Saturday, June 30, 2018

Will Harvard's Admission Lawsuit Spill Over to UCLA?

If you haven't heard, Harvard is being sued over its admissions policy - essentially for having a de facto quota on Asian-origin students. Given recent developments with regard to the Supreme Court, specifically the Kennedy resignation, I can't help but think there will be eventual ramifications for UCLA and UC more generally. The basis of the suit against Harvard is that it uses a "personality" score as part of a holistic admissions program that systematically gives Asian-origin students lower ratings. Analogies have been drawn to Jewish quotas used in the past.

Yes, both sides of the case have statistical evidence and experts. But my guess is that if Harvard doesn't settle, this is the kind of case that could go to the Supreme Court. What might happen there could up-end admissions policies elsewhere. My further guess is that Harvard's response will be less about statistical and other evidence, and more about whether it wants to see op eds of the type reproduced below. Less clear is what such a settlement might be.

It is true that Harvard is a private institution and UCLA and UC are public. But it it not clear how that difference might affect any potential spillover. As a public state institution, UCLA and UC are committed to favor California residents. UCLA reports about a 30+ percent of Asian-origin students compared to Harvard's 20+. On the other hand, the California proportion of Asian-origin persons is much higher than the U.S. proportion which is more relevant for Harvard. (Harvard has no commitment to favor Massachusetts residents.)

Here (below) is the kind of bad-PR pressure Harvard is under:

Harvard Is Wrong That Asians Have Terrible Personalities

By Wesley Yang. Mr. Yang is a columnist at Tablet and the author of the forthcoming book “The Souls of Yellow Folk.”

June 25, 2018  NY Times

There’s a moving passage contained in a deposition taken in the major class-action lawsuit accusing Harvard University of racial bias against Asian-Americans. An attorney for Students for Fair Admissions, the nonprofit group representing a dozen Asian-Americans denied admission by Harvard, confronts the assistant principal of Stuyvesant High School with evidence that white students applying to Harvard in 2014 from her school were more than twice as likely to be admitted to the university as were her Asian-American students.

The assistant principal, Casey Pedrick, starts to cry.

(Witness crying.)

Q. I’m sorry this is upsetting to you. Do you want to take a break?

A. (Witness shakes her head no.)

Q. You want to keep going? Do you want to tell me why this is so upsetting to you?

A. Because these numbers make it seem like there’s discrimination, and I love these kids, and I know how hard they work. So these just look like numbers to all you guys, but I see their faces.

That last sentence is worth lingering on for a moment. When Ms. Pedrick looks in the faces of her Asian students, who comprise more than 70 percent of the population at Stuyvesant, she doesn’t see any one of them as “yet another textureless math grind,” as M.I.T.’s dean of admissions was brazen enough to call a Korean-American student to Daniel Golden, the author of “The Price of Admission.” She doesn’t see her students as an arrogant, privileged “ethnic group” who think they “own admission” to these high-performing schools, as the new chancellor of New York City Schools, Richard Carranza, recently put it.

Ms. Pedrick knows that her Asian students believe they have to earn their admission to Stuyvesant in the only way anyone has for more than four decades: by passing a rigorous entrance exam. Their parents will often invest a major share of the family income into test preparation courses to help them pass — this despite the fact that more Asians live in poverty than any other group in New York City.

At the time that she was deposed, Ms. Pedrick did not know that the Harvard admissions office consistently gave Asian-American applicants low personality ratings — the lowest assigned collectively to any racial group. She did not know that Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research had found that if the university selected its students on academic criteria alone, the Asian share of the Harvard student body would leap from 19 percent to 43 percent. She did not know that though Asians were consistently the highest academically performing group among Harvard applicants, they earned admission at a rate lower than any other racial group between 2000 and 2019.

All she knew was what she had witnessed as an assistant principal and the single fact that she was shown by her deposers. But perhaps she intuited the rest.

Earlier this month, we learned that a review of more than 160,000 individual student files contained in six years of Harvard’s admissions data found that Asians outperformed all other racial groups on every measure of academic achievement: grades, SAT scores and the most AP exams passed. They had more extracurricular activities than their white counterparts. They were rated by interviewers who had met them as virtually on par with their white counterparts in their personal qualities. Yet Harvard admissions officers, many of whom had never met these applicants, scored them collectively as the worst of all groups in the one area — personality — that was subjective enough to be readily manipulable to serve Harvard’s institutional interests.

The report by the plaintiff’s expert witness, the Duke University economist Peter Arcidiacono, revealed that Harvard evaluated applicants on the extent to which they possessed the following traits: likability, helpfulness, courage, kindness, positive personality, people like to be around them, the person is widely respected. Asian-Americans, who had the highest scores in both the academic and extracurricular ratings, lagged far behind all other racial groups in the degree to which they received high ratings on the personality score.

“Asian-American applicants receive a 2 or better on the personal score more than 20% of the time only in the top academic index decile. By contrast, white applicants receive a 2 or better on the personal score more than 20% of the time in the top six deciles,” wrote Mr. Arcidiacono. “Hispanics receive such personal scores more than 20% of the time in the top seven deciles, and African Americans receive such scores more than 20% of the time in the top eight deciles.”

Even if the very worst stereotypes about Asians were true on average, it beggars belief that one could arrive at divergences as dramatic as the ones Mr. Arcidiacono documents by means of unbiased evaluation.

The Asian-American population has more than doubled over the last 20 years, yet the Asian-American share in the student populations at Harvard has remained frozen. Harvard has maintained since the 1980s, when claims of anti-Asian discrimination in Ivy League admissions first surfaced, that there is no racial bias against Asian-Americans once you control the preferences offered to athletes and alumni.

The discovery process in this case has demonstrated that this claim is no longer supportable.

Mr. Arcidiacono found that an otherwise identical applicant bearing an Asian-American male identity with a 25 percent chance of admission would have a 32 percent chance of admission if he were white, a 77 percent chance of admission if he were Hispanic, and a 95 percent chance of admission if he were black. A report from Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research found that even after alumni and athletic preferences were factored in, Asians would be accepted at a rate of 26 percent, versus the 19 percent at which they were actually accepted. That report, commissioned back in 2013, was summarily filed away, with no further investigation or action taken.

No innocuous explanation can account for the extent of these disparities. Yet Harvard is insisting that those who call it what it plainly is — racial discrimination — are advancing a “divisive agenda.”

On June 12, Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, sent an email to all alumni of the college warning of a forthcoming attempt to use “misleading, selectively presented data taken out of context” in order to “question the integrity of the undergraduate admissions process.” The statement promised to “react swiftly and thoughtfully to defend diversity as the source of our strength and our excellence — and to affirm the integrity of our admissions process.”

As the Harvard law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen pointed out in The New Yorker, the tortuous and evasive quality of the discussion of the treatment of Asian-Americans in elite colleges stems from the way our legal doctrine on affirmative action has evolved. The Supreme Court ruled that it was legal to use race as a criterion in admissions in order to pursue the educational benefits of “diversity” in the landmark 1978 case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, but it forbade the imposition of racial quotas and, by extension, the maintenance of a policy that consciously aims at “racial balancing.”

This imposes a legal condition on Harvard. Rather than make the honest claim that it actively pursues racial balance and that there are good reasons to do so, the school must engage in a charade that nearly everyone working in the proximity of a highly competitive college knows to be false.

Harvard has been here before. “To prevent a dangerous increase in the proportion of Jews, I know at present only one way, which is at the same time straightforward and effective,” wrote A. Lawrence Lowell, Harvard’s president in the 1920s, “and that is a selection by a personal estimate of character on the part of the Admission authorities, based upon the probable value to the candidate, to the College and to the community of his admissions.” The opacity of its admissions procedure could veil what Lowell’s written correspondence would later disclose to be a fully intended policy of discrimination.

The same zealously defended discretion to rank applicants on intangible personality traits would, of course, later come to the aid of blacks, Hispanics and Asians when Harvard pivoted toward an embrace of affirmative action in the 1970s. Affirmative action and the privileges of legacy and wealthy students, most of whom are white, both found shelter in the concept of “diversity” — a term that refers at once to racial diversity and the mix of people that make Harvard’s student body so varied and so disproportionately rich. Alumni preference, so crucial to the sustenance of Harvard’s $38 billion endowment, could provide cover before the courts for racial bias. Harvard’s commitment to racial diversity could whitewash its devotion to the preservation of privilege before liberal public opinion.

There is, in this fragile system, a place for textureless math grinds. But only a few.

The conclusion is unavoidable: In order to sustain this system, Harvard admissions systematically denigrated the highest achieving group of students in America. Asian-Americans have been collateral damage in the university’s quest to sustain its paradoxical mission to grow its $37 billion endowment and remain the world’s most exclusive institution — all while incessantly preaching egalitarian doctrines.

Until very recently, Asian-Americans have been politically quiescent and largely deferential to a status quo that works against them. But now, a portion of the Asian-American community is acting in what it deems to be its own interest.

In the face of this challenge, Harvard has resorted to the desperate expedient of promulgating racial stereotypes. In denying that it has engaged in racial balancing at the expense of Asian-Americans, Harvard has put itself in the morally untenable position of affirming a brazen falsehood.

Harvard’s lawyers will soon tell the highest court in the land that Casey Pedrick’s Asian students are less respected because they are less likable, less courageous, and less kind than all other applicants. The university has decided that this is necessary for the greater good. The reality is that it is a carefully considered act of slander.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Will UCLA follow the LA example on motorized scooters?

In an earlier post, we asked that question about the Santa Monica example.* Now it appears LA (which includes Westwood, of course) is going ahead with its own set of regulations. We noted that Santa Monica, like UCLA, had a competing (docked) rent-a-bike program. LA does, too.

From Patch, 6-27-18:

LOS ANGELES, CA — Dockless electric scooters would be allowed to operate in any part of the city under new guidelines approved by a City Council committee Wednesday, although the number of devices on the streets would be controlled and reviewed on a quarterly basis.

The Transportation Committee in May rejected a set of rules that had been proposed by the city's Department of Transportation, deeming them too restrictive while asking for a new set of guidelines for a potential pilot program.

After being presented with the new standards, the committee approved them, with Councilman Mike Bonin stressing that "these regulations are not going to be final and permanent for all time. This is how Los Angeles is going to start governing dockless. We are a big city, we are a diverse city. We are not Santa Monica, we have lots of different neighborhoods and needs and a lot of different interests to consider."

Dockless electric scooters are already operating on a limited basis in Venice and around the campus of UCLA. The scooters work through a phone app which allows people to find and unlock the devices and drop them off anywhere they are allowed, with no docking station or kiosk required.

LADOT had originally recommended creating a geo-fence that would limit scooters and dockless bike share companies from operating within a three- mile radius of Los Angeles Metro Bike Share service areas, which would limit their deployment in places like downtown, Venice and San Pedro under the pilot program. The new guidelines fully remove the geo-fence.

The committee in May also asked LADOT to reconsider a cap on operators that would limit them to 2,500 devices in the city, and the new guidelines will allow for a cap of 3,000 devices per provider. Operators will also have the opportunity to add up to 2,500 more devices if they are located in disadvantaged communities, and they can add an additional 5,000 in disadvantaged communities in the San Fernando Valley.

The extra cap space for the Valley was granted to encourage companies to grow there, since other some neighborhoods that would qualify as disadvantaged such as downtown and the Arts District would be more likely to attract investment.

If companies can demonstrate at least three rides per day per device and adhere to all rules and regulations, the general manager of LADOT each quarter can allow for providers to add 5,000 more devices.

Controlling the fleet size will tell people "to get back in your cars and let us start this all over again trying to get you back out of cars," said David Astrada, who leads government relations with Bird, a dockless scooter company already operating in the city.

Of course, there are those who aren't pleased with the scooters:

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

State Budget Signed

The governor signed the 2018-19 budget without any line-item vetoes earlier today. Details have not yet been posted on the Dept. of Finance website. However, it appears that UC got more in one-time allocations than were proposed in the May Revise. The May Revise listed about $157 million in one-time allocations. The budget summary now reports about $249 million. But we'll await the details.

As for the overall budget, it is somewhat of a surprise in that total reserves (the General Fund reserve, the Budget Stabilization Account {"rainy day fund"}, and a new Safety Net Reserve) fall. A fall in reserves means the overall budget is in deficit - to the tune of $798 million. The figures can be found below. Governor Brown has devoted budget news conference after budget news conference to warnings of the need to build up reserves in preparation for the next recession. According to official numbers, the current year's budget (2017-18) in fact runs a net surplus. But the budget for the coming year (2018-19) represents a reversal.

I am sure that the governor's spokespersons would point to some payments paying down past debt and the idea that such payments should be counted as offsets to the total deficit. The official document lists such pay downs as $1,747 million. So if you were to count the pay downs against the deficit, it would swing to a surplus of just under $1 billion. Either way, the budget is at best precariously balanced. If you are precariously balanced (or imbalanced) when times are good, a downturn would swiftly pull you into large deficits. As Brown's budget document itself points out, the California budget has a large capital gains tax revenue component that can easily evaporate in Bad Times. If you have doubts, ask Gray Davis.

$Millions                     2017-18       2018-19
GF Reserve
Start of Year                  $5,702        $8,483  

Revenue &
Transfers                    $129,825      $133,332

Expenditures                 $127,044      $138,688

GF Surplus/Deficit            +$2,781       -$5,356          

GF Reserve
End of Year                    $8,483        $3,127
BSA-Start of Year              $6,713        $9,410         
BSA-End of year                $9,410       $13,768

BSA Surplus/Deficit           +$2,697       +$4,358
Safety Net Reserve*
  Start of Year                    na            $0
  End of Year                      na          $200

Safety Net Reserve*
Surplus/Deficit                    na         +$200
Total Reserves
Surplus/Deficit               +$5,478         -$798
Total Ending Reserves         $17,893       $17,095
  As % of Expenditures          14.1%         13.0%
GF = General Fund
BSA = Budget Stabilization Account (“rainy day fund”)
*Note: The “Safety Net Reserve” is a new fund which gets around certain limits in the formula governing the BSA.


Percent of Income

Proposal To Pay UC & CSU Tuition Based On Percentage Of Future Income

6-26-18  CBS Sacramento

The University of California and California State University may test out an income sharing program with students as a way to make school more affordable. Students in their Sophomore, Junior, or Senior years could apply and have their school costs covered. Six months after graduating, as long as that student earns at least $20,000 a year, the graduate would pay a portion of their income back to the school each month. That percentage would be established at the start and would not change, regardless of whether that student earns more or less each year.

The agreement between the school and the student would last up to ten years after the student graduates, but that can be extended by the amount of months a graduate doesn’t earn the minimum amount. The program would also cap how much a student ultimately owes; however, students would agree that the amount he or she ends up paying back may be more or less than the amount the school provided to him or her. The pilot program is being proposed to start in the 2020-21 school year at one campus each in both the UC and CSU systems.

Under Assembly Bill 2479, the schools could impose certain eligibility requirements and cap the number of participants based on how much money is available in the pilot program. That money would come from a newly established “Income Share Agreement Revolving Fund.” The money for that fund would come from the yearly state budget and from participating graduates.

Purdue University in Indiana has a similar program called “Back a Boiler” (the school mascot is the Boilermaker.) That program started in 2016 and has provided $5.9 million in Income Share Agreements to nearly 500 students in approximately 80 majors, according the the analysis done of AB 2479.

Assemblyman Randy Voepel (R-San Diego County) authored AB 2479 and said it would help students manage the debt they incur while in school. California students in the Class of 2015 graduated with an average of more than $22,000 in loan debt. The bill did pass the Assembly. It’s being heard by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.


UC History: UC Salutes Sally Ride and Other UC Women Astronauts

Left to right are Sally K. Ride, Judith A. Resnik, Anna L. Fisher, Kathryn D. Sullivan and Rhea Seddon.
Read about it at

That's the ticket:

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New Student Regent for 2019-20

UCSD Doctoral Student Nominated for UC Student Regent

Debbie L. Sklar, 6-25-18, Times of San Diego

A special committee of the University of California Board of Regents has nominated a UC San Diego doctoral student as the 2019-20 student regent, it was announced Monday.

The Board of Regents will vote on the recommendation in July. If approved, Hayley Weddle would be able to participate in deliberations as the student regent-designate for the coming year. She would gain voting privileges when the position’s one-year term begins July 2019.

Weddle graduated summa cum laude with dual bachelor’s degrees in sociology and economics from UC Santa Barbara before earning a master’s degree in postsecondary educational leadership from San Diego State University. She is expected to complete an education studies doctorate at UCSD in spring 2021.

If approved as the student regent, Weddle said she wants to address issues such as housing affordability, food insecurity and sexual harassment with a focus on vulnerable groups, including students of color, former foster children and LGBTQ students.

“As a Ph.D. student studying transformative practices in education, I am trained to approach issues from an equity lens, evaluating how students from historically underserved backgrounds will be supported by policies and initiatives,” she said in a statement released by the UC. “I look forward to leveraging my academic training and advocacy experiences to serve all UC students.”

Weddle is currently chief of staff for the UCSD Graduate Student Association. She’s also co-chair of the UCSD Basic Needs Committee, which develops strategies to address student food and housing insecurity, and is a member of the UC Student Advisory Board, which provides student and campus perspective on recommendations and discussions regarding Title IX policies, procedures and support.

Previously, Weddle served as an adviser and operations manager for the Associated Students of UCSD and as a member of UCSD’s Student Fee Advisory and Community Standards boards. She also sat on an advisory board for the opening of a new K-8 school in the greater San Diego area, where she recommended curriculum and best practices to address gender identity, sexual orientation and sexual harassment issues.

Forty students across the UC system applied to become the student regent this year, according to UC. As policy dictates, the special committee interviewed three finalists before selecting Weddle.

She would become the 45th UC student regent.

“Serving the university and its students is an incredible honor, and I am committed to ensuring that decisions of the university are informed by students’ experiences,” Weddle said. “I am dedicated to promoting policies and initiatives that ensure students across the state have the opportunity to attend and thrive at UC.”


Monday, June 25, 2018

Budget Week

As you can see from the announcement above regarding last year's budget signing, Governor Brown tends to ponder the budget the legislature has enacted for awhile before deciding what to do with it. The delay occurs even though the governor and the majority legislative leaders have agreed on a deal. But even with the delay, final action - signing and any line-item vetoes - has to occur this week. So we await.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

UCLA History: Sepulveda Pass

If you commuted through the Sepulveda Pass to UCLA in 1930, the traffic wasn't bad but the road was a bit rough.

Friday, June 22, 2018

How do you feel?

Gauging how students feel on campus is often the job of annual campus climate surveys, but a research and development unit at the University of California, Los Angeles, wants to change that.
The unit, called BruinX and based in UCLA's office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, recently developed and beta tested an app that will send a notification to students' smartphones every two weeks to ask them what they're thinking, how they're feeling and what they're experiencing on campus. The questions are simple and students are provided with multiple-choice responses as well as an option to write in short answers.
Jonathan Feingold, a research fellow at BruinX, hopes the app will provide a more complete picture of UCLA's campus climate.
"A standard way that you measure climate is through surveys that go out maybe once every three years, four years, 18 years, depending on the unit or the institution. There’s benefit to those surveys … but they’re also flat in all sorts of ways," Feingold said. "They’re a single snapshot -- it’s one look and it doesn't really give you a granular sense of what might be going on over the course of a year."
The app, called BruinXperience, was years in the making. Its design is partly based on research that shows that people are more accurate when asked what they're feeling in the moment.
"If you ask people about diet, and you ask people to tell you, ‘What did you eat in the past week? Just go day by day,’ they’re likely to get it quite wrong," Feingold said. "But if you ask someone, ‘What did you eat in the last half hour?’ they’ll remember what they ate in the last half hour … It's really good to ask people how they are feeling now, as opposed to remember how they might have been feeling even in the relatively near past.”
After two beta tests to work out the technical kinks, the app is set to launch campuswide this fall. All undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to participate after downloading the app from Apple's App Store or Google Play. Registration requires a valid UCLA student ID, and students will be asked to provide demographic information, such as gender, race, sexual orientation and campus living arrangement. In addition to responding to survey prompts every two weeks, students can log in and submit information whenever they'd like.
The beta tests did not yield enough data to run any analysis, but BruinX plans to eventually use the data gathered to measure how identity influences students' feelings of community over the course of a year, and how those feelings change in conjunction with local, national and global events.
Maintaining a high response rate tops BruinX's list of priorities. To do so, they will use part of a recent grant from the Lumina Foundation to create marketing campaigns and incentive structures that will keep students responding. "Obviously there won’t be 100 percent participation, but still, [we hope] that for a sufficient number of students this becomes a part of their normal mode of operations and they just use it consistently," Feingold said.
Assuming a successful rollout in the fall, BruinX plans to expand the app to include UCLA faculty and staff.
Just ask:

Audit on Sexual Misconduct

Three UC campuses did not consistently discipline faculty accused of sexual misconduct, state auditor finds

Teresa Watanabe, 6-21-18, LA Times
Three UC campuses did not consistently discipline faculty accused of sexual misconduct, state auditor finds

University of California campuses at Berkeley, Los Angeles and Davis did not consistently discipline faculty who were subject to multiple sexual harassment complaints, according to a state audit released Thursday. Those campuses also took much longer to discipline members of the Academic Senate, who include tenured faculty, than staff.

Overall, UC paid out nearly $4.5 million in 20 settlements related to sexual harassment complaints between January 2008 and December 2017. The auditor found the settlements were reasonable and did not unduly limit victims’ educational and employment opportunities.

The audit reviewed UC’s handling of all sexual misconduct cases in the last decade involving faculty and staff. Complaints increased during that time, particularly between 2014 and 2016 when they doubled from 100 to 205 — a growth UC staff say is a positive, spurred by better outreach, education and training. Auditors looked at how quickly UC officials resolved cases, how well they communicated with those involved and whether they adhered to university sexual misconduct policies and practices. They also assessed whether discipline measures, if imposed, were proportional to the offense and whether settlements shortchanged the victim.

State Auditor Elaine M. Howle said that UC could improve its response to sexual harassment complaints with clearer direction on time frames and more communication. She also recommended that UC make discipline more consistent and effective by requiring university officials to consult with campus Title IX coordinators about appropriate measures.

In a letter to Howle, UC President Janet Napolitano accepted all recommendations. She also pointed out that the university overhauled its harassment policies for students in 2016, expanding training, education and support services after a sweeping review by a systemwide task force she launched in 2014.

During the last school year, UC adopted reforms for cases involving faculty and staff. They sped up the timeline to complete investigations and decide on disciplinary measures and increased transparency in sharing the results with complainants and respondents. In the last two school years, UC officials say, peer review committees have formed on campuses and systemwide — and over time, they should help make sanctions across the system more consistent. Before those reforms were in place, the audit found, similar cases of nonsexual physical contact had different outcomes, with a Berkeley professor allowed to stay on and a UCLA lecturer agreeing to leave as part of a settlement.

“UC understands the need for a strong stance against sexual violence and sexual harassment, meaningful efforts at prevention, and fair and timely processes for addressing complaints,” Napolitano wrote to Howle. “To that end, the university has made great, proactive strides in improving its response to [sexual misconduct] issues.”

Jerry Kang, UCLA vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, said the data set used by auditors did not capture the widespread changes at his campus over the last three years. He has expanded the number of Title IX investigators from two before 2015 to nine today, speeding up case resolutions. He said that cases involving Academic Senate members take longer because they require hearings.

His office also now posts annual accountability reports — the latest showing that, of the 601 Title IX complaints filed between July 2016 and June 2017, mostly against students and staff, 80% have been resolved.

“The way we do business at the University of California writ large and certainly at UCLA has changed radically,” he said.

The UC Student-Workers Union, however, is negotiating for a quicker timeline to resolve cases, peer-to-peer training and greater input from victims into decisions administrators make about remedies. “The university’s policies and procedures are continuing to fail survivors,” said Garrett Strain, a union leader and UC Berkeley graduate student.

Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood) requested the audit last August after a constituent contacted him about her daughter’s case. The daughter, who asked to be identified only by her first name Sarah, was a 24-year-old UCLA doctoral student in French and francophone studies who alleged that her faculty advisor, 69-year-old Eric Gans, sent her unwanted emails for two years beginning in 2010 and then repeatedly professed his love even when she told him to stop. She filed a Title IX complaint in 2012.

In 2013, UCLA found that Gans had violated university policies by creating a sexually hostile workplace and attempting to establish a romantic relationship with a student he supervised. In a settlement with UC, he agreed to resign from his position and was barred from future employment at the university. In Sarah’s settlement, UC agreed to an undisclosed payment — but also barred her from studying or working at any university campus or affiliate. That provision outraged Nazarian, leading to his audit request.

UC did not include such a ban in the other settlements reviewed, auditors said, and did so in Sarah’s case to put an end to the dispute and minimize the risk of further legal action.

“While I am saddened to be singled out by the UC for speaking out against sexual harassment, I feel empowered that this audit will push the UC system to revise their response to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence,” Sarah said in a statement to The Times.


Audit at

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Campaign for More Meds

Another med school?

Waiting is not an option. It’s time for a medical school in the Valley

By Adam Gray. Adam Gray represents the 21st Assembly District, including Merced and part of Stanislaus County.

June 20, 2018, Merced Sun-Star

Three years ago, I secured $1 million in funding from the state budget for the University of California to study a medical school at its Merced campus. My goal was to highlight the dramatic disparities in access to care for residents of Merced County and reinvigorate the conversations around developing a medical school. 

The UC’s report, “Improving Health Care Access in the San Joaquin Valley,” is now completed and details numerous health challenges faced by residents of the San Joaquin Valley along with a number of recommendations to improve access to care.* A companion report, “Current and Future Health Professions Workforce Needs in the San Joaquin Valley,” includes statistics on healthcare workforce shortages.** ...

Full story at:

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Napolitano on family separations

Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is calling President Donald Trump’s policy of separating migrant families at the border “cruel” and a “misallocation” of resources by the administration...

“I don’t know how this could be justified either legally or morally,” said Napolitano, who led the Department of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013 during the Obama administration...

Full story at

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Growing pains at San Diego

From the San Diego Union-Tribune: Once again, you’ll need ear plugs to block the din of construction at UC San Diego. Faced with intense pressure to grow, the university on Monday will begin building the largest complex in campus history, a $627 million neighborhood that includes housing for 2,000 students, academic towers, parking and retail space.

The North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Center (NTPLLN) represents the start of a $1.6 billion expansion that will enable the La Jolla campus to add at least 3,300 students by 2021, pushing enrollment to 40,000. 
The $627 million "neighborhood" will provide housing for 2,000 students, two new academic towers and retail space. The project is part of a larger $2.5 billion expansion and renovation. Enrollment could eventually hit 45,000, making UC San Diego the same size as UCLA and almost three times larger than Stanford...

Full story with video at

Monday, June 18, 2018

Moving to Berkeley

Two more professors involved in a legal case against the University of Rochester over its handling of the Florian Jaeger case have resigned. Celeste Kidd and Steven Piantadosi, married assistant professors of brain and cognitive sciences, announced on Twitter that they’re moving their labs to the University of California, Berkeley, saying they leave not with anger but with “unshakable sadness” that students on campus “have no one in the administration who will support them.”

Last year, Kidd, Piantadosi and seven other past and present students and professors in the brain sciences department sued Rochester for what they described as an inadequate response to the sexual harassment concerns they raised about their department colleague, Jaeger, whom the university cleared of misconduct. Other professors involved in the case already have left the department to join other institutions...

Full story at

Op Ed from the UC Prez

Prospering with an affordable college education

By JANET NAPOLITANO | June 17, 2018 | Orange County Register

Millions of American college students will walk across the graduation stage this spring cheered on by family and friends. They will laugh, cry, celebrate and plan for the future — one profoundly bolstered by the lasting value of a college education.

But seemingly oblivious to the joy and promise of graduation season, members of Congress are pushing a bill that would undermine college access and affordability and increase college costs for students and their families.

In its current form, the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill, known as the PROSPER Act, would make higher education more expensive, undermine student aid programs and eliminate important student consumer protections.

Under the bill being weighed by lawmakers, some 72,000 University of California students would feel the effect of eliminating the in-school student loan subsidy, an action that would add an estimated $70 million in student loan debt to each new freshman class. It would eliminate other loan and grant programs and cut federal work-study programs vital to both undergraduate and graduate students, potentially putting a UC education out of reach for the many first-generation and low-income California students we serve.

In addition, the bill excludes mandatory inflation adjustments for Pell Grants, further eroding the value of a grant that has already decreased substantially in purchasing power over time. In 1975, Pell Grants covered 79 percent of the cost of higher education, while today they cover just 29 percent, the lowest level in more than 40 years.

While the University is glad that Congress is working to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, it has become clear that the changes proposed in the PROSPER Act will destabilize critical federal financial aid programs that help college students of all backgrounds access a life-changing education.

That’s why I joined California State University Chancellor Timothy White and California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley in sending a letter to Congress outlining our concerns about the PROSPER Act.

Our public institutions of higher education are committed — as they have been for generations — to providing affordable, accessible and equitable pathways to success for our students. Unfortunately, the PROSPER Act would negatively affect the 2.8 million students our institutions collectively serve, and many millions more across the nation.

UC is proud to offer one of the nation’s most robust financial aid packages — a combination of institutional, state and federal aid that work together to ensure that cost is not a barrier to enrollment and graduation. If Congress is truly committed to supporting students as they work to improve their lives through higher education, members need to craft a new reauthorization bill that truly benefits students — without further mortgaging their futures.


Listen to the Regents Health Committee: June 5, 2018

The Regents Health Services Committee convened on June 5th in an off-cycle meeting. Much of the meeting was apparently taken up with closed (non-public) business. The open segment ran about half an hour. There was a public comment section which unlike many meetings did not have the "usual suspects" (really the usual topics). In it, one speaker spoke about essentially "quack" remedies being offered at various UC medical centers. The rest of the time was devoted to a presentation by UC Health VP Jack Stobo.

A committee has been formed to look at various issues related - among other things - to the Huron report and its potential effect on that segment of UCOP that deals with the medical centers. As has been the case in the past, Stobo tended to push for autonomy from standard oversight of the centers on the grounds of market needs to be "nimble." The new committee will work during the summer and present something in September.

As usual, we preserve the audio of the meeting indefinitely - since the Regents only keep their recordings for one year.  You can find the link below:


Saturday, June 16, 2018


A UCLA group called "KELPS" - said to stand for Knights Earls Lord Potentates Sultans - operated in the late 1940s and early 1950s, apparently mainly to play pranks on USC.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Change in plans

Not available
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block will be filling in Friday as the keynote speaker during UCLA College commencement ceremonies, replacing actress Mayim Bialik, who withdrew amid a labor dispute between the university and service workers.
Block will speak in place of Bialik, a UCLA grad best known for her role as neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.” Bialik received a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience with a minor in Hebrew and Jewish studies from UCLA in 2000 and a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007.
Although she had been announced previously as the UCLA College commencement speaker, she withdrew in late May, responding to a call from the union representing University of California service workers amid a labor dispute.
“These issues are near and dear to my heart, especially since the LAUSD teachers’ union helped support my family for my entire young life,” Bialik said in a statement released by the university. “I send deepest regrets to the UCLA community and I hope to be able to join you soon to celebrate your accomplishments.”
Block will speak in Bialik’s place at both the 2 and 7 p.m. commencement ceremonies at Pauley Pavilion.

Question: What do doctors have?

Answer: Patients.


Question: What do we need in waiting for an analysis of the new state budget?
Answer: Patience. A newspaper headline is not a budget. Possibly, the governor may line-item veto some elements of what the legislature passed - although he hasn't used that authority much in the past. In any case, there will soon be more detailed information available from official sources - and then we will provide some analysis. Note that the $200 billion figure is NOT the General Fund which is usually viewed as "the budget." The $200 billion includes funds outside the General Fund for all kinds of earmarked functions such as transportation. The General Fund has typically run around two thirds of this type of overall figure over the years. But the news media seem fascinated this time around by the round $200 billion. Anyway, patience! We'll have details soon enough.

Thursday, June 14, 2018


The story continues:

In the never-ending saga of CRISPR patents, the University of California has finally put some points on the board, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granting it two genome-editing patents. One, granted on Tuesday, was first applied for in 2014. The other and more significant patent, applied for in 2015 but based on a 2012 discovery, will be granted next week.
The granted patent, number 9,994.831, covers “methods and compositions for modifying a single stranded target nucleic acid.” Next week’s, which is to be issued on June 19, covers the use of CRISPR-Cas9 for genome-editing in anything other than a bacterial cell and, specifically, where the targeted region on the genome is 10 to 15 nucleotides, or base pairs, long — the “letters” that constitute DNA and its cousin RNA. Next week’s patent is considered more foundational and therefore significant...
(There's more, but you have to go through a paywall to get it.) Source of above:


Yours truly likes to point to the UCLA Anderson Forecast - which was presented yesterday - for two reasons. 1) The economic news is of interest, and 2) It serves as a reminder that conference facilities can be had around campus apart from the UCLA Grand Hotel, a low-priority project nonetheless built at a time the university was budget-stressed. (The Forecast was presented in the Korn Auditorium of the Anderson School.)

Here is the official summary of the California portion of the Forecast (which is based on a gradually slowing economy - but no recession, albeit with some risks seen as stemming from international developments). It's a scenario that suggests no state budget crisis is likely to develop, although that matter was not discussed.

The California report

California employment hit another record high in April 2018. As the economy has been expanding as expected, the current forecast has not changed much since last quarter’s forecast, released in March 2018. Full employment has been less of a constraint on this growth with recent increases in the labor force.
It is anticipated that California’s average unemployment rate will remain higher than the U.S. rate and be at 4.3 percent in 2020, a consequence of a younger and more entrepreneurial workforce.
The forecast for total employment growth for the current year and the next two years is 1.7 percent, 1.8 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, with payrolls growing at about the same rate. Real personal income growth is forecast to be 2.5 percent, 3.6 percent and 2.9 percent in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.
“Affordable housing in California continues to be the subject of considerable discussion,” writes UCLA Anderson Forecast director Jerry Nickelsburg. (He examined) the complex ties among the state’s employment growth, the attractiveness of California and the building, zoning and environmental restrictions affecting housing supply. Although the forecast calls for a continued rise in housing prices, “the impact on economic growth is not as great as one might expect,” he writes.
There was even a silent protest aimed at panelist and State Senator Scott Wiener who had sponsored (and later dropped for this year) a bill that would have overridden some local zoning/growth controls. You can see the protesters' banner in the photo on the upper left charging Wiener was beholden to real estate interests.

[Click on the pictures to enlarge.]

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Believe it or not

Colleague known at UC as likable, honest guy — and Air Force calls him most-wanted deserter

Nanette Asimov and Megan Cassidy, June 12, 2018,
San Francisco Chronicle 

Employees in the University of California president’s office in Oakland knew their former colleague Tim O’Beirne as the personable, brainy number-cruncher for the UC system’s vast health benefits program. They were stunned Tuesday to learn that the Air Force has identified him as William Howard Hughes Jr., a captain with top-secret clearance who vanished in 1983. The Air Force declared him a deserter and one of its most wanted fugitives — and some suspected he had defected to the Soviets — until his capture last Wednesday.

“Wow. Wow!” said Stephanie Rosh, a retiree insurance manager at UC, when told his story by The Chronicle. She, like other employees, knew O’Beirne as a cheerful health benefits actuary and consultant for Deloitte in San Francisco. He was contracted to work in the UC president’s office during the mid-2000s. Hughes was a specialist in radar surveillance who worked closely with NATO during the Cold War until he walked away 35 years ago, at age 33.

The Air Force said O’Beirne admitted last week that he was Hughes. He is in confinement at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield amid an investigation, and has not been charged with a crime, said Linda Card, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. No bail or court date have been set. O’Beirne lived and worked for decades in high-profile positions in one of the busiest metropolitan regions of the country.

He lived in Daly City as Barry O’Beirne and Timothy O’Beirne, and was apparently married. Neighbors knew the couple as Giants fans. Former colleagues say he worked for UC as a consultant for much of the 2000s, preparing presentations to the UC Regents, representing UC in labor negotiations and drawing up the documents that would set forth their health insurance benefits for the rest of their lives.

“This just floors me,” said Judy Boyette, a San Francisco attorney who signed O’Beirne’s consulting contracts when she ran human resources and benefits at UC more than a decade ago. Looking at a photo of her former colleague in custody, Boyette was stunned. “My gosh, that’s Tim! Oh, my word. That is unbelievable. But that’s him! Wow.”

She and other former colleagues described O’Beirne as smart, articulate — especially when describing complicated numbers and concepts so that others could understand them — and kind.

“The thing I loved about him was that he could relate to everybody. Just a very nice personality,” Boyette said.

Insurance number-crunchers are often introverted, more at home with statistical tables than with the people who benefit from them, Boyette said. “So it’s really good to find an actuary who’s comfortable socializing with people.”

O’Beirne was so good that she sent him into the delicate realm of labor negotiations.

“I wanted to send someone I thought the union could trust — and they did,” she said. “He was very likable.” ...

Full story at:

Believe it or not:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California

“It may be a state election, but make no mistake; California’s gubernatorial race will be a referendum on Donald Trump. The President’s lack of popularity provides an excellent target for Gavin Newsom, who should be a heavy favorite going into the fall.”

Full story at

Letter to Congress

June 11, 2018


Dear Members of Congress:

On behalf of the University of California (UC), the California State University (CSU) and the California Community Colleges (CCC), as well as the more than 2.8 million students these institutions serve, we write to express our opposition to the PROSPER Act (HR 4508) – the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill currently under consideration by the House of Representatives.

Our public institutions of higher education are committed to providing affordable, accessible, and equitable pathways to success for our students and increasing the well-being of all Californians. HEA reauthorization provides an opportunity to develop federal education policies that promote these goals. Unfortunately, we have significant concerns with many of the changes proposed in the PROSPER Act, which we believe would undermine our efforts and increase college costs for California’s students and families.

Our institutions have particular concerns with the following provisions of the PROSPER Act: 

• Elimination of federal student aid programs and federal loan subsidies: With the elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program, over a hundred thousand California students would lose access to funding that is disbursed only to low-income students, often after a serious financial setback that affects their ability to continue their education. Eliminating the in-school interest subsidy forstudents with financial need who utilize Federal Stafford loans would raise borrowing costs for California undergraduates by millions of dollars per year.

• Elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): Every public higher education institution in California educates future public servants, including firefighters, police officers, physicians, nurses and educators, as well as nonprofit employees. The PROSPER Act’s elimination of PSLF threatens a vital pipeline of committed public servants who might not otherwise be able to dedicate their careers to service, simply because of the loan burden they must carry through repayment.

• Reduced oversight and consumer protection: The PROSPER Act reduces or eliminates many of the consumer protection measures that were created to ensure that higher education institutions are held accountable to students and to the public. The federal government has a responsibility to ensure that federal funds do not flow to low-performing institutions that fail to prepare students for employment opportunities or degree-granting programs that likely will enable them to repay their loans.

• Dramatically reduced funding to build capacity at minority-serving institutions: The PROSPER Act fails to renew mandatory funding that expires after FY 2019, resulting in a loss of $255 million promoting minority STEM education each year.

We urge you to work with your colleagues to develop legislation that benefits the students studying at California’s public higher education institutions. Our institutional experts would be happy to discuss these and other concerns further, and to be a resource in developing a reauthorization bill that will support California and our nation’s students.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano, President, University of California
Timothy P. White, Chancellor, California State University
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Chancellor, California Community Colleges


Monday, June 11, 2018

The day is coming

There is now a substantial literature documenting bias in student ratings of professors with regard to race, sex, etc. At some point, someone is going to sue, presumably a faculty member denied a promotion or experiencing some other adverse employment action. It's not clear that the university's current defense will pass muster, i.e., lots of things are taken account of, not just teacher ratings. While it is true that lots of things are taken account of - research, publications, service, teaching (including ratings), the fact that the evaluation process is something of a black box will tend to undermine the defense.

A recent editorial in the Daily Bruin suggests that UCLA needs to do something about this issue before it gets to the courts:

A word to the wise: End-of-quarter course evaluations are more important than you think. In fact, they’re probably a lot more dangerous than you think.

Course evaluations have become a facet of student culture at UCLA. Some students wait eagerly for the evaluation forms to open up ninth week to critique their professors. Most others, though, find little reason to give feedback to their professors and teaching assistants. But these evaluations help determine hiring and promotion decisions at UCLA. This is in spite of the fact that several studies have shown course evaluations can illustrate more about students’ biases than the content and quality of a course.
Evaluations are written into the University of California’s decision-making process when it comes to academic employees. But given the lack of standardization and the heavy presence of bias in conventional course evaluations methods, it’s high time the University changed its policies to use evaluations exclusively for feedback purposes, not for its personnel matters.

The UC’s Academic Personnel Manual specifies that all department chairs are responsible for submitting evidence demonstrating an instructor’s teaching effectiveness at different levels of the University. This evidence can and normally includes, in addition to other factors, student evaluations for all courses since a candidate’s last review, and the percentage of students completing evaluations. It’s difficult to ascertain how big an impact student voices have on the development of classes as there is no consistent way they are used. Adrienne Lavine, the faculty director of UCLA’s Office of Instructional Development, said departments are free to use evaluations as they wish, most commonly passing information to instructors and using data to determine who should be hired and promoted.

But the latter function can be concerning, seeing as studies have shown that some students base their opinions more on an instructor’s identity than their knowledge and delivery. A 2014 study found that when online instructors disguised a woman as a man and a man as a woman, the female identity received lower performance reviews. A 2015 study looking at student reviews on the website found that instructors with Asian last names were rated lower on “clarity” and “helpfulness” than instructors with Western names.

And in January, former UCLA psychology professor David Jentsch tweeted about an evaluation that complains about not the content of his course or teaching style, but that “It’s disgusting that UCLA allows gay people to teach our courses.” This demonstrates that students don’t see instructors in a vacuum. Identity politics, not to mention other nonacademic factors, can play a role in how they evaluate a course.

That’s not to say evaluations are inherently a broken system. But when study after study shows students are likely to be biased in evaluations, it’s clear that the UC should not be lending too much credence to this information. Furthermore, other avenues to determine hiring decisions, such as peer reviews from other faculty members, exist. While these are still subjective accounts subject to bias, their more intimate, long-term and professional nature makes them less of a target of racial or gender bias.

Lavine said UCLA is aware of the potential harm evaluations have due to bias, explaining that a faculty committee is already piloting a new evaluation method that would shift focus from a student’s opinion of an instructor toward a more direct evaluation of their teaching style. This development is promising. But that doesn’t preclude the fact that the current evaluation system can be changed to protect faculty and TAs from its pitfalls.

Evaluations can be helpful in shaping programs, such as online courses and freshman cluster series. But they are most useful when they remain between the instructor and the student. And UCLA should keep it that way, not allow some student’s homophobic comment determine a professor’s employment options.