Saturday, November 30, 2019

Pot Ban

From the Bruin: The UCLA Office of Environment, Health & Safety revised a policy on smoking and tobacco use this year to prohibit marijuana usage. EH&S held a Q&A session about the policy change (last) Monday, following a 30-day public comment period that ended Sept. 20. The Q&A session featured discussion centered around changes to the policy in prohibiting marijuana usage on campus and enforcement rules for the policy.
UCLA Policy 810, Smoke and Tobacco-Free Environment, identifies prohibited substances related to smoking and identifies regulations for UCLA students, faculty, staff and volunteers. The revision will expand the list of prohibited substances to include marijuana products in all forms, said EH&S Executive Officer Michelle Amante Sityar.
UCLA professor-in-residence Michael Ong said in an emailed statement the policy change was based on the recommendations of the Office of General Counsel within the University of California Office of the President. These recommendations took into consideration marijuana’s continued federal status as an illegal substance.
“My concern is (that) the Office of General Counsel wants to be relatively conservative, because of the concern (for) what may potentially happen if all of our federal grants and contracts are potentially at risk,” Ong said. Ong added the total value of the federal grants and contracts is about $2.2 billion, and noncompliance with federal law on marijuana may put these grants and contracts at risk...

Meanwhile: UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative clinical psychiatrist Tim Fong, executive director of the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation Cat Packer, and UCLA criminal justice and drug policy scholar Brad Rowe visit Zócalo to discuss the regulatory challenges of bringing a black market into the light. When: Dec. 10, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM PST. Where: Cross Campus DTLA, 800 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90017. Free. RSVP at:

Friday, November 29, 2019

Salute to Professor-Emeritus John McNeil in LA Daily News

A 100-year-old UCLA teacher is still developing winners 

By Dennis McCarthy | November 29, 2019 |
LA Daily News

“I’m not sure whether they still want to have me around or whether they want to send me off. I don’t want to bother people.” 

– UCLA Emeritus Professor of Education John McNeil, who just turned 100

Trust me, professor, you are no bother. They love you over at UCLA. What John Wooden did for UCLA basketball, you’ve done for the university’s Teacher Education Program for the last 63 years. Develop winners. The only difference is yours were in the classroom, not on the court. Long after your peers have retired or passed on, you’re still working five days a week – 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. – offering over six decades of on-the-ground knowledge to graduate students looking to make education a career.

A bother? No way. An inspiration? Absolutely. “I get a smile on my face every time I see John walking the halls,” says professor John Rodgers. “He just lights up the place, and is a role model for all of us.” It’s been more than six decades since you traded in your Navy uniform after serving in combat in both World War II and Korea, and took over UCLA’s fledgling Teacher Education Program.

You had 50 rookie teachers under you, and few resources in 1956, but you had a solid game plan. Every rookie would spend a mandatory one year as a practice teacher in inner city schools because you knew from your experience teaching migrant children that if you could make the subject matter meaningful and interesting to them, you were ready for any classroom. That 50 has grown to thousands of young teachers you’ve sent to the front lines of education in this city, prepped and prepared.

“Our program was really a training school for Los Angeles city teachers,” you told me last week, sitting in your office at Moore Hall working on research material for a class you co-teach for undergrads on creating businesses that support the social good around the globe. The social good. It’s always been right there, front and center in your mind since the first day you walked on this campus. You saw your father lose everything during the Great Depression, and the pain it cost your family.

All those migrant kids you taught – the sons and daughters of Okies who lost their farms and livelihoods during the Dust Bowl, and came west looking for opportunity – also taught you about the social good and how important education was to it. Today’s students are not the children of Okie migrants – kids who shared the same up bringing and looked alike. Now, they’re students from all over the world – China, India, Japan, Haiti – sitting next to students born right here in the USA. Nobody looks alike.

“The kids from other countries add so much more to the class,” you say. “They bring in so much information and news, and give a spark to the class that’s absolutely wonderful.” But with that spark comes some deeper questions that not even you, with all your experience, can answer. “What is education?” you ask. “We don’t know yet. That’s our topic right now in the United States. What do we mean by education? Is it preparing for a job, or preparing for intellectual enlightenment? Is it opening our eyes and looking at the world differently?

“What is education for? What does it mean for your children? What do you want them to be if they’re educated? There are so many questions, so many options.” Like coach Wooden, you deflect most of the credit for your accomplishments. It was your parents, both of whom died in their early 70s, your older sister, and your wife of more than 50 years who died four years ago, who were your inspiration, you say. They deserve the credit, as well as many of the people you’ve worked with through the years.

“All my life, people have given me more than I deserve. I’ve had a lot of people who helped me.” But, like Wooden, you were the head coach, professor. You assembled your team, wrote the lesson plans and cirriculum, and watched over this city’s rookie teachers to make sure they were ready for the classroom. You deserve the credit. And now, a few weeks after your 100th birthday, you sit in your office in Moore Hall wondering if maybe you’ve become a bother after all these years, and it’s time to go. Not a chance, professor. Not a chance.


What did he say?

From the Sacramento Bee: On his way to an international climate forum two months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom handed down an executive order meant to sharpen the state’s focus – and its spending – on global warming.

Government agencies have been struggling to explain it ever since. It touts the state’s “$700 billion investment portfolio,” and instructs the government to use it to “advance California’s climate leadership.”

The executive order “is the governor saying ‘I am prioritizing this in a mainstream way across the government. The state as a major investor and asset owner needs to take climate change really seriously,’” said Kate Gordon, director of the governor’s Office of Planning and Research. The order references funds that taxpayers typically think of as restricted, such as money earmarked for road improvements and for pension systems that have a financial obligation to earn as much as cash as possible to provide retirement security for millions government employees.

Newsom’s order happened to follow Caltrans’ release of a report describing decisions to adjust funding for highway projects that had been pledged to the Central Valley. The timing created an impression that the Newsom administration was tinkering with taxpayer-approved transportation plans. Newsom in an interview with The Fresno Bee editorial board earlier this month acknowledged the confusion the executive order created and said he was working to resolve questions about the documents.

The change in highway plans “was a staff level draft and it was ambiguous in how it coincided with an executive order – one from my office, one from Caltrans,” he said. “We have provided clarity. ... I think we have facts to calm the nerves.” The departments affected by Newsom’s order are in the early stages of planning for it. Here’s what they know about it: ...


California’s three state public pension systems are among the biggest in the world, and each has investment strategies that account for climate change.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a combined portfolio worth more than $634 billion, prefer to use their clout to press corporations to account for climate risk.

CalSTRS in October launched a climate review to account for risks, spokeswoman Karen Doron said in an email. “Engaging companies and policy makers is an effective strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Further analysis will reveal what companies to invest in based upon future profitability,” she said.

The University of California Retirement Plan, with about $80 billion, in September announced that it would go further by pulling its money out of fossil fuel companies. Each retirement plan is underfunded, meaning the pension systems owe more money in benefits to workers and retirees than they have on hand today.

That’s a big reason that a governor appearing to wade into their investment strategies caused some concern when Newsom released the executive order. “Unless the governor is willing to take even more $$$ from over-taxed California citizens, Newsom should step back,” CalPERS Board of Administration member Margaret Brown wrote on social media accounts after the governor published the order.

Newsom’s executive order directs the pension plans to work with his Finance Department to develop a new investment framework “that reflects the increased risks to the economy and physical environment due to climate change.” Gordon, from Newsom’s Office of Planning and Research, said the order is not a directive calling for CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest from oil companies. Rather, she said, it’s intended help the pension funds spot opportunities and avoid pratfalls as the economy turns to low-carbon or no-carbon alternatives for energy.

“Climate is a material risk to companies, both in terms of physical liability, like PG&E and wildfires and also when you talk about the transition to a carbon neutral economy because some assets will no longer be as valuable,” she said.

For instance, “electric vehicles are a solution and a player in the market,” she said. “We should be thinking of investing in electric vehicles. You want to avoid stranded assets as an investor and you want to avoid physical risk. There’s a growing understanding that climate change is a material risk to investors and companies just like cyber-terrorism or inflation.”

So far, the pension plans have had one meeting with Newsom’s Finance Department to talk about the order.*

CalPERS Chief Investment Office Yu Ben Meng at a board meeting this month called climate change “an investment issue for us” because the pension fund must pay out billions of dollars in benefits “for generations to come.” He said CalPERS would “continue to lead on climate change initiatives” while paying close attention to its investment targets.


The most tangible change to California government from Newsom’s climate changer order so far was an announcement that state government would stop purchasing gas-power cars immediately.**

In January, the state also plans to stop buying vehicles from carmakers that are fighting California’s long-recognized authority to set clean air and vehicle emission standards that are more rigorous than the federal government’s.

As of today, that means the state would not buy vehicles from General Motors, Toyota and FiatChrysler. The state would continue purchasing from Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen.** ...

Full story at

*It's unclear from the story whether UC took part in this meeting.
**Unclear from the story whether UC will feel obligated to comply.

Regents' Health Services Committee Meets at UCLA on Dec. 10

The Regents' Health Services Committee will be back at UCLA on December 10th. Its agenda is now posted; see below. Note that the item of greatest interest to UCLA will be discussed only in closed session. (Scroll to bottom.)

Date: December 10, 2019
Time: Upon adjournment of the closed session meeting
Locations: Centennial Ballroom, Luskin Conference Center, Los Angeles Campus
Lote H-4, Carretera Federal 200 Km. 19.5, Punta Mita, Mexico
Agenda – Closed Session
Action Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of October 10, 2019
H1(X) Discussion Extension of Appointment of and Compensation for Interim Chief Executive Officer, UC Davis Medical Center, Davis Campus, in Addition to his Existing Appointment as Chief Operating Officer, UC Davis Medical Center, Davis Campus
Agenda – Open Session
Public Comment Period (20 minutes)
Action Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of October 10, 2019
H2 Discussion Introductory Comments of the Executive Vice President – UC Health: Background, Perspectives, and Next Steps
H3 Action Approval of Extension of Appointment of and Compensation for Interim Chief Executive Officer, UC Davis Medical Center, Davis Campus, in Addition to his Existing Appointment as Chief Operating Officer, UC Davis Medical Center, Davis Campus, as Discussed in Closed Session
H4 Action Proposed Request for the New Hospital at UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center at Parnassus Heights Program, San Francisco Campus
H5 Action Proposed Request for the UCSF Mission Bay Block 34 Clinical Building, San Francisco Campus
H6 Discussion Clinical Quality Working Group Update
H7 Discussion Speaker Series – How UC San Diego Saved a Faculty Member and Launched the First Dedicated Phage Therapy Center in North America
H8 Discussion Collaborating with California Counties to Enhance Student and Community Mental Health
H9 Discussion Behavioral Health Collaboration, San Diego Campus
Agenda – Closed Session
H10(X) Discussion Interim Report of the Special Committee Investigating UCLA’s Response to Sexual Misconduct in Clinical Settings

Thursday, November 28, 2019

No comment needed

More on Elsevier and all that - Part 3

From Inside Higher Ed: Carnegie Mellon University and Elsevier Thursday announced a new agreement to radically change how the institution pays to read and publish research.

Instead of paying separately to access Elsevier’s catalog of paywalled content and publish open-access articles in Elsevier journals, Carnegie Mellon will pay one flat fee for both.

The deal means that starting on Jan. 1, 2020, all principal investigators publishing in Elsevier journals will have the option of making their research immediately available to the public, at no additional cost.

The “read-and-publish” deal is a first with a university in the U.S. for Elsevier and is the result of nearly yearlong negotiations. Elsevier struck a similar deal with a consortium of Norwegian research institutions earlier this year.

Like the Norwegian deal, the Carnegie Mellon deal is being treated as an experimental pilot by Elsevier, Keith Webster, dean of university libraries and director of emerging and integrative media initiatives at the university, said in an interview. The Carnegie Mellon deal is for four years, he said.

Read-and-publish deals are being pursued by some colleges and universities as a way to reduce journal subscription costs while boosting open-access publications. As more and more articles are published openly, fewer articles will be paywalled. Some open-access advocates say this approach could eventually eliminate paywalls altogether.

For Elsevier, the pivot to paying to publish rather than paying to read represents a fundamental shift in its business model -- one that the company has been seemingly hesitant to make.

Negotiations between Elsevier and the University of California System broke down earlier this year in part because the two parties could not reach an agreement on pricing. The university system was seeking a deal that would reduce costs and make open-access publications in Elsevier journals the default for UC authors unless they chose to opt out. The publisher said the UC system was seeking two services for the price of one...

Full story at

No word from UC as to whether the development above might lead to some kind of deal with Elsevier.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

DA 2020

Actually - despite the picture - the district attorney of LA County is a woman, perhaps a concept that would have surprised the producers of the old radio show and comic book.

The 2020 election is coming up and most of the attention at present is on the presidential race and not so much on local offices. But, as it happens, the current DA is up for re-election. We were reminded of that fact by a recent op ed in the Bruin.*

Apart from the complaints in the Bruin, the relation between the current DA and UCLA has not always been one of friendly accord. We have noted some issues on this blog regarding her (mis)handling of a case involving a UCLA faculty member. You can find a link to our earlier coverage at:

Yours truly suggests checking out the story before voting for DA.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Title IX Controversy Continues

From the Washington Post: Students accused of sexual assault will win new rights under sweeping rules being finalized by the Trump administration, giving universities clear but controversial guidance on handling these emotionally charged conflicts.

The final regulation will maintain contentious elements of a version proposed a year ago, including a provision requiring universities to allow cross-examination of those alleging sexual harassment or assault, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the rules.

In publishing last year’s proposed regulation, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the new rules would restore balance in a system that, in her view, had been skewed in favor of the accusers. She said her approach would provide clarity and fairness for victims and those accused of wrongdoing. But the proposal came under intense fire from women’s rights groups and Democrats, who said it would allow assailants and schools to escape responsibility and make college campuses less safe for women. It received an astounding 124,196 public comments, including a crush of criticism from advocacy groups, survivors of sexual assault and campus leaders.

DeVos has been aiming to publish the final regulation before the year is out, although it’s possible that timeline will slip. Meetings are scheduled into January on the matter at the White House Office of Management and Budget, which reviews all regulations. It’s unclear when the new rules will take effect. Advocates for sexual assault survivors said they’re already planning to challenge the regulation in court...

Full story at

Editorial note from yours truly: We will again* add an editorial comment that the way to have fair hearings is to have a neutral decision maker - one not employed by or beholden to either side - similar to what occurs in the arbitration of grievances for union-represented employees at UCLA and many other employers, public and private. The issue of cross examination can be dealt with by the neutral and is less central to due process and fairness than just having a neutral.

Gold Shield

Members of the UCLA Academic Senate
Dear Colleagues:
We enthusiastically invite your nominations for the Gold Shield Faculty Prize, an unrestricted $30,000 cash prize that recognizes and rewards mid-career UCLA faculty members who have demonstrated extraordinary accomplishments in undergraduate teaching and in research or creative activity, as well as service within the University. The Prize is given in two annual installments. The 2020 winner will be from north campus and will be chosen from one of the following areas: Arts and Architecture, Humanities, Social Sciences, Music and Theater, Film and Television.
The recipient of the award must be an exceptional mid-career full professor who has a distinguished record of undergraduate teaching with preference given to faculty who have held a doctoral degree for at least 10 years. Gold Shield’s additional criteria include "extraordinary promise and accomplishment in research or creative activity; an outstanding record in teaching, especially of undergraduates; and an acceptable level of service to the University."
The nomination period for the Gold Shield Faculty Prize opened on Monday, November 11, 2019. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, February 14, 2020, at 5 p.m.
Gold Shield Faculty Prize information, including the purpose, history of the prize, eligibility, criteria, and instructions for nominations, are available on the Academic Senate website. The Gold Shield Faculty Prize brochure (PDF), which delineates the entry instructions, criteria and selection process, can be viewed online and is separately attached.
For further information, please contact Annie Speights, Assistant to the Gold Shield Faculty Prize Committee, in the Academic Senate office at:

You may also contact Marla Berns, Gold Shield Faculty Prize Chair, by email at:
Michael Meranze
UCLA Academic Senate

Marla Berns
Gold Shield Faculty Prize Committee

Monday, November 25, 2019

Dropping the SAT? - Update

On Saturday, we posted an item about two UC chancellors who favored dropping the SAT and ACT.

UCOP Daily News Clips now offers a compendium of references on that topic:

Drop the SAT and ACT as a requirement for admission, top UC officials say
(Los Angeles Times) Teresa Watanabe
U. of California leaders support dropping use of SAT, ACT
(Associated Press)
(New York Times)
(Washington Post)
(San Francisco Chronicle)
(Sacramento Bee)
(San Diego Union-Tribune)
(San Jose Mercury News)
(Merced Sun-Star)
(ABC7 San Francisco)
(KPIX5 San Francisco)
(CBS13 Sacramento)
(KUSI San Diego)
(KSBY Central Coast)
Will UC Go Test Optional?
(Inside Higher Ed) Scott Jaschik

In short, it's a hot topic.

Davis Diversity

UC-Davis has a guide regarding writing diversity statements for new faculty applicants:

Guidelines for Writing a Statement of Contributions to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

UC Davis welcomes our applicants for faculty positions to provide their own unique perspectives on their past, present, and future aspirations and contributions to promoting equity, inclusion, and diversity in their professional careers.  You may have worked, for example, with members of communities or local organizations, in politics, or with university constituents like students, staff, or faculty to further the goals of equity and inclusion.  We respect and recognize such activities as consonant with our mission at UC Davis: to advance the human condition through improving the quality of life for all, using a framework that connects its land-grant history to a transformative vision for the 21st century.

There are many valuable ways our faculty have contributed to the “One World, One UC Davis” vision.  These have included:

  • Commitment to using a faculty position to be a force of enlightenment and change by opening up opportunities to students who may have never known of the intellectual and life options that abound at our university.
  • Creation of programs that provide access and establish a pipeline in disciplines for students in traditionally underrepresented groups.
  • Enriching the classroom environment through providing exposure to new perspectives on cultures, beliefs, or practices, or the teaching of cultural humility or other aptitudes and skills to enhance the ability of our students to engage with inclusivity in a pluralistic society.
  • Exposure to research opportunities for individuals historically excluded from disciplines on the basis of their gender or ethnic identity.
  • Leadership in any capacity that tangibly promotes an environment where diversity is welcomed, fostered, and celebrated.
  • Mentoring students from traditionally underrepresented groups and at-risk students to provide the guidance needed to help ensure their academic experience is a welcoming and positive one, to promote university resources when needed for retention, and to serve as transformative role models for those who may not yet understand their real potential in an academic environment.
  • Outreach to members of student clubs, private organizations, or community groups whose mission includes service, education, or extending opportunity to disadvantaged people.
  • Recognition of the challenges members of society face when they are members of underrepresented groups, people of color, or women; or because of their religious, ethnic, or gender identities or orientation.
  • Service that promotes inclusion by striving to dismantle barriers to people historically excluded from the opportunities that all have a right to enjoy.
  • Production of research that seeks to improve the lives of under-served communities or the promotion of knowledge or understanding through research and scholarship that sheds light on the experiences of oppressed or under-represented communities.  

Through your own Statements of Contributions to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion you can tell us how your past, present, and future activities have or will contribute to UC Davis’ mission of promoting equity and inclusion or have shaped your perspective on this issue. But don’t feel limited to that: if you have creative ideas for future activities that will contribute to the UC Davis’ “One World” vision, please feel very welcome to share those as well, and specifically how and when you would like to implement them in our University environment.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Post-Strike News: Unsatisfied

You may recall that there was a one-day strike that coincided with the most recent Regents meeting. One of the issues in the labor dispute was outsourcing. The Regents did adopt a resolution saying essentially that any outsourced contracting would have to require equivalent wages and benefits to what UC employees would have received. However, AFSCME - the union involved in the strike - has indicated it is not satisfied with the Regents' action:

From the BruinThe University of California promised to reduce the number of low-wage, outsourced contract workers it employs in a policy adopted Thursday. The UC’s largest employee union remains unsatisfied.

“A ‘policy’ isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on unless it is actually enforced,” read a statement issued the same day by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299.
AFSCME Local 3299 represents over 25,000 University employees, including service workers and patient care technicians.
The UC Board of Regents passed the new policy at its meeting at UC San Francisco a day after AFSCME Local 3299 held a strike to protest what it called the “unfair, unsafe and often illegal” practices the UC engaged in while outsourcing jobs.
UC President Janet Napolitano said in the regent’s meeting Wednesday that the proposed policy limits job outsourcing and fully adheres to California’s state laws and policies on the practice.
“The policy significantly limits the use of outside service contracts to specific, identified circumstances that are fully aligned with the state’s requirements and the California government code,” she said.
Further, in the case that a full-time employee of the UC is displaced by a temporary worker, the policy mandates that the employee be offered a comparable position within a 10-mile radius of their original job, Napolitano said.
AFSCME Local 3299 claims the University’s history with unions makes it clear that the only reliable steps the UC can take to limit outsourcing would have to be through legally binding contracts or state legislation...

Full story at

Whether the contracting out issue will remain a source of strike activity remains to be seen. It could be that given the Regents' action, UC might be willing to put the regental language into its labor agreement since in principle it is now UC policy. In that case, if the union viewed an instance of contracting out as violating the language, it could use the grievance system for enforcement.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Dropping the SAT?

From the LA Times: The chancellors of UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, along with the University of California’s chief academic officer, said they support dropping the SAT and ACT as an admission requirement — stances certain to fuel the growing national movement against the tests as an unfair barrier to college entry for underserved students.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol T. Christ and UC Provost Michael Brown told a forum on college admissions Friday that research has convinced them that performance on the SAT and ACT is so strongly influenced by family income, parents’ education and race that using them for high-stakes admissions decisions is simply wrong.

“They really contribute to the inequities of our system,” Christ said at the Berkeley forum, sponsored by the Policy Analysis for California Education research center and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education.

Brown said he was not opposed to all standardized tests but objects to the SAT and ACT because their results compare students against one another in a way designed to produce high and low scores. He prefers standardized tests that measure students by how much they’ve mastered prescribed academic content. One such test is Smarter Balanced, which is used in California to assess 11th-graders on the state’s Common Core curriculum, but Brown said he would prefer a test more closely linked to the content of courses required for UC admission...

Full story at

Emeriti Awards for 2019

Prof. Ivan Berend
This past Wednesday, UCLA Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel Michael Levine presented various emeriti awards at the Faculty Center. VC Levine was introduced by Emeriti Association President Ron Mellor:

Winner of the Goldberg award for academic service: 

  • Prof. Rinaldo Casalis, Head and Neck Surgery 

Winner of the Panunzio award for scholarly work or educational service

  • Prof. Lynn Hunt, History 

Prof. James Cherry
Winners of Dickson awards for research, scholarly work, teaching, and/or educational service: 

  • Prof. Richard Abel, Law 
  • Prof. Ivan Berend, History 
  • Prof. James Cherry, Pediatrics

Professors Berend and Cherry both were present to receive their awards in person. (See the photos.) The other award recipients were traveling and out of town.

You can hear an audio recording of the award presentations and the remarks of recipients at the links below:

or direct to:

Friday, November 22, 2019

UC contracts with Catholic hospitals allow religious limits

UC contracts with Catholic hospitals allow religious limits on medical staff, students

By Michael Hiltzik, Nov. 21, 2019,  LA Times

Religious restrictions on healthcare have been developing into a public health crisis of the first order. New disclosures show how deeply these restrictions have infiltrated an institution that should be a bulwark against them: the University of California.

Clinical and educational training contracts with Catholic hospital chains have placed religion-based constraints on UC personnel and students at every one of UC’s six medical schools, as well as some nursing, nurse practitioner, physician assistant and pharmacy programs.

The contracts remain in force at medical and professional schools at UC San Francisco, UCLA, and UC Davis, San Diego and Riverside. At UC Irvine, a 2016 contract with Providence St. Joseph Health expired at the end of May.

The [Directives] are problematic because they’re not based on science, or medical evidence, or the values and obligations of the university as a public entity.

Most of the contracts are with the Catholic hospital chain Dignity Health. The contracts typically require UC personnel and student trainees to comply with Catholic Church strictures on healthcare while practicing or doing field training at Dignity facilities. The restrictions don’t apply when UC personnel and students are working or studying at UC facilities such as its own medical centers or clinical sites not operated by Dignity.

In some cases the restrictions could prohibit UC personnel at Dignity facilities from even counseling patients about medical options that conflict with church doctrine, such as contraception and abortion. UCSF also has training agreements with Providence St. Joseph in Oregon and Washington state.

The most restrictive church rules are specified by the Ethical and Religious Directives on Catholic Health Care, known as the ERDs, a document issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that bars almost all abortions, sterilization procedures such as tubal ligations, and provision of contraceptives. The directives are in place at many of the hospitals named in the UC contracts, even though UC is prohibited by the state Constitution from allowing religious considerations to govern its operations.

The contracts were obtained by the ACLU of Northern California via a Public Records Act request. The documents raise new questions about whether UCSF officials were candid with university regents in testimony this spring over a proposed affiliation between UCSF and Dignity Health. UCSF abandoned the plan in May in the face of a public uproar and professional rebellion at the school.

In defending the proposal, UCSF officials suggested that UC providers would be able to circumvent many of the religious strictures by transferring patients to hospitals with less restrictive rules, and sometimes through subterfuges such as falsifying patient records.

But as the ACLU observed in a Nov. 15 letter to UCSF officials, “even at the time of these assertions, UCSF ... already had entered into contracts with Dignity Health that explicitly tie the hands of UC providers and require them to comply with Dignity Health’s religious doctrine.” (Emphasis in the original.) ...

Full column at

Is this the canary in the coal mine for the Hawaii telescope?

Or is there now a bargaining chip? There is a potential for a significant loss of telescope-related spending and jobs if the TMT telescope - in which UC has a role - is moved from Hawaii to the Canary Islands. See below from AP:

The director of a Spanish research center said Wednesday that a giant telescope, costing $1.4 billion, is one step nearer to being built on the Canary Islands in the event an international consortium gives up its plans to build it in Hawaii. Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute Director Rafael Rebolo told The Associated Press that a building permit for the telescope has been granted by the town of Puntagorda on the island of La Palma.
“There are no more building permits needed according to Spanish legislation,” he said in an email.
The international consortium backing the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) wants to build it atop Hawaii’s tallest peak. But some native Hawaiians consider the Mauna Kea summit sacred and their protests have stopped construction from going ahead since mid-July. The Spanish island of La Palma, which already hosts several powerful telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, was chosen as a back-up site for the telescope in 2016.
As point man for the alternative site, Rebolo said he maintains regular contacts with the consortium and Spain’s ministry for science. Rebolo is optimistic that Spain could end up welcoming the telescope.
“I think it is possible. The Canary Islands offer a very good solution so that the TMT can be built quickly and be a successful project for cutting-edge science,” Rebolo said.
After protesters mounted a blockade of Mauna Kea's access road this summer, the consortium decided to go ahead and ask for a building permit in Spain in case the Hawaiian site becomes untenable. The Spanish observatory site had already passed environmental impact evaluations. The summits at Mauna Kea and La Palma are considered among the best sites in the world for deep-space observation thanks to their prime weather and air conditions. The large size of the planned telescope's mirror means it would collect more light, allowing it to see faint, far-away objects such as stars and galaxies. Astronomers hope to peer into the deepest reaches of the universe and examine the time immediately following the Big Bang.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Avoiding Bad Apples at Davis and San Diego

From Science: ...In California, ..the desire to avoid hiring faculty found to have committed harassment (at a previous institution) has spurred two UC campuses to change their approach to vetting finalists for tenured faculty positions.

At UC Davis, a pilot project begun in July 2018 asks those candidates to allow their current employer to share with the school any findings of harassment against them. Anyone who doesn’t sign the waiver allowing the disclosure of such information, which is normally kept confidential, is considered to have an incomplete application and is removed from consideration. The new policy appears to be having its desired effect, says Philip Kass, the university’s vice provost for academic affairs. Every one of the 21 finalists for tenured positions whom UC Davis has investigated since the policy was implemented has come up clean (based on responses from 30 of the 31 institutions that the university queried). His theory is that those with a negative finding in their files have chosen not to apply, and he’s not worried that self-winnowing will limit the talent pool available to the university.
“I’d rather err on the side of excluding someone with a history of harassment rather than allowing someone to sneak through,” Kass says. At the same time, he notes, discovering a finding of past harassment wouldn’t automatically trigger a rejection. UC Davis typically asks institutions to go back roughly 10 years into personnel records, on the assumption that rehabilitation is possible. “It’s not a case of one strike and you’re out forever,” Kass says. “If someone has admitted they made a mistake and learned from it, that’s a positive sign.”
This summer, UC San Diego (UCSD) launched a similar pilot. It was spurred by a “false alarm” involving allegations of past harassment by a newly hired faculty member, says Robert Continetti, senior associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. After completing the investigation, Continetti says, “We found ourselves without any policy to guide us going forward.”
The new policy applies only to tenured positions, Continetti says, because “it’s a laborious process to remove someone with tenure.” In contrast, those seeking “tenure-track appointment are already on probation,” meaning any harassment finding could lead to a denial of tenure. Overall, UCSD officials expect the 3-year pilot will affect roughly 20% of the 75 to 80 tenured faculty searches that the university conducts in a typical year.
UCSD officials worked closely with the faculty senate in designing the pilot, Continetti says. One concern they addressed is that the additional vetting could slow recruitment to the point that the best candidates might choose to go elsewhere. “We’re committed to taking no more than 5 days” for the background information requests, he says, “so we don’t think it will be an impediment to making an offer.”
Kass and Continetti believe the new procedures will weed out bad apples while maintaining an employee’s right to privacy. “It’s not going to be 100% perfect, but it is such a common sense approach that I’m surprised more universities haven’t adopted it,” says Kass, who this June testified before Congress at a hearing on ways to stop harassment in science...

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

$20 million

We recently took note of a $10 million donation to UCLA that did not involve a brick-and-mortar structure because we like gifts that aim at teaching, student support, and research.*

Here is a $20 million donation that also falls into that category.

UCLA to launch institute to advance scholarship on Armenia and its diaspora

Jennifer Wheelock | November 19, 2019

UCLA plans to launch The Promise Armenian Institute, an entity that will establish a world-class research center and platform for public outreach about Armenia while integrating and expanding the university’s existing Armenian studies offerings and connections to that country.

“This institute will be UCLA’s new hub for all initiatives and research related to Armenia and the diaspora,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “It will energize the teaching of Armenian history and culture in addition to reaching out to Armenians and Armenian institutions through research and public programs.”

The first initiative of its size and scope, the interdisciplinary institute will have a home in the UCLA International Institute and will focus activities around two pillars. The first pillar is the Center for Armenian Studies, which will attract top faculty and visiting lecturers, support graduate and postdoctoral research on Armenian studies and provide funding for language classes. Building on an in-depth study of Armenian society, culture and history — including scholarship about the 1915 Armenian genocide and the worldwide diaspora — the center will provide the academic foundation for the institute’s second pillar, Programs for Public Impact.

Programs for Public Impact will coordinate new and ongoing projects in archaeology, the arts, business and law, engineering, health policy and medicine, information technology and social policy, leveraging UCLA’s expertise to strengthen communities in Los Angeles, in Armenia, and throughout the diaspora. Among existing UCLA efforts that already contribute to this mission are the Armenian Genome Project, which includes the study of genetics and familial diseases; faculty collaboration with the Armenian Health Ministry to improve the country’s public health; and cultural heritage partnerships with the National Library of Armenia on digital projects. Ongoing and future cultural programs include art exhibitions, film screenings, music performances and other events featuring Armenian artists.

The institute, which has been in the planning phase for several years, is being created with a $20 million gift from the estate of well-known philanthropist and entrepreneur Kirk Kerkorian. Before his death in 2015, Kerkorian financed and served as executive producer of the film “The Promise,” a personal passion project raising awareness of the 1915 Armenian genocide. When the movie opened in 2017, proceeds and gifts inspired by the campaign around the film supported a number of charitable causes, including The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA School of Law.

“The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA, which will support students, alumni and faculty for generations, is a testament to Mr. Kerkorian’s generosity and extends his unparalleled legacy,” said Dr. Eric Esrailian, chief of UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, a producer of “The Promise” and close friend of Kerkorian. “With this new institute, the university will continue to keep the promise to remember Armenia’s history, to recognize the impact Armenians are making at UCLA and in our community, and to facilitate scholarship and collaborations around the world in perpetuity.”

“The Promise” and the Emmy-nominated companion documentary “Intent to Destroy” have been used extensively in educational campaigns over the past two years, and in October, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide.

“The film ‘The Promise’ was Mr. Kerkorian’s gift to the Armenian people and the world. The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA will continue the legacy,” said Kerkorian’s close friend and personal attorney Patricia Glaser, an executive producer of the film. “The Armenian genocide needs to be acknowledged and the Armenian culture needs to be allowed to flourish.”

“Kirk would be proud and thankful to UCLA for the fulfillment of The Promise Armenian Institute,” said Anthony Mandekic, Kerkorian’s estate executor, close friend and another executive producer of the film.
Campus and community leaders announced the new institute at a reception Tuesday. Attendees included businesswoman Kim Kardashian, “The Promise” actor Christian Bale, writer-director Terry George, producer Mike Medavoy, and tennis icon and philanthropist Andre Agassi.

“The new institute builds on a 50-year history of Armenian studies at UCLA, which started in the 1960s, and the university’s first endowed chair in the field in 1969,” said Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement. “Joining the International Institute’s other research centers on world regions and global issues, The Promise Armenian Institute will be a model of UCLA’s engagement with our global and local communities. This generous gift will benefit all of UCLA and beyond.”

The gift is part of the Centennial Campaign for UCLA, which is scheduled to conclude Dec. 31.

Source of media release: