Monday, December 31, 2018

Some Advance Preparation for New Years Eve - Part 2

There's not likely to be much UCLA or UC news to discuss between now and 2019. So, as we did yesterday, we'll again provide some timely, seasonal entertainment (albeit from the past).

Here is something a bit darker than our previous posting:

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Some Advance Preparation for New Years Eve

There's not likely to be much UCLA or UC news to discuss between now and 2019. So we'll provide some timely, seasonal entertainment (albeit from the past) in our next few postings. We'll start with this:

In the 1960s, New York radio personality Jean Shepherd described his leave from the Army during World War II on New Year's Eve in Kansas City. A different kind of war story. This is part 1 below:

Part 1:

Part 2: The exciting conclusion is below:

More Student-Friendly?

In case you missed the speculation at the end of yesterday's post:

(Caroline) Siegel-Singh, the (UC) student association president, (said), “I think he’ll be a lot easier to work with than Jerry Brown.” As lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom has been a regent for years, known for student-friendly votes against tuition hikes. As governor, he’ll become the regents’ president.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Advise - But Not Consent

Not so much at the Regents
Student leaders say they’ll fight UC regents’ plan to eliminate adviser position

Nanette Asimov, Dec. 28, 2018, San Francisco Chronicle

University of California student leaders said Friday they will fight a plan to scrap UC’s student-adviser program, an experiment in its second year that allows a student to join in regents meetings and try to influence policy — but not vote.

Only two other students participate fully in the meetings and can interact with the university’s top decision makers at the table and behind the scenes: the student regent, who votes, and the student regent-designate, who doesn’t.

On Friday, student leaders who were scattered around the state on holiday break said they were forced to respond to an unexpected letter from a regents committee, including student Regent Devon Graves, recommending that the regents vote in January to eliminate the student adviser beginning next fall. The letter also implied that student leaders across UC are on board with that plan.

“All of the student leaders I’ve talked to are very opposed to this change, and feel that it was very misleading for the letter to characterize us as supporting” the proposal, said philosophy student Michael Skiles, student body president at UCLA and graduate chairman of the UC Council of Student Body Presidents.

He and other student leaders met by phone Friday and agreed to urge the regents not only to keep the student advocate, but also to clarify and improve the job.

“The role was recognized as unique and valuable to students, and we agreed that there could be more done to develop and strengthen the position,” said Edward Huang, a UC Berkeley senior studying applied mathematics who is this year’s student adviser to the regents.

The debate raises questions about how much influence students should have in running UC, and how any expansion should be achieved.

The regents oversee the autonomous $30 billion university of 10 campuses, 238,000 students, five hospitals and three national laboratories.

For years, students have said they want more control over decisions that affect them: tuition, housing and meals, for example. Students have also said they want a second voting student regent — a change that would require amending the state Constitution.

Outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown “was a hard ‘no’” on that, said Caroline Siegel-Singh, a junior at UC San Diego and president of the statewide UC Student Association.

The compromise in 2016 was a pilot program creating a non-voting student advocate to participate with the regents — without being a regent — to get around the seemingly unscalable wall of the Constitution. The idea came from then-student Regent Avi Oved, now a law student at UCLA.

With 26 regents, influencing UC policy is less dependent on a single vote than it is on “building relationships with the regents and being consistently present,” Oved said Friday. “A lot of times, the work is done before an item gets to the regents” for a vote.

The idea also expanded student representation: If the student regent was a graduate student, as Graves is this year, then the student advocate would be an undergraduate, and vice versa.

Graves, a UCLA doctoral student in higher education, said he favors eliminating the advocate because few students applied for the post, and because it doesn’t have the strong support from UC headquarters that the student regents do: tuition waivers and help from the regents’ staff, for example. He also pointed to 11 other student roles: Some can make presentations to the regents, others can eat lunch with them, and others can sit in on committees.

Yet Graves, who participated in the phone meeting with student leaders, said he supports the students’ decision to fight for the student advocate.

“I think the regents will hear out the students’ concerns and try to rectify and implement something that everyone is happy with,” he said. At the same time, he said, the push for a second student regent isn’t dead. Brown may not have supported the idea, “but we have an opportunity with the new governor to see where he lies on that issue.”

Siegel-Singh, the student association president, agreed. “I think he’ll be a lot easier to work with than Jerry Brown,” she said.

As lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom has been a regent for years, known for student-friendly votes against tuition hikes. As governor, he’ll become the regents’ president.


Friday, December 28, 2018

Got Grants? - Part 2

For NIH:

Applicants are strongly encouraged not to submit paper or electronic grant applications to NIH during the period of the lapse. will be open and can accept electronic applications. However, applications will not be processed by NIH until the eRA Systems are back on-line. 

Adjustments to application submission dates that occur during the funding lapse will be announced once operations resume.

NIH will not be able to conduct initial peer review meetings or advisory council review. When operations resume, those meetings will be rescheduled and the pending applications will be processed and reviewed as soon as possible.

No NIH grant awards will be processed for the duration of the funding lapse. For any awards processed before the funding lapse that have an issue date during the funding lapse, the awards will not be sent to the grantee on the issue date. Once operations resume, all pending Notices of Award will be sent. 

See: and

Got Grants?

From the website above: Due to a lapse in appropriations, NSF is closed. NSF will continue to accept proposals in accordance with published deadlines.
Information About the Government Shutdown for NSF Proposers and Grantees

This document addresses the various assistance and contract-related policy and systems issues that may arise during a lapse in appropriations of the Federal Government. NSF is providing this information as a service to our proposer and awardee communities in the hopes that it will address most of the questions you may have during this time period. Unfortunately, considerable uncertainty exists surrounding a lapse in appropriations. As a result, proposers and awardees are strongly encouraged to monitor news outlets to determine if the Federal government, and therefore NSF, is open for business.

Please be aware that, except as noted below, NSF will not be available to respond to emails or phone calls during a lapse in appropriations, but will respond as soon as practicable after normal operations have resumed. NSF is committed to minimizing the negative impacts a disruption may have on the science and engineering enterprise and, as necessary, will issue follow-on guidance after normal operations resume.

Pre-award Activities for Assistance Awards (Grants and Cooperative Agreements)

Proposal Preparation & Submission
  • No new funding opportunities (Dear Colleague Letters, program descriptions, announcements or solicitations) will be issued.
  • FastLane and proposal preparation and submission will be available; however, proposals will not be processed until normal operations resume.
  • proposal preparation and submission will likely be available; however, proposals will not be processed until normal operations resume.
  • Responses to any inquiries received regarding upcoming deadlines, including proposal preparation, will be deferred until normal operations resume.
Impact on Existing Deadlines

During a lapse in appropriations, NSF will continue to accept proposal submissions pursuant to existing deadlines.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Livermore Case on Retiree Health Entitlements

Livermore employee/plaintiff Joe Requa in 2011
Back in 2010 and 2011, this blog noted the case of a group of Lawrence Livermore National Lab employees who sued the Regents on the grounds that they were entitled to retiree health care even though the Lab's management had changed.* Livermore was originally managed by the Regents, but later was administered by a consortium including the Regents. The case was known as (Joe) Requa v. Regents. It is now known as Moen v. Regents.

The case raises the issue more generally of whether UC employees have a vested right to retiree health care (as they do to a pension) even though the Regents current position is that retiree health care is a nice thing they voluntarily provide but that the benefit is not an entitlement.

The wheels of justice have been grinding slowly. A ruling on December 12 says effectively that the plaintiffs should not be viewed as a single class but have to be divided because, over time, the promises made in the employee handbooks describing retiree health have become more qualified.

You can find the decision below:

*,, and See also,, and

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Newsom at the Regents

Both the governor and the lieutenant governor are ex officio members of the UC Board of Regents. Before Jerry Brown, however, governors rarely attended meetings of Board. Brown did attend and tended (of course) to overshadow Gavin Newsom as lieutenant governor when he did. But starting on January 7th, Newsom will move to Brown's seat, and will have a lot more to do with budgetary matters than he did in his former role.

Newsom has tended to vote against tuition increases and high salaries. Both positions were politically popular and, in the end, didn't matter since a majority of the Board usually approved them. Will he continue that approach as governor? No one knows. But here are a few comments by Newsom from past Regents meetings:

Back in 2012, when Prop 30 (Brown's proposed tax increase to deal with the budget crisis) was on the ballot, he criticized the governor for saying Prop 30 would prevent tuition increases:

He criticized high athletic coach pay in 2014:

He was skeptical about a UCOP presentation on supposed cost savings in 2015 and questioned omission of cost overruns on UCPath:

And he worried about a delayed pension payment in 2018:

Perhaps there are some clues in this record. But in the end, the prognosis is unclear.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Today's appropriate selection:

The Bootblack's Christmas

A bootblack slept in a dry-goods box, it was on one Christmas eve;
Tho' all alone in his scanty home, in Santa Claus he did believe.
He slept on rags and straw, then placed his little shoes outside,
Just as he had hung his stockings up, before his mother died.
The night rolled on and no Santa came, but a thief crept soft and low,
And he stole away those little shoes, that were left standing in the snow.

Sad, sad, indeed, to see the lad standing in the storm alone
Beside the empty dry-goods box that served him as a home;
And the look of disappointment-Santa Claus did him refuse-
But saddest of all was to hear him call, Sauta Clans bring back my shoes.

But a moment's time had scarcely passed, till I was beside the lad;
"What makes you weep, my dear boy?" I said; "Have you indeed not got a dad?"
"Oh! no, kind sir," he said, with a beseeching look to me,
"My poor mother died a year ago, papa was lost at sea."
I started back when I heard his tale, for I was returning home;
Then I scanned his face, what did I trace? it was the outline of my own.

Thank God, indeed, to find my boy, although in the storm alone,
Beside the empty dry-goods box that served him as a home;
I dispelled his disappointment-Santa Claus will not refuse-
For your father has come, my own dear son, I will buy for you new shoes.

I grasped the box, as I held my child in a father's fond embrace;
I could feel that my brain was whirling, And the hot tears rolled down my face.
On a whale-ship I sailed, for a six mouth's voyage to sea;
I was wrecked And cast on foreign shore, where none could hear from me.
The truth was clear, my wife so dear, from earth had passed away;
I play'd the part, with a broken heart, of Santa Claus that Christmas day.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Pension Outlook

Look for a not-so-bright report on the UC pension and endowment the next time the Regents' Investments Subcommittee meets. The next full Regents meeting is January 16-17, so there is not a lot of time for some good investment news to come along.


At 7:25 AM this morning, the Bruin Cam at Powell Library captured this image of Royce Hall, not that there were any folks on site around to notice on December 24th.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Faculty Center Donations

Although we haven't done so in the past, below we are passing on a request from the UCLA Faculty Center for tax-deductible donations.  The Faculty Center has made considerable progress, both in reaching an accord with the powers-that-be at the University with regard to its physical house and in putting its fiscal house in order over the past year or so. Apparently, for various reasons, the new accord must be approved at the UC level, but that seems likely to occur. 
If you prefer to donate by check rather than online, make your check out to the UCLA Foundation and mail it to UCLA Faculty Center, 480 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095, specifying Faculty Center General Support or Modernization Fund on the notation line.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Acronym-Filled Memo of the Year Award

December 21st brought the first day of winter and the emailed memo below which has at least five acronyms, not counting "UCPath" and "HR." And maybe cognoscenti will be able to derive useful information from it:

Please distribute this broadcast to employees in your organization.
To:  UCPath Initiators, Approvers and HR/Benefits Representatives
Re:  PIE for Employees with Newly-Eligible Domestic Partners
As you know, the University has changed the benefits eligibility policy for domestic partners and we gave employees the opportunity during Open Enrollment to enroll domestic partners who will be newly-eligible as of 1/1/2019.
Employees with domestic partners who are newly-eligible due to the policy change will have a PIE from January 1 – 31, 2019.  If an employee missed the opportunity to enroll the newly-eligible partner during OE, the employee may enroll the partner during this PIE (assuming the partner meets all eligibility criteria).  In accordance with the GIRs, in addition to enrolling the partner, the employee may change their benefits elections (such as choose a different medical plan or adjust life insurance coverage level) during this PIE.
Please remember that if employees want to enroll their partners in Dependent Life coverage, they need to do so during this PIE.  AD&D coverage may be added any time after January 1, 2019.  Employees on UCPath who enrolled a domestic partner in medical coverage during OE will get an email reminding them of this opportunity to enroll in Life and/or AD&D.   Employees on UCPath may use the “Life Event” function to enroll their domestic partner in Life and AD&D coverage, while employees on PPS will need to submit a UPAY850 form.
We have heard that a few employees who enrolled their domestic partner in benefits during OE have changed their mind due to the impact of imputed income.  A newly-eligible domestic partner enrolled during OE may be disenrolled during the PIE.  If a premium for January 2019 has been deducted from the employee’s paycheck, it may be reimbursed to the employee, provided that the partner has not incurred claims under the plan(s) in which they were enrolled.
Thank you.
Happy Holidays!
Isabella Buckman
Benefits Analyst 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Brown's Pension Oblivion

In his last days in office, Gov. Jerry Brown is warning about a "fiscal oblivion" if a state Supreme Court case prevents a modification of the "California Rule."* The Rule prevents prevents public pension take-aways once benefits are promised.

UC has several times modified its defined-benefit pension for new hires. It has never sought to violate the California Rule. The problem is that UC tends to be dragged along into the larger mix when problems arise with CALPERS and CALSTRS, both of which have underfunding problems and issues of governance and management that do not characterize UC.

In any event, the court case should be decided and announced soon in the coming year.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Open vs. Closed - Part 2

Opinion piece from a UCLA faculty member on the Elsevier matter:

The Trouble With Institution-Led Boycotts

By John Villasenor, Chronicle of Higher Ed, 12-19-18

John Villasenor is a professor of engineering, public policy, and management and a visiting professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

When, if ever, should colleges advocate boycotts? The question is particularly relevant in light of last week’s memorandum, signed by a top University of California at Los Angeles executive, urging the faculty to engage in what amounts to a boycott of an academic publisher, Elsevier. The precedent will most likely lead to a host of unintended consequences.

Elsevier is home to about 2,500 journals that in 2017 published more than 430,000 articles. The University of California system is paying more than $10 million to Elsevier in 2018, and with the current multiyear contract set to expire at the end of December, the system and Elsevier have been in high-stakes negotiations over a new contract.

Last week’s memorandum was addressed to all UCLA faculty members and was signed by UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost as well as by the chair of the Academic Senate and by the university librarian.

Titled "Important Notice Regarding Elsevier Journals," it urged UCLA faculty members to consider "declining to review articles for Elsevier journals until negotiations are clearly moving in a productive direction," "looking at other journal-publishing options, including prestigious open-access journals in your discipline," and "contacting the publisher, if you’re on the editorial board of an Elsevier journal, and letting them know that you share the negotiators’ concerns."

While some have characterized the call for a boycott as faculty-led, the signature of the executive vice chancellor and provost provides a clear institutional imprimatur. And now that UCLA has opened the door to institution-advocated boycotts, where might it lead?

Consider the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. BDS, which I personally do not support, has gained significant momentum on college campuses in recent years. If BDS advocates at UCLA pressure the administration to support the movement, the response can no longer be that "UCLA doesn’t take institutional positions on boycotts." Rather, UCLA will now have to come up with a framework to decide which types of boycotts the institution can endorse.

How might the UCLA administration approach that challenge? There’s no good answer... It’s a conflict of interest when college administrators ask faculty members to take actions that reduce their publication options. To be promoted, professors are told they should publish in top journals. Yet now UCLA professors in fields whose top journals are published by Elsevier face an unenviable choice that places their publication interests in tension with the administration’s boycott recommendation...

Now that UCLA is in the business of institution-advocated boycotts, I hope that the administration has a plan for handling the inevitable calls for boycotts that will start landing on its doorstep in the future.

Full column at

A Grin-and-Bear It Story

From the LA Times: Two young men have been arrested in connection with last month’s vandalism of a UCLA statue in the week leading up to the university’s big game with crosstown rival USC. Louie Torres, 19, and Willie Johnson, 18, were arrested Wednesday at their homes on suspicion of conspiracy and felony vandalism, UCLA police Lt. Kevin Kilgore said. The two were being held in lieu of $10,000 bail. 

Neither man has any affiliations with USC or UCLA, Kilgore said.

Vandals pried open a wooden case that was protecting the Bruin Bear on the UCLA campus about 2 a.m. Nov. 13 and doused the well-known statue with red and yellow paint, resulting in $15,000 in damage. The destruction was discovered days later...

Full story at

We'll post again when more facts if and when more facts are known. So bear with us until then. We may have barely gotten into this story. And sometimes things aren't what they appear:

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Allegation of Hostile Work Environment at a Professional Academic Association - Part 3

Follow up on our previous posts:*

From Inside Higher Ed this morning: The American Economic Association on Tuesday announced that Roland Fryer resigned from its executive committee.** Fryer, the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and faculty director of the Education Innovation Laboratory, was elected to the committee earlier this year. But it soon emerged that he was under investigation for harassment at Harvard. The association said it was previously unaware of the allegations against Fryer and would wait for the conclusion of the investigation to act. The New York Times recently obtained a copy of one investigation that found Fryer had sexually harassed lab workers. Fryer did not respond to a request for comment.

* and


Excerpt from a recent email that arrived from the powers-that-be:

Important Information About Your 2018 W-2s

For the 2018 year, all UCLA employees will receive two (2) W-2s for this year’s earnings:

• One (1) for earnings before the UCPath go [sic] live. This W-2 will be available in AYSO (hyperlink).

• One (1) for earnings after the UCPath go [sic] live. This W-2 will be available in the UCPath Portal.
As a reminder, your designated W-2 delivery option (mail or online options) in AYSO transferred over into UCPath at the time of go-live. If you have not already signed up to receive an electronic W-2, the deadline for requesting one for your 2018 tax information is January 18, 2019.
To sign up for electronic W-2s or confirm your designation, take the following steps:

1. Login to UCPath Online
2. Select Employee Actions
3. Select Income and Taxes
4. Select Enroll to Receive Online W-2
If your current status says CONSENT RECEIVED, then you do not have to do anything — you’re already signed up to receive your W-2 electronically.
Once you’ve signed up, all notifications pertaining to your W-2/W-2c will be sent to your preferred email address on file in the UCPath system. Please verify that your email address is correct in UCPath.
Important security reminders about your W-2

Remember that UC does not send actual W-2 statements to employees by email or text. You must sign in to your UCPath account to view your electronic W-2 (if you enrolled to receive one).
If you receive an email or text that has a link or an attachment for viewing your W-2, it is a phishing scam designed to gain your private information. Do not open any attachments or click on any email links that claim to give you access to your W-2!
To access your electronic W-2 statement, always go directly to your UCPath account using a safe, known link.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Monday, December 17, 2018

Should Every Campus Do Everything?

UC Merced is growing and changing and one of the biggest changes will be a new standalone business and management school.

The university is working to create a new interdiscplinary school, one that university officials are calling the "management school of the future".

"We're taking existing programs, putting them together and focusing them together on this complex system," Gallo School Planning Initiative Director Paul Maglio said.

The new Gallo school will bring together educators from the schools of engineering, natural sciences and humanities to teach students under one main focus. The university is already known for its focus on research and science, and the new school will be incorporating those science components into their program...

Full story at

Wright Ike

Not a lot happening in the university as we get into this time of year. So here is a phone of ex-President Eisenhower getting an honorary degree from UCLA in April 1965 (or maybe 1963).* Clark Kerr is at right. There is no particular reason to show this photo today EXCEPT that Eisenhower, as president, declared December 17th to be Wright Brothers Day back in 1959. (Dec. 17th is the anniversary of the first flight by the Wright brothers in 1903.)
Source and text of proclamation:
*For the source of the uncertainty on the year, see: and

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Robot Requiem

From the Daily Cal, 12-14-18:

Describing the robot as a “hero” and a “legend,” UC Berkeley students expressed their grief on Facebook as news of a fallen KiwiBot reached the campus community. 
About 2 p.m. Friday, a KiwiBot — one of the more than 100 robots that deliver food throughout the campus and city — caught fire outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.
According to Sasha Iatsenia, head of product at Kiwi, the company is still working with UCPD to investigate the cause of the fire. Nothing like this has ever happened before, Iatsenia said.
UCPD could not be reached for comment as of press time...
We are at a loss for words, which is a problem if you don't have the right words for robots:

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Allegation of Hostile Work Environment at a Professional Academic Association - Part 2

Harvard is in the news, not just with regard to the admissions litigation, but with a Title 9 matter that has spread beyond the campus. Blog readers will recall that back in October, the American Economic Assn. (AEA) made the following statement on its website:*

A post from the Executive Committee  10-15-18

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

At the time, as we reported, the individual involved, although not named in the notice above, was in fact known to be a prominent Harvard economist. The Harvard Crimson had reported on this matter, although not in connection with the AEA, much earlier (in May).** As of this morning, the individual is still listed on the AEA website as an incoming elected member of the AEA Executive Committee, a prestigious post.*** However, the AEA has its annual meeting in Atlanta in less than a month, and presumably some resolution will need to be found between now and then. The matter has been pushed to the fore by a NY Times article that appeared yesterday:****

On verra.
**** The Harvard Crimson reported that the university investigation had concluded in late November: It reported on a second investigation a few days ago:

Friday, December 14, 2018

Forecast Video

We had earlier posted about the December UCLA Anderson Forecast.* For those interested, the various presentations are now online. Here is the California segment:

or direct to:

Links to the full conference are at:

Thursday, December 13, 2018


Stewardship? Yours truly might have chosen another word, but...

To:  Members of the Academic Senate
Dear Colleagues:
Every five or so years after the initial appointment of a Chancellor, the Academic Senate conducts a "stewardship" review. The review is an evaluation of the Chancellor’s leadership qualities as we have perceived them during the preceding period. UC President Janet Napolitano has asked me to initiate Chancellor Block’s second stewardship review. I am enclosing a letter from President Napolitano inviting your participation in the review process.
The stewardship review supplements the performance reviews that the President conducts annually for each Chancellor. These five–year reviews provide the President and the Chancellor with important feedback from a wide range of Senate members on the Chancellor’s leadership and decision–making abilities, his administrative and managerial skills, and his ability to represent the campus. The review is intended to identify both strengths and areas for improvement.
I invite all members of the UCLA Academic Senate to submit confidential letters for consideration by the ad hoc committee that will conduct the stewardship review. You may email your comments to UCLA.Chan.Review@ucop.edua private mailbox for the exclusive use of the review committee. If you prefer, you may submit letters to the Systemwide Senate office (c/o Hilary Baxter, Academic Senate Executive Director, 1111 Franklin St., 12th floor, Oakland, CA 94607). Letters should be received no later than Friday, February 1, 2019. Although all letters are confidential, the Chancellor may request copies that have been redacted to remove identifying information such as letterhead or signature block. The text of the letters will not be revised to remove other identifying information.
For your convenience, we have created a stewardship review section on the UCLA Senate homepage. On this site, you can download the Criteria to Guide Chancellor Review Committees. We also have posted a self-statement from Chancellor Blockincluding his reflections on the past five years, the current state of the campus, and his vision for the future.
The system of shared governance gives faculty, through the Academic Senate, a strong voice in the operation of the University. I urge you to participate in shared governance by providing your assessment of Chancellor Block’s leadership. If you have any questions about the review process, please do not hesitate to contact UC Senate Executive Director Hilary Baxter at
Thank you in advance for your participation in this important review.
Joseph Bristow
UCLA Academic Senate Chair

10 Chancellors

The letter above - which appears (based on a web search) to have been made public on Dec. 11 - apparently is in response to a conference held at UCLA during the fall quarter by a group promoting an Israel boycott.

Listen to the Regents Health Services Committee Meeting of Dec. 11, 2018

We're catching up with the Regents' Health Services Committee that met in an off-cycle session on December 11th. There were two points of special interest. One was an extended discussion of some arrangements whereby UC hospitals, some of which are at capacity, form partnership arrangements with other area hospitals to pick up some of the load. Of particular concern to the Committee were arrangements with Catholic hospitals, particularly with regard to such areas as abortion, sterilization, birth control, in vitro fertilization, and end-of-life situations. These areas may or do involve conflict with Catholic religious beliefs. Various assurances were given that the partnerships would not prevent UC patients from having services in these areas.

The other topic of special interest was the area of "disruptive behavior" by medical staff. As it turned out, the discussion - at least to the ears of yours truly - was quite general. Particular cases were not discussed.

You can hear the session at the link below:

or direct to:

Conflict Between Proposed Title 9 Rules and California Policy?

Inside Higher Ed carries an article today about potential conflicts between proposed changes in Title 9 rules put out by the U.S. Dept. of Education and policies in various states including California:

...California’s definition of sexual assault, as included in the Donahoe Higher Education Act, is also much broader than the federal definition. It is as follows:
“Sexual harassment” means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, made by someone from or in the work or educational setting, under any of the following conditions:

  • (a) Submission to the conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or a condition of an individual’s employment, academic status, or progress.
  • (b) Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis of employment or academic decisions affecting the individual.
  • (c) The conduct has the purpose or effect of having a negative impact upon the individual’s work or academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.
  • (d) Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis for any decision affecting the individual regarding benefits and services, honors, programs, or activities available at or through the educational institution.

The University of California System was perhaps the most vocal in criticizing DeVos’s plan right away, issuing a statement last month denouncing several of the projected changes, including that institutions must now hold live hearings to adjudicate sexual violence cases and the adjustment to the sexual harassment definition. California's governor, Democrat Jerry Brown, in 2017 vetoed a bill that would have put the Obama-era rules into state law. At the time, Brown said that state and federal actions may have unintentionally led to due process being violated, and that he would instead convene a "group of knowledgeable persons" that would help develop a sexual harassment policy for the state.

Suzanne Taylor, the interim systemwide Title IX coordinator, said in an interview that UC is preparing to provide comment to the department and that it is studying how the regulations may diverge from the state’s laws...

Full article at

Editorial comment from yours truly: UC has a grievance-and-arbitration arrangement applicable to union-represented employees under the various contracts it signs. Employees penalized for misconduct can avail themselves of these arrangements. Typically, such systems involved a hierarchy of internal review steps and, ultimately, a decision by an outside neutral. There is a long history of external courts generally deferring to such systems because of the due process they provide. And there is a recent history of courts not deferring to internal university Title 9 systems because of due process issues.* Undoubtedly, such systems would have to be modified to handle Title 9-type complaints outside the union-management realm. But it wouldn't hurt to look at such arrangements as a starting point. Indeed, presumably union-represented employees at UC who are accused of Title 9-type violations and penalized for them already have grievance-and-arbitration access. Everyone might benefit from a fresh starting point rather than simply reacting to Dept. of Education initiatives.
*Here is the most recent example in a case from USC:

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Harvard Admissions - Part 17

Asian American who supported Harvard in its admissions case has doubts about process upon reading his own admissions file:

Ira Glass, This American Life, 12-7-18, Episode 663

Listen to audio or read transcript below:


Act 1, the veritas is out there.

So I just found this out that since the 1990s, if you got into college, and you decided to attend the college, at lots of schools, you can work at your own admissions file. See what the admissions people said about you when you were applying. In fancy schools that are hard to get into, you can try to figure out why they decided to admit you in the first place, which lots of kids do.

But the downside is, you might find something you didn't want to see, and then you have to deal with that. Diane Wu does the story of one Harvard student that happened to.

Diane Wu
At Harvard, going to see your admissions file has suddenly got caught up into something much bigger. As you might have heard, Harvard's being sued for allegedly discriminating against Asians. Asian applicants with high GPAs and test scores have a lower acceptance rate than other students with the same numbers.

Harvard does consider a student's race when they apply as one of many factors. The group that's suing them wants them to stop doing that altogether. It's a group called Students For Fair Admissions. They're trying to get rid of affirmative action all across the country. And this case is likely to be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Alex Zhang is a junior, co-president of the Chinese Students Association. I met him the first week of the trial. He's solidly team Harvard in the lawsuit, because Harvard is on the side of keeping affirmative action.

For him, it was a moral decision. Of course, diversity is good, and getting rid of affirmative action is bad. So he wrote a statement for an amicus brief, and got his student group to sign on to another one.

Friends of his were looking at their admissions files. So Alex decided to go as well, partly because he was curious how his file stacked up against the claims made in the lawsuit. But also, he just wanted to see how he got in. He'd always wanted to find out.

Alex Zhang
I'm really curious about the interview component, because I just feel like that's what did it.

Diane Wu
Did you have a really good interview?

Alex Zhang
Yeah, a really good interview with a really old and experienced alumni.

Diane Wu
The way this usually works-- you meet with an alumni volunteer for an hour or so in a coffee shop or wherever in your hometown. Alex is from Portland, Oregon. He had an exceptional interview. It lasted two hours. Then even more unusual, his interviewer set up a second meeting.

Alex Zhang
He did this whole thing, where he ran through all my extracurriculars, kind of tallied up hours and stuff, just was very rigorous, even asked for some contacts for references, which, apparently, he wasn't supposed to do.

Diane Wu
He was really--

Alex Zhang
He did that because he wanted to have everything on the table for him to advocate for me.

Diane Wu
Alex wanted to know, did this guy get me in? The alumni interview is important at Harvard, because usually, it's the only face-to-face contact the school has with an applicant. And admissions officers use it, plus other information, to assign applicants this thing called a personal rating.

The personal rating is actually the crux of the lawsuit. It's basically a rating of your personality. The words Harvard uses to describe what they're looking for are things like leadership, courage, sense of humor, effervescence. It's like they want to fill the school with future senators, perky Griffindors, and Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde types.

Students for Fair Admissions says the personal rating is where the discrimination happens, where implicit bias leaks in. Because at Harvard, Asian applicants get a lower personal rating than white applicants. Harvard does not dispute those numbers, but says they don't consider an applicant's race when assigning the personal rating.

A couple days after I met him, Alex called me from a study lounge. He'd just gone to see his file, sat with 15 other kids around a table at the registrar's office and paged through it. He wasn't allowed to take the file with him, but could take pictures on his phone. He scrolled through the photos and read parts of it to me.

Alex Zhang
Let me take a quick look. The first sheet is the Harvard scores, so they have this weird coding jargon that I don't really understand yet. I'll probably look it up later.

Diane Wu
We got quickly to the part he was curious about-- the report from his alumni interviewer, which was the most remarkable part of his file. For starters, it was long.

Alex Zhang
My interviewer wrote, like, five pages of notes.

Diane Wu

Alex Zhang
Which I think is kind of unusual.

Diane Wu
It is. Everyone else I checked with had only two pages. Reading through, Alex saw that his interviewer, Jim McCandlish was really going to bat for him. He told Alex that he was one of the best candidates he'd met in more than 20 years of interviewing. Though Alex learned, a lot of Jim's thoroughness-- the extra interview, the references he called-- that was Jim checking into whether or not Alex was for real.

Alex Zhang
It seems like he was skeptical of a lot of stuff I did, at least was concerned about this resume-builder mentality and wanted to verify whether I did that authentic work.

Diane Wu
Like when Alex said he worked on homelessness at the youth commission, Jim wondered, is he just saying that because he googled my law firm and read that I represent disadvantaged people? Quote, "was this a perfect for MIT mechanical engineer playing me?" Perfect for MIT, I guess, is code for too boring for Harvard.

Jim called up Alex's supervisor at the youth commission and found out, no, Alex genuinely cared about homelessness and works there even more than he'd let on. Alex read Jim's interview notes to me matter-of-factly, then paused to note this one section.

Alex Zhang
Oh, here's an interesting portion actually.

Diane Wu
Jim was writing about a conversation he'd had with that supervisor. Apparently, he had asked not just about Alex, but about Alex's mom, too. He writes--

Alex Zhang
She is far from the stereotypical, quote, "tiger mother." His mom is supportive, but not directive. So I guess there's just those two, three sentences on my mom.

Diane Wu
How do you feel about that? How would you feel about that characterization of your mom?

Alex Zhang
I mean, it's true. Yeah, she's supported, but not directive. She pushes me. She pushes me hard, but has always sort of let me push in the direction I wanted.

Diane Wu
Is it weird to you at all that the interviewer is pointing to stereotypes that you aren't? Is he a perfect-for-MIT engineer playing me, or does he have a tiger mom?

Alex Zhang
Oh, yeah. That's a good point.

Diane Wu
As soon as I asked the question, I felt like I overstepped, like I was planting the idea in Alex's head that something racial was going on. But when I heard tiger mother, I thought, there is the implicit bias they're talking about in the lawsuit in a way more explicit form than I was expecting.

Alex did have a strange feeling about it, even if he wasn't sure exactly why.

Alex Zhang
Yeah, that is really weird. I guess it kind of goes into a narrative like the Asian applicant has to disprove certain things to be considered viable for something ivy league.

Diane Wu
In other words, if you want to get into Harvard, don't be too Asian.

Alex Zhang
Hmm. That makes sense. I don't know what his motivations are, my interviewer's motivations. Maybe the interviewer was like, oh, I should distinguish him from other Asians, or maybe he just does it subconsciously.

Diane Wu

Alex Zhang

Diane Wu
There's another thing like this in Jim's notes, another spot where he points to an Asian stereotype and says it doesn't fit Alex. It has to do with the fact that Alex is quiet, which is a stereotype about Asian students. One, actually, that Harvard was called out for using in a 1990 federal investigation.

But in Alex's case, Jim casts it as a plus. He writes, "Alex is reserved, quietly confident, uses language frugally but effectively. There is no teenage patois." Perfect-for-MIT engineer, by the way, also plays into a stereotype of Asians only being interested in science and math. This one didn't bother Alex, though, since he literally wanted to be an engineer when he was applying.

Alex Zhang
The tiger mother part is definitely interesting. No other mom is called a tiger mom. That's what you call a Chinese mom. Only Chinese moms are called tiger moms. It definitely seems like he's trying to disprove what a reviewer might assume about the reasoning for why I do things.

Diane Wu
Yeah. How do you feel about that?

Alex Zhang
I don't know. So he actually has a Chinese wife.

Diane Wu
Is he Chinese? He's not Chinese.

Alex Zhang
No, he's an old white guy, very American, grew up very American, went to Harvard during the time when it was, like, four white people played baseball on the baseball team. Everything's with good intentions. But I think he might just be a little more old-fashioned.

Diane Wu
Alex actually knows Jim pretty well. They kept in touch after his interview. Their families became friends. Alex's mom helped teach Jim's wife how to drive. He gets dinner with Jim whenever he's back home.

Alex left our conversation feeling pretty fine about what he'd read. But then he stepped back into a campus caught in the force field of the lawsuit, where anything to do with race, and bias, and admissions felt hypercharged.

One of the biggest ways the lawsuit has shaken up Harvard is that certain statistics are now public, like the school said that without affirmative action, one out of two black kids wouldn't get it. Latino kids-- they'd lose one out of three. Kids whose parents went to Harvard, who are, by the way, mostly white have a seven times better chance of getting in than regular kids.

It's making students ask questions they'd rather not about how they got in. It's uncomfortable. I talked to two black students who chose not to see their files this fall. Both were worried it would say, let's take her because she's black. They didn't think it would, but still. One of them had the request form open on her computer for more than a week before she decided, nah, maybe senior year.

For Asian students, the question is the opposite. It's not am I here because of my race, but am I here in spite of it? It's cranked people's race goggles up to level 10. One of Alex's friends wrote on Facebook about a comment in her file. "She's a bright student, but what distinguishes her from other bright students?"

To her, this was racially coded. When she read it she saw, she seemed smart, but is there anything that makes her different from other Asian students? Well, if that was racially coded, Alex thought, you should see mine. He texted some close friends from his freshman year Chinese class.

Alex Zhang
I sent a couple screen grabs from my admissions file to them. I was like, hey, I can't get this off my mind. I didn't react that strongly to it until after I saw this stuff online. And now, I'm starting to feel pretty troubled by it.

Diane Wu
What was the part that was troubling to you?

Alex Zhang
My main trouble was, oh, does he feel like he needs to prove that I'm not like other Asians to the admissions office? And is that what it takes to get in nowadays? Most other college interviewers, I just talked for, like, an hour, an hour and a half. But Jim was doing a background check, you know? Why did he feel the need to do so rigorous of a background check?

Diane Wu
Alex's friends saw his screen grab saying tiger mom and perfect-for-MIT engineer and texted him back, oh, my god and that's kind of horrible. Tiger mom was actually a lot more explicit than any of the examples of bias that came up at the trial. It was really a fight over statistics and economic models, but a few stereotypes did come up. They were subtle. Things like Harvard referring to Asian applicants as one-dimensional or book smart.

Alex wanted to see what Jim was actually thinking when he wrote tiger mother. See if it really was a racial thing, like his friends were saying. So he gave him a call. Alex taped the call and with Jim's permission, sent it to me.

First, they catch up a little bit. Alex tells Jim about how he went to go see his file. He mentions an op-ed he co-wrote for the student newspaper.

Alex Zhang
Did you read the op-ed I wrote, by any chance? I don't think I sent it to you.

Jim McCandlish
Yes, you did send it. I read it, and I totally regret that I did not respond. It was very well done.

Diane Wu
It was very well done, Jim says.

Alex Zhang
Oh, really? You thought so?

Jim McCandlish

Alex Zhang
I'm glad you thought so.

Diane Wu
They talk about the lawsuit. And before Alex can even bring up tiger moms, Jim volunteers his own ideas about implicit bias in admissions. He's been thinking about the effect of the interviewer's biases because--

Jim McCandlish
Most likely, at least certainly from a place like Oregon, the interviewer is Caucasian. And we know there are stereotypes. I'm just curious how that plays out. If you have an expectation that an Asian interviewee is going to have a drab personality or meek and mild, you may play into your stereotype and not develop the rapport that would defeat the stereotype or at least resist it. You're in a really gray area of human nature.

Diane Wu
Jim, of course, went above and beyond to spend the time with Alex to get that rapport, to make sure he really understood Alex as an individual, not to write him off immediately.

Alex Zhang
So I'm actually kind of curious about some stuff you wrote. Yeah, so you wrote five pages of notes. There's probably 2,000 words at least.

Jim McCandlish

Alex Zhang
Yeah, and most of that was in the personal quality section, which I was the most curious about reading.

Jim McCandlish
OK. So here I am right on the edge. What do they say?

Diane Wu
It takes another eight minutes for Alex to get the nerve to bring it up-- tiger mom.

Alex Zhang
You mentioned that you asked her about my parents.

Jim McCandlish
Yeah, I was trying to figure out whether or not you were basically driven by the parents in any way.

Alex Zhang
You use the term tiger mother, saying my mom's not like that. That's very much affiliated with Asian parenting. So when I read that, it just was a little unexpected.

Jim McCandlish
Well, recall, I live with one.

Diane Wu
I live with one, Jim's saying. He's talking about his wife, who is Chinese. They have a young daughter.

Jim McCandlish
I live with a tiger mom and fight it all the time.

Alex Zhang
You think that's a particularly Chinese thing?

Jim McCandlish
I think the Chinese on the west side have a very definite, strong influence that way.

Diane Wu
West side-- Jim's talking about the wealthier side of Portland where he and Alex lived.

Jim McCandlish
No question in my mind.

Alex Zhang
Huh, gotcha. Because for me, it's kind of like, if you had a Chinese applicant, would you be suspicious that perhaps their parent or their mom was like that?

Jim McCandlish
If I saw somebody, Alex, that had their fingers in a lot of pies, and I had no way to ascertain the depth of what they were doing-- what I'm looking for and looked for was the person who was thriving on their own, that is self-motivated. And it isn't just Chinese. I use that term because I'm an Amy Tan Fan.

Diane Wu
Amy Tan wrote The Joy Luck Club. Apparently, after this conversation, Jim's wife told him that she did not also write Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. That was Amy Chua. His wife offered to buy him the book.

Jim McCandlish
But anybody I interview, the longer I did it, the more suspicious I was.

Diane Wu
After doing these interviews for 20 years, Jim was not naive to kids puffing up their extracurriculars or getting coached on how to act in the interview. He's saying he was tough on everyone.

I talked to Jim later. He didn't want to be recorded, but he was open about what he wrote. He told me, yeah, part of what he was doing was overtly pointing out to the admissions officers that Alex was different from other Chinese-American applicants. That this young man did not fit whatever stereotypes that he or the admissions officers might have. And his no-holds-barred strategy to get Alex in, it seemed to work.

The first reviewer, who went through Alex's file before his interview, wrote, "hope the alumni interview can add." The next reviewer saw Jim's report, then wrote, "interview in and is pretty remarkable for its in-depth review, comes out in the right place and is reassuring."

Besides his write-up, Jim gave Alex a personal rating of 1, the highest possible score. He gave Alex ones across all categories. The official admissions officers were not as effusive. They gave him a 2 for his personal rating, twos and threes for the rest. Wrote that his personal qualities seem to be still evolving.

Alex Zhang
After I read mine, my impression was that if you hadn't written such an in-depth, positive review that I probably wouldn't have gotten it, which is kind of an interesting thought.

Jim McCandlish
That's surprises me. You were at the top of everything. That surprises me. I thought I was a gravy.

Alex Zhang
Yeah, I really appreciate how much you did.

Jim McCandlish
Well, I appreciate you. So how was New York?

Diane Wu
They go on to talk about Alex's summer job in Manhattan, the classes he's taking this fall. Jim starts in on a story about his kid before telling Alex, oh, hey, turn that recorder off.

I met up with Alex again after that phone call. He wasn't totally satisfied by it, thought Jim didn't get the gravity of tiger mother, hadn't thought it all the way through. But he had no hard feelings.

Though when Alex thought more about tiger mother, he realized, it was not just the use of the term that unsettled him, but also, the assumption that it was a bad thing in the first place. Something that Harvard would want to make sure none of its students had.

Alex Zhang
This idea that a tiger mom would even be-- I know it is a thing in our culture for a lot of parents, but also is weird that there's a fixation on that by American society. Also, the question is, why does it matter if your parents pushed you in that way? Is that not part of your upbringing and who you are now?

I don't know. There seems to be these very negative connotations about the way Asians are raised or the way that they behave growing up. And it just seems like there's this very deeply ingrained prejudice and misunderstanding.

Diane Wu
Alex, personally, was grateful for when his mom pushed him when he was younger.

Alex Zhang
I remember in high school, my mom was gave me a lot of pressure. Make sure you connect with the teachers and talk to them during break time, so they can get to know you, because it's really important. They're going to have to write you recommendations. And I didn't want to do it, but I guess I had to.

Diane Wu
Your mom was on the ball.

Alex Zhang
Yeah, she's really on top of stuff, which is really good. Because she did it without killing me, overworking me. She's a really good mom.

Diane Wu
In race-conscious admissions, it's not just the university that's conscious of race. It's also the applicants themselves. Almost all the students of color I asked had considered whether and how to portray their race in their package. Just one white student had.

Alex is from a mostly white neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Growing up, his classmates often couldn't see past his race. They teased him for having a flat face, about being a nerd. One girl exclusively called him Asian instead of Alex.

In middle school, he started playing basketball, partly to downplay his Chinese-ness, fit in with the white kids. Out on the court, though, someone would still always call him Yao Ming. But he didn't write about any of that in his personal essay.

Instead, it's about how he transforms from a lonely elementary school kid playing video games by himself to big man on campus at his high school.

Diane Wu
You didn't talk about race in your essay. That's not the topic. It doesn't mention race at all. Was that part of the subtext of what you were writing, looking back on it?

Alex Zhang
Probably, yeah. In high school, I had a lot of internalized hatred about being Asian. I had this whole perception that I needed to differentiate myself. So I think one of my views is that, oh, we aren't seen. This also goes to myself being really cautious of the system or potential biases.

So I was like, oh, I probably need to show that I have been more social, or I have been a leader, have done these cool things.

Diane Wu
It struck me that it might be that while you were preparing your application, you were making some similar-ish calculation to maybe what Jim was making.

Alex Zhang

Diane Wu
Not I want to differentiate myself from all other applicants, but I extra want to differentiate myself from other Asian applicants.

Alex Zhang
Probably. And again, looking back, I don't like it in the same way that I don't like if Jim would have had to talk me up just because I'm Asian. I don't like that I [INAUDIBLE] that way if it was because of that.

Diane Wu
I asked Alex if what he saw in his file shifted his position at all in the lawsuit. No, he said. To him, tiger mom was weird for sure, but it wasn't discrimination. It didn't sway the argument one way or another. For Alex, what he saw in his file, what his friends have been seeing, it's more personal.

Alex Zhang
A lot of the comments my friends have been making and stuff, they're not things that make as much of an argument for either side as much as, like, oh, this is what being Asian is like.

Diane Wu
In other words, even when you make it into one of the fanciest colleges in the world, when you finally feel like people see you for who you are, your whole complicated self, just one word or phrase can snap you out of it. Remind you, right, right, this is how they see me. This is how it really works.

Ira Glass
Diane Wu is one of the producers of our show.