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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Napolitano Hospitalized

University of California President Janet Napolitano was hospitalized this week for side effects related to the treatment of cancer, which was diagnosed in August, UC officials said Tuesday. Napolitano, who has led the vast university system since 2013, “has consistently performed her wide range of duties at full capacity, without interruption or impact” since beginning treatment for cancer last summer, according to a statement from her office. Napolitano headed the U.S. Homeland Security department between 2009 and 2013.

“Yesterday, however, she experienced side effects that required her to be hospitalized” but is doing well and is expected to be discharged this week, the statement said. Napolitano’s spokeswoman, Dianne Klein, declined to say what kind of cancer it is, citing the president’s privacy. Napolitano had previously been diagnosed and treated for cancer.

ICYMI

In case you missed it, the LA Times ran an editorial yesterday endorsing the UC prez's proposed tuition increase. The editorial was also rather critical of Gov. Brown's lack of vision for UC.

...No one likes to see the price of higher education rise, but if  (UC prez) Napolitano is true to her word and this money is used solely to improve the education of those who pay it, the price hike is justified. There are valid concerns about the long-term funding of the university, but for the short-term, preserving UC’s quality in exchange for a small increase in tuition and fees is the right move. The Board of Regents should approve the price hike when it meets next week...

The governor, who has never been a major supporter of UC, basically resisted anything that would help the university bring in more money — higher tuition, better funding from the state or admitting more out-of-state students, who bring geographic diversity to campus in addition to paying a higher tuition that helps fund financial aid for low-income Californians. Instead, Brown expressed his preference for a more austere UC, one that saves money by pushing more online courses and prodding professors into teaching more classes while engaging less in research and other academic pursuits.

That’s not a vision, though. It’s short-sighted frugality that would strip down one of the state’s best-run and most admired institutions...

Full editorial at http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-uc-tuition-hike-20170113-story.html

Monday, January 16, 2017

Preliminary Regents Agenda

A preliminary version of the Jan. 25-26 Regents meeting is now posted.* Upcoming topics include creation of a nursing school at Irvine and the construction of an addition to the Anderson complex at UCLA. In closed session, there will be discussion of litigation in various sexual misconduct cases including the Dean Sujit Choudhry affair at Berkeley.** There will also be discussion of the possible effects of the incoming Trump administration. You can bet that the proposed tuition increase will be aired in the public comment sessions.

As always, since the Regents "archive" recordings of their meetings for only one year, we will endeavor to archive the audio of the sessions indefinitely.
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*http://regents.universityofcalifornia.edu/meetings/agendas/jan17.html
**https://casetext.com/case/choudhry-v-regents-of-the-univ-of-cal
http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/files/2016-09-22-pl-motion-in-support-of-preliminary-injunction---doc-no-13.pdf
http://www2.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Choudry-dismissal.pdf

Raising Tuition May Be Tough

News stories like this one from Inside Higher Ed may lead to significant political resistance to UC's plan to raise tuition:

Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo plans today to propose that the state offer two tuition-free years for full-time students in public higher education.
Students at the Community College of Rhode Island would pay no tuition while earning an associate degree. For state residents who start at Rhode Island College or the University of Rhode Island, their junior and senior years would be tuition-free. There is no income limit, although the public system in Rhode Island serves many more low-income students than wealthy students.
Those who participate at the Community College of Rhode Island will not also be able to do so at the four-year institutions. Room and board are not covered by the proposal. To qualify for the tuition waiver at the four-year institutions, students must have completed 60 credits of course work by the end of their sophomore year, declared a major and maintained a grade point average of at least 2.0.
The proposal is another sign that the idea of tuition-free public higher education -- presumed by many to be dead after Hillary Clinton pushed the concept and lost the presidential election -- may have more legs in the states than at the federal level. Raimondo's proposal comes two weeks after Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York proposed tuition-free public higher education for those from families with incomes up to $125,000.
Both governors are Democrats. But while Cuomo must deal with powerful Republican legislators in the New York State Senate, Raimondo has a General Assembly with two houses that are overwhelmingly Democratic.*
David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island, said in an interview Sunday that he was "very enthusiastic about the plan" and thought it had good prospects for being enacted into law...
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*Note that both houses in California are also heavily Democratic.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Is Davis the New Berkeley?

UC-Davis seems to be the center of conflict and controversy these days, reminiscent of UC-Berkeley in the 1960s. Most blog readers will recall the pepper-spray cop incident at Davis a few years back that got national attention - even the attention of Harry Shearer. (See link below.) The pepper spraying - which was linked to "Occupy" protests at that time - seemed to kick off a series of events.

For example, there was last year's conflict between student groups and the Davis chancellor (who earlier had nearly lost her job over the pepper spray affair). This one ended with sit-ins in the chancellor's office and open warfare between the UC prez and the chancellor. The prez won that one.

We now have a new event. Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos - who regularly visits college campuses and sparks protests - was supposed to speak at Davis last Friday. But the event was shut down due to counter demonstrations. He then came back the next day and held a campus rally anyway.

You can read about the most recent events and see videos on the Sacramento Bee website at:
http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article126676049.html
http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article126556819.html

The interim chancellor at Davis reacted officially at:
https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/message-interim-chancellor-ralph-j-hexter-event-cancellation

Harry Shearer's musical account of the pepper spray incident is at:

PS: According to Yiannopoulos' website, he plans to be at UCLA on Feb. 2.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Changing Climate (for Research)

Capitol Alert blog of Sacramento Bee, Jan. 13, 2017

Do they need a ‘damn satellite’? Why Trump worries California scientists

BY ADAM ASHTON

At the conference last month where Gov. Jerry Brown declared the state would “launch its own damn satellite” if the Trump administration restricts access to climate data, a group of scientists from the University of California gathered in a side room to figure out how to do just that.

Alarmed by statements they’d read from members of Trump’s transition team, the scientists brainstormed whether they could find new data sources or if they could somehow partner with a private company to pay for a satellite program.

The group did not settle on a plan, and it may not need to find one. It’s unclear whether President-elect Donald Trump’s administration actually would make it more difficult for researchers to access information from NASA satellites they’ve been using for years.

But the gathering was another sign that California scientists don’t know what to expect from an incoming Trump team. They’re preparing for everything from a cut in funding for scientific research to a public relations campaign deriding their work.

“We’re being pre-emptive. It would be a mistake not to think preemptively,” said Ben Houlton, the director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at UC Davis, who participated in the meeting with fellow UC researchers last month.

In many cases, state scientists are girding to protect programs they’ve cultivated for decades. The Department of Water Resources, for instance, has been looking at how global warming would affect water storage since the 1980s.

That kind of work lately has enjoyed widespread public support. A report released this week from the Public Policy Institute of California noted that 81 percent of residents view global warming as a serious threat, and that more than two-thirds of residents surveyed in a July poll favor California laws limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Brown’s 2017-18 budget released this week included a six-page section on climate change and an appeal for the Legislature to explicitly extend the authority of the Air Resources Board’s cap-and-trade program. He told reporters in his budget remarks that the didn’t think the state would have to follow through on building a satellite, but he wouldn’t rule it out.

“The silver lining of all of this is we’re in California, so we’re probably in the safest place we can be to talk about climate change. There’s enough understanding of what’s at risk that this work is not going to stop,” said Amber Pairis, a state scientist who leads a climate science program in San Diego that’s partly funded by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Here’s a look at the main ways that California state scientists say a Trump administration could upend their work.

My facts are your fake news

After his election, Trump met with former Vice President Al Gore and told The New York Times he’d keep an “open mind” about climate change research.

But his earlier statements are shaping worries in the scientific community that he’ll cast doubt about their work. Before he launched his presidential bid, for instance, Trump declared on Twitter that global warming was a hoax “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

Robert Walker, a former congressman who advised Trump’s team on space exploration, in October also published an editorial in which he derided “politically correct environmental monitoring” by NASA.

“More than anything, it’s this fact-free society that concerns me,” said Houlton, who has reached out to lawyers and colleagues from the humanities in addition to other UC scientists since Trump’s election. They’re trying to think of ways to communicate differently about climate change to connect with people who have disagreed with them in the past.

Challenging environmental regulations

During the Obama administration, the California Air Resources Board’s pollution-control policies were largely in sync with programs coming out of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that aimed to increase auto mileage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Both the state board and the EPA are monitoring the auto industry’s compliance with new mileage standards, and both agencies issued reports in July suggesting that they expected car manufacturers to hit the targets.

Two days after the election, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers President Mitch Bainwol wrote a letter asking the Trump transition team to review those policies and others.

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s choice to lead the EPA, has a long record as Oklahoma’s attorney general of challenging federal environmental regulations to promote economic growth. Trump’s energy platform calls for boosting fossil fuel production.

As a result, the Air Resources Board could find itself standing alone to stick up for the regulations it advanced during Obama’s terms.

“More eyes are on us because we’re seen as more of a leader with less leadership coming out of Washington in climate and other areas,” said Dan Sperling, a UC Davis professor who sits on the Air Resources Board.

Cutting federal climate research

Paying for an expensive environmental study sometimes takes a mix of state, federal and private funds. Some scientists worry that new priorities from the White House will mean an end to new grants for climate research.

“We’re worried about these big, large-scale creative endeavors. It’s going to be hard to fund them,” said Pairis, whose Climate Science Alliance works to help Southern California communities prepare for climate change. It’s funded by state, federal and philanthropic sources.

Lately, the state has partnered with federal scientists on several studies that assess how global warming could affect California’s water resources. The results shape decisions on how to fund new water storage projects, said John Andrew, who has led the climate change program at the Department of Water Resources since 2006.

Opportunities for those studies developed after Obama took office and sought to collaborate with the department, he said.

“It’s just speculative to say where the next administration will be in reality,” he said. “Where there are opportunities to do things, we’ll certainly take advantage of them, and where there isn’t, there certainly is support to continue it at the state level.”

Turning back the satellites

The remarks that caught Brown’s attention when he gave his call-to-arms last month came from Trump space adviser Walker. His October editorial and interviews he gave in November suggested Trump would restrict NASA’s earth science budget or steer that kind of work to another federal agency.

Throughout California, scientists rely on NASA images almost daily to study the water content of the state’s snowpack, prepare for weather hazards or track natural disasters.

“It’s data availability that would concern me,” said Roger Bales, director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at UC Merced. “That would affect not just research, but it would affect response to natural hazards and management decisions around forests and water resources. There’s a lot of money riding on those data.”

Trump’s team has not sent any new signals suggesting it would follow Walker’s guidance. Gov. Brown in his budget remarks noted that silence likely meant the satellites were safe. After all, NASA has already spent the money to put the data-gathering satellites in space and budgeted funds to operate them.

But Bales and other researchers are watching the programs closely, just in case they’re targeted for cuts.

“We should be concerned,” Houlton said. “We should take this as a call to arms. And we should collaborate like never before.”

Source: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article126480164.html

Brown on the UC-Managed National Labs:

No Fly Zone

Prof. Sanford Jacoby - in a Facebook post - points to a state-funded travel ban that applies to UC:

PROHIBITION ON STATE-FUNDED AND STATE-SPONSORED TRAVEL TO STATES WITH DISCRIMINATORY LAWS (ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 1887)

In AB 1887, the California Legislature determined that "California must take action to avoid supporting or financing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people." (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (a)(5).) To that end, AB 1887 prohibits a state agency, department, board, or commission from requiring any state employees, officers, or members to travel to a state that, after June 26, 2015, has enacted a law that (1) has the effect of voiding or repealing existing state or local protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; (2) authorizes or requires discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; or (3) creates an exemption to antidiscrimination laws in order to permit discrimination against same-sex couples or their families or on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subds. (b)(1), (2).) In addition, the law prohibits California from approving a request for state-funded or state-sponsored travel to such a state. (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (b)(2).)

The travel prohibition applies to state agencies, departments, boards, authorities, and commissions, including an agency, department, board, authority, or commission of the University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, and the California State University. (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (b).)

The law also requires the Attorney General to develop, maintain, and post on her Internet Web site a current list of states that are subject to the travel ban. (Gov. Code, § 11139.8, subd. (e).)

States Subject to AB 1887’s Travel Prohibition
The following states are currently subject to California’s ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel:

Kansas
Mississippi
North Carolina
Tennessee...

Source: https://oag.ca.gov/ab1887 (Various exceptions, listed in this source apply.)