Friday, November 30, 2018

And more on saving...

Cautionary notice being circulated by UC benefit authorities:

We want to make you aware of unauthorized solicitations being sent to UC employees at several campuses [including ours].  These emails are intentionally misleading and suggest that UC is endorsing their services – we are NOT. 

UC contracts exclusively with Fidelity Investments for all financial education and guidance services.  This dedicated team is well-versed in UC retirement benefits and can meet with faculty and staff onsite.  Anyone interested in having a one-on-one consultation with an approved UC-dedicated retirement planner can make an appointment at      

Thank you for helping to protect the financial security of our people.  Here is the suspicious solicitation:

Employee [redacted],
Each year, as an employee of University of California, you are eligible to sit down one-on-one with a representative for answers to your specific state, federal and individual retirement benefit questions.
Receive complimentary information that tells you:
1. What your expected income will be from CalSTRS/CalPERS when you retire.         
2. How much longer you will have to work.
3. How you can save more money for retirement, without affecting your take home pay.
4. Learn which 401(a) options have Guaranteed income when you retire.
Daytime appointments fill up quickly. To secure your spot, click the link below, or simply reply "yes" to this email. [redacted]
 All licensed representatives are not employees of the college or CalSTRS/CalPERS.
 To be taken off future mailings, please respond to this email by clicking the following link: [redacted]
We might add that the email is immediately suspicious since it refers to CalSTRS/CalPERS rather than UCRS. And it goes without saying that you should never click on links in suspicious emails, even to links that promise to remove you from future mailings.

Unrelated/Related Saving

UC, like other public entities in California, offers a variety of voluntary and mandatory retirement saving plans to employees of both the defined benefit and defined contribution variety.

Problems in pension funding for the public defined-benefit pension plans have led to a continuing political drumbeat to abolish such plans, cut them back, etc. Although many of the issues don't apply to UC, it tends to be caught up in general state political trends.

One argument made against public pensions is that many private employees have no retirement plans of any type at all. To deflect such criticism, the legislature has created a new state retirement program for almost all private employees. It will soon begin on a voluntary basis and later become a mandate. You can read about it in the item below. Basically, the plan simply will require private employers without their own plans to join the state system. But the plan is employee-funded and employers are not responsible for results, administrative costs, etc. Individual employees default into the plan but can opt out at any time.

Whether the new plan will have the intended political effect - including on UCRS - is, of course, unknown at this early date.

From the Sacramento Bee: A new state-sponsored savings plan let Lorenzo Harris offer his workers something he’s long wanted to give them: A way to sock away money for retirement.

“This program will help us compete in the marketplace,” said Harris, who has led Janico Building Services of North Highlands for the past 33 years.

His company is the first in the state to enroll in CalSavers, a program that will become mandatory over the next few years for private-sector businesses that are not already offering their own retirement savings plans.

Harris embraced CalSavers by signing up for its testing phase. Over the next six months, his is one of the companies that will help the state work out flaws as it prepares for a wider launch on July 1, 2019. CalSavers is recruiting more companies for the pilot phase.

When it’s fully running, CalSavers will automatically deduct 5 percent of wages from worker paychecks to build long-term savings accounts for them. Workers’ keep the savings when they change jobs...

Website of CalSavers:

Thursday, November 29, 2018


It could have been worse.
From this morning's Bruin: Students and administration officials found Murphy Hall flooded Thursday morning due to heavy rainfall. The flood at Murphy Hall started around 8 a.m., according to UCLA Facilities Management. Some campus services experienced interruptions due to the flooding. 

The financial aid office temporarily relocated across the hall as plumbers worked to handle the flood. The registrar’s office also experienced a closure, but was fully open by 10 a.m.

Nurit Katz, executive officer of Facilities Management, said that clogged roof drains caused the air conditioning pipes to malfunction and flood the offices. 

The Fernald Child Study Center and the Center for the Health Sciences also experienced flooding, Katz said...

Full story at

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Civil Berkeley

From Inside Higher Ed: Last year, the University of California, Berkeley, campus literally erupted in flames as a planned speech by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos devolved into violence: stones and fireworks were hurled at police, windows were shattered, riots turned injurious. Though the destruction then came from off-campus groups, for the next few months, highly public battles around free expression were waged at the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement.

...But more than a year later, the Berkeley campus is seemingly free of such drama. It has hosted controversial right-wing figures such as TurningPoint USA leaders Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, commentator Heather Mac Donald and talk-radio host Dennis Prager with little incident. Students and administrators credit the change in part to the intent of the speakers coming to the university: not to rile up the student body, but instead to engage in discussion. The speakers voiced conservative views but did not insult Berkeley students or groups of students, as others had previously.

This follows two shifts on campus. Most recently, the university’s free speech policies were revised, after being vetted by a university commission. And new student groups were founded intent on promoting “civil dialogue”... 

The main change in the rules (on an interim basis) is designed to cut down on potential disruptions. The West Crescent area of the Berkeley campus will essentially serve as a space where large-scale protests can be held at any time. It is now exempt from the institution’s major events policy, which requires advance notice to plan events, among other stipulations...

Full story at

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Things to Come May Be Here

From time to time, this blog has carried stories about the litigation involving UC and UC-Berkeley in the US and abroad on patent rights to CRISPR, a gene-editing technique, most recently on Oct. 31.*

It appears that the recent flurry of stories about an alleged use of gene editing in China to produce "designer babies" involves CRISPR. From NPR:

For the first time, a scientist claims to have used a powerful new gene-editing technique to create genetically modified human babies. The scientist, He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, says he used human embryos modified with the gene-editing technique CRISPR to create twin girls.
"Two beautiful little Chinese girls name Lulu and Nana came crying into the world as healthy as any other babies a few weeks ago," He says in a video posted online. "The babies are home now with their mom Grace and their dad Mark."
He says his team performed "gene surgery" on embryos created from their parents' sperm and eggs to protect the children from the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, which causes AIDS. The children's father is HIV-positive... Because the research has not yet been published in a scientific journal or carefully vetted by other scientists, many researchers and bioethicists remain cautious about the claim...
Full story at

Monday, November 26, 2018


In Saturday's post about the meeting on Nov. 13 of the Regents' Investment Subcommittee, we noted that there was significant discussion of private equity vs. public. Today, publishes a piece about the same topic in the context of CalPERS. CalPERS, unlike UC, has had scandals related to private equity (and prison sentences). Part of the problem has been potentially high administrative costs of private equity investments. The theme of the article is that nowadays, CalPERS has more transparency about what it does in the private equity field than it did in the days of scandal.

One has the sense that the private equity topic arose at the Nov. 13 meeting because those in the pension world, whether at CalPERS or UCRP, are under ongoing pressure to earn 7+ percent returns - the rate assumed in the plans - but believe that 6+ percent is more likely. The world of California public pensions, while big in dollars, is not so large in terms of the number of decision makers who make investment choices. What gets discussed at CalPERS and about CalPERS gets discussed by UC's pension and investment managers.

The article is at:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Harvard Admissions - Part 16

What next for Harvard’s affirmative action case? It’s complicated

By Deirdre Fernandes, Boston Globe, Nov. 24, 2018

All sides have prepared for the Harvard University admissions case to land in front of the Supreme Court, with the justices ultimately weighing in on the future of affirmative action for the next generation of college students. But it may not be that simple.

Several legal experts say it’s possible that the justices may give the case a pass, given the complexity of the arguments, the racially tense climate of the country, and the fact that they’ve grappled with the issue as recently as 2016.

“This is a complicated case at a particularly fraught moment,” said Rachel Moran, the former dean of the University of California Los Angeles School of Law. “It’s a messy case. It’s a very, very important case. I wouldn’t say the path to the Supreme Court is uncomplicated or unswerving.”

The groundbreaking trial, which recently concluded in Boston federal court, has raised questions about discrimination, bias, and diversity in college admissions with broad implications not just for Harvard, but higher education generally. The case seems poised to test the Supreme Court’s commitment to affirmative action in higher education. But unlike previous such legal challenges that focused on public colleges, this one contests the independence of a private institution to set its own mission and standards for admissions. The case also follows recent affirmative action decisions and comes at a time when the country’s politics and culture are increasingly frayed along racial lines, Moran said.

The court may want to take a breather, she said.

But the recent appointments by President Trump of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court may change that calculus, other experts said.

Conservatives have solidified power on the court and may be primed to end or further limit the use of race in college admissions, said Theodore Shaw, the director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

“It has a greater chance . . . because the court has changed,” Shaw said.

A potential Supreme Court battle is still a few years away, and opponents of affirmative action have other cases in the pipeline, ensuring that the issue will remain on the legal forefront.

Students for Fair Admissions, the group that accused Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants, has also sued the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, alleging that its use of race in admissions penalizes Asian-American and white students. That case is still in the discovery stage.

This fall, the Justice Department launched an investigation into whether Yale University unlawfully discriminates against Asian-American applicants based on race.

And earlier this month, Richard Sander, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law, and the nonprofit Asian American Community Services Center, filed a state lawsuit demanding undergraduate enrollment and admissions data from the California university system. Sander and George Shen, the president of the Asian American Community Services Center, have raised questions about whether the university system is abiding by the California voter-approved ban on the use of affirmative action in admissions.

For now though, the focus is on Allison Burroughs, the Boston federal district court judge who will review hours of testimony and reams of data to determine whether Harvard’s admissions policy harms Asian-Americans applicants, and if so, what is the appropriate remedy.

The earliest Burroughs could rule is this spring. She will play a crucial role by establishing the central facts of the case, laying the framework for future appeals.

“There’s a lot of evidence. It was a long trial,” said Angela Onwuachi-Willig, the dean of Boston University School of Law. “Given the import of the decision . . . the district court judge is going to want to be very, very careful.”

Students for Fair Admissions claims that the university discriminates against Asian-American applicants and is seeking to end affirmative action in college admissions.

Over the three-week trial, the organization, founded by conservative activist Edward Blum, argued that Asian-Americans, despite their higher academic achievements and their strong extracurricular participation, received lower personal scores on character traits such as courage and leadership from Harvard’s admissions officials. Those personal scores are crucial to gaining admission to Harvard, where more than 42,000 of the country’s brightest high school seniors compete for just 1,600 seats every year. The personal scores are subjective and tinged with implicit racial bias, Students for Fair Admissions alleged.

Harvard denies that it discriminates against Asian-Americans.

Harvard’s top brass, from its former president to its longtime dean of admissions, took the stand to stress that the university’s evaluation system is nuanced, complex, and designed to ensure a diverse campus that benefits all students. Harvard contends that Students for Fair Admissions cherry-picked data and that its analysis of the university’s admissions process is flawed.

The lawsuit is unusual. Previous affirmative action cases have claimed that white applicants were at a disadvantage, and they have involved public colleges. Generally, private institutions have more leeway to set their missions, diversity goals, and standards for applicants.

In addition, Students for Fair Admissions spent much of the trial suggesting that implicit or unconscious bias is at play in the process. Harvard’s admissions officers may be stereotyping Asian-American students, evaluating them as quiet, bookish, and less appealing than white, black, or Hispanic applicants, Students for Fair Admissions alleged.

“When you have a subjective process and we know that bias is possible, bias around race, bias around gender, the fact that Asian-American applicants face a statistically significant penalty on the subjective personal rating year after year is pretty strong evidence that bias has crept into, leaked into the system,” John Hughes, an attorney for Students for Fair Admissions said in his closing statement. “We don’t have to prove racist cabal.”

But showing intent has been key in discrimination cases in the past and unconscious bias remains a fairly new standard, legal experts said.

“All courts have been very narrow in looking at nonconscious bias,” Onwuachi-Willig said. “If the court finds implicit bias is enough . . . it would change antidiscrimination law.”

Still, the fact that Asian-Americans as a group receive lower personal scores remains an open issue in the case and could help Students for Fair Admissions, said Vikram David Amar, dean of University of Illinois College of Law.

“If we were back in the 1950s, if African-American and Jews were getting low personal scores as a group . . . I think we would have said, ‘Wait a second, what’s going on?’ ” Amar said.

If Burroughs finds that Harvard’s admissions process is hurting Asian-American applicants, the solution doesn’t necessarily have to be race-neutral admissions, as Students for Fair Admissions has urged, Amar said.

Burroughs could suggest remedies, such as more training for admissions officers or tweaks to the process that would address any potential bias, he said.

Whether that would satisfy Harvard or Students for Fair Admissions is uncertain. Both sides have indicated that they are likely to appeal Burroughs’s ruling if they lose.

How those appeals play out could also determine whether the Supreme Court steps in, Amar said.

Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action in college admissions have traditionally been few and far between.

In 1978, the court declared that affirmative action was constitutional but barred quotas in the Bakke decision involving the University of California system.

In 2003, the court upheld affirmative action in a 5-4 vote in a case over the University of Michigan’s admissions practices. The court didn’t take up the issue again until it considered the University of Texas Austin’s admissions policy in 2013 and more fully in 2016, deciding 4-3 that colleges could use race as one factor in considering applicants and creating a diverse student body.

“It doesn’t seem that the Supreme Court has a history of taking these cases frequently,” Amar said. “But maybe Kavanaugh and Gorsuch have a different attitude.” 


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Listen to the Regents Investments Subcommittee Meeting of Nov. 13, 2018

We are finally catching up with the Regents meeting of Nov. 13-15 with the Investments Subcommittee of Nov. 13. There is discussion (although not in this session), by the way, of making this subcommittee into a full-fledged committee and giving it some authority to approve related salaries, etc. 

The purpose of these meetings, one supposes, is to demonstrate due diligence and responsibility of the Regents for the various funds under UC management. During periods in which market returns are strong, there is a report of the happy news. During periods in which there are market difficulties, there is much talk about risk, taking the long view, patience, holding down administrative costs, creative steps to reduce excess liquidity so as to obtain higher returns, public equities vs. private and how to decide how much to put into the latter, etc.

As the S&P 500 chart suggests, this meeting took place in a difficult period. Things were booming along until the start of 2018. Thereafter, problems arose. So the meeting reflected that development.

On the other hand, there was no explicit discussion of the recent bad PR received by the Office of the Chief Investment Officer that we have noted in prior posts:

You can hear the audio of the meeting at the link below:

or direct to:

We are not quite done with the Regents in 2018. There will be an off-cycle meeting of the health committee on Dec. 11 (which we will duly preserve).

Friday, November 23, 2018

UCLA History: Overgrown Rock

By the 1930s, Founders' Rock had become rather overgrown. (It was cleaned up and moved in the 1940s to a less conspicuous location where it sits today between the Law School and Murphy Hall (on the Murphy side).

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Timing is Everything

But thanks anyway.

UCLA History: Thanks for the Free Parking...

...back in the 1930s, anyway.

And here is the requisite annual op ed from the NY Times explaining that Thanksgiving didn't happen "the-way-you-were-taught":
But then again, you probably weren't taught "the-way-you-were-taught" unless you are as old as yours truly (in which case you probably don't remember).

To put it all in perspective, we can suggest the "we croak" app for your phone which reminds you five times a day that you will die:
Just go to to download for iPhone and Android. No need to thank me for the tip.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

UCLA History: View from Royce

The view from the steps of Royce Hall in 1930

PS: Yours truly has one remaining piece of the November Regents meeting to post: the Investments Subcommittee session of last Tuesday. It will be done soon.

Monday, November 19, 2018


From the Daily Bruin's editors:

Step one for creating a payroll system: make sure it works. That’s where we seemed to have lost the University of California. After four years of delays and mishaps, you would be forgiven for thinking the worst was over for the UC Payroll, Academic Personnel, Timekeeping and Human Resources. The University has touted UCPath for years as an efficient, centralized payment system that could greatly reduce spending.

But seven years after its initiative began, the University outdid itself: UCPath jeopardized hundreds of students’ and workers’ livelihoods by failing to pay them for almost two months.

The UC’s game of payroll limbo follows a history of botchery. In 2015, just four years after the project began, the UC announced delays to the system’s launch would cause an increase in initial costs by $45 million. The state released an audit in August of 2017 claiming the implementation of UCPath would cost $942 million, rather than the UC’s estimated $504 million. And before system rollout at UCLA in December 2017, the University announced another delay to allow for more testing.

The testing didn’t seem to help much. Two months after UCPath finally launched in Westwood, a number of UCLA employees – including teaching assistants, graders and tutors – reported missing or incorrect payments. This ought to be the final straw for the University’s mishandling of UCPath. While previous mishaps in the implementation of UCPath were localized to just straining the UC’s budget, the latest error has directly impacted the lives of students and workers...

Listen to the Morning & Afternoon Sessions of the Regents: Nov. 14, 2018

We are going to take advantage of the summary in the Daily Bruin of the various Regents' committees that met on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018:

Julia Shapero, Nov. 16, 2018, Daily Bruin

The governing board of the University of California met for the second day of its November meeting at UC San Francisco on Wednesday (Nov. 14). The Board of Regents discussed veteran services, food insecurity programs and the outcomes of the 2018 midterm elections.

Board of Regents

A number of students who spoke during the public comment section urged the UC to divest from fossil fuels, saying that investment in fossil fuels is equivalent to the endorsement of fossil fuels. A fourth-year student from UC Berkeley suggested that the UC follow the lead of the University of Massachusetts, which was the first major public university to divest from fossil fuels.

Students urged the UC to approve the creation of the basic needs special committee in order to ensure the success of students from various socioeconomic backgrounds. A second-year student from UC Santa Cruz cited a survey that showed that 5 percent of students in the UC system during 2016 have experienced homelessness, which translates to about 10,500 students. He added that 44 percent of undergraduate and 26 percent of graduate students have experienced food insecurity.

A number of students representing California Public Interest Research Group commended the student voter turnout across the UC, while suggesting that the UC aim to improve voter turnout even more for the 2020 election. A student from UC Berkeley said the California youth voter turnout is up to 31 percent. Students also urged the regents to invest in further funding for students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, specifically for mental health and legal services.

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents more than 25,000 service workers and patient care technicians in the UC system, made up the majority of the public comment section. Many voiced frustrations with the UC over outsourcing and inequality, issues which prompted UC-wide strikes in May and October. The section ended with the members chanting, “If we don’t get it, shut it down,” and, “UC, UC, you can’t hide. We can see your greedy side.” They were met by a line of police officers, who counted down the minutes the members had until arrest. The group dispersed 30 seconds before arrest. Most students who spoke during the public comment section addressed AFSCME’s strike in October, saying they stood in solidarity with the union, and repeated the union’s mantra, “Enough is enough.”

UC President Janet Napolitano provided updates on the housing initiative she announced in 2016 that would add 14,000 affordable beds by fall 2020. The UC is currently on track to exceeding its goal and plans to add thousands more beds in the years to come, according to Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom’s presentation on the housing initiative.

Listen at:

or direct to:

There was also a routine Compliance and Audit Committee session.
Audio at:

Public Engagement and Development Committee

The committee examined the results of the 2018 midterm elections, its potential impacts on the UC and the future of the new Congress. According to Associate Vice Presidents Kieran Flaherty and Chris Harrington’s presentation, the elections led to new ex officio regents and the election of several UC alumni. They added that the shift in partisan control of the House of Representatives from Republican to Democrat may lead to more executive orders and create a divided government, which could lead to a gridlock.

The committee also discussed funding for food insecurity programs on the UC campuses, including efforts the UC has undertaken with the state to fund the initiative. The UC has also supported efforts by the state to analyze and better understand food insecurity.

Regent-designate Christine Simmons and Student Affairs Vice President Robin Holmes-Sullivan also discussed how to reduce the stigma around food insecurity programs, such as food pantries. Holmes-Sullivan suggested involving more students in food security efforts could encourage awareness and discussion of the issue on campus.

Edward Huang, student advisor to the Regents, emphasized that future food security programs should make it convenient for students to take advantage of the programs. He added that students often feel a mental burden in addition to the financial burden of obtaining food, as they do not always have time to cook.

Audio at:

Academic and Student Affairs Committee

(There was also a routine meeting of the National Labs subcommittee in this session.)

Listen at:

or direct to:

Finance and Capital Strategies

The regents provided an update on UCPath, citing its successful deployment in September at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. However, they acknowledged that students were having issues with the new system, as about 150 students at UCLA had difficulty receiving payments, and that improvements to the system still need to be made. They added they will work on identifying the problems with the system after restoring students’ pay. 

The committee also provided an overview of the 2019-2020 budget, which sets aside $60 million for degree attainment and student success, and $15 million for basic student needs.

Audio at:

Governance and Compensation Committee

The committee passed a motion to create a special committee on basic needs, which will focus on making sure students have access to nutritious food, stable housing and financial support. Approval would establish the special committee for two years.

Audio at:


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Nip and Tuck Contest Goes to Thurmond

In the election contest for state superintendent of schools, the post-election counting has flipped the race from Marshall Tuck, who appeared to be ahead the day after election, to Tony Thurmond. Tuck was identified with charter schools. Thurmond was more the K-12 establishment candidate. In practice, the superintendent mainly focuses on K-12. But the winner will sit as an ex officio regent in future regents meetings.

From EdSource:

Assemblyman Tony Thurmond has won the race for California state superintendent of public instruction, defeating Marshall Tuck in the nonpartisan contest. Two million ballots have yet to be counted but in a tweet he issued this morning, Thurmond said Tuck had conceded the race in a “gracious call to congratulate me and wish me well.” The most recent results showed Thurmond 152,000 votes ahead and leading Tuck 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent with 9 million votes tabulated...

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Listen to the Regents Meeting of Nov. 15, 2018

We'll jump ahead in our coverage of the Regents this past week to the final board meeting of Nov. 15. At public comments, such topics were raised as sexual assault, DACA students, fossil fuels, union issues such as outsourcing, and air quality.

Below is a summary from the LA Times. Links to the audio recording are below the summary.

UC regents approve budget to enroll 2,500 more California students without a tuition hike

LA Times, Teresa Watanabe, 11-15-18

University of California regents on Thursday approved a $9.3-billion budget that will add 2,500 more California undergraduates and increase support for struggling students without raising tuition in the next academic year.

The spending plan marks the first step in a four-year blueprint to boost enrollment, improve student success and reinvest in faculty and research. UC leaders say their hope is to reignite the “California Dream” for the next generation.

Regents, who ended a two-day meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, are hopeful that the political and financial uncertainties of the last several years are behind them, giving them breathing room to reimagine the future of the nation’s preeminent public research university system.

The efforts mark “an important shift in how we talk about what it is that we do, why it’s important to the state and why it deserves to be funded,” said Regent John A. Pérez.

UC has laid out a long-term goal of producing 200,000 more bachelor’s degrees by 2030, which would help close the state’s projected shortfall by that year of 1.1 million college graduates

UCLA and UC Berkeley have just about reached their on-campus capacity, enrolling between 40,000 and 45,000 students each. Other campuses — particularly UC Merced and UC Riverside — have more capacity to grow, but it will take more investments in housing, classrooms, labs and offices, according to a briefing paper from UC President Janet Napolitano’s office.

In addition to enrolling more students, officials say, UC must step up efforts to help them graduate. About two-thirds of students graduate within four years; the hope is to get that to 76% by 2030. Overall, nine of 10 UC students eventually graduate.

Getting students through more quickly will help them launch their careers earlier and will open up room on campuses for others. UC graduates earn $260,000 more during the first 10 years after graduation than undergraduates who drop out, the briefing paper says.

UC plans to lobby for legislation to allow low-income students to use Cal Grants for summer courses, which would help them graduate sooner.

The university also wants to better support faculty, lowering class sizes and helping them maintain the system’s national leadership in landing federal research dollars.

UC’s budget plan requests $277.6 million in additional state funding — including $63.8 million to avoid increases in tuition and student fees. Officials also are asking for $100 million in one-time funding to repair aging facilities. The university expects to raise $106 million more in tuition revenue from expanded enrollment and higher fees on nonresident students, and $70.4 million more from investments, philanthropy and cost savings, than it did in the current year budget.

All told, the increased revenue would pay for enrollment growth ($86.3 million), enhanced academic support ($60 million), faculty and staff raises ($137 million), building maintenance ($115 million) and health benefits, retirement and other mandatory costs ($119.8 million).

Some regents pushed for more funding after chancellors from UC Davis and UC Berkeley described their pressing need to repair leaking roofs, update electrical systems and retrofit aging buildings that could collapse in an earthquake.

Regent Sherry Lansing urged UC to pursue a statewide construction bond to raise money for seismic retrofitting. “I get very, very scared about endangering the students and structures,” she said.

Student Regent Devon Graves asked for money to help struggling students with food, shelter and other basic needs. Robert May, chairman of the UC Academic Senate, endorsed Graves’ suggestion and said faculty members have seen how hunger and housing instability directly affect academic performance.

Napolitano said her staff could add as much as $7.5 million for such basic needs to the budget, which regents will review in January after Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom releases his first spending plan.

Regents also approved a proposal by Graves and board Chairman George Kieffer to form a special regents’ committee on basic needs. The committee will spend two years visiting campuses and examining how the university can better support students.



Alternately, go directly to:

Friday, November 16, 2018

New Nine

The U.S. Dept. of Education has released revised Title 9 rules. It's not clear how much the rules will affect UC. Possibly, the cross-examination rule will have some effect.

From Inside Higher Ed:

...The regulation -- the first the federal government has issued on the matter -- was crafted to clarify requirements for colleges and to add due process protections for accused students. But women’s groups and advocates for survivors of sexual assault warn that it will undermine the rights of victims. And they say it will let colleges off the hook for not taking the issue of sexual misconduct seriously.
One of the rule's biggest changes from previous federal policy is that it would make institutions responsible only for investigating misconduct that occurred within a college's own programs. Advocates for victims had warned this would leave institutions off the hook for incidents that occurred off-campus but documents released by the department Friday emphasize that geography alone does not dictate whether misconduct falls under the purview of Title IX.
The proposed regulation also would allow colleges to set their own evidentiary standard for making findings of misconduct. And it would require that colleges allow for cross-examination of students in those campus proceedings -- a major point of contention -- although no interaction by the parties themselves would be allowed.
Although groups that represent accused students have welcomed many of the changes advanced by the Trump administration, the biggest beneficiaries of the rule may be colleges themselves. Some institutions, under pressure from campus activists, have said they will maintain standards introduced under the Obama administration. But the rule could significantly reduce the liability of colleges...
Full story at

UCLA History: Fashion

A 1930 photo with a caption indicating it depicts a fashion show of the Associated Women Students of UCLA.
Note: Yours truly is in transit. However, he has - as promised - now succeeded in preserving the full Regents meeting in audio format of this past week. We will be reviewing it and putting it on the blog in the future as time permits.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Harvard Admissions - Part 15

We noted in earlier posts that the Harvard admissions lawsuit might not have any fallout for UC because of the voter-enacted proposition that bans affirmative action in California public higher ed. It appears, from the NY Times article below, that there may be an exception, especially if (as expected) the issue eventually ends up at the Supreme Court.

With Echoes of Harvard Case, University of California Faces Admissions Scrutiny

By Anemona Hartocollis, NY Times, Nov. 15, 2018

An academic who studies affirmative action filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the University of California system, seeking access to a trove of records that he says could reveal whether the system defied state law by surreptitiously reintroducing race as a factor in admissions.

The lawsuit comes just two weeks after the end of a federal trial examining whether Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants. The California suit has clear echoes of that case, and it may signal the opening of a Pandora’s box of similar data requests at universities across the country, as opponents of race-conscious admissions seek ammunition for their cause.

“To me, this has always been a civil rights issue,” Richard Sander, the academic who is bringing the suit, said in an interview on Wednesday. “If you cut off the data, you’re saying we don’t think the public has a right to examine any of the factors determining admission or success at the university.”

A newly formed nonprofit called Asian American Community Services Center, led by George Shen, a businessman and recent Republican candidate for the California State Senate, has joined Mr. Sander in the lawsuit. Mr. Shen said many Asian-Americans believe that “we’re not getting a fair shake, so this is a big issue.”

Unlike Harvard, which makes no secret of its race-conscious admissions but says it does not discriminate, the nine undergraduate colleges that make up the University of California are prohibited by state law from even considering the race or ethnicity of applicants. California has banned affirmative action in colleges and universities since 1996.

Professor Sander, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, is a prominent proponent of the contentious “mismatch” theory, which holds that students who receive substantial admissions preferences — some racial minorities, for instance, but also so-called legacy applicants and athletes — often flounder and fail, whereas they would flourish if they went to universities to which they would be better matched.

He said he believed the damage was greatest when universities weighed race heavily over other factors, and that he was not opposed to the use of slight racial preferences.

But Professor Sander said he also believed that researchers and universities were too focused on admissions data when analyzing campus diversity. They should also be looking at outcomes data, he said, which includes majors, grades, how long it took students to graduate, whether they went to graduate or professional school and even their earnings after graduation.

That is the type of data Professor Sander is seeking in his lawsuit. He said he had received several years’ worth of similar data from the University of California in 2008, and found that even though the number of black and Hispanic students admitted to Berkeley and U.C.L.A. fell after the affirmative action ban, the drop was more than offset by increases in enrollment at other campuses and increases in graduation rates. More talented students applied to the top schools, he said, while others began at less elite campuses and transferred up.

For the past year, he said, the university system has blocked his public records requests for data from the past decade so he can update his studies, even though he has offered to pay for it himself.

Professor Sander said he suspected that the system, which serves hundreds of thousands of students, reacted to public pressure over declining African-American enrollment by secretly reintroducing race-conscious admissions. That led to a sharp increase in enrollment for black and Hispanic students from California high schools between 2006 to 2013, he said, and fewer Asian-American and white students.

A spokeswoman for the California system, Dianne Klein, said on Wednesday that the university system did not consider race in its admissions process. “Neither race, ethnicity nor gender factor into U.C.’s holistic admissions policy,” she said.

Ms. Klein added that to comply with the request for the type of data Professor Sander wants, the university system would have to create a customized database. Public records law does not require it to do that, she said.

Professor Sander said that a 2014 report on freshman admissions at U.C.L.A. provided some support for his theory that the university had gone back to using racial preferences.

The report, by Robert D. Mare, a sociology professor at U.C.L.A., said that “among otherwise equivalent applicants, whites, African Americans and Latinos are overrepresented among those admitted, and Asian-American applicants are underrepresented.”

But Professor Sander also said that the affirmative action ban had pushed the University of California to address the cause of low black and Hispanic admissions at its roots. It undertook more aggressive academic preparation efforts and recruitment drives for students before they applied to college, alleviating what he saw as the mismatch problem, he said.

A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

Harvard’s admissions practices came under fire during the grueling three-week trial in Boston this fall, as a group called Students for Fair Admissions accused it of holding Asian-American applicants to a higher standard than students of other races.

Both the Harvard and the California cases represent a shift in the way affirmative action is perceived. Students for Fair Admissions said affirmative action was used not just to help some racial groups at the expense of whites, but to suppress another minority — Asian-Americans. The California case is aimed at exploring whether affirmative action is actually hurting the students it is supposed to help.

As part of the lawsuit, Harvard was forced to release data from more than 160,000 admissions records over six years, revealing some closely guarded secrets. A judge is expected to rule in the case early next year.

More State Funding?

[Click to enlarge]
The latest PPIC poll suggests generally favorable public attitudes toward state funding for California higher ed. You can find the details at:

Note that the poll comes in an era in which headlines such as those below are in bloom:

The California (Pension) Rule

The California rule is a series of state court decisions, a key one in 1955, believed to mean the pension promised at hire becomes a “vested right,” protected by contract law, that can't be cut unless offset by a comparable new benefit, which could erase any cost saving.

Source: Google search for "California Rule."

From CALmatters:

Gov. Jerry Brown nominated long-time aide Joshua Groban to the California Supreme Court...

It’s not clear that Groban could be on the bench in time to hear oral argument in cases on the Dec. 5 calendar. On that docket is a sensitive case pushed by Brown himself that could impact the next governor’s power to change or reduce pension benefits for public employees.

Brown had requested that (Chief Justice) Cantil-Sakauye accelerate consideration of the suit brought by a firefighters’ union, challenging legislation he signed six years ago limiting pensions for employees hired after 2013.

Along with the League of California Cities, Brown contends that public agencies should be able to breach the so-called California Rule. Under that rule, officials cannot reduce pension benefits without providing other compensation to offset the losses. In practice, it has kept cities and public agencies from making even minor tweaks to increasingly expensive pension plans.

The union that represents Cal Fire firefighters, Cal Fire Local 2881, brought the lawsuit. It’s not known whether Groban worked on the case and, if he did, whether he would recuse himself from considering it.

“Any discussion of individual cases is totally premature at this point,” Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said.

Firefighters’ attorney Gary Messing said Groban will make an excellent justice, but added:

“He would have to consider whether or not his involvement in the governor’s office during the pendency of this action could create the appearance of an impropriety or a conflict. He would have to determine that.”

Brown and Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom apparently diverge on the issue. The Sacramento Bee reported that Newsom assured public employee unions in endorsement meetings earlier this year that he would honor the California Rule even if it courts overturn it...

Full story at

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

State Budget Outlook

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has come out with its annual budget outlook publication. As the graphic shows, it posits two alternative scenarios: continued growth and recession roughly starting around the 2020-21 fiscal year.

If there are no new spending commitments - hard to imagine with a new governor and a legislature with a one-party supermajority - the state makes it through the supposed recession, drawing on its reserves. The state has two reserves: the regular general fund reserve and the "rainy-day" fund. The latter mainly scoops off revenue and rechannels it into saving and/or debt reduction.

Of course, it doesn't take much analysis to see that if there are more spending commitments (or if the recession is more severe than assumed), things don't go so well.

In any case, the new LAO publication is at:

Davis closed due to smoke

UC Davis reversed Tuesday night’s decision to resume classes Wednesday following outrage expressed by thousands of students and faculty as wildfire smoke continues to create unhealthy air conditions in the region. The campus will now be closed for the day with the exception of health care facilities, including UC Davis hospitals, care clinics and the Student Health and Wellness center, UC Davis announced Wednesday morning.

Classes at the UC Davis main campus and satellite campus in Sacramento were canceled Tuesday due to smoke from the Camp Fire that has blanketed the region since the weekend...

Full story at

Note: The Regents meetings this week began yesterday with the Investments Subcommittee. We will, as usual, preserve the audio and we have already downloaded yesterday's session. However, where we store the recordings is having technical issues. Until that is cleared up, we cannot post recordings although we will continue to download them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A periodic reminder that your emails, etc., aren't private

From time to time, we like to remind our blog readers that because UC is a public institution, their emails and other documents may not be private. As an example, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (a conservative business group), is suing UCLA for such information under the California Public Records Act, as the image to the left shows.

CEI's media release is at:

A Nip and Tuck Contest - Part 2

Thurmond vs. Tuck
The ballot count for superintendent of education has now flipped from Tuck to Thurmond. As superintendent, the winner will become an ex officio regent. See below:

As California counties continue to process mail-in and provisional ballots, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, has for the first time taken a narrow lead in the race for California’s state superintendent of public instruction.

Thurmond has erased the 86,000 vote lead Marshall Tuck enjoyed last Wednesday, according to the latest figures released on Monday afternoon by the California Secretary of State.

The earlier count did not include millions of uncounted mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day, or provisional ballots issued at polling stations.

The latest figures indicate that both Tuck and Thurmond have 50 percent of the vote, but that Thurmond has 3,500 votes more than Tuck.  Thurmond currently has 3,613,883 votes, compared to Tuck’s 3,610,380...

Full story at

In the meantime, the Regents' meetings begin today. As usual, yours truly will preserve the audio and keep track of what is happening as time permits.

Harvard Admissions - Part 14

The Harvard admissions case has now been presented and the judge's decision is expected early next year. However, the NY Times notes that the Asian American admissions issue was foreshadowed back around 1990 at the University of California, Berkeley and at UCLA. See below:

‘It’s Like Reliving My Past’: Harvard Lawsuit Echoes Previous Fight Over Race and Admissions
By Mihir Zaveri, Nov. 12, 2018, NY Times
In March 1990, L. Ling-chi Wang got on a plane to Washington, where he felt that his words were being twisted.
The University of California, Berkeley, professor, Mr. Wang had recently scored a victory when the school acknowledged it disproportionately hurt Asian-American applicants in its admissions, amid a wave of similar allegations of discrimination sweeping more than a dozen other universities.
But in Washington, Mr. Wang lobbied against a resolution introduced by a representative from California, Dana Rohrabacher, that called for the federal government to ramp up investigations into reports of such discrimination.
What troubled Mr. Wang, a strong supporter of affirmative action, was that Mr. Rohrabacher was claiming that universities’ policies helped underrepresented black and Hispanic students get in while, as the congressman put it, squeezing Asian-Americans out.
“We feared that the resolution would pit Asian-Americans against other minorities and gut affirmative action as a tool for correcting past injustices,” Mr. Wang said in an interview.
When the resolution died, Mr. Wang felt vindicated.
The conflict, however, was far from over.

...Mr. Wang’s experience decades ago, and its parallels with today’s debate, reflects how Asian-Americans have continually grappled with being positioned against other minorities.
Claire Jean Kim, a professor of Asian-American studies at the University of California, Irvine, said the Harvard lawsuit is the “continuation of a historical dynamic that’s been around for almost two centuries.”
The phenomenon gained particular significance in the mid-20th century, when white people praised the work ethic and ability of Asian-Americans as a way to discredit the struggle of African-Americans. At that time, Japanese- and Chinese-Americans were repeatedly portrayed by politicians and the media, including The New York Times, as docile and industrious.
Surveys show that Asian-Americans — an extremely diverse, fast-growing and economically divided part of the population — are generally more likely to support affirmative action in education. Some, though, support the Harvard lawsuit’s claims, particularly an increasingly vocal group of Chinese-Americans who fear that affirmative action would mean their children lose out while other racial groups benefit.
For his part, Mr. Wang was not always focused on civil rights. He was originally from Hong Kong and immigrated to the United States in 1957 as a freshman in high school. He was a music major, and as a graduate student in Chicago, studied Middle Eastern languages. Then he spent the summer of 1966 in the San Francisco Bay Area during a high point of civil rights activism.
Mr. Wang saw the challenges many Chinese-Americans faced, like barriers to employment or underrepresentation in police and fire departments, as similar to challenges facing African-Americans that had been described by civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. That is when he became an ardent affirmative action supporter.
In the 1980s, as the Asian-American population in the United States was booming, many young Asian-Americans were seeking admission at America’s top universities. In 1981, The Times reported that the number of students of Asian background at Berkeley had quadrupled.
Mr. Wang and others began hearing stories of frustrated parents whose children were denied admission despite strong qualifications.
He pored over admissions data, concluding that Asian-Americans were not being admitted at the same rates as white applicants. He rallied a group of local leaders, recruiting them to a community task force to pressure Berkeley to investigate and rectify the discrepancy.
The group would continue for five years to push the issue with the university, which initially resisted their claims, as a number of other universities grappled with similar accusations.
At the time, the Justice Department told The Times that it had received a number of complaints of discrimination from other universities, too, and in 1988 the Education Department said it had opened inquiries into the University of California, Los Angeles, and Harvard.
In 1990, the Education Department concluded that U.C.L.A.’s math department illegally gave preferences to whites over Asian-Americans. Later that year, the department cleared Harvard of discrimination charges, but noted that Asian-Americans were admitted at a lower rate than white applicants, which the department attributed to preferences given to the children of alumni and to recruited athletes.
Berkeley’s chancellor, Michael Ira Heyman, would appear with Mr. Wang and other activists at a news conference and apologize.
“It is clear that decisions made in the admissions process indisputably had a disproportionate impact on Asians,” Mr. Heyman said at a news conference, according to The Los Angeles Times, pledging to improve its admissions process. “That outcome was the product of insensitivity. I regret that that occurred.”
“I felt very much vindicated,” Mr. Wang said.
...Ultimately, California voters, riding a wave of conservatism, voted to dismantle affirmative action in public universities in 1996. (A state university official told The New York Times last year that the number of Hispanic and black freshmen on the University of California campuses declined immediately after the state’s affirmative action ban took effect in 1998, and that Hispanic and black students were the least represented at Berkeley, the most selective campus.)
But Mr. Wang felt his lobbying helped bring attention to discrimination against Asian-Americans... At Berkeley, the proportion of Asian-Americans in its freshman class has increased to 46 percent in 2015 from 34 percent in 1990, according to a Times analysis last year.
“The most satisfying part is that I managed to successfully separate what we were asking for from affirmative action,” Mr. Wang said.