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Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Davis Bubble

From the NY TimesAll last fall, universities across the country were accused of enabling the pandemic’s spread by bringing back students who then endangered local residents, mingling with them in bars, stores and apartments. So U.C. Davis is trying something different.

Rather than turning the campus into a protective bubble for students and staff, as some schools have attempted, it has quietly spent the past six months making its campus bubble bigger — big enough, in fact, to encompass the entire city.
 

Public health experts say the initiative is the most ambitious program of its type in the country and could be a model for other universities. U.C. Davis, part of the 10-campus University of California system, has made free coronavirus tests — twice weekly, with overnight results — available to all 69,500 people in the city of Davis and hundreds of nonresidents who just work there.

It has also trained dozens of graduate students to help with contact tracing; recruited hotel and apartment owners to provide free isolation and quarantine housing to anyone in town exposed to the virus; and hired some 275 undergraduate ambassadors to combat health disinformation and hand out free masks.

The university has also recently expanded campus wastewater testing into Davis, and in coming weeks plans to administer vaccinations at its coronavirus screening centers and to bring screening to some public school sites.

Funded by major philanthropic donations, state and federal grants and CARES Act money, the program, projected to cost up to $38 million, has caught more than 850 potential outbreaks in Davis since it got underway shortly before Thanksgiving, according to Brad H. Pollock, who chairs the university’s department of public health sciences and directs the project... 


Full story at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/30/us/college-coronavirus-california.html

Presentation on the State Budget

For those interested, the presentation of yours truly on the state budget proposal that was released by the governor earlier this month (and on related budgetary matters) is available in two parts at:

https://archive.org/details/fiscal145-2021-pt1

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Saying it again

The item below, which appeared as an email yesterday, seems to repeat an already-announced decision. Not clear why it was repeated, but here it is:

Dear Bruin Community:
While it is encouraging to see the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and other advances in the fight against the pandemic, we must recognize that even under the best of circumstances a return to normalcy will take time. I write today to share that UCLA Summer Sessions instruction will take place primarily remotely, with the exception of a limited number of in-person or hybrid courses necessary to train students for essential workforce positions. This decision was made at the recommendation of our COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force. I hope that having this information well in advance will help with your summer planning.
Enrollment for Summer Sessions will be available starting Monday, February 1. For details, please visit the UCLA Summer Sessions website, which will be continuously updated as we finalize remote teaching course availability for the summer.
Students in professional schools that operate on a schedule distinct from Summer Sessions will hear more from their deans in the months ahead.
UCLA Housing will continue to operate this summer at reduced levels; additional information is available on UCLA Housing’s COVID-19 information page. International students should visit the Dashew Center’s COVID-19 Updates page for resources related to travel and visa compliance. As always, the latest information about our campus’ response to the pandemic can be found on UCLA’s COVID-19 website.
Thank you, once again, for continuing to follow public health guidelines and doing your part to slow the spread of the virus. As UC President Drake announced earlier this month, we very much hope to be able to welcome many of you back to campus this fall.
Sincerely,
Emily A. Carter
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Friday, January 29, 2021

More Applicants - Part 2

UCLA breaks applications record, sees surge in applicants from underrepresented backgrounds

Ricardo Vazquez | January 28, 2021

UCLA has received the largest number of applications in its history for fall 2021 admission, with steep increases in freshman applications from African American and Chicano/Latino students and a significant jump in in-state applicants.

Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, freshman applications grew by 28%, from nearly 109,000 last year to almost 139,500, making UCLA once again the most applied-to university in the nation.

This year saw significant growth in the racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic diversity of UCLA’s applicant pool, marked by a notable surge in applicants from groups that have been historically underrepresented on campus.

Freshman applications from African Americans rose by 48%, from approximately 6,100 last year to more than 9,000 this year, while those from Chicano/Latino students increased by 33%, from approximately 24,200 to more than 32,300. The number of Pacific Islander and American Indian freshman applicants also grew, by 34% and 16%, respectively.

“These significant increases are partly the result of our robust outreach efforts and our partnerships with high schools and community-based organizations, particularly in underserved communities,” said Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA’s vice provost for enrollment management. “But we also recognize that the removal of standardized testing as a requirement for admission played a role in these substantial increases.” 

Applications from prospective Asian American and white freshmen also rose, by 22% and 35%, respectively, and freshman applications from California residents grew by 28%, from nearly 68,000 to more than 84,100.

UCLA continues to attract freshman applicants from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, and despite the challenges students and their families have faced the past year, applications increased by 28% among prospective first-generation students and by 25% among students from low-income families.

“We are deeply impressed by how well students have navigated the application process amid the hardships brought on by the pandemic,” said Gary Clark, UCLA’s director of undergraduate admission. “They remained focused in the face of adversity and have submitted applications that demonstrate their outstanding talents and academic achievements.”

Transfer students

Driven in part by UCLA’s recruiting efforts throughout California, applications from community college transfer students also grew this year. Nearly 28,500 transfer students applied for fall 2021 admission, compared with 26,000 last year — an increase of 10%.

This growth included healthy jumps in applications from underrepresented students, including an 8% increase in African American prospective transfers and a 10% increase in Chicano/Latino transfer applicants.

“Transfer students continue to bring academic excellence, diverse perspectives and rich experiences to our campus community,” Copeland-Morgan said. “Serving transfer students remains a top priority for UCLA and the UC system, and we are heartened to see more of them considering UCLA, especially California community college students.”

UCLA will notify freshman applicants of admission decisions by April 1, and admitted students will have until May 1 to notify the campus of their intent to register. Transfer students will be notified of admission decisions by April 30 and will have until June 1 to commit.

Source: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-sees-surge-in-underrepresented-applicants

More Applicants

All-time record-high number of applicants apply to UC, with Chicano/Latino students comprising largest proportion

UC Office of the President

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The University of California announced today (Jan. 28) that the system received for fall 2021 admission the highest number of undergraduate applications in its history, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Highlights among California freshmen include a jump in overall applications and surges among African American and Chicano/Latino students, while California Community College transfer applications also grew by an impressive margin.

Preliminary data show UC received a total of 249,855 applications, a 16.1 percent leap from the past year, from students who applied to at least one campus: 203,700 from freshman applicants and 46,155 from aspiring transfer students.

“Our record number of applications is a testament to the resilience of students and their families as well as their undeterred focus on higher education,” said UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D. “Californians continue to see us as the pathway for a better future.” 

In a nod to successful in-state outreach efforts by its campuses, UC saw a substantial one-year increase among California freshman applicants of 14,789 applications or 13 percent. In total, applications for freshman admission — from both in-state and non-residents — shot up by 31,601, or 18.4 percent.

“I am heartened and inspired by so many hardworking students who want to attend the University of California,” said UC Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez. “The diverse backgrounds, many strengths and impressive talents of those who enroll will undoubtedly enrich the UC community.”

The proportion of applications from underrepresented students for freshman admission remained steady at 45.1 percent this year, inching up from 45 percent last year. Campuses saw significant growth of freshman applications from African American students, with an increase of 1,505 applications or 21.8 percent, as well as Chicano/Latino students, with a jump of 5,250 or 12.2 percent.

Overall, Chicano/Latino applicants make up the largest proportions of prospective in-state students: 37.8 percent of freshman applicants and 33 percent of California Community College transfers.

Applications from California Community College students also rose by 2,474, or 7.5 percent, over the number of applicants from the past year. Within this group, applicants from underrepresented communities kept the same pace, making up 40 percent of the applicant pool, virtually no change from 40.1 percent in 2020.

“Resulting from partnership with CCC, these impressive numbers demonstrate the University’s continued advancement toward a student body that mirrors the rich diversity of California,” said Provost Michael Brown. “UC’s world-class education will give them the tools they need to achieve their highest dreams, in education and beyond.”

UC currently educates 226,449 undergraduates. Of this enrolled student population, 40 percent are first-generation, one-third receive federal Pell Grants, and California residents comprise 80 percent of undergraduates.

Source: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/all-time-record-high-number-applicants-apply-uc-chicanolatino-students-comprising-largest

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Note: It is possible that applications were encouraged by the dropping of test requirements.

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More detail available on applications at:

https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/all-time-record-high-number-applicants-apply-uc-chicanolatino-students-comprising-largest

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Note: Application, admission, and ultimate enrollment are not the same. For current enrollment data, see:

https://www.ucop.edu/institutional-research-academic-planning/content-analysis/ug-admissions/ug-pages/applications.html

Maybe not a buried lede, but a buried something

Paul Krugman, the liberal columnist for the NY Times, Nobel Prize winning economist, and City University of NY professor, has an op ed in the paper which mainly deals with trends toward extremism in the contemporary Republican Party.* But, within the piece, he drops in an observation on today's academia which could easily go unnoticed in the larger piece. Yours truly noticed:

"Political scientists argue that traditional forces of moderation have been weakened by factors like the nationalization of politics and the rise of partisan media, notably Fox News. This opens the door to a process of self-reinforcing extremism (something, by the way, that I’ve seen happen in a minor fashion within some academic subfields). As hard-liners gain power within a group, they drive out moderates; what remains of the group is even more extreme, which drives out even more moderates; and so on." 

An interesting observation worth considering. 

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*https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/28/opinion/republican-lies.html

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Federal aid sought

From Inside Higher Ed: [Note that UC is a member of the APLU.]

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ 199 public research universities have lost $17.7 billion in revenues during the pandemic and had to spend another $3.1 billion to take safety measures last fall. However, they have only received $5.7 billion in help from the CARES Act and the COVID relief package approved in December, the association wrote members of Congress on Tuesday, asking for more aid.

In addition, the association said its institutions are facing cuts in state funding. For example, the Colorado Legislature slashed support for public institutions by 58 percent. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has seen a 20 percent cut in state funding. The University of Missouri, Kansas City, has taken a 12 percent hit, the group said.

The public universities are also facing more losses, APLU wrote, supporting a request by a number of associations representing the range of colleges and universities for another $97 billion in coronavirus relief aid for higher education. In comparison, President Biden is proposing only $35 billion in additional aid for all of higher education...

Full story at:

https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2021/01/28/public-research-universities-tell-congress-they-lost-17-billion-during

Heading in the right direction


Each Thursday, we look at the weekly new claims for unemployment insurance in California for clues as to the direction of the California labor market and economy. We had a dramatic fall for the week ended January 23 which came after a decline the week before from a spike upwards likely due to the coronavirus lockdown. National data - whether on a seasonally adjusted or an unadjusted basis - showed the same trend. The California data are shown below:


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

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Vaccines for Students


From the BruinUCLA is planning to give students COVID-19 vaccinations at no cost, though the university does not have a timeline for when students may receive a vaccination, administrators said at a virtual town hall Monday.

Students who receive the vaccine on campus will not have to pay out of pocket costs to receive the vaccine, said John Bollard, the co-executive director of the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, at the event. Students who have the UC Student Health Insurance Plan who want to receive a vaccine at an off-campus site can contact the Ashe Center to receive a referral to cover the administrative costs for the vaccination, Bollard said.

Students who graduate in June will still be eligible to get the vaccine for free at UCLA until the start of the fall 2021 quarter, Bollard added.

However, UCLA does not have a timeline for when students could start to receive COVID-19 vaccines because the university does not know when the current phase of vaccine distribution will end, said William Dunne, the administrative director for emergency preparedness, safety and security services at UCLA Health, at the event... 

Administrators have not decided whether COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for students living on campus, assistant vice chancellor of student development Suzanne Seplow said at the town hall. COVID-19 vaccines are not mandatory for staff because the FDA approved the vaccines using emergency use authorizations, Dunne said...

Full story at https://dailybruin.com/2021/01/26/ucla-discusses-student-covid-19-vaccine-availability-at-virtual-town-hall

Let's hope that when it is time for students, UCLA will have improved its distribution methods to a level well beyond what is occurring now for eligible employees and patients:

http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2021/01/ucla-needs-new-vaccine-rollout-for_26.htmlhttp://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2021/01/ucla-needs-new-vaccine-rollout-for_25.htmlhttp://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2021/01/ucla-needs-new-vaccine-rollout-for.html

One of those stranger things about faculty pay

For those who don't know, "Stranger Things" is a Netflix series
about an upside-down world that parallels the world we see
but produces odd and disturbing effects.

One of the stranger things about the UC system - including UCLA - is its civil service-like faculty pay system with grades and steps. Most research universities - with which UC competes for faculty - do not have comparable systems. A more typical system involves department chairs who - within some form of budget constraint - hire and retain the faculty they want by paying what the market requires. 

For many years, the UC system co-existed with the market. But when official pay began to fall behind, especially during periodic budget crises, the system adapted through such mechanisms as paying "off-scale" salaries (pay above the official rate within certain constraints) and by adding steps at the top and such odd-sounding steps-above-the-top-steps such as "above scale" and "further above scale." 

Yours truly, who served on CAP and chaired CAP back in the day, saw many promotions and hires from many departments. In such cases, outside letters from other universities are included as evidence and documentation. It was evident from these letters that the outside academic world found the UC system to be strange. Why were letters being required for clearly prominent faculty who already were full professors? Why were there promotions within a rank which other universities regard as being the final rank?

UC, in short, has made the old civil service grades and steps system "work" the way the ancients made an Earth-centered solar system work; it added epicycles. The obvious solution would be to go to the kind of system that other research universities use and drop the civil service approach. But for political reasons and path-dependent historical reasons, UC continues to stick with its ad hoc arrangements.

From time to time, there are attempts somehow to revive the old system of just grades and steps or at least make the epicycles less prominent. The problem with such an effort is that unless you substantially pushed up the official grades and steps, faculty pay would be uncompetitive. And given the variations in market conditions across departments, having the same pay rates for all wouldn't work in today's academic market. Nonetheless, there seems to be one of those periodic efforts underway at UCLA, to the dismay of many department chairs. This time, it takes the form of a strange effort to express the epicycles as absolute dollar premiums rather than percentages above official scales.

You can read about the latest effort in the form of a 7-page letter from Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (VCAP) Michael Levine from last November at the link below:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NH-9WuKwoqGquxnQt240zohJY6DCezqB/view?usp=sharing

Below is the reaction to that letter by 17 department chairs:



NOTE: Clicking on the images above will clarify them.

It is unclear at this point whether the percent-vs-absolute epicycle proposal is coming from UCOP (because UCLA has somewhat different epicycles than other campuses) or whether it is something from Murphy Hall linked to the current budgetary strains at the campus level.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Bad December for California

 
Labor market data by state are now out for the month of December 2020. Not surprisingly due to the coronavirus crisis, the uptick in cases, and the lockdown, California employment fell, whether measured by the household or payroll survey, and unemployment rose.

The most recent official release is at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/laus.pdf.

UCLA Needs a New Vaccine Rollout for Eligible Employees - Part 3 (How to do it better)

We have been posting about the opaque system of vaccine priority offered by UCLA. There appears to be one system for eligible employees (not in the health system) and another for patients. It is unclear whether being in the employee system overrides being in the patient system if one is in both. As we have noted, the employee system creates a series of hurdles and non-working elements, presumably the result of excess lawyering and insufficient IT. Jumping the hurdles in the employee system does not seem to result in an appointment, although going to the vaccine site and pleading your case in person might work. The patient system seems randomly to generate appointment invitations. Given the need to ration limited supplies of vaccine, is there a potential better and more transparent system? Indeed, there is.

Many retail stores have long operated a take-a-number system. Indeed, you find such systems in use within the health care system at UCLA, if you - say - go to have blood drawn or fill a prescription.

How would it apply to vaccination? Simply notify all eligible persons - employees and patients (say everyone over 75) to email or otherwise sign up for vaccination. Each applicant gets a number, based on the order received. Then you go down the list in numerical order to the extent vaccines are available. Post the latest number being served. If you are, say, 307, you look up to see what number is being currently served. If 301 is being served, you know your appointment will be soon. If you are 750, in contrast, you know you have a way to go. Simple, self-administering, and transparent.

Yours truly - both an eligible employee and a patient - has given up on UCLA and is going to the Forum today, run by LA County. But there is a piece in Variety in which UCLA is trying to assure the world that it is not giving priority to those using "concierge" services.* A simple take-a-number system would provide such assurances and make it clear who was getting what and when they would get it.

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*Those enrolled in UCLA’s executive health program (which is or isn’t a concierge health service, depending on who you ask) have been inundating program director Dr. Robert Ansell for information on when they can receive the vaccine. “UCLA is operating extremely by the book and hasn’t given a single shot to the concierge patients,” one member of the service said. The UCLA executive health program requires a fee and donation to UCLA Medical Center, which costs in the $15,000 to $25,000 range on an annual basis, numerous members said, on top of premium medical care. Some members have been openly venting to industry figures on UCLA’s Board of Regents — including United Talent Agency co-president Jay Sures, Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber, and former Paramount Pictures chief Sherry Lansing – about the vaccine rollout in Los Angeles, and asking when concierge patients might be eligible...

Full story at https://variety.com/2021/film/news/covid-vaccine-hollywood-skipping-line-1234891647/

Monday, January 25, 2021

UCLA Needs a New Vaccine Rollout for Eligible Employees - Part 2


Yesterday's post dealt with problems in UCLA's "system" for allocating vaccinations to eligible employees.* It brought forth anecdotes as a response. One person found an unsolicited invitation on her myChart app. Since that person wasn't expecting it and hadn't been looking at the phone app, the invitation had expired. That person was able to get someone to revive the expired invitation.

Another person - an eligible UCLA employee due to age - had the same problems that yours truly described yesterday, i.e., jumping through silly hoops and then not getting to the promised next step. That person decided to go to UCLA-Santa Monica's vaccine site in person to see if a shot would be provided despite not having received an appointment. The request was met with a refusal at Santa Monica by the person in charge. But at UCLA-Westwood's site, the strategy worked and a shot was given.

Both of these tales have happy endings for the individuals involved. But both stories suggest that there really isn't a consistent system in place.

Oh, and by the way, there are folks at UCLA who have no real connection with providing health care to patients but who happen to have "mednet" email accounts and who are getting shots via unsolicited invitations. 

Maybe all of these problems are inevitable in a bureaucratic distribution system. But yours truly has been told - again anecdotally - that at UC-Irvine things are running much more smoothly.

Yours truly managed to get an appointment via LA County at the Forum on Tuesday. How did it happen? Someone called me and said County options had just reopened and I should quickly get on the County website. It worked. A report on a local NPR station this morning indicated that the County's slots were exhausted after about 30 minutes.
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Sunday, January 24, 2021

UCLA Needs a New Vaccine Rollout for Eligible Employees

Some blog readers may have seen the column by Steve Lopez in the LA Times on trying to obtain a vaccine shot in LA County. He was able - without a problem - to get an appointment in Anchorage, Alaska using that state's computer system. LA County proved to be more difficult.

UCLA seems to be following the LA County route rather than the Alaska approach. It recently sent an email to eligible employees (those 65+) saying it had established a system to vaccinate them. At the same time, it has been - seemingly at random - sending unsolicited invitations to get vaccinated to UC Health patients who are eligible and who are not employees.

Yours truly is both a patient and an eligible employee. He got an email as a patient some days ago saying he would be contacted. But as a patient, no further communications were received. However, as an employee - there has been communication. That's the good news. The bad news is what then ensued. There seems to be a penalty for working for UCLA as opposed to just being a patient. Read on...

As an employee, yours truly received an email saying that before he could be vaccinated, he had to be "trained" about vaccines. And, in order to be trained, he had to fill out an online form. Among other items, he was asked to name his "supervisor." (Faculty, of course, don't think of themselves as having supervisors.) But yours truly dutifully filled in the name of the dean of the Luskin School where he is teaching this quarter. He was then asked for the email address of the dean/supervisor. The system told him the email address was "invalid" although it was in fact correct. So yours truly put his own email address. The system accepted that incorrect address as valid. And then it was on to the training.

The online training turned out to be around 50 (repeat 50!!!!) web pages of material. The last page was footnotes, presumably references documenting the previous pages. Then there was a "test," ostensibly on the material supposedly learned. In fact, with common sense, you could pass the test without having gone through the pages and pages of training: A few multiple-choice questions indicating it was a good idea to follow CDC guidelines was the essence of the test. Yours truly hasn't heard of anyone elsewhere who needed training and a test to get vaccinated. Even the LA County system - bad as it has been - doesn't include training and a test on the training as a requirement. It simply tells you no appointments are available.* Some Murphy Hall lawyer must have cooked up the training/test requirement. You can see the legal mind at work. What if someone sues? If we can show that they were trained about the vaccine, then we can show they assumed the risk. But I digress...

Second, having passed the test, yours truly was supposed to receive a "confirmation." None came. So he made a fuss, using an email address provided as a contact for problems, and a confirmation eventually arrived (including the name of the dean with the incorrect email address that the system liked). The email contact, by the way, is something called the Center for Nursing Excellence. I will let the irony of Excellence speak for itself.

Anyway, the hoops to jump through didn't end with the confirmation. The original email that kicked all this off said after you were trained and tested, you would then receive a "survey" (presumably a health survey - although UCLA has all of my medical records). No survey has arrived as of this morning. Yours truly has again sent off a request. And there the matter rests. Who knows what hurdles will follow the survey - if it ever comes?

Maybe I should fly to Anchorage.

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*The LA County system includes two UCLA Health offices as vaccination sites, one in Calabasas and the other in Thousand Oaks. (Thousand Oaks isn't in LA County so why it is listed is a mystery.) When yours truly checked for appointments there, both offices indicated that appointments were available and the Thousand Oaks office of UCLA Health actually gave two different available times. But when you clicked on either time, you got a strange computer message saying, in effect, that there were no appointments.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Watch or listen to the Regents session of Jan. 21, 2021

We continue archiving the Regents meetings indefinitely, since they delete their recordings after one year. And we provide video so you can watch or listen. (Up until this meeting, we provided only audio.) Links are below. And we turn to the Daily Cal again for a summary of what happened last Thursday:

BY MAYA AKKARAJU, TARUNIKA KAPOOR, OLIVIA MOORE AND ANNIKA RAO

On its final day of virtual meetings this week, the UC Board of Regents discussed university donations, alternatives to college entrance exams and the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. As discussed during the Public Engagement and Development Committee meeting, the UC system received a total of $2.9 billion in donations over the past fiscal year, according to UC Office of the President, or UCOP, Senior Vice President of External Relations and Communications Claire Holmes. Almost half of this money was given in support of health sciences and medicine at UC medical centers and campuses. John Cash, Marts & Lundy consultant, noted that the majority of donations are restricted to research and department support, and less than 8% of the money was donated for student support. He added that just more than 8% of the donations are to campus improvement efforts. “Many people are under the impression that donors love to give to buildings, that’s really not true,” Cash said at the meeting. “Raising capital dollars is very, very challenging.”

As for UC Berkeley, Vice Chancellor for University Development and Alumni Relations Julie Hooper reported that $4.1 billion has been raised in the “Light the Way” campaign, which launched last year and aims to raise $6 billion. The “Light the Way” campaign aims to raise $400 million in scholarship support, according to UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ. “Often our graduate students really suffer from shortages in basic needs, and a robust graduate scholarship program is essential in both being competitive for the best graduate students and making sure their needs are well attended,” Christ said at the meeting. Christ added that UC Berkeley has received two philanthropic housing gifts — one that will fund an apartment house for graduate students, and one for a transfer student resident hall.

During the public comment portion of the general board meeting, several called upon the UC system to withdraw involvement from the Thirty Meter Telescope project and make Election Day a noninstructional academic holiday. In the Compliance and Audit Committee meeting, Alexander Bustamante, the UCOP chief compliance and audit officer and senior vice president and chief, presented the Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services annual report. “Our continued vigilance on cybersecurity issues is of importance,” Bustamante said during the meeting. “I think foreign influence is one, as I’ve flagged in the report, and also the COVID-related issues, as well. It’s just a changing regulatory landscape, and we just need to stay on top of it.” Bustamante added that there has been an increase in workplace harassment reports, which indicates the public is aware of the university’s communication systems.

During the afternoon board meeting, the regents discussed the aftermath of their decision to suspend the use of the ACT and SAT in UC admissions until 2024. A committee was formed in May to examine three options: create a new admissions test, leverage another existing test or cease using standardized testing entirely. The committee concluded that developing a new test is not feasible within the time frame, but the Smarter Balanced assessment, which is already taken by all public school students in California, could be modified into a useful admissions tool. UCOP Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Brown stressed that no concrete plan currently exists. If the modified Smarter Balanced test is deemed viable after further research, the UC system will decide on how to use it, if at all. Some representatives from the committee expressed the desire to create a “low stakes” assessment, which could determine eligibility for the UC system as a whole, but not for individual campuses.

“We want to try to create avenues into the university that are not biased against certain subgroups, certain populations within us,” said UC President Michael Drake at the meeting. “And I think this assessment is a part of that.”

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Carrie Byington, executive vice president of UC Health, presented an array of statistics and stressed the importance of pandemic safety as vaccine distribution continues. All UC campuses are in counties with COVID-19 rates classified as “widespread,” and Byington said the health department is working to make it safe for students to return to campus. Byington recommended people wear two masks when indoors, a surgical mask below and a cloth mask above and add a face shield in situations where it is difficult to maintain distance.

At the end of the meeting, the board honored the contributions of Regent George Kieffer and Regent Charlene Zettel, who are retiring from the board when their 12-year terms expire March 1.

Source: https://www.dailycal.org/2021/01/21/uc-board-of-regents-discusses-funding-pandemic-entrance-exams/

For the Thursday session, go to:

https://archive.org/details/board-compliance-and-audit-committee-1-21-21

or separately:

Full board and Compliance and Audit:

https://archive.org/details/board-compliance-and-audit-committee-1-21-21/Board%2C+Compliance+and+Audit+Committee+1-21-21.mp4

Public Engagement and Development:

https://archive.org/details/board-compliance-and-audit-committee-1-21-21/Public+Engagement+and+Development+Committee+1-21-21.mp4

Board - Second Session:

https://archive.org/details/board-compliance-and-audit-committee-1-21-21/Board-2nd+session+1-21-21.mp4

Friday, January 22, 2021

Old and New Money from the Feds


 
A report from the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) provides estimates on what UC has received and is expected to receive from the federal government. The numbers appear to omit the health enterprise at UC which has received other forms of federal aid.

Full report at https://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/4315

Listen to, or Watch, the Regents Sessions of Jan. 20, 2021

 
We continue our indirect practice of relying on the Daily Cal to summarize what the Regents did, in this case on Wednesday of this week. As we did yesterday, we have preserved the video of the Zoom meetings so you have a choice of watching or listening. Links are below the text.

BY ALEXANDRA FELDMAN, CATHERINE HSU AND DINA KATGARA, 1-21-21

At its virtual meeting Wednesday, the UC Board of Regents discussed allocations of state general funds and sustainable practices. At the general board meeting, the regents discussed the UC system’s Annual Report on Sustainable Practices, focusing on how the UC system worked to reduce waste through reusing N95 masks or bulk purchases in the face of supply changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report on sustainable practices also prompted many UC community members to call for the UC system’s divestment from the Thirty Meter Telescope project. “The UC’s impact extends beyond campus,” said campus undergraduate student Livia Jones-Solari at the meeting. “Sustainability is about how we can live in a way that protects rather than destroys life, how we can keep living. We cannot keep living by ignoring Indigenous voices.”

During public comment, several members of the UC community also advocated for Election Day to be a UC-wide, noninstructional academic holiday, voicing concerns that coursework reinforces existing voting inequities. Following a closed session, the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee passed the external financing of $500 million in taxable bonds that will be available in February. The working capital created by these bonds will be used to help UC campuses stabilize during the ongoing pandemic.

The committee also debated the financial distribution tactic presented by UC Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom. State allocation of funds depends on each student’s discipline. Doctoral students will be weighted more than undergraduate students, Brostrom added. “If you look in the health sciences and the cost of providing the faculty to do the teaching that is required for the accreditation, you’d actually find out that this funding falls well short of that,” said UC President Michael Drake. “These are extraordinarily complex issues.”

Regent George Kieffer suggested that a smaller group of regents come together to do an in-depth examination of the welfare of each campus. The committee also moved forward the allocation of funds and approval of plans for UC Irvine’s Medical Center Irvine-Newport project. CEO of UC Irvine Health Chad Lefteris said the center is planned to have 140 beds with expansion space and reach Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold sustainable rank.

In a concurrent session with the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee, the Academic and Student Affairs Committee approved Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition, or PDST, for a new Doctor of Pharmacy program at UC Irvine.

The Doctor of Pharmacy program “builds on the strategic direction of the campus to increase the impact of UC Irvine Health, expand graduate education in California and serve diverse communities statewide,” said UC Irvine Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Hal Stern at the meeting. The approved PDST will support the start of the program by funding student financial aid, the hiring of faculty and staff and technology and other resources for students. During the question period, some regents expressed a desire for the program to aim for stronger diversity targets. “I recognize that this is a difficult major to diversify, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t reach higher,” said Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley at the meeting. The item ultimately passed with an amendment stating that the diversity numbers in the program’s proposal are a “minimum” and that it will also incorporate aspirational numbers.

The Academic and Student Affairs Committee also saw four discussion items centering around student diversity and equity. As part of the first discussion item, representatives from UC Irvine discussed the importance of mentoring programs in doctoral education as a way to reduce inequities among graduate students. UC Irvine Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate Division Gillian Hayes spoke in favor of expanding and increasing funding for these graduate mentor programs.

UC Irvine Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Michael Dennin also spoke to the Academic and Student Affairs Committee about the lessons learned so far from the COVID-19 pandemic about incorporating technology-enhanced learning to design “equitable classrooms.” 

“I hope we’re never back to fall 2019,” Dennin said at the meeting. “I hope we go back to no concept of a single type of course.”

Following Dennin’s presentation, some regents raised concerns over the loss of accessibility gains during remote instruction when students return to in-person learning. Student observer and UC Santa Cruz junior David Shevelev noted that certain aspects of remote instruction have allowed students with learning disabilities or work and family obligations to be much more successful academically. “Will recordings and flexible attendance policies continue as the norm when we return to the classroom?” Shevelev said at the meeting. “Equity cannot be something that faculty simply opt into.”

Source: https://www.dailycal.org/2021/01/20/uc-board-of-regents-allocates-funding-discusses-equity-sustainability/

Links to the various sessions can be found at:

https://archive.org/details/academic-and-student-affairs-committee-1-20-21

Academic and Student Affairs:

https://archive.org/details/academic-and-student-affairs-committee-1-20-21/Academic+and+Student+Affairs+Committee+1-20-21.mp4

Full Board:

https://archive.org/details/academic-and-student-affairs-committee-1-20-21/Board+1-20-21.mp4

Finance and Capital Strategies:

https://archive.org/details/academic-and-student-affairs-committee-1-20-21/Finance+and+Capital+Strategies+Committee+1-20-21.mp4

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Let's Hope It Continues

 

We have been following new weekly claims for unemployment insurance in California as an index of the direction of the economy. Last week, there was a big jump in such claims, but now there appears to be a drop. The same up-and-down movement occurred at the national level, too. So let's hope the direction remains downward from now on.

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

Listen to, or Watch, the Regents Sessions of Jan. 19, 2021

In the past when we have indefinitely archived Regents meetings, we have only offered the choice of listening. We now unveil an additional choice: You can watch (or listen) at the links below:

Yours truly is teaching this quarter so he has been archiving but not watching or listening. When time is available, he will see if anything happened that the Daily Cal didn't pick up in its description of the Tuesday (Jan. 19) session. But for now:

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BY JASMINE LEE, LAUREN GOOD AND NATALIE LU, 1-20-21

At its first virtual meeting of 2021, the UC Board of Regents approved funding for a technology fellowship pilot program, discussed telehealth developments and listened to concerns regarding racial discrimination. The National Laboratories Committee approved a proposal to fund $200,000 to establish a pilot program for a postdoctoral fellowship in technology and international security. Craig Leasure, vice president of UC National Laboratories, said the pilot program would use funds from the Capital and Campus Opportunity Fund. The fellowships would be for those at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — an offshoot of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — and the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation at UC San Diego. The fellowship program would also bring benefits, according to Leasure, such as developing collaborations between campuses and labs, in addition to creating opportunities for students interested in national security and other social sciences.

Leasure said the program would also come with the impact of “building intellectual capacity across the UC system in the nexus between science, technology, nuclear and international security issues.”

During the public comment portion of the board meeting, former UCSD health employee Tamara Totten said she was laid off by UCSD Health alongside another Black coworker. She reflected on her experience at UCSD Health, alleging that out of the 32 member unit, the only two employees who were laid off were Black women.

“I endured harassment, threats, criticism and isolation, and rather than getting relief, I was served with a layoff notice a month later,” Totten alleged. “This happened even though we have more seniority. UCSD chose to hire and keep a non-African American contract employee and assigned her to my work after I was laid off.”

Two other main concerns raised during the public comment session were the UCSF Medical Center expansion plan and animal agriculture cruelty within the UC system. San Francisco resident Robert Goodman urged the regents to consider deferring UCSF’s expansion plans. On the other hand, San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council secretary-treasurer Rudy Gonzalez voiced support for the construction of UCSF medical buildings.

The Health Services Committee presented a UC health update on telehealth innovations, which entails health care services that are provided electronically. According to Lawrence Friedman, associate dean of clinical affairs at UCSD Health, the UC health system has “become an industry leader,” publishing more than 40 articles on COVID-19 telehealth. More than 7,000 providers and staff have been trained on telehealth across the UC system, and 11 languages and interpreter services are offered within telehealth, according to Friedman. Through telehealth, services such as clinical consultations, virtual family visits for COVID-19 patients and physical therapy group sessions are offered to inpatients. Across all campuses, ambulatory patient visits were almost all in person until March 2020, and by April, nearly half of the visits were through telehealth, according to Friedman. Currently, about 20% to 25% of ambulatory visits are via telehealth, which Friedman said he expects will continue past the COVID-19 pandemic, as he noted that both patients and providers find telehealth visits “convenient” and “efficient.”

“Telemedicine is here to stay, but many of our students would benefit from resuming in-person activities,” said Brad Buchman, chief medical officer of UC Health’s student health and counseling.

According to Buchman, telehealth mental health visits outnumbered other medical visits in a three-to-one ratio. Anxiety was the top mental health concern for those who use telehealth services, followed by depression.

UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and UCSF have been chosen as pilot virtual care clinics for the UC Virtual Care Collaborative for student mental health due to their readiness and willingness to participate, according to Friedman.

“This is the wave of the future,” said Regent Sherry Lansing. “This is one of the good things that has come out of this crisis — the benefits of telemedicine and telehealth.”

Source: https://www.dailycal.org/2021/01/20/uc-regents-approve-funding-technology-fellowship-pilot-program/

Links to the sessions are below at:

https://archive.org/details/board-health-natl-labs-1-19-21

Board, Health, National Labs at:

https://archive.org/details/board-health-natl-labs-1-19-21/board%2C+health%2C+natl+labs+1-19-21.mp4

Governance at:

https://archive.org/details/board-health-natl-labs-1-19-21/Governance+Committee+1-19-21.mp4

Drake on the Return to Paris

University of California President Michael V. Drake, M.D., released the following statement today (Jan. 20) in response to President Biden’s executive order reinstating the U.S. to the Paris climate accord. UC denounced the country’s 2020 exit from the agreement, while remaining steadfastly committed to the treaty as well as the University’s own green energy and carbon neutrality goals.  

The University of California applauds President Biden’s executive order to rejoin the Paris climate accord and return the U.S. to the world stage as a leader in the fight against climate change. The future of our planet depends on immediate and bold action to combat this profound existential crisis. We owe it to current and future generations to act decisively and to act now. As the new administration takes up this urgent work, UC stands ready to further contribute our expertise and resources. This global challenge demands nothing less.

In spite of the ill-conceived decision in 2017 to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, UC continued to develop new sustainability solutions while holding fast to our aggressive systemwide goals of transitioning to 100 percent clean electricity and becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

Research in service of the public good is central to UC’s mission and the University looks forward to partnering with President Biden and his administration on this critical issue. There is so much more we can accomplish when we work together.  

UC’s commitment to the climate:

  • UC is a founding member of the We Are Still In coalition, a group of nearly 4,000 local governments, colleges and universities, health care facilities, faith institutions, companies and individuals who are supportive of the Paris climate agreement. 
  • Through energy efficiency gains and the adoption of solar and other renewable energy sources, UC has reduced systemwide greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent since 2013.
  • UC now generates more on-site renewable energy than any other university in the country, with 97 million kilowatt-hours produced annually.
  • UC’s sustainability efforts extend to institutional investments: Since 2014, UC has invested more than $1 billion in clean energy projects.  

Source: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/press-room/uc-president-drake-lauds-us-return-paris-agreement

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He doesn't just like Paris:

or direct to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKAmfthyieo

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

UCLA Health to Begin Offering Vaccines (soon)

UCLA Health sent the message below to patients. Note that it also mentions the LA County program.

[Editorial comment from yours truly: LA County seems fixated on mega-sites such as Dodger Stadium. It seems like a really dumb idea for LA County to invite elderly people - many with health issues - to line up at a mega-site.]

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Important COVID-19 vaccine update

Dear Daniel,

On Monday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors chair, Hilda L. Solis, signed an executive order directing the LA County Department of Public Health to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments available to residents 65 and older beginning Thursday. However, this recent expansion of eligibility did not come with additional vaccine supply. 

We want to acknowledge how stressful it can be to wait for a vaccine for you or your loved ones. We hope you are comforted by knowing that UCLA Health is moving as quickly and efficiently as possible to get all of our patients vaccinated. We are pleased to report that patient invitations for vaccine appointments will begin going out today. 

While the vaccine supply remains limited, our initial invites will go to our patients who are the most vulnerable based on their medical conditions. As additional vaccine supply is made available, we will continue to send more invites until we have offered the COVID-19 vaccine to all patients who are 65 and older. 

We will email you as soon as an appointment is available and ask you to self-schedule through myUCLAhealth. If you do not have an account, please create one today.  Any patient who does not have an email on file will receive their vaccination invite through mail or by phone.  

Can I be vaccinated through LA County? LA County will offer vaccine appointment scheduling online. You may go to their website to see if you are currently eligible to schedule an appointment. There are two vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA: the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. We have the same vaccines as everyone else. We encourage you to get your vaccination wherever you can get it the soonest.

Where can I get more information? Information is changing on a daily basis, and we want to keep you as up to date as possible. Please reference the information and FAQs about the COVID-19 vaccine online at uclahealth.org/vaccine.

You can also get more information on the LA County Department of Public Health vaccine page (or the Ventura County or Orange County pages) or the CDC website.

Thank you for remaining engaged as we send out regular updates. We are looking forward to receiving and administering the vaccines for our patients.

Sincerely,

Johnese Spisso, MPA
President, UCLA Health
CEO, UCLA Hospital System
Associate Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences

Robert A. Cherry, MD, MS
Chief Medical and Quality Officer
UCLA Health

Eve M. Glazier, MD, MBA
President, Faculty Practice Group
UCLA Health


 

Spring is Rustling - More at Berkeley than at UCLA

In an earlier post, we noted the spring at UCLA is planned to be not much different than winter.* Berkeley seems to be more daring. (Note that Berkeley is on a semester system.)

UC Berkeley updates plans for spring in-person instruction

JANUARY 19, 2021

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Alivisatos sent the following message to the campus community on Tuesday:

We’re writing to provide an update on our plans for the spring semester. As you know, we had planned to offer limited in-person instruction beginning Monday, Feb. 1, following two weeks of fully remote instruction. With the Bay Area still under the state’s regional stay at home order and high positivity and new infection rates in the community, we must adjust our plans.

Beginning Monday, Feb. 1, we will be able to resume offering occasional outdoor instructional activities. These activities will be an expansion of the successful fall outdoor instructional pilot. Departments can submit proposals for outdoor instruction through their dean’s office; instructors of provisionally approved courses are encouraged to consider this option.

On Tuesday, Feb. 16, we will begin to pilot a small number of in-person classes indoors. We will consider and select provisionally approved clinical, laboratory, studio, fieldwork, and other courses requiring specialized space for this pilot. If we can demonstrate that our mandatory testing program, color-coded badge system, and other protocols are successful in preventing an increase in infections compared to the community, we will then be able to explore offering additional classes indoors.

With COVID-19 continuing to surge across the state, it’s more important than ever that we all remain diligent and follow all public health recommendations and requirements. We all have a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve, which will need to happen before considering offering additional activities on campus.

Please be sure to read the Response and Recovery newsletter, where we provide weekly updates on our planning and progress. The campus coronavirus site is also updated regularly, as is the UC Berkeley Mobile app.

While it’s frustrating to have yet another delay in our plans to offer in-person instruction, it’s encouraging to know that we’re continuing to make progress toward this goal. We’re so grateful for your continued flexibility and perseverance.

Source: https://news.berkeley.edu/2021/01/19/uc-berkeley-updates-plans-for-spring-in-person-instruction/

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You can hear the rustling at:

or direct to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZRwm9UEu7o

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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2021/01/spring-is-rustling.html

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Berkeley Pipeline Shutoff - Now Reversed

We posted last month about the shutdown of ISSI [Institute for the Study of Societal Issues] at Berkeley.* It seems that the decision has been reversed.

From the San Francisco ChronicleFollowing an outcry, UC Berkeley is reversing its plan to disband a campus institute that for four decades has served as a pipeline into the social sciences for students of color and has lifted them into the highest echelons of academia.

The Chronicle reported in December that the university planned to dismantle the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, which supports mainly Black and Latino students earning doctorates in the social sciences. About 220 students have gone through ISSI since 1976 and have gone on to teach at dozens of leading universities, including Harvard, Morehouse College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The institute was to close at the end of the current semester.


The Chronicle article “brought the situation to the attention of some powerful faculty members (and others) who had not been aware and who started advocating on our behalf,” said Deborah Freedman Lustig, associate director of the institute, who added that ISSI received offers of financial help and was “inundated with emails of support.”


Hundreds of people also added their names to a petition that had been posted since the summer to try to save ISSI, bringing the signatures to about 1,300, Lustig said.


The response “made clear that there has been insufficient prior consultation with faculty and other stakeholders” about UC Berkeley’s plan for the institute, a network of academic programs, said a letter Thursday to ISSI from Linda Haverty Rugg, associate vice chancellor for research, and Randy Katz, vice chancellor for research. The letter said the university had intended to dismantle the institute but preserve its individual programs.


“Our plan’s impact on the broader campus intellectual support for social justice research was inadequately addressed,” the letter said.


Rugg and Katz said the university will “suspend all decisions and actions related to ISSI’s programs and organizational structure,” a proposal from Katz approved by campus Chancellor Carol Christ...


Full story at https://www.sfchronicle.com/education/article/UC-Berkeley-reverses-course-and-will-not-close-15876471.php

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*https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2020/12/berkeley-pipeline-shutoff.html