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Monday, November 30, 2020

UC Deadline Stretched

From KGO: The University of California is extending the deadline for UC applications after "technical difficulties" the night before the Nov. 30 due date.

University of California undergraduate admissions first tweeted they were experiencing site outages around 5:45 p.m. after prospective students complained on social media about not being able to access the website.

Officials announced the filing period for Fall 2021 has been extended to 11:59 p.m. PST on Friday, Dec. 4.

Source: https://abc7news.com/amp/uc-application-offline-university-of-california-extension-app-down-system/8372099/

Sunday, November 29, 2020

UCLA History: The Sousa Visit


Photo caption: Sousa, renown American band leader and composer, visited Los Angeles for a series of concerts marking his 50th year as a band leader. The University of California at Los Angeles Bruin Band welcomed Sousa upon arrival and escorted him through the city. Sousa is seen here conducting the band on a train platform. [Note: A Los Angeles Times article contemporary to the event suggests that the actual date of Sousa's arrival was October 29, 1928]

Source: https://dl.library.ucla.edu/islandora/object/edu.ucla.library.universityArchives.historicPhotographs%3A128

UCLA's New Astronomers

UCLA's new generation of astronomers explain their current work in a video introduced by senior faculty Alice Shapley and Nobel prize winner Andrea Ghez. Description:

UCLA astronomers, among them recent Nobel prize winner Andrea Ghez, are leading the way with ground-breaking discoveries on a vast scale – from planets, to stars, to galaxies, to the entirety of the universe. This webinar – presented on Nov. 18, 2020 – gave viewers a glimpse into the future of astronomical discovery featuring UCLA Astronomy's newest faculty with remarks by 2020 Nobel Prize Winner Andrea Ghez. This is truly an amazing moment for astronomical discovery. New worlds are being uncovered around other stars. Einstein's Theory of General Relativity is facing new tests near the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Precise measurements of the expansion rate of the universe are challenging our notions of the standard model of cosmology. UCLA Astronomy's newest faculty members Tuan Do, Smadar Naoz, Erik Petigura, and Tommaso Treu highlighted the latest research results from their home department at UCLA. • Tuan Do, Assistant Professor: Find out about the discovery of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy and how recent observations will reveal new insights into the nature of gravity and the growth of black holes. • Smadar Naoz, Associate Professor and Howard and Astrid Preston Term Chair in Astrophysics: Hear how recent detections of gravitational-wave signals have raised new questions about how black holes collide, which may transform our understanding of the universe. • Erik Petigura, Assistant Professor: Learn about efforts to unravel the origin, evolution, and fate of exoplanets (planets orbiting stars other than the sun), aided by powerful ground- and space-based telescopes. • Tommaso Treu, Professor: Explore the mysterious properties of dark matter and energy, invisible forms that make up 95% of our universe and create foundations upon which galaxies can be built.

Click on link below:

Saturday, November 28, 2020

More Coronavirus

From MyNewsLA

Six Individuals in UCLA’s Athletics Program Test Positive for COVID-19

An individual with the UCLA men’s volleyball program and one member of its athletics support staff tested positive for COVID-19, the university announced in its weekly report on testing of athletes, coaches and athletic department staff. Anyone with a positive result immediately enters isolation for 10 days from the date of the test or until the verification of a false positive.

Anyone deemed to have been in close contact with someone who tested positive goes into quarantine for 14 days from the last date of contact. Since UCLA Athletics began testing on June 22, 10,828 tests have been administered with 24 positives among players, coaches and staff, 0.22%. UCLA also announced Friday that two individuals with the beach volleyball program and one each with the men’s and women’s volleyball programs tested positive this week via PCR tests administered outside of the UCLA Athletics testing program. Those numbers are not included in the totals. However, those individuals have entered isolation for 10 days. UCLA does not release the names of individuals who have tested positive or specify their roles in their programs to protect their privacy.

Source: https://mynewsla.com/education/2020/11/28/six-individuals-with-uclas-athletics-program-test-positive-for-covid-19/

Getting into UC: 2021


LAist notes that many applicants to UC will be spending this weekend working on essays required in the admissions process. See link below:

https://laist.com/2020/11/25/personal-insight-questions-university-of-california-college-applications.php

UC's application essay requirements are excerpted below:

Directions

  • You will have 8 questions to choose from. You must respond to only 4 of the 8 questions.
  • Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.
  • Which questions you choose to answer is entirely up to you: But you should select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances...
Questions:

1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time...

2. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side...

3. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time? ...

4. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced...

5. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement? ...

6.  Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom...

7. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? ...

8. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California? ...

Full directions at:

Accompanying video:

Friday, November 27, 2020

Good money-saving news for some international PhD students

From the BruinUCLA’s new tuition accommodation for nonresident doctoral students will address international students’ financial concerns, some graduate students said.

UCLA announced early November it would allow nonresident doctoral students to waive the Non-Resident Supplemental Tuition fee – an annual $15,102 fee charged to students who are not California residents – for the spring 2020, fall 2020 and winter 2021 quarters if they advanced to the candidacy stage of their degree before fall 2020 and exceeded their three-year waiver period.

Previously, nonresident doctoral students could only waive the fee within three years after they reached candidacy. Students usually become doctoral candidates between their second to fourth year, once they complete written, oral and language requirements for their doctoral programs, according to a UCLA Graduate Education website.

UCLA extended the waiver because some COVID-19 policies have negatively impacted some graduate students’ degree progress, said UCLA spokesperson Bill Kisliuk in an emailed statement...

Full story at https://dailybruin.com/2020/11/25/ucla-announces-tuition-accommodation-for-nonresident-doctoral-students

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Testing still contested


From the Bruin: Dozens of UCLA Health nurses gathered outside a UCLA hospital Monday evening at a vigil to protest their working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nurses held signs and candles outside the main entrance of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The vigil, organized by the California Nurses Association, aimed to draw attention to short staffing, a lack of COVID-19 testing and a lack of contact tracing available for UCLA Health employees. Nurses from the hospital took turns reading names and ages of people who died because of COVID-19. Many victims were younger than 40 years old.

Jennifer Adams, a pretreatment unit registered nurse and National Nurses United representative, said employees need to meet certain symptom criteria getting clearance from upper management to be tested. Fong Chuu, the medical center’s chief nurse representative, said symptomatic employees are allowed to return to work two to three days after their fever has subsided after they test positive. Adams also called on UCLA to improve access to testing for its medical staff.

“While I applaud the university testing athletes and campus staff on a regular basis it is also critically important that medical staff who have been directly exposed also get regular testing,” Adams said.
Adams added there is no official contact tracing procedure in the hospital, and contact tracing is usually done by employees through word of mouth.

“Coworkers have called in to the unit and said, ‘Hey let everybody know, I just got a positive test,’” Adams said. “And so we’re doing our own contact tracing, which is not effective.”

UCLA Health did not respond in time for a request for comment...

Happy Thanksgiving from the Blog

Ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier lit up as a turkey.
 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

More Stall


As indicated by new weekly claims for unemployment benefits in California, we continue to see a stalled economy. The latest data - which came out one day earlier than usual due to Thanksgiving - show an uptick in new claims. (We have noted in prior posts that in this period, you are likely to see economic indicators such as this pointing in different directions. President Trump yesterday boasted about the Dow-Jones stock market index going above 30,000, which was a bit odd since it jumped up once it was clear he was leaving!) Lockdowns of various degrees around the US and in California are likely to slow things down.


In any case, as usual, the latest data on new claims are at https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf.

UCLA History: Law Wives - 1964


The caption on this 1964 photo reads "Benefit brunch - Members of the UCLA Law Wives sort toys to be given to Legal Aid Nursery, beneficiary of annual fashion brunch." That's all I know.

Source: https://tessa.lapl.org/cdm/ref/collection/photos/id/53236

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

UCLA History: Law Professor and TV Judge


UCLA law professor Edgar "Ted" Jones (1921-2013) had a second career - while remaining on the UCLA faculty - as a TV judge. He was also a labor arbitrator. Jones managed to do so while parenting eleven children.

More info at https://www.palipost.com/edgar-jones-jr-92-ucla%E2%80%88law-professor-prominent-tv-judge/

Closed, but not closed

From the Press-Enterprise

Venturing to UCLA campus to see art, architecture (but not botanic garden)

I didn’t go to UCLA. But on a recent Sunday, I went there. By car, that is. A self-guided tour of a portion of the campus is in the book “Walking L.A.,” which I’ve been using for picturesque sightseeing around the city.

“UCLA is one of the most well-known campuses in the state’s famed University of California system,” writes author Erin Mahoney Harris. Her route, she says, takes in “innovative artwork, classically beautiful architecture and a lovely botanical garden that has evolved over several decades.”

What’s not to like — unless you’re a USC alumnus? (USC, incidentally, is a separate tour.) As a Midwesterner by birth, I attended the University of Illinois, so in this local rivalry I am a dispassionate observer. Setting off from my house in Claremont for this trip, I had gone only one block when I pulled over with an alarming thought. What if the campus is closed? A quick Google search showed that it is. Still, the walking route does not take in the entirety of the campus. One stop, the Franklin Murphy Sculpture Garden, was recently toured by an arts writer and praised. And this was a Sunday, a day that might draw the least number of people and scrutiny. I decided to trust to fate and forge ahead.

Los Angeles — news flash — is a big place, and even as a frequent visitor, there are large swaths I haven’t seen. UCLA was among them. I parked in a residential neighborhood a block from the starting point, the northeast end of the campus, and started walking. The sculpture garden was the first point of interest. It’s a broad lawn with buildings on three sides, sculptures dotting the scene. They’re set in the grass, around the edges of the garden and along the walkways, some 70 altogether, said to be the largest outdoor sculpture garden on the West Coast.

I had a sense of anticipation, because I like art, and my last visit to an art museum was in January. This open-air permanent exhibit was going to be a treat. Once I rounded the bend past a burbling fountain, a sense of relief hit me. That’s because the garden was populated by 20 or 30 people — none of them security...

Full story at https://www.pe.com/2020/11/22/venturing-to-ucla-campus-to-see-art-architecture-but-not-botanic-garden/

Monday, November 23, 2020

No Layoff Policy

From an email circulated this afternoon:

Dear Faculty and Staff:
This morning, University of California President Michael Drake announced plans that will help the UC system confront COVID-19–related financial challenges. I encourage you to read President Drake’s important message below in full.
Here at UCLA, the pandemic has had a substantial impact on our campus budget. Still, due to prudent financial management over the last several decades as well as the recent institution-wide efforts we’ve made to cut costs and plan for future fiscal challenges, I am grateful that we are able to extend our commitment to no COVID-19–related layoffs for career employees through the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2021.
The cost-saving and job-saving measures we’ve put in place this year include reducing hiring, the previously announced planning for a longer winter curtailment, offering a Voluntary Separation Program for eligible staff and creating an employee reassignment program. This last program, which invites certain UCLA employees to take classes, re-train for new duties and be reassigned to serve areas of greatest need, has allowed us to preserve hundreds of Bruin jobs. In one example of our employees’ flexibility in action, certain staff who previously worked in campus dining halls have learned new skills to support the Ashe Center’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program. Meanwhile, other dining staff have begun supporting campus partners in preparing meals for groups like food insecure veterans.
While I do not know what the future holds, UCLA will continue to do whatever it can — with your continued support, resilience and flexibility — to retain as many of our dedicated employees as possible during this very difficult time.
Thank you all once again for your commitment to our institution and to one another. I hope that the upcoming holidays provide you with much-needed rest and relaxation, and that this news offers some additional comfort in a challenging year and optimism for a brighter future.
Sincerely,
Gene D. Block
Chancellor

A message from President Drake about UC’s commitment to preserving jobs during the pandemic
Monday, November 23, 2020
Dear Colleagues:
Last month, I announced the launch of a consultation process with the UC community to explore the idea of a systemwide program to preserve jobs and avoid COVID-related layoffs to every extent possible, and to help us address the more than $2 billion budget deficit UC faces due to the pandemic. This would supplement our many other efforts to deal with our financial challenges, and I write you today to update you on our plans.
We appreciate the thoughtful feedback which underscored the complex financial challenges facing the University, with impacts varying by location and even within each campus. Therefore, locations will be allowed to employ a mix of measures depending on what options best meet that location’s financial and operational needs.
While local measures will vary by location, all actions will be guided by our shared priorities:
  • Protecting jobs and avoiding pandemic-related layoffs as much as possible;
  • Supporting the health and well-being of employees and their families, including their long-term financial security, particularly for those in lower-paid positions;
  • If salary actions are taken, in the spirit of equity and fairness, higher-compensated employees should carry a larger burden to protect employees with lower earnings.
Each location will establish a pandemic relief fund, to be used to minimize, to the extent possible, pandemic-related layoffs. One of the key goals of this approach will be to preserve lower-paid jobs that otherwise may not have sufficient funding. And, we will meet any applicable obligations under our collective bargaining agreements concerning actions involving union-represented colleagues.
Each location will be responsible for communicating the details of its plan to its respective community.
In closing, I want to express my deep appreciation for our dedicated and resilient staff and faculty, who continue to work selflessly during these most challenging times to take care of the people we serve. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of our collective work and contributions to California’s response to the pandemic — from transforming the way we educate students to providing life-saving patient care and advancing groundbreaking research. Thank you for your tireless service.
Despite the serious challenges we face, I am grateful to be part of this extraordinary community of people, and I remain optimistic for what we can continue to accomplish together.
Please continue to take care of yourself and loved ones.
Fiat Lux,
Michael V. Drake, MD
President, University of California

The Two-State Solution: Guilty and Not Guilty

From the Bruin: A state court judgment in late October stated that UCLA violated a public records law by repeatedly delaying records requests. UCLA agreed to a court judgment stating the university violated the California Public Records Act, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free speech advocacy group. FIRE filed the lawsuit against UCLA in March 2019, alleging UCLA violated the CPRA by delaying the fulfillment of FIRE’s record request for more than a year. The judgment holds UCLA liable for FIRE’s attorney fees and does not require UCLA to make any changes to how it fulfills public records.

“UCLA failed to make the records … available promptly within the meaning of (the CPRA),” the judgment said.

FIRE filed the public records request in question in March 2018, requesting a video of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin being heckled by audience members during a February 2018 speech at the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations. FIRE also requested a copy of the contract between UCLA and Mnuchin’s office regarding Mnuchin’s appearance at UCLA and communications, such as emails, regarding the release of audio or video of his speech

Although UCLA published the video in March 2018, the university did not release the correspondence until April 2019, at which time they also informed FIRE that there was no contract available. The CPRA requires government institutions to give any member of the public official documents and correspondences upon request. The law prohibits agencies from delaying requests by more than 14 days.

UCLA first delayed FIRE’s request on March 9, 2018 because of “unusual circumstances” permitted under the CPRA, which lets public institutions delay releasing records by up to 14 days. UCLA subsequently extended the date for FIRE’s record request four times, according to the judgment.UCLA claimed in the judgment it only agreed to the judgment to avoid further litigation. The school also maintained that undue delays did not give FIRE a claim to sue...

Full story at https://dailybruin.com/2020/11/22/free-speech-group-wins-lawsuit-against-ucla-for-violation-of-public-records-law

For earlier posts on this topic:

http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/04/how-hard-is-it-to-find-financial.html;

http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2019/03/how-hard-is-it-to-find-financial.html;

http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/03/block-asked-to-unblock.html;

http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/03/mnuchin-video.html;

http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2018/03/three-jeers.html.

Finally, there is still the question we posed about Mnuchin's connection to UCLA before this particular controversy arose:

http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2016/11/minutiae-on-mnuchin.html.

Still Ahead

Despite initial predictions, California income tax withholding during the coronavirus crisis has been running ahead of 2019, a boom year, according to the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO). This continuing trend helps explain the brighter-than-expected state budget outlook for 2021-22. The governor's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year is due in early January. However, the Dept. of Finance is surely at work on it now, using data such as above.

Source of chart: https://lao.ca.gov/LAOEconTax/Article/Detail/584

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Listen to the Afternoon Meeting of the Regents of Nov. 18, 2020

We conclude our review of the recent Regents meeting with the afternoon session of November 18:

From the Daily Cal: The Academic and Student Affairs Committee discussed Native American student admissions, 21st-century skill development for UC students and supporting UC students with disabilities, among other topics. The board expressed support for a debt-free path to UC institutions. The committee also addressed survey results indicating students feel that they lack information literacy, or the ability to organize information one receives. According to (UC Provost) Brown, UC Berkeley’s data science initiative, which expanded from a course to a college, addresses “information literacy analysis.”

...The Finance and Capital Strategies Committee discussed 2020 UC finances. UCOP Financial Accounting Associate Vice President Peggy Arrivas said the university finances “remain very stable.” Despite university expenditures increasing by about $4 billion in the past year, revenues increased by $1.7 billion. The committee also approved the 2020-2026 Capital Financial Plan. In addition to more seismic evaluations being done on campuses, the committee addressed how more housing projects are being deferred due to limited occupancy on campuses and the university’s need to rely on reserves during the pandemic...

Full article at https://www.dailycal.org/2020/11/19/uc-regents-approve-uc-berkeley-data-hub-building-discuss-uc-admissions/

Finance and Capital Strategies approved all capital projects including two that seem to be controversial with neighborhood groups: Davis' "Aggie Square" project and San Diego's "Theater District" project.

Links to the audio of the Regents sessions are below for listening and/or downloading:

Academic and Student Affairs:

https://archive.org/details/1-regents-academic-and-student-affairs-committee-11-18-20/1-Regents+-+Academic+and+Student+Affairs+Committee+11-18-20.mp3

Finance and Capital Strategies:

https://archive.org/details/1-regents-academic-and-student-affairs-committee-11-18-20/1-Regents+-+Finance+and+Capital+Strategies+Committee+11-18-20.mp3

Testing

From the Bruin: UCLA is offering a mobile COVID-19 testing site for students, staff and faculty via a bus that travels to off-campus locations. The program, which was a collaborative effort between the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center and the UCLA Events and Transportation, recast a spare BruinBus into a mobile testing bus that parks at locations where students live, said John Bollard, the interim co-executive director of Student Health Services.

The mobile testing bus parks at six different off-campus locations Monday through Thursday in the daytime, during which members of the UCLA community can go to self-administer a nasal swab test.

On Wednesday, the bus parked at the entrance of Wilshire Center beginning at 8:30 a.m. Two health care workers oversaw self-tests on either side of the bus. Those being tested were asked to pull down their masks just enough to cover their mouths while rotating the swab in their nostrils.

The Ashe Center also provides free testing at three locations on campus – Covel Commons, John Wooden Center and Switzer Plaza.

Bollard said the primary purpose of the bus is to make testing more accessible for students who live off-campus. “We didn’t want to encourage people to come into a closed campus to get testing, so we wanted to figure out a way to take testing to them,” Bollard said. “The goal is to remove as many obstacles (to testing) as possible.” According to Bollard, around 150 people visit the mobile testing site each day.

Bollard said that the program was designed to target students who live in university-owned housing and are required by UCLA to get tested every five to nine days. UCLA Events and Transportation used a heat map that determined where large groups of students live, Bollard added...

Full story at https://dailybruin.com/2020/11/20/ucla-launches-covid-19-mobile-testing-program-for-local-bruin-community

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Listen to the Regents Meeting of Nov. 19, 2020 (and an unusual hearing)

In this posting, we jump over the Regents' afternoon session of Nov. 18 and go straight to Nov. 19. (We will post on the afternoon of Nov. 18 in a subsequent post.) Audio links to the various sessions are provided below.

The full board met twice on Nov. 19. Initially, it heard public comments dealing with the Hawaiian telescope, disabled students, basic needs including child care and internet access, labor relations issues including pay for lecturers in summer and pay cuts, and UC-San Francisco expansion.

Unusual Hearing:

The main part of the first full board meeting was quite unusual. A tenured faculty member of the engineering school at Santa Cruz was recommended for firing by the chancellor and UC president. He requested an open board hearing. (Normally, such matters are handled in closed session, as are other personnel matters.) The hearing was held and ran over two hours. In general terms, the matter revolved around a reorganization in the engineering school that produced a new departmental structure. However, the faculty member was not placed in a new department but was given a divisional appointment, i.e., reporting directly to the dean. 

Ultimately, in 2019-20, he refused to teach three courses assigned by the dean on the grounds that only a department chair could assign courses. In the course of this dispute, which ran over several years, there were internal academic senate reviews and litigation outside the university. The upshot was the recommended firing. The grievance and his lawyer both testified and answered questions from the Regents. In the end, the board went into closed session to decide the case. There is no public record of the outcome.

When the meeting resumed, there was discussion of reports from the Governance Committee and the Special Committee on Basic Needs. These sessions are summarized below:

Governance Committee

Executive Summary:

As a result of a discussion on effective board governance at the Board of Regents’ retreat in fall 2019, a Regents’ Working Group on Committee Structure was formed. The Working Group met several times, conducted interviews with two committee chairs and sent a survey on committee structure to all Regents and Chancellors. It developed several recommendations that can be implemented immediately to address issues identified in the survey and interviews.

Because all of the recommendations are operational practices that are within the discretion of the Board, the recommendations do not need to be formally adopted. The Working Group also recommends that another group or the Board as a whole convene to engage in a broader discussion of the role of contemporary university governing boards and whether this Board’s structure is appropriate for meeting the strategic priorities of the University and challenges facing higher education. 

Excerpts:

The Working Group recommends the following actions that can be implemented immediately at the Board’s discretion:

1. The Board review committee/meeting structure at either a retreat or Governance Committee meetings or form another working group or subcommittee to examine the role of the Board and its strategic priorities.

2. The Board make greater use of subcommittees, special committees or working groups to improve efficiency.

3. Regents identify a mechanism to communicate across committees, perhaps off-cycle Governance Committee meetings to facilitate communication between committee chairs.

4. Committee chairs and vice chairs should play active roles in shaping their committees’ agendas.

5. The connection between the UC strategic plan and the role of the Board should be included as part of new Regent orientation

==========

Special Committee on Basic Needs

Apart from the items below, the report recommends measures to enroll students in need in the CalFresh program, the state's name for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP ("food stamps"). In the short term, there was also note taken of the need to assist some students with internet access during the coronavirus crisis.

Excerpts:

Executive Summary:

This action item presents recommendations regarding the issuance of the Special Committee on Basic Needs’ report (Attachment 1) and outlines the purpose of the report, the report’s contents, and additions to the report since September. Developed throughout its two years of meeting, the report represents the Special Committee’s conclusions about student basic needs and vetted solutions to successfully reduce basic needs insecurity at the University and beyond.

Recommendations:

The Special Committee on Basic Needs recommends that A) The Regents accept the report of the Special Committee, The University of California’s Next Phase of Improving Student Basic Needs, and B) An annual report on basic needs be presented to the Academic and Student Affairs Committee beginning in 2021...

The report establishes that the University will present an update on student basic needs at UC to the Academic and Student Affairs Committee at least once a year beginning in 2021. Consistent with its Charter, the Special Committee on Basic Needs shall sunset after this meeting.

==========

The full board met (again) after the two committees above. An important element was approval of the budget ask from the state for the next fiscal year (2021-22). As the chart below shows, UC is asking for over $500 million from legislature and governor to make up for the cut this year and more. We noted in an earlier post on the state budget outlook that for various reasons - mostly more state revenue than anticipated flowing in despite the coronavirus crisis - the legislature will have what the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) describes as a "windfall." So UC has a reasonable shot in asking at least for some kind of backfill for the cuts this year. In addition, it is asking for $250 million in what are termed climate-focused deferred maintenance projects (not shown on the chart). Whether it gets all that it asks for is another matter. Regent Cohen - a former state budget director - called the budget ask a "wishlist."

Click on chart to clarify and enlarge.

The full board also approved temporary changes in the retirement system to shield UC employees who might be affected by furloughs and temporary layoffs from reductions in pension and retiree health care.

==========

Below are audio links to the sessions:

Initial Full Board:

https://archive.org/details/2-regents-board-11-19-20/2-regents+-+Board+11-19-20.mp3

(Faculty grievance starts at about minute 55.)

===

Governance, Basic Needs, second session of the full board:

https://archive.org/details/2-regents-board-11-19-20/2-Regents-Governance+Committee%2C+Special+Committee+on+Basic+Needs%2C+Board+11-19-20.mp3

==========

*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/11/the-state-budget-outlook.html

Lagged Improvement

Click on table to clarify and enlarge

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released labor market estimates for October by state and some localities. As can be seen above, the unemployment rate has been declining in California (and the LA area). Note the timing difference between this survey, which is for a period a month before the period of our post yesterday. We will continue to get mixed pictures of the state economy. For example, the seaports are apparently doing a high level of volume. Meanwhile, the state is now entering a modified coronavirus curfew which will particularly adversely affect such sectors as restaurants and other service areas.

You can see the latest labor market release at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/laus.pdf.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Listen to the Morning Session of the Regents: Nov. 18, 2020

As always, we have preserved indefinitely the audio of the recent UC Regents meeting of Nov. 18-19 via Zoom. The Regents - for no good reason - keep their recordings for only one year.

The full board met on the morning of Nov. 18. The official segment was largely ceremonial with statements by board chair Pérez and UC President Drake. Pérez did note the defeat of Prop 16 which would have permitted affirmative action for UC admissions. However, the reasons for the defeat were not explored. (As blog readers will know, yours truly has suggested that the Regents' action in ending use of SAT/ACT combined with their endorsement of Prop 16 may have played an inadvertent role in that defeat.) President Drake referred to the importance of a flu shot in the context of the coronavirus crisis. The public comments period featured speakers discussion labor relations issues - notably the "curtailment" program implemented to produce budget savings and allowance for paid leave due to the coronavirus - healthcare of nurses including testing for coronavirus, treatment of autism at UCLA, financial aid for undocumented students, tuition for Native American students, transfers from community colleges, the SAT, funding for UC-Riverside, UC-San Diego's Theater District project, and the Aggie Square project of UC-Davis.

The Public Engagement and Development Committee was largely devoted to transfers from community colleges and roadblocks to such transfers. At Compliance and Audit, there was discussion of the UC admissions process in the context of a report recently issued by the state auditor in the wake of the admissions scandal. UCOP (in the person of Provost Brown) indicated that the report of the auditor had just been received and that there will be a more complete analysis for the Regents at a subsequent meeting. 

Finally, the Health Services Committee approved a $560,000 salary for a chief information officer at UC-Davis' health system to be paid out of nonstate funds. Although the salary was above the median for a salary survey of such officers, it was said that Davis had experienced a problem in recruiting for the position.

You can find audio recordings of the various sessions at the links below for listening and/or downloading:

Full Board followed by Public Engagement and Development:

https://archive.org/details/regents-board-public-engagement-and-development-committee-11-18-20/Regents+-+Board%2C+Public+Engagement+and+Development+Committee+11-18-20.mp3

Compliance and Audit:

https://archive.org/details/regents-board-public-engagement-and-development-committee-11-18-20/Regents+-+Compliance+and+Audit+Committee+11-18-20.mp3

Health Services:

https://archive.org/details/regents-board-public-engagement-and-development-committee-11-18-20/Regents+-+Health+Services+Committee+11-18-20.mp3

Thursday, November 19, 2020

UCLA Has One Word for You

From an email received earlier this morning:

To the Bruin community:
We are pleased to announce that UCLA Policy 809: Single-Use Plastics has been codified in UCLA’s Administrative Policies and Procedures (APP). I would like to extend a special thank you to all who assisted with the development of this policy or responded during the review period.
This policy aims to phase out the purchase and use of various single-use plastics so that the University can switch to more sustainable alternatives. Single-use plastics are a major cause of pollution, environmental degradation and human health impacts, and the entire UC system is taking this path to minimize single-use plastics.
You can find more information on the Single-Use Plastic Policy webpage. By December 1, we will also be posting an implementation guide to help campus entities with this transition and provide resources for alternative products.
Should you have any questions about this policy, please contact sustainability@ucla.edu.
Sincerely,
Michael Beck
Administrative Vice Chancellor

California Stall Continues



At the national level, whether seasonally adjusted or unadjusted, new weekly unemployment claims rose somewhat over the week ending November 14 relative to the prior week. In California, there was little change over that period, as the chart above indicates.


Our post yesterday about the surprisingly strong state budget outlook may seem inconsistent with a stalled state economy. Is there a reconciliation between the two observations? Part of the story is that the budget for this year was made on conservative assumption on revenue and spending. Another part is that income tax revenue - a major part of the state budget - is heavily based on upper income taxpayers who were generally less affected by the downturn than the median earner.

As always, the latest new weekly claims data are available at https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf.

SMC Transfers to UC/UCLA - Part 2

Back in January, we noted that Santa Monica College was #1 in transfers to UC last year.* It remains so in the current year. From the Santa Monica Lookout

For the 30th straight year, Santa Monica College (SMC) was the number one transfer college to the University of California (UC) system, school officials announced this week. The school sent 1,197 students to UC campuses in the past academic year, 371 more than the second ranked feeder college, according to 2019-2020 transfer data released by the UC Information Center. SMC also continued to lead in minority transfers to the UC system, with 58 Black and 234 Latino students, and held the top spot for transfers to USC and Loyola Marymount University.

“For three decades, Santa Monica College has upheld a record of the highest distinction," said SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery. "This points to the steadfast dedication of the college’s educators and counselors, but most of all, to the resilience and potential of SMC transfer students.”

SMC ranked second in total combined transfers to the UC and California State University (CSU) system, with 2,288 students heading to campuses in those systems. UCLA continued to be the most popular destination for SMC students, with 464 transfers, followed by UC Irvine, with 200 SMC transfers...

Full story at http://santamonicalookout.com/ssm_site/the_lookout/news/News-2020/November-2020/11_18_2020_SMC_Leads_in_Transfers_for_30th_Straight_Year.html

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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/01/smc-transfers-to-ucucla.html

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The gateway to UCLA...


The LA Times is reporting that the name "Le Conte" is being removed from a building at Berkeley.* However, the gateway intersection of UCLA is Westwood and Le Conte. Things in and around the early campus were named for Berkeley faculty, e.g., Royce Hall. 

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*https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-11-18/uc-berkeley-remove-names-leconte-barrows-halls. "...John and Joseph LeConte — the namesakes for the hall that houses the school’s physics department — were brothers from a slaveholding family who came to Berkeley in 1869, the school said. John was a professor of physics and chemistry who served as the university’s first acting president from 1869-70, and again for five years beginning in 1875. Joseph was a professor of natural science and geology and served as president of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science and of the Sierra Club, which he established with John Muir. Both had fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War and were heirs to their family’s Georgia plantation, which had more than 200 enslaved people. Joseph, in particular, wrote several works “aimed at justifying, through pseudo-scientific language, the inferiority of African Americans,” the university said..."

The State Budget Outlook

The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has produced its annual budget outlook.* It projects what is sometimes called a “workload” budget – essentially what would happen next fiscal year (2021-22) – if tax and spending policies were to remain unchanged. LAO notes there is much uncertainty and as it projects beyond 2021-22, the range of possibilities is very wide.

Besides that notable bottom line, there is another: Despite fears of much more drastic outcomes for the state’s budgetary conditions due to the economic effects of the crisis, in fact revenues are stronger than expected and “welfare”-type expenditures are less. The LAO suggests that a “windfall” of $26 billion has resulted. Its calculation of the so-called windfall is not particularly helpful. 

To get a picture of the overall condition of the general fund, it is best to add up the various reserves related to the general fund, i.e., the balance in that fund and changes in the Budget Stabilization Account - BSA (“rainy day fund”) and another Safety Net Fund. Both of these are essentially legacies of former Governor Jerry Brown. You can then look at the change in total reserves from the start of a fiscal year (end of the previous year) to the end.

In the table below, I have rearranged the LAO’s figures to make that calculation.

End-of-Year Reserves/Within-Year Surpluses and Deficits**

($millions)

                                                   Workload

Fiscal Year        2018-19    2019-20    2020-21    2021-22

­-------------------------------------------------------------

General fund       $11,280     $5,550    $32,159    $29,523***

BSA                 13,996**   16,489      8,683     10,871

Safety Net             900        450        450        450

-------------------------------------------------------------

Total Reserves      26,176     22,489     41,292     40,844

-------------------------------------------------------------

Change in

Total reserve =

Surplus/deficit         ~~     -3,687    +18,803       -448

-------------------------------------------------------------

**Estimate of BSA for end of 2018-19 from http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2020-21/pdf/Enacted/BudgetSummary/BS_SCH1.pdf. Other data from LAO at https://lao.ca.gov/reports/2020/4297/fiscal-outlook-111820.pdf.

***Sum of SFEU and encumbrance.

What the table tells us is that in 2019-20 (Gov. Newsom’s first budget), the state ran a deficit of something under $4 billion. But in the crisis year, because the state erred on the side of caution fearing huge revenue declines, it is projected to run a surplus of something like $19 billion. And, if no policy changes occurred next fiscal year, the budget would be roughly balanced. It is again important to note the wide range of uncertainty entailed in these LAO projections.

As we have noted in other postings, these calculations are based on reserves associated with the state’s general fund only, but in fact the state has significant cash tucked away in many other funds outside the general fund. Thus, the kind of budget crisis faced by the state in the aftermath of the Great Recession of 2008 is very unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future. Budget aficionados will recall that in the summer of 2009, the state issued IOUs for some liabilities when it ran out of cash. We are in no way close to anything like that now.

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*https://lao.ca.gov/reports/2020/4297/fiscal-outlook-111820.pdf.