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Friday, October 19, 2018

Berkeley Report on UC Funding

A comprehensive report on UC funding is available from the UC-Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education. Although dated in August, it is now downloadable from:
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3250871

Excerpt from abstract: ...Beginning with cutbacks in the early 1990s UC’s state funding per student steadily declined. The pattern of state disinvestment increased markedly with the onset of the Great Recession. As chronicled in this report, the University diversified its sources of income and attempted to cut costs in response to this precipitous decline, while continuing to enroll more and more Californians. Even with the remarkable improvement in California’s economy, state funding per student remains significantly below what it was only a decade ago.

Peering into the future, this study also provides a historically informed prospectus on the budget options available to UC. Individual campuses, such as Berkeley and UCLA, may be able to generate other income sources to maintain their quality and reputation. But there is no clear funding model or pathway for the system to grow with the needs of the people of California. UC may be approaching a tipping point in which it will need to decide whether to continue to grow in enrollment without adequate funding, or limit enrollment and program growth to focus on quality and productivity.

Harvard Admissions - Part 4

We continue with the Harvard Crimson daily summary of activities at the admissions trial.

Day 4:

WHO: The College's dean of admissions and financial aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 wrapped up his testimony and successive Harvard admissions officers stepped up to take his place behind the witness stand.
  • In the morning, Fitzsimmons faced quizzing from William F. Lee '72, the University's lead trial lawyer and the senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation. Fitzsimmons finally departed the witness stand for good Thursday after spending much of the past four days answering questions from various attorneys.
  • Later, long-time Harvard admissions officer Christopher J. Looby took Fitzsimmons's place. He took questions first from SFFA lawyer Adam K. Mortara and then from Harvard attorney Danielle Y. Conley.
  • After Looby, it was Harvard Director of Research for Admissions and Financial Aid Erica J. Bever's turn. She took questions from SFFA lawyer J. Scott McBride. Thursday's alloted court time drew to a close before McBride finished his set of prepared questions for Bever.
WHAT: Fitzsimmons walked through Harvard's admissions process in detail. Looby spoke about whether and how College admissions officers consider race when evaluating applicants. Bever took questions about a confidential 2013 report she helped produce that suggested Harvard's admissions system produces "negative effects" for Asian Americans.
  • Lee picked up where he left off on day three, asking Fitzsimmons to tell the public how Harvard's admissions process actually works. Fitzsimmons spoke at length, describing the steps of the candidate review process. He also discussed what Harvard reviewers look for in applicants, noting that employees weigh both academic and personal ratings. He said race is never a negative factor during evaluations.
  • Fitzsimmons later talked about the "Dean's Interest List," a special and private list of Harvard applicants who are often related to or of interest to top donors. Students on the list tend to see higher acceptance rates. Fitzsimmons said roughly 15 to 20 students on the list are children of "significant donors" and said he tries to give top donors "an advance warning" if their children will not be admitted to Harvard.
  • At one point during his questioning of Fitzsimmons, Lee introduced a detailed dataset that contained information on Harvard applicants and admits stretching from the Class of 2000 to the Class of 2017. A Crimson analysis of that data revealed that, over a nearly two-decade period starting in 1995, Asian-American applicants to the College saw the lowest acceptance rate of any racial group that sought admittance to the school. Read the full story here.
  • Looby was up next. In reply to questions from SFFA's lawyers, Looby suggested Harvard admissions officers do not receive extensive guidance on how to weigh race in the evaluation process. After much pressing from SFFA, Looby said that the College tells admissions employees, "Just be careful with what you write." Later, during cross-examination from Harvard lawyer Conley, Looby clarified that he has "absolutely" received extensive training on weighing "race as one factor of many."
  • Bever took the stand after Looby and immediately faced fire from SFFA lawyer McBride, who grilled her about the 2013 Harvard report and what he asserted were inconsistencies between her previous court testimony and what she said in certain depositions.
  • After the trial ended for the day, Lee paused on his way out to take questions from a scrum of reporters. Munching on a CLIF bar,* Lee said Harvard's race-conscious admissions policies have been "blessed" time and again by the Supreme Court.
Note: Overall admissions rate also includes Native American/Native Hawaiian, International, and Unknown/Other students.
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*Is this a Harvard thing? https://www.clifbar.com/

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Faculty Center Tweet


Did you get an emergency alert?

You should have received an alert, such as the one above, by some means from UCLA as part of today's earthquake drill. If you didn't, sign up for email, text, or other forms of alert. If you are in the UCLA area, you might not know that UCLA has a low-power AM station at 1630 on your dial for emergencies. (Even if you think you don't have an AM radio, you likely have one in your car and it will work even in the event of a power failure.)

Harvard Admissions - Part 3

Day 3 of the Harvard Admissions Trial, summarized in Harvard Crimson:

WHO: The College's dean of admissions and financial aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67 remained on the witness stand for hours on the third day of the Harvard admissions trial.
  • In the morning, Fitzsimmons faced a string of questions from SFFA lawyer John M. Hughes.
  • After a lunch break, William F. Lee '72, the University's lead trial lawyer and the senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, took over from Hughes and began questioning Fitzsimmons. And the dean isn't done yet — Lee is set to continue quizzing him on day four.
WHAT: Hughes sought to prove that Harvard unfairly favors the wealthy and well-connected in its admissions process. He then revived an earlier line of argument by referencing the confidential 2013 report that concluded the College's admissions system produces "negative effects" for Asian Americans. Lee, meanwhile, asked Fitzsimmons to describe the way Harvard evaluates applicants — and later gave Fitzsimmons a chance to discuss his own experience as a low-income College student in the 1970s.
  • Hughes introduced three emails Wednesday morning that suggest Harvard favors applicants connected to families who fund the school. In one 2013 email, former Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School David T. Ellwood '75 thanked Fitzsimmons for helping admit a student whose relatives family had apparently "already committed to a building." In another, Associate Vice President for Alumni Affairs and Development Roger P. Cheever ’67 noted that admitting an unnamed applicant could "conceivably" lead to the donation of "an art collection."
  • Hughes also grilled Fitzsimmons on the "Dean's Interest List," a special and confidential list of applicants he compiles every admissions cycle. Though the College closely guards the details, applicants on the list are often related to or of interest to top donors — and benefit from an elevated acceptance rate.
  • Fitzsimmons defended Harvard's special treatment of applicants with donor ties as "important for the long-term strength of the institution." He noted the tactic helps to secure funding for scholarships, among other things.
  • Hughes then turned the court's attention to the internal 2013 report, which Harvard circulated among top administrators at the time but never published. He asked Fitzsimmons whether he told most admissions office employees about the report's finding that Harvard's admissions system disadvantages Asian Americans. Fitzsimmons said he didn't remember.
  • Hughes also asked whether Harvard had implemented bias training since the 2013 report. Fitzsimmons said no, adding he does not believe that kind of training is necessary for Harvard's admissions office.
  • Lee wrapped up day three by asking about the way Harvard contacts students who achieve high scores on the PSAT. Fitzsimmons said the College reaches out to high-scoring applicants in a variety of categories. At Lee's prompting, the dean dove further into the details of Harvard's admissions process, noting the school pursues three main objectives: "truly exceptional students," "diversity of all types," and "no more students than beds."
  • Fitzsimmons also spoke for several minutes about his own time at Harvard. He mentioned that his mother and father ran a mom-and-pop shop in Weymouth, Mass. and said he attended the College "almost entirely with Harvard scholarship funding."
Source: https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2018/10/16/what-happened-today/ (A more detailed account is also available from that link.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Harvard Admissions - Part 2

The national news media paid attention to the Harvard admissions trial on the eve of the trial and on the first day. Thereafter, not so much.

However, the Harvard Crimson has a daily summary:

DAY ONE, Oct. 15, 2018

On the opening day of the highly anticipated Harvard admissions trial, hordes of spectators and reporters crowded into two courtrooms and a jury assembly room to listen as lawyers for both the College and SFFA offered lengthy opening statements.

Adam K. Mortara spoke for SFFA, while Harvard Corporation senior fellow William F. Lee '72 argued for the University. Later, Harvard's long-serving Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67 took the stand to answer a long string of largely technical questions from SFFA's attorneys.

WHAT: Mortara and Lee mostly repeated arguments SFFA and Harvard have advanced before. Fitzsimmons defended against charges that Harvard neglects to recruit Asian-American high schoolers who score higher on the PSAT and SAT exams than do their peers of other races.

Mortara pointed to the fact that Harvard concluded in a confidential internal study in 2013 that its admissions process produces "negative effects" for Asian Americans. He also noted that Harvard admissions officers apparently tend to give Asian-American applicants substantially lower rankings for their personal traits. "You have let the wolf of racial bias in through the front door," Mortara said.

Lee mostly focused on legal precedent, asserting that previous Supreme Court cases have long established Harvard's methods form a legal way to consider race in the college admissions process. He also criticized SFFA's analysis of Harvard admissions data. "If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything," Lee said.

Fitzsimmons faced down charges from SFFA lawyers that Asian-American Harvard hopefuls must earn higher PSAT and SAT scores than high schoolers of other races to earn a coveted letter inviting them to apply to the College. Fitzimmons did not dispute the allegations, but said Harvard's outreach to students is meant to ensure the College reaches "people from all backgrounds."

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DAY TWO, Oct. 16, 2018

Day two of the Harvard admissions trial saw smaller crowds and further cross-examination of the College’s long-serving admissions dean.

William R. Fitzsimmons ’67, dean of admissions and financial aid, faced down several hours’ worth of questions from SFFA lawyer John M. Hughes.

William F. Lee ’72, a lawyer for the University and senior fellow of the Harvard Corporation, objected to several pieces of evidence Hughes presented over the course of the day. After a prolonged discussion about the relevance of one particular document, Fitzsimmons offered a moment of levity.

“I’m sorry, what is the question?” Fitzsimmons asked, spurring chuckles. “Is there a question?”

WHAT: Hughes grilled Fitzsimmons on the technical details of Harvard’s admissions process. He was interrupted around 11 a.m. by a fire alarm that forced lawyers, spectators, and members of the press to exit the courthouse and wait outside for roughly an hour in the chilly October air.

Hughes began Tuesday’s session by brandishing an internal Harvard document titled “Reading Procedures for Class of 2018.” The document offers admissions officers an outline for assigning scores to applicants.

Hughes questioned whether race unfairly informs the “personal ratings” the College gives to applicants — to Asian-American applicants in particular. Documents released over the summer as part of the suit appeared to show that Harvard admissions offers give poorer personal ratings to Asian-American applicants.

Fitzsimmons admitted personal scores skew lower for Asian-Americans than for Harvard hopefuls of other races. But he said that multiple factors determine applicants’ rankings.

“The strength of the teacher recommendations and counselor recommendations for whites is somewhat stronger than those for Asian-Americans,” Fitzsimmons said.

Hughes also quizzed Fitzsimmons about a 1990 investigation into Harvard’s admissions process conducted by the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights. The federal probe examined allegations that the College relied on illegal racial quotas to deny admission to deserving Asian Americans. The department’s final report cleared Harvard of any wrongdoing.

Fitzsimmons said Harvard’s admissions officers took the 1990 report “very seriously” and that it “continues to be an important benchmark.”

Hughes noted that the Education Department report detailed what he called problematic comments some Harvard interviewers made about Asian-American applicants. “He’s quiet, and, of course, wants to be a doctor,” read one. Hughes said these kinds of comments proved that College reviewers stuck to harmful stereotypes about Asian Americans.

Fitzsimmons replied that the admissions office does not engage in stereotyping of any kind. “We do not endorse, we abhor, stereotypical comments. This is not part of our process,” he said. “This is not who I am, and this is not who are admissions committee members are.”

Source: https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2018/10/16/what-happened-today/

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Allegation of Hostile Work Environment at a Professional Academic Association

  • ANNOUNCEMENT
  •  
  • OCTOBER 15, 2018

A post from the Executive Committee

It has come to our attention that one of the recently elected candidates for office of the American Economic Association is the subject of allegations, being accused of creating a hostile work environment. Neither the Nominating Committee, nor the Executive Committee knew of such allegations at the time of nomination. We also believe that few of the members knew of the allegations at the time of the election. 

We take such allegations seriously, but they are, at this point, just allegations. While the home institution will neither deny nor confirm the existence of an investigation, we understand that one is underway, and may come to some conclusions in the not too distant future. We have decided that, before proceeding further, we should wait for those conclusions, if they are made public and they come within a reasonable amount of time. If not, we shall reexamine our position.

One conclusion we already draw is that, in the future, we shall ask potential nominees if they are the subject of an investigation. This will help avoid such situations going forward.

The Executive Committee, American Economic Association
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Source: https://www.aeaweb.org/news/message-from-the-aea-executive-committee-oct-2018
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UPDATE: From Inside Higher Ed:

...The committee did not name the academic in question, but it was apparently referring to Roland G. Fryer, Jr., Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and faculty director of Education Innovation Laboratory there. Fryer, who was recently elected to the committee, reportedly is the subject of harassment complaints related to the . He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. A spokesperson for Harvard referred questions to an earlier comment on the matter saying that "Harvard is deeply committed to providing a civil and inclusive work environment for all members of our community. We are aware of and take seriously concerns raised about the treatment of staff in the Education Innovation Laboratory," including "whether staff members have been treated with the dignity and respect they deserve." 

Full story at:
https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2018/10/17/economists-address-allegations-against-elected-officer

Listen to the Regents Health Services Committee: Oct. 9, 2018

As promised yesterday, we now present links to the UC Regents Health Services Committee of October 9, 2018. We preserve these recordings because the Regents delete them after one year for no particular reason.

The meeting began with public comments. There was only one speaker who complained about Regental participation in a lawsuit in India against generic drug manufacturers that were producing a prostate drug in which UC has a patent interest.

There was continued push at the committee for the campus health enterprises to have more autonomy in such matters as budgets, compensation, and capital projects. Beyond that, there were presentations on various activities in health care including UCLA cardiac services, plans to extend UC medicine into the San Joaquin Valley, hospital bed sore avoidance, and the use of artificial intelligence and information technology in health care (including work with Google). Regent Lansing raised the issue of whether the various campuses should specialize rather than each doing the same thing.

You can hear the meeting at the links below:

or direct to:
https://archive.org/details/RegentsHealthServices10918

We also provide a video excerpt on alcoholism, heart attacks, and other causes of death in California by Dr. Atul Butte of UC-San Francisco:

Dirty Laundry at the UC Investment Office - Part 2

We noted some dirty laundry at the UC Investment Office back in early September.* Now there is this:

Richard Blum, a $100 Million UC Investment, Feinstein Campaign Donations: Business As Usual at UC?

Dianne Feinstein’s husband and the UC system are no strangers to controversy surrounding their investment and business practices.

by Matthew Cunningham-Cook and David Sirota, 10-15-18, Capital and Main**

University of California regents approved a nine-figure investment in a private equity fund run by a major donor to Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, whose husband sits on the regents’ board. The investment was disclosed just as some of the private equity fund’s overseers and advisers were pumping thousands of dollars of donations into Feinstein’s campaign, according to documents reviewed by Capital & Main.

In the fall of 2017, UC regents decided to shift $100 million worth of university endowment and pension resources into the RISE fund, operated by TPG. That firm was founded by David Bonderman, who has forged extensive business relationships with Feinstein’s husband, regent Richard Blum. Over the past quarter-century, Blum served as a TPG executive, founded a fund overseeing TPG’s Asia business and partnered with TPG on numerous investment deals with his own investment fund, Blum Capital. The $100 million investment was UC’s first investment with TPG.

Since 1992, Bonderman and his wife have donated more than $32,000 to Feinstein’s political campaigns. Additionally, donors associated with the RISE fund’s board and advisory panel have contributed more than $65,000 to Feinstein’s campaigns and political action committee. That includes $15,400 of donations in the three-week period surrounding the disclosure of UC’s investment in the RISE fund. Those donations came from Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, as well as from Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson. Marc Benioff and Hobson, who is married to George Lucas of Star Wars fame, sit on the RISE Fund’s Founders Board.

In general, securities laws require public officials to make investment decisions on the basis of merit, not personal relationships or political contributions. A 2010 Securities and Exchange Commission rule was explicitly designed to deter financial firms from using campaign contributions to influence investment decisions.

“The decision by the UC regents to make an investment in a fund run by a close friend and business partner of Richard Blum raises potential issues of institutional corruption.”

Blum argues that there is no conflict of interest.

“I’ve never heard of the RISE Fund,” he told Capital & Main. “We used to be partners with TPG. We’ve done investments together. But I have nothing to do with TPG or the RISE Fund… [The University of California investment office] never checks with me on anything.”

Blum conceded that, in addition to his business and personal relationships with Bonderman and TPG, he also knows another top TPG and RISE Fund executive, Jim Coulter, and added, “I occasionally get together with [UC Chief Investment Officer] Jagdeep [Singh Bachher] and we talk about philosophy.”

Singh Bachher is in charge of oversight and management of UC’s investment in the RISE Fund.

Capital & Main asked TPG if it had disclosed its executives’ relationships with Blum and donations to Feinstein. In a statement, TPG said that it “adheres to the strongest compliance standards and all political donations are subjected to compliance review and clearance, and in the case of federal officials are publicly disclosed through the Federal Election Commission. TPG responded in the ordinary course to due diligence questions posed by UC in connection with its investment.”

The University of California forwarded the regents’ conflict of interest policy and made no other comment. Senator Feinstein did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

“The decision by the UC regents to make an investment in a fund run by a close friend and business partner of Richard Blum raises potential issues of institutional corruption,” said Jay Youngdahl, an attorney and pension expert. “When money saved for workers’ retirement is placed into high-fee investments that benefit those close to politicians, questions need to be asked and answered. Investment funds in several states have suffered problems with similar practices.”

...Meanwhile, the UC Retirement Plan has lately been engulfed in scandal over pay-to-play allegations.

In early September, the pension trade publication Institutional Investor published a report showing that the retirement system’s chief investment officer faced “serious charges of mismanagement.” The report also highlighted allegations from an anonymous tipster with inside information that Bachher had placed $250 million in a fund run by a former UC regent, Paul Wachter, who had participated in Bachher’s hiring. The investment was opposed by other top investment staff at UC, the article said.

Full story at: https://capitalandmain.com/richard-blum-a-100-million-dollar-uc-investment-feinstein-campaign-donations-business-as-usual-at-the-board-of-regents-1015

Also at https://splinternews.com/why-did-the-university-of-california-invest-100-millio-1829756662
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/09/dirty-laundry-at-uc-investment-office.html
**https://capitalandmain.com/about-us

Monday, October 15, 2018

UCLA History: Registration

Registration line in 1930

PS: In case you are wondering (or even if you aren't), yours truly has not forgotten about the meeting of the Regents Health Services Committee last week. He has preserved the recording and will post about it in due course. (But not one the courses the students above are waiting to enroll in!)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Countdown for the Harvard Admissions Trial

At Harvard, a trial about affirmative action starts tomorrow (Monday, October 15). UC is somewhat shielded from the outcome because, as we have noted in prior posts, California's Prop 209 already bans affirmative action in admissions at public universities. Nonetheless, there could be fallout.

Unease sweeping the halls of Harvard on eve of race-based admissions suit

By Deirdre Fernandes, Boston Globe, October 13, 2018

As Harvard University prepares to defend its selective, highly secretive admissions process in a Boston courtroom Monday, outside groups are marshaling their forces, with protesters descending on the city, and a rally planned outside the university’s iron gates. The high-stakes case accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants has reopened a sharp national debate over race, equity, and merit. And on campus, it has forced students to confront uneasy and intensely personal questions about racial diversity, privilege, and their place at the Ivy League institution.

“It’s forcing me to talk about race in a way that I’ve not done,” said Priyanka Kaura, 27, an Indian-American graduate student from Pennsylvania at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Kaura said she supports affirmative action, and is careful about acknowledging there may be concerns about bias against Asian applicants, especially when discussing the issue with other Asian-Americans. “I haven’t lost any close relationships yet.” 

“It’s on everybody’s mind,” added Victor Agbafe, 22, a senior whose parents emigrated from Nigeria, and who grew up in Dallas and Wilmington, N.C. “I think the case has the potential to be huge.”

In animated — sometimes fraught — conversations among friends in dining halls and dorm rooms, in Facebook groups and private texts, in classroom discussions and group gatherings, Harvard’s students are grappling with the issues raised by the lawsuit.

A ruling against Harvard would forever alter admissions, especially at elite colleges — for the worse. Unlike previous affirmative action lawsuits that primarily hinged on if race-conscious admissions practices benefited black and Hispanic students while hurting white students, this case pivots on Asian-American applicants.

The lawsuit was filed by Students for Fair Admissions, a group representing Asian-Americans who allege Harvard’s admissions policy discriminates against them. As proof, the organization points to six years of Harvard admissions data that its experts argue indicates Asian-Americans were rated lower on personal qualities, such as courage and kindness, which hurt their chances of gaining admission. The group also alleges Harvard limits the number of Asian-American students it admits every year, a practice called racial-balancing, which is unlawful. 

Harvard denies any discrimination and insists its admissions practices are legal and ensure that all students learn on a diverse campus and are exposed to different ideas and classmates from various backgrounds. At Harvard, 21 percent of students are Asian, nearly 12 percent are Hispanic, 8 percent are black; the majority of the campus is white. The university is also quick to point out that Students for Fair Admissions is led by Edward Blum. He is a conservative white scholar who unsuccessfully challenged the University of Texas admissions process and led an effort that unraveled parts of the Voting Rights Act.

Yet Harvard administrators worry the trial could open up fault lines among students and alumni at the country’s oldest and most prestigious institution of higher education. The trial is likely to raise questions about who is deemed worthy and special enough for one of the few slots at a university heralded for educating future presidents, corporate titans, poets, and prizewinners. Of some 42,000 applicants, Harvard enrolls just 1,600 or so freshmen every year. Entry itself is a privilege and viewed as a ticket to future success. 

Students for Fair Admissions “is likely to make provocative assertions that will receive public attention and cause some to question our academic practices,” Harvard president Lawrence Bacow wrote in an e-mail to the Harvard community last week. “I would hope all of us recognize, however, that we are members of one community — and will continue to be so long after this trial is in the rearview mirror. What kind of community we will be, however, will be determined by how we treat each other the next few weeks.”

Some Asian-American students say they already feel conflicted about the lawsuit. They support diversity on campus, but some say the case has reinforced warnings they received from parents and counselors in high school that they had to get far better grades than their peers, jump into leadership roles, and appear less stereotypically Asian in their applications to earn a spot in the most elite colleges. 

Rainbow Yeung, a senior majoring in molecular and cellular biology at Harvard who rushes between post-graduate job hunting and her leadership responsibilities at her house, said she worries Asians have been neglected in US history and American media. And she doesn’t want their concerns about potential bias in admissions to also be silenced.

“I am scared of what the results of the suit might mean for affirmative action,” Yeung said. However, I just don’t want Asian students to be suffering from negative consequences due to our race.”

Ivy Yan, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 2015 and is now a graduate student there, has found herself at odds with Harvard administrators. She fought Harvard’s efforts to squash a union for graduate students and as an undergraduate rallied alumni and other student groups after she felt the university’s response to e-mail threats received by many Asian-American female students was inadequate. But now, Yan is helping organize a rally Sunday in favor of affirmative action and is bringing together many of Harvard’s supporters.

“I am firmly anti-Blum, but not pro-Harvard,” she said. 

Still, she understands why many Chinese-Americans, especially those who immigrated more recently, are backing this lawsuit. Even her younger sister questioned the need for affirmative action until recently, Yan said. 

“The people on the anti-side are my people,” she said. “This is the American dream for many immigrants and the admissions process — it takes into account something you don’t really understand, and it can be alienating.” 

The case against Harvard’s affirmative action policy is generally seen as a conservative cause and even gained support from the Justice Department under the Trump administration. Yet some conservative students acknowledge that admission to the elite school is based on a complicated formula, with race just one factor among many. Star athletes, children of financial donors, students whose parents attended Harvard, and applicants from under-represented states all get special consideration.

“Who got here and how they got here — everybody has things that got them here,” said Conor Healy, a senior from Canada who last year invited controversial sociologist Charles Murray to speak at Harvard amid protests from minority students. “It’s personal. . . . I knew that when I applied, nobody was entitled to a spot . . . and they paid a lot of attention to personal details of individuals. It’s just not straightforward. Healy said private institutions should be able to dictate their admissions standards.

Some students, though, feel Harvard does too little to encourage diversity and that if it loses the case, there will be even fewer black and Hispanic students on campus. 

As Paola Martinez waited last week for a movie screening at Harvard’s newly renovated Smith Campus Center, where red and orange modern couches are surrounded by ceiling-to-floor glass windows, she scoffed at the implication in the lawsuit that Harvard has too few Asian-American students. Martinez, 37, grew up in the Dominican Republic and takes classes and works at the Harvard Extension School, a program for adult learners. She said black and Latino students and faculty are rarer than white and Asian-Americans. This lawsuit is an effort to “keep students of color out of environments where they can succeed,” Martinez said. “At least give us a chance to prove that we’re smart enough and that we could do something.” 

Andrea Loera, 23, a Latina who grew up in Texas and is a graduate student at Havard Law School, said she worries that many on-campus discussions about the lawsuit are being held among students of color, instead of the broader community. 

A teach-in she attended on a rainy evening last week drew more than 50 Harvard students; most were Asian and other minorities, with just a handful of white students. Loera said she understands that some students of color are concerned about drawing too much attention to themselves, especially around a case that questions whether they belong at Harvard.

“You already feel like an outsider here,” Loera said. “It becomes a personal topic so fast. And it’s so hard to talk about it as a minority, especially in a school that is so white.

Source: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/10/13/unease-sweeping-hallsof-harvard/7spR4BivYyOPLh9kVpBqNP/story.html

Saturday, October 13, 2018

UC Health Strike News - Part 2

From the Sacramento Bee:

The largest employee union at the University of California, AFSCME Local 3299, announced Friday that its patient-care technical workers will go on a three-day strike Oct. 23-25 at (the five) UC health systems across the state.

The job action will involve as many as 39,000 workers statewide, composed of the 15,000 members of AFSCME 3299’s patient-care unit, 9,000 from AFSCME’s service unit and 15,000 research, technical and health-care professionals represented by UPTE-CWA. AFSCME’s service unit and UPTE-CWA voted to strike in sympathy with the patient care workers.

Both AFSCME and UPTE-CWA have been negotiating with the UC for more than a year, and their leaders say negotiations have stalled over issues such as outsourcing, pay, retirement benefits and health-care premiums.

“The University of California has continuously ignored workers’ concerns over the outsourcing of good middle-class jobs and the inequality and insecurity that it creates,” said Monica De Leon, vice president of AFSCME 3299’s patient-care technical unit.

In a prepared statement issued after AFSCME announced the strike vote, UC leaders said: “Union leaders refuse to allow their own members to vote on UC’s competitive contract offer, instead spending months threatening and now conducting a strike vote. Rather than engage in constructive talks at the negotiating table, AFSCME leaders are using the threat of a strike as a scare tactic.”...

Full story at https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/health-and-medicine/article219963130.html

We again note that a strike may, or may not, occur, depending on the actions of negotiators.

Friday, October 12, 2018

More State Cash

The state controller reports that for the first quarter of the current fiscal year (2018-19), revenues to the General Fund ran about $1.4 billion above estimates made when the budget was enacted last June.

Personal income tax receipts and sales tax receipts were up about 5% above forecast levels. The corporate tax was up 8% above forecast.

So there is no cash pressure on the state at the moment. If a downturn occurred, the state could likely go for about a year before the crunch was felt.


Nonetheless, recent stock market events are a reminder of the dependence of the state on a relatively small number of high-income earners whose taxable income is sensitive to the ups and downs of financial markets.

You can find the controller's September statement at:
https://www.sco.ca.gov/Files-ARD/CASH/September%202018%20Statement%20of%20General%20Fund%20Cash%20Receipts%20and%20Disbursements....pdf

Thursday, October 11, 2018

UC Health Strike News

AFSCME Local 3299 announced Thursday morning that the 15,000 patient-care technical workers in its ranks voted to authorize a strike against the University of California after reaching a deadlock in labor contract negotiations.
The strike vote received approval from 96 percent of AFSCME 3299 members, AFSCME leaders said, and the patient-care workers will be joined on the picket line by 9,000 employees in AFSCME’s service unit and 15,000 members of the UPTE-CWA union, who voted to join in solidarity...
The strike dates have not yet been set. The union is required to provide a 10-day advance notification of the dates...
Blog readers should note that a strike vote does not mean a strike will occur. Typically, a union won't call for a vote unless it's sure a large majority of its members will favor authorizing a strike. (It's like the old adage for lawyers: Don't ask a question unless you know the answer.) Thus, the vote is part of the bargaining process and a show of support by members aimed at pressuring the management side.

University Librarian Asks for Help from Faculty

Email to faculty from Virginia Steel, University Librarian:

I’m sure you’ve heard of Elsevier, and you’ll likely hear a lot more about it in the coming weeks, as the UC Libraries negotiate a new contract with this scholarly journal publishing giant. Elsevier has earned international criticism for profit margins of close to forty percent, which far exceed inflation, and for its opposition to open access (except in its own open access journals).

     About that last point: in addition to licensed (i.e., subscription) journals, Elsevier publishes open access journals, in which authors pay article publishing charges but all readership is free, and hybrid journals, which require a subscription to read but in which authors can pay a fee to make individual articles open access. Our negotiations focus not just on the amount the UC Libraries pay to provide access to the journals but also on the additional amount UC authors pay in publishing charges.

     In 2017 UC paid Elsevier more than $10 million for access to not quite two thousand journals, and UC authors paid nearly $1 million on top of that in article publishing fees. In addition, many campus units subscribe to Elsevier’s non-journal research tools, bringing the total systemwide spend to more than $11.5 million.

     In the larger sense, UC is paying even more. Countless UC faculty members and researchers publish in Elsevier journals, review manuscripts for those journals, or serve on the journals’ editorial boards. The company is making its almost forty percent profit margins off your intellectual capital and uncompensated work.

     We hope that Elsevier will see the sound business logic of signing a new contract that reduces the UC system’s total expenditures and eliminates double-dipping. But we want you to be aware and to consider your options:

♦ Leverage UC’s open access policies and the UC eScholarship repository to make your final pre-publication manuscripts publicly accessible.
♦ If you’re on the editorial board of an Elsevier journal, contact the publisher and let them know that you share our concerns.
♦ Look at other journal publishing options, including prestigious open access journals in your discipline. Contact your subject librarian for additional information and assistance.
♦ Consider declining to review articles for Elsevier journals until we can see that negotiations are moving in a positive direction.

     I will update you as soon as there is any news on the progress of the negotiations. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me by phone at 310.825.1201 or email:
vsteel@library.ucla.edu.

Source: https://t.e2ma.net/message/a2uruj/a61ry

Wow! There is a Lesson Here for Title 9 Adjudications


We have noted in past posts that Title 9 cases with decisions in which due process appears absent or inadequate will not be ratified by the courts. This case goes back to 2015. Since that time, hopefully other adjudicatory procedures have been adopted, or should have been adopted, pursuant to UC policy. But even assuming that is so, why would the university not have settled before it got the verdict above?
In any case, the university might consider following procedures similar to what occurs under its own union-management agreements in grievance matters. In grievance cases, after internal procedures are exhausted, the matter goes to an outside neutral (an arbitrator in the union contract situation). The neutral could be an arbitrator or perhaps a retired judge, but someone who will follow sufficient due process so that external courts will respect the opinion. There are lots of variants of this proposal that could be adopted.
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UCSB Student Accused of Sexual Assault Gets Suspension Tossed on Appeal
"Noticeably absent was even a semblance of due process," wrote the court. "When the accused does not receive a fair hearing, neither does the accuser."
By Ross Todd | October 10, 2018 at 07:16 PM | The Recorder, Law.com 
A state appellate court has overturned the suspension of a University of California, Santa Barbara student who was barred from campus and classes for two years after a school disciplinary committee found that he sexually assaulted another student. 
The Second District Court of Appeal on Tuesday found that the suspended student, referred to as John Doe in court papers, was denied access to a critical report made by the Santa Barbara County Sexual Assault Response Team about his accuser’s medical examination and was therefore denied the opportunity to adequately cross-examine witnesses. The court also found that the university’s review process denied Doe the opportunity to present defense evidence, and that he wasn’t provided a fair hearing by the two-member university committee which reviewed his case. 
“Noticeably absent” in the university’s process “was even a semblance of due process,” wrote Justice Arthur Gilbert. “When the accused does not receive a fair hearing, neither does the accuser.” 
John Doe’s attorney, Arthur Willner, partner at Leader Berkon Colao & Silverstein, said in a phone interview Wednesday that he hopes that the university will “expunge this all from his record” since his client has served out the suspension while his appeal has been pending. 
Discussing the Court of Appeal’s published opinion, Willner said “there’s a lot in there that’s going to be helpful for students down the line in similar cases.”  
The accuser in the case alleges that John Doe sexually assaulted her one night in June 2015 while she was asleep on a mattress in the living room of his apartment. She claimed he aggressively fondled her breasts, removed the bottom half of her clothing; and penetrated her vagina and anus without her consent while she was incapacitated. 
Doe claimed that he slept facing away from his accuser atop sheets she was under. The mattress was just feet from two witnesses, including his girlfriend and the accuser’s best friend at the time, who both testified that the accuser’s version of the events was not physically possible. 
In Tuesday’s opinion, the Court of Appeal noted that a campus detective who investigated the case and testified at Doe’s hearing cited findings from the Santa Barbara County Sexual Assault Response Team’s report which stated there was “bruising and laceration noted in anal area.” Doe, however, wasn’t given access to the full report, and the detective declined to speculate if anything other than what Jane alleged could have caused the injuries.
Doe also wasn’t given the name of the antidepressant medication his accuser was taking—Viibryd—until the night before his hearing. The accuser refused to answer questions about the side effects of the drug or its interactions with alcohol. When Doe attempted to get the details of those side effects—which can include hallucinations, sleep paralysis and night terrors—into evidence through testimony from his mother, the university’s general counsel cut off the line of question. (Doe had counsel at the hearing who was not allowed to participate.) 
In Tuesday’s opinion, Gilbert noted that the university committee had “placed John in a catch-22.” 
“[H]e learned the name of the medication Jane was taking too late to allow him to obtain an expert opinion, but the Committee precluded John from offering evidence of the side effects of Viibryd without an expert,” Gilbert wrote. He was joined in his opinion by  Justices Kenneth Yegan and Steven Perren. 
A university spokeswoman didn’t respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday. 
Willner, Doe’s lawyer, pointed out that his client has sued the individual campus officials involved in his case in federal court for deprivation of civil rights. That case has been stayed pending the outcome of the state court appeal and is now poised to move forward, Willner said. 
Said Willner: “What was so egregious about this was the due process violations were so significant and so extensive that, in my view, the hearing committee handled it in a way that was designed to reach the result that they did.” 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

UCPath comes to UCLA

One employee's problem below:

Submission: UCPath payroll system ineffective, a bureaucratic disaster

Sergio Sanchez is a stationary engineer with the facilities management team at UCLA.

Posted: October 8, 2018, Daily Bruin

UCPath handling UCLA’s payroll? Say hello to a world of nuisances.

The University of California Payroll, Academic Personnel, Timekeeping and Human Resources project, a central payroll management system for the UC campuses, was launched by Associated Students UCLA at the beginning of this year and implemented in September. The new system is meant to streamline and standardize the employee payroll process.

But it was a terrible idea for the most part. The change involved taking the payroll system from individual UC campuses and consolidating all payroll into just two locations: UC Merced for Northern California and UC Riverside for Southern California – a recipe for nightmare.

The new system restricts our local payroll departments from viewing or adding in our payroll information, thereby rendering them unable to answer any questions or to resolve our concerns. All they can do is offer a phone number for UCPath that keeps you on hold for about 15 minutes.

So we may ask, “Why doesn’t UCLA just cut me a check that I can walk over and pick up?” And the answer is the same: UCLA has lost the ability to write a check for an employee who may be in need of his hard-earned money in order to make payments, buy groceries or even put gas in his car just to be able to get to work.

And it’s especially bad when you’re one of the employees who does not receive a paycheck because of the system and has to contact the UCPath hotline. The people on the other end of the phone do not have answers and cannot tell you when your check will be sent out.

The process is even more inane when you have to resolve errors in configuring the deposit system. Through multiple attempts at fixing my direct deposit setup, the UCPath employees ended up entering the wrong account numbers, inadvertently locking me out of my account section where I should be making those changes.

And when I sought help, I was only given the standard answer that UCPath would get back to me but to not expect a phone call even though I requested the operator call to keep me updated. The reply I received in a standard email was that I could not make any changes to the bank account information of my UCPath profile, since I had attempted to make too many changes in a single day. I hadn’t personally made a single change to my account.

So much for making the process easier for employees.

After my two calls, I was told I should fix the account numbers myself, and that it would take two weeks to see if the problem was fixed. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if UCPath could use my banking information that UCLA used just last month?

I had been receiving direct deposits for 11 years without a problem via UCLA’s previous payroll system. Employees were told it would be an easy transition to UCPath: If we didn’t have any changes and our direct deposit was not changed, we wouldn’t have to do anything and our direct deposit would be uninterrupted.

That was wishful thinking. If you try to call the local personal payroll department, employees tend to inform you that your information can only be viewed by those working for UCPath. Do yourself a favor and log onto UCPath to see if your personal information and emergency contact information were ever transferred over. Many of my coworkers and I have found those vital details to all be missing now.

Some of my colleagues even have money going to different bank accounts. Instead of the direct deposit going to their checking accounts, it now ends up in their savings, making them default on loans because of automatic billing systems they had hooked up to dedicated accounts months before.

These problems are ridiculous. The UC needs to give some access back to universities’ local payroll personnel to better direct us and help with our problems. And in this day and age, it is absurd that it takes more than a few keystrokes to get your direct deposit fixed in a day or two.

UCPath’s streamlining has resulted in employees like myself waiting a week and a half for checks we don’t even know if the University is going to send because they have to be mailed out of UC Riverside and cannot be written at UCLA.

Calling UCPath a mess is an understatement. The process has been botched from the beginning, and the least employees deserve is to be paid for their hard work.

Source: http://dailybruin.com/2018/10/08/submission-ucpath-payroll-system-ineffective-a-bureaucratic-disaster/

Talking to the News Media as an Academic

The American Economic Association has a Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession. The Committee puts out an online newsletter. The latest newsletter focuses on hints for academics being interviewed by news media reporters (print, TV, etc.). The hints are equally applicable to all academics, not just economists. You can read it at:
https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=8051

Buy Low; Cell High

From Captive International, Oct. 8, 2018:

The University of California (UC) has received regulatory approval for the formation of a new protected cell company, Eureka Insurance Company PCC. The new cell captive has been formed in the District of Columbia. It follows the formation of UC's other captives - Fiat Lux and UC Health RRG, a reciprocal risk retention group.

Eureka PCC was established to provide financial and regulatory efficiencies when incorporating new, additional captives to re/insure certain risks emanating from university activities. UC explained that Eureka PCC will be utilised as the "core company" in a cell captive insurance company arrangement and will not be a risk-bearing entity.

The captive is set to sponsor additional incorporated cell captive insurance companies with which to insure certain risks relevant to UC. The first incorporated cell captive to be sponsored by Eureka will be Eureka One ICC, which may reinsure employee/employer paid life insurance policies to University employees.

UC's captive insurance assets under management came to $0.9 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018. Formed in 2012, Fiat Lux is the single parent captive for the University of California system, which consists of 10 universities, five medical centers, three national laboratories, 280,000 employees and writes over 25 lines of coverage. US Health RRG is a separate reciprocal risk retention group that has been formed, providing professional liability to physicians at its five medical centers.

Source: https://www.captiveinternational.com/news/university-of-california-forms-pcc-2550
=================
No, we're not sure what the implications of the above developments are, but they sound like a good Halloween tale:

What You Can Do at Age 90

How Do You Find an Alien Ocean? Margaret Kivelson Figured It Out: For forty years, the physicist at U.C.L.A. has been uncovering the outer solar system’s secrets. Few scientists know more about the mysteries of Jupiter and its icy moons.

By David W. Brown, Oct. 8, 2018, NY Times

LOS ANGELES — The data was like nothing Margaret Kivelson and her team of physicists ever expected.

It was December 1996, and the spacecraft Galileo had just flown by Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. The readings beamed back to Earth suggested a magnetic field emanating from the moon. Europa should not have had a magnetic field, yet there it was — and not even pointed in the right direction.

“This is unexpected,” she recalled saying as the weird data rolled in. “And that’s wonderful.”

It would be the most significant of a series of surprises from the Jovian moons. For Dr. Kivelson’s team, the mission should not have been this exciting.

She and her colleagues had devised the magnetometer returning the anomalous data. The instrument’s job was to measure Jupiter’s massive magnetic field and any variations caused by its moons. Those findings were likely to interest space physicists, but few others. Dr. Kivelson’s instrument was never supposed to change the course of space exploration.

And then it did. Dr. Kivelson and her team would soon prove that they had discovered the first subsurface, saltwater ocean on an alien world.

Dr. Kivelson, who will turn 90 this month, is professor emerita of space physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. For forty years she has been an active part of almost every major NASA voyage beyond the asteroid belt. She has a wry sense of humor, and her modesty belies the magnitude of her scientific achievements.

Her team transformed the way magnetometers are used on space missions, making them an essential tool of discovery. Having established, essentially, the art of ocean detection, the outer solar system is now a hot zone in the search for habitability.

Most recently, Dr. Kivelson is a co-investigator working on the plasma instrument for the Europa Clipper, NASA’s next great voyage to the outer solar system. Scheduled to launch as early as 2022, the spacecraft will study the habitability of Jupiter’s ocean moon. Her work will help answer whether life could be there by determining the ocean’s depth and salinity, and the thickness of the ice shell above it.

But the story started with Galileo’s unusual encounters with Jupiter’s moons. Inscrutable Europa, it turned out, had its own way of doing things.

“We came up with a lot of wrong ideas,” said Dr. Kivelson. Years after the first flyby, however, they found their answer.

Dr. Kivelson was born in New York City. Her father was a physician. Her mother was a schoolteacher. Margy, as her friends call her, excelled in mathematics at an early age.

“I liked it,” she said. “I thought it was one of the easier subjects, and I knew that opinion was not common.”

She graduated and was accepted to Harvard, which formally excluded women, consigning them officially to Radcliffe College — a separate school without a faculty. Harvard professors would walk across the commons to repeat their lectures to women. “Women were not invited into the Harvard classrooms,” she said.

It was there that she found physics, which allowed her to use math in such a way that answers had to make physical sense.

“I had the good fortune of starting my studies at a time when physics was regarded as the most exciting field. This was right after World War II,” she said. “Physicists had saved the world with the atom bomb and radar. And suddenly people noticed that physics was not only a wonderfully fundamental discipline, but that it was also useful.”

By her sophomore year, there were no separate classes. In the wonderland of the atomic age, physics professors no longer had time to repeat their lectures. “It was ridiculous to lecture to 10 women for one hour and then to 400 men the next,” she said.

Not that the situation suddenly improved for Harvard women. When she entered the physics graduate program, she was often the only woman in her classes.

In 1955, she joined the RAND Corporation, a firm founded to provide research to the Defense Department, including nuclear weapons research. She was assigned to work on an equation describing the state of hydrogen at a pressure equivalent to one million Earth atmospheres.

“There are two places where you run into that kind of pressure in hydrogen,” she said. “One of them is in a hydrogen bomb, and the other is at the center of Jupiter.”
At a Dept. of Defense seminar in 1964

Her background in theoretical physics and eventual expertise in celestial science brought her to U.C.L.A. in 1967. Her RAND research made her the local expert on Jupiter, and she soon became well known in space physics for her theoretical work on some of the most fundamental ideas in the field.

Following the Voyager spacecraft’s encounter with Jupiter in 1979, scientists at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco debated how the moon Io could drive a mysterious million-amp current between itself and Jupiter.

Dr. Fran Bagenal, professor emerita of planetary science at the University of Colorado, recalled Dr. Kivelson’s contributions to that debate.

“This small, diminutive woman — who was not officially on the Voyager team, but writing papers and thinking about the problem — walks into the room, walks to the podium, pulls down the microphone so she could be heard and speaks her case, and shatters everyone’s ideas in the room,” Dr. Bagenal said of the scene at the conference.

“She ended up being correct in the end,” Dr. Bagenal added. “She was not to be argued with. She knew her stuff.”

When NASA announced what would become the Galileo mission to Jupiter, Dr. Kivelson was well positioned to propose a magnetometer.

“I was very immersed in the science that was already available related to Jupiter’s magnetic field and particle environment,” she said.

As the proposal deadline neared, she spent weeks working each day until midnight. When her instrument was chosen, “the champagne came out,” she said. “Everybody was really thrilled.”

Galileo entered orbit around Jupiter in 1995. The first major discovery by Dr. Kivelson and her team was an internal magnetic field on Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon.

Dr. Carol Paty, an associate professor of earth sciences at the University of Oregon, said nobody really expected an object so small and cold to have the chemistry, thermodynamics and interior structure necessary to create its own magnetic field.

“Its discovery reshaped the scientific understanding of the inner workings of planetary bodies,” she said.

Then came the series of encounters between Europa and Galileo.

Geologists had suspected that the icy moon once had a subsurface ocean, but could not say whether it still existed or had frozen solid long ago. That would still be a mystery were it not for the anomalous data received by the Galileo magnetometer.

Something strange was happening, and Dr. Kivelson and her vexed team worked out several ways of explaining it. That’s when they came on the idea that Europa’s magnetic field was being induced by Jupiter.

“It is the same principle governing the metal detector at an airport,” said Dr. Krishan Khurana, a geophysicist at U.C.L.A. who was part of the ocean’s discovery.

When you walk through the gate, a metal detector produces a high-frequency magnetic wave. If there is a key in your pocket, the wave causes a current to flow through the key, which in turn generates a little magnetic field of its own. This induced magnetic field is what triggers the metal detector.

How it might work on a Jovian scale: As Europa moves through Jupiter’s magnetic field, a current courses through a subsurface conductor of some sort on the moon, creating a miniature magnetic field flipped to oppose the field of Jupiter. This, in effect, set off the Galileo metal detector.

The hypothesis was not conclusive, however. It was possible that Europa had its own odd, intrinsic magnetic field, which only happened to be oriented opposite to Jupiter’s.

Because Jupiter’s magnetic equator (as opposed to its geographic equator) is tilted by 10 degrees, sometimes Europa is above it, and sometimes below it. What the magnetometer team needed were measurements when Europa was on the other side of the tilt.

If the moon’s magnetic field changed directions, that would mean the field was induced by Jupiter — and therefore possessed an internal conductor. The only thing that would fit the bill would be a subsurface, saltwater ocean.

Dr. Kivelson made the case to the Galileo project for a flyby of Europa at a specific orientation — no small request given a spacecraft with limited resources flying on borrowed time. She prevailed, and the flyby in January 2000 found precisely what models made by her team had predicted: definitive evidence of a global ocean.

“It’s one of the most fundamental discoveries ever in planetary science,” said Dr. Louise Prockter, the director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. “It spawned a revolution, really.”

Dr. Robert Pappalardo, the project scientist of NASA’s pending Europa Clipper mission said the discovery had ramifications not only for Europa but for the entire solar system.

“It really swung the pendulum toward the plausibility of oceans in icy worlds,” he said. “We went pretty quickly from ‘maybe’ to ‘almost certainly’ to ‘where else?’ That was a pretty quick transition, considering the term ‘ocean world’ didn’t even exist back then. Now it’s a class of objects, thanks to Margy’s fundamental work.”

Dr. Kivelson is not finished unlocking the secrets of Jupiter.

In addition to her work on the upcoming Europa Clipper, she is contributing to the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission, expected to launch in 2022. And her own research focuses on a longstanding puzzle in the gas giant’s magnetosphere related to the mysterious heating of plasma as it diffuses outward from Io.

She still works in her office each day and hosts a weekly dinner and meeting on Wednesday nights at U.C.L.A. for graduate students and faculty, a tradition she started 33 years ago.

Attendees share their current research and discuss the latest advances in space physics. The reviews of one another’s work can be rollicking — sharp and animated, but not heated or antagonistic. Participants spend hours critiquing equations and models projected onto a white screen. When challenged, they take to a blackboard, leaving behind a chalky mélange of exponents, cosines and the Greek alphabet.

When laptops lining the table fail them, the scientists dash to their offices to pull out fifty-year-old textbooks to win one point or another. Humor punctuates disagreements, and attendees pass chocolate around the table as they work.

At a recent session, Steve Tomlinson, a graduate student, faced constant questioning from nine physicists as he presented research on structures in the sun’s coronal mass ejections.

Dr. Kivelson was in the thick of it, probing for answers and deeper reflection, her questions leading Mr. Tomlinson to better explain his work.

“It looks as if you have a very nice set of problems here,” said Dr. Kivelson, content with what she had seen after an hour of inquiry and ready for the next presentation.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/08/science/margaret-kivelson-europa.html

Monday, October 8, 2018