Friday, July 31, 2020

Listen to the Morning Session of the Regents: July 30, 2020

The morning session of the Regents on July 30th included both the full board and the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee which had been held over from the previous day due to time constraints. It began with public comments covering layoffs, the Hawaiian telescope (TMT = Thirty Meter Telescope), racism, campus policing, SAT/ACT, coronavirus, and labor relations. Public comments were followed by reports from student representatives, various awards, and a presentation and discussion of the accountability report. That report dealt with such matters as UC response to the coronavirus, women in higher education, graduation rates, etc.

After a brief pause, the TMT presentation occurred presented and chaired by Chancellor Yang of UC-Santa Barbara. Reports from the astronomer perspective dealt with the potential scientific advances that could be made by the TMT. There were statements that a quarter of the astrophysics community is at UC and without TMT UC would lose its eminence in the field. Three native Hawaiians spoke against the project on religious and cultural grounds. Two native Hawaiians spoke in favor; one an astronomy student and the other a traditional mariner who spoke about tradition use of stars by Hawaiians in navigation. After much discussion, the matter was simply deferred. While some of the native Hawaiians and the public commentators who opposed the project demanded the board vote immediately to kill or move the project, that did not happen (nor could it under Regental rules, since the agenda listed TMT as a discussion item).

Comment: Remarks by Chair Pérez prior to the session indicated skepticism about the project in Hawaii. He focused on the issue of location and alternative location - with the alternative (as blog readers will know) being in the Canary Islands. At one point, it was said that while the alternative was less good because some of the southern sky could not be seen, "90%" of the work that could be done in Hawaii could be done at the alternative location. It isn't clear what "90%" means, but to a person with a political background - and thus used to compromise - such as Pérez, getting 90% of what you want would sound pretty good. Moreover, there is the practical matter that the powers-that-be in Hawaii from the governor on down seem - in the end - unwilling to confront the protesters who physically block the construction. So, even if UC continues with the current plan (in Hawaii), it is not clear how the project would be built, given Hawaiian politics. It was supposed to be completed this year, but years of planning, litigation, and protests have not produced actual construction. A complication that was pointed out is that the project involves partners such as various foreign governments and also involves NSF. Everyone would have to agree to the alternative site, and it's not clear if that can happen. 

Various capital projects were approved in Finance & Capital Strategies. A project to replace an older medical building at UC-Davis was subject to some questioning by Regent Makarechian who was concerned that the coronavirus was causing a rethink generally about architecture of offices and other structures. Although what was being requested was funding for planning, not actual construction, he wondered if the plans would have to be redone. He also asked about the general state of UC-Davis finances in the light of the current crisis. In the end, the planning funding was approved.

You can hear the morning program at the link below:

or direct to Part 1:
Part 2 (Starts with TMT discussion):

Note: The Daily Cal's summary of the TMT session is at:

Listen to the Afternoon Session of the Regents: July 29, 2020

There were two major issues that came up in the afternoon of July 29th. The first was the UC Police Dept. which was discussed in Compliance and Audit. The second was a change in procedure for the selection of campus chancellors which was discussed in the Governance Committee.

Policing was discussed under the rather bland title of "community safety." Despite the name, which might have encompassed such things as fire and earthquake standards, the focus was entirely on the police. It was pointed out that if there were no UC police, local police would end up doing what the UC police do. However, the discussion never focused on a total abolition of the UC police. Rather, the focus was on alternative forms of crisis intervention (mental health crises), handling of protests, and restorative justice. There was some reference to the different needs of those campuses with health facilities. Finally, the meeting ended somewhat inclusively with a proposal to set up a "working group" to make police policy. There was then some back and forth as to whether policing function and thus whether issues of policiing should be resolved there rather than at the Regental level. Some chancellors, however, suggested that having some broad guidelines systemwide might be a Good Thing. It was unclear at the end what the next step would be.

The Governance Committee's discussion ended up revolving around the LA Times article indicating that many past Academic Council chairs were greatly concerned by the proposal to reduced the role of faculty in selection of chancellors. As we have noted in an earlier post, the ghost of Jerry Brown and his general distrust of faculty and UC, hovered over the session.* Regent Park, who delivered the proposal and defended it, is a Brown appointee. Chair Pérez, after indicating he was annoyed that the letter of the past Council chairs was leaked to the LA Times, indicated some reservation about just rolling ahead given the apparent faculty concerns. Again, as with policing, the matter ended somewhat inconclusively.

You can hear the session at the link below:

or direct to

The Daily Cal summary which we linked to yesterday covered both the morning and afternoon of July 29th. We have already posted our summary of the morning. But here is the Daily Cal summary again:

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Another Title IX ruling

Ninth Circuit Adopts ‘Simpler’ Method for Accused Student Claims

July 30, 2020, Inside Higher Ed

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit delivered a win for students accused of sexual misconduct on July 29, reinforcing the use of a “far simpler standard” for judges to determine whether colleges discriminated against these students based on their gender while investigating them for sexual assault or harassment. Three federal circuit courts have now adopted the standard of “plausible inference,” as it is called, to rule on cases where a student claims their institution conducted a biased investigation against them using procedures developed under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law that prohibits such discrimination at federally funded institutions. Under the standard, accused students must only “raise a plausible inference that the university discriminated” against them, which is less demanding than standards used in other circuits for similar claims.

The Second and Sixth Circuit courts, for example, have required accused students to show the outcome of the Title IX investigation into their alleged misconduct may be flawed or provide proof that “regardless of the student’s guilt or innocence, the severity of the penalty and/or the decision to initiate the proceeding was affected by the student’s gender,” said the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, which was written by Judge Milan Smith Jr. The “plausible inference” standard does not require the court to evaluate whether the original misconduct occurred or not, but that the college discriminated against the accused student at some point during the Title IX procedures.

In adopting this standard, the Ninth Circuit reversed an Arizona district court’s decision to dismiss a former Arizona State University student’s lawsuit against the state’s Board of Regents. David Otto Schwake, the student, argues he was discriminated against throughout the university’s investigation into his alleged sexual assault of a female student. Schwake’s evidence of alleged discrimination included a professor and the female student talking about the outcome of the investigation publicly before the student had the chance to appeal his ban from a campus research lab.


Note: We have noted in the past that courts are schooled in the notion of due process and tend to reject procedures that seem not to accord with that concept. These kinds of decisions pre-date the recent rules promulgated by the Dept. of Education.

Coronavirus cases at UCLA

Note: The total 153 below appears to be the sum of all past cases. How many people currently have active cases? What happened to the individuals identified in the past? Outcomes of those cases?

The number apparently excludes UCLA Health figures.

NBC-LA: As of Wednesday, 153 people among the UCLA campus community had reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the university, the Westwood-based institution of higher learning said in a statement.

"Consistent with the protocols for infectious disease response, anyone identified within our campus community as being at risk of exposure from these individuals will be notified if they need to be isolated or tested," the school said in a statement.

According to the university, information on previously confirmed campus cases was as follows:

July 29: Three staff members; one has not worked on campus since March 20, one since July 17 and the other since July 23.
July 28: A student who lives in off-campus, non–university-owned housing and has not been on campus since July 19.
July 25: Two staff members; one has not worked on campus since May 18, the other since July 21.

Three students who live in off-campus, non–university-owned housing; two have not been on campus since June 30 and one since July 17.
July 24: Two students. One lives in off-campus, university-owned housing and has not been on campus since July 21. One lives in on-campus housing and has been self-isolating since July 15.
July 23: Three students who live in off-campus, non–university-owned housing; one has not been on campus since March 14, one since March 23 and one since June 26.
July 22: A staff member who has not worked on campus since July 17. 

Three students who live in off-campus, non–university-owned housing; one has not been on campus since March 15, once since April 20 and one since July 13.

The university pointed to the increased availability of testing for COVID-19 to help reveal more cases on campus and in local communities. The school urged people to keep distance from others, wear a mask and wash hands regularly.


Note: The NY Times has a count of 101 for UCLA in a tabulation dated 7-28-2020:

Stall Warning - Part 3

You will have seen headlines about the incredible decline of real GDP in the second quarter. (If not, Google it.) However, we continue to look at new weekly claims for unemployment insurance as the most recent indicator. Such claims - as of the week ended last Saturday - at the national level on a seasonally-adjusted basis have been stuck at about 1.4 million for awhile which suggests a stall in the recovery. In terms of total folks receiving benefits, those data are available only without seasonal adjustment and with a one-week lag. California accounted for about a fifth of those individuals, way more than its proportionate share of the workforce. In short, no good news today.

You can find the latest weekly claims data at
[Click on image to enlarge and clarify.]

Listen to the Morning Session of the Regents: July 29, 2020

I won't bother you with the technical problems that can arise in downloading Regents sessions, except to remind you that it takes time. Because of the way they are placed on YouTube, sometimes it involves real-time recording, i.e., each one hour of meeting time involves one hour of recording time. Sometimes it is possible to download directly and convert to audio.

In any case, we'll try to catch up with the Regents as best we can. And we note for the umpteenth time that if the Regents preserved their recordings indefinitely rather than only for one year, it would not be necessary to separately archive them.

The session on the morning of July 29th involved first the full board and then meetings of the Health Services Committee and the National Labs Committee. Public comments at the full board mirrored those of the day before in large part. They included labor relations issues, the UC Police Department, undocumented immigrant services, disabled student services, outsourcing, layoffs, intellectual property related to the coronavirus, abortion issues, nurse staffing, and the Hawaiian telescope.

The full board meeting itself featured remarks by board chair Pérez, UC prez Napolitano (giving her last report as prez), and the UC undergrad representative. Today (which was tomorrow then), there is due to be full board discussion of the Hawaiian telescope project. Pérez's remarks singled that item out and suggested that he favored cancelling the project. (That is, however, just the reading of yours truly; he didn't quite say so - and we will see today.)

At Health Services, Dr. Carrie Byington, Executive VP and head of UC Health, reported that UCLA and UC-San Diego would be involved in trials of the coronavirus vaccine being developed by the Moderna firm. However, she also said that she expected the virus problem to be with us until 2022 and suggested that plans for UC campus operations after this fall should be built on that expectation. She suggested in response to a question that winter in particular would be much the same as fall.

At National Labs, Regent Michael Cohen - who was budget director under Jerry Brown - expressed the view that fees for managing the labs received by UC should not be assumed to be available only for spending on the labs. Given the current distressed UC budget, Cohen indicated that the use of the fees should be part of general UC budget allocation discussions. He dissented, therefore, from the Committee's recommendation on the use of the fees.

You can hear the morning meeting at the link below:

or direct to:
Note: A summary of the full day, not just the morning, is available from the Daily Cal at: One thing to note is that the meeting ran overtime and two committee meetings were delayed until today. So today's session will be a lengthy meeting.

Listen to the Regents Meeting of July 28, 2020

Yesterday we posted an interim summary of goings on at the Regents this past Tuesday.* The meeting actually contained two sessions: the Investments Committee and the Special Committee on Basic Needs.

The Investments Committee started with public comments. Speakers touched on the UC Police Department, mental health, abortion issues, Green New Deal and fossil fuels, the Hawaiian telescope, a suggestion that any pay cuts should be higher at the higher income levels, nurse testing and staffing, labor relations issues, layoffs, anti-Semitism, intellectual property related to coronavirus research, and the UC-Santa Cruz grad student strike.

At the Investments Committee there was a review of returns on the UC portfolio of $130 billion (pension, endowment, etc.) The pension fund earned only 1.7% during the year ended June 2020, well below the target rate. There was substantial discussion of a new annuity option to be rolled out on a voluntary basis in view of the fact that new employees may have only defined-contribution pension income. The annuity option would be opt-in rather than opt-out.

At Basic Needs, much of the discussion involved letters by which UC campuses make offers of financial aid and the need for clarity of such offers.

You can hear the July 28th sessions at the link below:

or direct to:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Art and Music Donation

We always like to take note from time to time of donations to the university that don't involve bricks and mortar but instead fund research, teaching, and students. From the LA Times:

At a time when universities and arts organizations across the U.S. are struggling with dwindling donations, the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture has received $2.9 million from the late artist and philanthropist Elaine Krown Klein.

The gift, the university announced Wednesday, will go toward the Elaine Krown Klein Fine Arts Scholarship Fund. Klein, who died Jan. 5, and her late husband, Leo Klein, established the fund in 1986. Students at the university’s Herb Alpert School of Music will benefit from the funds as well.

“Elaine has been so generous for so many years and has had such an impact on so many students across all the creative fields,” Brett Steele, dean of the arts and architecture school, said in an interview. “[Her gift] makes it possible for students who couldn’t otherwise attend a school like ours to join a group of colleagues and peers and esteemed faculty and have that as their formative experience in the arts. And it’s important for the school. It adds diversity of voices and experiences within these programs.”

UCLA began awarding scholarships from the fund, now valued at more than $4 million, in 1989. It has supported more than 200 young artists, musicians, dancers, architects and designers, including dancer-choreographer Kevin Williamson and artists Meleko Mokgosi and Shana Lutker...

Full story at

Chancellor Selection Issue to Come Up at Regents

Teresa Watanabe of the LA Times reports on an issue related to a change in the methodology of chancellor selection that will come up later today at the Regents:

In a highly unusual protest, University of California faculty leaders are collectively opposing a proposal to alter the search process for campus chancellors, which they believe will significantly reduce their role and potentially affect the quality of the UC system. Twenty past Academic Senate chairs, who have served since 1994, have signed a letter asking UC Board of Regents members to reject the proposal, which will be debated Wednesday at the board’s online meeting. The Academic Council of current leaders has expressed similar concerns, saying the search process has resulted in diverse and “stellar recent recruitments,” according to a letter by Chair Kum-Kum Bhavnani to outgoing UC President Janet Napolitano.

The last four chancellors hired have been white women to head UC Berkeley and Santa Cruz, a Black male leader at Davis and a Latino at Merced. The other six campus chancellors are men: Asian Americans at Santa Barbara and San Diego and white leaders at UCLA, San Francisco, Irvine and Riverside. Regent Lark Park, chair of the group of five board members who crafted the proposal, said the intent was to improve the process by widening public input, increasing the diversity of candidates and minimizing bias and inefficiencies.

The recommendations, she said in an email, “are fundamentally about being more inclusive. It’s about having better communication, greater efficiency and accountability, and engaging the broader UC community with humility.”

But two of the proposal’s 17 recommendations have sparked a firestorm among faculty. One would move the role of screening candidates from the faculty to an outside search firm. At present, five faculty members of the 17-member search committee assess the qualifications of hundreds of potential candidates submitted by the search firm and others. They then recommend at least five promising candidates to fellow committee members, who include the UC president, board chair, other regents, students, alumni and staff. The president then selects a candidate to recommend for approval by the full board.

The proposal did not clearly explain why screening should be moved to the search firm, but a report commissioned by Park’s group included criticism that faculty could be barriers to diverse searches and too narrowly focused on candidates’ academic credentials, with less focus on other qualities, such as leadership or vision. The report was based on a survey of 36 former members of search committees and more than 40 interviews with people inside and outside of UC.

George Blumenthal, a former UC Santa Cruz chancellor who signed the protest letter as a past Academic Senate chair, said robust faculty involvement was critical to insuring quality and excellence at UC.

“Faculty buy-in is crucial to the success of a chancellor, and any policy change that suggest that the faculty have a lesser role to play in selection will inevitably lead to a lesser faculty investment in the success of an appointee,” the protest letter said.

The proposal also would require the UC president to obtain approval from the search committee’s regents before directly recommending a choice to the full board, as is now the case. That change would “fundamentally undercut the authority of the president in selecting chancellors,” the past Academic Senate chairs wrote.

Faculty members also took umbrage at the working group’s report, saying the methodology was flawed and the opinions expressed were off-base...

Full story at

The proposal to change the chancellor-selection methodology is at:

Comment: What is playing out here is the echo of Jerry Brown, who appointed several new Regents. Brown was famously skeptical of UC for complex personal reasons and faculty as an institution in particular. An earlier manifestation this year was the Regents' action in soliciting a research report on use of the SAT/ACT and then ignoring it.

Regents Yesterday - Interim Report

Pre-Zoom Regents
The Regents' Investments Committee and Special Committee on Basic Needs met yesterday afternoon. However, the official recording on YouTube is currently resisting downloading so yours truly cannot capture the audio. This situation may change later in the day. However, as a backup, he is making a real-time recording (almost 4 hours). Until the audio can be mounted, below is an interim summary of what went on from the Daily Cal. A report with audio will be mounted later.

...During the Investments Committee meeting’s public comment session, multiple speakers emphasized the importance of budget allocation for diversity and inclusion purposes and expressed their opposition to the roughly $140 million spent on UCPD. Speakers advocated for diverting the funding to students and campus employees. Later, the Special Committee on Basic Needs turned to focus on student financial aid, with UC Student Financial Support Director Shawn Brick describing plans for the future of financial aid letters.

Brick mentioned that his office wants to ensure the financial aid information students receive once they are accepted aligns among UC campuses, in order for students to compare offers. He added that his office is working on a mobile method for incoming and continuing students to access their financial aid forms and review their offers.

With the announcement that UC campuses will no longer consider the SAT and ACT in the admissions process, Brick said the UC Academic Senate will be restructuring merit scholarships that previously depended on these scores.

Multiple regents broached the topic of making financial aid more accessible and comprehensible for first-generation UC students, as well as creating a unified process for students to compare financial aid packages. Alumni Regent Debby Stegura discussed how the financial aid emails and information the UC system sends have jargon that might not be easily understood. The regents also discussed the lack of translations available.

“Even a simple barrier of language is a huge problem,” said Student Regent-designate and UC Berkeley student Alexis Zaragoza at the meeting.

Zaragoza shared her personal experiences and proposed improvements for financial aid award letters to holistically cover the cost of attendance. She suggested including the cost of living off campus and how the cost of rent differs among UC campuses. In addition, Zaragoza mentioned the confusion that can occur when lumping financial aid offers with loan offers and how little explanation is given to differentiate between the two.

“UC Merced’s financial aid offer letter is cited in the New America report as a model of how to explain work-study,” the meeting’s agenda states.

Zaragoza said she thinks it is necessary to expand UC Merced’s model to other campuses.

Alumni Regent-designate Cheryl Lott said without extensive explanations included, many incoming students do not have an accurate picture of how to finance their education or future living costs.

“I don’t know if all of our students know that, coming in as 18-year-old freshmen,” Lott said at the meeting.

According to the agenda, the next steps include meeting with financial aid directors from all campuses and reviewing the recommendations made.

Full story at

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Dorm Alone

From the Bruin: UCLA Housing will only offer single occupancy rooms on campus in the fall, UCLA Housing announced in a tweet Friday. Students who received offers for double occupancy rooms will be reassigned to a single occupancy room and possibly a new building, according to the tweet. Housing costs for students reassigned to singles will remain the same as stated on their original contract, UCLA Housing added. UCLA Housing said in the tweet that the decision will not affect students offered single occupancy rooms. UCLA Housing previously limited housing offers to only double and single occupancy rooms...

Full story at

Note: It remains unclear what the benefit is of having students sitting alone in a dorm room doing online courses as opposed to sitting at home doing online courses.

Well, we haven't passed the mayo, but...

U.S. News ranks the top hospitals in the nation:

1. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
2. Cleveland Clinic
3. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
4 (tie). New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell, New York
4 (tie). UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles
6. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
7. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles
8. UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco
9. NYU Langone Hospitals, New York
10. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
11. University of Michigan Hospitals-Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor
12. Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston
13. Stanford Health Care-Stanford Hospital, Stanford, California
14. Mount Sinai Hospital, New York
15. Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian, Philadelphia
16. Mayo Clinic-Phoenix
17. Rush University Medical Center, Chicago
18 (tie). Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis
18 (tie). Keck Hospital of USC, Los Angeles
20. Houston Methodist Hospital


Admissions Scandal: Remember It? - Part 2

The admissions scandal - UCLA edition - continues.* From the LA Times:

A former UCLA men’s soccer coach pleaded guilty Monday to accepting $200,000 in bribes to help two students get into the school as recruits. Jorge Salcedo, 47, admitted to participating in the college admissions bribery scheme involving TV celebrities, other wealthy parents and elite universities across the country. He agreed in April to enter the guilty pleas. Salcedo was paid $100,000 to help California couple Bruce and Davina Isackson get their daughter into UCLA as a bogus soccer recruit, prosecutors said. The Isacksons have also pleaded guilty and have been cooperating with authorities in the hope of getting a lighter sentence. Salcedo also took a $100,000 bribe from the admissions consultant at the center of the scheme, William “Rick” Singer, to “recruit” the son of Xiaoning Sui, of Surrey, Canada, to his team, authorities said. Singer and Sui have also pleaded guilty...

Full story at
*Earlier post at

Monday, July 27, 2020

Telescope Info for the Regents Now on Agenda

We noted in a prior blog post that the Regents are schedule to discuss the Hawaiian telescope (Thirty Meter Telescope or TMT) on Thursday. We also noted that it was odd that the topic was listed, but with no attachment, particularly because of the controversy surrounding the project. The item is on the agenda in part because Regents chair John Pérez in an earlier meeting promised it would be discussed at some point in response to public comments by opponents.

There is now an attachment. Most of it is devoted to the history, potential uses of, and costs of the telescope. But it also contains information on the controversy in Hawaii:

...The TMT project (Project) has engaged with the local community in Hawaii for more than a decade, working with the Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners to identify design choices for the TMT that minimize adverse impacts on Maunakea while creating local programs for Big Island students and teachers that provide educational and STEM workforce development benefits. The TMT project also agreed to paying substantial annual rent that provides resources for stewardship of the Science Reserve at Maunakea. Many in Hawaii, including some in the Native Hawaiian community, saw the TMT approach as setting a new higher standard for developing a project within Hawaii by integrating local and cultural interests into the fabric of the project.

Nevertheless, there is a group of peaceful opponents (primarily comprised of Native Hawaiians) who are strongly opposed to the Project. They have taken legal and other actions, including road blockades, social media and grassroots campaigns, to prevent the Project from being able to access Maunakea to begin construction. This has resulted in a significant delay in the Project that was slated to begin construction in 2015. Before Covid-19 travel restrictions were imposed, members of the Project team and TIO Board were involved in a mediation process called ho’oponopono with various Native Hawaiian elders. Although there is hope that ho’oponopono will result in some level of reconciliation with the larger Native Hawaiian community, it is not reasonable to expect the process to ever result in full support of the project. The possible contraction and concept of TMT on Maunakea has become a rallying symbol for many of the historical and current injustices that affect Native Hawaiians, even though it is unrelated to these real and serious issues... 

Full document at

Meanwhile, news reports from Hawaii indicate that there will not be any construction related to the TMT until 2021:

...Gordon Squires, vice president of external affairs for the TMT International Observatory, announced on Hawaii News Now Sunrise that construction will probably not happen until sometime after spring or summer of 2021.

“With the pandemic and other factors that have come in, winter seems like a long ways away, but it’s not that far away and for us to resume construction activities on site, winter on Mauna Kea just isn’t feasible,” Squires said. Despite this, Squires said, “We’re absolutely committed to finding a way forward in Hawaii.” ...

Full story at

It should be noted that the agenda lists the telescope as a discussion item, so no decision should be expected at this meeting.

Demonstrations in Westwood Yesterday

Various groups demonstrated in Westwood yesterday. There were also counter-demonstrators at one point. Below is a compilation video made from clips taken by the Daily Bruin:

or direct to

Sunday, July 26, 2020

ICE has apparently not yet fully melted - Part 2

From USA Today (but from yesterday):
Traditionally — when there's not a pandemic —international students have been barred from taking more than one online course each semester. ICE allowed foreign students to stay in the U.S. when classes went online in March, but has feuded with universities about what to do about students now that colleges are again going online this fall, as the pandemic persists.
The guidance issued Friday makes it clear that new international students looking to study in America will need to enroll in an institution offering at least some in-person classes, even if their veteran peers can take only online coursesICE did say new international students would likely be able to enroll at universities that were offering a mixture of in-person and online classes, and they can stay in the country if their college switches to online-only instruction in the middle of the semester.
The guidance will likely be disruptive to universities. These institutions often try to recruit international students because they provide cultural diversity and often pay full-price tuition. And as the fall semester draws closer, more and more institutions have announced plans to offer only digital instruction due to the continued spread of coronavirus nationally. Given their population density — with crowded classrooms, dorms and dining facilities — college campuses are especially susceptible to the rapid transmission of the virus...
Full story at:

Listen to the Regents Public Engagement & Development Committee: 7-21-2020

The Public Engagement & Development Committee of the Regents met on July 21 in an off-cycle meeting. There was only one public comment from a mother who wanted some adjustment in UC admissions for her son. Much discussion occurred of what Regents could and could not do now that the full board has endorsed two ballot propositions that will appear on the November ballot. One would repeal Prop 209's ban on affirmative action. The other would provide renewed funding for stem cell research via a bond measure.

There appeared to be a discrepancy between the legal advice on advocacy that was given by UC lawyers and what some Regents were hearing from other lawyers, with the latter suggesting more strict limitations. After that topic, there was discussion of voter drives (general "get-out-the-vote" efforts) and lobbying for funding from Washington related to the coronavirus crisis and from Sacramento.

You can hear the session - which was conducted on Zoom - at the link below:

or direct to:

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Constrained Bruins

The coronavirus takes a toll on UCLA athletics:

UCLA athletes adjusting to campus workouts during time of coronavirus

Thuc Nhi Nguyen, 7-22-20, LA Times

Karina Rodriguez always looked forward to this time of the year. The senior defender on the UCLA women’s soccer team understands how much of the team’s success during the fall begins during the summer. So when UCLA reopened its campus to student-athletes for voluntary workouts last month, she was eager to join, even if things looked different. Thermometers, questionnaires and masks replaced hugs, high-fives and full team meetings. She couldn’t get into the locker room. Access to the Acosta Training Center was limited. But waiting at the practice each day after Rodriguez completes a survey, scans into the building with her Bruin cards and gets her temperature taken is a familiar sight: her teammates. That one thing may make up for all of the strange differences.

“We might be six feet apart, but we’re getting through it,” Rodriguez said. “I’m thankful for anything they’ll let us do together.”

Athletes from UCLA’s fall sports teams returned for voluntary workouts starting June 22 as the school began its return-to-play plan that divided athletes into four groups that would move through four phases, from returning to campus safely, starting voluntary workouts, organizing team practices and ultimately returning to competition. All football players and local athletes from Olympic sports could begin the process first. Basketball players were in the second group, with remaining fall Olympic sport athletes and all other local athletes following before all athletes would be welcomed back with the last group.

Almost a month since starting, UCLA has not advanced to the second group of athletes, and the first group is stalled at individual, voluntary workouts as California has struggled to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The state reported 12,807 new cases Wednesday, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom, a record for one day. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has warned that the city is close to a second stay-at-home order, and L.A. County had 2,207 people hospitalized with confirmed coronavirus infections Monday, the fourth-highest daily total. The peak came Saturday at 2,232...

Full story at

Online Spring

Outgoing UC president Janet Napolitano was interviewed on Boston radio station WBUR, mainly on the politics, events in Portland, and other topics. She indicated planning is going on for online education in the "spring" due to the coronavirus crisis. (The interviewer assumed two semesters - fall and spring - although most of the campuses have three quarters.) See below:

On whether the University of California system will be fully online for the 2021 spring semester in addition to the fall semester

“We sincerely hope not. But we're planning through that scenario. And unless there is a vaccine, you know, it is a good possibility that the kind of remote or online learning that we will be using for the beginning of the fall will continue into the spring. It really depends on what the situation is and how we can safely reopen the campuses.”

Full interview at

Friday, July 24, 2020

Lawsuit over optional testing

From the BruinA group of students and organizations filed a lawsuit Wednesday that argues the University of California’s test-optional standardized testing policy discriminates against marginalized students.
The plaintiffs state in the lawsuit that the UC’s test-optional policy fails to address the disadvantages that disabled students, low-income students and students of color face and ask the court to prevent the UC from using test scores in any capacity. 

The UC first suspended the standardized test requirement in April due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The UC Board of Regents adopted a plan at their May meeting, which would make standardized tests optional through 2022, and remove testing from admissions criteria by 2024. However, the UC reserved the right to use any submitted scores for course placement or scholarship consideration.

The lawsuit states that students with disabilities face difficulties finding accommodations to take standardized tests, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some students “must risk their lives” to take tests if they are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, according to the lawsuit. In addition, the suit states that UC admissions are test-optional in name only, because some low-income students and students of color face significant obstacles in taking and submitting test scores. 

UC spokesperson Claire Doan said in an emailed statement that the new policy was intended to provide flexibility for students who may be struggling during the pandemic and give them full consideration for admission whether or not they are able to send a score. However, Doan said the suit was an attempt to leverage the court system to bypass analysis by University officials...

Esteban Torres to Receive UCLA Medal

Former Rep. Esteban Torres to Receive UCLA Medal

7-22-20, MyNewsLA

Former Rep. Esteban Torres, a one-time welder in an auto plant who became U.S. ambassador to UNESCO and director of the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs before serving eight terms in the House, will receive the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, in a virtual ceremony Wednesday. Torres was also a union organizer, artist and advocate for diversity in media as chair of the National Latino Media Council.

“At UCLA, we teach our students to care deeply and work hard, to seek common ground and prize the public good, to build bridges and create pathways for those who come behind,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “Esteban Torres has done all of that and more.”

Serving in the House from 1983-99, Torres was deputy majority whip, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Consumer Affairs and Coinage Subcommittee of the Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs Committee. Torres’ anti-gang legislation became law as part of the 1994 Crime Bill. He authored the Truth-in-Savings Act of 1992 which simplified the disclosure of interest rates and conditions for savings accounts.

Torres was born in Miami, Arizona on Jan. 27, 1930. His family moved to East Los Angeles when he was 6 years old. He graduated from Garfield High School in 1949 then he joined the U.S. Army, serving in the Corps of Engineers during the Korean conflict. After being discharged in 1953 with the rank of sergeant first class, Torres used his benefits from the GI Bill to study at the Los Angeles Art Center.

“I thought about teaching in fine arts, but we had started raising a family and I had to go to work as a welder,” Torres once said in an interview.

Torres was introduced to politics through his activism in the local branch of the United Auto Workers. In 1958 his co-workers elected him chief steward of the Local 230. He was later appointed the UAW organizer for the western region of the United States. UAW President Walter Reuther selected Torres to be an international representative for the union, based in Washington, D.C. He was the director of the UAW’s Inter-American Bureau for Caribbean and Latin American Affairs from 1964-68.

Torres returned to the Los Angeles area in 1968, founding The East Los Angeles Community Union, a community action organization that grew under his stewardship into one of the nation’s largest antipoverty agencies. Torres unsuccessfully challenged Rep. George Danielson in 1974, then returned to Washington to be the UAW’s assistant director for international affairs.

Torres was also chair of the board of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the nonprofit museum and cultural center in downtown Los Angeles that serves as the only museum documenting and celebrating Los Angeles’ Latino history. Some of Torres’ sketches and sculpture have been displayed at the museum.

“We were all really amazed at how talented he was,” said John Echeveste, the museum’s CEO. “He kept all these sketchbooks of foreign dignitaries he had drawn in places he visited.”

Torres’ other honors includes having a high school in East Los Angeles named for him.

The 171 past recipients of the UCLA Medal include former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher and Hillary Clinton, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, former United Nations Secretary-Generals Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-Moon, former UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden, Sir Lawrence Olivier, singer Ella Fitzgerald and former Los Angeles Mayors Tom Bradley and Antonio Villaraigosa.


ICE has apparently not yet fully melted

Although it was widely reported that there had been a reversal on the Trump administration order banning international students from being in the U.S. if they were taking only online courses, apparently that issue has not been completely resolved.

From Inside Higher Ed: A coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia that filed a lawsuit challenging a Trump administration directive barring international students from taking exclusively online courses says they want to see more action from the government before they determine whether the rescission of that directive will satisfy their concerns. The Trump administration agreed to rescind the July 6 directive in response to a separate lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reverting to a policy issued in March that gave current students flexibility to take classes online for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But a filing in the multistate lawsuit led by the state of Massachusetts notes that the government has not published formal notice of the revocation or amended a field manual for consular officials that directs them to reject visa applications from students whose course of study would be online. The filing also notes the continued lack of guidance around the implications of the rescission of the July 6 policy for new international students...

Full story at

Thursday, July 23, 2020

UCLA Rent Strike

From the BruinDozens of university apartment tenants have withheld rent for months as part of a strike calling on UCLA to cancel rent because of concerns about housing costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The strikers are demanding that UCLA cancel rent for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, make housing affordable and protect tenants who are unable to pay rent.

The UCLA Tenants’ Union, the newly formed union of university apartment residents who organized the strike, sent these demands and testimonials of tenants’ struggles to pay rent in an April letter to Chancellor Gene Block and other UCLA administrators. As of May, more than 100 university apartment tenants agreed to withhold rent.

However, UCLA Housing needs funds to continue housing operations and is unable to cancel rent, said Assistant Vice Chancellors Suzanne Seplow and Peter Angelis in a statement addressed to the union and the University Apartments South Resident Association. The UASRA is not organizing the strike, but it supports the cause, said UASRA President Marbet Munoz, a university apartment resident and spouse of a third-year medical student.

UCLA Housing will not place academic records holds on tenants who can’t pay rent during the pandemic, but tenants are still obligated to pay for all outstanding rent once “safer-at-home” orders are lifted, the statement read. UCLA Housing will also continue to increase rent costs, according to the statement. UCLA Housing increases housing rates yearly to pay for rising costs to maintain buildings, utility expenses and employee wages and benefits, according to a separate UCLA Housing statement. Student housing rates will increase by 2% for the upcoming school year. Other University of California campuses canceled rent increases, including UC Santa Cruz’s graduate and family student housing communities.

The union plans to send another letter signed by more than 50 tenants to the assistant vice chancellors to reassert its demands.

When the state first issued lockdown orders, many tenants expressed concerns about their uncertain financial situations and their ability to pay rent on UASRA’s Facebook group, said Jessie Stoolman, one of the strike’s organizers and an anthropology graduate student. These concerns sparked the idea to form the union and organize the strike by early April, she added...

Anyone going to talk about this at the Regents next week?

"Time will tell," "neutral." UC-San Francisco is amazingly passive about saving their murals.

UCSF New Deal murals could be destroyed

J.K. Dineen, 7-22-20, San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has initiated the landmarking process for 10 Depression-era frescoes that could be destroyed as part of UCSF’s 1.5-million-square-foot expansion at its Parnassus Heights campus. The series, “History of Medicine in California,” was painted in 1935 by radical artist Bernard Zakheim, a Polish-born muralist who studied with Diego Rivera and contributed to the murals inside Coit Tower. It was one of more than 220,000 works of art partly funded by the Works Project Administration.

In June, The Chronicle first reported that the murals likely would be a victim of the UCSF expansion unless an individual or group came forward with a plan and money to move the murals, which weigh 2,500 pounds apiece. UCSF said it had consulted with two preservation architecture groups that concluded it would cost $8 million to preserve and move the artwork, and that some of the panels could be damaged in the process.

“UCSF has decided not to use public funds to physically preserve the murals, especially at a time when the UC system faces financial challenges in the wake of COVID-19,” the university said in a statement at the time. “This decision in no way has to do with any complaints about the murals.”

On Monday, however, UCSF Vice Chancellor Brian Newman told the supervisors’ Land Use and Transportation Committee that the university would like to see the artwork preserved.

“We understand how passionate people are, including our own community and alumni, to preserve these murals,” Newman said. “Time will tell, based on the work we are doing now, if they can be saved.”

Peskin described the landmarking as “honorific” because UCSF, as a branch of state government, is not subject to San Francisco’s zoning or planning codes. That means that even if the murals are designated a city landmark, UCSF could destroy them.

“(UCSF) is not subject to our local laws, but I believe that these incredible, radical 10-part frescoes deserve that level of honor and deserve that protection,” Peskin said.

Newman said UCSF is “neutral” on the landmarking proposal, but “my colleagues and I are certainly sympathetic with its goals.” ...

Full story at

Regents Next Week

The Regents back in the day before Zoom
Below is the agenda for next week's Regents meetings. Some annotation of topics of interest has been added:

Day 1 (July 28)

Date: July 28, 2020
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
Agenda – Open Session

  • Public Comment Period
  • I1 Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of May 19, 2020
  • Discussion: Fiscal Year 2019/2020 Update from Chief Investment Officer
  • I2 Action: Amendment of Investment Policy Statements and Guidelines (Regent Policies 6102, 6108, and 6109) and Rescission of Asset and Risk Allocation Policies (Regent Policies 6402, 6403 and 6404) 
  • I3 Action: Amendment of the University of California Retirement Savings Program Plan Documents to Allow Plan Distributions for a Deferred Annuity Purchase 

Note: From the documentation: ...The Office of the Chief Investment Officer proposes to expand the existing Target Date Fund series (Pathway Funds) to include a type of deferred income annuity known as a Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC) which will be tentatively named Lifetime Income.A QLAC is a form of deferred income annuity that allows participants to use a portion of their defined contribution plan balance to generate lifelong guaranteed income payments, regardless of market performance. These guaranteed payments would begin at an age later than an individual’s retirement age and continue through the rest of the individual’s life. This type of income option can help participants generate guaranteed income in the years they are likely to need it most (late life), while providing access to a large proportion of their accumulated savings in their early retirement years, when they may desire greater flexibility. This feature will be particularly beneficial to the increasing number of Savings Choice participants. Due to the purchasing power of the University’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer, participants will be able to purchase the QLAC at institutional pricing, which was otherwise unavailable to individuals...

I4 Discussion: Update on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Sustainable Investing

Date: July 28, 2020
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
S1 Agenda – Open Session

  • Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of May 19, 2020
  • Discussion: Financial Aid Offer Letters

Date: July 28, 2020
Time: 4:30 p.m.

Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
Agenda – Closed Session

  • Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meetings of December 10, 2019 and February 12, 2020
  • H1(X) Discussion: Extension of Appointment of and Compensation for the Interim Chief Executive Officer, UC Davis Medical Center, Davis Campus, in Addition to his Existing Appointment as Chief Operating Officer, UC Davis Medical Center, Davis Campus. Closed Session Statute Citation: Personnel Matters [Education Code §92032(b)(7)]
  • H2(X) Discussion: Acquisition of Acute Care Hospital, Medical Office Building, and Parking Garage, Los Angeles Campus. Closed Session Statute Citation: Acquisition or disposition of property [Education Code §92032(b)(6)] No information is available on what hospital is being considered. A closed hospital was temporarily reopened for a coronavirus overflow that never quite occurred. Is that it? There is also the old Century City hospital which UCLA has in partnership as a rehab facility. Is that it?

Day 2 (July 29)

Full Board
Date: July 29, 2020
Time: 8:30 am
Locations: Teleconference Meeting Conducted in Accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
Agenda – Open Session

  • Public Comment Period (20 minutes)
  • Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of May 20, 2020
  • Remarks of the Chair of the Board
  • Remarks of the President of the University
  • Remarks of the Chair of the Academic Senate
  • Committee Report: Special Committee to Select a Student Regent: Appointment of 2021-22 Student Regent

Date: July 29, 2020
Time: 10:00 am
Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
Agenda – Open Session

  • H1 Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of May 20, 2020
  • H2 Approval of Extension of Appointment of and Compensation for Interim Chief Executive Officer, UC Davis Medical Center, Davis Campus, in Addition to his Existing Appointment as Chief Operating Officer, UC Davis Medical Center, Davis Campus
  • H3 Discussion: Update of COVID-19 Impact on the University of California: UC Health Issues 

Date: July 29, 2020
Time: 11:15 am
Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
Agenda – Open Session

  • Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of January 22, 2020
  • Allocation of LLC Fee Income to be Expended in Fiscal Year 2020-21
  • Approval of Use of Capital and Campus Opportunity Fund for Revitalization of Hertz Hall Complex at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Date: July 29, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
Agenda – Open Session

  • Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of March 18, 2020
  • C5 Action: Approval of Internal Audit Plan for 2020-21
  • C6 Discussion: University of California Community Safety 

NOTE: Despite the bland heading of the above item C6, it is a discussion of campus police policies. Anything to do with policing is likely to be of interest due to recent events.

Date: July 29, 2020
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
Agenda – Open Session

  • Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of May 20, 2020
  • Approval of Conferral of the Emeritus Title Suffix for Director of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley Campus as Discussed in Closed Session
  • Approval of Extension of Appointment of and Compensation for Interim Associate Vice President – Capital Asset Strategies and Finance, in Addition to Existing Appointment as Associate Vice President – Systemwide Controller, Office of the President as Discussed in Closed Session
  • Discussion: Report of the Regents Working Group on Chancellor Search and Selection. Acceptance of the Report of the Regents Working Group on Chancellor Search and Selection 
  • Amendment of Regents Policy 7102 — Policy on Appointment of Chancellor, the Charters of the Governance Committee and Health Services Committee, and the Schedule of Reports to the Regents Suspension of Bylaw 21.7 for the Limited Purpose of Enabling Regents to Serve on an Advisory Board on the Berkeley Campus
  • Information Annual Report on Compensated Outside Professional Activities for the Senior Management Group for Calendar Year 2019

Date: July 29, 2020
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
Agenda – Open Session

  • Approval of the Minutes of the Meetings of May 19 and 20, 2020
  • Consent Agenda:

A. Continuation of Life-Safety Fee, Berkeley Campus
B. Preliminary Plans Funding, Academic Seismic Replacement Building (Evans Hall Seismic Replacement), Berkeley Campus
C. Approval of Design Following Action Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, Orchard Park Graduate Student Housing and Family Housing Project, Davis Campus
Approval of Services Agreements with Bear River Holdings LLC and Certain Other Affiliated Entities, Davis Campus

  • Preliminary Plans Funding, Hospital Bed Replacement Tower, Davis Health Campus
  • Discussion: Comprehensive Parnassus Heights Plan, Long Range Development Plan Amendment and Physical Design Framework Amendment, San Francisco Campus
  • Discussion: Health and Behavioral Sciences Building (Medical Education Project), Merced Campus
  • Information: 2021-22 State Capital Budget
  • Information: Welcome Center Building on Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Main Campus in Berkeley 

Date: July 29, 2020
Time: 4:30 pm
Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20

  • Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of May 20, 2020
  • Establishment of a School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Irvine Campus
  • Discussion: Accountability Sub-Report on Diversity: Staff Diversity Outcomes
  • Discussion: University of California Student Academic Preparation Strategies 

Day 3 (July 30)

Full Board 
Date: July 30, 2020
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of
Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20
Agenda – Open Session

  • Public Comment Period
  • Annual Awards for Outstanding Student Leadership
  • Remarks from Student Associations
  • Annual Report of University of California Staff Assemblies
  • Approval of the Minutes of the Meetings of May 21 and June 15, 2020
  • Discussion: 2020 UC Accountability Report: Highlights and UC 2030 Updates
  • Discussion: Thirty-Meter Telescope Update

Note: This item has been controversial. Oddly, no report or documentation is attached to the agenda as of this date. Possibly, a report could be added later.

  • Discussion: Update on the 2020-21 Operating Budget
  • Action: Fiscal Year 2020-21 Budget for the University of California Office of the President

More Aid?

[Click on image to enlarge and clarify.]
From CalMattersUCLA student Dulce Jimenez didn’t file a federal student aid application for the 2020-21 school year; she was set to graduate in spring, and thought the days of worrying about paying for school would be behind her. But then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Jimenez found herself dropping a class, then needing to make it up during the summer — just when her parents’ work hours had been reduced. 
Paying for a class out of pocket would add to her family’s financial stress, Jimenez said. “I am concerned about having to pay for my educational costs because things are really tight for my parents, so they would not be able to help me,” she said.  
So Jimenez asked UCLA to revisit her financial aid, becoming one of a growing number of University of California and California State University students appealing their aid packages as their families face economic fallout from COVID-19. Officials at both universities say financial aid appeals are up systemwide, with especially dramatic increases on some campuses. By the end of spring quarter, UC Riverside students had filed twice as many financial aid appeals as they had the year before. At UCLA, financial aid director Ina Sotomayor said requests for additional funding for the fall are already up by 36%.
Many students filing appeals are coping with unemployment. About 71% of returning college students in California say they have lost some or all of their income due to the pandemic, according to a recent survey of 76,000 students by the California Student Aid Commission. Thirty-four percent say they’ll need to work more in the fall to afford educational and living expenses, while 21% think they should attend a college that is less expensive...
The federal CARES Act has bolstered campuses’ financial aid budgets; California’s public colleges and universities received more than $680 million to distribute in grants to students, doling it out in chunks of $150 to about $2,000. Colleges have also sought aid from private donors — UC Berkeley raised $1 million in donations for emergency grants to undocumented and international student. But some financial aid officers said they worried about keeping up with the need if colleges don’t get another round of federal stimulus money.
UC Davis financial aid director Deborah Agee said that she encourages students with unmet need to take loans, noting that the default rate for students at the campus is under two percent. “I like to remind students that you need that money to complete your education. You should take it,” she said...

Stall Warning - Part 2

There still are a mix of signs from the labor market concerning the economic situation in the face of rising coronavirus cases. At the national level, the number of new weekly claims for unemployment insurance rose and stands at 1.4 million for the week ending July 18. But the number of people receiving benefits fell. On an unadjusted basis, new claims were also 1.4 million. At the moment, the $600 supplement to UI is set to expire and it is unclear what Congress and the Senate will do - if anything - to prevent the lapse. California remains with a disproportionate share of those receiving unemployment insurance (16.7% in the prior week).

[Click on image to enlarge and clarify.]
The latest data are at

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

U-Turn on Reopening Plans

Reopening plans at UC Berkeley, other campuses fall apart amid coronavirus surge

Teresa Watanabe, 7-21-20, LA Times

Hopes that college life might begin a slow return to normal this fall were deflated Tuesday, when two University of California campuses announced they would begin the semester with fully remote instruction amid a pandemic surge.

UC Berkeley and UC Merced had hoped to open Aug. 26 with a mix of online, in-person and hybrid classes. But they reversed those plans as COVID-19 infections began their record-shattering increases throughout California, with cases now topping more than 400,000 and deaths, 7,800. In Los Angeles County, half of new COVID-19 cases were among those ages 18 to 40...

“What you’re seeing is people having a great deal of respect for the power of this virus and doing everything they can to provide high-quality education in the safest way,” said Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, which represents more than 1,700 colleges and universities. “Nationally, people are beginning to pull back on the intensity of their in-person instruction.”

Most institutions will continue to offer some on-campus housing for those in need, such as students facing housing hardships or from other countries. Berkeley plans to make about one-third of its beds available, downsizing to single-occupancy rooms, and has issued about 3,200 housing contracts with space still available, campus officials said.

Glenn DeGuzman, Berkeley’s residential life director, said students considering whether to come to campus should talk to their families to make sure they are well-informed and comfortable with the risks and restrictions of doing so.

Students who choose to return to campus will be tested for COVID-19 within 24 hours of arrival and sequestered for 7 to 10 days, then tested again. They will be expected to refrain from outside contact except during essential tasks, such as getting food, and required to wear masks at nearly all times.

Those who violate the rules will be “held accountable,” with possible restrictions on access to buildings or services, DeGuzman said during an online campus conversation Tuesday.

To help foster connections during this isolating time, Berkeley plans to organize “social bubbles” of 10 to 12 students each who would be allowed to socialize with each other to create a “smaller family-like experience,” DeGuzman said.

UC Merced also has scaled back its planned reopening. The Central Valley campus had hoped to offer as many as 30% of its classes in-person but will begin fall term with fully online classes for at least the first four weeks. Merced also plans to fill less than 20% of its 4,000 beds with only certain students, such as those in financial or physical need.

The limited on-campus experience could hit Merced students particularly hard. Among UC’s nine undergraduate campuses, Merced educates the largest proportion of students who are low-income, 64%, and the first in their families to attend college, 74%. Buttressed by research showing that students who live together in small learning communities do best, Merced had instituted a two-year on-campus living requirement, but the pandemic has forced the university to waive it for the coming year.

UCLA, which does not begin its fall quarter until September, has not yet changed its goal to hold about 15% to 20% of classes in person and open some campus housing. USC announced this month it would scale down fall reopening plans and offer only 10% to 20% of courses in person...

Full story at