Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The State Budget in 3 Tables

Let's start with the caveat that the analysis presented below is preliminary in several senses. Yours truly has had to go through various documents hastily to pull together the tables below. Possibly, there are errors. In addition, the budget itself is contingent in various dimensions.

At least as the governor has depicted it, it comes closer to his May Revise strategy of not assuming federal aid that may or may not be forthcoming than to the legislature's reported desire to budget on the assumption there would be aid. (Both strategies involved contingencies for automatic budget revision, depending on what happens at the federal level.) In addition, this budget - just as with any budget - has underlying economic projections that may or may not be accurate. The current economic situation, however, is more uncertain than normal and depends on noneconomic factors such as whether a vaccine for the coronavirus will come along, what happens in the November elections, etc. Finally, even data that normally might be expected to be largely in the past is not. Income taxes that would normally have been received in April were postponed to July. So the revenue assumptions for this year may be off.

The coronavirus crisis came suddenly within the fiscal year that is ending today. So it affected the completion of this year as well as the outlook for 2020-21. Table 1 below shows the effect. Revenue drops sharply, even though significant federal aid was received. Expenditures drop somewhat, but not enough to deal with the lost revenue. So, the result is reserves were drawn down.

Reserves are kept in various accounts in California. The general fund, which is like the state's checking account, has a balance. Under former Governor Brown, three other reserves were created or filled: the Budget Stabilization Account (BSA or rainy day fund), the Safety Net Reserve, and a reserve for K-14 (Prop 98 reserve). If you add the changes in the general fund balance and the other accounts, there is a net drawdown of around $7 billion in the current year ending today. See Table 3, first data column.

What happens next year (which starts tomorrow)? Spending is cut a lot. Revenue continues at roughly the rate of the current year. See Table 2. When all is said and done, the total reserve drawdown next year is about $5 billion. (Table 3) Given the remaining reserve projected to exist at the end of 2020-21, we might go another year until the entire past reserve accumulation would be gone.

But who knows? Maybe someone will come up with a magic serum soon. Maybe more aid will come from the feds. But it won't be pleasant, whatever happens.

(Click on charts to clarify.)

Work at Home Through Fall Quarter

It appears that despite the reopening of the campus in the fall, not much will change. Most courses will be online. Most employees who can work from home will. From an email circulated today:

To: Faculty and Staff

Dear Colleagues:
Over the past several months, we have all had to make enormous adjustments in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The world has indeed become a different place as we have learned entirely new ways of working, teaching and interacting. While UCLA continues to formulate plans for an eventual ramping up of onsite activities, we acknowledge that many of these changes — including remote work — will be in place for the foreseeable future.
The welfare of the Bruin community was our paramount concern when the vast majority of our employees began working from their homes in March, and it remains so today. Because of the continuing health risks associated with COVID-19, we are asking those of you who are currently successfully working from home to continue to do so until January 4, 2021. Allowing faculty and staff to work from home wherever feasible reduces population density on campus, which helps reduce health risks for everyone.
This does not apply to those associated with the ramp-up of UCLA research or to those faculty who will be teaching their courses with an on-campus component in the fall and corresponding support staff. It also does not apply to health care workers, to clinical trainees or to those providing any clinical training. This campus direction also excludes employees and clinical trainees from UCLA hospitals and clinics who are currently working remotely.
Staff and faculty should confirm with their supervisors and department heads whether this extension of remote work applies to their positions.
We understand that this transition has posed and will continue to pose unique and difficult challenges, but your resourcefulness and resilience have been truly inspiring. You have risen to the moment in creative and visionary ways that represent the best of the Bruin spirit. To all of you, we offer our profound thanks and admiration.
Michael J. Beck
Administrative Vice Chancellor

New Black Resource Center - Part 2

We noted in our previous post on this topic, which was based on a Bruin article, that there was at the time no official announcement. Below is an announcement:

To the Campus Community:

The ongoing principled protests around the nation — and around the world — calling for racial justice have been inspiring and humbling. In this moment we rightfully have been moved to ask what more we can do to make UCLA a community where all will know that Black lives, Black intellects, Black aspirations and Black experiences matter. In recent weeks, we have heard concerns and suggestions from our faculty, students, staff, alumni and others.
In two letters of response sent to concerned faculty on June 18 and June 26, we proposed the following actions that we want to share with all of you now. We hope the following steps will ensure lasting change that will have a positive impact on our campus:
  • We will appoint a special faculty advisor in the chancellor’s office to advise on issues of concern to Black faculty, staff and students. We will ask stakeholders on campus to nominate candidates and will have the position filled by the end of summer.
  • We will create a Black Student Resource Center on campus that will add to existing spaces. UCLA will provide funding this coming academic year to establish programs and staffing in the center. We have begun the process to identify the best location options for the Black Student Resource Center in the center of campus. Importantly, this critical space for students will include access to and collaboration with faculty and key Student Affairs staff. We will be meeting and working with student leaders from the Afrikan Student Union and Black Graduate Student Association to review these options.
  • We will expand the intellectual community devoted to Black life and racial equity issues across the entire campus. We will work closely with the leadership of the Ralph J. Bunche Center and the Department of African American Studies in implementing programs to expand the ranks of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty, as described below. We will invest in scholarship across the career arc as follows:
    • We will provide 10 summer graduate fellowship awards each year beginning in 2021 for research, teaching and service related to Black life. Prospective and current graduate students from across all disciplines will be encouraged to apply this coming academic year. The program commitment is for five years, with potential renewal of the program upon review.
    • We will create a postdoctoral community focused on Black experience. Five postdoctoral positions, each renewable for a second year, will be funded for five years starting in 2021, with potential renewal of the program upon review.
    • We will recruit 10 additional faculty members over the next five years whose scholarly work — teaching, mentoring and/or research — addresses issues of Black experience. These faculty lines will reside in the Bunche Center with appointments equally balanced between North and South campus departments and programs.
  • We will allocate a dedicated staff member in External Affairs to provide development support focused on issues related to Black life. In collaboration with academic leadership, we will craft multiyear fundraising goals and advance this agenda with leadership prospects, donors, volunteer boards and local and national foundations as a post-Centennial Campaign fundraising priority.
We also want to ensure that our campus offers the scholarship, environment and resources necessary to more broadly support and promote racial justice in our community and beyond. To that end, we are also committed to the following actions:
  • We will commit $250,000 for seed research grants on racial inequities and racial justice, including campus climate issues, each year for five years, with potential renewal of the program upon review. A committee will be assembled by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities to outline the project description and eligibility criteria, followed by a call for proposals during the upcoming academic year.
  • We will commit to establishing a group similar to the current equity advisors in academic units that will represent administrative units on campus and in UCLA Health. The group’s mission will be to improve climate for staff and to advise on broader diversity and inclusion education.
  • We will allocate a dedicated staff member in Strategic Communications to amplify the voices of faculty, staff and students of color and others whose work involves challenges to racism and structural inequality. We will vigorously look for opportunities to highlight and lift up the powerful work and compelling stories that need to be heard.
  • We will bolster the leadership roles that the ethnic studies centers play in the life of UCLA. The Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, the American Indian Studies Center, the Asian American Studies Center and the Chicano Studies Research Center, which are housed in the Institute for American Cultures, have long been rightly recognized as intellectual leaders in the broader community. We will make sure they are equally recognized in the UCLA community as well. We will also ensure scholars within the ethnic studies centers, along with others who have essential expertise, will have representation and a leadership role in these specific efforts.
  • We will comprehensively identify opportunities on campus for additional recognition of Bruins of color so that our built environment, landscape and programs embrace the diversity of the Bruin community.
  • We will expand the role of the Public Safety Advisory Council that is already in the process of being created, and ensure that its members represent a diverse cross section of voices on our campus, including our own faculty experts. As a first set of tasks, the new council’s work will include reviewing our relationships with external police forces and examining the responsibilities resting with our UC police force to see what work may appropriately be taken on by others and what must stay with UCPD to ensure campus safety. We commit to continuing our improvement in policing, both on campus and off, including how we can further address issues like racial bias and racial profiling, effective de-escalation techniques, data transparency and other pressing racial equity matters to ensure that we protect the safety of all in our community, including Black Bruins and other Bruins of color.
  • UCLA will employ trained mental health professionals who can respond to mental health emergencies, either to support police officers on these calls or — if appropriate — to respond in place of officers. This approach has worked successfully in other communities and we expect it will better serve our campus, allowing police to focus on their public safety mission.
  • UCLA PD already has banned use of carotid holds, a practice not used in more than 15 years. We will work with the police and the campus community to identify additional use of force policy changes to ensure that our policies conform to our principles of serving our community.
Our work to fight racism will not end with these steps. More changes will be coming to challenge the structural racism that exists in our education system, from kindergarten through graduate school, including at institutions like UCLA.
Every sector of UCLA should be combating racism and promoting racial justice. This is why we are especially enthusiastic about exploring a suggestion to use the Grand Challenge model — to solve large societal problems in partnership with local communities, along with students, faculty, staff and alumni — to achieve transformative change in society. We think there is great potential in taking up racial inequality and racial justice as a Grand Challenge that organizes and harnesses the intellectual energy of the campus around the common goal of helping solve one of society’s biggest problems.
More changes will be coming. Our deans are actively exploring how to improve their schools’ efforts around equity, diversity and inclusion. We will reach out to Staff Assembly leadership and others to better understand the concerns of staff members of color and how we can ensure a supportive professional environment for all, including through new initiatives to benefit staff. We will also build upon UCLA Enrollment Management’s efforts to recruit a diverse student body. And we are very pleased that the UC Regents unanimously support legislation that would overturn Prop. 209, which has hindered our aspirations to create a more diverse campus.
The above actions are a starting point for the transformative change needed to get us to that place of true equality, where we will honor our deepest values and fulfill our highest aspirations.
At this historic moment, every institution is being challenged to help create a society that is genuinely just and truly equitable, and that values the lives of all its people. With the partnership of our Bruin community, UCLA will rise to that challenge.
Gene D. Block
Emily A. Carter
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Patience - Analysis will be provided

Yours truly will provide an analysis as soon as possible - but not immediately owing to other commitments. What I can tell you was that the one line-item veto by the governor was of a provision that would have barred UC from keeping some leftover funds from the prior year. In the grand scheme of things, whatever was involved was likely noise in the overall UC budget. And the veto may have been a technical correction rather than a dispute with the legislature.

Coronavirus Cases on Campus

Note: The notice below deals with the "campus community." As we have noted in prior posts, it appears that individuals who are not necessarily in the "campus community" are using the campus area as a public park. Casual observation by yours truly indicates that something like half of the adult-age park users are not wearing masks. And, of course, none are being screened before they enter the campus.
To the Campus Community:
As research activities and other operations ramp up across campus and in the field, questions and concerns have arisen about the guidelines for communicating about positive COVID-19 cases among students, staff, faculty and others who are using our campus facilities.
Knowing that processes and policies will continue to evolve as the situation changes, we want to share the following information with you about some of the key procedures we have in place now:
  1. We are committed to the health of everyone on campus, and we have put rigorous risk mitigation practices into place, including reduced personnel density, extensive sanitization protocols, required daily symptom monitoring and mandated use of face coverings
  2. Any UCLA community member who develops symptoms or receives a positive test result for COVID-19 is obligated to self-isolate and to contact the UCLA Infectious Disease Hotline at 310-267-3300 (for faculty, staff and volunteers) or the Ashe Center COVID-19 Hotline at 310-206-6217 (for students).
  3. The UCLA COVID-19 Resources website provides daily updates of confirmed COVID-19 cases among the UCLA campus community, including information about when the individual was last on campus.
  4. No one should be stigmatized or subject to discrimination based on their health status. We are committed to protecting the privacy of any person who tests positive or is suspected of having COVID-19.
  5. A wealth of resources covering UCLA-specific COVID-19 protocols may be found on Bruins Safe Online. These policies and other campus guidelines are in accordance with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health orders and include:
    1. Standard Operating Procedure for Responding to COVID-19 Cases on the UCLA Campus (PDF)
    2. UCLA Safe and Physical Distancing Protocol (PDF)
    3. Information about Required Training on COVID-19
    4. UCLA Requirements for COVID-19 Symptom Monitoring: Staff and Faculty Performing Non-Healthcare Work On Campus (PDF)
    5. UCLA Requirements for Symptom Monitoring for Students (PDF)
  6. The campus has instituted standard operating procedures (PDF) for principal investigators (PIs) and supervisors to follow should they learn that someone in their research space or other on-site workspace has tested positive for COVID-19. It is imperative that all PIs, supervisors and research group members familiarize themselves with these procedures and follow only the appropriate notification protocols to ensure that people’s health information remains confidential.
  7. PIs who have been approved to ramp up their research activities must be sure that their approved research operational plans include all of their research personnel returning to work on campus and in the field and the facilities that will be used for research. This information is critical in the event that contact tracing for COVID-19 is necessary. Also, please note that PIs and department chairs may be consulted for contact tracing, but they should not undertake contact tracing themselves.
  8. If a UCLA student, staff or faculty member is confirmed to have COVID-19, medical professionals at UCLA or the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will investigate to determine who is considered a “close contact” to that person, contact them and ask them to self-isolate and schedule a test, if appropriate. Relevant deans, vice provosts, vice chancellors, directors and department chairs will be notified of any positive case within their areas of responsibility.
  9. In the event of an outbreak on campus or other UCLA property — as opposed to isolated, unrelated cases — UCLA may issue a broader communication in accordance with guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
  10. Environment, Health & Safety will determine whether any UCLA spaces must be closed in the event of a potential contamination. If this happens, Facilities Management will fully sanitize affected spaces before anyone is allowed to return to the space and will notify those who use the space once the process is complete.
Thank you for your continued cooperation and understanding. If you have any questions, please email
Michael J. Beck
Administrative Vice Chancellor
Roger Wakimoto
Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities

Monday, June 29, 2020

We will keep having "incidents" unless before-the-fact guidance is established

In February 2014, grad student and TA William Peris was profiled in the Daily Bruin as follows:

As he paced in front of a class of about two dozen students, William “Ajax” Peris appeared assured and calm. He displayed the same confident demeanor that helped him succeed at testing heat-seeking missiles and monitoring no-fly zones in Iraq throughout the 1990s, after the first Gulf War.

The 44-year-old teaching assistant and U.S. Air Force veteran is in the process of earning a doctorate at UCLA. 
Peris was also the commander of the UCLA Air Force ROTC detachment from 2009 to 2012, where he managed and trained cadets in addition to teaching his own courses at the university.

Peris, who received his master’s degree last quarter, is currently working on a research project that explores why some individuals hold anti-gay attitudes and why others have a liberal perspective toward gay rights. His motivation for pursuing the project stems partly from his own personal experiences. As a gay man in the military,Peris said he sometimes felt the need to conceal part of his identity.

For more than two decades, the political science graduate student served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. Under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a former military policy which banned openly gay men and lesbian women from serving in the military, Peris said he kept silent about his personal relationships.

“People wore their wedding rings to work; people put up pictures of their husbands or wives,” Peris said. “They just talked about their lives – I couldn’t do that.”

Peris started the political science graduate program in 2010 and later took a gap year to focus on his duties as a ROTC commander and professor of aerospace studies. In the fall of 2012, he resumed his graduate studies.

As a teaching assistant, Peris said his favorite moments are when he helps a student comprehend difficult material that they previously had trouble understanding...

Fast forward to the current period:

From the Wall St. Journal via UCOP Daily News Clips (6-26-20):

The U.S. Education Department is investigating whether the University of California, Los Angeles inappropriately opened a review of a lecturer for using the N-word in two classes earlier this month, questioning whether the school stifled his academic freedom. In a letter to UCLA Chancellor Gene Block dated Monday and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the Education Department expressed concern that the university “improperly and abusively targeted” the instructor in violation of UCLA’s own policies regarding free expression. The letter was sent to UCLA Thursday afternoon, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In early June, William Peris, a political-science lecturer who is white, gave lectures about the history of racism in the U.S. in two classes. In the online sessions, he read from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and showed clips from a documentary that included graphic descriptions and images of lynchings. Both the text and video included the N-word. Many students expressed “distress and anger” over the lectures and Mr. Peris’s reaction to their discomfort, according to a letter written by the political-science department chair and vice chairs, and shared with the department. His response “escalated the situation rather than engaging in the thoughtful and open discourse that we expect from our faculty. We share students’ concerns that the lecturer did not simply pause and reassess their teaching pedagogy to meet the students’ needs, particularly during this sensitive time,” they wrote, referencing the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other black people. UCLA’s Discrimination Prevention Office has launched a review of the matter, the school said.

“Targeting an instructor for reading from the works of Dr. King or showing a documentary quoting him is a direct assault on academic freedom and constitutionally protected free speech,” according to the Education Department’s letter, signed by Robert L. King, assistant secretary of the Office of Postsecondary Education.

That letter links to coverage about the incident on Fox News and in a conservative publication, the Washington Free Beacon. Mr. Peris swiftly issued apologies via a letter and video, according to the political-science-department statement. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. The Education Department instructed UCLA to hand over emails and other records for Mr. Peris and others in the political-science department, as well as material related to the school’s faculty code of conduct, and make available for interviews the chancellor, Mr. Peris and others within a month...

In a statement, the school said it refers all reports of alleged misconduct for review, and following that procedure “does not mean that anyone has been targeted for disciplinary action or that any matter has been prejudged.”...


Apart from the politics and PR issues raised by such incidents, the university needs to establish some guidelines. Absent guidelines, what happens is that instructors are left either to avoid controversial issues, or to risk suspensions, etc. The guidelines need to be provided both for instructors and students. Expectations for students who plan to enroll in courses that in one way or another deal with history, sociology, economics, political science, and related fields need to be established as part of orientation. The article above concludes with the following:

UCLA said it takes seriously its role in upholding academic freedom, and in ensuring mutual respect and fair treatment for students and faculty. “The balance of these interests is a difficult one and we endeavor always to protect both interests with care and deliberation,” the school said.

Balance of interests sounds nice, but has little guidance value in practice. And the balancing seems to occur after the incident, not before.

What to do with the Grand Hotel in the fall

Yesterday, we posted some history of UCLA's Grand Hotel.* And we noted that the hotel now sits in a campus which is currently in a lockdown mode. Current plans are to have some kind of reopening in the fall. When yours truly perused the fall quarter course offerings, he couldn't find any that were not online, but supposes that there must be some. Still, reopened education in the fall will consist mainly of students in dorm rooms doing online education.

Given the fact that reopening in the fall is a "done deal" (as was said about the hotel when it was proposed), there is a problem with student housing. The existing dorms were not meant for social distancing and isolation. To maintain such distancing, dorm capacity will have to be cut. So where will the excess of students go? Well, there are 250 rooms in the Grand Hotel, all with wireless capacity. Those rooms could house 250 students. The Grand Hotel also has some food preparation capacity. Conference rooms might be reconfigured into student rooms with some work.

In short, use the Grand Hotel as a dorm. As they say, if you are stuck with a lemon, make lemonade.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Too Much Crowding?

No social distancing?
Berkeley group can sue UC over increased enrollment at Berkeley campus

San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko, 6-26-20

A Berkeley neighborhood group can sue the University of California for allegedly failing to protect local residents or consider the impacts of an enrollment increase of more than 8,000 students since 2005, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

The suit by Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods had been dismissed last year by an Alameda County judge, who said enrollment increases were not a “project” that required environmental review under state law, and that the organization had waited too long to file the case. The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco disagreed on both points and reinstated the suit.

“The Legislature has recognized that both enrollment levels and physical development are related features of campus growth that must be mitigated” under environmental law, Justice Gordon Burns said in the 3-0 ruling. The law, signed by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970, requires state and local agencies that approve development projects to report on any harm they may cause to the environment and propose measures measures to avoid or reduce the harm. Burns said the law does not limit enrollment but simply requires public universities to “mitigate the impacts of their growth and development.” ...

Full story at

Note 1: There is some irony in this decision which comes when campuses are devoid of students and in a period in which - even with a reopening - the number on campuses is likely to be well below normal.

Note 2: If the Berkeley group ultimately succeeds, similar lawsuits might be filed at other UC campuses.

New UC Investment

LeBron James
Various sources are reporting that UC is investing in an entertainment company associated with basketball star LeBron James and which seems to have a relationship with former regent Paul Wachter. The investment seems to be allocated to the endowment rather than the pension. The UC investment is something under $100 million since the total reported among multiple investors is $100 million:

University of California Endowment Invests in Lebron James Venture

Posted on 06/27/2020, SWFI (Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute)

...Springhill Entertainment is a new media company that raised US$ 100 million from Guggenheim Partners, Regents University of California (UC California Investment Office), Elisabeth Murdoch (second daughter of Australian-born American multi-billionaire media proprietor Rupert Murdoch), and SC.Holdings. SC.Holdings is a private equity company founded by entrepreneur/investor Jason Stein and Eastbridge Group, a family holding company with $1.5 billion in assets under management...

Full story at

Also, from Bloomberg:

LeBron James Gets $100 Million Investment to Build Media Empire: The King and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter have formed a new company with an unapologetic agenda.

...On March 11, the same day the NBA suspended its season and a little more than a week before their adopted hometown ordered residents to shelter in place, James and Carter formed the SpringHill Co. after raising $100 million. They describe it as a media company with an unapologetic agenda: a maker and distributor of all kinds of content that will give a voice to creators and consumers who’ve been pandered to, ignored, or underserved...

“This is ultimately a company that’s about point of view, the community you serve, and empowerment,” says L.A. investment banker Paul Wachter, who helped put the project together. “This is a company designed to move the culture.”... (NOTE: Wachter was a regent from 2004 to 2016 and was chair of the Board during that period.)

...Creating content that caters to the opposite of (conventional stories) is what Carter, James, and their backers want to do. UC Regents Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher says: “This is not a time to slow down. This a time to double down on what they’re doing. There’s a need for leadership in the country, a need for examples that are inspiring for the country, and a need for content to mobilize the country in the right direction.”...

Full article at
Carter, Wachter, Bachher

The Campus in Coronavirus Time

Sculpture Garden

Sculpture Garden

Sign in front of Murphy Hall
Yours truly was on north campus yesterday to drop something into campus mail. As in a prior visit, it appeared that the campus is being used as a public park. And again, many adults were not wearing masks. This observation raises the issue of how much enforcement there will be when the campus reopens (partially) in the fall.


Yours truly would love to hear from computer gurus whether the situation described below could have been avoided by regular backups of computer data to some alternative site.

From Bloomberg, 6-26-20: The University of California, San Francisco paid criminal hackers $1.14 million this month to resolve a ransomware attack. The hackers encrypted data on servers inside the school of medicine, the university said Friday. While researchers at UCSF are among those leading coronavirus-related antibody testing, the attack didn’t impede its Covid-19 work, it said. The university is working with a team of cybersecurity contractors to restore the hampered servers “soon.” ...  The university declined to say what was in the files that was worth more than $1 million, except that it didn’t believe patient medical records were exposed.

Full story at

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Disappearing money

From the Bruin: Already facing a $19 million budget deficit, the Bruins could be staring at more trouble. Under Armour is attempting to leave its record-breaking 15-year, $280 million deal as the supplier of UCLA Athletics’ apparel just as the two sides enter their fourth year together. The news was first reported by Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bolch and later confirmed by UCLA Athletics. In an emailed statement, UCLA Athletics said the contract would not be ended so easily.

“UCLA Athletics learned this week that Under Armour is attempting to terminate its 15-year apparel and footwear contract with us and the Bruin community,” the statement read. “We are exploring all our options to resist Under Armour’s actions..."

Under Armour and UCLA agreed to the deal May 24, 2016, going into effect July 2017. It remains the largest sponsorship contract in all of college athletics and was expected to run until 2032...

Full story at

Online Law at Berkeley

UC-Berkeley's law school will remain online thanks to the coronavirus crisis. From

The University of California, Berkeley School of Law will remain fully online for the fall semester. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky informed students by email Friday of the decision, which he wrote was made with “great reflection and study.” That makes Berkeley the second law school to unveil plans to stay remote amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Harvard Law School made a similar announcement June 3. At that time, Berkeley was aiming to offer at least some in-person instruction though a hybrid model.
“Our top priority is protecting the health of our students, staff, and faculty,” Chemerinsky wrote in the June 26 announcement that the school will be fully online next semester. “At the same time, we want to do what is best educationally for our students.”
Chemerinsky acknowledged that many students lobbied for a return to campus instruction. The school evaluated numerous ways to try to offer at least some in-person classes in the fall, but ultimately the constraints posed by the coronavirus and university’s policies were too much to overcome. The campus policy allows for no more than 25 students in a classroom, and they must be six feet apart. Even small classes would have to meet in the school’s two large classrooms to meet the social distancing requirements, and faculty, staff and students would have to wear masks both inside out outside, Chemerinsky wrote. Even the law school’s ventilation system is cause for concern, he added...

Anyone want a Grand Hotel?

Coronavirus time is not a good time to be in the hotel business for all the obvious reasons. It is particularly not a good time to be in the hotel business on the UCLA campus which is currently shut down. Even the Regents, who - after expressing severe doubts about the project when it was proposed - did their best to use the space there for meetings, are now meeting online.

Of course, there never was any good reason for UCLA to be in the hotel business, even pre-coronavirus. And those who recall the origins of the project will know that it was originally proposed as an even grander edifice right next to Murphy Hall as a replacement for the Faculty Center. After a major fuss by the faculty, the edifice was somewhat downsized and moved near Ackerman where the chancellor is now spared from looking at it.

The other thing about the coronavirus crisis is that there are lots of online streaming webinars and Zoom presentations available for those locked into their homes. So we present our own contribution to this art form: "UCLA's Grand Hotel - From Macro to Micro" as presented to the Emeriti Board by yours truly back in 2012:

or direct to:

Friday, June 26, 2020

New Black Resource Center

Note: As of this posting, no news release by UCLA on this topic has been posted.

From the Bruin: UCLA will create a Black Resource Center on campus, a UCLA spokesperson confirmed Thursday. The Black Resource Center will be in the center of campus, said UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez in an emailed statement. The Black Graduate Student Association said in a statement Thursday that the creation of a Black Resource Center is a monumental step for the Black community at UCLA.

“Although the timing is eerily convenient, this is a major win for our community,” the statement read. “Black students in the ASU space and beyond have been demanding and advocating for a center such as this one to be established for over 5 years, which goes to show how monumental this is for our community.”

The BGSA will hold a town hall meeting July 1 with university administrators, including Chancellor Gene Block, to discuss comments and concerns of the Black community at UCLA...

Full story at

Note: An earlier version of the Center was reported as being planned last November:

I'd give it maybe a B

In preparation for UCLA's reopening, employees who will work in fall or winter are required to complete an online training session. Most of the information provided was conventional. The "test" included had some ambiguous language in one slide. But the main problem is that the narrative is aimed at all employees.

I would think that it would have been much better to have separate sessions for faculty, librarians, and other occupational groupings that were specific to tasks likely to occur within those groupings. Language involving consulting with "your supervisor or manager" is not relevant for faculty, for example.

A better approach would be to start with some basics relevant to all occupations (masks, handwashing, etc.) and then offer separate options by broad occupation.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

End of the Beginning - Part 7

Every Thursday, the data on new claims for unemployment insurance come out. And for the last few weeks, they tell a story of a bottoming out of the coronavirus economic crisis. New claims for the week ending June 20 were 1.5 million seasonally-adjusted and 1.3 million without adjustment. These remain very large numbers but on a downward trend. However, more telling is that the total number receiving unemployment insurance is declining, despite the large numbers entering the pool. That decline means that people in the pool are leaving it and finding jobs. And more are exiting the pool than entering, causing the pool to shrink.

[Click on image to enlarge and clarify.]

California continues to be over-represented in the pool receiving unemployment insurance.

The latest data on new claims are always at

Undisclosed Autobahn

Why a German drug maker, UCLA and a Palo Alto VC tired of short-term investments started a ‘virtual incubator’

San Francisco Business Times, Ron Leuty, 6-25-20

By the time venture capitalist Srinivas Akkaraju met Werner Lanthaler, the CEO of Evotec SE, he had tired of the short-term definition of “value creation” in the drug-development industry. The founder and managing general partner of Samsara BioCapital, a Palo Alto firm started in 2016 and managing $410 million in assets for endowments, foundations and family offices, wanted to find new ways of tapping and quickly translating early-stage science into new, long-term companies. That’s when he met Lanthaler. Evotec, a German drug discovery and development organization with experience across a wide range of diseases, had created what it called a “bridge model” to fast-track early-stage academic research into startup companies.

The result: Autobahn Labs, a “virtual incubator” set up by Samsara, Evotec and family fund KCK Ltd. that disclosed Wednesday it signed a master agreement with UCLA to quickly determine if certain academic drug research could be spun into commercial gold. In a way, Autobahn Labs is one part QB3, the University of California program designed to help academic scientists at UC Berkeley, UCSF and UC Santa Cruz partner with life sciences companies or spin out companies of their own; one part Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs and its penchant to invest in out-of-the-box technologies; and one part BridgeBio Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: BBIO), the Palo Alto company that creates single-asset genetic disease companies from academic research.

But Autobahn Labs is unique, said Michelle Kim-Danely, Autobahn’s senior vice president of operations. It is working with universities and other research organizations, starting with UCLA, but it is tapping the expertise of scientific teams at various Evotec sites globally to translate the science as well as the funding of Samsara and KCK to invest up to $5 million per project...

Financial terms of Autobahn’s deal with UCLA were not disclosed. Naiberg said the umbrella “master agreement” falls under a confidentiality agreement but includes licensing, milestone and royalty payments from Autobahn...

Full story at

The other shoe

UC promised no layoffs through June 30th. June 30th is approaching. From the Riverside Press-Enterprise:

University of California employees staged rallies at seven hospitals across the state Wednesday to protest the school’s planned 10-week layoff of up to 3,000 low-wage workers. An estimated 200 notices went out last week, primarily to food-service workers at UC Riverside and UC San Diego. The employees are represented by the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, Local 3299. UC officials said they are working to reassign jobs where they can, but campus shutdowns have forced their hand. AFSCME spokesman Todd Stenhouse said the number of layoffs is expected to ramp up dramatically.

“They came to the union a few weeks ago and said they think it could be as many as 3,000 layoffs statewide,” he said.

Stenhouse said the dining hall workers initially slated for layoffs make about $41,000 a year and more than 75%, or over 150 of them, are people of color.

Stenhouse said he couldn’t speculate on the ethnic breakdown of the bigger layoff, as that would involve multiple bargaining units from a variety of unions representing parking attendants, janitors, security personnel, nurses, respiratory therapists, lab technicians and graduate teaching assistants, among others...

Workers rallied at seven UC facilities Wednesday:

  • UC Irvine Medical Center
  • UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center
  • UCLA Santa Monica Hospital
  • UC San Diego Hillcrest Medical Center
  • UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center
  • UC San Francisco’s Helen Diller Medical Center
  • UC Davis Medical Center...

In a statement issued Wednesday, UC said it wants to keep as many employees working as possible to limit the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers. The school said it has a systemwide job protection order and is reassigning employees to other roles where possible...

Full story at

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Repeal of Prop 209 will be on November ballot

In a post about a week ago, we provided a recording of the Regents' endorsing legislative action (not then complete or 100% certain) to put a repeal of Prop 209 on the ballot.* Prop 209 of 1996 banned affirmative action in enrollment decisions at UC and in other state actions. The legislature has now placed the repeal on the November 2020 ballot.

From the Sacramento Bee: California voters will decide in November whether to reinstate affirmative action after lawmakers approved a proposal Wednesday asking them to repeal the 25-year-old law that bans the consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in university admissions, public employment and contracting. In a 30-10 Senate vote, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 secured the necessary two-thirds majority needed to send the measure to repeal Proposition 209 to voters in the Nov. 3 election. Only one Republican, state Sen. Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita, voted for the measure...

Latinos make up nearly 40 percent of the state’s 40 million residents, but represent less than 25 percent of the University of California’s 2019 fall enrollment. About 6 percent of Californians are African American, but at both UC and California State University, 4 percent of students are black. Currently, Asian-Americans represent 15 percent of California’s population, but 16 percent and 33 percent at CSU and UC, respectively.

Asian-American lawmakers have for weeks been divided on ACA 5, though the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus formally endorsed the measure on Monday. They say many of their constituents support affirmative action, but the caucus acknowledged “not all of our communities are yet convinced” on repealing Proposition 209...

Full story at

The Outlook

The UCLA Anderson Economic Forecast met online earlier today. You can see the various presentations at the link below. In general terms, the forecast is summarized by the chart below of the unemployment rate; a relatively slow recovery. That kind of forecast suggests extended budgetary problems for the state and for UC. 

The forecast was in part directed toward real estate. Although UCLA's neighborhood was not discussed, if you look at Westwood Village with its retail and restaurant focused economy, the outlook for it was not cheerful.
The Forecast is now putting its program on the web, minus the Q&A option for subscribers. You can see the various forecast presentations at the link below:

or direct to

New UC-Wide Endowment

On this blog, we always like to highlight gifts that support research, students, and teaching as opposed to brick-and-mortar structures.

From UCOP comes this news, particularly timely during a period of budget crisis and research interruption:

Hellman Fellows Program and UC announce historic $125 million commitment to junior faculty research

UC Office of the President
June 23, 2020

The Hellman Fellows Program and the University of California announced today (June 23) a plan to permanently support the Hellman Fellows Program on all 10 campuses in the UC system. With the establishment of this endowment, the Hellman Fellows Program will have committed a total of $125 million to support research for outstanding early-career faculty at all 10 UC campuses. The endowment will provide protected streams of funding in perpetuity through the creation of the Society of Hellman Fellows.

The gift will fund endowments at each campus, with the universities each administering the program. Fellowships are open to a broad range of academic disciplines across all fields, including the arts and humanities, social sciences and STEM. Fellowships can range from $10,000 to $65,000, and many former fellows have gone on to become department chairs, award-winning researchers, and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipients.

By creating endowments at each UC location, the Hellman Fellows Program gives flexibility to each campus in how the awards are directed and managed, building on the program’s tradition of local control while honoring the intent of the founders. Many campuses have already sought additional or matching gifts that will allow them to expand and reach more early-career faculty members over time.

“My parents, Warren and Chris Hellman, used to say that creating the Hellman Fellows Program was one of the best things our family ever did,” said Frances Hellman, president of the Hellman Fellows Fund. “Having had the opportunity to support over 1,900 faculty over the years, I enthusiastically agree. Their discoveries, commitment to their work, and great potential continues to inspire us year after year. We are thrilled to be carrying on our father’s legacy by ensuring that the Hellman Fellows Program can exist in perpetuity throughout the University of California system.”

Since its founding in 1995, the Hellman Fellows Program has provided $125 million to fund research fellowships to early-career faculty across the UC system. With this generous new gift, the program will be able to continue in perpetuity across all campuses of the world-renowned public research institution...

Full news release at