 million in work-study funding in year six of ACE's projections.

“By reducing the funding to Federal Work-Study and similar campus-based financial aid programs, students will have to find alternative funding sources, such as loans,” Doan said. “Further, if these students do not have access to federal loans because they are capped, they would be forced to seek out private loans, which do not offer the same consumer protections.”...

Full story at:

Now you will see him; now you won't

Back in the hat
The UCLA Republican club recently invited, and then quickly cancelled, a talk by Milo Yiannopoulos on "10 Things I Hate About Mexico." The cancellation was apparently a response to an open letter by sociology Prof. Gabriel Rossman who is an adviser to the Bruin Republicans. The letter, which appeared in the conservative Weekly Standard, is below, followed by a response from Chancellor Block:

An open letter to the Bruin Republicans,

I was very glad to meet everyone at a recent lunch. You seem to be a great group of students with serious aspirations and a strong interest in conservatism. As you will recall, in my remarks I expressed the hope that you would follow the traditional debating society model of the Harvard Republicans rather than the épater les SJWs* performance art model of the University of Colorado Republicans as described in Binder and Wood’s Becoming Right. You will also recall a very specific corollary I mentioned: Do not invite Milo Yiannopoulos. It was for this reason that I was surprised when I learned Tuesday that you were doing exactly that, and for a talk entitled “10 Things I Hate About Mexico.”

One thing I left out of my remarks about the impact of the ideological skew of academia is that the dearth of conservative faculty means a lack of mentorship for conservative students. Which is part of the reason you see students at places such as University of Colorado engaging in ill-conceived political theater that can be amusing and provocative—but is ultimately counter-productive.

As one of the few conservative faculty at UCLA, and one of a very few who knows the campus club, I feel obligated to provide some mentorship here: I strongly urge you to rescind your invitation to Yiannopoulos. Allow me to explain why.

The most important reason not to host such a talk is that it is evil on the merits. Your conscience should tell you that you never want anything to do with someone whose entire career is not reasoned argument, but shock jock performance art. In the 1980s conservatives made fun of “artists” who defecated on stage for the purpose of upsetting conservatives. Now apparently, conservatives are willing to embrace a man who says despicable things for the purpose of “triggering snowflakes.” The change in performance art from the fecal era to the present is yet another sign that no matter how low civilization goes, there is still room for further decline.

I want to be clear that my point here is not that some people will be offended, but that the speaker is purely malicious.

Many speakers and many speeches will offend people, especially given the sense among many on the campus left that they are entitled to complete isolation from ideas with which they disagree.

This is different.

Looking at the fall quarter calendar, I see Richard Sander, Rafael Dagnesses, Keith Fink, and Ben Shapiro recently gave talks sponsored by your group. Lots of people disagree with these speakers, and I disagree with some of them about certain points, but none of them are malicious.

I can understand why some people were offended by Heather Mac Donald’s ideas when she spoke on campus last year. But reasonable people can disagree about whether all Americans, and especially African Americans, on net benefit from aggressive policing. More to the point, Mac Donald expresses her pro-police position without animus, so sponsoring her talk was an entirely legitimate and honorable thing to do.

If the Bruin Republicans were considering a talk with a journalist or scholar giving a temperate and reasoned lecture on “ten reasons why Mexico’s social development lags,” then it could be a very reasonable event to host, even if people were offended by it.

I would also caution you to expect that speakers who take ideas seriously are often repelled by association with deliberately offensive speakers. For instance, when the organizers of “Free Speech Week” at Berkeley circulated a list of (proposed) speakers, Charles Murray told the Chronicle of Higher Education that he “would never under any circumstances appear at an event that included Milo Yiannopoulos.” Obviously, Murray is someone whose ideas many people find offensive, but he expresses them without hatred and so declines to appear with someone he (correctly) considers a “despicable asshole.” Likewise, I know many conservative writers, but I imagine an invitation would be much less attractive to them (nor would I extend it) if they had to bring Lysol to clean the podium from the prior occupant.

There are other reasons not to associate yourselves with Yiannopoulos. Whether or not anyone notices, you want to be on the side of the person getting attacked for being a Jew (such as Ben Shapiro, who you have hosted before), not the person who mocks that Jew by dressing midgets in kippahs (and on a separate occasion debases “America the Beautiful” by singing it to an audience of giggling Nazis as they throw sieg heils).

The merits are more important than appearances, of course, but the fact is that people will notice if the Bruin Republicans host someone offering nothing more than alt-right camp and this is a secondary reason not to do so.

You need to ask yourselves, what is your goal as an organization? If you’re in it for the lulz and just want to see the world burn, then I guess go ahead and bring in a vapid provocateur.

But if your mission is to spread conservative ideas, you should recognize that hosting Yiannopoulos will only render your organization and our ideas toxic. The left often suspects that principled conservative positions are actually born of racism. Conservatives have traditionally pushed back against this criticism. Here at UCLA, that will be a much less tenable argument for Bruin Republicans to make if they host a talk by someone whose sole recommendation is that his offensiveness to others is his big idea.

My understanding of the proposed Yiannopoulos event is that it is intended in part to be a fundraiser. Remember the question Jesus asks in the synoptic gospels, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” In the case of the Bruin Republicans, the question is not poignant but pathetic: What does it profit a club to cover the costs of an event—and maybe get enough to cover an end-of-year party—if they lose their integrity and reputation.

I am a strong believer in freedom of political speech. However, there is a distinction between tolerating speech and sponsoring speech. Neither I, nor you, nor Chancellor Block have the right to say that Milo Yiannopoulos cannot give a speech on campus.

But neither does that mean that I, or you, or Chancellor Block needs to actively invite him and actively promote his childish provocations. If he wants to stand on Bruin Walk ranting with the other creeps and lunatics, he can do so. I believe people have the right to do all sorts of things in the privacy of their own homes, but that doesn’t mean that I would invite them to do them in my living room for an audience of me and my dinner guests.

If you go through with hosting Yiannopoulos, I will vociferously support your right to do so—and the duty of the UCPD to use force if necessary to maintain order and prevent a heckler’s veto. However, I must just as vehemently and publicly disagree with your decision to host him.

Specifically, should the event go forward, I will decline to have any association with the Bruin Republicans until it has experienced a complete turnover in membership. I hope that will not be the case and that I can continue to support you.

Gabriel Rossman

Extracted from full article at

*Note: "épater les SJWs" = "shock the social justice warriors"

After the announcement of the cancellation, Chancellor Block issued the following emailed statement:

To the Campus Community:

Free speech and intellectual debate, even when uncomfortable, are critical for thriving communities. And yet some speech, although legally protected, is intended primarily to insult, demean and spark outrage among members of our community.

Recently a student group invited an outside speaker to give a talk on campus. The title of the talk referenced what the speaker "hated" about Mexico – a country with deep ties to our city, our state and our nation. This is also a country that is an important part of the heritage of many Bruins. The expression of disdain did not appear to be an attempt to engage in reasoned discussion, but rather a move by the speaker to gain notoriety through a mean-spirited, racially tinged publicity stunt. This kind of tactic and his rhetoric are totally contrary to our values. I was grateful to learn earlier today that the sponsoring student group decided to cancel the event.

As a prominent university, we will continue to be a target for such provocateurs. I hope we will all continue to resist such provocations and further nurture our campus culture, which values ideas over hatred.

Gene D. Block

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Yes, we'll have no bananas?

From the San Diego Union-Tribune: Once again, a free speech controversy has erupted at an American university.

This time, it’s UC San Diego. The fight involves Woody Allen. It involves the #MeToo movement as well as speech. And some of the main figures aren’t speaking freely. At least not at the moment.

At the center of it all is Savanah Lyon, a 23-year-old theater major who is demanding that the campus stop teaching a course on Allen’s films because the director has been accused of, but never charged with, sexual abuse of his adopted daughter. She believes he’s morally unworthy of the attention.

Lyon created an online petition to pressure the campus on the matter. So far, it’s drawn about 15,000 signatures and generated a considerable amount of publicity and news coverage.

“When you have a class that has Woody Allen in the title you’re saying something to (sexual abuse) survivors everywhere — that once again these abusers are being put up on pedestals they don’t deserve,” Lyon said.

The university — which trumpets the value of free speech on its website — has decided to say almost nothing about the issue.

Steven Adler, the prize-winning theater professor who teaches the Woody Allen course, did not respond to requests for an interview. Nor did Cristina Della Coletta, dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities. Chancellor Pradeep Khosla has deferred comment until after the Academic Senate reviews the course.

But faculty elsewhere aren’t hesitating to talk about the subject, which at its core involves academic freedom.

If you ban the Woody Allen course “does it also mean you should not teach a course about the writings of Adolf Hitler?” asked Erwin Chemerinsky, the constitutional law expert who serves as dean of the law school at UC Berkeley.

“Lots of horrific people get studied in college. It would be frightening if campuses were making decisions based on the personalities and wrong-doings of people rather than the academic merit of the course. I hope (UC San Diego) bases things on merit.” ...

Lyon doesn’t believe that silencing a university professor — Steven Adler — violates the First Amendment, which she describes as a law “written by a bunch of white men …It was written in the 1700s — late 1700s. I mean, those men were experiencing things that are completely different now. (It’s) outdated.”

When asked how the law is outdated, Lyon said, “Well, it protected Donald Trump when he said --- a breadth of offensive things.”...

Our annual Valentine

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

And speaking of money

The state controller reports that state revenues for the current fiscal year through January are up about $5 billion relative to what was estimated when the budget was enacted last June.

Some of the added revenue may be due to a response to the recent federal tax law that limited the amount that could be deducted for state and local taxes to $10,000. Tax advisers suggested to clients affected by the cap that they pre-pay property tax and estimated state income tax before Dec. 31. While property taxes are local and would not show up in the controller's report, state personal income taxes are an important source of state revenue.

For the controller's report, see:

It may come down to money

Construction of a Thirty-Meter Telescope in Hawaii - in which UC has an interest - has been stymied by objections from the Native Hawaiian community.

Now it appears money may be a key to resolving the issue:

"...One of the goals of (a new proposal and bill) is to force the telescopes to pay more.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which would get a share of that added revenue, testified in favor of the bill.
"We know that the measure specifically tries to balance what we think is a lopsided emphasis on telescope development at the expense of everything else including the protections of traditional and customary rights,” said Jocelyn Doane, OHA senior policy advocate..."

Monday, February 12, 2018


From the Bruin: UCLA has not seen more white supremacist activity on campus since fall 2016, despite a rise in such behavior on other college campuses. A report released by the Anti-Defamation League on Jan. 29 reported an increase in white supremacist recruitment on college campuses following the inauguration of President Donald Trump. There were 147 reports nationwide of white supremacist activity, including fliers, stickers and banners, in fall 2017, almost three times as much as in fall 2016. The ADL is a civil rights agency that fights anti-Semitism and discrimination.

The report also found that in most cases, offensive posters on college campuses were placed there by outside groups. In November 2016, a group calling itself the “UCLA White Students Group” put up posters on campus with white supremacist views and warnings that were later removed by the university. 

California had the second-highest number of incidents, at 43. ADL spokesperson Ariella Schusterman said California and Texas are home to the largest and most active membership for Identity Evropa and Patriot Front, groups that frequently employ flyers and posters on college campuses to recruit members. She added groups often use propaganda that avoid recognizable white supremacist imagery to try to attract students.

“White supremacists see campuses as a fertile recruiting ground – students on campus are prepared to soak up as much information and life experience as possible,” Schusterman said.

Barry O’Neill, a political science professor, said political groups often communicate racist messages to their followers that outsiders cannot tell are racist.

“Some politicians have the ability to communicate a racist message, without being explicit about it,” he said.

UCLA officials said the campus has not seen a rise in white supremacist activity over the past year.

UCPD Lt. Kevin Kilgore said UCPD recorded three to four hate incidents in both 2016 and 2017. He added hate speech is classified as a hate incident, and would only be considered a hate crime if it occurs with another crime such as theft or vandalism...

Full story at

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Funding of CA Politics

California has been a "blue" state for some time and is likely to remain so. However, a case is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court that would limit the ability of public sector unions to collect service fees (in lieu of dues) from non-members they represent. Generally in California, public sector unions - such as those of teachers - have been important in funding Democratic candidates, and particular candidates when Democrats compete for a nomination.

It was expected that an earlier case that the Court heard would result in elimination of such funding but the death of Justice Scalia prevented it. A new case is now before the Court with the expectation being that the Court will void such service fee requirements. However, as the item below indicates, a friend-of-the-court brief from libertarian-leaning Prof. Eugene Volokh and a co-author, makes a case for the pro-union side in this matter:



Rachel M. Cohen, February 2 2018, The Intercept

THE SUPREME COURT will hear arguments this month in a case challenging the constitutionality of so-called agency fees, payments that workers represented by a union must pay if they do not wish to be dues-paying members. Conservatives have been crusading against these fees for years on First Amendment grounds, and with Justice Neil Gorsuch on the bench, the labor movement’s odds seem grim.

But last month, unions got a surprising lifeline from an unlikely friend: Two prominent conservative legal scholars filed an amicus brief in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31 — the case before the court — urging the justices to uphold a 1977 decision that ruled the agency fees constitutional.

The case has gotten relatively little attention, but it is difficult to overstate its political importance. A decision striking down agency fees, also known as fair-share fees, could lead to massive free-riding and consequently, decimate public sector union coffers. Unions subsidize much of  the Democratic Party’s on-the-ground operations, which is another reason conservatives want to see their funds depleted. Indeed, the rightward shift in states like Wisconsin has coincided with the snuffing out of public unions — though it is no coincidence. Studies have shown that crushing unions can move the political needle by as much as 3 to 4 points, which in battleground states is the difference between winning and losing.

The case is in many ways a replay of 2016’s Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, in which 10 public school teachers challenged the constitutionality of their mandatory agency fees. The teachers, funded by conservative groups, claimed their fees subsidized political speech in violation of their rights. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, but it seemed likely the Supreme Court would side with the challengers. Yet after Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly died in his sleep in February 2016, the justices issued a split 4-4 decision, upholding the appellate court ruling.

Gorsuch’s addition to the bench has given unions much to be anxious about. In 2017, Gorsuch sided every time with Clarence Thomas, the court’s most conservative justice, and though there’s still a relatively small sample size of cases to judge Gorsuch’s record, no one doubts that he leans right. 

The surprising brief was filed by Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA who specializes in First Amendment issues, and William Baude, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago. Neither one is especially fond of unions. Still, they argue that mandatory fair-share fees pose no First Amendment issue.

“Compelled subsidies of others’ speech happen all the time, and are not generally viewed as burdening any First Amendment interest,” they write. “Just as non-union members may find many reasons to disagree with a public union’s speech, there are countless grounds to object to other speech supported by government funds. Many people undoubtedly disagree with a great deal of public and private speech funded by taxes or other compulsory payments. There is, however, no First Amendment interest in avoiding those subsidies.”

In other words, the government regularly compels taxes and uses that money to pay for things that taxpayers may politically disagree with, and these union fees should be treated no differently. Volokh and Baude cite public school curriculum and crisis pregnancy centers as two common examples. They argue it’s well within the government’s authority to compel their employees to pay fees for a governmental interest – in this case, maintaining labor peace – even if that money may subsidize things that some personally object to...

Charlotte Garden, a liberal constitutional law professor who also filed a Janus amicus brief on behalf of labor law scholars, told The Intercept she thinks there is a greater likelihood that conservative justices and their clerks will take Baude and Volokh’s argument seriously, precisely because the two don’t necessarily favor unions as a policy matter. In other words, they could be seen as “honest brokers.” Additionally, Garden said, because Volokh and Baude “are household names and academics who write from a more conservative/libertarian perspective,” there’s a greater chance that the justices and their clerks will “pull their brief from the (large) pile of amicus briefs for a closer read.”...


Saturday, February 10, 2018

UCLA History: 1930 View

A view of the campus in 1930 showing the reservoir

Friday, February 9, 2018

Speech at Irvine - Part 2

The University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement today announced its inaugural class of 10 fellows, charged with helping educational institutions and communities better understand, guarantee and facilitate free speech.
The fellows, who include scholars, students and analysts from across the country, will spend a year researching timely, vital First Amendment issues. Their work will include developing tools, analyzing data and presenting lessons from history to be highlighted at a national conference later this year. Each will reside for a week at one of the 10 UC campuses to engage with students, faculty, administrators and community members...
The first fellows, listed below with their projects, were selected by the advisory board from 75 applicants nationwide.
  • Robert Cohen, professor of history and social studies at New York University, will compare free speech crises at UC Berkeley in 2017 and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967, then develop related curriculum materials for middle and high school teachers and incoming college students.
  • Carlos Cortes, professor emeritus of history at UC Riverside, will explore the history of diversity initiatives on college campuses and how those initiatives have affected students’ and administrators’ evolving views on free speech issues.
  • Ellis Cose, best-selling author and speaker, will perform a deep analysis of the challenges of protecting free expression in the context of polarized politics, accusations of fake news and a rise in white nationalism, supplementing his book project on the history of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • Justin McClinton, Ph.D. candidate in education policy and leadership studies at UC Santa Barbara, will develop a toolkit that helps university administrators prepare incoming students for challenging ideas and civil engagement.
  • Candace McCoy, director of policy analysis in the Office of the Inspector General for the New York Police Department and professor of criminal justice at the Graduate Center,  City University of New York, will study recent protests and changing police practices when groups decide that rioting or threats of violence are necessary to bring attention to their issues.
  • Elizabeth Meyer, associate professor of educational foundations, policy & practice at the University of Colorado Boulder, will aim to demystify First Amendment topics such as free speech, harassment and nondiscrimination in K-12 and university settings, including surveying educators on challenging acts of expression in their classrooms.
  • William Morrow, former UC Berkeley student body president, will create a playbook for student leaders on how to handle the unique politics, legal restrictions, community relations and complex media communications involved with expressing opposition to controversial speakers.
  • Gamelyn Oduardo-Sierra, legal counsel to the chancellor at the University of Puerto Rico, will focus on developing online resources, podcasts and educational guides about the rights of assembly, public forums and civic participation as avenues of social conciliation.
  • Carlin Romano, professor of philosophy and humanities at Ursinus College and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as critic at large for The Chronicle of Higher Education, will work with the country’s top intellectuals and writers to set up debates on controversial topics at up to eight college campuses. He will write a series of articles connected to these debates, examining when and why conventional viewpoints tip into being unacceptable.
  • Keith Whittington, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Politics at Princeton University, will develop model guidelines for campus free speech, moving from the defense of principles to concrete statements and regulations that can be adapted and used by college administrators.
Full news release at: