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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Response - Part 2

UC statement on protests, violence following George Floyd’s death

Sunday, May 31, 2020

University of California Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez and President Janet Napolitano issued the following joint statement today (May 31):

The tragic deaths of George Floyd, countless other African Americans and people of color, as well as the justified anger and fury in ensuing protests, speak to the institutionalized racism that has plagued this country in the same way it has persistently defined the everyday realities of individuals who face perpetual intolerance, discrimination, marginalization and bigotry.

As leaders of the largest public research university in the United States, we feel that silence is complicity: We must put an end to these incidents now. No matter how difficult, we must individually and collectively reflect on the lives lost unnecessarily, and address head-on the systemic problems and challenges we all face as a society. And we must do so – unified – with a sense of urgency and unwavering commitment to end these unnecessary race-based killings and violence.

As part of our commitment to find solutions to address these issues, the University of California will take immediate action to re-examine our own practices and ensure we continue to implement the recommendations of the Policing Task Force that we established two years ago. We will improve the training, accountability and community relations of our university police departments.

We must all move forward with a real and practical plan to shift our country’s trajectory: better training for police in de-escalation practices, more transparency and accountability in the discipline of officers who break rules, greater involvement by the Department of Justice with thorough investigations of law enforcement entities, and robust efforts not only to diversify police forces, but also to provide more nuanced, racially sensitive training.

We must also look to methodical, tangible and inclusive ways to restore and further foster a healthy relationship between law enforcement and the communities of color who depend on officers of the law to model both justice and compassion.

In our role as educators, researchers, and civic leaders, we must prepare our youth to participate vigorously in civic discourse and democracy. A robust civic discourse requires the truth: The killings must stop. The system must change.

Source: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/uc-statement-protests-violence-following-george-floyd-s-death

Response

7:10 AM 5-31-2020
From an email circulated late yesterday evening:

To the Campus Community:

Across the country, people are horrified by the recent killings of three African Americans: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. We share that outrage. And these are only a few of the most recent deaths to cause particular anguish amongst those who for too long have endured cruelty after cruelty, indignity after indignity.
What stood out about the killing of George Floyd — more than its senselessness, more than its brutality – was its casualness. What was so chilling was the relaxed demeanor of a police officer — sworn to protect and to serve — his hands calmly in his pockets, kneeling on the neck of a fellow human being, indifferent to his cries of pain and the fear for his life. Equally harrowing was his three fellow officers who stood there and did not recognize the need to intervene in a life or death situation. All these behaviors reflected the utter dehumanization of Black life.
We must never let that indifference to human suffering become our own. We must never deaden our hearts to the pain of others. Our fundamental values demand that we care.
At UCLA, we believe deeply that equity, respect and justice are central to the character of our institution, to the health of our democracy and to the well-being of our world. Still, we recognize that UCLA also can and must do better. As campus leaders, we recommit ourselves to ensuring that our policies and actions value the lives, safety and dignity of every Bruin.
We have begun the process of coordinating virtual reflection spaces for departments and units, where we can come together to try and process what has happened. With assistance from the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the university’s Equity Advisors, we are also trying to share ways we can honestly and humbly acknowledge the pain and search for solutions. This includes working with student government leaders to understand and address the needs of our students. Our efforts will be updated on the Resources for Racial Trauma web page as we push forward to deeper understanding and genuine change.
We conclude by stating unequivocally that Black lives DO matter. They matter at UCLA. They matter in Minnesota. They matter everywhere.
In solidarity,
[Click on list above to clarify.]

Saturday, May 30, 2020

No Surprise

Given the coronavirus situation, this item from the Bruin can't be a surprise:

The University of California Education Abroad Program announced all fall study abroad programs are canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an email sent to students enrolled in the fall term and yearlong programs. The cancellation includes programs scheduled for the fall 2020 term and yearlong 2020-2021 programs.
UCEAP considered a potential second wave of COVID-19 and was unsure how abroad universities would support students in the event of a second wave, according to the email. Students will not be charged cancellation or withdrawal fees, and have the option to transfer their applications to the spring term or to reapply to the fall 2021 term, according to the email. Plans for study abroad programs for the spring 2021 term have not been announced yet. 
UCLA announced it was canceling summer travel study, global internships and summer global cities programs in an email sent in early March. UCEAP later canceled all summer study abroad programs in March.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Legal Shield for Fall

The American Council on Education (ACE), a higher ed lobbying entity in Washington, DC, has called on Congress for some kind of legal shield for universities and colleges against coronavirus-related lawsuits that might be brought by students, faculty, or others for campuses that reopen in the fall. 

ACE is a membership organization and the various UC campuses, including UCLA, are listed as affiliates.* The letter to Congress is at:
https://www.acenet.edu/Documents/Letter-Congress-pandemic-liability-052820.pdf

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*Affiliates of ACE are listed at:
https://www2.acenet.edu/programs/commission/institution_list.cfm

Not Too Illuminating

More light is needed.
Yesterday, we noted that the legislature - particularly the state senate - has its own budget proposal and is not simply adopting the governor's May Revise plan.* In past years, the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has lined up budget proposals from the governor, assembly, and senate side by side in a simple table in its publications.

Unfortunately, this time LAO's available public analysis of the senate plan is disjointed and does not align clearly with its own prior analysis of the May Revise. Descriptively, LAO characterizes the senate's plan as similar to the governors IF the federal government comes through with more support, but dissimilar if federal money doesn't arrive. In general, it seems to rely on more drawing down of state reserves absent federal support. It also seems to rely on changes to a particular tax which - if the federal government accepts what the state does - draws in more federal funding for Medi-Cal (the state name for Medicaid). In the past, federal approval has not always been forthcoming.

What may be going on in the assembly has yet to be analyzed. And exactly what is implied for UC in the senate version is not discussed, although the LA Times - as we noted yesterday - suggested that the senate has more funding for UC than the governor's proposal.

The available LAO analysis of the state senate plan is at:
https://lao.ca.gov/handouts/FO/2020/Overview-of-the-Senate-2020-21-Budget-Package-052820.pdf
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/05/shock-but-not-awe.html
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UPDATE: The Sacramento Bee's report on the senate plan contains this tidbit:

(The plan) "reduces by half Newsom’s $800 million total blow in funding for the University of California and the California State University."

Source: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article243063166.html

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dorm Infection

A student living in a dorm is reported in the Bruin to have tested positive for the coronavirus:

A student living on the Hill has been diagnosed with COVID-19, UCLA officials reported Wednesday. The student has been self-isolating since May 20 but did not share a common living area with other students, according to UCLA NewsroomThis is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the Hill. There have been 33 total cases of COVID-19 within the UCLA community that have been reported to UCLA officials.*
UCLA’s first COVID-19-related death was reported in late April when an electrician working at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center died after four of his co-workers tested positive for the disease. UCLA Housing moved students living on the Hill to single occupancy rooms in April in order to promote social distancing. However, a majority of the students on the Hill had left for home by the beginning of spring quarter...
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*As we have noted in prior posts, the LA Times reported many more UCLA cases weeks ago. The university has not reconciled its number with the Times' report. See:
http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/04/update-ucla-puts-count-at-24-but-who-is.html

End of the Beginning?

The latest data on new weekly claims for unemployment insurance are in through the week ending May 25th. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, new claims totaled 2.1 million and 1.9 million without adjustment. Still, these incredibly large numbers have been heading down. Moreover, the cumulative number being processed - again, astonishingly high -  through the prior week has fallen, which suggests that some of the unemployed have found work (maybe). California represents about its proportionate share of the unemployed by this measure.

[Click on image to clarify.]
There are lots of caveats. The data are based on administrative case processing. There are still news reports of people unable to get cases filed. Data on case processing are really for management purposes and not labor-market analysis. But as Churchill said, we are perhaps at the end of the beginning. Of course, much depends on the course of the coronavirus. Will the current loosening up of rules lead to a new spike in cases and another retrenchment? Will there be a second wave? Will there be a vaccine and when? Etc., etc., etc.

The latest new claims release is always at https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf.

Shock, But Not Awe

It seems that the legislature is not rolling over and just accepting what the governor proposed in his latest budget. Let's start with the concluding lines from a piece for the UCLA Anderson Forecast by yours truly written soon after the governor's May Revise budget proposal for 2020-21 was released:

"The value of the $53 billion headline from the perspective of the governor is that the number is so big that it might scare the legislature into going along with whatever his May Revise proposes. But even that impact is uncertain. There are staff people in the legislature who can do the same analysis as I have done... The headline may end up providing shock to legislators, but not awe."  

From "Headline vs. Reality (Which is Still Very Bad)" at:
https://www.anderson.ucla.edu/centers/ucla-anderson-forecast/may-2020-headline-vs-reality

The piece pointed out that the state has a lot of cash on hand - more than just the official rainy day fund - in various accounts outside the general fund. So, the legislature is not constrained to accept what the governor wants to do. It can leverage the available resources in the hopes that there will be a relatively quick economic recovery. That gamble may or may not turn out to be a good bet, but it is an available option in the short run if the legislature wants to make lesser cuts than the governor proposes. According to the LA Times, good bet or bad, lesser cuts are what the legislature wants:

California Senate Democrats are poised to reject $14 billion in budget cuts proposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month, choosing instead to craft a spending plan that looks for other ways to erase the state’s deficit and assumes additional money for schools and social services will come from the federal government by early September. The proposal relies on an alternate approach to Newsom’s plea for additional funds from President Trump and Congress, said legislative sources who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the document. It also proposes some different cuts than those in Newsom‘s plan...

Newsom wants $14 billion in immediate spending cuts — including $8.1 billion less for public schools — that would be rescinded only if federal cash is sent to California. In contrast, Senate Democrats will insist the budget be scaled back only if sufficient federal assistance doesn’t arrive by Sept. 1. The legislative plan “avoids harm to schools and other programs by not implementing harsh cuts that may prove to not be necessary,” states an internal Senate document obtained by The Times.

The Senate plan lays out $13 billion in budget solutions if assistance from Washington doesn’t materialize. That includes additional use of cash reserves, internal borrowing and a more limited list of cuts. The plan also opts to delay, not cut, some $5.3 billion in school spending should the state not receive the assistance and would scale back Newsom’s proposed cuts to the University of California and California State University systems...

Full story at https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-27/california-lawmakers-gavin-newsom-budget-extend-deadline-federal-cash  

It is often said that the legislature is legally required to have "balanced" budget. While technically true, that statement hides the fact that "balanced" is a very elastic concept and that whatever it means only has to happen on paper. With sufficiently optimistic assumptions and a loose enough concept of "balance," any conceivable budget can meet the legal test.

Of course, the governor can veto whatever budget the legislature passes and create an impasse.* But Newsom has shown himself to be shy of confrontation. That shyness has been particularly on view as various counties and local jurisdictions have defied the governor regarding the coronavirus shutdown rules. His tendency when defied on the shutdown rules has been to speak nice words about cooperation and his opponents and to try and work out some kind of compromise. Best guess is that the same approach will be taken by the governor on the budget.

If the legislative bet on a quick recovery and on money from Washington doesn't materialize, there will be more fiscal pain in the future than if a more cautious approach had been taken. But this is now and that is then. It appears for now that the legislature was shocked by the governor and his May Revise, but not awed by either one.
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*Thanks to voters, the state constitution requires the legislature to enact a budget by June 15 or lose a day's pay for each day beyond the deadline. But court decisions leave it to the legislature to determine what constitutes a budget and what balanced means. If the governor vetoes the entire budget, therefore, there is no cash penalty for individual legislators, even if the state goes without a budget into the next fiscal year.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Quick Test?

Prior posts on this blog have looked at the issue of testing in its relation to some version of reopening in the fall. According to the item below, it is possible that the nature of testing could change. Whether it could happen early enough to matter for the fall quarter, however, seems dubious.

From KTLA, 5-27-20: A team of researchers from UCLA and other universities is developing a Breathalyzer-like tool that would rapidly test for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The team, which is led by UCLA engineering professor Pirouz Kavehpour, has received a $150,000 research grant from from the National Science Foundation to develop the diagnostic tool, according to a news release from the university.

“The goal in this research is to develop cheap, massively deployable, rapid diagnostic and sentinel systems for detecting respiratory illness and airborne viral threats,” explained Kavehpour, who is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, as well as bioengineering. The COVID-19 diagnostic test is similar in use to the Breathalyzer, which utilizes infrared light to check blood alcohol levels. But the method is different, being based off of an environmental water condensation technology that Kavehpour and his team developed, according to researchers.

“For the coronavirus test, a person would exhale into the device for about a minute. Water vapor from their breath would condense on a special plate. Live virus and virus RNA could then be screened by using fluorescent genetic tags that light up if the virus is present,” the UCLA release stated.

The results could come back in about 10 minutes.

Test kits could be produced as early as this fall, provided the design is successful and meets federal criteria, according to the release. Kavehpour’s team has applied for a patent for the design, which could also potentially be changed and used to detect other infection diseases and viral threats

Research Reopening

Much of the attention to the issue of "reopening" on campus has been focused on teaching. Below is an email circulated yesterday evening on research:

To the Campus Community:

It has been just over two months since I communicated the need to ramp down on-campus research activities due the COVID-19 crisis and city and county safer-at-home orders. In the weeks since then, I have been impressed by and appreciative of your efforts to support one another and, in many cases, to continue your research activities from home.
At the end of April, I convened a committee of representatives from north and south campus to develop guidance for a phased resumption of UCLA research activities so that we would be ready when conditions in Los Angeles County support such a return. The committee developed a comprehensive set of guidelines (PDF) that will enable research to resume as soon as possible while emphasizing the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students.
The resulting guidelines outline policies and requirements for ramping up research at UCLA, including:
  • An overview of the ramp-up process.
  • Health and safety guidelines.
  • Appendices describing requirements for different types of research.
  • template for research operational plans (PDF) that must be submitted and approved prior to the resumption of on-campus activities.
In the first phase of our reopening, we are prioritizing research that cannot be performed remotely and that allows us to maintain the campus’s personnel density at 10% to 25% of our normal figure at any given time.
Within the next week, I expect to share instructions for the preparation, submission, review and approval of research operational plans on my website. In the meantime, I encourage you to review the guidelines for ramping up research (PDF). Please carefully read the instructions accompanying the operational plan template in the appendix. Although plans must be submitted through a specific online process, I encourage you to prepare your responses to the required questions in advance (for example, by creating your own Word document and saving the answers there), so you can easily complete the online template when it is available.
I know you are eager to return to campus and resume the work you were performing in March. Please be patient as your chairs and deans process your plans, and as we allow our colleagues in Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) and Facilities Management the time to prepare our buildings and operations so they can effectively support you.
UCLA’s Physical Distancing Working Group is developing signage and guidelines to aid in effective distancing; if you have any questions, email Nurit Katz, operations section chief for the Emergency Operations Center at nkatz@facnet.ucla.edu. If you have questions about ordering personal protective equipment for research, email Alyssa Leiva in the EH&S Research Emergency PPE Store at aleiva@ehs.ucla.edu. Questions about the ramp-up plan should be sent to c19@research.ucla.edu.
Sincerely,
Roger Wakimoto
Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Audacious vs. Universal Testing

An earlier post on this blog noted that at the Regents meeting last week, universal testing was ruled out because of the cost.* The cost of each test was put at $40 and it was said that weekly testing of 600,000 UC students and employees (including faculty) would therefore cost $24 million. When you multiply the weekly expense by the number of weeks in an academic year - even just the part of the year in which courses and exams occur - you get a figure that is out of the question.

We also posted earlier about UC-San Diego's plan for testing to allow reopening with some version of in-person instruction in the fall.** The UC-San Diego chancellor's plan - as described in that post - called for testing 65,000 students and employees each MONTH, i.e., only about one fourth of the weekly testing discussed at the Regents. If we take the $40/test figure presented to the Regents as correct, you are talking about $2.6 million per month. You'd be spending about approximately $7 million a quarter for that one campus.

A news article from a couple of days ago now describes the UC-San Diego plan as testing about 1,500 folks a day. That would be 45,000 tests per month, not 65,000. (We reproduce the article below.) At $40/test, the cost would be $1.8 million per month and approximately $5 million per quarter. This level of planned testing is described in the article as "audacious." If you use the audacious testing ratio from UC-San Diego (45,000/65,000) and multiply it by the Regents' 600,000, you get around 415,000 tests to be done each month (not per week) for the entire UC. On a weekly basis, that's about $4.2 million, not $24 million, for "audacious" testing throughout UC.

So now the question is what is what level of testing is adequate? The latest version from UC-San Diego tests about 70% of the base of students and employees per month rather than 100% per week. Is the definition of adequate testing everyone each week or just 70% of everyone each month? Do you really need the universal testing every week as described to the Regents? Or is audacious testing on a monthly basis OK? Another question implicitly raised by the article is whether campuses without medical centers can achieve audacious testing. Presumably, UCLA - with its medical center - could achieve audaciousness. Could Santa Barbara or Santa Cruz?
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UC San Diego begins ‘audacious’ coronavirus testing program in hopes of resuming in-person classes in fall

Ron Kroichick, May 24, 2020, San Francisco Chronicle

UCSD launched its “Return to Learn” program May 11, an effort to broadly test students, faculty and staff on the picturesque campus along the Pacific Ocean. School officials started with 100 tests per day the first week, doubled that total last week and hope to conduct 400 tests daily this week. If the project works as planned, they would expand to 1,500 daily tests in the fall, potentially allowing the campus to reopen for in-person classes and activities.

Natasha Martin — project lead, associate professor of medicine, infection disease modeler and Stanford alum — acknowledged the volume of testing is ambitious and brings logistical challenges. She remains hopeful because UCSD has an on-campus laboratory to process the tests, and because the goal is clear. “This is not a research study,” Martin said. “It’s a public health intervention.”

UCSD is believed to be one of the first colleges in the country to attempt a program on this scale. Martin and her colleagues, Dr. Robert Schooley (who oversees the testing element) and Dr. Cheryl Anderson (contact tracing), already have fielded calls from several schools interested in adopting some of UCSD’s methods. The project leaped to life, in part, because of Schooley’s distinctive job description. He has been involved in infectious disease research most of his career, and now divides his time developing viral drugs in a laboratory and running a research and education program in Mozambique.

Three years ago, he also was asked to coordinate the school’s international collaborations. That landed him an office about 50 feet from the office of UCSD Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, and a quick connection to the boss. “The current structure of my job gave us a head start,” Schooley said.

Khosla asked Schooley and Martin to develop a plan for UCSD. They already knew the urgency of identifying infections early, after what Schooley called the nation’s “failed experiment” to find the virus after people began getting sick. He found more evidence in a Chronicle graphic showing the strikingly divergent caseload curves of California and New York. The two states were close through about March 15 — and then New York’s suddenly soared, while California (and especially the Bay Area) stayed relatively flat after early shelter-in-place orders.

Martin put together models and discovered UCSD needed to test 75% of the campus population to catch an outbreak before there were 10 cases. “We know the campus is not an island,” she said. “We’ll likely get viral introduction from the community, so we want to be able to detect outbreaks early enough that we can isolate and do contact tracing before they spread to the campus community.”

The program requires participants to pick up a clean nasal swab in a specimen collection container; scan the bar code onto a smartphone app, linking their cell phone number to the specimen; swab the inside of their own nose; and then drop the swab in the container and leave it in a collection box. Schooley said students proved “quite capable of self-testing” during the project’s first two weeks. (Nearly 5,000 students, many of them graduate and/or international students, stayed on campus after classes moved online in mid-March, according to a UCSD spokeswoman.) Schooley also said the project will move toward salivary testing in the fall, which would be faster and more comfortable. Also worth noting: None of the first 1,000 students to participate tested positive.

UCSD officials were determined to make the tests efficient — the opposite of visiting a doctor’s office, in Schooley’s words. No search for parking, no long forms to complete, no prolonged wait for results (the goal is within 24 hours). “We want this to be easier than brushing your teeth,” he said. Or, as Martin put it, “If we’re really going to test this many people, it has to be a simple process that’s self-administered. We can’t have clinicians out there” in personal protective equipment. It helps to have the Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine, a state-of-the-art, 90,000-square-foot facility that opened more than eight years ago. The lab has the capacity to run 2,000 to 2,500 tests per day, Schooley said.

Source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/education/article/UC-San-Diego-begins-audacious-coronavirus-15291425.php
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/05/whatever-hybrid-reopening-features-it.html
**http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/05/what-ucla-is-likely-to-do-in-fall.html

Monday, May 25, 2020

UCLA History: ROTC 1928

For Memorial Day, we reproduce the photo above - it appeared on this blog in 2012 - showing the ROTC at the old Vermont Avenue campus of UCLA in 1928.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Latest Panunzio Winners

From an email circulated last Friday afternoon: [photos added]

The 2019-2020 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award honoring Emeriti Professors in the University of California system has been awarded to Professor Emerita of Sociology Carroll Estes (UC San Francisco) and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Law Herbert Morris (UC Los Angeles).

UC Emeriti Professors Estes and Morris are the forty-fourth and forty-fifth recipients of the Constantine Panunzio Award. Both awardees have especially long and notable records of research, teaching, and service to the University of California, their disciplines, and their communities. The late Dr. Panunzio, a Professor of Sociology at UCLA for many years, has been described as the architect of the UC Retirement System and was particularly active in improving pensions and stipends for his fellow Emeriti. The award bearing his name was established in 1983 and includes a $5,000 prize.

Carroll Estes, UC San Francisco, Professor Emerita of Sociology retired in 2007. She joined the UCSF faculty in 1972, became a full professor in 1979 and served as Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences for eleven years (1981-1992). Additionally, she founded and directed the Aging Health Policy Center, which became the Institute for Health & Aging. Since retirement, Professor Estes has continued research and policy contributions on aging, in scholarly writings, provided lectures and presentations, and held national leadership roles in key aging and gerontology organizations. Her scholarly productivity has been remarkable during retirement, evaluating the areas at the intersection of academic gerontology, public policy analysis, advocacy, and the training of future generations of scholars. As a founding scholar in the field of the “political economy of aging,” Dr. Estes has devoted herself to improving the health and economic security of vulnerable and underserved populations, particularly older people, women, LGBTQ, people of color, and people with disabilities. For this work, she received the 2019 Robert M. Ball Award for outstanding achievements in social insurance from the National Academy of Social Insurance. One of her most recent achievements is a publication entitled Aging A-Z: Concepts Toward Emancipatory Gerontology (with N. B. DiCarlo, 2019). The book examines multiple dimensions of persistent and hotly debated topics around aging, the life course, the roles of power, politics and partisanship, culture, economics, and communications. Professor Estes has written numerous chapters and co-authored a report on older U.S. women’s economic security to the U.S. House of Representatives (2017). Since retirement, she also has continued training post-doctoral fellows, teaching, dissertation advising, and has a formal role in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Postdoctoral Program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Professor Emerita Estes has contributed extensively to professional and community service programs, receiving numerous awards and honors, including the UCSF Chancellor's Award for the Advancement of Women and the Mentor of the Year Award in the School of Nursing in 2007, and the 2014 UCSF Medal, its highest honor, for advancing health worldwide.

Herbert Morris, UC Los Angeles, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Law, has had a long association with UCLA prior to his retirement in 1994. He received his B.A. from UCLA in 1951, his D.Phil. from Oxford in 1956, and then served on the UCLA faculty for thirty-nine years (1956-1994) as a professor in both the Philosophy Department and the Law School, and as Dean of Humanities (1983-1992). During his career at UCLA, Professor Morris did distinguished work in philosophy and legal theory, writing transformative essays on issues of punishment and guilt. In the years since his retirement, he has continued to produce distinguished research – publishing scholarly papers, which developed themes from his earlier research career, as well as some astonishing papers on completely new themes. Professor Morris also has never stopped teaching, and in his 61st year, he continues to teach with wisdom, humor, and passion. He has offered small seminars in the Law School and has contributed to the Philosophy Department by teaching his lower-division Philosophy 5 (Philosophy and Literature), to about 200 undergraduates. The most exceptional aspect of Professor Morris’ post retirement contribution has been his move into new areas of scholarship. In 2009, he produced a brilliant essay, “Artists in Evil: An Essay on Evil and Redemption in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.” Here he takes on a question about sadism, ritual, and artistic creation through a meticulous reading of a compelling and confusing passage in Proust. What Professor Morris reveals for us, is Proust’s exquisite vision of costs: in the willed suffering, the contortion of life, and the regrets for unavoidable harms. Professor Morris argues that, if Proust finds a path to redemption it is through the role of imagination in art and the art of living. In 2019, his ninetieth year, he published a new essay entitled, “On the Soul,” in the prestigious journal Philosophy. It is a breathtaking study of one of the oldest ideas in world culture, the concept and focus on the soul, brought forward into the center of current evaluative thinking in the broadest sense. Professor Morris’ essay is a report on a kind of wisdom acquired from a long life of serious reflection on what matters. He has made profound contributions to knowledge, highlighting intersections of scholarship, and has transformed into a highly regarded critic of literature and the visual arts. Professor Emeritus Morris’ intellectual range, rigor and mature wisdom are incomparable, and truly the embodiment of UCLA’s motto, Fiat Lux, “let there be light.”

You Read It Here First

A ticking time-bomb?
Item G2 enacted at last week's Regents meetings involved investigation and disciplinary processes for members of the Board of Regents who are accused of misconduct, including sexual misconduct (Title IX-type violations). As we noted in a prior post, some of the ex officio Regents - to which G2 seems to apply - are elected officials and major state politicians.* These members include the governor, the lieutenant governor (who officially presides over the state senate), the speaker of the state assembly, and the superintendent of public instruction.**

While there was some controversy at the Regents sessions over the details of the processes entailed in G2 - mainly concerning a 3-regent panel that would have oversight - nothing was said about the inclusion of the elected officials in the G2 framework. As we noted in our prior post, absent some exemption from G2, UC and the Board of Regents could become involved at some future date if charges of misconduct were leveled at the political ex officio regents. It's not clear that the Board of Regents is the best location for such controversies to be resolved. No one seemed to be concerned about this possibility, perhaps because it might have seemed to be unseemly to exempt the political regents from the procedures that applied to other members of the Board.

Perhaps nothing will ever happen that will entangle UC in some political affair related to misconduct, sexual or otherwise, of elected officials on the Board. But if it does, you read it here first.
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/05/title-ix-at-regents.html.
**Other ex officio regents are the president of the University and the alumni association president and vice president. See https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/about/members-and-advisors/index.html#ex-officio. Section I(2) of a related attachment document says the following: "Applicability: This Policy applies only to the eighteen gubernatorial-appointed Regents, the ex-officio Regents, and any non-student Regents-designate. The Policy does not apply to the Student Regent or any faculty representative or staff advisors to the Regents." See https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/may20/g2attach1.pdf.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Whatever a Hybrid Reopening Features, It Won't Be Universal Testing

The Regents were told last week that testing for some kind of reopening during the coronavirus crisis would cost $24 million a week. Just the 10-week quarter for courses would be $240 million, and presumably you would have to have more than 10 weeks for exams and other functions.

If you looked at our earlier post today on the trigger you know that if Congress actually came through with the money requested - no guarantee of that happening - UC would get $338 million more funding.* Much of that money, however, would be swallowed up by a $24 million per week cost. Note that Berkeley and Merced are on semesters, so they would have more weeks than the campuses on quarters. Put another way, universal testing can't happen from a budget perspective.

From Calmatters: ...Dr. Carrie L. Byington, a top UC medical expert, pulled the curtain back on what campus re-openings would look like; the expenses are significant and the logistics complex. She said that she predicts that both COVID-19 cases and circulation of the flu will increase in the fall. Universal testing is unfeasible, said Byington, the executive vice president of UC Health, which includes five academic medical centers, a community-based health system and 18 health professional schools. With roughly 600,000 students, faculty and staff at the UC, weekly testing would cost the system $24 million a week because each test is $40. Instead, fall term will require social distancing, even within buildings. 

“That may mean staggering (class start) times, giving people a direct time when they can enter or exit a building or an elevator. The density is going to be really important,” she said. Everyone on campus will need to wear masks, track their symptoms, be truthful about when they think they’re getting sick and stay away from others, and wash hands constantly. Access to soap and hand sanitizer is paramount.

Partial testing based on a model is also a possibility to figure out “the minimum proportion of people that we can test to understand the likelihood that the virus is in our facility,” she told regents. Many of these strategies were formalized in a document the regents approved Wednesday that lays out the principles for safely operating campuses during the pandemic. 

Byington also shed light on a possible vaccine for COVID-19 in the form of a patch developed in conjunction with UC Davis. The hope is that the vaccine patch will go into clinical trials in the summer.  “Not only does it give us hope for having a vaccine, but also a mechanism to deliver that vaccine that would allow millions of people to receive the vaccine in their own homes, as the vaccine could be mailed, and they could place it on themselves in their own homes,” she explained.

Full story at https://calmatters.org/education/higher-education/2020/05/uc-regents-fall-2020-budget-coronavirus/

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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/05/the-budget-trigger-and-uc.html

Listen to the Regents Meeting of May 21, 2020 on SAT-ACT

The Regents met for their final session in May last Thursday. At the public comments, speakers (by telephone) spoke on SAT-ACT, the Hawaiian telescope, funding for undocumented students, labor relations, job security, fetal tissue, and comments on sale of a mall (which I doubt anyone there, and certainly not yours truly) understood. Student representatives spoke on affirmative action (currently banned by Prop 209), tuition, SAT-ACT, the Hawaiian telescope, and the state budget.

The main issue before the board was President Napolitano's proposal to do away with the SAT-ACT in stages and - maybe - create a new test just for UC. Now generally, when the UC prez comes up with an important proposal, the Regents are reluctant to override it. Moreover, one has to assume that the UC prez followed the old adage of not calling the question without first counting the votes.

Still, there was a stumbling block. The Academic Senate had been asked to come up with a research report on the use of the SAT-ACT, ostensibly in the name of "shared governance." The detailed analytical report essentially found that while there is an obvious correlation between high scores and income for all kinds of reasons, in the context of UC's use of test scores, the use of the test had a positive effect on diversity - not the widely expected negative effect. Essentially, UC "curved" the test scores to adjust for applicant background, but did not adjust GPA. That approach meant that UC's use of SAT-ACT provided an additional pathway for a bright disadvantaged student whose GPA was not at the top.

Because of the Senate report, the Regents were stuck between choosing the Senate's report or the UC prez's recommendation. In the discussion, it was noted that creating a new test would likely end up with something like the SAT-ACT and would cost a lot of UC money in the midst of a budget crisis. For some applicants who were applying to universities other than UC as well as UC, it would be necessary to take two tests. And, presumably, the same coaching services that prep for the SAT-ACT would offer prep for the UC test.

It was pointed out that the with SAT-ACT suspended for the next year due to the coronavirus crisis, the Regents could evaluate admissions for next year and then make a decision. Put another way, there was no need now to adopt the full sequence of the UC prez's proposal. Ultimately, this discussion led to a proposed amendment of the UC prez's plan that would just adopt the first two years of that plan and use the second year to examine the outcome of admissions for next year. It was voted down 5-18. The Regents then voted to adopt the plan as originally proposed unanimously, i.e., the dissenting 5 went along because they felt the Regents shouldn't be split on a major decision.

Comment by yours truly: As noted in our initial post on this matter, popular news accounts of the Regents' decision did not adequately reflect what occurred. Moreover, the regental decision to downplay the Academic Senate's report contradicts the popular critique that yours truly is sure most of the Regents would share of current federal authorities in other contexts not "listening to the science" and not listening to experts in making public policy. In this case, the "science" from the UC's panel of experts contradicted popular perceptions and gut feelings but the UC prez and Regents ultimately went with their "gut."

You can hear the Regents sessions at the links below:


or direct to:
Morning:
https://archive.org/details/regents-board-morning-5-21-20/Regents-Board+Morning-5-21-20.mp3

Afternoon:
https://archive.org/details/regents-board-morning-5-21-20/Regents-Board+Afternoon-5-21-20.mp3

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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/05/no-sat-act.html

The Budget Trigger and UC

The governor's May Revise proposed budget includes a "trigger" provision dependent on whether there is additional federal funding (not something that is currently moving ahead in the U.S. Senate). Additional funding would be automatically provided under this feature if federal money becomes available.

If the governor's proposal were enacted as written, and if the federal funding came through, UC would get an additional $338 million in general fund monies. Last January, the governor listed UC as receiving a total of $3,938.2 million this year (2019-20). The governor provides UC next year with $3,369.5 million next year (2020-21), absent the trigger. That is a nominal cut of $568.7 million. The trigger would restore $338 million, as noted, which is close to six out of ten dollars of the nominal cut. Note that UC will likely receive less tuition and other revenue and has additional costs related to the coronavirus crisis. Still, getting an additional $338 million would be a Big Deal.

However, as it usually does when governor's propose something that seems to go around legislative discretion, the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) suggests a greater role for the legislature. So there is no guarantee that the governor's trigger plan will be adopted as he proposes.

Sources: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2020-21/pdf/BudgetSummary/HigherEducation.pdfhttp://www.ebudget.ca.gov/budget/2020-21MR/#/Department/6440https://lao.ca.gov/handouts/state_admin/2020/May-Revision-Control-Section-Proposals-052220.pdf.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Nothing to do with telescope?

The University of Hawaii is the management agency for the Mauna Kea site on which existing telescopes sit, and which the proposed TMT would sit if built. In theory, as the item below indicates, the management of the site is not the same thing as the question of whether TMT should be built. But is it really plausible that the two issues are totally unrelated? To yours truly, the answer is obvious.

In any case, here is the item referred to above:

From Big Island Video NewsThe State of Hawaiʻi and the University of Hawaiʻi will both be taking a separate look at the university’s compliance with the Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan, the document that governs the continued use of the summit for astronomy purposes.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources said on Friday that it is beginning a parallel review of the UH compliance with the Maunakea CMP, apart from the mandatory 5-year review of the same plan that the university will also undertake. Here is the full media release from the Hawaiʻi DLNR:
In order to provide the DLNR and the Board of Land and Natural Resources relevant information, including community input, into whether Mauna Kea is being effectively managed, the department is launching an independent evaluation of the University of Hawai‘i’s (UH) compliance with the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

According to DLNR Chair Suzanne Case this evaluation will parallel the mandatory five-year review of the Comprehensive Management Plan currently underway by UH. The review will evaluate the efficiency of UH management and specifically its Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM). The DLNR review will also include an assessment of the governance structure in managing the cultural and natural resources within areas on the mountain for which UH/OMKM are responsible.

Case remarked, “This process will ensure a thorough review that includes multiple points of view and provides an independent evaluation for the Land Board.”

UH leases approximately 11,000 acres of State lands on Mauna Kea, of which 525 acres is in the Astronomy Precinct and 10,700 acres are designated as Natural/Cultural Preservation Area. The Comprehensive Management Plan covers all of the UH leased land.

DLNR has contracted with Ku‘iwalu Consulting for the review. It will include a culturally sensitive and robust community engagement process to gather as much input as possible on UH’s implementation of the Comprehensive Management Plan. This input will be incorporated into the report.

UH is seeking renewal of its 65-year-long lease. Its current Comprehensive Management Plan was approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources in 2009. The DLNR review is expected to be completed by the end of this calendar year. Chair Case notes that the independent evaluation is not a report on the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).
Source: https://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2020/05/15/mauna-kea-comprehensive-plan-under-review/

Thursday, May 21, 2020

No SAT-ACT

We'll review the Regents meeting of earlier today once we have a chance to process the recordings. As the headline suggests, the Regents did not adopt the recommendation of the Academic Senate committee set up to examine the testing issue. But here is the initial news on the SAT-ACT issue:

From PoliticoUniversity of California regents voted Thursday to stop requiring high school students to submit an SAT or ACT score for admission, the biggest blow yet to the traditional standardized tests as leaders of the elite public system attempt to address fairness concerns. UC’s new policy, proposed by system President Janet Napolitano, calls for the SAT and ACT to be suspended through 2024 as the university attempts to develop its own testing standard. The tests will be completely eliminated in 2025, regardless of whether a new or modified UC-specific standard has been approved for use.

Prospective students will have the option of submitting standardized test scores through 2022, keeping intact a strategy recently implemented by universities across the nation as the coronavirus pandemic has hindered the ability of many students to take the tests. Beginning in 2023, the SAT and ACT will have no impact on the admissions process, though students could still submit scores to determine eligibility for certain scholarships and post-enrollment class placement...

Full story at https://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2020/05/21/university-of-california-eliminates-sat-act-requirement-1285435

NOTE: The item above is typical of the initial reporting of the Regents' decision. However, it fails to reflect considerable debate and disagreement within the Regents. There is always great reluctance of Regents to reverse or even modify a major recommendation of the UC president and so they eventually endorsed the Napolitano proposal. However, it was difficult to get away from the fact that the Academic Senate's official report on SAT-ACT concluded that in the way these tests were used at UC, the result was to increase diversity.

How Bad Is It? Bad, Really Bad - Part 17

[Click on image to clarify.]
Preliminary data on new claims for unemployment insurance show 2.4 million new claims on a seasonally-adjusted basis and 2.2 million without adjustment. The weekly new claims figures have been falling but are still in record territory and are adding to total unemployment. California accounted for 15.6% of those collecting unemployment insurance without seasonal adjustment, a disproportionately high share.

You can find the latest data release at https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf.

Listen to the Regents Sessions of May 20, 2020

The Regents met on May 20 by teleconference due to the coronavirus crisis for a marathon seven-hour session. Links to the audio are further down in this blog post.

After a closed session to select a new chancellor for UC-Merced, Juan Sánchez Muñoz, the full board met to hear public comments. Comments basically were similar to the comments at Finance and Capital Strategies the previous day. Topics included safety of UC health care workers, labor relations, student needs, the Hawaiian telescope, SAT scores for admission, and greenhouse gas.

Regents chair Pérez's remarks included reference to actions at Berkeley during eh 1918 Spanish flu and reference to the current UC budget crisis. UC president Napolitano previewed later discussion of criteria for reopening campuses in the fall and said there would likely be a "hybrid" approach, i.e., some courses in-person and others online. A decision is expected by mid-June. She also referred to the budget crisis. Faculty rep  Bhavnani referred in her remarks to the discussion scheduled for the following day on use of SAT-ACT scores for admission and alluded to the fact that the Senate's committee to analyze that matter had supported continued use while the UC president is recommending something else. President Napolitano then introduced Juan Sánchez Muñoz (who has a PhD from UCLA).

At the Health Services Committee, there was a background briefing on the coronavirus crisis but not much on the budget impact on the UC health centers (a topic discussed later). Provost Michael Brown discussed the rapid conversion to online instruction at the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. After a break, the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee discussed on UC budget crisis. At that session, Chancellor Christ of UC-Berkeley said that if the crisis lasted more than a year, a tuition increase would be necessary. But Regent Makarechian opposed tuition increases and preferred finding efficiencies.

There was reference to the fact that apparently the number of accepted students indicating they would enroll at UC was well below typical levels at this point. UCLA Chancellor Block indicated that the success of having staff working from home suggested that perhaps UCLA didn't need to lease as much office space in Westwood as it was doing. There was some talk about borrowing to cover operating costs as a way of cushioning the negative budget effects of falling revenue and increased expenses. Interest rates are very low now, it was noted.

It was said that campus enterprises such as housing which are self-supporting had been negatively affected, but that "stress testing" indicated that none were likely to default on past debt (which would have to be avoided by subsidy from general campus funds). Finally, UC-San Francisco Chancellor Hawgood noted that his campus received very little support from the state and was mainly supported by hospital revenues and research funding. His campus had been hurt by the impact on revenue and cost but with regular patients gradually returning there was an expectation of a return to normal in maybe a year and a half or so.

The board approved certain temporary changes in UC tax-favored retirement savings programs to take advantage of the CARES Act. Chair Pérez was angry at UCOP staff for not providing data he requested on who would benefit from such changes. (Although these programs are generally available to all regular employees, it is well known that higher income persons are more likely to take advantage of them.) Apparently, there could have been an earlier approval of the changes (some kind of special process of approval before the May Regents meeting), but the back-and-forth between Pérez and the staff ended up delaying the item to the May meeting. Staff promised to get the data and the changes were approved. (It appeared that staff took the view that Congress in its wisdom had approved a goody so, whether it was equitable or wise, why not let those employees who could take advantage of it?)

UC President Napolitano discussed the general principles for deciding on campus reopenings in the fall and again suggested that a hybrid approach is likely. Some concern was expressed by Regents about the potential - with people back on campus but various social distancing rules in effect - there could be incidents of overly-aggressive policing. (Recent reports of confrontations with police had triggered these concerns.)

The Governance Committee approved a plan for dealing with changes of misconduct (sexual or otherwise) by Regents. The proposed plan involved creation of a three-regent panel to oversee any investigation and ultimate decision-making by a neutral outsider. A retired judge was cited as an example of such a decision-makers. There was debate about the use of a three-regent panel and whether the public would view such a panel as potentially biasing the outcome. But the plan was approved. There was also approval of a scholarship for student regents so that there would be no economic disincentive for serving.

You can hear the session at the links below:

or direct to:
https://archive.org/details/regents-board-and-committee-meetings-5-20-20

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Path Interruption - Part 2

We hope
Attention Faculty, Staff, and Student Employees
The UCPath system will be unavailable to all UC employees while UC San Diego, UCSD Medical, and UC San Francisco transition to UCPath.
Outage Dates and Time
  • Outage 2:  Friday, May 22 at 10 p.m. until Wednesday, May 27 at 12 p.m.
Note: The end date of the outage is now 2 days earlier than previously announced.
During these outages, you will not have any access to UCPath. This means you will not have access to:
  • View or download pay statements
  • View or download W-2s
  • View leave balances
  • Employee self-service actions, such as signing up for direct deposit or electronically enrolling in benefits because of a qualifying life event
Tips: How to Prepare for the Outage:
  • View and print paystubs and W-2s prior to the outages if you will require copies of these documents.
  • Get employment verifications in advance.
Contact Info
During the outage, the UCPath Center is available to assist with questions related to benefits, including providing forms for benefits enrollment for new hires, and registering a qualifying life event (e.g., marriage, birth of a baby).
You can contact UCPath Center by visiting their website and submitting a question by clicking the “Ask UCPath Center” button.
flyer about the outage is available for departments to distribute to their staff as needed.
For any other questions, please contact:

LAO Proposes Lesser Reduction in UC Spending

{Click on image to clarify}
The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) summarizes the governor's May Revise proposed cuts to the UC budget relative to January proposal in the table above, which it puts at $628.2 million. (This figure is slightly different - for reasons not explained - from the governor's total of $625.6 million.) By the LAO's calculation, the governor is proposing a cut from the current year in nominal terms of about 16%. LAO then proposes mitigating these cuts by the methods listed on the table below:
{Click on table to clarify}
Under the LAO's proposal, the cuts would be lessened by $338 million. Such a reduction in spending would be somewhat over 7% relative to the current fiscal year. LAO assumes there is around $100 million of unspent funds from this year that could be reallocated to next year. (It's not clear that this supposition is correct.) It also refers to targeted budget reductions, but doesn't enumerate what they are. So the proposed reduction in the cut is really $301 million, not $338 million, with that adjustment. It then proposes reductions of core operations (again not enumerated) of $96 million. So, when you get down to it, it really is calling for use of UC reserves (drawing them down) by $100 million and sliding whatever is unspent and still available from this year into next (which could be much less than what LAO thinks might be left over).

Bottom line: LAO is really mainly proposing use of reserves to cushion the cuts. There appears to be less here than initially meets the eye.

You can find the LAO document from which the tables above were drawn at:
https://lao.ca.gov/handouts/education/2020/Overview-of-Higher-Education-May-Revision-Proposals-051920.pdf