Sunday, September 30, 2018

Saturday, September 29, 2018

New Firm Linked to UCLA

Enspire Aims to Collaborate: UCLA bioscience spinoff tests model

By Dana Bartholomew, Sept. 21, 2018, LA Business Journal
A new biotech startup at UCLA aims to cut the time between scientific discovery and pharmaceutical drug development by combining a diverse group of research scientists as company owners. Enspire Bio Inc. was launched in November and announced during a UCLA biomedical conference in June, just days after receiving a $3.2 million seed round from investors. The firm operates on what UCLA and company founders are calling a new virtual portfolio model, which includes 15 professor-owners who are researching a portfolio of 10 different drug compounds – two are already patented by the university – to treat diseases ranging from diabetes to Parkinson’s to cancer.

“We decided we’re going to put together as many projects as possible into one company with synergies that complement one another, with a better chance of success,” said Amy Wang, Enspire Bio’s chief executive and an adjunct professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA.

The prototype company is a collaborative effort between a Metabolism Unified Research Theme at the David Geffen School of Medicine and UCLA’s Technology Development Group, which works to turn university research into commercial assets to benefit the Westwood campus. UCLA maintains an undisclosed stake in Enspire Bio. The idea behind the model is to put a larger group of scientists and compounds with potential pharmaceutical applications in a commercial setting focused on a research theme. Enspire Bio, for example, is built around a group of scientists researching the human metabolism.

Theme dreams

The metabolism theme was one of six research areas launched by UCLA in 2015 as part of an effort to unify different groups of scientists and physicians across academic disciplines, and to help foster scientific collaboration. The platoon of biochemists, pharmacologists, medical doctors and others that makes up Enspire Bio is one of the program’s immediate results.

The company’s researcher-owners include such biotech heavyweights as Michael Jung, a longtime UCLA biochemist with more than 400 patents, who now consults with 20 biopharmaceutical laboratories. He helped invent Xtandi, a leading prostate cancer drug whose royalty rights sold for $1.14 billion. He also developed the prostate cancer drug Erleada, now owned by Johnson & Johnson, which was approved for sale early this year.

Enspire stakeholders will also receive incentive options for hitting certain milestones or for their level of collaboration in helping other researchers. If researchers work together to eliminate compounds that don’t work from the research pool, that is also considered a success and factored into the compensation structure.

Enspire Chief Executive Wang has a background in molecular genetics, worked in investment banking and biotech before co-founding such biotech firms as Cue Biopharma Inc. and Pulse Biosciences Inc. She said the collaborative model being tested at Enspire was promising.

“We can take these projects a lot further by combining the expertise of various professors,” Wang said. “The goal of the company is to develop compounds and get them closer to clinical trials. That’s when you can start licensing, or collaborating, with pharmaceutical companies.”

Different model

Enspire’s research structure is somewhat atypical for the bioscience industry. Most biotechnology companies are formed after a potential drug compound is identified, according to UCLA. Researchers would usually patent a promising compound and then license it to a third-party company that would develop a commercial drug after extensive testing and clinical trials. The process can take a decade or more and cost millions of dollars before a drug goes to market and is often predicated on a single compound, making these outfits boom or bust enterprises.

The new portfolio model of Enspire Bio, however, aims for a more collaborative approach where risk and reward are spread more evenly among a larger group of scientist stakeholders. By carefully selecting campus researchers and giving each a company stake – albeit a smaller one – the enterprise develops numerous drugs within several UCLA laboratories, each paid for by streams of federal research funds...

Full story at

Yours truly, seeing the above piece, wonders about the name "Enspire," which appears to be a trademarked brand of a baby formula that seem unrelated to the new firm: Presumably, somebody researched the name. ???

Listen to the Morning Regents Meeting of Sept. 26, 2018

We are now beginning to catch up with the past week's Regents meeting (although we already posted on the Tuesday investments segment). You will find audio links below to the full board meeting of Sept. 26, 2018 and to the Compliance and Audit and the Public Engagement and Development committees.

Much of the full board meeting was devoted to public comments. That segment ended in a demonstration which led to a clearing of the room. It was unclear who the demonstrators were from the recording. The comments covered Native American artifacts in possession of UC (which were dealt with at a later session), demands for Academic Senate membership of non-ladder faculty, support for undocumented students, a demand that the UC-Merced region should have a Regent, welfare of students with children, clean energy, Teamster issues related to emergency dispatchers, the UC response to the U.S. Supreme Court Janus decision, student housing and UCLA and UC-Santa Cruz, nurses' issues, UPTE issues, complaints about outsourcing, and a request to include Arab-background as an ethnic category in UC reports. The Faculty Rep to the Regents referred to admissions from community colleges, standardized testing for admissions (SAT, etc.), and faculty pay and benefits.

The Compliance and Audit Committee continued discussion of the UCOP state audit and the processing of sexual harassment claims including the involvement of the Academic Senate. It was noted that cases involving the Senate are delayed by the summer break and something needed to be done about those delays.

The Public Engagement Committee primarily dealt with UC lobbying in Sacramento and a "market research" student aimed to assessing UC's image. Not surprisingly, the public is concerned about affordability and politicos in Sacramento are concerned about money/budget issues.

The full board can be heard at:

or go direct to the underlying web addresses:

Full Board

Compliance and Audit

Public Engagement and Development

Friday, September 28, 2018

Native American Remains Bill Signed

State Capitol in 1912
Excerpt from official description of AB 2836 signed yesterday by Gov. Brown:

Note: This topic was discussed at the Regents meeting that concluded yesterday. We will be catching up with the Regents - preserving the audio recordings - as time permits.

...The bill would require the regents, as a condition for using state funds to handle and maintain Native American human remains and cultural items, to ensure that the campus committees implement the policies and procedures adopted by the regents and reviewed by the Native American Heritage Commission. The bill would provide that, if the regents use state funds to handle and maintain Native American human remains and cultural items, all claims for repatriation or claims of any violation of the policies and procedures shall be submitted to the campus committee for determination and would require the regents to adopt procedures to support appeals and dispute resolution in cases where a tribe disagrees with a campus determination regarding repatriation or disposition of cultural items directly to the systemwide committee. The bill would require the California State Auditor to conduct an audit commencing in the year 2019 and again in 2021 regarding the University of California’s compliance with the federal and California acts and to report its findings to the Legislature and to all other appropriate entities.

Full bill text at

UCLA History: Cards

The card catalog of the College Library (Powell) circa 1950

Thursday, September 27, 2018

UC’s largest employee union to vote on potential strike

From Riverside Press-Enterprise: Fearing for their job security as more positions are outsourced, the University of California‘s largest employee union says its members will vote next month on whether to strike for the second time this year.

Leaders with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 3299 made the announcement at Wednesday’s U.C. Board of Regents meeting in Oakland amid stalled labor negotiations. The AFSCME represents more than 25,000 service and patient care technical workers at UC’s 10 campuses, five medical centers, numerous clinics, research laboratories and UC Hastings College of Law...

The vote — set for Oct. 9 and 10 — follows a three-day walkout by 53,000 UC workers last May over the University’s outsourcing practices. The union claims the move is fueling income, gender, and racial inequality within the UC workforce.

The unionized workers cover a wide swath of occupations. Service workers include security guards, groundskeepers, cooks, custodians and truck drivers, among others. Patient care workers include such jobs as nursing aides, respiratory therapists, radiology technologists and patient transporters...

Full story at

Note: A strike vote does not mean there will be a strike. It is part of the negotiations process.

UC Berkeley opens large-scale universal locker room

From Berkeleyside:

A first in California: UC Berkeley opens large-scale universal locker room

Like many transgender students at UC Berkeley, Juniperangelica Cordova would get anxious each time she considered a workout at the campus gym.

“I wondered, ‘Am I going to use the locker room? Take a shower?’” says the ethnic studies major. “I like to work out, but I’d often avoid the locker room and go home with dirty clothes, or not go to the gym at all.”

While Cordova says Berkeley has become “a safer place for trans people to voice our needs and concerns,” she adds that students can’t fully participate in college life if there are places where they fear stares and harassment.

The opening Sept. 26 of a 4,500-square-foot universal locker room at the campus’s Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) — it’s believed to be the first large-scale collegiate universal locker room in California and one of just a few in the nation — will help change that experience. Any students or other RSF members needing more privacy, including those who are transgender, non-binary or have disabilities or body image struggles, will find a welcoming facility next door to the men’s and women’s locker rooms...

Remarkably, the new space is being paid for entirely by students. In a 2015 Wellness Referendum, the student body voted to impose an annual fee of $146 upon themselves — the fee contains a built-in escalator tied to inflation and is currently $160 — for 30 years. Those fees go into a Wellness Fund that, according to the fund’s website, is for “new, innovative mind-body services” that “address the concerning rise of mental health complications on campus and provide new support for minority student groups.”

So far, the fund has provided for initiatives that include counseling services for historically under-resourced student communities, medical care for student survivors of sexual violence and a pilot program for emergency housing...

Full story at

Listen to the Regents Investment Subcommittee of Sept. 25, 2018

The Regents Investment Subcommittee met on Tuesday and we have preserved the audio since the Regents "archive" their recordings for only one year. As it turned out, the most interesting element of the meeting may well have been in the closed session - where no recording occurs. See the article below, which also describes the main topic of the open session:
Behind Closed Doors, University of California Officials Address Mismanagement Claims

Reports of power abuses and rampant turnover under CIO Jagdeep Bachher were the subject of a private board meeting yesterday, according to UC president Janet Napolitano.

Leanna Orr, Sept. 26, 2018, Institutional Investor

After initially circling the wagons in defense of chief investment officer Jagdeep Bachher, University of California officials planned to tackle allegations against him in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, UC president Janet Napolitano told Institutional Investor

“That is the subject of the closed session,” Napolitano said Tuesday afternoon, when asked if UC would take any action on or investigate the claims of mismanagement. “I don’t think it is appropriate for me to discuss until the closed session has concluded.” 

An investigation by Institutional Investor, published September 6,* found Bachher allegedly used investment staff for personal errands, overrode asset-class heads’ opposition to invest with UC’s ex-investments chair, and twice leaked confidential information about an outgoing employee.  

What, if anything, will come of the closed-door meeting is not yet clear. The press secretary for the UC’s office of the president declined to comment, citing confidentiality. UC’s Regents — or trustees — on the investment committee participated, as did Napolitano. Bachher typically attends the private proceedings, which follow the quarterly public investment board meetings.  

Tuesday’s open session — held at the University of California, Los Angeles — centered on a new sleeve, or investment vehicle, being rolled out by the investment team. The Blue and Gold Endowment is intended to function mid-way between UC’s working capital pools and general endowment fund. Blue and Gold will offer greater expected returns than the conservative and bond-heavy working capital pools, but with more liquidity than the endowment, which has a large and growing private asset allocation. 

The central investment team managed $119 billion for the university system as of June 30, divided into short-term ($5.1 billion) and total-return ($9.3 billion) working capital funds, the general endowment ($12.3 billion), a pension fund ($66.8 billion), and, separately, a defined contribution plan. In designing this new product — Blue and Gold — the team aimed to replicate endowment returns with an ultra-simple and highly liquid portfolio. 

“Our goal is asset optimization,” said chief financial officer Nathan Brostrom. The Blue and Gold endowment will be “entirely passively invested,” he said. “It won’t be limited to an annual payout, and can be drawn on quarterly,” he explained.

The endowment, in contrast, pays out no less and rarely more than about 5 percent per year. “I expect quite a bit of demand. Over the next four to five years, we may take half of our working capital and move it into Blue and Gold so it’s returning” similar to the endowment. 

Asset allocation and passive public equities head Sam Kunz estimated the new portfolio can be implemented and assets in it managed for less than 10 basis points. 

The audio can be heard at the link below:

Or go directly to:

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Renaming Pauley

Constructing Pauley
From LA Business Journal: UCLA and Wescom Credit Union have agreed upon a 10-year, $38 million partnership that will rename the school’s basketball arena from Pauley Pavilion to the Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion presented by Wescom.

A portion of the $38 million in funds will be designated towards persevering and improving the Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion, which opened its doors in 1965. With Wescom becoming the official presenter of the basketball arena, there will be signage on the outside of the facility that marks the official name change...

It keeps growing (and then there's the Regents)

We usually post pictures of the growing Anderson addition when nothing much else is happening. But in fact the Regents are meeting and did meet yesterday, or at least the Investments Subcommittee did. As usual, yours truly has captured the audio of that session. But other things are happening diverting him from listening immediately. So we will post about the Regents, who are also meeting today and tomorrow, later when time allows. In the meantime, here are some recent photos.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

UCLA History: Steps

Constructing Janss Steps, circa 1928

Monday, September 24, 2018

UCLA History (and Future): Faculty Center

Easy parking back in the late 1950s at the Faculty Center
This announcement just arrived from the Faculty Center:

Due to unforeseen circumstances, our 2017-18 president-elect, Kathleen McHugh, will be unable to assume her obligations as president for the 2018-19 Board of Governors period of service (9/1 - 8/31).  The Board of Governors proposed and approved the following resolution:

  • 2017-18 President M. Belinda Tucker will continue in the role of president through January 31, 2019.
  • 2018-19 President-elect Julie Kuenzel Kwan will assume the presidency on February 1, 2019 and will continue her service through August 31, 2020.
  • Kathleen McHugh will continue her service on the Board of Governors and the Executive Committee as president-elect and past-president.

We believe this resolution will allow President Tucker to continue her role in negotiations to finalize the Faculty Center’s historic agreement with the UCLA administration and it allows President-elect Kwan sufficient time for transition into the role of president.  

Possible New Title 9 Rules

Could new Title IX rules invite retaliation?

By BENJAMIN WERMUND, 09/24/2018, With help from Jennifer Scholtes, Kimberly Hefling and Michael Stratford, Politico

The Trump administration has yet to publish its proposed overhaul of rules for schools handling allegations of sexual harassment, but attorneys, advocates and school administrators are already poring over a leaked draft.

— They’re finding a slew of potential sticking points, including questions about newfound access to evidence for students and whether schools can act to stop students from using that evidence against one another.

— The administration, in its attempts to even the playing field for students accused of sexual harassment, could be poised to give them unprecedented access to evidence in a school’s investigation. Those making the allegations would have the same access, potentially opening the door to a plethora of information that would come under scrutiny in sexual harassment cases, including emails, text messages and more. Schools would have to hand over the information, even if there's no plan to use it as part of the case, higher education lawyers and advocates for sexual assault survivors say...

Full story at

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Tax Zips

The LA Times carries an article today about the vulnerability of the California state budget to the economic fates of higher-income earners. A relatively small group pays much of the personal income tax on which the state budget is highly dependent. Such earners' incomes reflect not only the ups and downs of the real economy, but also the ups and downs of the sometimes-volatile financial markets. It includes a list of the top 10 Zip Codes in terms of personal income tax paid in 2016.

Of course, Silicon Valley/tech Zip Codes tend to dominate the list. But Zip Codes around UCLA 90024, 90049, and 90210 make the top 10 list. See the accompanying chart in this blog posting.

Of course, UCLA has its own Zip Code: 90095. Apparently, some individuals use UCLA's 90095 as their tax address so almost $540,000 in personal income tax was collected from it. (There is a link within the LA Times article for inserting Zip Codes to see how much is paid.) But as can be seen from the chart, that sum is mere pennies compared to the top 10.

The LA Times' article is at:

The UCPath 5

Yours truly checked out UCPath, which is - as of today - operating for UCLA. Yes, it worked. But what makes me nervous is that when you sign in for the first time, you are asked to provide answers to five questions that will be used for a sign-in in the future. Five is a lot, particularly because the questions are not of the usual mothers-maiden-name type which are likely to be recalled. Instead, they are things like your favorite movie, your "dream car" (as opposed to your first car), etc. These preferences can easily change over time. Will your favorite movie be something else a few years from now?

All I can say is that you better write the answers down somewhere and remember where you wrote them.

From today's email on UCPath:

Now that UCLA is live on UCPath, we all can expect to experience some key changes.
The UCPath Portal. The new self-service portal will allow you to manage your personal data, view your paycheck, access benefits information, view vacation and sick leave balances, and much more.
The UCPath Center. The new customer service support center will now serve as your first point of contact for payroll and benefits questions. You can contact the UCPath Center by visiting the UCPath Portal and clicking on the ‘Ask UCPath Center’ button, or by calling (855) 982‐7284, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PST).
The New UCPath Paycheck. Starting in October, your pay check will have a new look and feel as it will be generated from the UCPath system...

Saturday, September 22, 2018

UCLA History: Limb Lab

Not sure exactly where this room was, but it is identified as the artificial limb lab at UCLA (1955)

Friday, September 21, 2018

UCPath This Weekend

From an email circulated today:
Dear Faculty and Staff,
It’s almost here! UCPath will launch at UCLA this coming weekend. When UCPath launches, you can expect the following:
The UCPath Portal
The UCPath Portal, our new self-service portal, will open to all employees beginning this Sunday, September 23, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. When the portal launches, you will be able to…
View your paycheck
Update your personal information
View and print your W-2
View your benefits
View your vacation and sick leave balances
View, change or add a direct deposit
Update your W-4
Verify your employment
Please note that you will receive an error message if you attempt to access the portal prior to the Sunday portal launch.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Title 9 Related Litigation at UCLA

From Inside Higher Ed: More than a year ago, a female student at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the institution she was raped in August 2016. Her attacker, she alleged, had already sexually assaulted another of her sorority sisters. The university found her accusation credible. It expelled the young man, a campus fraternity member, in 2017. In February, he lost his appeal to return to campus.

But the student who filed the complaint was not satisfied. She maintains that the expelled student's fraternity -- and UCLA's fraternity system as a whole -- should have known the assault could occur and should have protected her. The fraternity had hosted a party that August night during which she drank until she couldn't walk, she said.

Last month, the student anonymously filed a lawsuit against her alleged rapist, Blake Lobato (who is named in court documents and whose identity has been widely reported), and his fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, as well as Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the UCLA Interfraternity Council, the governing body of the university's 22 fraternities. Though the council is a registered student group, it is independent from the institution, which is not named as a defendant.

Her lawsuit comes at a time when the Trump administration intends to overhaul the regulations around Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal gender antidiscrimination law that bars sexual misconduct at colleges and universities. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos last year rolled back Obama-era rules around Title IX, declaring them unfairly slanted against accused students. The Education Department's proposal on Title IX, a draft version of which was leaked to Inside Higher Ed, likely would not even have allowed for an investigation into Jane Doe's case, as institutions would no longer be obligated to investigate assaults that occurred off campus. Title IX experts are debating whether this provision would pass legal muster, as the law is triggered when a hostile environment in present on campus -- such as the presence of a rapist -- regardless of whether an incident occurred on the grounds or not.

Lobato’s lawyer has argued that UCLA's findings against his client were flawed and has requested that a Superior Court judge overturn the sanctions.

A particularly prominent part of the lawsuit are the allegations that fraternities' misconduct isn't isolated to just UCLA -- that alcohol abuse and sexual assaults run rampant among other chapters nationwide, with recent incidents at SAE's chapters at the University of Missouri, Clemson University, Oklahoma University, Northwestern University, the University of Southern California, California State University, Long Beach, and others, as well as ZBT's chapters at Cornell University, Florida State University, the University of Central Florida and the University of Michigan...

Full story at

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

More Detail on the Upcoming Regents Meeting - Part 2 (Market)

Local marketing
Yesterday, we posted more detail on the agenda of the upcoming Regents meeting. However, we noted that the links to the detailed agenda for the Public Engagement and Development Committee were broken and that we had so-notified the Regents' secretary. So today the broken links for that committee are fixed.

As it turns out, the main highlight from Public Engagement is a planned marketing study:

"During its September 13, 2017 meeting the Committee requested a study to assess how UC is perceived by the general public and outlined the objectives for a market research study that would build upon prior market research and insights. Interim Senior Vice President Holmes will provide an update on the status of the current market research study. The update will include an overview of key audiences and issues that UC is exploring through the research."


You'll note (below) that the agenda item above has the wrong date as of this posting. We'll again notify the authorities of the issue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

More Detail on the Upcoming Regents Meeting

Click on chart to enlarge. See below in text for discussion.
We now have more detail on the agenda of the upcoming Regents meeting. The various agenda attachments are now included on the Regents' website. Some highlights below:

The Investments Subcommittee is discussing a proposal to create an investment fund for the use of campuses for endowment-type funds that don't require short-term liquidity (and therefore low returns):

According to the proposal, "the Office of the Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) shall incorporate environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and governance (ESG) into the investment evaluation process as part of its overall risk assessment in its investments decision-making. ESG factors are considered with the same weight as other material risk factors influencing investment decision-making." (Whatever that means.)

It might be noted that the pension fund has been earning less than its "policy benchmark" over the last 3 years: (p. 3)

At Compliance and Audit, we learn that the Academic Senate endorses adding time frames to privilege and tenure reviews involving sexual harassment consistent with the state auditor's recommendations:

The Public Engagement Committee at the moment has links to various agenda items that produce error messages at this writing. The Regents' secretary has been notified.

Academic and Student Affairs will include discussion of a detailed report on Native American remains and burial objects now subject to federal regulation on the various campuses including UCLA:

There is also a detailed report on student and faculty diversity. See above for a chart from that report. The report is at:

Readers of this blog may recall the episode in which cuts to retiree health care suddenly appeared on the Regents agenda and then were yanked. There had been no consultation with the Senate or anyone else before the item appeared. A committee was established to look at the matter and as yet there has been no official recommendation to the Regents. However, in Finance and Capital Strategies, we find this statement:

Costs attributable to health benefits for covered retirees and their dependents are likely to rise more quickly as larger cohorts of UC employees decide to retire. UC, like the State overall, can anticipate faster increases in its retiree population as members of the baby boom generation reach retirement age. (PPIC refers to this trend as the “silver tsunami.”) The University continues to explore ways to control costs associated with health benefits for this growing population.

Source:  (p. 7)

At Governance and Compensation, it is reported that continuing plans to narrow salary ranges of UCOP execs will be reported to the Regents in March 2019, in keeping with state auditor recommendations:

Lyft Deal With UCLA

Lyft and UCLA have joined forces to offer a flat fare ride program to help you get to and from campus safely and affordably. Available seven days a week and 24 hours a day—Bruin students and staff can request Lyft Shared rides for themselves and 1 other person to and from campus—within the qualifying area. The $4.99 flat fare will automatically be applied to rides between $5 and $15 and will not cover tips...

More information is at:

Note: If you are a resident of Santa Monica and at least age 60, there is a separate program between the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and Lyft that will take you from Santa Monica to the UCLA hospital for 50 cents (and back for 50 cents). At that point you can take a UCLA shuttle bus to other campus locations. More information is at:

Berkeley professor in sex harassment case resigns, threatens to sue

From the San Francisco Chronicle: A prominent UC Berkeley architecture professor who was suspended in August for three years without pay for sexually harassing a graduate student and abusing his faculty power has resigned from the university, The Chronicle has learned.

Professor Nezar AlSayyad remains barred from campus through June 2021, says an email sent Sunday to students and employees of the College of Environmental Design, which houses the architecture department...

Typically, retiring professors automatically gain emeritus status, with the right to teach and advise students and keep an office on campus. But when Chancellor Carol Christ suspended AlSayyad last month, she also received permission from University of California President Janet Napolitano to withhold AlSayyad’s emeritus status for three years if he chose to retire. The tenured professor’s pension, however, is not withheld...

AlSayyad... said through his lawyer on Monday that he will sue the university this week, challenging his three-year banishment and asking that his emeritus privileges be reinstated after one year...

Full story at

Monday, September 17, 2018

UC's CALPERS problem

UC is not part of CALPERS, the huge state pension plan that covers most state employees EXCEPT UC and many local employees, but it has a CALPERS problem. UC departed from CALPERS decades ago and set up its own pension and retirement system. Indeed, one of UC's beef with the state when it comes to budgeting is that CSU is under CALPERS, and thus the state routinely contributes to its pension. UC at best gets ad hoc pension contributions when the governor and legislation feel like it.

Despite UC's official separation from CALPERS, because of CALPERS' size and impact on state and local budgets, the discussion of public pension problems is often driven by what happens there. And CALPERS has a pattern of producing a scandal du jour. Some have involved misconduct or bad conduct by CALPERS managers and board members. The latest involves the seeming discovery that the current chief financial officer of CALPERS has no college degree, isn't working towards a degree, may have nonetheless suggested that she was working towards a degree, and what all of this says about governance. You can read all about it here:

The issue for UC is that the periodic scandals of CALPERS end up having spillover effects on UC. UC tends to be swept into the policy "reforms" that CALPERS' fiscal and governance issues generate.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Nurse-UC dispute settled

Scene at UCLA's Then-New Medical Center in 1955
A news release from the California Nurses Assn. reproduced below reports a collective bargaining agreement with UC. It refers vaguely to an agreement about pensions. If more info becomes available on that point, we will report it.
PRESS RELEASE, California Nurses Association, September 15, 2018

14,000 UC Nurses Reach Tentative 5-Year Contract Agreement Protecting Patient, RN Rights

Registered nurses at the five major University of California (UC) medical centers, 10 student health centers, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have reached a tentative contract agreement with the UC, featuring a host of improvements and protections for both patients and nurses, the California Nurses Association (CNA) announced today.

If approved in voting starting next week, the five-year contract, which covers 14,000 RNs in the UC system, would run through October, 2022.

“This is such a tremendous accomplishment by nurses throughout the state, who stood strong for our patients and won the protections that they deserve—because we will never stop advocating for safe patient care and for the rights of nurses as we provide that care,” said UCSF RN and bargaining team member Randy Howell, RN.  “And this is all happened in an environment where corporate forces are constantly trying to attack unions. UC nurses stood union strong, and we used our collective voice to win an agreement that is going to benefit patients all over California for years to come.”

 “We are so proud of our nurse leadership for standing up for our patients, families, and community,” said UCLA Santa Monica RN and bargaining team member Valerie Ewald. “This victory would not be possible without the dedication and sacrifice we’ve made through the last 20 months of this contract fight.”

Contract highlights include:

Supporting safe staffing for safe patient care. The tentative agreement includes protections for staffing based on patient acuity (the level of care a patient’s illness requires), not based on UC budgetary goals; protections from unsafe assignments to areas requiring specialty expertise; improved protections around shift rotation; and language ensuring RNs’ right take their lawful meal and rest breaks. All of these safe staffing protections make for safe patient care, say nurses, which is what UC patients deserve.

Workplace violence and sexual harassment protections. If nurses aren’t safe, patients aren’t safe. Given that healthcare workers experience extremely high rates of workplace violence, nurses say it’s critical that the tentative agreement states UC facilities must have a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan in place—in line with California’s nation-leading workplace violence law—as well as protections from sexual harassment.   

“Nurses in California are fortunate to live in a state with the strongest healthcare workplace violence regulations in that nation, thanks to CNA nurses’ hard work in winning those protections. But our employers also need to be held accountable for following the law, so it’s a big win to have strong contract language stating that UC is responsible for keeping nurses, and also patients and their families, safe from violence,” said RN Maureen Berry, of UC Irvine.

Infectious disease protections. Healthcare workers cannot protect their patients without being protected themselves, say nurses, and to that end, the tentative agreement includes language strengthening the policies and equipment necessary to control the spread of communicable diseases in the hospital.

Economic gains and pension protections to help retain experienced nurses. The tentative pact includes pay increases of at least 15% over the term of the contract, with additional wages that address economic disparity for a number of locations and job classifications, contributing to the recruitment and retention of quality, experienced nurses for the community.  Nurses dedicating their lives to caring for UC patients also deserve to retire with dignity, say nurses—who fought hard to ensure the tentative agreement preserves and protect [sic] pension benefits.

“We are beyond thrilled at this huge achievement, which is not just a win for RNs, but for everyone in our care. We did this for communities all over California, because it is our duty to advocate for them,” said bargaining team member Michelle Kay, Nurse Practitioner at UCB Student Health. "UC nurses showed that we will never stop fighting, and because we are fighting for what’s just, we will stand up for public health and safety until we win the protections our patients deserve.” 

UC's response:

...“We think it’s a good agreement,” said Dianne Klein, a spokeswoman for the University of California, adding that both sides have been really diligent and professional about the process. “They wanted to make a deal, we wanted a deal and we are happy with this tentative agreement.”...


Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Upcoming Regents Meeting

The Regents will be meeting next week. Their website now indicates that the first meeting - that of the Investments Subcommittee - will start on Tuesday. So there will be three days rather than the originally scheduled two days. (We have noted in past postings that it would be nice if off-calendar meetings of regental committees and subcommittees were listed well in advance on the website.)

The full posting of the schedule for the meetings is not yet available. What we have lacks the attachments. However, it appears there will be some items that we may never learn about about in closed sessions. The Investments Subcommittee will be discussing in closed session matters relating to personnel changes in the Chief Investment Officer's shop. An earlier post on this blog noted that there has been some controversy about how things are going in that operation.* Is that what is to be discussed? We won't know.

In a closed session of the full board on Wednesday, there is to be discussion of "Legal Issues Regarding Constitutional Autonomy." It's not clear what that is all about.

There are two matters that could spark controversy, or at least more than routine interest. Compliance and Audit will discuss sexual harassment issues in relation to the state audit. Academic and Student Affairs will discuss faculty diversity.

Finally, Finance and Capital Strategies will discuss the next UC budget (for 2019-20). To the extent that tuition might be discussed, it could be in the context of the budget.

You can find the upcoming agenda at:

Boalt or Not

Berkeley Law Is Deeply Divided on 'Boalt' Name, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky Says

The University of California, Berkeley School of Law dean discusses the movement to remove references to John Boalt from the law school, and why people on both sides feel so strongly about the issue.

By Karen Sloan | September 14, 2018 |

The University of California, Berkeley School of Law has been known colloquially as Boalt Hall for decades, but that name could soon disappear from the Bay Area campus after information surfaced about the racist past of John Boalt—a 19th century California lawyer who pushed for the Chinese Exclusion Act.

A law school committee this week recommended the removal of the Boalt Hall name from one of the school’s four buildings and that other references to Boalt in student organizations and elsewhere be excised. (The committee did not recommend stripping the Boalt name from two endowed professorships, which would require the involvement of the California attorney general.)

Berkeley is not the first law school to confront the legacy of a racist namesake. In July, a panel at Florida State University recommended stripping the name of former Florida Supreme Court Justice B.K. Roberts from the Tallahassee school. Roberts resisted racial integration efforts from the bench throughout the 1950s. And Harvard Law School in 2016 decided to do away with its official seal because it featured elements of the family coat of arms of early donor and slaveholder Isaac Royall Jr.

John Boalt in 1887 delivered a speech at the Berkeley Club called “The Chinese Question,” in which he argued that Chinese immigrants who immigrated to the state during the Gold Rush would never assimilate. The speech was circulated widely in the run-up to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred Chinese laborers from coming to the United States.

Boalt himself had no direct connections to the law school, but his widow, Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt, donated money to construct a law school building in 1906 in his name. The law school moved to a new building in 1950, a portion of which still bears the Boalt name. While many people referred to the school as Boalt Hall, the committee concluded that was never the school’s official name. Rather, Boalt Hall refers to a specific building, according to the report.

The proposed renaming has touched a nerve with many on the law school community, some of whom refer to themselves as “Boalties.” We spoke with Dean Erwin Chemerinsky this week to find out what happens next and what he’s hearing from students and alumni. His answers have been edited for length.

What happens now? Do you have a position on the renaming?

What I’m doing now is receiving comments from people on the committee report, and then I’ll make a decision in November. The report came out Monday afternoon about 4 p.m. When I last checked my email this morning [Thursday] I had received more than 400 messages from alumni, faculty, staff and students, and I’m answering every single one of them individually. I’m going to wait to see what everybody has to say then think carefully about it and announce a decision. The committee has issued its report, and we’re now at the stage where I’m receiving comments so that I can decide what is the best thing to do.

Is there any consensus among the comments you’ve received thus far?

I’ve not counted, but they are quite divided, and not in the way I would have predicted. I would have thought the alums from the earlier classes would be more tied to the Boalt name, and that current students wouldn’t be attached to it. But I have plenty of alums from the 1960s and 1970s who are saying, “Change the name.” And I have plenty of current students saying, “Keep the name,” and vice versa. There’s not the pattern I expected to see.

I’m also surprised that some younger students want to keep the Boalt name. What are their arguments?

Their arguments are like those who graduated earlier: Tradition, and the importance of it; a perception that Boalt is known as part of the brand of Berkeley Law; and also the ideological position as to when it’s appropriate to change names. Those who oppose it say that we shouldn’t be judging past actions by current values. On the other hand, those who support the change say [the school] has never officially been called Boalt—it has always been Berkeley Law School—and they believe we shouldn’t name things after people who said vile, racist things.

Did you initially realize how controversial this issue would be?

The stories about John Boalt being a racist came out before I took over as dean. As soon as I arrived, there was substantial pressure from a number of students and alums to remove the use of the Boalt Hall name. In October, I created the committee.

I had heard enough from people at that point to expect that it would be controversial. What was most important for me was to create a process that was thorough, where everyone would have a chance to feel they were heard. The committee solicited written comments and held a public forum. It was very careful in its analysis. I decided I’d release the report to the law school community, then take about six weeks to hear what people say. There are intense emotions on both sides.

What was the atmosphere like at the forum on the name change?

The atmosphere was wonderful and remarkably civil. Careful arguments were presented on all sides. Everybody treated everyone else with great civility. It was really the ideal of what a law school and university should be, with a sense of reasoned disagreement. People feel strongly but they engage in civil discourse.

What was your initial reaction to reading John Boalt’s “The Chinese Question”?

John Boalt said very vile and racist things. I think the question is: What to do with that today, in light of the history of how the Boalt name came to be use in the law school?

Colleges and universities are facing this all over the country. It’s inherently a divisive issue. For me, one of the hard things as dean is that whatever I decide, I’m going to please about half the people, and upset about half the people. They all feel strongly. Of those who care, it seems pretty closely divided. I wish I could find a path that would make everybody happy.*
*Seems like whatever he decides, the dean is screwed.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A quiet news day

Seems like we have a quiet news day for UC today. So we'll continue our practice of showing the gradual construction of a new building next to the Anderson complex.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The slow wheels of justice

The story below has a long, and sad, history. You are urged to read the various links below as background which are in inverse chronological order. Then read the item reproduced below the links (scroll down).


Quote from link above:
"As we have noted in prior blog postings on this matter, the case should have been left to civil court by the Los Angeles D.A. The D.A. essentially overreached and - at considerable cost to itself and UCLA - essentially lost. (At one point, the entire Board of Regents was also charged.) In the midst of the case described above, the D.A. charged another UCLA faculty member in a totally unrelated and ridiculous case (which it dropped), seemingly to pressure UCLA in the case above.* UCLA is to be applauded for defending faculty members when such circumstances arise."

Most recent (and hopefully final) story on this unfortunately episode:

Criminal charges stemming from a 2008 laboratory fire that killed a research assistant were dismissed against a UCLA chemistry professor last week, nine months earlier than expected and over the objection of prosecutors, the District Attorney's Office confirmed Tuesday.

Patrick Harran entered into a five-year deferred-prosecution agreement with the District Attorney's Office in 2014. Under the agreement, Harran was ordered to meet a series of requirements, including 800 hours of non- teaching community service at the UCLA Hospital System/UCLA Health Services.

Although that agreement was not scheduled to end until next June, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli ruled during a hearing last Thursday that Harran had already met all the terms of the agreement, and he dismissed the criminal case against him, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Greg Risling, spokesman for the District Attorney's Office, said prosecutors objected to the dismissal, which was granted "nine months earlier when the case was set to be dismissed."

Harran, who still works at UCLA, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He was charged in December 2011 with multiple felonies for allegedly violating the state's Labor Code stemming from the death of 23-year-old Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji.

The aspiring law school student -- who was not wearing a lab coat -- suffered second- and third-degree burns in a Dec. 29, 2008, lab fire in which a highly flammable chemical agent spilled onto her and ignited. She died about 2 1/2 weeks later.

Criminal charges were also filed against the University of California Board of Regents, but those charges were dismissed in July 2012 as the result of an "enforcement agreement" that called for corrective measures. The agreement also mandated the use of laboratory coats while working on or adjacent to all hazardous chemicals, biological or unsealed radiological materials, along with the establishment of a $500,000 scholarship in Sangji's name at UC Berkeley's law school, where she had been accepted as a student.

When he reached his deferred-prosecution agreement, Harran acknowledged and accepted responsibility for the conditions under which the laboratory was operated the day of the fire and acknowledged that he was "the supervisor having direction, management and control of Sheharbano Sangji, who was employed as a research associate in defendant Harran's laboratory."

Along with the 800 hours of community service, the agreement called for Harran to pay a $10,000 fine benefiting the Grossman Burn Center, where Sangji was treated for her injuries.

The agreement also required Harran to develop a curriculum for and personally teach for five years an organic chemistry preparatory course to help college students involved in the South Central Scholars program, along with speaking to incoming UCLA students majoring in chemistry or biological sciences about the importance of laboratory safety.

The agreement called for dismissal of the case if Harran complied with all of the terms.

Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum said in 2014 the agreement was the "best resolution possible," despite objections by the victim's family.


*On the unrelated case, which was essentially thrown out of court, see:

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

UCLA History: 9-11

On September 11, 2001, UCLA students watch TV news coverage of terrorist attacks.


From Nature, 9-10-18: A fierce and unprecedented patent battle between two educational institutions might be nearing a close, after a US appeals court issued a decisive ruling on the rights to CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing.
On 10 September, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit awarded the pivotal intellectual property to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, upholding a previous decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The decision spells defeat for a team of inventors at the University of California, Berkeley (UC), led by molecular biologist Jennifer Doudna.
The “Board’s underlying factual findings are supported by substantial evidence and the Board did not err”, Judge Kimberly Moore wrote in the latest decision. “We have considered UC’s remaining arguments and find them unpersuasive.”
The dispute centred on the rights to commercialize products developed by using the CRISPR–Cas9 system to make targeted changes to the genomes of eukaryotes — a group of organisms that includes plant and animals. Although many patents have been filed describing various aspects of CRISPR–Cas9 gene editing, the Broad Institute and UC patent applications were considered to be particularly important because they covered such a wide swath of potential CRISPR-Cas9 products...