Sunday, December 31, 2017

In case you are hoping next year will be better...

...Author George Ade's tale from long ago may provide a note of caution:

UCLA History: Under Construction

Royce Hall under construction in 1929

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A second LAO report finds UC "reasonable"

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) issued a report on first-generation college students in community colleges, CSU, and UC. It finds particular problems in the first segment (the CCCs), but finds the CSU and UC approaches to be "reasonable." LAO does express a desire for more data on outcomes. But, again, the LAO avoids the kind of slam found in the state audit that led to so much controversy earlier in 2017. Excerpt:

...No Notable Concern With Overall Approach at Universities. Compared to CCC’s complex and overlapping approach to serving low‑income and first‑generation students, CSU and UC have a much simpler, streamlined approach. The segments generally operate one primary systemwide supplemental program. We believe having one umbrella program but giving campuses flexibility to design student support services is a reasonable approach given each campus’s different student population.

Programs Lack Transparency. Although CSU’s and UC’s overall approach to providing support services for low‑income and first‑generation students seems reasonable, the state budget does not contain clear fiscal information about these services. Moreover, neither segment regularly tracks funding and spending for supplemental support programs. Furthermore, only some enrollment and outcome data are available for certain programs. For example, in most years, CSU reports the number of students who participate in EOP and their graduation rates. These outcome data, however, do not compare EOP students with students of similar academic standing who do not participate in the program. As a result, the Legislature lacks sufficient data to evaluate the effectiveness of the EOP program in boosting student outcomes. For UC, outcome data is even more limited, with no regular UC or state monitoring and evaluating of these services...

Full report at

Friday, December 29, 2017

LAO provides a reasonably positive review of UC procurement practices

In contrast to the state auditor's report that created controversy during 2017, UC ends the year with a reasonably positive report by the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) regarding its procurement practices. The legislature pushed for changes in practices in the three higher ed segments: community colleges, CSU, and UC.

LAO did have suggested changes for UC, however.

The report is at:

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Pattiz quits as of February

We noted in an earlier posting that Regent Pattiz was musing about resigning. Now he has, as of February. So he will presumably attend the January regents meeting. The resignation will give Gov. Brown another opportunity to appoint a regent.

University of California Regent Norm Pattiz, who was recorded last year asking an actress at his podcast company if he could hold her breasts and had recently been pressured to leave the board, will step down in February, The Chronicle has learned. The board took no action against Pattiz when the recording surfaced in October 2016 because he wasn’t conducting UC business at the time, said the regents, whose job includes holding UC faculty and executives accountable for sexual misconduct. The regents have since changed their policy so that alleged outside misconduct can trigger an investigation...

Full story at

FYI: Prepaying Property Tax

Some faculty and readers of this blog will be aware that starting in tax year 2018, there is a $10,000 cap on federal deductions for property and state income tax, due to the new tax legislation. That provision tends to disadvantage Californians with high property values and state income tax. Thus, there has been an interest in prepaying the second installment of the current property tax liability before Dec. 31, rather than waiting until April next year.

Yours truly is not a tax expert, lawyer, etc. So here below is a link to the latest IRS pronouncement on the subject. Consult your tax expert regarding your situation. (And don't blame yours truly for the consequences.)

The IRS advisory is at the link below:

IRS Advisory: Prepaid Real Property Taxes May Be Deductible in 2017 if Assessed and Paid in 2017 (IR-2017-210, Dec. 27, 2017):

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Not a lot of action today - continued

As we have been doing in this period of slow news for UCLA (which is closed), here is another item of interest:

Excerpt from "Universities fear a violent 2018," Politico, Kimberly Hefling, 12/26/2017

...Janet Napolitano, the University of California president and former Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration, said, “One gray area of the law is at what point can a university say no to a speaker because of the security costs and what kind of showing would a court require to defeat a First Amendment claim because, while the University of California has spent a great deal, the pocketbook is not endless.”

“Right now, there’s simply no guidance from the courts on this,” she said.

In California, university leaders have taken the view that campuses are the place where students should be exposed to new ideas — even ones they don’t like, so they are picking up security costs. At the Berkeley campus, that’s meant spending nearly $1.4 million on additional costs for security for speaking events, Napolitano said. A large chunk of that was spent to prepare for a “free speech week” planned by Yiannopoulos and a conservative campus group in September that largely fizzled.

Napolitano acknowledged that supporting even very provocative free-speech rallies on campus is not a position shared by everyone in the university community, and that there’s not an “insignificant percentage” of students who believe that the First Amendment doesn’t cover hate speech. She said a new UC center on free speech to be based in Washington will explore how to best teach students about the Constitution.

“We have a real education issue before us to educate students about what the First Amendment means and to make sure that they understand that once you start policing speakers based on the content of what they are going to say that sets a horrible precedent,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano’s stance comes amid a time of heightened recruitment on campuses by white supremacist groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center...

Full story at

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Not a lot of action today - continued

Venice, California, back in the day
We noted yesterday that this is a quiet time at UCLA (which is closed until January 2). So here is an excerpt from, a website that tracks public pensions in the state, on the push to divest from fossil fuels. UC has (sort of) divested from coal - not because the regents or the legislature required it - but, if you like, informally.

...Gov. Brown joined (New York Gov. Andrew) Cuomo and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee last June in announcing the formation of a coalition of states that would uphold the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, even though President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw.

There has been no indication that Brown, a leading U.S. advocate of action on climate change, will use his State of the State address next month to announce, like Cuomo, a fossil-fuel divestment plan.

Brown was heckled during his speech at the United Nations climate change conference in Bonn last month by protestors who want Brown, like Cuomo, to ban hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” in oil and gas fields.

“Poisoned wastewater” protestors chanted, the Sacramento Bee reported. “Keep it in the ground.” As the heckling continued, Brown shot back: “Let’s put you in the ground so we can get on with the show here.”

Brown signed legislation in 2015 requiring the two largest state pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, to divest coal holdings, whose value had plummeted before the election of President Trump. CalPERS coal investments were valued at $83 million two years ago...

Full story at

Note that while California is not a coal producer, it is ranks third among the states in oil production (behind North Dakota and Texas. California produces more oil than Alaska. That fact may suggest the reason why the state seems to be keener on coal divestment than oil. Moreover, oil production has been declining in recent years in California, which may explain the reluctance to ban fracking (or divest from fracked oil - if that is possible).

Monday, December 25, 2017

Not a lot of action today

Not surprisingly, there is not much happening at the campus on Christmas Day, as the screenshot above indicates. You can follow the lack of action yourself on the UCLA webcam at:
Alternatively, we offer a note of inspiration below:

Sunday, December 24, 2017

End of Story (?)

UCLA suspends Jalen Hill and Cody Riley for the rest of the season

Ben Bolch, LA Times, 12-22-17 

More than six weeks after an international shoplifting incident left their careers in limbo, UCLA freshmen Jalen Hill and Cody Riley on Friday learned the unambiguous terms of their suspensions.

Hill and Riley will be required to sit out the entire season as punishment for stealing from three stores inside an upscale mall in China. Fellow freshman LiAngelo Ball, who was also involved in the episode that brought considerable embarrassment to UCLA, withdrew from school this month to sign with a professional team in Lithuania.

The school said its decision on the penalty came in conjunction with the office of student conduct but offered no further details.

Hill and Riley will not be allowed to travel with the team but can participate in practices and meetings starting Tuesday...

Full story at

(Announced with university closing, Christmas weekend, so least attention.)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Estate Tax for Free Tuition?

An initiative has been cleared for circulation that would subsidize tuition through a new estate tax in California. Before you get too excited, note that it typically costs something like $2 million to hire signature gatherers. It's not clear what support the proponents have. They have enough money for a website (screenshot above) and a law firm that handled filing the petition (plus the $2,000 filing fee). Whether any outside group that could come up with the money is behind the proposition is unknown.

You can find the official title and estimated revenue impact at: (scroll down to initiative 17-0038). A link to the initiative itself is there, too.

An article about the initiative is at:

Friday, December 22, 2017

Not so fast

The state Dept. of Finance, apart from budgetary matters, makes demographic estimates for California. The latest estimate of state population growth (July 2016 - July 2017) shows modest, roughly average, growth of around 0.8%. California isn't growing faster than the rest of the U.S., as it once did. Most of its population growth now comes from "natural increase" (births greater than deaths). Migration from other states is now negative although foreign net immigration continues so that there is some net addition to population from outside the state's borders.

This average trend means that it is unlikely that California will gain congressional seats and that it could conceivably lose a seat. It means that long-term budget trends will reflect average growth rather than the super-normal growth that characterized the post-World War II period until around 1990.

You can find the data at:

Note that the estimates will eventually have to be reconciled with the 2020 Census.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


Malaise, slump, deadwood -- there are lots of words for what supposedly happens to professors’ research outputs after tenure.
A forthcoming study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives doesn’t use any of those terms and explicitly says it must not be read as an “indictment” of tenure. But it suggests that research quality and quantity decline in the decade after tenure, at least in economics.
The authors of the paper -- Jonathan Brogaard, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Washington at Seattle; Joseph Engelberg, professor of finance and accounting the University of California, San Diego; and Edward Van Wesep, associate professor of finance at the University of Colorado at Boulder -- started with a question: “Do academics respond to receiving tenure by being more likely to attempt ground-breaking ‘homerun’ research and in this way ‘swinging for the fences?’”
After all, they wrote, “the incentives provided by the threat of termination are perhaps the starkest incentives faced by most employees, and tenure removes those incentives.” (The question is sure to annoy academic freedom watchdogs. In the authors’ defense, they do cite the benefits of tenure, including job stability’s potential to encourage risk taking.)
Looking for answers, Brogaard, Engelberg and Van Wesep collected a list of academics who worked and were tenured in economics or finance departments at 50 top-ranked institutions at any time between 1996 and 2014. The final sample included 980 professors, all of whom were tenured by 2004.
Next, the authors considered two variables in the years before and after each listed professor received tenure: their overall number of publications in 50 prestigious economics and finance journals and their number of “homerun” publications therein. The paper defines the latter as being among the 10 percent most cited of all publications in a given year; about one-seventh of the publications considered in the study qualified as home runs. Those variables are stand-ins for a professor’s academic effort and degree of risk taking, according to the study, since widely cited, “highly influential output” is “presumably more likely to result from risky ventures.”
Both variables had values that peaked at tenure and declined thereafter, according to the study. On average, the number of annual publications fell by approximately 30 percent over the two years after tenure was granted and by an additional 15 percent over the next eight years.
Home-run publications also fell by 30 percent within two years of professors earning tenure and by an additional 35 percent over the next eight years.
Combining these facts, the study says, “we find that not only do both the overall publication rate and the homerun rate fall, but the likelihood of a given publication being a homerun falls by approximately 25 percent during the 10 years following tenure.”
Conversely, papers in the bottom 10 percent of citations were published more frequently in the years following tenure than in the tenure year...
Link to study at

Secret - Part 2

An earlier post on this blog noted that while it is reported that Texas A&M and UC have formed a partnership to bid on managing Los Alamos, no one is confirming it.*

Texas A&M is confirming that it made a bid. And UC made a bid. No one seems to be confirming a link between the two, however:

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — Texas A&M University is among the bidders interested in managing one of the nation's premier nuclear research laboratories. The multibillion-dollar contract with Los Alamos National Security LLC to run Los Alamos National Laboratory expires in 2018. Federal officials announced in late 2015 that the contract wouldn't be renewed because of missed performance goals. The Los Alamos Monitor reports that university officials confirmed their interest during a recent meeting with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.
Texas A&M Assistant Vice Chancellor Scott Sudduth with the office of federal relations said one factor that helped with the decision to bid is the university's nuclear engineering program, which he described as one of the largest and oldest in the U.S. Other bidders include the University of California and the University of Texas System.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Santa Monica College Remains Major Source of Transfers for UCLA & UC

...UC data showed that UCLA continues to be by far the most popular destination for SMC students, with 40 percent of the UC transfers (482 students) going to the Westwood campus. UC Berkeley came in second with 136 transfers, followed by UC San Diego (175 students) and UC Irvine (161 students)...

Full story at

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Erosion of the Master Plan

The legislature allowed community colleges under some circumstances to offer BA (4-year) degrees, contrary to the old Master Plan. The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) has now issued a report on the results. LAO notes that there was supposed to be consultation by the community colleges with CSU and UC before a new BA degree was offered, but that due to rushing of the degree creation process, there was in fact little consultation.

As we have noted in the past, this intervention by the legislature - taken by itself - is really mainly a concern for CSU. However, the ad hoc intervention in effectively overriding the Master Plan is of more general concern.

The LAO report is at:

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Chancellor on Circadian Rhythms

Chancellor Block is interviewed on circadian rhythms in plants, animals, and people at Zócalo:

Clearly, a timely interview.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Waiting for leaks

John Myers writes a column in the LA Times about the behind-the-scenes, last-minute budget negotiations that go on around this time of year in Sacramento:

Few outside of Sacramento realize that some of the most important state budget decisions happen just before Christmas, in private meetings where the governor signs off on the spending plan he will present to the Legislature in early January...*

Sometimes - not always - bits and pieces of the state budget are leaked out, perhaps intentionally to see the reaction - or just leaked.

In any case, there is more money around currently than was forecast last June when the current budget was adopted. Whether UC will benefit from that circumstance is uncertain. But to the extent anything leaks, we'll try to keep on top.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Pattiz may quit

The University of California regent who was recorded last year asking an actress at his podcast company if he could hold her breasts said Friday he’s considering resigning amid calls for him to step down from the powerful panel.

But Regent Norman Pattiz told The Chronicle that if does resign, it won’t be because of demands that he do so.

“Had this (recording) not come up, I might have considered retirement more than I’m considering it now,” Pattiz said, noting that he’ll be 75 next month and has been a regent for 16 years. “I certainly don’t like the idea of retiring under a cloud.”

Pattiz, who has apologized for his remarks and said they were meant as a joke, said he hasn’t yet decided whether to step down.
“I haven’t made that determination,” said Pattiz. “If I become a distraction, I don’t want that. I care too much about the university. Time will tell if I’m going to be a continuing distraction.”

Now, as the UC student government and student protesters demand that Pattiz resign, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and two other regents are raising questions about whether the Board of Regents has dealt too lightly with their colleague while cracking down on sexual harassment elsewhere in the university. In addition, a UC labor union has proposed a Constitutional amendment to give the state Legislature authority to remove a regent...

Full story at

The Numbers

We posted recently about applications to UCLA and Irvine. Above is the full listing. More info on applications can be found at

Friday, December 15, 2017

UCLA Also Brags About Setting Records

A previous post today noted that Irvine was bragging about setting records in applications. UCLA does it, too:

UCLA has shattered its own record as the nation’s most popular college choice for high school seniors, attracting more than 113,000 freshman applications for fall 2018, according to preliminary data released Thursday. Applications to the Westwood campus soared among California high school students and across all racial and ethnic groups. UCLA again led the University of California’s nine undergraduate campuses, which collectively received more than 181,000 freshman applications — a 5.7% increase over last year...

Full story at

Fires? Droughts? Earthquakes?

Don't complain about California. Yours truly is in Cambridge, MA at the moment:

Change of heart at Irvine

Remember last year's un-enrollment scandal at UC-Irvine in which admitted students were un-enrolled on technicalities? It led to apologies, regental action, etc.

Now it seems that Irvine is anxious to brag about record applications:

The number of applications from both incoming freshmen and transfer students vying to be part of the fall 2018 class at the University of California, Irvine totaled 116,192 — a campus record, school officials said Thursday.
It’s an increase of 12,000 applicants over last year’s high of 104,000 and a 41 percent increase over the last five years, representing the largest surge in the UC system, according to UCI officials.
“The verdict is in: high school and transfer students understand that UCI’s distinctive combination of quality, accessibility and affordability makes it a preferred destination among America’s leading universities,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Earlier this year, the New York Times selected UCI as the college `doing the most for the American dream,’ and these 116,000-plus applicants exemplify our continued commitment to inclusive excellence.”...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Waivers won't be taxed

Inside Higher Ed is reporting that taxation of grad student tuition waivers has been eliminated from the Republican tax bill:
Senate and House negotiators meeting this week to craft compromise tax-reform legislation plan to exclude from a final bill some controversial proposals affecting students and colleges, according to multiple reports.
Lawmakers from the two chambers of Congress agreed to drop provisions that would treat graduate student tuition benefits as taxable income and repeal student loan interest deductions. Both provisions were included in House tax legislation passed last month but left out of a bill that narrowly cleared the Senate Dec. 2...
Full story at: 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


The Sacramento Bee has a report on one of the now-common sexual harassment cases that came to light long after the event, this one involving a UC-Davis emeritus professor. (In this case, apparently same-sex harassment was involved.) The news report contains the following excerpt:

...Gray, director of academic employment and labor relations in the office of the vice provost for academic affairs, provided an advance copy of his blog post to the university last week. That sparked negotiations over the weekend between the university and Holoman that resulted in the professor agreeing to relinquish his emeritus status, said UC Davis spokeswoman Dana Topousis.
Holoman agreed to be demoted from distinguished professor to professor and relinquish his emeritus status, which means he can no longer teach or pursue research related to the University of California, according to a disciplinary letter signed by the university and Holoman on Monday. Holoman can, however, use the university library to finish his current projects as long as he has no contact with students...
It's not clear - despite the news report - that a ladder faculty member's emeritus title can be removed without some participation of the Academic Senate. Of course, there might have been some Senate participation which the news item missed. And the individual in question could voluntarily agree not to exercise whatever emeritus privileges the title offers. If there was no Senate consultation involved, maybe someone at Davis ought to take a look. Or maybe someone in the Academic Council. Bad cases make bad precedents.


UC submitted its bid to continue in a managerial role at the Los Alamos National Lab (LANL). But it won't say who its partners are. As blog readers will know, it has been reported that UC is partnering with Texas A&M.

The University of California was the only organization to confirm Monday it had submitted a bid to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory for the next five years.

Bids were due to the National Nuclear Security Administration Monday. The NNSA would not release information about the contractors that submitted bids and would not say when bids would be opened.
The UC system confirmed its submission in an email to the Los Alamos Monitor.

“I can confirm that UC submitted a proposal today for the Los Alamos National Laboratory management contract. We aren’t confirming or discussing any of our bid partners at this time,” UC Spokeswoman Stephanie Beechem said.
UC is a managing partner in Los Alamos National Security LLC, the consortium operating the lab...

Many contractors on a list of possible bidders reached out to the Los Alamos Monitor Tuesday. While none that responded indicated they sent in a bid, many gave reasons why they did not bid. Many said after considering the issue carefully, that their companies would be better off in a support role to the companies that did put in a bid and later won the contract.
“Keystone has not committed to a team and does not have a plan to do so,” Keystone International President Michelle Detry said. “We believe our long-term options are best served by supporting whichever team wins.”

Bechtel, a for-profit company that is also in the LANS consortium, was also on the list of prospective bidders.
“We won’t be commenting on the procurement process right now. We’re concentrating on managing the Lab safely and efficiently as part of the LANS team,” Bechtel Nuclear, Security and Environmental Manager of Public Affairs Fred deSousa said. Other potential bidders said they thought that on further examination, it just wasn’t the path they wanted their companies to take at the time...

The UC system also manages the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and is also a partner that manages Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 

The University of Texas system, which was expected to submit a bid to the NNSA, did not return requests for comment about whether the system submitted a bid.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Extra Billion

There's no evidence that he actually said it (and maybe you don't know who he was, anyway.)
The latest state controller's cash report though November indicates that there was an extra billion dollars in revenue during the current fiscal year. So, although the governor will undoubtedly push for fiscal prudence, more in the rainy day fund, etc., as he does with each budget message, there will be a counter-push in the legislature toward spending increases. Will UC benefit? We'll see.

The report is at:

Pots and Kettles at the Regents

There is a long article in the Huffington Post about Lt. Guv Gavin Newsom (a candidate for guv and an ex officio Regent) calling for the resignation of UC Regent Norman Pattiz because of the latter's sex-harassment scandal: [excerpt]

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and education leaders are urging the University of California to address allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct by University of California regent and radio mogul Norman Pattiz, nearly a year after several people said Pattiz made them uncomfortable in the workplace.

One of the women, comedian Heather McDonald, released a tape in November 2016 of Pattiz asking her if he could hold her breasts. Pattiz has confirmed that it’s his voice on the tape and apologized. Another employee accused Pattiz, a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reserve officer, of brandishing his firearm in a threatening manner. Pattiz denies those allegations.

In a letter dated Nov. 29, Newsom, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and UC Student Regent Paul Monge asked university officials to make clear what they have done or will do about Pattiz, whom Gov. Jerry Brown reappointed to a 12-year term in 2014.

The issue is complicated by the fact that it’s not possible for anyone ― including the board itself, any California legislative body or the governor, who appoints most regents ― to remove Pattiz. Instead, Pattiz would need to voluntarily resign.

In a statement, Marvin Putnam, a lawyer for Pattiz, said the McDonald incident had been resolved and that if Newsom “took a moment to learn the facts, then he would not have sent the letter he did.”

“As Napolitano stated at the time, the matter is now closed,” Putnam said. “There is an American tradition of not rushing to judgment without knowing the facts; hopefully, we are not losing that august tradition in the midst of the important national conversation and reevaluation that is now underway.”

Brown wants Pattiz to resign, according to two sources familiar with his thinking. He has had a senior staff member request Pattiz’s resignation at least once, the sources said, but Pattiz refused.

The UC Regents, more formally known as the Regents of the University of California, is a governing board charged with overseeing the University of California system, including over 200,000 students and over 150,000 faculty and staff members. It has broad powers and helps to oversee a multibillion-dollar budget.

The scandal-plagued University of California system has been working to improve its handling of sexual harassment cases by speeding up investigation timelines. And earlier this year, the Board of Regents also strengthened its own ethics policies, addressing procedures for investigations into alleged misconduct and providing options for sanctioning a regent if allegations are proven...

Full story at

The Huffington Post's report neglects some past sex-related history of Newsom's back when he was mayor of San Francisco:

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's re-election campaign manager resigned Wednesday after confronting the mayor about an affair Newsom had with his wife while she worked in the mayor's office, City Hall sources said.
Alex Tourk, 39, who served as Newsom's deputy chief of staff before becoming his campaign manager in September, confronted the mayor after his wife, Ruby Rippey-Tourk, told him of the affair as part of a rehabilitation program she had been undergoing for substance abuse, said the sources, who had direct knowledge of Wednesday's meeting.
Rippey-Tourk, 34, was the mayor's appointments secretary from the start of his administration in 2004 until last spring. She told her husband that the affair with Newsom was short-lived and happened about a year and a half ago, while the mayor was undergoing a divorce from his then-wife, Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, said the sources, who spoke on condition they not be identified.
Alex Tourk "confronted the mayor on the issue this afternoon, expressed his feeling about the situation in an honest and pointed way, and resigned," said one source close to Tourk and his wife...

Interesting Profile of a Title IX Lawyer

There is an interesting profile of a Title IX Lawyer in the New York Times. He begins by developing a practice suing universities on behalf of the accused. Spoiler Alert: He ends with doubts as to how to achieve balance.

Last year, the phone rang in the office of the New York attorney Andrew T. Miltenberg. On the line was Tom Rossley, a trustee for 23 years at Drake University in Iowa. His son, Thomas, had just been expelled after a woman accused him of rape, and Rossley, such a longtime booster that he was sometimes called Mr. Drake, was on the verge of being kicked off the board for protesting the verdict, he believed.

While a trustee’s son might be expected to receive favorable treatment, Rossley thought that possibility had been eclipsed by the school’s greater urgency to demonstrate how seriously it took sexual assault, because it was under federal investigation at the time for supposedly mishandling a victim’s complaint two years earlier. “I’m not definitively saying it didn’t happen,” he told Miltenberg. “I’m not saying it did happen. What I’m saying is we don’t know, and they didn’t really want to find out.”

As Rossley would explain to Miltenberg, on the night in question, Thomas, then 21, met up with a woman in his circle of friends. Each had drunk heavily. According to the school investigator’s report, the woman remembered Thomas having sex with her in his dorm room, her telling him to stop and him stopping. But Thomas, who said he’d had the equivalent of 15 drinks, didn’t recall having intercourse and woke up fully clothed. Rossley noted what he believed to be many flaws in the process of his son’s case, including the school investigator’s not accepting key witnesses — among them Thomas’s roommate, who claimed he was present in the room the entire night. Although in the classroom Drake accommodated Thomas’s lifelong language-based learning disability, which made communication difficult, he was left to defend himself in a nine-hour hearing, in which he frequently stumbled and was asked to speak up. (Drake declined to comment on the details of the case but broadly disputes the Rossleys’ characterization. In court filings, the school said Thomas could have introduced additional witnesses at the hearing and did not request disability accommodations.)

Rossley had contacted Miltenberg to ask him to handle their suits — Thomas’s claiming gender discrimination and due-process violations, and Rossley’s for retaliation after the board removed him. Miltenberg’s name was easy to find because by then he had established a reputation as “the rape-guy lawyer,” as a colleague describes him, or “the due-process guy,” as he sometimes calls himself. To Miltenberg, the Rossleys’ experience showcased “the disparity between how men and women are being treated” under Title IX — the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools that receive public funds — and demonstrated how campus responses to sexual assault have become driven by internal politics and institutional fears...

(That's the opening of the article. Here is the end below.)

...When DeVos rescinded the letter in September, Miltenberg released a statement that did not betray any doubts but instead stated that he was “encouraged” by the action. But when he elaborated to me, he sounded more conflicted. Although he was glad more people were talking about the issue, he said he was “having a bit of a crisis of conscience.” Over the months he had worked on the woman’s case, the conventional wisdom about campus sexual assault had changed, with greater public focus on concerns about due process. “And insanely, I’m one of the people, for better or worse, who had some impact on shifting the narrative.” At the same time, he worried that the rescission could lead to a reaction of its own. He had received nearly a dozen new cases — all decided in the weeks immediately surrounding DeVos’s speech — in which he believed the schools had meted out unduly harsh penalties to make “a political counterstatement.” That prospect was as concerning to him as the school’s inaction on his female client’s case.

“There are real topics in this world that are zero-sum games,” he said; finding a balance between addressing sexual assault and ensuring due process didn’t need to be one. He found himself thinking that advocates on either side of the debate shared a sense of battlefield camaraderie, because only they saw what was really going on. “Sometimes you sit in this hearing and your heart breaks for both people,” he said. “Sometimes I walk out and think the whole thing is a [expletive]: terrible for him, terrible for her, terrible for the parents.” It would be disingenuous, he said, not to acknowledge the concerns of the other side: That if the process is broken, it’s broken at least as much for victims as the accused. That correction can become overcorrection in either direction. The pendulum swings both ways. It shouldn’t, he said, “but I don’t know how to stop it.”

Full story (with the middle) at:

Monday, December 11, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Somebody at UCOP was thinking outside the box...

Was the somebody the politically-minded UC prez?

UC is about to bid to continue its managerial role in Los Alamos National Lab. But it is competing against the U of Texas (whose regents seemed to be split on making the bid)* and Texas A&M, which seems more gung ho about the effort. And, of course, California is not beloved to the Trump folks. So - read on:

Here is Wikipedia on Rick Perry, the current head of the Department of Energy (which will soon be evaluating the bid of UC to continue its managerial role in Los Alamos:

...Upon graduation from high school, Perry attended Texas A&M University where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets and the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He was elected senior class social secretary, and one of A&M's five "yell leaders" - students that lead Aggie fans in a series of "yells" during athletic events or other school events. He graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science...

And here is an article dated Dec. 9 from the Santa Fe New Mexican:

When the University of California submits its bid Monday to continue management of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the public institution from the biggest, bluest state in the country will have an eye-grabbing partner: Texas A&M University.

The two large university systems, one from a solid Democratic state and the other from the largest Republican-led state, are planning to join forces in a proposal to manage the national lab for the next decade, the Austin American-Statesman reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources.

University officials would not confirm the partnership to The New Mexican, but the director of one lab watchdog group, who was unaware of the partnership, said while it might seem like the two university systems make “strange bedfellows,” a Cal-Texas A&M partnership would be a good fit in many ways.

“It would make sense politically, certainly,” Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group said in an interview with The New Mexican earlier this week. “And it would seem to make sense from a research perspective. Both schools have a little different niche in that regard.”

Texas A&M, a land-grant college system with 11 campuses and a flagship in College Station, Texas, also gives the University of California, the lab’s operator in some form since its inception in 1943, a chance to move ahead with a fresh partner that can bring operational success in areas where it has been criticized: nuclear safety, hazardous materials handling, mechanics and logistics.

Another known bidder is the University of Texas System, a consortium of 14 campuses with a flagship in Austin. The UT System Board of Regents approved moving ahead with a bid at its November meeting...

University of California officials, who spent time in Northern New Mexico touting their long history and successes at the lab in late November, would not talk about potential alliances when contacted by The New Mexican.

“We can’t confirm or discuss any of our bid partners,” said UC’s Gary Falle, a government relations specialist working with California regents...

Full story at

In short, the winds suddenly seem to have shifted in favor of UC's Los Alamos bid:


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Open or Close?

There was some confusion in the midst of last week's fire near UCLA as to whether classes were to be held or not. Students were critical about delays in info,* although I have to say my smartphone kept buzzing with official campus updates and updates also appeared in my email. Yours truly probably would have leaned towards holding classes, since it was the last week in the quarter, and since nowadays an awful lot of students live in campus housing. Yes, the air was bad, but it was bad outside whether you were going to class or just outside nearby. And classes are indoors, are they not?

Yours truly attended the UCLA Anderson Forecast on Wednesday morning (Dec. 6) - which was not cancelled. Yes, attendance was held down because some folks did not want to make the trip, or couldn't. (I had to re-route to come to campus because of the closure of Sunset Blvd. near the 405.) But the conference went off without a hitch and it ran until close to noon. The air inside the auditorium in which the event was held was not smoky.

Education is what UCLA is all about. So cancelling classes should be a Big Deal. I hope we don't come to err on the side of cancellation whenever "events" occur. In a ten-week quarter, for a class that meets twice a week, each day lost is 5% of class time. For a class that meets once a week, it's 10%. Given regularly scheduled holidays (two Mondays disappear in winter quarter!), the percentage loss is in fact greater.

Of course, this is one person's opinion. But there needs to be a little voice somewhere that says "wait a minute" before the panic button is pressed.

Friday, December 8, 2017

More on the wolf at the door in college athletics

There continue to be news items that suggest the college athletics is going to have to change. It becomes harder and harder to pretend that athletes in the major sports are just ordinary students that do a little amateur thing on the side. There have been lawsuits about football concussions, pay for playing (in the same way that professional athletes are paid), etc. Back last February, there was this report:

The NCAA and 11 major athletic conferences announced Friday night they have agreed to pay $208.7 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit filed by former college athletes who claimed the value of their scholarships was illegally capped. The settlement still must be approved by a judge and it does not close the antitrust case. The NCAA said in a statement the association and conferences "will continue to vigorously oppose the remaining portion of the lawsuit seeking pay for play." The settlement will be fully funded by NCAA reserves, the association said. No school or conference will be required to contribute.

The original antitrust lawsuit was filed in 2014 by former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston. The case was later combined with other lawsuits and covers Division I men's and women's basketball players and FBS football players who competed from 2009-10 through 2016-17 and did not receive a cost-of-attendance stipend. In January 2015, the five wealthiest college conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference — passed NCAA legislation that allowed schools to increase the value of an athletic scholarship by several thousand dollars to the federally determined actual cost of attending a college or university.
Cost of attendance includes expenses beyond tuition, room and board, books and fees. Each member of the class will receive approximately $6,000, said Steve Berman, lead attorney in the case. "This is a historic settlement for student-athletes and there is more to come as the second part of the case seeks injunctive relief that will force the NCAA to pay student-athletes a fair share," Berman told AP in a text message Friday night...
Full story at:
It was reported yesterday that the judge in the case above has granted final approval for the settlement:

Change Coming to Grad Student Tax?

Inside Higher Ed is reporting a possible changing of the mind going on in the House on the so-called grad student tax (a tax on tuition waivers).

Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, on Thursday circulated a letter to House colleagues urging GOP leaders to exclude from final tax reform legislation a provision that would tax graduate students' tuition benefits. The letter signals at least one House Republican is focused on an issue graduate students across the country have organized around for weeks. 
On Tuesday, about 40 graduate students protested at the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, leading to nine arrests...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fellows FYI

FYI: The new free speech center set up by the UC prez is accepting applications to become a "fellow" of the center.


...due to continued uncertainty about fires.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

UCLA History: Fire

For those who don't know it, the Bel Air fire today that led to partial closures at UCLA today had a precedent, as you can see above.


From Inside Higher Ed: Citing uncertainty over federal policies as a contributing factor, Moody's on Tuesday downgraded its financial outlook for higher education to negative from stable. The credit ratings agency predicted that the growth of the industry's expenses will outpace revenue growth for the next 12-18 months, with public universities in particular facing money woes.
Increases of tuition revenue, research funding and state contributions will "remain subdued," Moody's said. And, over all, the sector's expenses will rise by 4 percent, according to Moody's. But less than 20 percent of public, four-year institutions will see their revenue increase by more than 3 percent. More than half of private institutions will achieve growth of at least 3 percent.
Cuts to federal financial aid programs or even funding growth that fails to keep up with inflation would exacerbate higher education's problems, Moody's said. Likewise, the report said the GOP's tax bills could hurt colleges' private fund-raising, increase borrowing costs for private activity bonds and depress graduate student enrollment. And federal immigration policies could decrease international student enrollment, the ratings agency said...
Full story with link to report at:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

End of the Unfortunate Incident (for now) - Follow Up

Although it may seem like a long time ago, blog readers will recall the unfortunate incident involving shoplifting in China by some UCLA basketball players.*

Here is more of the aftermath: LiAngelo Ball, one of three UCLA basketball players placed on indefinite suspension following their shoplifting arrests in China, will be leaving the team and the university, officials said Monday. The three players were allowed to leave China after President Trump’s conversation with the head of that nation during a presidential trip to Asia.
“We learned today of LiAngelo Ball’s intention to withdraw from UCLA,” Bruins basketball coach Steve Alford said. “We respect the decision he and his family have made, and we wish him all the best in the future.”
Ball, the brother of Lakers rookie and former Bruin Lonzo Ball, was arrested in early November along with Jalen Hill and Cody Riley while the UCLA team was in China to take part in a season-opening game against Georgia Tech. They were detained for about a week in China before the case against them was dropped, with President Donald Trump saying he spoke on behalf of the players to Chinese President Xi Jinping. LiAngelo Ball’s outspoken father, Lavar Ball, told ESPN he decided to pull his son out of UCLA.
“We are exploring other options with Gelo,” he said. “He’s out of there.”
TMZ broke the story, but reported that LiAngelo Ball had not yet officially withdrawn from the university.

Tuition Waiver for Grad Students and Tax Bill

Thousands of graduate students...across the country fear that their tax bills will climb dramatically if a proposal to end exemptions for tuition benefits makes it into the tax overhaul legislation that Republicans hope to send to President Trump by Christmas. Budding anthropologists, historians, scientists, and engineers who receive tuition waivers for working as teachers or research assistants could soon see those benefits counted as income. If that happens, earning an advanced degree could become significantly more expensive, students and universities warn...

But the tax bill approved by the Republican-led House of Representatives, which aims at cutting taxes and simplifying the tax code, calls for ending the exemption on those tuition waivers. Under the plan, those discounts would be considered income for tax purposes, even though students never see that money in their bank accounts. The Senate, which approved its tax reform package early Saturday morning, did not touch the graduate tuition exemption. The House and Senate will now negotiate the final legislation...

Critics argue that universities could lower their tuitions, since many of them provide students with waivers anyway. Or universities could convert the tuition waivers into scholarships, which aren’t taxed...

Full story at

Yours truly's uninformed guess is that the Senate version will prevail. But there is an oddity in the argument raised by the defenders of getting rid of the tuition waiver. The last paragraph above suggests that universities could easily do a work-around. But if that were so, the waiver elimination wouldn't raise any money since no grad students would in fact pay the extra tax. The rationale for eliminating the waiver is that it raises tax revenue, however. You can't have it both ways. A tax provision that is easily avoided can't raise revenue.