Saturday, October 21, 2017

UC Prez on National Defense, Free Speech, & Other Topics

Janet Napolitano appeared for a six-minute interview on "Morning Joe," talking about various topics including national defense, free speech, etc. Oddly, immigration issues did not come up, at least in the posted material. You can see what she said at the link below: [Direct embedding did not work for mysterious computer reasons.]

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bias in Economics - Part 2

Blog readers will recall our posting about bias in the labor market for academic economists. If not:

The American Economic Association (AEA) has now sent out an email notice on the subject:

Statement of the AEA Executive Committee
October 20, 2017

To: Members of the American Economic Association
From: Peter L. Rousseau, Secretary-Treasurer
Subject: Statement of the AEA Executive Committee

Many members of the economics community have expressed concern about offensive behavior within our profession that demeans individuals or groups of individuals. The American Economic Association strongly condemns misogyny, racism, homophobia, antisemitism and other behaviors that harm our profession. 

AEA President Alvin E. Roth has charged an ad hoc committee on professional conduct to formulate a set of guidelines for economists to be considered by the Executive Committee. The ad hoc committee is charged with evaluating various aspects of professional conduct, including those which stifle diversity in Economics. It will submit a report in time for discussion in January. There will be a period for comment by the AEA membership on that report following its release.

The Association is also exploring the possibility of creating a website/message board designed to provide additional information and transparency to the job market for new Ph.D.s, and! will be surveying departments to assess what information about their search processes might be shared.


Texas A&M University System regents voted unanimously Thursday to authorize the system to compete for a contract to run Los Alamos National Laboratory, centerpiece of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex and part of the portfolio overseen by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, a graduate of A&M.
The action by the A&M System Board of Regents, meeting at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, about 150 miles north of Austin, comes exactly a month after University of Texas System regents authorized their system to spend up to $4.5 million to prepare a bid to operate Los Alamos.
The lab, which is tucked into the mountains of northern New Mexico, is currently operated by Los Alamos National Security LLC, a consortium of the University of California, the Bechtel Corp., BWXT Government Group Inc. and the URS unit of AECOM.
The contract's fate will be decided in 2018. Essentially, all of this goes back to the World War II Manhattan Project and its link to the UC-Berkeley physics department.
We always take this opportunity to recommend the BBC "Oppenheimer" series to give insight into the history:

What Happened?

Exactly what happened in the incident described below is unclear. The Inside Higher Ed story refers to a joint meeting by College Republicans and Democrats. Most accounts online of the incident appear in conservative sources that make no mention of Democrats. (One account makes mention of a Democrat in attendance as an individual.) The local Santa Cruz Sentinel appears not to have any account of the incident.

Arrests Over Shutting Down of Event at Santa Cruz

By Nick Roll, October 20, 2017, Inside Higher Ed

The University of California, Santa Cruz, Police Department arrested three students for disrupting a meeting organized by College Republicans and College Democrats Sunday night. A Santa Cruz spokesman, Scott Hernandez-Jason, said the students who were arrested refused repeated requests from other students, staff and police officers to leave a conference room booked by the College Republicans in the library.

The students were arrested for disturbing the peace, failure to disperse, unlawful assembly and trespassing. Police intervened “so that we could protect the students’ right to meet.”

“These are the kinds of meetings we want to see taking place -- two groups with differing views having meaningful discussions,” Hernandez-Jason said in an email. “It’s unfortunate and disappointing that a few students disrupted their meeting and refused repeated requests to leave.”
In a video posted online, the protesters said that the College Republicans' act of hosting private meetings was a disturbance that ought to be shut down.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Admissions Bill Signed

Assembly Bill No. 1674


An act to add Section 68052.1 to the Education Code, relating to the University of California.

Approved by Governor  October 14, 2017. Filed with Secretary of State  October 14, 2017.


AB 1674, Grayson. University of California: nonresident student enrollment.

Existing law expresses the intent of the Legislature that the University of California establish nonresident student tuition policies that are consistent with their resident student fee policies. The provisions are applicable to the University of California only if the Regents of the University of California act, by resolution, to make them applicable.

This bill would request the University of California, in collaboration with the Academic Senate of the University of California, to ensure that implementation of any admissions policy regarding admission of nonresident undergraduate students includes guidance that ensures the academic qualifications for admitted nonresident undergraduate students generally exceeds the academic qualifications of resident undergraduate students, and would request the University of California to report specified information to the Legislature annually regarding implementation of the policy.


SECTION 1. Section 68052.1 is added to the Education Code, to read:

68052.1. The University of California is requested to comply with both of the following:

(a) By July 1, 2018, the University of California, in collaboration with the Academic Senate of the University of California, is requested to ensure that implementation of any admissions policy it adopts regarding admission of nonresident undergraduate students shall include guidance that ensures that the academic qualifications for admitted nonresident undergraduate students generally exceeds, on average, the academic qualifications of resident undergraduate students admitted at each campus.
(b) The University of California is requested to report to the Legislature annually regarding implementation of this policy, including, but not limited to, the mean and median scores on academic indicators of admitted resident and nonresident undergraduate students at each campus.


Drug Defense

How the University of California Is Fighting Proxy Patent Battle for Expensive Cancer Drug in India

Anoo Bhuyan, Oct. 17, 2017, The Wire

UCLA appears to be representing the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Medivation and Astellas in its battle. They aren’t telling the Delhi high court this, but they do talk about it in other documents. 

New Delhi: Xtandi is a life-prolonging cancer drug and sells at about Rs 2.7 lakh for a month’s course in India – that’s for four tablets daily. It works for patients with stage-four prostate cancer who have exhausted their drug options and also cannot be treated with castration. The prostate is among the top ten sites of cancer in the Indian population and prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men worldwide.

Xtandi does not have a patent in India. Its patent application was rejected in 2016 on the grounds of “obviousness and lack of patentable invention”. This means patients are able to avail of generic versions that cost about Rs 70,000 a month, nearly three times less than the trademarked drug Xtandi.

But the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which developed the drug with US taxpayer money and holds the patent, has bypassed the patent office and is fighting a battle in the Delhi high court. They are represented by former Union minister P. Chidambaram, who has made two appearances in the case this year. Of the hundreds of pages they have filed in their writ petition, which The Wire has reviewed, they have not mentioned even once that there are big pharmaceutical companies with whom UCLA has commercial relationships on this drug. And curiously, a Pfizer lawyer has been given the power of attorney. And curiously, a Pfizer lawyer has been given the power of attorney.

A proxy battle for Pfizer, Medivation and Astellas

But what does Pfizer have to do with UCLA’s patent battle? Absolutely nothing, if one goes by what UCLA has filed in their petition.

However, other documents as well as communication with The Wire reveal that Pfizer has a lot to do with UCLA pursuing this battle. In fact, the legal battle is “filed and is being controlled and managed by and at the request of Medivation and its commercial partner Astellas,” according to a letter from John C. Mazziotta, the CEO of the UCLA Health System, on September 7, 2017. Pfizer acquired Medivation in 2016.

Although UCLA developed the drug with public money and holds the patent, it has given up any role in setting the price of the drug. As a result, in the US, the drug is sold at the highest price compared to any developed country, according to the Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT).

Xtandi is now increasingly inaccessible to the very public that funded it in the US, where it sells for about Rs 6.9 lakh per month ($10,772). With a price of Rs 2.7 lakh ($4,172) per month and a patent battle threatening generic production in India, the drug becomes inaccessible to the rest of the world as well.

Globally, Xtandi is one of the top-selling cancer drugs, slated to be in the top five by 2022. This is good news for Pfizer and Astellas. Not having a patent in India on a drug like Xtandi is bad news for them.

UCLA seems to be putting forth two different points based on where it is speaking. Inside court, it has presented itself as an aggrieved educational institution, promoting its academic interests. Outside court, documents reveal that the university is only proxy-battling this at the bidding of its commercial partners, fronting for one of the most expensive cancer drugs in the world.

UCLA denies acting on behalf of big pharma in court

Xtandi is a trademark of Astellas. Its active ingredient is Enzalutamide. Xtandi prolongs the lives of those who have metastatic, castration-resistant, prostate cancer for a few months. It is administered towards the end of a patient’s life when they are already in stage four of prostate cancer, as a third- or fourth-line drug. This is after doctors have already tried things like Bicalutamide, Abiraterone and Docetaxel. After Xtandi, doctors may still try Cabazitaxel.

“As such, by the time patients have reached the stage of Xtandi, they have already spent large amounts of money trying to prolong their lives by a few months with all these other drugs. Generic versions are far more affordable to patients at this stage,” says Dr Alok Gupta, a uro-medical oncologist at Max Hospital in Delhi. “In India, due to ignorance and low levels of screening especially among poor patients, they often come to us only when the disease is already presenting its symptoms. At these late stages, poor patients only have options like Xtandi to help them. We would of course like to prescribe drugs that can help them. But these prices are prohibitive,” says Dr Gagan Prakash, associate professor and urologic oncologist at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.

Over the last year, health watchers from several countries, including India, have written to UCLA, asking them to drop their pursuit of this patent in India. Letters have also been written to Hollywood biggie Sherry Lansing, former CEO of the Paramount Pictures Motion Group. She has an entire foundation in her name dedicated to cancer research. At UCLA, she is the chair of the University’s Health Services Committee. UCLA’s school of medicine was named after another Hollywood heavyweight – David Geffen of DreamWorks SKG – who donated $200 million to the university in 2002, making it the single largest gift to a US medical school.

The Wire sent UCLA nine questions. The Wire also sent five questions for Lansing. UCLA’s Phil Hampton, sent a 163-word reply, answering no question in specific. He also did not confirm if he had forwarded the questions to Lansing. Lansing’s other offices have not replied to The Wire nor to those who have petitioned her for action.

UCLA’s reply says “UCLA’s licensee is pursuing a patent in India under an agreement not subject to re-negotiation.” The licensees here are Pfizer through Medivation and Astellas.

With this, the university says that the licensee is pursuing the patent and not the university itself.

But UCLA’s statement to The Wire is contrary to the writ petition they have filed in court – the university itself, and not the licensees, have filed a writ petition in India against the rejection of its patent. In fact, UCLA’s petition has not mentioned the licensees even once, it has denied any attempt to conceal them from the court in its subsequent filings, and has definitely not made these commercial bodies a party to their case, although they are apparently the ones “pursuing a patent”.

This isn’t all. On September 7, 2017, Mazziotta replied to letters from the UACT and Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), both of whom have been writing to UCLA on the pricing and patent strategies behind Xtandi. Mazziotta says in technical detail that the patent appeal in India has been “filed and is being controlled and managed by and at the request of Medivation and its commercial partner Astellas”. He says Medivation is the commercial licensee for Xtandi and “The licensee usually has a significant role in the prosecution of patent applications,” including paying for its cost and choosing which countries to pursue patents, he said.

With this, UCLA says that the reason for pursuing this case is because the commercial licensees have asked for it. But this does not answer why UCLA is saying in court that the university has filed the case of its own accord.

There is no official trace of Pfizer, Medivation or Astellas in this litigation, except for the power of attorney granted to Samir Kazi, care of Pfizer Limited, Jogeshwari, Mumbai. He has sworn to court that all the affidavits of UCLA have been “drafted on the basis of instructions given by me” and “nothing material or relevant has been concealed therefrom”. Pfizer has not replied to The Wire’s email with queries on this.

Likewise, UCLA ignored the three specific questions on this asked by The Wire. However, an answer comes from one of the subsequent documents they filed in the Delhi high court, where they said, “It is completely irrelevant that the product XTANDI is apparently manufactured for or on behalf of Medivation Inc, a subsidiary/ sister company of Pfizer Inc, and is sold by Astellas Pharma”. They continued, “It is denied that the failure by the Petitioner to specifically identify the purported commercial interested entities referred to above is deliberate”. They also denied that they have concealed material in their writ petition “in an attempt to secure relief that it is not entitled to, including information relating to the true party or parties who have or may have an interest”.

Seen in light of UCLA’s contradictory statements inside and outside court, Pfizer deputing an attorney on this case seems unsurprising; after all the company has an undeniable commercial interest here. But what is not clear is why the university is fighting the public and proxy-battle for these companies.

It is these contradictory statements which have made health advocates suspicious of this case. “University of California, at the time of licensing this product, did not look at serious access issues in the developing world. The drug is virtually in the hands of Pfizer. This case is basically Pfizer, using the name of University of California, asking the court to review this patent,” says Leena Menghaney, head of the access campaign for South Asia at Medecins Sans Frontieres. “We expect Pfizer or Astellas to pursue the patent in India, but the University of California should have done things differently,” says James Love, director of KEI.

UCLA contradicts own ‘Licensing Guidelines’ 

Replying sharply to Mazziotta’s letter, Manon Anne Ress, the acting director for UACT, said that this case is “a sobering reminder of the excessive and shamefully unaffordable prices associated with your invention in India”. She told him to “stop patronising” them. In court, the case is being opposed by two pharmaceutical companies, two individuals and the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance. Globally, the patent is being opposed by health advocates in India, the US and even Chile.

Ress draws attention to UCLA’s own Licensing Guidelines in a reply to questions from The Wire. The guidelines spell out how UCLA could pursue its intellectual properties.

UCLA’s Licensing Guidelines advise the university and its licensees to pursue patents only in those developed countries which can afford it and to not seek patent protection in developing countries. This is part of the university’s “public benefit mission” to promote access to essential medical innovations in the developing world through “humanitarian patenting and licensing strategies”. The guidelines call for “alternate licensing” in the developing world, to allow generic manufacture to provide the same drugs without license agreements with UCLA and to even forego royalties in these countries.

Healthcare watchers see none of this reflected in the UCLA’s conduct in the US or in India. “The university claims its license carries an obligation to assist in the litigation, but it should not have a contract that runs counter to its own licensing policy guidelines,” says Love.

Menghaney, Ress and Love all point to India’s status as the generic drug supplier for much of the world. “The grant of a patent on Xtandi in India would prevent generic competitors from supplying the drug at an affordable price, in India and in other countries where there is no patent,” says Ress.

With these differing approaches inside and outside court, UCLA’s case is slated to come up in the Delhi high court in December 2017.


Chain Mail (on Retiree Health)

A series of letters regarding retiree health benefits and the recent aborted attempt to drop the 70% floor at the July 2017 regents meeting:

From letter to the chair of the University Committee on Faculty Welfare from the chairs of the Task Force on Investment and Retirement (TFIR) and the Health Care Task Force (HCTF), letter of Sept. 21, 2017:

...TFIR and HCTF reject the balance-sheet argument that begins with a large-scale retiree-health liability increase to argue that change is needed. The calculation produces an artificially high estimate of the liability, due to a low discount rate dictated by GASB and high rates of general health care cost inflation, to portray our retiree-health benefit as unsustainable. In the projections TFIR and HCTF have been shown, even while using unrealistically high projected health care cost inflation, and while still maintaining the 70% floor, UC’s total post-employment benefit costs (again, currently 18% of payroll) increase to a maximum peak of 19.7% in 2027 and soon decline to less than 18% in 2034. We believe that these numbers are close to a worst-case scenario, and we note that even small declines in the assumed rates of health care cost inflation and/or small increases in the bond index used for discounting lead to large declines in the GASB-reported liabilities. Costs approaching 20% of payroll are not trivial, but the projections bring important perspective: UC is managing these costs currently, and their projected increase is only a marginal adjustment. It is more productive to frame the retiree health discussion as a budget topic, concerning our annual pay-as-you-go approach to retiree health, instead of reacting to startling—but ultimately meaningless—liability calculations.

Furthermore, we recognize that all of these statements are based on projections—as is the claim that retiree health spending is unsustainable. TFIR and HCTF further note that the retiree health spending projections are much more uncertain than projected UCRP costs since no one can accurately predict the outcome of current political debates over the U.S. health system. Uncertain health care costs have a larger impact on current active employee health costs, and UC has successfully managed these costs by annually reviewing our active employee health benefits with consultation from the Academic Senate (especially the HCTF). This model is successful and should be replicated for retiree health benefits... 


From the chair of the University Committee on Faculty Welfare to the chair of the Academic Council in letter of Sept. 25, 2017:

...In short, HCTF and TFIR assert, and UCFW agrees, that new federal accounting standards promulgated by GASB (Government Accounting Standards Board) that require UC to list its retiree health liability in the ledger do not represent a significant new cost to the University, and attempts to portray it as such are misdirected. UCOP overestimates the size of the liability due to faulty inflation assumptions, and even if the administration assumptions are accurate, the response – to lower University contributions and cap spending – is disproportionate and hasty. Instead, adequate consideration of alternate funding strategies must be given publicly, with the inclusion of impacted stakeholder groups...


From the letter to the UC prez from the chair of the Academic Council dated Oct. 5, 2017:

...(The main message from the projections (made by TFIR and HCTF is that) the pay-as-you-go cost (of retiree health care) is manageable as a budget category, and the benefit is sustainable going forward...

Full documentation at

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Rating Regents

From the Bruin: University of California student leaders are creating a system to evaluate UC Regents based on their engagement with students. The UC Student Association will release the UC Regent Report Card annually to evaluate how often UC Regents visit campuses and talk to students during their visits and how they vote on issues that affect students. UCSA will vote on the details of the report card at its monthly board meeting this weekend. UCSA President Judith Gutierrez said she thinks the regents are out of touch with students because they have often failed to enact policies that benefit students, such as keeping tuition low or passing strong sexual health measures.
Gutierrez also said campus external vice presidents are soliciting suggestions from students on metrics to use for the report card. Student representatives to the UC Board of Regents said they think creating an evaluation tool will help keep the regents accountable and involved with students. Student Regent Paul Monge said he thinks regents should spend more time with students because of their impact on students’ lives.
“When the regents are voting on tuition increases, it is helpful for us to know how that translates directly into students’ lives,” he said. “The best-informed policies come from having conversations with those directly impacted.”
Monge also said he thinks regents should meet with students because he thinks they operate under a set of assumptions they may not always base on students’ personal experiences.
“Having a report card or other mechanisms to monitor activities create positive incentives for regents to do our due diligence,” he added. “As UC Regents, we should welcome public accountability and not shy away from it.”
Monge also said regents’ policies only urge them to visit campuses, rather than require them to do so.
“There is no internal goal or minimum standard to judge how often regents engage campuses,” he said. “Unless we truly incentivize a culture of visiting campuses, regents will not have firsthand accounts of student experiences.”
Devon Graves, student regent-designate, said student representatives to the Board of Regents have been promoting the report card through social media and informing the regents of its creation.
“All the folks I talked to are fine with it,” he said. “They said they think it’s reasonable. It’s expected that students want to have interactions with regents.”...

Monday, October 16, 2017


Governor Brown is in the midst of feverish signing and vetoing various bills. One bill - SB 169 - would have put into California law the now-revoked federal "guidance" to universities of under Title 9 relating to sexual assault and harassment. Brown notes in his veto message concerns about due process under Title 9 procedures that have arisen in recent years.

You can find the veto message at:

The actual bill is at:

It might be noted that the bill's language appears to extend into K-12 districts.

Brown also includes in his message reference to the "Yes Means Yes" law enacted in 2014.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a law that will require the University of California to be more transparent in how it reports costs and how it deals with the state auditor, a measure that was introduced in the wake of a scathing audit of the UC president's office this spring. The audit found that the UC Office of the President failed to disclose up to $175 million in budget reserve funds, even as the system looked to lawmakers and tuition hikes for more money.
Records showed that surveys sent to individual campuses as part of the audit were altered after consultation with the president's office, raising concerns of interference in the audit by the top office. The new law will prohibit UC campuses from coordinating with the president's office when the state auditor requests information.
The measure, AB 1655 by Assemblyman Tim Grayson (D-Concord), also will require UC to use publicly available financial information when it publishes its biennial report on the costs of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. That report, which is required by law, is meant to demystify how much the campuses are spending on instruction and research. But a 2016 state audit found that the reports were "problematic because the source of the data it uses is not apparent, and it does not tie the costs and funding it reported to readily available and public financial data, such as its audited annual financial report."

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Try the bus

We noted the offer of free bus service in an earlier post. So why not try the bus (circa 1931)?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Aftershock of Shapiro Visit to Berkeley

From the Daily Cal:

Berkeley College Republicans president impeached by secretary amid power struggle


Troy Worden was allegedly ousted as the president of Berkeley College Republicans by the organization’s secretary at the end of its Thursday evening meeting.

Bradley Devlin, the secretary of BCR, allegedly impeached Worden because of how he handled Ben Shapiro’s appearance on campus Sept. 14, which was organized by BCR. The club allegedly intends to appoint a “less alt-right” member as president and bring back “actual Republican ideals,” according to a BCR member who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for his reputation.

Devlin said he will be “going in for” the role of BCR’s new president but declined to comment further on the incident. According to Worden, Devlin allegedly called a vote of no confidence against Worden’s role as president at the club’s Thursday meeting without notifying any other members beforehand. The majority of the people who voted, Worden alleged, were freshman pledges from Devlin’s fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega, who had no affiliation with BCR.

“Essentially, he brought in a large group of people who, because they signed papers, claimed that they could vote in the election … and then declared the results that I was impeached,” Worden alleged. “We will not allow the ego of one individual board member to distract the club (from) its overarching goals (of) supporting the Republican Party (and) supporting the Free Speech Movement.”

Not all of BCR’s board members were in attendance and none of them had been notified beforehand, Worden alleged. Devlin also allegedly counted the votes by himself without any oversight, according to Worden. Worden alleged that after Devlin announced the impeachment, he and his fraternity members went outside the room and “let out a cheer.”

BCR member Pranav Jandhyala was not at the meeting Thursday night but heard about the incident afterward. He said he was taken “by surprise” but added that he hoped the situation would be resolved.

“A lot of us didn’t know that this was coming or that this was happening,” Jandhyala said. “Nothing is productive when there’s fighting in a club, and in order to be a successful club on campus … the only way to really do that is remaining united.”

Despite Devlin’s impeachment announcement, Worden said he still considers himself to be the president of BCR. "I absolutely dispute it, and actual BCR members dispute it. Any claims he makes to my being impeached (are) false entirely. There’s no grain of truth in it,” Worden alleged. “Now, all he’s done is (create) confusion for the Berkeley community.”


For Whom the Pell Rolls (Toward Graduation)

From the Washington Post:

For disadvantaged students, getting into a top college is a significant feat. But getting a diploma matters far more. Among 100 major public universities across the country — state flagships and other prominent schools — only 11 report a six-year graduation rate of at least 80 percent for students with enough financial need to qualify for federal Pell Grants:

                                      Grad Rate  Pell Grad Rate 
University of Virginia-Main               94%         93%
University of California-Berkeley         92          89
University of California-Los Angeles      91          88
Full article at

Note: No other UC campuses are on the Washington Post's list.

UCLA Free Transit

If you didn't get an email about the above offer, here it is:

Rideshare Month 2017 is well underway, and this week, we're highlighting the benefits of public transit. Try it free for an entire quarter, and see how much money you can save, in addition to alleviating the stress of driving in traffic every day. With our new Bruin Commuter Transit Benefit, you can ride on any Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, Culver CityBus and/or any Metro rail or bus line.

Link to apply:

But just be sure you're on the right bus:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

UC Prez Pens DACA Defense

As secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in 2012, I presided over a formal and vital change to our nation’s immigration enforcement priorities. Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the Obama Administration urged young undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children to voluntarily undergo rigorous background and security checks in exchange for the renewable option to legally live, work, and study in the country they know as home.
In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, nearly 800,000 Dreamers enrolled in the program, which has benefited not only these high achieving young people, but our nation as a whole. Now the future of DACA is in jeopardy. The Trump administration’s plan to end the program is illegal, unconstitutional, and anathema to our national ethos. It also defies common sense. I believed in the importance of DACA five years ago, and I will fight for it now.
This is why the University of California Board of Regents and I have filed suit in federal court against the Department of Homeland Security. On behalf of the university and our DACA students, we have asked the court to overturn the rescission of this program I helped create...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Study Group on Retiree Health Benefits

Work group to be formed to study, make recommendations about health benefits for retirees

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

UC has a longstanding commitment to providing high quality health care benefits for its faculty, staff and retirees, and currently ranks in the top five among comparable universities for its contributions to retiree health care benefits. 

However, current and projected cost increases of UC’s health benefits for retirees are greater than inflation and growing faster than the university’s budget. Under the current model, UC spends hundreds of millions of dollars annually for retiree health benefits, with future costs expected to rise which is not sustainable for the university.

In the face of continually rising health care costs, UC must evaluate options to ensure the long-term financial viability of the retiree health benefits program and manage costs.

In early 2018, the UC Office of the President will convene an advisory work group with representatives from a wide range of groups to explore potential strategies and develop options for UC leaders to consider. In formulating its recommendations, the work group is charged with considering plan and program design strategies to sustain the benefits, benefits offered by peer institutions, and the implications to both UC and retirees of different options. The work group is expected to begin its work early next year and deliver its recommendations by June 2018.

This work only pertains to retiree health benefits and does not affect UCRP pension benefits.

“While retiree health benefits aren’t vested or guaranteed, we know how important good health benefits are to our retirees and we are committed to continuing to provide them,” said Dwaine B. Duckett, vice president of systemwide Human Resources. “At the same time, we must consider potential adjustments in order to ensure their long-term viability — we look forward to the work group’s recommendations.”

No funding or programmatic changes regarding UC’s retiree health benefits will take place until 2019, at the earliest. UC’s current funding policy on retiree health benefits remains in effect for the 2018 benefits year, and the university will continue to contribute at least 70 percent of the cost of retiree health care benefits in 2018.

In order to be eligible for retiree health benefits, UC retirees must have 10 years or more of eligible service credit and meet certain age requirements.

Any proposed changes to the retiree health benefits program will be shared with the UC community.


Not clear on the concept

Found on an Anderson School stairway: Does anyone believe this?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Two months does not a fiscal year make. However, for the first two months of the current fiscal year, state revenues are running ahead of the forecast made last June when the budget was signed by something like $600 million.

So says the state controller.

You can find the report at:

Must have missed it

Missed what? I didn't hear a cautionary note on the new promotional video for the UCLA Grand Hotel that the hotel is only for UCLA-related business. But maybe you can find it:

Monday, October 9, 2017

Coming Next Week

New UC policy changes to improve resource management, operations systemwide

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

This fall, UC will implement a series of policy changes to strengthen the university’s management of its resources and improve operations.

These changes, which will go into effect beginning Oct. 15, will enable the university to better align its policies and procedures with best practices and to more effectively manage costs. They also align with recommendations in the state audit of the Office of the President that was issued in April.

“These measures, and others we will be taking, will ensure the continued careful management of our resources and transparency in their use across the UC system,” President Janet Napolitano said. “Every organization, including UC, has room for improvement. We’ve made significant progress so far, and we will continue to do so.”

The new policies will:

  • Reduce reimbursement for lodging and meals for those traveling on UC business.
  • Eliminate prospectively car allowances for newly hired or appointed senior management group level employees, or current senior management level employees transferring to a different position.
  • Eliminate prospectively a supplemental retirement contribution for newly hired or appointed senior management group level employees, or current senior management level employees transferring to a different position.*
  • Eliminate the cash relocation allowance for senior management group and management and senior professional level employees. Under the new practice, the university will reimburse employees for limited, documented eligible transaction costs associated with the sale of a primary residence.
  • In addition, at the Office of the President, UC-issued cell phones, tablets and mi-fi contracts are being reassessed and will be allowed only if a position requires remote access or before or after work hour access. In addition, the revised cell phone policy also outlines restrictions on phone replacement.

Earlier this year President Napolitano convened a task force chaired by Chief Operating Officer Rachael Nava to implement the state auditor’s recommendations. These new changes are responsive to the state audit recommendations and the result of extensive consultation with internal stakeholder groups, including campus representatives. In addition, UC surveyed the prevailing practices of other universities, and state and federal agencies.

More details about the university’s implementation of the state audit recommendations and the timing of additional policy changes are available on the UCOP Audit Implementation Plan website.

An email from UCLA Corporate Financial Services recently summarized changes most likely to affect faculty:

The UC Office of the President recently announced new policy changes, which include the two travel related changes listed below. These changes will take effect October 15, 2017.

Meals and Incidentals Expenses (M&IE) – NEW LIMIT of $62

Prior to this change, UC Travel policy G-28 capped M&IE at $74/day for travel assignments of less than 30 days within the continental United States.

Change to Policy: Effective for travel occurring on or after October 15, 2017, the new M&IE cap will be $62/day. Please note that, as with the previous policy, this amount is the maximum allowed. Reimbursement is limited to actual amounts expended if under $62/day. Travelers should be required to submit meal receipts if it appears that they are treating the cap as a per diem by routinely claiming the full M&IE amount.

Continental US (CONUS) Lodging Expenses – NEW CAP of $275 nightly rate

Prior to this change, UC policy stated that lodging expenses must be reasonable for the location of travel. UC policy recommended that if lodging expenses exceed 200% of the federal per diem for the locality of travel, the traveler submit additional documentation supporting the higher lodging rate incurred.

Change to Policy: Effective for travel occurring on or after October 15, 2017, daily hotel rates will be capped at $275 per night for trips within the lower 48 states, before taxes and other hotel fees. If the traveler is unable to secure lodging at $275 per night or less, the traveler must submit additional documentation such as price comparisons within the proximity of the meeting location that supports the higher lodging rate incurred. The price comparisons should be performed at the time of booking.

A traveler who is required to attend a conference where the prearranged conference lodging rate exceeds the $275 per night cap may stay at the conference hotel without exceptional approval.

Travelers who currently have lodging reservations that exceed $275 for travel on or after October 15, 2017, are encouraged to change their reservations to meet the new limits if changes can be made without penalties. However, if changes cannot be made to existing hotel reservations, we will apply the policy in effect prior to October 15, 2017.
*This provision appears to address the Yudof pension issue that was highlighted in the news media recently.

Doping: WADA lifts suspension of UCLA lab

(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency said on Friday it has lifted a three-month partial suspension of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Olympic Analytical Laboratory.

The laboratory, which had continued to carry out its regular anti-doping activities, is no longer required to obtain a second opinion prior to reporting adverse analytical findings for four specific prohibited substances, WADA said in a statement.

UCLA’s lab was suspended in June from analyzing glucocorticoids prednisolone and prednisone and the anabolic steroids boldenone and boldione after WADA’s quality assessment procedures ”identified non-conformities with best practice,” the anti-doping agency said at the time.

“We commend the UCLA Laboratory for their quick and effective response in addressing the issue that led to the partial suspension,” WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said. “Athletes can be confident that the Laboratory is operating at the high standards required by WADA and the global anti-doping program.”

WADA from time to time suspends accredited laboratories that do not meet established standards.

The French anti-doping laboratory of Chatenay-Malabry, where disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong’s samples had been tested, last month was provisionally suspended by WADA.

The suspension was imposed ”due to analytical issues self-reported to WADA by the laboratory,” the agency said in a statement, without elaborating.


No, yours truly doesn't know any more about it than what is above. However, the Emeriti Assn. had a program on doping and testing at UCLA at one of its dinner meetings a couple of years ago:

Presentation by Don Catlin on "Straight Dope: Drugs and Sports"

Times World University Ranking: For what it's worth

Article at!/page/0/length/25/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Could the three images below have any connection?

Bruin Article on ASUCLA Losses
ASUCLA Offers Meeting Facilities...
...But Faces Competition from the Grand Hotel

No, we're not saying that the Grand Hotel was the sole cause of ASUCLA's problem, which pre-date the hotel opening. We are saying that there is now more competition for rentals of meeting space since the hotel opened. And some of that competition affects such entities as ASUCLA and the Faculty Center.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Dropping the Floor at Least Delayed

As we noted in prior posts, back in July, there was suddenly placed on the Regents agenda a proposal to drop the 70% floor on the university contribution to retiree health. There had been no prior consultation with the Senate and after a fuss, the proposal was removed. It was then said to be postponed to September and then November.

It remains to be seen what might or might not be on the November Regents agenda. But the following email was recently received from John Swartzberg, Clinical Professor Emeritus at UC-Berkeley, School of Public Health:

Date: October 6, 2017 at 2:53:47 PM PDT
Subject: UCOP proposal for Regents’ action to remove the 70% floor for health insurance support

The pendulum seems to be swinging in favor of a thoughtful and reasoned approach to the University's support for our health insurance.  President Napolitano met with the Academic Council on September 27, 2017.  She announced her intention to apply a 4% increase in the retiree health budget so as to largely maintain the status quo through the coming year.  Further, she will assemble a working group in early 2018 to make recommendations germane to any future Regents’ decisions on retiree health. 

It is apparent that the efforts of many here at UC Berkeley and our colleagues at the other campuses have had an effect.  

I will keep you appraised as I learn more about this very important topic.

All the best,

Friday, October 6, 2017

Berkeley Lawsuit

As threatened, a law firm has filed a suit against UC-Berkeley claiming it suppressed the "free speech week" that never took place.

Ostensibly, the suit is being filed on behalf of "Berkeley Patriot," a student group that sponsored the event. As we noted, however, in an earlier post, when you Google "Berkeley Patriot," up pops the remnant of a website that once belonged to "California Patriot." It appears to be an internal page of that group's one-time website:

And when you click on any of the links on that page, you get:
So it's not clear that "Berkeley Patriot" is really a fully-functioning group, or at least one with enough organization to keep a website going. In any case, here is an item about the lawsuit:

Attorneys representing a group of conservative students at the University of California at Berkeley have filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, claiming that university officials have violated their clients' First Amendment rights.

According to the law offices of Melo and Sarsfield, UC Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ indicated by email that her office was launching a hate crime investigation after students associated with the Berkeley Patriot publication distributed posters pertaining to last week's "free speech" events on campus.

In the email, which was sent to students and staff on Sept. 21, Christ called Berkeley Patriot's posters "hateful messaging" targeting specific student populations and staffers.
"I condemn these cowardly acts in the strongest possible terms," Christ wrote. "Our police department is investigating whether they constitute hate crimes and we will all do all we can to support those affected."

As a result of that statement, attorney Marguerite Melo said her clients canceled "Free Speech Week" because the students involved weren't willing to subject themselves to "a pre-textual criminal investigation."

"The message implied in her statements was clear -- conservative students will be subjected to a criminal police investigation (and implicitly a possible prosecution) for exercising their First Amendment Rights," Melo said in the complaint, which is dated Tuesday.

This complaint is a follow-up on an earlier one filed against university officials on Sept. 19.

The attorneys say that Christ's email, dated Sept. 21, and any subsequent hate-crime investigations that were opened up against their clients may have been a retaliatory response to that initial complaint.

University spokesman Dan Mogulof said in an email Thursday that Christ never called for an investigation into a crime, but rather announced that police were checking to see if a crime had been committed, and they later determined there had not. Christ also never suggested that Berkeley students were responsible for anything, according to Mogulof.

"These utterly unfounded allegations aimed at the Chancellor would be silly if they weren't so sad," Mogulof said.

He continued: "This is all part of an ongoing effort to blame others for an event that collapsed when it became evident that most, if not all of the speakers never had any intention of coming. The letter to the Justice Department reads like an assignment for a class in short-form fiction."

Mogulof compared the complaint to a lawsuit dismissed just last week by U.S. District Judge Maxine Chesney in which the Berkeley College Republicans alleged that university officials had suppressed conservative speech back in April when an event with commentator Ann Coulter had to be canceled because the university could not guarantee it would be safe. The cancellation prompted extensive protests and counter-demonstrations...