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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Preliminary State Budget Tabulation

A budget bill has been sent to the governor. See our previous post for a link to the actual enacted bill. The state assembly has provided a summary of the contents of that bill. Again, see our previous post for a link to the summary. 

The summary appears to contain at least one error. The ending general fund reserve for 2020-21 should be the same as the beginning general fund reserve for 2021-22, but the assembly version shows a difference. Most likely different and inconsistent estimates for the two years were used on the table. We use the end reserve for 2020-21 as the beginning reserve for 2021-22 in the table below. "Final" numbers - presumably without inconsistent figures - will eventually be available from the Dept. of Finance and the Legislation Analyst's Office some time in July. However, our table below provides a general overview of what was enacted.

The general fund - essentially that state's day-to-day checking account - has a reserve in it. Other reserves linked to the general fund are the Public School account, the Safety Net account, and the Budget Stabilization account ("rainy day fund"). You need to sum the reserves and see if they are collectively rising or falling to determine the surplus or deficit. As the table shows, during 2020-21 (the fiscal year ending today), we ran a budget surplus of something like $20 billion. Next year we will run a deficit of about $16 billion which will bring down reserves, although they will remain at a relatively high level compared with expenditures. How we will adjust to the situation that will prevail a year from now when a new budget will be needed is anyone's guess. The legislature and governor will not be so flush with cash if the forecasts underlying the budget just enacted are correct. 

Why, in the midst of a pandemic which produced a sharp downturn and slump, is the state flush with cash? Basically, the pessimistic outlook a year ago caused the state to cut back expenditures due to a projection of a revenue curtailment. But because state revenue is heavily dependent on the income tax and the income tax is heavily dependent on high earners, revenues did not drop as expected. In addition, funding came in from the federal government.





 

Not Simple


If anyone was under the illusion that the legislature just hands each year's funding to the Regents and administrators of UC and leaves it to them to divvy up the dollars, it's not so simple. Above is the heading for the UC allocation from budget bill AB 129 that has gone to the governor. The excerpt above can be found on page 350 of the bill. Following the heading above, there are 16 pages of directions allocating funds for this and that program and listing various reporting requirements.

The bill is at:

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billPdf.xhtml?bill_id=202120220AB129&version=20210AB12997AMD

A summary of the budget published by the state assembly is at:

https://abgt.assembly.ca.gov/sites/abgt.assembly.ca.gov/files/Floor%20Report%20of%20the%202021-22%20Budget%20-%20%28June%2028%2C%202021%20Version%29.pdf

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Travel "Ban"

You may have read headlines about a new travel "ban" imposed by the State of California.* The "ban" covers Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. 

In fact, the law involved has been in effect for several years. It does not ban anyone from going anywhere. It does ban a state agency from requiring employees to go to the affected states. And it does ban using state funds for sending someone to such states. Of course, individuals - including state employees - are free to go anywhere on personal business. Travel financed by a research grants that is not state-funded is allowed. So, for example, going to academic conferences or meeting with co-researchers in an affected state using non-state funds is allowed.

From the website of the California Attorney General:

In AB 1887, the California Legislature determined that "California must take action to avoid supporting or financing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people." (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (a)(5).) To that end, AB 1887 prohibits a state agency, department, board, or commission from requiring any state employees, officers, or members to travel to a state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that (1) has the effect of voiding or repealing existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; (2) authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; or (3) creates an exemption to antidiscrimination laws in order to permit discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subds. (b)(1), (2).) In addition, the law prohibits California from approving a request for state-funded or state-sponsored travel to such a state. (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (b)(2).)

The travel prohibition applies to state agencies, departments, boards, authorities, and commissions, including an agency, department, board, authority, or commission of the University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, and the California State University. (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (b).)

Source: https://oag.ca.gov/ab1887.

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*Example: https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article252422453.html.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Radio Silence on Accellion Breach - Part 10


The Regents are getting an update tomorrow on cybersecurity, presumably on the Accellion data breach. But you aren't:

NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING

THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

Date: June 29, 2021

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Location: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with Paragraph 3 of Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20

Agenda – Closed Session

B1(X) Discussion Cybersecurity Briefing

Closed Session Statute Citation: Security matters [Government Code §11126(c)(18) and Education Code §92032(b)(1)] 

Source: https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/june21/boardx.pdf.

Don't bother to try to listen:


Sunday, June 27, 2021

UCLA History: Cruising Down the Boulevard


Cruising down Westwood Boulevard in 1932 (with a little color added by yours truly). 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Budget News Leaking Out

Various tidbits of state budget news are leaking out concerning a deal for the 2021-22 fiscal year between the Democratic leaders in the legislature and the governor that has apparently been reached.

We won't have a full accounting of the deal for some time. However, there is apparently a UC element in the deal which cuts back on out-of-state students and compensates UC for the lost revenue.

The problem with this arrangement - apart from any academic considerations - is that in the future, when there isn't so much cash sloshing around in Sacramento, it may be hard to unwind the deal. UC could be left with a de facto lower cap on out-of-state students and no compensation for the resulting revenue loss.

Past history suggests that "compacts" with the state are worth the paper they are printed on - but not any more than that.

From the LA Times:

Three top University of California campuses — UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego — would reduce their share of out-of-state and international students to make way for more local residents, and the UC system would admit 6,230 more freshmen in 2022, under an amended state budget bill posted Friday.

The legislation pledges to deliver by 2022 what would be the largest ever single-year infusion of state funds to increase California student enrollment at UC campuses. The proposal comes after the system was flooded by a record number of applications for fall 2021 in a year of high emotion and myriad questions over the admissions process and frustration over the lack of seats for qualified students. The state would provide enough funding to reimburse the campuses for the loss of nonresident supplemental tuition, which amounts to nearly $30,000 per student and $1.3 billion collectively each year. The higher education spending numbers were included in an amended budget bill posted online Friday before Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders reached an agreement later in the night on the $262.6-billion state budget.

Another document summarizing the points of their agreement includes what legislative leaders say is the largest ever expansion of Cal Grant financial aid. The summary noted that the figures were preliminary and details in both documents could change before legislators vote on the bill next week.

Under the proposed budget bill, the state would pay UC to reduce nonresidents at the system’s three most highly sought after campuses, from more than 22% of undergraduates to 18% over five years beginning in fall 2022. That would make room for about 4,500 additional California students over that period. In addition to 900 extra seats freed up by fewer nonresident students at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego annually, the state intends to provide funds to enroll the additional California freshmen in fall 2022, with President Michael V. Drake and the nine undergraduate campuses to decide how to divvy them up...


We have argued before that some version of a new Master Plan for Higher Ed is needed, something put into legislation as was the old Master Plan, not just a last-minute one-year budget negotiation.

UCLA History: Gershwins


Caption to this photo: Ira Gershwin (left) and George Gershwin (right) sit on a sundeck with UCLA students at George's home. The songwriting duo had just donated their song "Strike up the Band" to UCLA. The students include Kay Dodge, Vera Nell Gilmer, Catherine Cockrell, Georgette Foster, Dorothy Oswald, Grace Wolfskill, and Alice Waldron. (1930)

Source: https://dl.library.ucla.edu/islandora/object/edu.ucla.library.universityArchives.historicPhotographs:274.

And the music:

Or direct to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wcMp0ywESY

Friday, June 25, 2021

VP Jam Expected

Apparently, there will be traffic problems in the general UCLA/ Brentwood area due to a visit by Vice President Kamala Harris:

From Patch Newspapers: If Wilshire Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway seem slower than usual Friday and Saturday, that's because Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to spend the night at her home in Brentwood.

Vice President Kamala Harris flew into Los Angeles Friday following a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, and she is expected to spend the night at her Brentwood home. She arrived in Los Angeles early Friday afternoon, traveling by motorcade on the northbound San Diego (405) Freeway into Brentwood.

The motorcade prompted some temporary closures along the freeway and along residential streets in the West Los Angeles area...

Full story at:

https://patch.com/california/centurycity/s/hn776/vice-presidential-motorcade-snarls-westside-traffic.

Watch the Afternoon Session of the Regents of June 23, 2021

Yesterday, we posted a piece about the morning session of the special Regents meeting of June 23rd.* Our post included an indefinite-duration link to the recording of the session since the Regents "archive" their recordings for only one year. The meeting was unusual, not because some committees were meeting off-cycle, but because the full board also was meeting. And the main end-product of the meeting was the relationship between UC Health and Dignity Health, a Catholic hospital chain that won't perform certain procedures such as abortion on religious grounds. As previously posted, the morning session had a public comment period which was mainly focused on the Dignity Health matter.

Today, we post about the afternoon session which - after dealing with an executive appointment - contained the full board's deliberations on a proposed new arrangement with Dignity Health (and any other such provider) with various stipulations from UC. The most active regent in the discussion was the board chair, John Pérez, who proposed a series of amendments to the recommendations of UC president Drake. A screenshot of the amendments (which were somewhat modified during the discussion) is below.


After discussion, President Drake accepted the amendments and the board voted - with one abstention - to adopt them. Basically, they take effect in late 2023.

From the San Francisco Chronicle: University of California Regents, facing criticism for contracts with religious hospitals that refuse to provide abortions, sterilizations or transgender surgery, adopted a new policy Wednesday that retains the contracts but requires the hospitals to let UC physicians perform those procedures when patients can’t be transferred safely to another hospital. The university is fighting legislation by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, that would require it to end contracts with religious health facilities — like Dignity Health, California’s largest hospital chain — unless the hospitals changed their policies or did not apply them to UC physicians and students working there.

Wednesday’s regents vote moves in that direction, though it does not require termination of any of the contracts the university says it has with 77 hospitals and other health facilities in California. UC officials say the contracts allow its medical staff to provide care for 35,000 patients, many of them low-income Californians with little access to hospital treatment...

The action allows new contracts only with health care providers that offer their services to all patients, without discrimination, Pérez said. It would not require the hospital’s own staff to perform all medical procedures, but would allow UC personnel at the facilities to do so. And if a patient needed a procedure, such as a hysterectomy or delivery of an ectopic pregnancy, and could not be safely transferred, UC staff would be allowed to perform it at the hospital. The university would also have to terminate existing contracts with hospitals that do not comply with the policy by the end of 2023, Pérez said. UC President Michael Drake, who initially proposed less-extensive changes to the current contracts, endorsed Pérez’s amendments. So did Wiener...

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Our link to the recording can be found at:
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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Is this news story a plus or minus for UC?

Capitol Weekly ran a story recently about the ability of UC to capture research funds from the entity voters created (and recently renewed) that floats bonds to raise money for stem cell research. 

You can judge for yourself whether the item below is a plus or minus for the university. 

They could be called the “UC Caucus,” although that may presume too much. Nonetheless, they come from an institution that has pulled down $1.2 billion from the California state stem cell agency, more than any other enterprise during the last 16 years. Not to mention that their employer — the University of California  —  is likely to snag much, much more during the next decade or so. 

The “caucus” is composed of the 13 persons with ties to the University of California (UC) who are also members of the governing board of the state’s $12 billion stem cell agency, known officially as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The UC 13 constitute the largest voting bloc on the CIRM governing board. The “caucus” includes Art Torres, who is a member of the UC Board of Regents and the salaried, vice chairman of the CIRM board of directors. Torres is a well-seasoned, former state politician with decades of vote-counting experience... 

Full story at https://capitolweekly.net/in-world-of-stem-cell-research-uc-caucus-reigns-supreme/.

Still Not Roaring

We have been tracking new weekly claims for unemployment insurance as a proxy for recovery in the California labor market. By this measure, at least, we are still not roaring back (at least through the week ending June 12). Basically, getting "back" would be weekly claims in the 40,000-50,000 range. And we have been stuck in the 60,000-70,000 range.

As we have also noted, the state budget - flush with cash - is somewhat detached from the underlying economy. The governor and the Democratic legislative leaders have not yet come to a full agreement on the 2021-22 budget which needs to be in place on July 1, just a week from now.

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

Watch the Regents' Special Session - Morning of June 23

As we have noted in earlier postings, the Regents had an unusual off-cycle meeting yesterday via Zoom, mainly to deal with the issue of UC Health's partnership with Dignity Health, a Catholic hospital system that won't perform certain procedures such as abortion for religious reasons.

The morning session of the full board, however, did not have official regental discussion of that matter, although it did occupy most of the public comment period. Among the opponents of a continued partnership was state senator Wiener who spoke in the public comments. Others made similar arguments. But there were individuals on the other side, including representatives and patients from Dignity. Apart from the main issue, there was a comment on the use of fetal tissue for research and another related to construction of student housing. 

There was then a meeting of the Health Services Committee which followed the usual format. There was discussion of the coronavirus situation, the use of CRISPR technology with regard to sickle cell and other diseases, and community benefits provided by UC Health. Certain construction was approved for UC-San Francisco and Children's Hospital.

As usual, we have preserved the recording of the meeting since the Regents "archive" their recordings for only one year. You can see the morning session at:

https://archive.org/details/regents-board-health-services-committee-6-23-21-am-2

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

PE or not PE? That Is the question

From the Sacramento Bee

Students file class-action lawsuit against UC Davis over elimination of PE classes

Sawsan Morrar, 6-22-21

Students at UC Davis filed a lawsuit against their university over terminating physical education classes and continuing to charge students fees that cover the program. On behalf of the UC Davis student body, students Madison Butler, Bailey Johnson, Corrie O’Brien and Urvashi Mahto filed the class-action lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California on May 25 in Yolo Superior Court.

For years, the physical education program offered more than 35,000 students an opportunity to enroll in various courses including archery, flag football, self defense, tennis, volleyball and weight training. When UC Davis experienced budget cuts in 1994, the program was in jeopardy, prompting the university to implement the Student Activities and Services Initiative fee, a permanent student fee of $380.90 per year to keep the program.

But the university “unilaterally decided to terminate the PE program in December. Students and faculty protested the termination of the program, and collected more than 5,400 signatures in 2020 to save the program. And students allege that the university has continued to charge and retain the fees for at least two quarters. Students are paying SASI fees, which provides more than $10 million annually to fund UC Davis’ NCAA teams.

In 2020, the student government — The Associated Students, UC Davis — passed a resolution to re-vote on the SASI fees, according to The Davis Enterprise.

Source: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article252160273.html.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

More Change Coming on Athletes' Compensation

Supreme Court rules against NCAA restrictions on colleges offering educational perks to compensate student-athletes

Washington Post, Robert Barnes, 6-21-21

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday against the NCAA’s limits on education-related perks for college athletes, upholding a lower court’s decision that was one of the most important in the movement to increase compensation for student-athletes. In a 9-0 vote, the court rejected the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s argument that its rules limiting such educational benefits were necessary to preserve the image of amateurism in college sports.

The organization was contesting a lower-court ruling that would allow colleges to offer greater academic-related perks to Division I football and men’s and women’s basketball players — benefits such as scholarships for graduate degrees, paid postgraduate internships, and providing computers, musical instruments and other types of equipment related to education free of charge.

The case is a long-running antitrust lawsuit filed by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston and former University of California center Justine Hartman,* representing a class of former men’s and women’s college athletes.

Hartman
It’s not directly related to the debate surrounding name, image and likeness (NIL) compensation that is taking place in Congress and state capitals across the country, nor does it address uncapped payment for athletes’ on-field prowess.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken agreed with the organization about direct compensation. But she said enhanced education benefits were fair game, even though the NCAA said it would set up a bidding war between universities and athletic conferences for top athletes.

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, writing for the court, said Wilkin had carefully examined the NCAA’s arguments and found them lacking as to why the organization should be spared from the normal rigor of antitrust litigation.

The lower court’s decision “stands on firm ground — an exhaustive factual record, a thoughtful legal analysis consistent with established antitrust principles, and a healthy dose of judicial humility,” Gorsuch wrote.

The NCAA’s lawyer told the Supreme Court during oral arguments that the decision, upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, approves “a regime that permits athletes to be paid thousands of dollars each year just for playing on a team and unlimited cash for post-eligibility internships.”

A lawyer for the players said courts have taken note of the NCAA’s unique role, but still ruled against them on the facts. He said the case was “just the latest iteration of the repeatedly debunked claims that competition will destroy consumer demand for college sports and that the NCAA should have a judicially created antitrust exemption.”

The Biden administration sided with the players, saying the lower court decision was carefully crafted to allow only payments related to education.

The case is NCAA v. Alston.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-ncaa-student-athletes/2021/06/21/777e4718-d290-11eb-9f29-e9e6c9e843c6_story.html.

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*UC-Berkeley, Women's basketball.

Monday, June 21, 2021

UC to Close June 28 for Late Juneteenth

Juneteenth, normally celebrated on June 19th, will be celebrated instead at UC on June 28, i.e., next Monday. UC will be closed on that date.

In future years, the celebration will be on the regular June 19th date, according to an email circulated today. See below:


Dear Deans Council:

I write to ask you to convey to your students, faculty, and staff the importance of observing the new Juneteenth holiday in its entirety, with no classes, events, or meetings to be held on that day, leaving time to recognize, reflect, and celebrate the end of slavery in our nation.

 All Summer Sessions class meetings are to be canceled on Monday, June 28. Given the timing of this decision and the condensed nature of many Summer Sessions courses and programs, we understand that this may present challenges for instructors and students alike.  We encourage instructors to consider offering supplemental materials and recordings that students can access asynchronously, as well as additional office hours. While instructors may schedule make-up class meetings at their discretion, consideration should be given to students with time conflicts.

Sincerely,

Emily A. Carter
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

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Dear Bruin Community:

University of California President Michael Drake announced today that UC will observe Juneteenth — a day recognizing and celebrating the end of slavery in the United States - as a universitywide holiday. President Drake’s announcement appears in full below.

While Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19, this year UC will observe the holiday on Monday, June 28. Starting in 2022, the university will observe the holiday according to the federal calendar.

Juneteenth offers an important moment to acknowledge our nation’s troubled history and to honor the courage and achievement of African Americans in the face of longstanding adversity. We encourage every member of the UCLA community to use this day to consider what they can do to advance equity, inclusion and genuine belonging for all.

Sincerely,

Gene D. Block
Chancellor

Emily A. Carter
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Announcement from UC President Michael Drake (June 18)

Dear colleagues:

Yesterday President Biden declared a federal holiday for Juneteenth, the day that celebrates and commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This is an historic moment for our nation — 156 years in the making.

Celebrated on the 19th of June, Juneteenth, also known as Jubilee Day, Liberation Day and Freedom Day, marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Texas learned they were free. This news was delivered two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became law.

I intend to immediately add this to the University of California’s calendar of holidays. This year we will observe this holiday on Monday, June 28th. Starting in 2022, we will celebrate the Juneteenth holiday according to the federal calendar.

As we approach June 19th, I invite you to join me in reflecting on our nation’s history, the horrors of centuries of bondage, and the difficult road from liberation to equality. Let us resolve to build a future representing and lifted up by our ideals, our values, and our best selves.

Fiat Lux,

Michael V. Drake, M.D.

President

 

 

Union Drive Among UC Graduate Researchers

 From CalMatters, 6-21-21: In one of the largest public employee organizing drives California has seen in over a decade, some 17,000 graduate student researchers at the University of California may soon become union members. Student Researchers United, a committee of graduate student researchers, filed a petition for union certification with the California Public Employment Relations Board May 24. Organizers say they are seeking better wages and healthcare benefits, written protections against harassment and discrimination and a formal grievance procedure. They’re also calling for more legal and political support for international student workers, and an end to irregular or late pay...

Currently, graduate student researchers work part-time under either a faculty member or principal investigator, studying everything from the genetics of aging to Mars’ atmosphere. They earn between $1,780 and $3,488 monthly, according to data from the UC Office of the President, along with a stipend to pay for UC-provided healthcare. The campaign submitted more than 10,000 signed authorization cards representing about 60% of graduate student researchers from all 10 campuses and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Erika Cervantes, a UC spokesperson, said the university was agnostic about the unionization effort. 

“UC values its graduate student researchers and their many contributions to the University,” she said. “UC neither discourages nor encourages unionization. UC supports employees’ right to choose for themselves and to make an informed decision.”

That’s a change from just a few years ago, when the system opposed an effort to define graduate student researchers as employees. Graduate student researchers only received the right to unionize in 2017, when the California Legislature passed a law allowing them to be considered employees, as teaching assistants and tutors already were...

Full story at https://calmatters.org/education/higher-education/college-beat-higher-education/2021/06/graduate-student-researchers-university-of-california-union/.

Unusual Off-Cycle Regents Meeting - Part 3

We have been posting about the unusual off-cycle meeting of the Regents coming up later this week which seems primarily aimed at dealing with the controversy over the relationship with Dignity Health. Dignity is a Catholic hospital chain which, for religious reasons, will not perform certain procedures such as abortion. 

It appears, based on the recommendations from President Drake, that the motion before the Regents will be to approve continuing the relationship (and others like it) with various safeguards. Below are some excerpts from the document sent to the Regents:

...President Drake’s recommendation also reflects his optimism that carefully regulated engagement with covered organizations will improve health care access and avoid recurrence of the administrative deficiencies that resulted in the problematic contractual arrangements discussed in the attached Appendix, and his acknowledgement of the fact that a ban on such affiliations would not enhance access to restricted services for a single Californian... [p. 2]

...The University recognizes that such restrictions limit services for women, LBGTQ+ people, and those facing death, and therefore are not aligned with UC values. However, affiliations with organizations that have adopted such policies (collectively “covered organizations” ...) also provide thousands of patients with access to UCH providers they would not otherwise encounter, thus expanding clinical access, and make available opportunities for critical educational rotations that the University is unable to offer on its own... [p. 3]

...There is near universal agreement among consulted stakeholders that covered organizations must not be granted responsibility or authority to operate or manage University facilities on behalf of the University. While the University may purchase services from such organizations, such purchased services must be subject exclusively to University policies... [p. 4]

...Many stakeholders opposed to affiliations with covered organizations (or at least those organizations subject to religious directives) suggest that University personnel and trainees – as well as affiliate personnel working with them at affiliate sites – must be affirmatively exempted from any restrictions on care that are based in religion. Because such organizations are not permitted by their sponsors to accept such conditions, that position would amount to an actual ban on those affiliations and would not serve to effectively advance the University’s values... [p. 5]

Full document at https://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/regmeet/june21/b1.pdf.

It would be unusual for the Regents to reject the recommendation of the UC president (the president they recently hired). There could be amendments to the recommendation, however. Public comments are likely to be extensive. And there could be dissenting votes.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Somewhat In-Person/Somewhat Not 2021 Graduation


You can see a video summary of the recent UCLA graduations at the link below:


Or direct to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T-ZvlPHFmQ

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Up to the line on admissions?

Although the original article on which the item below is based probably over-sensationalized the story, it seems unlikely that whatever was going on crossed some line. However, what happened seems to have tiptoed close to the danger line, closer than desirable given recent genuine admissions scandals and concerns about such matters by the Regents and others:

An Extra Edge for Wealthy Chinese? Two University of California campuses accused of going too far to recruit Chinese applicants.

By Scott Jaschik, June 17, 2021, Inside Higher Ed

Two University of California campuses - Irvine and Riverside - have for several years provided extra help to students who enroll at an elite high school in China, according to an article in Insider.* The two campuses offered "specially tailored summer programs, a written pledge to work with students so they'd be competitive applicants for admission, special permission to apply [to the university] even after the university deadline had passed, and - at least according to one local school official in California who worked closely with the Chinese school - guaranteed admission to UC Riverside for all graduates," the article says.

The high school, called the Pegasus California School, "guaranteed parents, in writing, that every graduate would gain admission to one of the top 100 U.S. universities," the article says. The universities' representatives told Inside Higher Ed there may be a problem with how their arrangement is described to potential and actual students of the high school, but they insisted that they have never promised admission to students across the board at Pegasus California School, or at any other high school. According to the article, Daniel Aldrich, a retired staffer who previously worked in the office of the University of California president, worked simultaneously for both UC Irvine and Pegasus.

"Records show that Aldrich contacted UC campuses on behalf of Pegasus, and he also supplied UC Irvine officials with a list of Pegasus students interested in attending the university, so those staffers could monitor the students' progress through the admissions cycle," the article says. Aldrich told Insider that Pegasus's arrangement with UC campuses "produced quality students, and we look for quality students in the University of California."

The article also includes copies of emails from Pegasus officials to their college counselors, saying, "These kids need to go to their top universities. We need to… get some of these kids at least accepted in Ivy League schools. Accepted, not necessarily that they go there. We imagine our next 16-28 will go to UCI (or comparable)." Other education officials in the United States also believed that Pegasus students were guaranteed admission to the University of California campuses, the article states.

According to minutes of the board meeting of the Val Verde Unified School District, in California, Superintendent Michael McCormick described the relationship this way: "Essentially what this means is that UCR and Pegasus will have an agreement to exchange professors and students. What UCR has agreed is that every student that graduates from Pegasus will have admission to UCR." Tom Vasich, a spokesman for Irvine, told Inside Higher Ed, "Obviously, some people involved with Pegasus embellished their association with UCI."

"Any arrangements or interactions UCI has had with the Pegasus California School are no different than those available to other high schools," he added. "We never have had any special arrangements with them, and we never guaranteed admission to any its students who applied (nor would we ever)." Vasich said UC Irvine does have a “summer program tailored for Pegasus students.” He added, "That’s true. But the Insider reporter did not include that this was part of a continuing education effort to provide custom programs to international schools as part of its international programs effort. Pegasus is among the institutions that have paid for this custom programming." ...

Full story at https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2021/06/17/two-u-california-campuses-accused-going-too-far-recruit-chinese

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*https://www.insider.com/university-of-california-gave-special-perks-students-chinese-high-school-2021-6

Friday, June 18, 2021

If you want an "official" California digital vaccination card...

You can get one (assuming you were vaccinated in California) by going to:

http://myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov/

and following the instructions. Yours truly can verify that it works if you were vaccinated at one of the LA County sites or at UCLA. You will be asked name and date of birth and to create a four-digit ID number.

It's easy to do. But, on the other hand, the end product isn't much more than you would get by taking a photo of your vaccination card and then keeping it on your smartphone.

No Room at the Mills

From EdSource: Mills College in Oakland, which had previously planned to close by 2023 because of financial woes and falling enrollment, has announced a merger with Northeastern University in Boston that would keep the campus open... Soon after the March announcement about Mills closing, UC Berkeley said it would rent dorms and classroom space at Mills next fall. UC Berkeley, just nine miles away and crunched for space, announced plans for  200 freshman to live on Mills’ Oakland campus and take many of their introductory classes there.

That plan for UC to expand into Mills now appears to be dead. “While we have worked collaboratively over many decades with UC Berkeley, we have been unable to establish a public/private partnership that would further expand our association at this time,” a statement on the Mills College website said...

Full story at https://edsource.org/2021/mills-college-will-merge-with-northeastern-university-rather-than-close/656656.

Unusual Off-Cycle Regents Meeting - Part 2 (Columnist's Maybe Prediction)

As we previously noted, there will be an unusual off-cycle session of the Regents this coming week and a key issue is the relation between UC Health and the Catholic hospital chain Dignity Health.* Based on religious considerations, Dignity Health won't perform certain procedures such as abortion.

LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik is predicting that the Regents will endorse continuation of the relationship:

For more than two years, the University of California has grappled with how to manage proposed partnerships between UC medical systems and hospitals that impose restrictions on healthcare on religious grounds. That process is about to come to an end. On Wednesday, the UC Board of Regents will vote on a policy governing those arrangements. If the vote goes as expected, it will be a clear win for religious restrictions, especially those imposed by the Catholic Church at hospitals under its control...

It isn’t entirely clear that the 24-member Board of Regents will accept Drake’s recommendation, but it may be a safe bet. Few regents have taken an explicit stand for or against affiliations with restrictive institutions. Most don’t seem to have devoted much attention to the issue at all, even though it has been percolating since early 2019. One who has expressed a strong view in opposition to affiliations that subject UC staff members to religious limitations on care is board Chair John A. Pérez..

Full column at https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-06-18/uc-regents-catholic-healthcare-restrictions

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*https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2021/06/unusual-off-cycle-regents-meeting.html.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Pause (Reversal?) That Isn't Refreshing

A week ago, it looked as if California's labor market - as measured by new weekly claims for unemployment insurance - had finally broken out of its plateau and started down again. But last week's drop may have been a blip; the number reversed and popped back up again in the most recent data for the week ending June 12. We will see...

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

More on Accellion Data Breach

 From CBS SF/AP, 6-16-21: Ukrainian police say they have uncovered a ring of computer hackers responsible for cyberattacks that included targeting personal data and financial records at the Stanford University Medical School and the University of California. Six members of the gang, known as Cl0p, were arrested and a number of computers, cars and about $185,000 in cash was seized. The hackers also allegedly attacked four South Korean companies in 2019 with an encryption virus that blocked internal servers and employees’ computers. Police video posted on Youtube shows Ukrainian police officers conducting many of the 21 raids, arresting individuals, seizing luxury cars and counting stacks of $50 and $100 U.S. dollar bills.

The alleged Stanford breech was part of a larger national cyberattack on universities and organizations revealed in April 2021 that used a 20-year-old file transfer appliance to gain access to the medical school’s database, the university said in a statement... It has not been revealed if either Stanford or UC officials paid a ransom to the group.

Full story at https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2021/06/16/ukrainian-police-bust-hackers-uc-stanford-medical-school-computer-breech/.

Crowd Sourcing

From the Bruin: After a full year of sports without regular fan attendance, Bruin fans will be back to cheering on their teams. UCLA Athletics announced Tuesday afternoon that certain outdoor athletic events will be open to full seating capacity for the 2021-22 season, in accordance with California’s updated COVID-19 protocols.

Football games played at the Rose Bowl are among those events, as well as women’s soccer games at Wallis Annenberg Stadium and men’s water polo games at Spieker Aquatics Center.

“We are excited to welcome back students, alumni and fans to the Rose Bowl and our other outside sporting events,” said UCLA Athletics Director Martin Jarmond. “Getting the COVID-19 vaccination is strongly encouraged to provide the safest environment for everyone. We will continue to follow local and state health and safety protocols in order to maintain a safe environment for our fans.”

The announcement comes several months after a limited number of fans were permitted to attend certain sporting events in the spring, including UCLA baseball games at Jackie Robinson Stadium and UCLA softball games at Easton Stadium...

Full story at https://dailybruin.com/2021/06/15/ucla-to-resume-full-capacity-fan-attendance-for-select-outdoor-athletic-events.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Summer Campus Vaccine Requirements

From an email circulated today:

Dear Bruin Community:

It has been reassuring to see the increasing number of fully vaccinated Bruins and the reduction of new and suspected cases of COVID-19 in our local community — a reflection of broader trends throughout our state and nation.

In light of these trends, the state of California made the move to fully reopen as of today. This morning’s revised L.A. County Department of Public Health Health Officer Order lifts many restrictions, however, several safety protocols on the UCLA campus remain in place for the time being. We are reviewing the changing state guidance on health and safety protocols, and are working with county, state and federal health and workplace safety officials to revise our policies accordingly. As a result, we wanted to share some important updates in various areas:

Face Masks

UCLA employees are still required under Cal/OSHA regulations to wear masks indoors at all times in campus buildings, and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be achieved. This guidance will be changing as of June 17 and details are shared later in this message.

Testing

UCLA is taking steps to modify the COVID-19 testing protocols for fully vaccinated people in alignment with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and LACDPH. Effective immediately, fully vaccinated members of the UCLA community who are living, learning or working on campus are able to opt out of previously required surveillance testing. Fully vaccinated individuals are defined as those who have received their second or final dose of an FDA/WHO EUL-approved (PDF) COVID-19 vaccine 14 or more days ago.

Fully vaccinated individuals are asked to bring proof of vaccination and their BruinCard IDs to a testing site to be removed from the list of those who are required to test.* Your vaccination record will not be stored and personal health information will not be recorded. Please note that once removed from the list, you may continue to voluntarily test, if you choose, even though it will no longer be required. Simply stop by one of the testing sites. If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please contact your medical provider prior to coming to a testing site.

Students, faculty and staff who are unvaccinated or who have not provided proof of vaccination and continue to work, learn or live on UCLA property are still required to participate in weekly testing.

Another notable milestone is the suspension of Bruin Bus mobile testing. The last day of the bus was June 11. Beginning Monday, June 21, we will be converting to a new self-administered saliva-based test. This is a test offered by Swab-Seq, a research lab based at UCLA. Testing sites at Collins Court and Switzer Plaza will be open until July 9 to provide assistance to those who need help using these new kits. On July 12, these test kits will be available to active Bruin Card holders via no-charge vending machines at roughly a dozen locations on campus. Please visit the Ashe Center website for locations and further details. An in-person testing option will be available at 300 Bradley Hall beginning July 12 for those needing assistance or accommodation for testing. Additional locations are being identified and will be available on the Ashe website.

Daily Symptom Monitoring

Daily symptom monitoring is still required by Cal/OSHA for faculty, staff and student workers who are coming to campus and other UCLA properties, regardless of vaccination status. This includes UCLA Health employees.

Workplace Protocol Changes Ahead

On June 17, we expect Governor Newsom to issue an Executive Order to make the following Cal/OSHA ETS revisions effective immediately. This new set of proposed changes supersedes prior revisions, and reduces several important prior restrictions.

Notable protocol changes that likely will go into effect at workplaces on June 17:

Face Masks: Fully vaccinated employees will not have to wear face coverings indoors, even if unvaccinated coworkers are among them. Unvaccinated employees do not have to wear face coverings outdoors. Employers must provide and enforce face coverings for employees not fully vaccinated indoors or in vehicles. Employers will be required to provide face coverings to all employees upon request, regardless of vaccination status.

Physical Distancing: Physical distancing will be removed in its entirety, with narrow exceptions for non-fully vaccinated employees and outbreak situations at the worksite.

Vaccination: The definition of “fully vaccinated” will include persons who received a WHO-approved vaccine outside of the U.S.

Voluntary Use Respirators: If a non-fully vaccinated employee requests a respirator for voluntary use, the employer needs to ensure that the employee is provided with a respirator of the correct size.

Solid Partitions/Barriers: Will not be required except in the event of a major COVID-19 outbreak, and employees in the exposed group cannot be physically distanced.

We are all starting to get back to the people, places and activities that are important to us, and your continued efforts to support public health and help UCLA prepare for a phased return to campus are deeply appreciated.

It has been a challenging 15 months for all of us, and we thank you for your cooperation with testing, symptom monitoring, mask wearing and other mitigations put in place, and for getting vaccinated. Our community’s decline in cases is a direct result of the efforts by Bruins to make UCLA a safer place to work, learn and live.

Sincerely,

Michael J. Beck

Administrative Vice Chancellor

Co-chair, COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force

Michael Meranze

Immediate Past Chair, UCLA Academic Senate

Professor of History

Co-chair, COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force

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*Testing site information is available at:

http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2021/06/vaccinated-employees-can-avoid-testing.html.

Whatever happened to...

...Janet Napolitano? There was a lot of speculation when she stepped down as UC prez about some appointment in the Biden administration or maybe some run for elective office. So far, nothing like that has happened.

However, there is this:

From NBC 4: Janet Napolitano, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, governor of Arizona and president of the UC system, was elected to the RAND Corp. Board of Trustees, the Santa Monica-based think tank announced Monday...

"As a former governor — the first to join RAND's Board of Trustees — Janet will bring enormous expertise on issues where the states play a central role and where federal-state relations are key," Rich said.

Full story at https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/former-uc-president-janet-napolitano-named-to-rand-board/2616937/.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Harvard Admissions: Supreme Court Ponders What to Ponder

From the Huffington Post:

Justices Defer Harvard Case On Race In College Admissions

The Supreme Court asked the Justice Department to weigh in on an appeal claiming that Harvard discriminates against Asian American applicants.

MARK SHERMAN   6-14-21

WASHINGTON (AP) — With abortion and guns already on the agenda, the conservative-dominated Supreme Court is considering adding a third blockbuster issue — whether to ban consideration of race in college admissions. The justices on Monday put off a decision about whether they will hear an appeal claiming that Harvard discriminates against Asian American applicants, in a case that could have nationwide repercussions. The court asked the Justice Department to weigh in on the case, a process that typically takes several months.

“It would be a big deal because of the nature of college admissions across the country and because of the stakes of having this issue before the Supreme Court,” said Gregory Garre, who twice defended the University of Texas’ admissions program before the justices.

The presence of three appointees of former President Donald Trump could prompt the court to take up the case, even though it’s only been five years since its last decision in a case about affirmative action in higher education. 
In that Texas case, the court reaffirmed in a 4-3 decision that colleges and universities may consider race in admissions decisions. But they must do so in a narrowly tailored way to promote diversity, the court said in a decision that rejected the discrimination claims of a white applicant. Schools also bear the burden of showing why their consideration of race is appropriate.

Two members of that four-justice majority are gone from the court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September. Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018. The three dissenters in the case, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, remain on the court. Roberts, a moderating influence on some issues, has been a steadfast vote to limit the use of race in public programs, once writing, “It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race.”

The court’s willingness to jump into major cases over abortion and gun rights also appear to turn on the new, more conservative composition of the court because similar appeals had been turned away in the past. Like the abortion case, the Harvard case lacks a split among appellate courts that often piques the high court’s interest in a case. 
The Supreme Court has weighed in on college admissions several times over more than 40 years. The current dispute harks back to its first big affirmative action case in 1978, when Justice Lewis Powell set out the rationale for taking account of race even as the court barred the use of racial quotas in admissions.

In the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Powell approvingly cited Harvard as “an illuminating example” of a college that takes “race into account in achieving the educational diversity valued by the First Amendment.” Twenty-five years later, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor likewise invoked the Harvard plan in her opinion upholding the University of Michigan’s law school admissions program. Now it’s Harvard program in the crosshairs of opponents of race-based affirmative action.

The challenge to Harvard is led by Edward Blum and his Students for Fair Admissions. Blum has worked for years to rid college admissions of racial considerations. The group claims that Harvard imposes a “racial penalty” on Asian American applicants by systematically scoring them lower in some categories than other applicants and awarding “massive preferences” to Black and Hispanic applicants. Harvard flatly denies that it discriminates against Asian American applicants and says its consideration of race is limited, pointing out that lower courts agreed with the university.

In November, the federal appeals court in Boston ruled that Harvard looked at race in a limited way in line with Supreme Court precedents. The class that just finished its freshman year is roughly one-quarter Asian American, 15% Black and 13% Hispanic, Harvard says on its website. “If Harvard were to abandon race-conscious admissions, African-American and Hispanic representation would decline by nearly half,” the school told the court in urging it to stay out of the case.

The Trump administration backed Blum’s case against Harvard and also filed its own lawsuit alleging discrimination against Asian Americans and whites at Yale. The Biden administration already has dropped the Yale suit and almost certainly will take Harvard’s side at the Supreme Court if the case goes forward. The lead attorney on the appeal is William Consovoy, who also represented Trump in his unsuccessful bid to shield his tax returns from the Manhattan district attorney.

When the court upheld the Michigan’s law school program in Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, O’Connor took note of the quarter-century that had passed since the Bakke decision. “We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today,” O’Connor wrote. O’Connor’s timeline set 2028 as a potential endpoint for racial preferences. A more conservative court than the one on which she served could advance that expiration date by several years.

Mandate Confirmation

In an earlier post on this blog, we noted that UCOP appeared to have changed its vaccine mandate policy. Previous announcements had indicated that vaccination would be required only upon FDA approval (which might or might not happen before fall semester or fall quarter (depending on campus and program). But the most recent announcement from UCOP made no mention of the FDA proviso. No explanation was provided, nor was it clear whether or not the policy had changed.*

Now, however, we have confirmation that the policy has been changed and the mandate will go ahead regardless of FDA's timing. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

In an about-face, the University of California will require all students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated against the coronavirus this fall, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the vaccines only for emergency use. UC President Michael Drake “does plan to move forward with the vaccine mandate,” Regent Eloy Oritz Oakley told The Chronicle on Monday.

The decision reverses a proposed policy UC announced in April of requiring vaccinations only after the FDA fully approved at least one of the three vaccines now being administered to American under emergency authorization. It’s not clear when the FDA will give full approval...

Oakley said the regents have not been briefed on the new decision but that more information is expected at their two-day meeting that starts July 21...**

UC has already said it would exempt students from the vaccination requirement if they have medical or religious reasons...

Full story at https://www.sfchronicle.com/health/article/UC-reverses-course-will-require-all-students-and-16247884.php

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*https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2021/06/mandate.html.

**Note: It's unclear why the matter wouldn't be discussed at the upcoming June 23rd meeting. See:

https://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2021/06/unusual-off-cycle-regents-meeting.html.

Money: At the Deadline


The legislature has passed a budget for 2021-22 by the June 15th (today) deadline. So, members of the legislature will be paid for enacting an on-time budget. Under court interpretation, it is the legislature that decides what a budget is - and whatever they decide doesn't necessarily have to be something that the governor agrees to. He could veto the budget. He could sign it and then exercise some line-item vetoes (but not add anything). In fact, the governor and the legislative leaders will continue to negotiate and likely come up with something - a modification of what passed - by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. 

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has provided its analysis of what the legislature passed, which differs somewhat from what the legislature originally presented.* Some of the difference may be due to last minute changes by the legislature. Some may be due to different estimates of revenues, etc. A summary is provided below. Essentially, the LAO estimates that the legislature's budget has a slightly larger overall deficit compared to what the legislature estimated.**


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**The LAO doesn't count the Public School Reserve.

Money: It's Rolling In!


The latest report from the state controller for the current fiscal year through May shows the results below for the general fund ($ billions). Receipts include tax and other revenue and transfers including funds from the federal government. We are ahead of the projections made last January, way ahead of the projections made last June when the current year's budget was enacted, and way ahead of where we were a year ago at this time.

Total Receipts Through May

  • Actual in May                 $197.1
  • Projected for May in January  $194.5
  • Projected for May last June   $142.1
  • Received in 2019-20           $126.0


The state has a lot of money available "in the bank" - more than expected and more than it had a year ago at this time - that it can use if needed. These funds include the various reserves associated with the general fund plus monies outside the general fund that can be borrowed.

Unused Borrowable Resources in May

  • Actual                         $51.1
  • Projected in January           $45.1
  • Projected last June            $31.8
  • Level in 2019-20               $44.0