Saturday, February 24, 2018

Listen to the Regents Working Group on Executive Pay, 2-23-2018

The Regents Working Group on Executive Compensation met yesterday in advance of the March Regents meeting at which the group's report is due. Unfortunately, the official recording (which the Regents preserve for only one year) cuts off before the meeting ended. You can hear the audio at the link below (which, of course, also cuts off).

The main controversial element is that the consultant hired to make pay comparisons was instructed - to comply with the demands of the state auditor - to include CSU and state government positions. At the end of the recording, UC president Napolitano expresses concerns about a "slippery slope" in making such comparisons on the grounds that UC looks for a different pool of talent than CSU. It might be emphasized that the positions involved are executives, not ordinary faculty. However, they cover academic executives, e.g., chancellors, who normally start their careers in faculty positions. According to the report, if the CSU and state positions were removed, the medians in the applicable compensation ranges would rise on the order of ten percent.

The audio link is below:


The consultant's report is at:

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Court of Academic Opinion is Preferable to the Other Kind

An interesting column by Michael Hiltzik today reports on a lawsuit, filed and no withdrawn, by a Stanford professor who didn't like a critique of a published paper he had written.
Stanford environmental professor Mark Z. Jacobson made a big splash in 2015 with a paper predicting that renewable sources could provide 100% of the energy needed in the 48 contiguous states by 2050. But he made an even bigger splash last September, when he responded to a critique of his claim published in a leading scientific journal by filing a $10-million defamation lawsuit. After taking months of flak for what seemed to be an effort to stifle legitimate scientific debate by bringing it into the courtroom, Jacobson withdrew the lawsuit Thursday... 

(As a result of the lawsuit) the discussion got sidetracked by the issue of whether research publications or courtrooms were the proper venues to hash out scientific issues. By withdrawing his case, Jacobson has given us an answer.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

How do you spell UC?

The quotation "I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right." is widely cited in journalism, public relations and advertising books where it is variously meant to reflect the importance of the media, the power of publicity, and/or the arrogance of celebrities. Some people believe it; others dispute it. Either way, it perfectly captures the now out-dated but once-popular notion that there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Because it's clever and easy to remember, it's been widely quoted for a hundred years or more. Ironically, those who have quoted it have attributed it to a wide-range of speakers. It appears that lots of people have said it, or are given credit for saying it, but no one seems to know who said it first...

Full source at

The final tally is in — UC's highest one-year payout for sex harassment settlements

Sexual harassment payouts at the University of California spiked in 2016-17 at more than $3.4 million, with students and university employees filing claims ranging from inappropriate hugging and kissing to sexual assault, according to new documents released by UC to The Bee. The UC system, whose president has pressed for changes in the institutional culture, was hit especially hard last year by two settlements that exceeded $1 million each.

A [Sacramento] Bee investigation published last month showed that UC was second only to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in the number of sexual harassment settlements and their costs in recent years. Both entities also are the largest in state government, with UC the No. 1 employer, followed by Corrections...

Full story at

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Push Back

A student who demanded that UC San Diego cancel a class about Woody Allen because she thinks the director is morally offensive has been told no and given a bit of a lecture on free speech from the school.

The university was responding to Savanah Lyon, a 23 year-old theater student who pressed her demand in an online petition that got more than 14,000 signatures.

Lyon says UC San Diego should not teach “The Films of Woody Allen” because he was accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter when she was young. Allen has never been charged with such conduct, and the director has denied the allegations.

UC San Diego said in a statement, “The (Academic) Senate supports the right to the continued teaching of this course now and in the future.

“As importantly, the Senate supports and will vigorously maintain the right of all faculty to participate in the principles of academic freedom: these advance and preserve the University as a singular institution for the free exchange of ideas and debate that cannot and should not be diminished by forces that seek to restrict and canalize course content in favored directions.”

The controversy centered on a class that is being taught by Steven Adler, a prize-winning theater professor who has not responded to requests from the Union-Tribune for an interview.

However, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla was blunt on Tuesday when asked what he would have done if Lyon had asked him to cancel one of his own classes for the same reasons.

“I would have told her to move on and get out of my classroom,” Khosla said. “I get to teach in my class.”

In an email, Lyon said Tuesday, “I am disappointed but not surprised in their decision. I had hoped that the Academic Senate would listen to a student who is advocating for herself and for her peers in an institution that seems to be incapable of recognizing and listening to us.

“But they sided with the university and the protection of ‘academic freedom.’ I will continue to stand up and speak out against what I feel is wrong and I know that there will be people beside me helping me along the way. “


A matter of good governance:

Asking for more

At a legislative hearing yesterday, students lobbied for more UC funding. Everyone at the hearing was polite. Whether "more" results is another matter:

Students from across the UC system attended a hearing held by the California Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance on Tuesday afternoon to lobby for increased state funding for the university.
About 30 students from various UC campuses were set to speak during the hearing’s public comment, according to UC Office of the President spokesperson Dianne Klein. She said the student-led lobbying campaign is part of a combined effort between the University of California Student Association, or UCSA, and the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, to campaign legislators for increased state investment in the university.
“While it’s the height of irony for students to miss their classes while advocating for those classes to be properly funded by the state, we’re ready to show our legislators that we will hold them accountable for decades of disinvestment,” said Varsha Sarveshwar, the ASUC’s “Fund the UC” campaign manager, in a public statement released by the ASUC Office of the External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP.
Klein said the alliance has grown from both organizations’ shared dissatisfaction with Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to increase the higher education budget by only 3 percent — which is about a $32 million deficit from the 4 percent increase originally negotiated by UCOP.
Since the UC Board of Regents voted in January to postpone their vote on tuition hikes, UCSA and UCOP have created a partnership based on a mutual understanding of the UC’s need for increased state funding, according to UCSA President Judith Gutierrez...
Full story at
When pressed about the long-term diminution of UC funds, a representative of the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) basically said it was a matter of legislative priorities.
You can see the hearings at the link below:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Any adults at UC-Berkeley watching over this?

BERKELEY, Calif., Feb. 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Neighborly Corporation, a San Francisco-based public finance technology platform, today announced it is partnering with the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, and Berkeley elected officials, to launch the Berkeley Blockchain Initiative (BBI). The BBI will leverage blockchain technology to develop a first-of-its-kind tokenized municipal bond compliant with all regulatory requirements.

Through ongoing research and collaboration, the initiative will seek to identify ways that Neighborly's secure platform can be used to deliver low-cost, tax-exempt public finance offerings that could benefit residents of Berkeley and other municipalities. More importantly, the BBI will look to channel funds raised toward addressing some of the City of Berkeley's most pressing issues, including a lack of affordable housing and recent surges in its homeless population...

By working with Neighborly and the UC Berkeley Blockchain Lab, Berkeley is looking to harness the power of blockchain and the cryptocurrency movement for social good. Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin commented: "Cities must look toward new funding methods to solve their most intractable problems, especially in the face of diminished federal support. Berkeley is proud to once again be leading the way in solving problems through public financing."...

Full release at

What could possibly go wrong with creating cryptocurrency at UC-Berkeley?

Keep 'em smiling

How's everyone doing so far? Am I being clear? Anyone confused?
Professors might ask these questions midway through a lecture to get a sense of students’ moods. The scattered answers often aren’t very helpful, if they’re even accurate.
With sentiment analysis software, set for trial use later this semester in a classroom at the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, instructors don’t need to ask. Instead, they can glance at their computer screen at a particular point or stretch of time in the session and observe an aggregate of the emotions students are displaying on their faces: happiness, anger, contempt, disgust, fear, neutrality, sadness and surprise.
The project team hopes the software will help instructors tailor their teaching approaches to levels of student interest, and to address areas of concern, confusion and apathy from students. If most students drift into negative emotions midway through the session, an instructor could enliven that section with an active assignment. If half the students are happy and the other half aren’t, the latter group might be getting left behind.
Meanwhile, the "creepy" factor that pervades many new technology tools lingers over that potential. "Inside Digital Learning" talked to some analysts who worry that the superficial appeal of this affective computing technology might be obscuring larger concerns. Others, though, think this tool could be a worthwhile addition to a professor's own emotional judgment...
Full story from Inside Higher Ed at: