Sunday, May 20, 2018

Footnote to History

Since we are in the midst of gubernatorial election season, here is a footnote to history that connects to UCLA:

Do you remember the 2002 gubernatorial election? Maybe not. Anyway, incumbent Democratic Governor Gray Davis was running for a second term in the midst of a major budget crisis sparked by the dot-com bust. In addition, he had proctored over a state electricity crisis that led to rolling blackouts following an ill-designed electricity deregulation scheme. In short, Davis was not too popular.

At that time, we had partisan primary elections, unlike the current top-2 system. So Davis' rival in the general election was definitely going to be whatever candidate the Republicans chose. Davis figured that former LA mayor Richard Riordan would be the most formidable opposition candidate, so he ran ads in the Republican primary attacking Riordan as a flip-flopper. Riordan won and an investment banker, William Simon became the Republican candidate in the 2002 general election. In the end, Davis won 47%-42%, not a very good showing for an incumbent seeking reelection and a foreshadowing of Davis' recall less than a year later.

So what's the UCLA connection. From the Bruin:

Economics professor Bill Simon receives My Last Lecture Award

UCLA professor and 2002 California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon often dresses up as famous economic figures like J.P. Morgan for his classes.

“A couple years after I ran for governor, a friend of mine asked me, what are you going to do now?” Simon said. “I said I’d like to get dressed up like Julius Caesar and go in front of a bunch of freshmen, slam my helmet on the table and say ‘veni, vidi, vici’ – I came, I saw, I conquered. If they start laughing, maybe I’m in the right place.”

Simon, a professor in the department of economics, received the My Last Lecture Award at a ceremony in De Neve Auditorium on Tuesday. The award, created by the UCLA Alumni Scholars Club in 2010, honors a student-nominated professor and gives them the chance to lecture on a topic they would want to talk about if it were their last lecture on Earth.

Simon structured his lecture around nine lessons that he’s learned in his life, from human nature to career advice, and talked about a range of topics, such as the importance of exercise, Mark Twain quotes and the role of self-deprecation when presenting...

Full story at


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Friday, May 18, 2018

LAO vs. Governor

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has issued a rosier scenario than found in the Dept. of Finance's projections (i.e., the governor's projections) contained in the May Revise. Not all the LAO's assumptions are in the rosier direction, but net they are. The legislature's majority may be less concerned about the details and more focused on the general message - which is that there is more to spend, short term and long term, than the governor would like. So, as we have noted in prior posts, there may be more allocated to UC in the budget to be passed by the legislature in June than the governor has designated - particularly if (as is very likely) UC does not raise tuition. Of course, the governor could use his line-item veto to remove what he doesn't want. In recent years, however, he has tended to reach a deal with the legislature rather than make much use of his veto power.

You can find the LAO report at:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

UCLA History: Moving

Moving into the new Westwood campus: 1929

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Regents Agenda

The Regents are meeting next week and with tuition increases off the table, it looks as though it will be a fairly routine affair. Some highlights:

Energy Secretary Rick Perry toured the three DOE labs, including Los Alamos which is up for bid. No mention is made of the details of the UC bid nor is there any indication of the outcome, although in previous Regents meetings it was said that the outcome would be known this month. See:

Some changes are being made in conferrral of emeriti status to senior managers, generally making the eligibility rules easier to fulfill. See:

Elaborate discussion and presentation of UCOP reserves are now included, presumably in response to the earlier state audit. It appears also that more money is going into the free speech center this coming fiscal/academic year and less is going to other presidential initiatives, as the chart above indicates. See:

Anti-Crumbling Bond?

Crowded, crumbling classrooms—will one-time cash infusion be enough to fix the University of California?

CALmatters, 5-15-18, Felicia Mello [excerpt]

Gov. Jerry Brown... added to his proposed 2018-19 budget a one-time infusion of $100 million each for UC and California State University to make campus repairs. The funds are part of a larger effort to upgrade the state’s ailing infrastructure. But they will only cover a fraction of the backlog and don’t account for the university’s long-term need for new buildings.

“He’s proposing a Band-Aid on a massive capital deficit wound,” said state Sen. Steve Glazer, an Orinda Democrat who wants to put a proposition on the November ballot asking voters to support $4 billion in bond funding* for the two universities to build classrooms and labs...

UC spends only about half of what comparable public research universities do on maintaining its campuses, a recent PPIC analysis** found. Spending plunged in 2010 and has not bounced back.

Private donations can help fund marquee projects like a new performing arts center, or profit-sharing ventures like a parking garage. But the less-glamorous task of building and maintaining classrooms usually requires public dollars, said Patrick Murphy, a senior fellow at PPIC who studies capital spending in higher education. “No one’s lining up to put their plaque on the air conditioning unit,” Murphy said...

Full story at

Statement by Glazer:
*The most recent version of the bill says $2 billion, not $4 billion:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018