Monday, January 31, 2022
Sunday, January 30, 2022
As we have noted in prior posts, California's weekly new unemployment benefit claims data are stuck around 60,000 per week when something like 40,000 would be normal - at least based on past history. So, it seems as if there is a lot of extra churn in the state's labor market, with people going in and out of employment and filing claims when they go out. (It might be noted that the claims data above refer to "regular" payroll employees and not the "gig" accounts that accounted for much of the fraud in the state's system.) The extra churning may account for the fact that the state's unemployment rate has been consistently higher than the U.S. average during the recovery period.
In any event, as always, the latest data are at https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf.
The shortfall also revealed several unique challenges that have saddled UCLA with a three-year deficit of $102.8 million, a staggering figure for a department that had not previously operated in the red since posting a negligible deficit in 2004. The Bruins receive just a pittance from campus sources compared with other athletic departments; they do not pocket stadium sponsorship sales and recoup just a small percentage of sales from parking, concessions, merchandise and premium seating sales at the Rose Bowl; they pay a usage fee for games at Pauley Pavilion while receiving only a sliver of concession and merchandise sales; they receive no parking revenue at any venue while footing the bill for staffing; and they refused to enact furloughs or staffing cuts during the pandemic, a rarity at a time when other departments liberally slashed salaries and jobs...
Ultimately, the biggest savior could be the university itself. As in recent years, UCLA is covering its athletic department’s debt with a loan that must be repaid in full...
Saturday, January 29, 2022
Friday, January 28, 2022
The LAO does point out that the "compact" with the governor for multiyear gradual tuition increases at UC has to be taken with a grain of salt since past compacts with past governors haven't lasted.
Generally, LAO - as an arm of the legislature - always calls for more legislative involvement and oversight as opposed to gubernatorial involvement. The latest report is no exception.
Thursday, January 27, 2022
From the Bruin: At least one Bruin gymnast has publicly called for coach Chris Waller to be fired. UCLA gymnastics seniors Margzetta Frazier and Sekai Wright went on comedian and actress Amanda Seales’ podcast, “Small Doses with Amanda Seales,” on Wednesday to discuss the current state of the team. Frazier called for Waller to be fired, adding that she hasn’t spoken to her coach in weeks. “I want the head coach gone,” Frazier said on the podcast. “I want a statement put out about us, protecting the girls.”
The podcast appearance comes one day after UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond reportedly met with the team Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Jarmond released a statement on the situation later that day that said the administration has had experts on equity, diversity and inclusion and more meet with the team over the past 3 1/2 months...
The podcast referenced above is at: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/side-effects-of-fighting-for-whats-right-at-ucla/id1333316223?i=1000549075432.
Most institutions stopped junior faculty members’ tenure clocks for a semester or two when COVID-19 first hit the U.S., to account for research delays and increased caregiving demands at home. Far fewer institutions have adopted additional policies aimed at alleviating the continued burden on faculty members since then. That’s despite the personal and professional disruptions posed by new virus variants, the fact that professors with children under 5 still can’t get them vaccinated, ongoing uncertainty about international research travel and more.
Stanford University is among the few institutions to have offered formal support for professors beyond the initial tenure-clock stoppage: last winter, it made pretenure faculty members automatically eligible for a “post-pandemic” quarter devoted to research only (no teaching or service).
One year later, Stanford is offering junior faculty members an additional pretenure research leave quarter or an additional year on the tenure clock (for a total of two extra years). These professors are also eligible for financial help for childcare or other personal expenses, in the form of a taxable salary grant of up to $30,000, and small research grants of up to $10,000 or large research grants of up to $100,000...
Kevin Truong, Jan. 24, 2022 | San Francisco Standard
Four doctors, including the director of Covid response for UCSF Medical Center’s emergency department, are calling on state leaders to acknowledge the transition of Covid to an endemic disease and lift most masking policies for school-aged children.
The petition was first circulated Friday and currently has more than 9,500 signatures. It includes a strongly-worded open letter to Gov. Newsom and state public health and education leaders, and it notes that “restrictive policies … have long lost their justification as necessary for prevention of serious illness and death.”
The letter focuses on the negative effect the state’s policies have on children and teens, particularly the mental health and developmental impacts caused by social isolation and masking.
Covid-related hospitalizations in San Francisco have reached their highest point, although the 7-day average of new cases dropped from their peak earlier this month.
Dr. Jeanne Noble, an associate professor of emergency medicine at UCSF and director of Covid response for the UCSF Parnassus Emergency Department, told The Standard we are at an inflection point where public health officials should weigh how to respond once the current wave passes.
“We felt it was necessary to really put this forth as we saw the Omicron cases peak and now enter their descent,” said Noble, adding that hospitalizations have started to drop at UCSF. “Throughout this pandemic we’ve looked at our children primarily through the lens of disease control or as vectors of disease. Now, we would like to get kids first in line to enjoy the benefit of peeling back Covid restrictions.”
Other signatories of the letter include UCSF epidemiologist Dr. Vinay Prasad, UCSF surgeon and bioengineer Dr. Jarrett Moyer and Dr. Jennifer Nguyen, a pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.
Noble drew a clear distinction between patients hospitalized “for” Covid versus those admitted “with” Covid. According to UCSF data, 31% of UCSF’s admitted adult Covid patients were there for unrelated medical issues. The proportion among pediatric patients was 40%
Among the specific policies the petition calls for are immediately allowing school children to unmask while outdoors, making masking optional indoors at schools by Feb. 24 (12 weeks after the last public school child becomes eligible for vaccination) and immediately allowing preschool and daycare teachers and students to unmask.
The letter also calls for an end to “mindless” testing of asymptomatic individuals, which some health care professionals say leads to staffing shortages due to isolation requirements.
With Covid widespread and endemic in the population, Noble said, society should be taking similar precautions to other common respiratory diseases like the flu.
“We don’t do massive testing for the flu and try to pick up every left asymptomatic, or mildly symptomatic case and send that person home,” Noble said. “The argument for chasing down asymptomatic cases and blocking transmission is really to prevent serious illness and death. We really don’t care about preventing runny noses and sore throats. Covid is a mild, non-threatening disease for the majority of people.”
Moving forward, the petition calls for state leaders to take a “cost-benefit approach for future Covid restrictions, without disproportionately prioritizing prevention of COVID-19 transmission above all other health considerations.”
Future Covid protection policies, like regular boosters, should be targeted for those who are most vulnerable of dying or suffering serious illness from the virus.
The petition was organized by Laura Chinnavaso, a registered nurse with Alameda County who fills in at nursing homes and hospitals facing staffing shortages. Chinnavaso said she was inspired to start the petition advocating for looser restrictions because of the impact she’s seen on her four school-age children.
“Everything I’ve done on this has been through the lens of a parent who watched this affect my children, like my 3-year-old who doesn’t remember a world before the virus or before masking,” Chinnavaso said.
Chinnavaso and Noble said they both understand the tendency to be cautious about the virus and recommend individuals speak to their own doctor to figure out what is best for them.
“What we need is just the lifting of mandates. We don’t need to force people to take off their masks or socialize or do anything that they feel is out of their comfort zone,” Noble said. “But I think to begin the transition towards normality, we have to stop prohibiting normal social interactions. And then the rest will follow suit.”
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Exactly where this event occurred or why there was a recording playing - if that is what happened - is unclear. However, the individual in question - who is not identified in the LA Times' story but can be found online and in the Bruin version of the story - didn't apologize when asked, denied doing anything wrong - and subsequently left UCLA and the team and went to Louisiana State University (LSU) and its team. LSU says it investigated what happened at UCLA and found no problems that would bar the transfer.
However, teammates at UCLA are reported to be unhappy with the response of the athletics department and apparently wanted some penalty imposed on the accused individual. That part, too, is unclear, since it is not obvious what penalty could be imposed by UCLA on someone who has departed to another university. The exact timing of the incident vs. the departure is another unclear element.
The LA Times' story is at:
The Bruin version of the story identifies that gymnast at the center of this controversy as do various online sources but other wise leaves the details of what happened uncertain:
LSU says that on the one hand, the stories circulating on the web about what happened at UCLA are untrue but also that it is creating "opportunities for someone who may have made a mistake." See:
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Bank robber Willie Sutton had the answer. If you want a lot of research funding from the federal government and other sources, having a med school is a good way to get it. Below are the latest figures:https://ncses.nsf.gov/pubs/nsf22312.
Monday, January 24, 2022
However, it appears that both the Harvard case and the U of North Carolina cases have now arrived at the Supreme Court. From the LA Times:
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a major challenge to race-based affirmative action in the nation’s colleges and universities, setting the stage for another long-sought win for conservatives. The justices voted to hear a pair of appeals contending that Harvard University, the nation’s oldest private university, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the oldest public university, are violating civil rights laws by giving preferences to some minority students seeking admission while discriminating against others, including Asian Americans.
They ask the court to rule that universities, whether public or private, may "not use race as a factor in admissions.” And they rely on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says no person “shall be subjected to discrimination ... on the ground of race, color or national origin” in a school or university that receives federal funds. Since 1978, however, the Supreme Court has held that colleges, universities and law schools may consider a student’s race or ethnicity as a “plus factor” in order to create more diversity in their classes. In recent decades, the court took up anti-affirmative action challenges to the admissions policies at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Texas, but upheld them narrowly over sharp dissents from the conservatives.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was among the dissenters, and he now has five more conservative justices on his right. And they are in position to overturn the past rulings that upheld affirmative action...
The Cal State policy came after years of activism from Dalit students and allies to bring an end to caste discrimination they encountered on campuses across California.
“I commend the incredible work and dedication of the students, employees and other partners whose efforts ensure that our policies align with our bold aspirations,” said Cal State Chancellor Joseph I. Castro.
Caste-oppressed people call themselves Dalit, which means “broken people.” Formerly known as untouchables, Dalits fell at the bottom of a centuries-old — and now outlawed — social hierarchy that governed the lives of over a quarter-billion people worldwide, including many in the U.S.
Caste was handed down at birth and determined a person’s social status based on so-called spiritual purity reflected by a feudal ranking of professions. Although caste discrimination is officially banned in India and other South Asian countries, the practice is rampant in the region and among communities in the diaspora...
The new policy, however, has created a controversy. The Hindu American Foundation notes a petition opposing the new rule by Hindu CSU faculty complaining that the new policy singles them out as a particular religious group and essentially applies only to certain nationalities. See:
Background: The anti-discrimination clause was negotiated between CSU and a union representing CSU faculty. The petition noted above asks the CSU Board of Trustees not to implement the agreement. It suggests, although it does not explicitly threaten, legal action on the grounds that singling out a specific religious/ethnic group is illegal.
According to another article on the subject, UC-Davis has a similar policy. See:
Sunday, January 23, 2022
October 28, 1933 - December 30, 2021
Anna Newman Taylor was born in Vienna in 1933. She came to America as a child in early 1939 with her parents as the curtain of Naziism was dropping over Europe.
Raised in Cleveland, she received a doctorate in neurobiology from Case Western Reserve in 1961; during those years marrying Kenneth Taylor, who had come from England to do graduate work in physics She did postdoctoral work in Paris, had faculty appointments first at Baylor University in Houston and finally UCLA in the mid-1960s where she remained on faculty to her death. Her laboratory was active for over 50 years in research in areas such as fetal alcohol syndrome and brain trauma neurophysiology, only closing with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was a mentor for many researchers in neurobiology across the world and organized several brain research conferences that have continued for many years. An interview of her at the 2016 American Physiological Society meetings can be found at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ly08GaLhtik (and below).
She was very involved in the Jewish National Fund, and a range of progressive Jewish advocacy groups. She was an alpine skier and swimmer into her eighties. She attended opera and, with her husband, collected fine art. She died in Santa Monica, near her home overlooking the beach, on Dec 30, 2021.
Source: https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/latimes/name/anna-taylor-obituary?id=32371149. Note: The video link reported in the obituary has a typo rendering it unusable. The correct link is as above or below:
The Regents met last Thursday, January 20, for the final day of their 3-day meetings. At public comments, speakers presented on fossil fuel usage, nurse staffing, the proposed UC-Davis hospital tower, climate change, departmental anti-Israel statements, the Hawaiian telescope, COVID-related leave, staff pay, the Green New Deal and bicycling, and student housing affordability and need for remote options.
At the end of the meeting, there were tributes to Regent Lansing who is leaving the board. There was also considerable procedural discussion surrounding the UC-Davis hospital tower proposal and community benefits.
Excerpt from the Daily Cal: ...UC Health Executive Vice President Carrie Byington said she expects cases of the omicron variant to peak next week. She commended UC Berkeley’s efforts to provide rapid testing for students and noted that high vaccination rates and isolation practices across all campuses have controlled the number of positive cases thus far.
The regents also discussed sustainability efforts during the joint session of the Academic and Student Affairs and the Finance and Capital Strategies committees. UC Office of the President Associate Vice President of Energy and Sustainability David Phillips gave a presentation highlighting the university’s progress on its goals and the environmental impact on social justice. “Just as the global pandemic has shined a spotlight on structural inequities and health care outcomes, it’s become increasingly clear that climate change is a public health and social justice issue,” Phillips said at the meeting.
Some of the university’s goals include long-term plans for emission reductions, climate neutrality, expanded use of clean electricity, sustainable food sourcing, water conservation and more. Among other campuses making their own efforts toward these goals, UC Berkeley has hired five faculty members specifically to further its mission toward environmental justice and climate equity.
From the Daily Nexus: The University of California Board of Regents approved pay raises for all nine UC chancellors with undergraduate student bodies on Jan. 20, with one no vote, one abstention and 16 approvals. UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang, who currently makes $451,362 per year, received a 28.4% raise and will now make $579,750 per year beginning in March of the 2022-23 academic year.
“Nine of the ten UC chancellors have base salaries below the 50th percentile of the market for their positions. Of those nine, six have base salaries that are below the 25th percentile of the comparative market,” a discussion item outlining the proposed increase stated. The proposed increase would raise base salaries for all chancellors with salaries below the 50th percentile of the market for their position — with increases between 6% and 26% — and spend $800,432 in total. “To me, this was an issue of pay equity,” Regent Jonathan Sures said in the Jan. 19 Governance committee. “We have an obligation to pay our people well and we should pay our chancellors well.”
The pay raise was first deliberated in the Governance committee, where committee members voted 6-4 to have the raises occur all at once, rather than in 2-3 increments over a 16-month period as originally listed, and voted 9-1 to approve the raises. “We are lucky enough to have some of the most diverse group of chancellors of any public university system … but we need to pay them fairly. This is the first step in doing that,” Sures continued...
During the Jan. 20 Regents board meeting, Dr. Carrie L. Byington, executive vice president and head of University of California Health, presented information on the omicron variant to the Regents. Currently, all UCs are online until the end of January due to rising cases across the state. “We are in the midst of one of the most significant surges we have seen during the pandemic,” Byington said, noting that over 98.5% of COVID-19 isolates in the United States are now due to the omicron variant.
Byington shared data on COVID-19 vaccination rates amongst the general population and UC students and faculty, noting that in every campus area, vaccination rates were far higher among UC affiliates. “Vaccine mandates work,” she said. “Vaccine hesitancy and vaccine misinformation is one of the most deadly issues we face right now.”
Byington added that aside from global vaccination efforts, increased masking, better testing and data infrastructure, and increased childcare and sick leave would help save lives during the omicron surge. As the winter surge kept growing between December and January, all UCs switched to remote learning for the first two weeks; however, while a majority of UCs decided to continue remote learning through January, UC Santa Barbara decided to allow instructors to determine whether or not classes should be in-person or online. “Students deserve more than a two-week period to rearrange their lives. Slow decision-making and communication harms not only students but their families,” UC Student Association President and UCSB External Vice-President of Statewide Affairs Esmeralda Quintero-Cubillan said in an address to the Regents on Jan. 20 in regards to the transition.
Quintero-Cubillan also informed Regents that at campuses without medical schools — like UCSB, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside and UC Merced — there is a shortage of medical resources to deal with the omicron variant at their campuses. “I routinely see standstill lines stretching along the block at our sole testing center at UCSB, with appointments often being booked weeks in advance,” they continued. “A UC student’s access to testing and vaccines should not depend on the location or prestige of their campus.”
The Regents convened on Jan. 19 during the Academic and Student Affairs Committee to recap changes to financial aid in the UC system at the federal and state levels. On the federal level, changes will be influenced by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Simplification Act passed by Congress in December 2020.
According to the discussion item, the biggest change is the Expected Family Contribution — an index number used in the FAFSA to calculate eligibility for financial aid by measuring parental contribution — will be replaced by the Student Aid Index (SAI). The measures function roughly the same, but the SAI will allow the index number to be below zero, meaning the UC can grant an additional $1,500 in financial aid to students, even if it exceeds the total cost of attendance.
As for changes on a statewide level, Cal Grants will change through the new Community College Entitlement Program, which will allow California Community College (CCC) students to qualify for a Cal Grant while attending a CCC, and bring the Cal Grant with them when transferring to a UC. Additionally, the Middle Class Scholarship program is receiving a proposed budget increase from $117 million to $642 million, with the goal of addressing the total cost of attendance for those who are not receiving tuition coverage at a UC or a California State University (CSU).
The Regents also discussed the current legal challenges impacting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and presented steps forward in the UC’s continual support of undocumented students in higher education. The DACA program, first established in 2012, grants temporary protected status to youths who came to the United States as children without documentation. Since July 2021, the program has been effectively suspended following a federal court injunction that ruled DACA unlawful and prevented the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from processing new applications.
Before the federal injunction, the DHS had begun to process DACA initial applications for the first time from the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center with the help of pro bono counsel. According to María Blanco, executive director of the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center, the UC submitted 230 initial applications, but only 37 were granted. The remaining applications were never processed, according to Blanco. As a result, the use and availability of DACA across UC campuses have been diminishing.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Brown advocated on behalf of undocumented students during the meeting. “We are running out of DACA students, but we still have undocumented students, and they are going to need support … We do have a moral obligation to these students, and they’ve been in limbo for quite a while here now,” Brown said.
In an effort to better support students with disabilities across the UCs, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton and UC Davis Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Pablo Reguerín are co-chairing the first-ever UC system-wide advisory workgroup to create a more inclusive community for students with disabilities. “Workgroup members will review existing policies and practice, and analyze data to gain a deeper understanding of the needs and experience of students with disabilities and make recommendations on policy and programmatic improvements to Provost Brown,” Sutton said.
The workgroup will explore three broad areas: the academic culture, the overall campus climate and the physical infrastructure of each UC campus. “Our work will take into consideration the intersection of identities for students with disabilities and recognize the diversity of students with disabilities and their needs,” Sutton said. “Our work will require close collaboration with key stakeholders, including the academic senate, campus experts from disability student service centers and other units serving students.”
Sutton emphasized that the aim of this advisory workgroup is to work toward providing more “ethical experiences” for all students with disabilities within the UC. “Our goal is to move beyond ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliance and to use that compliance as the floor, not the ceiling,” Sutton said.
The committee also discussed the UC as a Hispanic and minority-serving institution. Five UC campuses —Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz— have been officially designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), and the committee aimed to discuss what the designation should truly entail.
“Determining whether a campus is considered Hispanic- and minority-serving should also encompass efforts to improve retention, accelerate graduation rates, and increase representation in post-baccalaureate pathways for Chicano(a)/Latino(a) and other students from underrepresented groups,” the discussion item read.
The Regents evaluated its successes and shortcomings on Jan. 19 in serving its transfer student population, who are present across UC campuses at a ratio of one transfer per two incoming in-state first-years. The UC heavily relies on its community college to UC transfer pathway. Around 94% of transfer students enrolled at a UC come from a CCC, with roughly a 75% acceptance rate for these students.
Brown noted a steady increase in the number of transfer students who apply to, gain admittance to and enroll at UC institutions over the past five years. In addition, transfer students have a four-year graduation rate of 88% — an indication of their success, according to Brown. “This is a promising trend, especially for UC’s equity goals, because transfer students are more likely to be the first in their family to attend college, come from historically underrepresented groups and receive Pell grants,” Brown said.
During the meeting, UCSC student Colm Fitzgerald urged the board to improve the representation of community college students from rural areas in California. “The UC system all but neglects colleges like San Joaquin Delta College. At a previous meeting of this body, as a member of the audience, I heard a frightening statistic. 40% of transfer students come from nine colleges — nine of 116 [CCC]. I would be shocked if San Joaquin Delta College was on that list,” Fitzgerald said. “This system must do a better job of targeting campuses like that of Delta so that students … who clearly are capable of success are not left behind.”
Regents Art Torres and Cecilia Estolano both responded in support of Fitzgerald’s recommendation. “I was very moved by that presentation because I was a transfer student from East Los Angeles College to UC Santa Cruz in the old, medieval days of 1966. I’m disappointed that not much has changed since then given these new statements,” Torres said. “One of the things that Regent [Janet] Reilly and I are committed to is to reaching out to rural community colleges more so to see how we can recruit young people from those areas because they are underrepresented.”
As always, we preserve the Regents' recordings indefinitely, since the Regents delete them - for no apparent reason - after one year. Links can be found at:
Joint meeting of Academic and Student Affairs and Finance and Capital Strategies: https://archive.org/details/regents-board-1-20-22/Regents-Joint+Meeting_+Academic+and+Student+Affairs+%26+Finance+and+Capital+Strategies+Committees%2C+Board+1-20-22.mp4
Saturday, January 22, 2022
We track new weekly claims for unemployment benefits as an indicator of the state economy and labor market. And that measure has been stuck around the 60,000 mark when 40,000 would be more in line with a return to normality.
The latest data, as always, are at https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf.