Monday, October 31, 2022

Watch the Regents’ Special Committee on Innovation Transfer and Entrepreneurship of Oct. 28, 2022

The Bruin carries a summary of the October 28 meeting of the Regents Special Committee on Innovation Transfer and Entrepreneurship. As always, we have preserved the recording of the Committee.

A University of California Board of Regents special committee gathered at UC Merced on Friday to discuss patent policy revisions and agricultural innovation. The Board of Regents is the University’s governing body and meets as a whole bimonthly. The Regents’ Special Committee on Innovation Transfer and Entrepreneurship – established in May 2021 for a two-year duration – aims to oversee and develop innovation and research within the University.

The meeting began with a public comment from Corbin Farias, president of the Associated Students of UC Merced, who called for the Regents to host a full meeting at the university to allow students the opportunity to comment on important campus and University issues. He also said UC Merced’s unique completion of some of the UC’s goals, such as carbon neutrality and minority-serving institution status, shows the campus’s commitment to the UC’s priorities and progress.


Note from yours truly: Merced's chancellor echoed the call for a full Regents meeting. But when I looked at the student newspaper for UC-Merced, I found no coverage of this event. I also found no coverage in the local commercial newspaper for the town of Merced. In short, there didn't seem to be much interest in the Regents meeting. Apparently, UC-Merced's administration did not emphasize the importance of having the Regents Committee meet on that campus - which is a bit surprising.


Committee discussion began with an update on policy revision for patents – intellectual property that protects inventors from others using or selling their invention for a period of time – from Deborah Motton, executive director of research policy analysis and coordination for the UC Office of the President. She said the revision recommendations ask UCOP to improve patent policies by taking actions such as updating the patent tracking system. Those policies cover inventions created by UC employees, specifying patent acknowledgements and income distribution processes. New key goals include increasing campus autonomy, modernizing policies to align with present-day concerns, and clarifying policy language, Motton said, adding that the current patent policy has not been updated since 1997. The special committee has also established a systemwide review group to oversee these changes.

UC Merced mechanical engineering professor Reza Ehsani also gave a presentation on challenges to agricultural engineering and innovation. Recently, there has been no technology development to address major issues such as water shortage, labor cost, food safety, and animal and pest diseases, Ehsani said. The mechanization of crop harvesting would allow for increased efficiency and consistency in agricultural production, he said, adding the UC can spearhead this research and innovation since the University has already led major developments in the field.

Additionally, the committee heard from Chris Medina and Daniel Emilio Sabzehzar, co-founders of Tesserakt Ventures – a venture capital firm that invests in startups and UC technologies – on how the University can work on ecosystem innovation in the Central Valley. Medina and Sabzehzar, UC Merced alumni, suggested the UC Merced Board of Trustees partner with the Special Committee on Innovation and Transfer and Entrepreneurship both to benefit more rural and agricultural campuses such as UC Merced and build on the current goals of the special committee.

The UC should fund programs specifically for startups and innovation acceleration at UC Merced, Medina and Sabzehzar also said. This funding would allow researchers to begin projects they currently do not have the resources to complete...

Full story at

To see the Regents meeting, go to the link below:


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The Caterpillar

Our Halloween selection as a scary story is Laurence Harvey in "The Caterpillar":

The Harvard and U of NC cases

The Supreme Court today takes up the affirmative action cases involving Harvard and the University of North Carolina. In preparation, we have been putting episodes of the Gatecrashers podcast - edited to omit extraneous announcements - on this blog. The podcast is a series of explorations - school by school - of quasi-quotas on Jewish students starting in the 1920s in the Ivy League. The series notes that starting with Columbia, the system of admissions in the Ivy League developed concepts of geographic diversity and other devices such as the SAT which were originally designed to limit Jewish admissions. These devices are still in use today, albeit - some would argue - for other purposes.

From Gatecrashers: In the 1990s, Harvard’s student body was said to be nearly a quarter Jewish. According to the Harvard Crimson’s 2020 survey of the freshman class, 6.7 percent of respondents identified as Jewish. On the final episode of this series, we explore the declining numbers of Jewish students across the Ivy League, and try to understand why, at places like Harvard, there may be fewer Jewish students today than when discriminatory policies kept them out a century ago.

We also look at how the same playbook that was developed to keep Jews out of elite universities–from the application, to the interview, to legacy preferences, to the hunt for geographical diversity – is now being used against a different minority group: Asian Americans. [This episode] features Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, researcher and The Half Opened Door author Marcia Graham Synnott, Harvard Law School professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, and various former and current Harvard students.

You can hear the text above followed by the Harvard episode at the link below:

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Still no sign of recession

Another week has gone by in which we look at new California weekly claims for unemployment insurance and find no signs of recession.

As always, the latest claims data are at

Big-10 Again

Remember the Big-10 issue that upset the governor - and therefore the Regents? The Regents might - or might not - take up the matter once again at their mid-November meetings. The agenda for those meetings is not yet available. Meanwhile, Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff is still campaigning against the move of UCLA and USC to the Big 10, asserting that most coaches at the two schools oppose it. But he said that the two schools will still be treated appropriately during the current and next season before the move. See the video below.

From ESPN: Both USC and UCLA will become full members of the Big Ten in 2024 after an offseason move that changed the structure of college sports. During Pac-12 basketball media day on Wednesday, Kliavkoff said he's spoken to more than 100 people connected to both programs, including players and coaches, and the consensus has been against the move to the Big Ten.

"I think saying hundreds would be an exaggeration -- dozens, more than a hundred," he said. "And I have yet to talk to anyone in the UCLA and USC community who's in favor of the move. I will say that I probably hear from folks who are not in favor, not surprisingly."

Kliavkoff's comments follow his continued promotion of the Pac-12's future without USC and UCLA, while also questioning the collective value of the change for the Trojans and Bruins. Last month, he sent a letter to the University of California system regents that stated UCLA's move to the Big Ten would create financial challenges for the Bruins. He reiterated those claims Wednesday without providing specific numbers.

According to reports, UCLA will reap an eight-figure gain annually when it joins the Big Ten. "We believe that between the travel and coaches' salaries and some of the other expenses that you incur when you join the Big Ten, that the small delta in the [Big Ten] media rights deal will be more than offset and we stand by those numbers," Kliavkoff said...

Full story at

Click on the link below to hear an interview with Kliavkoff:

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Saturday, October 29, 2022

Zoom Update Required by Nov. 5

A different Zoom

From IT Services: ...The Zoom app (desktop and mobile) must be updated to 5.8.6 or greater before Saturday, November 5, 2022. This requirement is enforced by Zoom to align with industry practice and is designed to help ensure that Zoom users receive the latest Zoom features, as well as any privacy and security enhancements made to the platform.

Once this change is made on November 5th, you will be unable to start or join a Zoom meeting unless your Zoom app is updated to version 5.8.6 or greater.  If you are hosting a meeting or webinar during the upgrade period, your meeting/webinar will end and need to be restarted. Customers who are not on version 5.8.6 or greater will be prompted to update the Zoom meeting client to the current minimum version before they can sign in or join a meeting/webinar. If unable to immediately update, they will be provided the option to join a meeting through the web client instead. Users will only receive a notification if the Zoom client is below the minimum version...

Full announcement at

Note: Yours truly didn't find the directions for updating contained in the announcement particularly helpful, although he did succeed (he thinks) in implementing the update. So, it's best not to wait until the last minute to upgrade. 


To hear the text above, click on the link below:

Teamsters Contract

As blog readers - particularly those who watch our preserved Regents meetings - will know, in recent meetings during public comments, there were often complaints from members of the Teamsters union about stalled contract negotiations with UC. But there were no such comments at yesterday's off-cycle meeting because a new contract has now been approved. From the Bruin:

The University of California and the Teamsters Local 2010 union confirmed a four-year contract Monday. ...More than 13,000 UC employees – such as clerical, skilled trade and administrative workers – are members of the union. The UC has been in negotiations with Teamsters Local 2010 for months, and the union held rallies in March and May to advocate for better compensation. The new contract will start July 1 [2022] and be in effect until March 21, 2026, according to a joint UC-Teamsters Local 2010 press release Monday. It includes pay increases totaling 15% over the four-year contract period, including a 6% increase in the first year and a $3,000 lump sum payment...

Full story at

The union's summary of the agreement is at:


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Friday, October 28, 2022

Grave Topic Behind Closed Doors

The Regents' Compliance and Audit Committee met yesterday behind closed doors:



Date: October 27, 2022

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Locations: Teleconference meeting conducted in accordance with California Government Code §§11133

Agenda – Closed Session

C1(X) Discussion: State Audit on Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act 


Since it was a closed meeting, what went on is unknown. 


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Another Opening

Yesterday, we posted about the reopening of the Faculty Club. There is another opening occurring: Open enrollment for actives and retirees began yesterday and continues until November 18.

If you are happy with your current selections, you don't need to do anything. However, if you are an active employee and have a Flexible Savings Account, you need to renew it each year.

You should have received a mailed copy regarding open enrollment by this time.

The video below provides information on making changes in your enrollment selections and renewing your Flexible Savings Account.

Or direct to
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Thursday, October 27, 2022

Full Reopening

From a recent email:

Back in the day
The Faculty Club has been open in various degrees since last spring. However, it now announces a full reopening as of November 1:

We are excited to announce that we are opening the UCLA Faculty Club to its full potential starting November 1st. That includes the opening of the Coral Grill for breakfast from 7:00 am - 10:00 am, for lunch from 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, and for dinner from 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm. The Coral Grill will also have a fresh and exciting new menu for our members to enjoy. Make your reservations today! Our Afternoon Tea at the Playa Café is also making its return. We will be serving tea and finger sandwiches from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm.

We are also happy to announce that the Sherie Bar and Lounge (formally the Cypress Bar), located on the lower level of the UCLA Faculty Club, is also opening its doors from 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm. Enjoy our 2-hour long happy hour from 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm. Similar to the Coral Grill, we have a new Small Bites menu that pairs well with our signature cocktails.

With the opening of the UCLA Faculty Club to its max potential, we are extending the hours of operation to 7:00 am - 8:00 pm. We are excited to begin offering our services and new menus for all of our distinguished members. 


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Close to the Vest

CUCEA and CUCRA, the retirement associations for emeriti and staff, respectively, held a joint Zoom video conference yesterday. At one point, a question about retiree health insurance was put to EVP and Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom from the "chat" function which asked in broad philosophical terms about guiding principles for the benefit. 

Brostrom first spoke about UC Health moving to provide service to areas where it was not much present. But he then noted that the retiree health benefit had a quasi-vested character, although it was not legally vested. We provide the question and then the response concerning quasi-vesting for the record. You can hear it at the link below.


To hear the text above followed by the audio, click on the link below: 


Chatting about vesting

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Another Off-Cycle Regents Meeting on Friday

The Regents have another off-cycle meeting scheduled on Friday of this week. Below is the agenda of the Regents' Special Committee on Innovation Transfer and Entrepreneurship

Date: October 28, 2022

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Agenda – Open Session

Public Comment Period (30 minutes)

Action: Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of September 20, 2022

S1 Discussion: Update on Patent Policy Revision

S2 Discussion: Proposed Royalty Audit Identification Approach 

S3 Discussion: Status Update: Realignment of Legal and Policy Compliance for Equity and Licensing Contracts

S4 Discussion: Speaker Series: UC Merced Professor Reza Ehsani – Agriculture Technology Innovation: Challenges and Opportunities

S5 Discussion: How the University of California Can Help Create a Thriving Startup Ecosystem in the Central Valley



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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Just a reminder: Remote instruction is not new

As we have pointed out in the past, the idea of remote instruction is not new. Above is a 1925 article about radio lectures on "Air College" from NYU.

Watch the Regents' Health Services Committee of Oct. 18, 2022

COVID slowed yours truly down in tracking the Regents' Health Services Committee meeting of October 18, 2028. But as always, we preserved the recording of the meeting since the Regents remove their recordings - for no good reason - after one year.

Public comments were relatively brief and dealt with medical fellows, Catholic and other religiously-affiliated hospitals that have relations with UC, and Peoples Park. EVP for UC Health Carrie Byington presented her usual review of ongoing COVID developments along with discussion of various educational programs and research programs.

"Employee engagement" programs at the various medical campuses were reviewed. I might note that this sort of human resource practice review really borders on a kind of micro-management by the Regents. There was discussion of employee satisfaction data, turnover, and the like. Regent Pérez was more interested in turnover than reported satisfaction. Regent Makarechian was concerned about pay during the current inflation. There was some discussion about pandemic waivers concerning staffing requirements which might expire. As blog readers will know, UCLA has acquired a mid-city health care facility which now will have to be staffed. There was reference to that issue.

Affiliations with Catholic and other religiously-affiliated hospitals received extensive discussion. There were examples of how certain pregnancy complications might arise in such hospitals that could lead to delays in emergencies. Also discussed were non-emergency situations that still might depart from UC norms. It was noted that UC doctors working within such hospitals might encounter problems of obtaining staff assistance in some situations. Regent Pérez indicated that he had been unsuccessful in getting the major affiliated hospital chains to appear in a public session and pushed for them to come. Regent Chair Leib seemed also to want such appearances. EVP Byington hinted that appearance in a closed setting might be more appropriate. 

You can see the entire session at the link below:


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Monday, October 24, 2022

The next scandal

Continuing our limited COVID blogging:

In case you missed it, the LA Times reported that just as the Heaps trial ended one UCLA scandal involving sexual assault, another one seems to be blossoming, this time among counselors at the Bruin Woods summer camp program. It appears from the Times report that the events described may not be a one-off occurrence but rather something that has been going on for many years:

When UCLA students Samea Derrick and Lydia Dixon were hired as camp counselors at Bruin Woods, a Lake Arrowhead summer getaway for alumni, they were excited to land the coveted job with its networking opportunities. But after less than one week at the camp, the two would head back down the mountain and return home, traumatized by intense hazing at the hands of other counselors, they said. During those five days in June, Derrick, 19, and Dixon, 20, said they were sexually assaulted and hazed by returning student counselors, including physical and verbal abuse, sensory deprivation, forced nudity, and coercive drinking games.

Derrick and Dixon spoke with The Times and filed a lawsuit this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the University of California regents and other camp counselors, including two men accused of sexually assaulting them. The lawsuit alleges the hazing activities, referred to by counselors as “traditions,” have taken place for decades at the camp, established in 1985 for UCLA alumni and their families. It references a 1999 news article by the Daily Bruin student newspaper, which mentions activities such as swimming in the lake naked and partying as prerequisites for becoming a counselor.

“The reason that we’re doing this is to expose the dangerous behavior at Bruin Woods and to hold the regents accountable for allowing the behavior to go unchecked for so long,” said Scott Carr, an attorney who filed the lawsuit Tuesday on the students’ behalf. The suit alleges negligence, civil rights violations, hazing, gender violence, two cases of assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks a jury trial, $50,000 in damages and compensation for legal fees and medical expenses.

Before arriving at the camp, Derrick and Dixon said they had heard rumors of heavy drinking, partying and sex. Incoming counselors were given a packing list that included a fake ID for under-21 students, condoms and birth control, the lawsuit said...

Full story at

You can read the full account in the Times article. However, it appears from the description that adult supervision was either lacking or deficient.


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Sunday, October 23, 2022

Cost to Harvard of Admissions Case: $27 Million

A side note on the upcoming Supreme Court Harvard admissions case from the NY Times: As Harvard prepares to defend its race-conscious admissions program at the Supreme Court this month, a federal judge in Boston is considering a related dispute arising from a fumbled insurance filing, one that could cost the university $15 million. Harvard failed to file a timely formal claim with one of its insurance companies for its expenses in defending the lawsuit challenging its admissions policies. That company, Zurich American Insurance, refused to pay, and Harvard sued. In the process, the university disclosed that its legal fees and expenses in the admissions lawsuit and a related Justice Department investigation had topped $27 million. “One of the nation’s top universities is apparently not great about doing its homework,” said David Lat, a legal commentator...

Full story at


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Still Waiting

Continuing our limited COVID blogging: We are still waiting for definitive signs of recession in our weekly tracking of new California claims for unemployment insurance. The numbers keep coming in at pre-pandemic (boom) levels.

The latest claims data are at

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Another branding elephant?

Berkeley apparently thinks it has a branding problem. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Ask Peter Symonds where he went to college, and his answer might depend on who you are — or why you’re asking. “If we’re at a football game, I might say I went to Cal,” said Symonds, a civil engineer who lives in Pleasant Hill. “But if I’m in a professional setting, I’ll say I went to UC Berkeley.” Switching between the more colloquial “ Cal ” and the loftier “ UC Berkeley ” is common among alumni of the venerable public university — the first in the UC system, known for its Nobel laureates and research laboratories, but also for its Pac-12 football team...

The two discrete labels have created a branding problem for the institution, one that perplexed Chancellor Carol Christ. Last month she formed a task force of students, alumni, administrators and brand experts, and asked them to research how people understand and deploy the two names. The idea: Find a way to merge them, or at least to make them co-exist more harmoniously. By the end of the year, Christ hopes the task force can “develop a naming framework” to encompass the university’s traditions, reputation, sponsorship and licensing agreements and relationships with donors...

Note from yours truly. Universities don't do well with Madison Avenue branding. The image on the left above from 2012 shows an attempt by UC to come up with a new "modern" logo. It was quickly pointed out that if you inverted the logo, as in the image on the right, it looked like an elephant's rear. That was the end of the new logo.*
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Friday, October 21, 2022


We'll resume limited blogging today despite COVID.

From ABC News: A former UCLA student who stormed the U.S. Capitol while waving a flag promoting a far-right extremist movement was sentenced on Wednesday to three years and six months in prison for his role in a mob's attack on the building. U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden also sentenced Christian Secor, 24, of Costa Mesa, California, to three years of supervised release after his prison term, court records show...

Full story at

From the LA Times: A Los Angeles County jury on Thursday found former UCLA gynecologist Dr. James Heaps guilty of sexually abusing female patients during his tenure at the university. Heaps, 65, had been charged with 21 felony counts, but was found guilty of only five: three counts of sexual battery by fraud and two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious person. The assaults date from 2013 to 2017, the portion of his tenure that falls within the statute of limitations for which criminal charges could be brought...

Full story at


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Thursday, October 20, 2022

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Watch Off-Cycle Meeting of Regents Governance & Full Board: Oct. 18, 2022

The UC Regents held an off-cycle meeting yesterday to replace Provost Michael Brown who is stepping down. The replacement will be Katherine S. Newman who will be coming to UC in early January from the University of Massachusetts.

To accomplish this appointment, there was first a Zoom meeting of the Governance Committee which made the recommendation. Then the full board met to take a vote and confirm the appointment. Incoming Provost Newman made a few remarks at the end via cellphone.


Since this meeting was partly a public session, there was a public comment period in which only one speaker participated by phone. A parent of a UC-Berkeley student spoke about crime concerns on that campus.

As always, we preserve the recordings of Regents meetings since the Regents delete them after one year. A link can be found below:


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Athlete Tuition Bill Signed

Governor Newsom signed a bill earlier this week granting in-state tuition at a UC, CSU, or community college to any "Team USA" athlete who trains in California. The bill - AB 2747 - was passed unanimously in the legislature in late August and is linked to the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. From the text of the bill:

SECTION 1. Section 68083 of the Education Code is amended to read:

(a) Any Team USA student athlete who trains in the state in an elite level program approved by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee is entitled to resident classification for tuition and fee purposes until the athlete has resided in the state the minimum time necessary to become a resident.

(b) The student athlete shall certify their participation in an Olympic or Paralympic elite level training program through supporting documentation from the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee verifying eligibility, and shall submit the supporting documentation to the campus they are attending at the California State University, University of California, or California Community Colleges.

(c) For purposes of this section, “Team USA student athlete” means any student athlete who meets the eligibility standards defined and approved by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and by the national governing body for the sport in which the athlete competes.

(d) This section shall become inoperative on July 1, 2032, and, as of January 1, 2033, is repealed...

Full bill text at

The bill was signed in a brief video ceremony. See:


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Recent Donation

As blog readers will know, we like to take notice of donations to the university that don't involve brick-and-mortar construction. From Forbes:

Supported by a $3 million gift from an anonymous donor, the University of California, Los Angeles... announced ...that it was launching the Initiative to Study Hate, a three-year effort by scholars in more than 20 disciplines to understand and mitigate hate in all its forms. The study will focus on different topics, from hatred directed to people who experience homelessness to the impact of hate crimes in different racial communities.

Under the direction of David Myers, the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA, the initiative will feature 23 projects in its first year, supported by $600,000 in internal research funds. Additional projects will be funded in years two and three of the pilot...

Full story at

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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Online at Community Colleges: Implications for UCLA & UC

Yours truly is catching up with some news items that appeared while he was traveling. One, from the LA Times, deals with the growing demand for, and prevalence of, online classes at community colleges.* According to the article: 

...In pre-pandemic fall 2019, 80% of community college classes were fully in person, 15% were fully remote and 5% were hybrid, a mix of online and in-person, according to a state report. Two years later, the numbers were nearly flipped, with 25% of classes in person, 65% remote and 10% hybrid... 

Note that UCLA accepts many transfer students from the community colleges. Thus, there may be expectations from these incoming students that may differ from what UCLA is offering. The switch to online courses is somewhat less pronounced in LA-area community colleges, but still quite significant. 

...In the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District, 50% of classes are remote, 7% are hybrid and 43% are in-person, according to district data... 

The article cites a report that found ...students who took an online course were more likely to earn an associate’s degree or transfer to a four-year university than those who did not take an online class. And more recent data have shown that students are now completing online classes at nearly the same rate as in-person courses...

So, the question for UCLA and other UC campuses is the degree to which this apparent demand for online courses can be accommodated. Obviously, some courses are easier to adapt to online than others. There may also be some tension in the future between 4-year and transfer students over this issue.
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Engagement at the Regents

The Regents at the Health Services Committee tomorrow will be hearing about "employee engagement" at the various campuses with med school and hospitals. Each of these campuses submitted a lengthy description of what is done in the area of employee engagement. Excerpt from the UCLA Health component:

UCLA Health is committed to advancing its mission of delivering leading-edge patient care, research, education, and community engagement. Employees share a sense of purpose across the organization which contributes to a true place of inclusive, compassionate healing. UCLA Health believes that every individual has a voice and welcomes the difference those voices make in enhancing a world-class culture of healing humankind through acts of kindness.

UCLA Health understands that people are motivated when they feel valued and create impact. Programs and resources have been designed to promote acknowledgment and growth opportunities and to enable employees to feel valued, trusted, and empowered. This is the UCLA Health culture and it is built on a clear mission, a focused vision, and enduring values...


You can read the entire UCLA presentation, along with those of the other campuses at the link provided. One suspects - given the topic - that contrary views may be expressed in public comments, particularly by any unions that are involved in contract negotiations.


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Possible VP Jam This Morning

Vice President Kamala Harris is in the LA area this morning after attending various political events yesterday. She will travel to LAX for a flight to San Francisco. What is unclear is where she was travel from, that is, where she spent the night.

Harris and her husband own a house in Brentwood and she may have spent the night there. News accounts do not say. But if so, there could be traffic problems in the UCLA area in the morning.

From Patch newspapers:

...Harris arrived at the LA International Airport on Saturday and will travel to San Francisco on Tuesday, Oct. 18 to participate in a conversation about the climate crisis and attend another DNC fundraiser...

Full story at


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Monday, October 17, 2022

Clark Medal to UCLA Economist Itskhoki

From the UCLA Newsroom: Why do nearly 80 countries choose to fully or partially peg their exchange rates against the U.S. dollar, and how much independence of their monetary policy do they give up by doing so? Answers to queries like these can be elusive, whether you’re someone who feels like conversations about macroeconomics on the nightly news go over their head, or even an academic economist. “Without having an empirically relevant model of exchange rates, it is impossible to credibly answer questions that concern, for example, the costs and benefits of common currency areas, such as the Euro Zone, which eliminate exchange rate fluctuations between their country-members,” said Oleg Itskhoki, UCLA’s Venu and Ana Kotamraju Professor of Economics. “Similarly, questions about the optimal exchange rate policy and the costs and benefits of partially managed exchange rates require such a theoretical framework as well.”

In new research, Itskhoki has developed new frameworks that will drive considerable thought in the field going forward. For these ideas, the 39-year-old whose research focuses on macroeconomics and international economics won the John Bates Clark Medal from the American Economic Association. The award is given to an economist under age 40 who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge. “This is the first time a UCLA faculty member has won this prestigious award,” said Jinyong Hahn, chair of the economics department. “Oleg Itskhoki is a star in the field of international economics who solved important puzzles in exchange rates and made it possible to understand the relationship between foreign trade and income inequality.”

Although he hailed from a family of physicists and inherited the family interest in the field, Itskhoki was born in the Soviet Union and grew up during the turbulence of transition-era Russia, during which the legacy of government control over science cast a long shadow. Seeing his older sister’s success in the more stable field of economics, Itskhoki followed in her footsteps. He appreciated the opportunity to delve into scientific work that left his professional options open, giving him the security of knowing his economics research qualified him for a broader scope of work outside of academia than high-level physics specialization might have. And the puzzles and problems inherent in international economics policies fascinated him more and more the deeper he got into exploring them — especially since the field granted him more independence to follow his curiosity than he might have as part of a lab with rigidly established priorities. “I truly enjoyed the work and as I went through school, I found myself more and more absorbed by it,” said Itskhoki, who came from Princeton University to UCLA in 2019. “I still am today — I feel so lucky having made what feels like a hobby I love into my life.”

In the official award citation listing Itskhoki’s research highlights, the association emphasized his key insight that financial market noise, rather than economic fundamentals, may be the main driver of exchange rates. This idea offers a unifying theory that solves five of the field’s major exchange-rate puzzles and provides a framework that many believe will serve as the definitive lens through which economists examine these issues going forward. “Through his masterful application of empirical and theoretical tools, Itskhoki has revisited classic questions in both international finance and international trade, resolving long-standing puzzles and offering new economic insights into important phenomena in international economics,” the committee concluded. Although the Clark Medal does not include a monetary award, it reflects an enormous vote of confidence from the entire field of economics. The Clark Medal is considered second only to the Nobel Prize in terms of prestige and it has long served as a precursor to winning that honor as well. Earning such a visible sign of respect from his peers means a lot to Itskhoki.

“It’s completely crazy — these things don’t happen. Well, they happen to somebody, but you never expect it to be you,” Itskhoki said. “The biggest, most pleasant part of it all is hearing from so many people that they were teaching my papers — and enjoying teaching them! I am so grateful to hear my work is influential in some ways.” Crediting his mentors, colleagues and predecessors in the field, Itskhoki chooses to view his victory as a communal rather than personal victory. (His family, including his sister who inspired his professional journey with her own, couldn’t be prouder, he said.) Itskhoki is especially delighted to see “UCLA” now appear among the home institutions of Clark Medal winners, a list which has long been dominated by schools like Harvard and MIT.

“UCLA is a very special place, where public service, research and teaching are deeply valued,” Itskhoki said. “I find that so inspiring, and I couldn’t be prouder to see schools like us and UC Berkeley coming into their own as top national institutions for economics.” ...

Full release at


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