Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Raiding faculty

Blog readers will remember - perhaps dimly - that there is a lawsuit against USC by UC over a raid of certain UC-San Diego medical research faculty and contracts. The LA Times now adds to the tale:

Of the many consequences of the Puliafito scandal for USC, few are as high-stakes as the possible effect on the court case that prompted his testimony last year.

Puliafito was expected to play a role in defending USC in the legal battle with the University of California over the defection of a star UC Alzheimer's disease researcher.

Puliafito helped woo the scientist and dozens of other prominent academics as part of a strategy by USC President C.L. Max Nikias to vault the university into the ranks of elite research institutions.

UC is seeking $185 million in damages along with a punitive award that could be several times that amount.

“With all that’s out there about him, he’s going to have a serious problem coming off as credible and being believed,” said Los Angeles attorney Brian Panish, a civil litigator who has represented clients in suits against both schools.

A Times investigation published last month revealed that Puliafito partied and used drugs with a circle of criminals and addicts while serving as dean. Puliafito engaged in this behavior during the period in 2015 in which he was recruiting the researcher, according to interviews with his associates and text messages they exchanged with him.

A UC spokeswoman said the school would not discuss its legal strategy “other than to say we are vigorously pursuing this case against USC.”

An attorney for USC said no decision had been made on whether to call Puliafito as a witness, but insisted the former dean’s testimony was not important to the university’s defense.

“He’s a bit player in this,” said attorney John Quinn.

In court filings earlier this year, lawyers for USC highlighted a portion of the dean’s testimony in arguing that the case should be dismissed.

Puliafito testified that the university wanted UC San Diego researcher Paul Aisen to join the faculty whether or not he brought along hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding, a rejection of UC’s claim that USC was motivated by money in recruiting the scientist.

Legal experts said that even if USC decides not to use Puliafito’s testimony, UC’s legal team could ask for copies of his personnel record and attempt to make an issue in court of his conduct. That would set up a fight between USC and UC over whether jurors should be told about the skeletons in Puliafito’s closet if the case went to trial.

“The trial judge would have to decide whether the prejudicial, inflammatory value is outweighed by the probative value,” said Manhattan Beach civil lawyer John Taylor, who has represented clients with legal claims against USC.

The judge, Taylor added, “might say, ‘Suppose he was out partying like a rock star? How does that make it more or less believable to a jury?’”

USC is anticipating that UC will try to make Puliafito’s drug use a line of attack.

“I believe that they would do anything they could to try to poison the well, including introducing the dean’s personal problems,” USC lawyer Quinn said, adding that he expected a judge to reject such attempts as irrelevant.

The case is on hold while USC appeals a U.S. district judge’s ruling that moved the suit from federal court to San Diego County Superior Court, where it was originally filed. No trial date has been set.

By the time Puliafito was scheduled to be questioned under oath, the case was in its second year and UC had brushed off entreaties by USC to settle the matter out of court. USC deputy general counsel Stacy Bratcher and other university lawyers met with the former dean three times to prepare him for the deposition, he later testified.

On the day of his testimony, Bratcher and another lawyer sat with him at a downtown law firm as he was questioned for about six hours, according to a transcript of the testimony. Portions of the transcript were redacted at the request of USC.

Puliafito said he had been deposed 20 times in his life, including in court cases where he was a medical expert. On a video recording of part of the deposition, he appears self-assured, offering short, precise responses and brushing aside many questions as hypothetical and difficult to answer.

A few minutes into his testimony, he was asked for “the circumstances of your ceasing to be dean of the medical school.” An attorney for USC’s outside law firm, Viola Trebicka, initially protested that the question was “overbroad” and “vague” — objections a judge would rule on a later date — and then directed him to “go ahead” and answer.

“I had a unique opportunity in the ophthalmic biotechnology industry, and I was able to continue my employment at USC on sabbatical and work for this biotech company,” he said.

The full story was more complicated. USC acknowledged after The Times’ report that the dean quit his post during a confrontation with the university provost about his behavior and job performance. That showdown capped years of complaints from faculty and staff about Puliafito’s drinking, temper and public humiliation of colleagues, according to interviews with former co-workers and written complaints to the administration.

He was not offered the biotech job at Ophthotech, a firm run by two longtime friends, until more than a month after he resigned, according to a company spokesman.

Quinn said he did not know whether lawyers for USC and Puliafito discussed how he would answer questions about his resignation before the deposition. He said that attorneys for his firm “would never sponsor false testimony. We would never knowingly permit a witness to lie.” In a statement, a USC spokesman said the university general counsel’s office, where Bratcher works, “would never encourage a witness to perjure himself.”

Experts said UC could ask a judge to reopen the deposition in light of the new information about Puliafito’s past conduct.

“I would get the personnel file and also question him about what happened. Maybe there is more that is not out there yet,” Panish said.

The court fight is being closely watched in academic circles. UC took the highly unusual step of suing its academic rival in 2015 after years of frustration over USC’s recruitment of faculty members who were the recipients of big research grants. These grants are an important income source for the state system.

These “transformative faculty,” as they are known at USC, have been key to President Nikias’ strategy for raising the university’s national reputation. Puliafito spearheaded the effort during his eight-year tenure as dean, recruiting more than 70 academics from the UC schools, Stanford, Harvard and other prestigious rivals.

After Puliafito helped woo away two well-funded UCLA neurology researchers in 2013, UC administrators were outraged, and complained to government regulators, according to court filings. It was not unusual for professors to move to other institutions, often with the first university cooperating in the transfer of grant funding to the new school. But in UC’s view, USC had acted beyond accepted norms by targeting academics based on grant funding and strategizing secretly with those researchers while they were still employed by UC about moving grants to USC. The schools reached a confidential settlement requiring USC to pay UCLA more than $2 million, according to a copy of the agreement obtained through a public records request.

Late the next year, the dean set his sights on another UC prize: Alzheimer’s expert Paul Aisen. The UC San Diego neurology professor was a global leader in the search for a cure for the disease, and federal agencies and drug companies were expected to send more than $340 million in research grants to the lab he ran over the next five years

“I am going to get more involved in this personally and quarterback the process,” he wrote in an email to Provost Michael Quick in April 2015. “We need this to happen.”

USC offered Aisen annual compensation of $500,000 — a salary bump of $110,000 — along with a home loan and other perks. He moved to USC in June 2015.

The loss reverberated at the highest levels of the UC system. President Janet Napolitano unsuccessfully lobbied the head of drug company Eli Lilly, a major funder of Aisen’s work, to keep its grant money at UC.

In July 2015, UC sued USC, Aisen and his lab colleagues for breach of fiduciary duty, interference with contracts, computer crimes and other claims. The university said USC had conspired with the researcher while he was still working for UCSD to interfere with the public university’s contractual relationships with grant funders and to seize control of critical clinical trial data.

Subsequent filings suggested the depths of the hard feelings. In one, UC complained that the departing scientists had even made off with paper clips paid for by UCSD. In another, their lawyers described USC as a “predatory private university” with a “law-of-the-jungle mind-set.”

USC and Aisen countersued for defamation and other charges. Their lawyers wrote in the complaint that they were ready to settle the litigation and suggested the blame rested with UC for failing to fund Aisen’s work adequately. When he found a school that would, they wrote, UC engaged in “petty academic politics,” including trying to make him sign a loyalty oath and cutting off his email and phone service, tactics that they claimed endangered patient safety.

Aisen, Puliafito and other USC administrators insisted in depositions that the university had done nothing wrong. In his sworn testimony, the former dean testified that he was prepared to offer Aisen a faculty position even if his lucrative research grants stayed behind at UCSD.

“You were indifferent to whether or not the grant funding transferred with Dr. Aisen,” the UC lawyer asked.

“Yes,” Puliafito said, adding: “That’s the risk we were willing to take.”

San Francisco lawyer Stephen Hirschfeld, who has defended UC and other universities in civil suits, said the involvement of other officials in Aisen’s recruitment could blunt the impact of Puliafito’s credibility issues.

The university provost, a faculty chair, medical school administrators, and human resources officers played key roles in luring Aisen, according to court filings and deposition testimony.

“You could have a situation where the dean says one thing and several other administrators confirm that it is true,” Hirschfeld said. Focusing too much on Puliafito, he said, might make UC look cruel or desperate to the jury.*

“You’ve got to think really hard if it’s worth it to attack this guy in this way,” he said.

Taylor, the Manhattan Beach lawyer, said that jurors could see Puliafito as a reflection “of the values of the university and the decision makers there.”

“If terrible evidence comes in about him, it is terrible evidence for the school,” he said.

The deposition offers tantalizing clues about the relationship between Puliafito and USC. At one point, the former dean was asked when he had last looked at the USC ethics code.

“Six months ago,” he replied. The deposition was on Sept. 23, 2016 — just a day short of the six-month anniversary of the meeting at which the provost confronted him with complaints from colleagues about his behavior.

*Interesting advice, but it's been said before:

Monday, August 21, 2017

In transit

Yours truly - having seen the eclipse from Columbia, MO - will be in transit. So blogging will be light for awhile and eventually will catch up with events. Sorry.

UCLA History: Postcard

Postcard view of Westwood, back in the day

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Friday, August 18, 2017


UCLA has been named the No. 2 public university in the United States and the 12th best in the world — public or private — in the Academic Ranking of World Universities compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

The rankings, which were issued Aug. 15, use six criteria to measure excellence, including number of alumni and faculty winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, papers published in the journals Nature and Science, papers listed in major citation indices and the per capita academic performance of an institution.
Besides UCLA, two University of California campuses placed in the top 15: UC Berkeley (No. 5), the only U.S. public university ranked higher than UCLA; and UC San Diego (No. 15).
The top 11 in order were Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, Princeton University, University of Oxford, Columbia University, California Institute of Technology, University of Chicago and Yale University...
Well, not quite top, but a good tune:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Plan

Apparently, this (below) is the plan at UC-Berkeley in case demonstrations over speakers get out of hand: [Question: Is there one for UCLA and the other UC campuses?]

From the NY Times: After a planned speech in February by the right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos attracted demonstrators who started fires and shattered windows, the University of California, Berkeley realized it had a major hole in its event planning.

“We did not have enough police officers,” said Dan Mogulof, assistant vice chancellor for public affairs at Berkeley.

So beginning this semester, student groups hosting large events are required to inform the college at least eight weeks in advance, so it has time to prepare a security plan. For the most controversial speakers, hundreds of police officers will be drawn from across the University of California system and also, under mutual aid agreements, from municipal police departments across the region. Security checkpoints and buffer zones will be erected around venues.

Berkeley is ready to spend as much as $500,000 to protect a single lecture, Mr. Mogulof said, and will do so regardless of the speaker’s ideology.

The new protocol was unveiled on Sunday, a day after a woman was killed and dozens of people were injured in Charlottesville, Va., after a series of white supremacist gatherings at the University of Virginia and in the city. The timing was a coincidence, but across the country, college administrators and law enforcement officials are bracing for a wild fall of protests as their campuses become battlegrounds for society’s violent fringes...

Naweed Tahmas, a Berkeley senior and external vice president of the Berkeley College Republicans, said he was concerned that the university’s new events policy allowed administrators to impose curfews or other limitations that would effectively prevent conservatives from speaking. Some colleges have required speakers to appear in the middle of the day, since nighttime events tend to draw more demonstrators and can be harder to control. The dates and times were points of contention when the appearances by Ms. Coulter and Mr. Horowitz were called off.

Mike Wright, a Berkeley senior and the editor in chief of The California Patriot, said the requirement of eight weeks’ notice before a large lecture would prevent student groups from responding to current events. “I think the university’s desire to exercise control in this manner is going to have the unintended consequence of restricting student speech,” he said.

The policy has been put in place on an interim basis, and the university is accepting public comment on it until Oct. 31.

Berkeley said it was prepared to spend money on security if the event required it. “We’re not looking for excuses to block anyone,” Mr. Mogulof said. “The exact opposite. We want to make sure that we have at our disposal every option to ensure these events are safely and successfully held.”

Richard Cohen, the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups, said colleges would be wise to not block extremists from appearing.

“We might want to shame them, or think they are sick, but students have a right to listen to who they want to listen to, and we don’t have the right to censor that,” he said.

He also pleaded, perhaps optimistically, that protesters refrain from shouting down or attacking white supremacists, so they would be denied the opportunity to portray themselves as free speech martyrs.

“Don’t give these fools an audience,” he said.

Full story at

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Speech Initiative at Berkeley

Chancellor Christ
(Let's hope the new Berkeley chancellor also has a Plan B along the lines of yesterday's post on this blog.)

UC Berkeley chancellor unveils 'Free Speech Year' as right-wing speakers plan campus events

Teresa Watanabe, LA Times, 8-15-17

Carol T. Christ, UC Berkeley’s 11th chancellor and the first woman to lead the nation’s top public research university, unveiled plans Tuesday for a “Free Speech Year” as right-wing speakers prepare to come to campus.

Christ said the campus would hold “point-counterpoint” panels to demonstrate how to exchange opposing views in a respectful manner. Other events will explore constitutional questions, the history of Berkeley’s free speech movement and how that movement inspired acclaimed chef Alice Waters to create her Chez Panisse restaurant.

“Now what public speech is about is shouting, screaming your point of view in a public space rather than really thoughtfully engaging someone with a different point of view,” Christ said in an interview. “We have to build a deeper and richer shared public understanding.”

The free speech initiative comes after a rocky year of clashing opinions on campus. In February, violent protests shut down an appearance by right-wing firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos, prompting President Trump to question the campus’ federal funding. A few months later, conservative commentator Ann Coulter canceled a planned appearance after the campus groups hosting her pulled out.

Yiannopoulos has announced plans to return next month to spend days in a “tent city” in Berkeley’s iconic Sproul Plaza. Conservative author and columnist Ben Shapiro is scheduled to visit Sept. 14.

The free speech issue drew the biggest spotlight in the new chancellor’s daylong media interviews and welcoming remarks to 9,500 new students. Christ, dressed in blue ceremonial robes, told the new arrivals that Berkeley’s free speech movement was launched by liberals and conservatives working together to win the right to advocate political views on campus.

“Particularly now, it is critical for the Berkeley community to protect this right; it is who we are,” she said. “That protection involves not just defending your right to speak, or the right of those you agree with, but also defending the right to speak by those you disagree with, even of those whose views you find abhorrent.”

She drew loud applause when she asserted that the best response to hate speech is “more speech” rather than trying to shut down others, and when she said that shielding students from uncomfortable views would not serve them well.

“You have the right to expect the university to keep you physically safe, but we would be providing you less of an education, preparing you less well for the world after you graduate, if we tried to protect you from ideas that you may find wrong, even noxious,” she said.

Although everyone wants to feel comfort and support, Christ said, inner resilience is the “the surest form of safe space.”

But she also emphasized that public safety also is paramount. At a morning news conference dominated by free speech questions, Christ said the February violence triggered by the Yiannopoulos event had underscored the need for a larger police presence. Only 85 officers were on the scene, she said, when a paramilitary group 150 strong marched onto campus with sticks, baseball bats and Molotov cocktails.

Under an interim policy that took effect this week, campus police will provide a security assessment for certain large events that could endanger public safety, and the hosting organizations will be responsible for basic costs. Such organizations will have to give advance notice, preferably eight weeks or longer, and provide detailed timetables — and contracts with speakers may not be finalized until the campus has confirmed the venue and given final approval. The rules will be applied to all events, regardless of viewpoint.

Most of the rules already exist but have not been laid out in a unified, consistent policy known to all, Christ said. She said the student group hoping to host Coulter, for instance, offered her a date and time without checking with campus administrators that a venue was available; none was. Berkeley did not cancel the event, as has been reported, Christ said.

Campus spokesman Dan Mogulof said, “We want to eliminate all gray areas … and make sure there’s clarity about what people need to do so we can help support safe and secure events.”

The campus is accepting public comments on the interim policy until Oct 31.

Christ’s focus on free speech heartened Alex Nguyen, a sophomore studying molecular cellular biology. She said she took the issue especially to heart because her parents were born in Vietnam, where criticizing the government could lead to imprisonment.

“I want her to really protect free speech because there’s really high political tensions here,” Nguyen said of the chancellor. “We’re at the university to learn new things and disprove our ideas.”


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Yes, and???

We're waiting for the rest of the message.
Yesterday, UC President Napolitano sent the letter reproduced below in response to the events in Charlottesville. Note, however, that those events involved in part the campus of the University of Virginia. There are already reports of similar events planned for California including the City of Berkeley. There is a good chance that such events could involve UC campuses. Thus, apart from urging goodwill, there need to be law enforcement plans in place involving campus police, local municipal police, and the state. (Governor Brown, who likes to point out that he is "president" of the Regents needs to have contingency plans, if - as in one recent case at UC-Berkeley - campus and local police can't handle whatever situation emerges.) Perhaps a further letter to the UC community about such planning might follow the message below.


To the University of California Community:
Over the weekend, our country experienced violent and tragic events on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. As the leader of the University of California, an institution dedicated to the vibrant and respectful exchange of ideas, I write to you today to condemn these hateful actions by white supremacists and to reaffirm UC’s values of diversity and inclusion.
As I stated over the weekend, UC abhors the violence and hate displayed in Charlottesville that perverted Americans’ right to speak freely. We stand in solidarity with our colleagues at the University of Virginia in denouncing this shameful display and with the UVA students who bravely stood up to a crowd bent on violence. We offer our profound condolences to the family and friends of Heather Heyer, to all the individuals injured in the course of peaceful counterprotests, and to the Virginia state troopers who lost their lives. 
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants us all freedom of expression. University campuses in particular are meant to foster an exchange of ideas, and to teach students how to respectfully approach viewpoints different from their own — even when those viewpoints are offensive and hurtful. But the acts of domestic terrorism we saw in Charlottesville represented an assault on our cherished values of diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance. We must continue to speak and act against the shameful behavior we witnessed over the weekend and ensure that our colleges and universities, and our nation as a whole, remain safe and civil for all.
Diversity is a defining feature of the University of California and we embrace it as a necessary and valued part of our campus communities. I believe, as I know you do, that our differences — in race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, socioeconomic status, abilities, experience and more — make us stronger.
UC remains committed to providing a safe, supportive, responsive and equitable environment for every member of the university community. We reject all forms of discrimination, commit to fostering an atmosphere of respect and inclusion, and pledge to defend the right to free speech.
This summer and fall, as UC students, faculty and staff return to their campuses, I ask that we all recommit to these enduring values of diversity, equity and inclusion, and work to live up to these ideals in all that we do. 
Yours very truly,
Janet Napolitano

Check out the link below which deals with the U of Virginia which had no contingency plan, and what happened:

Monday, August 14, 2017

From the UC President

Given the makeup of Congress and the president...
Janet Napolitano: Congress has the power — and the responsibility — to protect the ‘dreamers’

By Janet Napolitano, August 11, 2017, Washington Post

...the likelihood that this suggestion will be heeded is likely
 close to zero, despite some bipartisan support.
Five years ago this week, when I was secretary of Homeland Security, we began accepting the first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications from “dreamers” who had been brought to this country without documentation when they were children. I will never forget that day: Tens of thousands of some of the best and brightest young people in our country applied to the program and celebrated their ability to live, work and learn in the only nation most of them had ever known.

Since that time, nearly 800,000 dreamers have gone through the rigorous application process and received DACA’s protections against deportation, including more than 100,000 who have had their applications renewed by the Trump administration.

Today, however, our nation’s dreamers face an uncertain future. Ten Republican state attorneys general are threatening to sue President Trump if he does not repeal DACA by Sept. 5. Worse, it seems unlikely that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will defend the program. During his Senate confirmation hearing, he said it “would certainly be constitutional” to eliminate DACA.

As a former attorney general and governor of Arizona, U.S. secretary of homeland security (and DACA architect during my tenure with the Obama administration), and now president of the largest public research university system in the world, I have seen the consequences of our broken immigration system at every level. In 2012, we took a step forward by implementing DACA. We should not take a step backward now. Protecting dreamers is smart, effective policy that ensures our limited law enforcement resources are spent on those who pose a risk to our communities, not on those who contribute to our state and national economies every day.

To qualify for DACA, dreamers must be in high school or have a diploma or be a veteran, among other requirements. They cannot have been convicted of a felony or major misdemeanor.

Wasting enforcement resources to deport such upstanding community members doesn’t make us safer; it does the opposite. That is why police chiefs from across the country support protecting dreamers. And the president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents U.S. agents working to protect our nation’s borders and which endorsed Trump for president, supports keeping DACA intact.

Maintaining DACA boosts our economy, especially in states with high percentages of immigrants such as California, Arizona and Texas. Dreamers pay taxes. Nearly 55 percent of them have bought cars. Some 12 percent have bought homes, and 6 percent have launched businesses that create jobs for U.S. citizens. They provide a direct economic benefit to our communities and the nation as a whole.

As University of California president, I also see the exceptional contributions that young dreamers make to our country. Most are the first in their families to attend college, and they work hard to further their educations. Some are pursuing PhDs and have ambitious, humanitarian goals, such as working to cure cancer. They represent the very best of our country. They embody the spirit of the American dream.

Trump can and should continue this program, but Congress also has the power and responsibility to protect dreamers. Republican Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Democrat Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) have reintroduced the Dream Act, which would provide a permanent solution for the dreamers. This bill already has bipartisan momentum in the House and Senate. It would allow these young people, most of whom have lived in the United States for nearly their entire lives, the opportunity to continue to live, work and contribute to our country and, after a long application process and additional background checks to travel a pathway to citizenship. Trump can follow through on his commitment to “deal with DACA with heart” by continuing the program and calling on Congress to pass the Dream Act.

Five years ago when DACA was established, I said, “Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner, but they are not designed to be blindly enforced. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language.” For the past five years, these young dreamers have proven that, when given the opportunity to contribute, they exceed expectations. It is time to unlock the full potential of these exceptional young people by making these protections permanent.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Seriously, let's do a test and see what happens

Testing, testing.
The San Francisco Chronicle is running an editorial complaining about the "perks" that were part of the pay package for former UC-Berkeley Chancellor Dirks. It is reproduced below. The editorial notes that his salary was below average for such positions. The argument, nonetheless, is essentially that his overall pay package looks bad to the public.

Thomas Edison, who you see in the picture, was noted for practical, pragmatic experimentation. If you have an idea, see what happens if you try it. You know that electricity can make a wire glow, but it typically burns up after a short time. Still, if you try different materials and techniques, maybe you can make a light bulb.

So here is a test. (And keep in mind that this blog - including in its post of yesterday - has been critical of Dirks.) At some point in the future, one of UC's campuses will need a new chancellor. We don't know which, but one will come along. Let's form a recruitment committee consisting of Jerry Brown (even if he is no longer governor), Gavin Newsom (the lieutenant governor, member of the Regents, and reportedly the leading candidate to succeed Brown), and a member of the Chronicle's editorial board. All these folks have expressed the same opinion on chancellor's pay. So let them choose a pay package that they think won't look bad to the public and go recruiting with it. Let's see who they get. If they come up with a great candidate, the Regents can approve the appointment. Who knows, maybe there is a great candidate out there who will work for whatever they offer, maybe just for the prestige. Or maybe there isn't. We'll see.

The editorial:
UC Berkeley perks are part of the problem

San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board, August 11, 2017

Former UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks worried in the Washington Post last week that the battles over provocative speech that defined the end of his tumultuous tenure were “part of a broader assault on the idea of the university itself.” He argued that this especially threatens “public universities such as Berkeley that already grapple with precipitous declines in state funding” and contributes to a “loss of faith ... in values and institutions.”

Speaking of precarious faith in and financing of public universities, it also emerged last week that Dirks will receive the bulk of his half-a-million-dollar administrative salary during a year off before resuming his work as a history and anthropology professor. 

Granted, Dirks’ well-compensated leave is far from unprecedented in academia, and it amounts to a small fraction of the campus’ nine-figure budget deficit. But such perks help make California’s premier public university system look a lot tougher on student and family budgets than it is on its own.

A long-standing University of California policy gives chancellors returning to faculty posts a year off at full administrative pay after five years. Having served about four years as chancellor at a salary of $531,900, Dirks is eligible for a year’s leave at 82 percent of that, or $434,000. He is expected to use the time to attend conferences, deliver lectures, write a book about (what else?) higher education, and make the presumably jarring transition from administration to faculty, whereupon his salary will plummet by nearly half.

University of California spokeswoman Dianne Klein said the benefit helps Berkeley compete for qualified administrators even though its chancellor salary ranks in the lower third of members of the Association of American Universities, an invitation-only group of elite private and public research institutions. And the job is a tough one, especially for Dirks, who besides right- and left-wing agitators contended with budget deficits and a spate of sexual harassment cases. 

A university survey of other institutions found that most provide paid leave to top administrators returning to faculty jobs. The terms vary, however, and UC’s are among the most generous of the bunch. Moreover, the university has granted extended vacations even to administrators who have resigned in scandal in recent years. As a public system under the social and financial pressures Dirks noted, the university should reconsider what it can afford.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Yes, but...

Former UC-Berkeley Chancellor Dirks wrote an op ed in the Washington Post a few days ago about free speech on campus, etc. It is reproduced in full below. But there is one thing that seems to be missing from the op ed, even if you agree with its general theme. There is no sense that Dirks, thinking now about the recent problems at Berkeley, might in retrospect be entertaining the idea that he and other administrators might have done anything different.

The real issue in the campus speech debate: The university is under assault

By Nicholas B. Dirks, August 9, 2017

There is no doubt that public concern about the vitality of free speech and political debate on American college campuses has legitimate causes. However, the current round of attacks – from the extreme right and left — is a pretext. It is part of a broader assault on the idea of the university itself: on its social functions, on the fundamental importance of advanced knowledge and enlightened debate, on the critical role of science and expertise in public policy and on the significance of intellectuals and serious thought leaders more generally.

It came as a nasty surprise when headlines this past winter and spring proclaimed that free speech at the University of California at Berkeley was dead. The initial image was indelible: an out-of-control bonfire on the central plaza, protesters using black bloc tactics storming the student union, a campus police force overwhelmed by unprecedented violence – which declared under duress that it could no longer control the event and had to cancel the appearance of the self-proclaimed troll and provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos. The next morning we woke up to a tweet from the president, threatening us with the loss of federal funds over our apparent inability to protect free speech.

The headline was repeated later in the spring when Berkeley was unable to schedule Ann Coulter on the only day she decided to visit the campus (contrary to many press reports, we never “cancelled” her visit). And it was repeated recently when the Berkeley College Republicans complained that their invitation of Ben Shapiro was being blocked, when in fact the administration was actively working with the student group to identify appropriate accommodations in an effort to ensure that the event could go forward without disruption.

The headlines took hold not just because of Berkeley’s historical – and now iconic — relationship to free speech, but because they played into the narrative that college campuses in recent years have morphed into cocoons of political correctness that, in their effort to provide safe environments in which students can live and learn, have shifted from policing protesters to policing speech. This narrative has been so strong in certain quarters that conservative support for universities appears to be at an all-time low.

It is true that there were many students, and a significant group of faculty, who held that Yiannapoulos in particular pushed the envelope beyond what the university should tolerate. Yiannapoulos had been known invidiously to identify individual students, as in the case of a trans student he publicly mocked at an event at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee a few months earlier. And protests around Yiannapoulos’s appearances in Seattle and Davis had turned violent. A group of more than 100 faculty petitioned the administration to cancel the event, citing both public safety concerns as well as the rumors that Yiannapoulos was planning to name and attack individual students.

At Berkeley, as at other college campuses across the country, ensuring that students from minority backgrounds feel welcomed and supported, while also insisting on the unfettered exploration of diverse ideas, raises complicated issues even without the eruption of violent protest. Indeed, free speech controversies are embedded in what might seem to be fundamental contradictions, most notably between widely held campus commitments to diversity, inclusion, and social mobility on the one hand, and the constitutional right to free speech on the other.

Faculty and student concern also reflected the fact that for years, important intellectual currents on college campuses have taken aim at core liberal values on the grounds that they have consistently masked the real power relations that make the speech of the marginalized and oppressed seem far from free. However, the desire to insulate the campus community from offensive views has created even greater challenges for the university, and put at risk the animating spirit of the liberal arts. This “small-L” liberalism – meaning the kind of openness to breadth and diversity subscribed to by “conservatives” and “liberals” alike – is fundamental to the utopian mission of the university.

For the most troubling issue we confront today has to do with the loss of faith – on the part of those holding different political positions – in values and institutions that must provide the foundation for the real political work ahead: to make our society genuinely more inclusive; to take on the great challenges, local and global, that confront us; and to allow deep political differences to be debated with respect and serious efforts at mutual understanding. And here the (small-L) liberal role of the university is central, as it has historically served as a model for the kind of civil society that includes robust intellectual exploration and argument.

This is a vision of the university that has deep opponents, from some quarters of the left, but today much more critically from the right. Increasingly, attacks on the university come from those who oppose diversity in American life, who distrust intellectualism as an elitist enterprise, who believe that universities undermine what they see as authentic American values, and who have come to view science as a corrupt enterprise bent on imposing political objectives under the rubric of objectivity. These opponents have been fueled and supported by big money for decades, as Jane Mayer has brilliantly shown in her recent book, “Dark Money.”

My real worry therefore is that the attention that is increasingly directed towards universities – especially towards public universities such as Berkeley that already grapple with precipitous declines in state funding – is part of a more general and sinister assault. This is the assault on truth, science, humanism, cultural openness, decent social values, global collaboration and institutional commitments to free inquiry, unfettered debate and the unwavering pursuit of new and more reliable knowledge. And let there be no misunderstanding: the targeting of university events by extreme groups on both the left and the right threatening (and on occasion, as at Berkeley, enacting) violence not only requires massive expenditure and represents an immense disruption to campus operations, but undermines the core of what a university stands for. Violence is the exact opposite of free speech, the antithesis of our fundamental values.

There is a growing move to use current controversies to regulate free speech on public campuses. In North Carolina, a new bill – similar to bills that have now been passed in many other states, including Colorado, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia, and that have been introduced in states like Wisconsin and California – promising to ensure the free exercise of speech on public college campuses was just passed by the state legislature. At first blush, the bills seem reasonable, even necessary given some recent controversies. If you read through them, however, you realize that there is another agenda altogether in some of the provisions. Examples: State legislatures are to be given the authority to monitor free speech on campuses, demanding yearly reports, insisting (and thus defining) administrative neutrality on all political issues, imposing new rules for student discipline (including expulsion) around any perceived disruption of free speech (again, defining what disruption might mean, as opposed to the exercise of their own free speech rights), and ultimately taking direct responsibility for controlling campus unrest.

The ideas in these bills draw from language developed and promulgated by the Goldwater Institute, a right-wing think tank that has been actively campaigning to introduce more conservative political views on American campuses. These recent bills, however, do much more than introduce ideas, for they are concerted efforts to take direct political control over public colleges and universities.

We have serious work ahead to ensure that college campuses not only understand the full set of legal issues around free speech but also embrace the need for robust representation and debate across the political spectrum. Those on the left who have sought to close down offensive or dissenting views have provided an easy target for the right. By rejecting the procedural commitment to free speech, they have also undermined the substantive value of free speech, which will come back to haunt them as a precedent to censor expressions of their own views. Those on the right who have used invitations to controversial speakers to create headlines rather than foster intellectual exchange have in turn used the thinnest of procedural reeds to undermine the real substance of free speech as well.

As students begin returning to college campuses at the end of August, so too will more controversy over free speech. At Berkeley, Shapiro will soon speak, and Yiannopolous recently announced that he would be inaugurating his new seven-month college tour, the “Troll Academy,” on our campus in early fall. The good news here is that even for Yiannopolous, Berkeley is still synonymous with free speech. Let us hope, however, that the issues around his visit remain about speech, not violence, and that the debate over controversial speakers becomes less shrill. While we welcome a test of the limits of our spirit of inquiry, we would rather not test the resources of our police force once again.

At the same time, however, efforts either by think tanks like the Goldwater Institute, to say nothing of Fox, Breitbart, and other news media that seek only to caricature and ridicule the very idea of the university, are not designed to open the university up, but rather effectively to shut it down. This is part of a full-throated campaign to close the American mind. The time has come to defend the university vigorously, even as we insist on seeking to open it up further: to new ideas, to even more vigorous debate, to more students who have never had the opportunity for advanced education, to engagement with the world, and to the public more generally for whom the idea that college is a public good needs stressing, and demonstrating, today more than ever.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Overtime Settlement

UC owes $1.3 million to thousands of underpaid employees

Alexei Koseff, 8-11-17, Capitol Alert of Sacramento Bee

The University of California has reached a $1.3 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor over a payroll issue that resulted in thousands of non-academic employees being routinely underpaid by small dollar amounts on each paycheck.

UC asked the labor department to investigate in December 2015, after uncovering the problem during the switch to its troubled new payroll system. Incompatible timekeeping methods across its 10 campuses, the university said, led to regular failures in calculating overtime pay for hourly workers.

The agreement, reached in May, covers operations from 2014 through 2016. More than 13,700 current and former employees who were underpaid by at least $20 will receive about $746,000 in back wages and $616,000 in damages, an average of just under $100 per person. The repayments will begin next month.

“UC is moving toward fully implementing UCPath, a single payroll system for all UC employees, which deploys software that calculates pay in accordance with federal standards and minimizes the risk of these issues occurring in the future,” the university wrote in an FAQ for employees. “UCPath will replace the current payroll system in which the miscalculations occurred.”...

Full story at

Note that the problem is tied to the over-budget and much delayed UCPath system.

Rosen's Ring of Truth? - Part 2

For Part 1:

Sports Columnist: Josh Rosen is right to question the value of student-athletes' education

Bill Plaschke, LA Times, 8-10-2017

The season hasn’t even started, and already UCLA’s Josh Rosen is brazenly throwing into traffic.

Mere days after making it clear he was going to take a more subdued approach this fall, the polarizing quarterback made headlines again this week with the publishing of an interview conducted last spring.

In it, Rosen basically said that, when it comes to college football, the phrase, “student-athlete” was a sham.

“Look, football and school don’t go together,” he told Bleacher Report’s Matt Hayes. “They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs.’’

Rosen claimed colleges prioritize athletes’ eligibility ahead of their education. He criticized the lack of meaningful academic help for athletes facing impossible schedules. He even offered a specific example, citing his inability to sign up for a required UCLA class this spring because it interfered with spring football.

“You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they’re more interested in helping you stay eligible,” he said. “There’s so much money being made in this sport. It’s a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.”

Naturally, his words were immediately condemned from ivory towers to hallowed halls. David Shaw, Stanford coach, called his statements “unfortunate.” His coach, Jim Mora, supported his right to speak, but questioned the validity of his opinions.

“I’m really proud of the fact that at UCLA, we have a really tremendous balance of academic and athletics,’’ Mora told reporters Thursday, later adding, “We spend millions of dollars making sure that our student-athletes are not just graduating, but they’re getting an education.’’

Seemingly everyone making money off the billion-dollar business of college football immediately attempted to knock down this latest Rosen laser, which should tell you one thing.

It hit its target. In fact, it might have been the most accurate pass of Rosen’s career.

Numerous studies validate Rosen’s sentiments. Furthermore, there are 280 million reasons why he has the right to express them.

This is the first year of UCLA’s college-record $280-million shoe and apparel deal with Under Armour. That money reflects the perceived value when players such as Rosen trot on to national television wearing Under Armour’s equipment.

Yet Rosen isn’t receiving a penny of that money. Instead, he is being paid in a free education, which some think should be enough to keep him quiet.

It’s the opposite. Rosen has not only the right, but the responsibility, to question whether this education is proper payment for his services.

“If his ‘pay’ is in the form of an education, and then he is unable to extract the full value out of it, he’s getting the short end of the deal,” said Andy Schwarz, a Bay Area antitrust economist who specializes in college sports issues.

UCLA is everything that Mora is touting. It is among the Pac-12 leaders in graduation rates. Its academics are among the best in the country. Its enrollment standards are high enough that Bruins coaches often complain of the difficulties in recruiting great athletes who are marginal students.

But that doesn’t make the life of a UCLA football player any easier, or prohibit Rosen from challenging the school to make the balance between academics and athletics more equitable.

According to a 2015 study of 409 Pac-12 athletes by market researchers Penn Schoen Berland, the average conference athlete spent 50 hours a week on athletics. That’s a full-time job.

In the same study, 80% claimed they missed a class for competition, and 54% said they didn’t have time to study for tests. That’s the result of having two full-time jobs.

Rosen is essentially claiming that academics is clearly the second job, the moonlighting gig, and because of that, players often are steered not toward their real interests, but toward the classes that will keep them in uniform. Rosen correctly wonders, how valuable is that degree if it comes in a field chosen only because it gave him the time to play football?

“They don’t realize they’re getting screwed until it’s too late,” Rosen said. “You have a bunch of people at universities who are supposed to help you out, and they’re more interested in helping you stay eligible.”

Daniel Rascher, sports economist from the University of San Francisco, said one can see the results of these academic barriers in many schools, in the fine print below the players’ names on Saturday afternoon television graphics. Indeed, they all seem to be majoring in the same thing, and it’s seemingly always some ambiguity about humanity and society.

“Adding in a full academic load would be really challenging,” said Rascher. “That’s one reason why we see clustering in certain majors that fit with practice schedules.”

Yet Josh Rosen dares to complain about these institutionally broken promises and he’s the bad guy? Yes, he may have gone overboard in the interview when he targeted Alabama’s academics, saying, “OK, raise the SAT requirement at Alabama and see what kind of team they have.” But instead of Rosen making college administrators angry, he should be making them think.

“There clearly is an incentive to allow enough time for athletes to be eligible and a disincentive to allow more time to focus primarily on being a student,” said Schwarz of college athletics. “As an economist I can say it’s clear that the financial incentives align the way you see them: keep athletes eligible and then after that, keep them at practice rather than in an afternoon science lab.’’

Josh Rosen is only asking for equal time in both. He and other college athletes are owed as much. It’s written right there in the first two syllables of their one-word contract. That’s why it’s called a scholarship.


New Law Signed

Statement from UC President Janet Napolitano on passage of SB 331

UC Office of the President
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

University of California President Janet Napolitano today (August 8) issued the following statement on Senate Bill 331, authored by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, sponsored by UC and signed by Gov. Brown today. This measure allows campus-based domestic violence counselors to keep confidential their communications with survivors of domestic violence. The bill takes effect January 1, 2018.

This legislation will be an important tool in enabling the University of California and other higher education institutions to better assist survivors of domestic violence. Guaranteeing privileged communications between them and their campus counselors will further encourage an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality, while alleviating many fears and concerns about seeking help. We are grateful for Sen. Jackson’s leadership and for Gov. Brown’s support of this important legislation.


Text of law:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Interesting Discussion/Debate

Prof. Andrew Apter
Dennis Prager
You may be unaware of a controversy surrounding the Santa Monica Symphony which is giving a benefit concert in Disney Hall August 16. Usually, concerts are held in Santa Monica and are free. The musicians are a mix of professionals and amateurs. The powers-that-be in the Symphony invited conservative talk-radio host Dennis Prager (KRLA radio in LA and other stations) - who is an amateur conductor - to conduct the benefit concert. Two UCLA professors, Andrew Apter and Michael Chwe, protested the selection and said they wouldn't participate. They circulated a letter that involved some version of a boycott (what it was is part of the controversy). These events then became a brouhaha in conservative media and spilled over into regular news media. It became linked to the controversies around disinvited and blocked conservative speakers on university campuses. For background:
Long story short, Prof. Apter recently appeared on the Prager show and the two debated very civily. Click on link below:

New Drug Provider in 2018

Anthem to replace OptumRx for PPO pharmacy benefits in 2018

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Effective Jan. 1, 2018, Anthem Blue Cross will administer pharmacy benefits for all of UC’s preferred provider organization (PPO) medical plans.

This change will affect faculty, staff and retirees enrolled in the following PPO plans:

-UC Care
-UC Health Savings Plan
-UC High Option Supplement to Medicare
-UC Medicare PPO with Rx

Anthem currently administers medical and behavioral health benefits for UC’s PPO plans, and will continue in that role in 2018.

The decision to shift from OptumRx to Anthem for 2018 followed consultations with faculty, staff and retiree groups, as well as the approval of senior managers within both UC Health and UCOP Human Resources. Although UC and OptumRx have worked hard to improve member experience and to address problems with enrollment and authorizations, UC determined that Anthem would be a better fit as pharmacy benefits administrator for UC’s PPO plans moving forward.

UC is finalizing implementation details with Anthem, working to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for PPO members. More information and answers to your questions will be provided as soon as they’re available, and highlighted in Open Enrollment materials.

OptumRx will continue as the pharmacy benefits administrator for UC’s PPO plans through 2017. If you have questions about your current PPO pharmacy benefits, visit the OptumRx website or call OptumRx at 855-798-4682.


Rosen's Ring of Truth?

From an interview in Bleacher Report with UCLA's quarterback Josh Rosen who has been out with an injury:

...B/R: Look at the bright side: You got a chance to heal, maybe catch up on school.

Rosen: Don't get me started. I love school, but it's hard. It's cool because we're learning more applicable stuff in my major (Economics)—not just the prerequisite stuff that's designed to filter out people. But football really dents my ability to take some classes that I need. There are a bunch of classes that are only offered one time. There was a class this spring I had to take, but there was a conflict with spring football, so...

B/R: So football wins out?

Rosen: Well, you can say that.

B/R: So that's reality for student-athletes playing at a major university?

Rosen: I didn't say that, you did. (Laughs.) Look, football and school don't go together. They just don't. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they're here because this is the path to the NFL. There's no other way. Then there's the other side that says raise the SAT eligibility requirements. OK, raise the SAT requirement at Alabama and see what kind of team they have. You lose athletes and then the product on the field suffers...

Full interview at

Coach Mora had a different view:

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What could possibly go wrong?

University of California San Diego (UCSD) Health has transitioned its EHR [electronic health records] system to the cloud, while its sister hospital is preparing for a similar move by the end of the year.

The transition is part of a broader IT strategy at all five University of California-affiliated hospitals that prioritizes cloud computing and shared data centers. UC Irvine Health, which is in the midst of transitioning from Allscripts to Epic, is scheduled to add its new EHRs to the cloud in November, allowing the two systems to easily share medical records. 
UCSD is the first academic medical center to host its EHRs on Epic’s cloud infrastructure, the health system announced on Monday.

Full story at:

Ah! But do they really know clouds?

State Finance 101

A word about state finance: An article in Bloomberg has the surprising headline "California, Once Compared to Greece, Is Now Trading Better Than AAA."* If you look at the article, you'll find that the theme is that while California bonds are not rated Triple A, their yield is close to bonds that are. So some traders think they are overpriced. The article attributes the premium on California bonds to the presence in the state of rich high-tech types who are attracted by the tax-free aspect of such securities. (Interest on the bonds is exempt from federal and state income tax).

Although we tend to focus on the state's General Fund and its condition, the state has myriad funds outside the General Fund that are earmarked for specific purposes. Some are small; others are large. For example, the gas tax goes into a fund that is used for road repair and other transportation-related activities. Ultimately, it's all cash in the state treasury, whether or not it's labeled "General Fund." The more available cash there is, the lower the perceived risk on state bonds. As the chart above shows, since the bottom of the Great Recession, the amount of "unused borrowable resources" that are available for the controller to tap has risen. Ultimately, that's the reason why California bond yields are low.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Real Estate Rental Info

Assembly Bill No. 990

An act to add Section 66014.2 to the Education Code, relating to public postsecondary education.

Approved by Governor  August 07, 2017. Filed with Secretary of State  August 07, 2017.


AB 990, Rodriguez. Public postsecondary education: California State University: University of California: estimates of off-campus housing costs.

Existing law establishes the California State University, under the administration of the Trustees of the California State University, and the University of California, under the administration of the Regents of the University of California, as 2 of the segments of public postsecondary education in this state. The California State University comprises 23 institutions of higher education, and the University of California comprises 10 institutions of higher education, and these institutions are located throughout the state.

This bill would express legislative findings and declarations relating to the reporting of estimates of off-campus housing costs to students. The bill would require each campus of the California State University, and request each campus of the University of California, to post on its Internet Web site, on or before February 1, 2018, and on or before February 1 of each year thereafter, information about the market cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the areas surrounding that campus where its students commonly reside. The bill would require or request the campuses, in reporting information pursuant to this bill, to exercise due diligence and consult bona fide and reliable sources of current information about local housing market costs, as specified.


SECTION 1. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(1) There is no uniformity or clarity in the reporting of the costs of off-campus housing by campuses of the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC).
(2) Some campuses report an estimated housing budget for a calendar year, others for an academic year, and still others do not specify.
(3) There is no clear indication of how the cost estimates were conceived, and no information about what type of off-campus housing is being discussed.
(4) Campuses located in the same geographic areas report varying housing costs. For example, UCLA reports estimated housing costs of $10,653 for an academic year, while CSU Los Angeles reports housing costs of $13,434. UC Irvine estimates $9,803, while nearby CSU Fullerton estimates $13,882.
(5) Housing cost estimates often do not seem to reflect current market costs: for example, UC Berkeley estimates $7,546 in living costs for a year, which appears to be below market value for that area, and the CSU system lists housing costs in San Luis Obispo ($12,009) as being less than costs in Bakersfield ($13,780).
(6) There is a vital need for accurate information in this regard because estimated housing costs are an important part of the calculation of a student’s need for financial aid.
(b) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature, in enacting this act, to ensure that each campus of the California State University, and to request that each campus of the University of California, provides the timely and accurate estimates of housing costs that its students need to plan for their educational futures.

SEC. 2. Section 66014.2 is added to the Education Code, to read:

66014.2. Each campus of the California State University shall, and each campus of the University of California is requested to, post on its Internet Web site, on or before February 1, 2018, and on or before February 1 each year thereafter, information about the market cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the areas surrounding that campus where its students commonly reside. In reporting this information, the campus shall exercise due diligence, and shall consult bona fide and reliable sources of current information about local housing market costs, including, but not necessarily limited to, information received from students of that campus, local newspapers and bulletin boards, and Internet Web sites on which notices regarding local rental vacancies are posted. The information posted pursuant to this section shall be posted in the same location on the campus Internet Web site where the housing cost estimates for off-campus students are posted.