Media Coverage 7/31/17

With possibly hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, UC appealed a February decision by the US Patent Office concerning the gene-editing technology CRISPR. UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and a collaborator, Emmanuelle Charpentier, were the first to utilize the technology, but researchers at the Harvard- and MIT-affiliated Broad Institute were the first to show how the technique can be used on the type of cells found in humans. The winter ruling allowed patents from both parties to stand, as the US Patent Office found UC’s more general claim was not infringed upon by the Broad Institute’s narrower claim. That decision could mean an enormous amount of licensing revenue is split between the parties. Last Tuesday, UC filed an appeal arguing that the Broad Institute’s patent claim is a clear extension of Doudna’s work. A similar legal tussle is ongoing in Europe. Meanwhile, an LA Times columnist noted Doudna’s misgivings about the technology’s potential. In a dream, Doudna says she envisioned being asked about the technology’s power by Adolf Hitler.

In other news, UC Davis’s new chancellor, Gary May, takes the reins this Tuesday, though ousted Chancellor Linda Katehi will also return to the faculty with a $318,000 9-month salary. UC Irvine has elicited criticism for rescinding 500 admissions offers due to missing paperwork and poor senior grades. The campus acknowledged it was being stricter than usual, which critics allege is driven by higher-than-expected enrollment.

CRISPR

7/26 – UC Berkeley fights back over epic loss in CRISPR verdict (SJMN): If UC wins its appeal, the issue will return to the patent office for another review.

7/26 – Ding, ding, ding! CRISPR patent fight enters next round (Science): The article downplays UC’s chance of a victory.

7/21 – Column: CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna struggles with the ethical implications of what she has wrought (LATimes): Doudna recently released a book about the history of the technology’s creation and her concerns about its future.

Other News

7/28 – UC Davis’ Linda Katehi returns to teaching, but she’ll be paid like a chancellor (SacBee): The article notes it is not clear whether Katehi will teach this fall.

7/25 – Press Release: Chancellor May Takes Office Aug. 1 (UCDavis): May comes to Davis from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

7/28 – UC Irvine is under fire for rescinding 500 admission offers two months before fall term begins (LATimes): The article notes UCI has encouraged impacted students to file appeals.

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Media Coverage 7/24/17

UC Berkeley’s administration is attempting to avoid a repeat of the controversy that erupted after two right-wing speakers were prevented from addressing students last academic year. In response to a claim by Berkeley College Republicans that former Breitbart writer Ben Shapiro is being “blocked” from addressing their organization, campus leaders are insisting a venue is available for a September talk. The administration may even pick up some of the costs for the venue, according to a statement. Berkeley College Republicans claimed this past week campus leaders had vetoed the appearance, which led to criticism from the left and right online. However, in a statement, Chancellor Carol Christ said, “We believe deeply in the value and importance of free speech and fully support student groups’ right to invite speakers of their choice to campus.” During the previous academic year, campus leaders insisted they did not cancel the events out of concern over their content, but rather to protect the safety of students from violent protesters.

An editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle praised the campus’s handling of this past week’s controversy, noting, “the recent crop of speakers and their supporters have at times seemed more eager to be refused than to be accommodated — and to therefore have the opportunity to accuse UC Berkeley of being a liberal echo chamber that has drifted a long way from the days when the Free Speech Movement began there.”

Ben Shapiro

7/22 – Editorial: UC makes right call on free speech (SFChronicle): The editorial praises Berkeley’s handling of the most recent flare up.

7/20 – UC Berkeley Now Says It Will Host Conservative Speaker Ben Shapiro (KQED): The article quotes affiliates of BCR saying the campus has not communicated well with BCR.

7/20 – Why Is There No Room At UC Berkeley For Conservative Ben Shapiro? (DailyBeast): Despite the slanted headline, the story is mostly balanced, despite focusing on the experience of BCR.

7/20 – Cal brouhaha over conservative pundit Ben Shapiro’s planned visit (SFGate): BCR sent out a press release at one point that read “Berkeley blocks Ben Shapiro!”

7/20 – UC Berkeley can’t find venue for yet another conservative speaker — and gets put on notice (TheBlaze): The conservative outlet frames the controversy as a fight for the free speech of conservative students.

Other News

7/20 – Cal Needs A Bailout (InsideHigherEd): The author draws a parallel between the financial catastrophe linked to Berkeley’s football stadium and campus finances in South Carolina.

7/17 – The UC application process is changing — and some people don’t like it (SJMN): Concerns have been raised about a change to allow UC campuses to solicit recommendation letters as part of the admissions process from up to 15 percent of the pool. Some are worried students in large, under-staffed schools will be disadvantaged, though a pilot program at Berkeley seems to not have had that effect.

 

 

Media Coverage 7/17/17

At a meeting last week, the UC Regents were critical of a decision by lawmakers to directly fund UCOP, saying they’ve hired outside counsel to look into whether the change is constitutional. The new funding model is intended to increase legislative oversight of the office, a response by Sacramento to a critical state audit that characterized UCOP’s budget process as overly opaque. The Regents’ new chair, George Kieffer, called the change a “troubling incursion into the board’s authority.”

At the meeting, the Regents approved the hiring of Alexander Bustamante as an internal watchdog for the system. Set to earn $350,000 annually, Bustamante was previously the inspector general for LAPD. In another appointment, Michael Brown, a UC Santa Barbara professor of education and former chair of the UC Academic Senate, was named UC provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. The Regents also approved a measure that will allow admissions officers to solicit recommendation letters for up to 15 percent of applicants. The move is intended to allow admissions officers to gain more information about prospective students who are on the bubble. A pilot program at Berkeley asking for letters allayed concerns that soliciting letters would advantage students from better-resourced schools, though opposition remains.

During the meeting, some Regents criticized the costs associated with the HR system overhaul known as UC Path. Napolitano defended the program, saying it “will be an essential part of the structural governance of the university.” Meanwhile, a presentation to the Regents by UC Provost and Executive Vice President Aimée Dorr noted survey results that found 35 percent of graduate students have feelings of depression spurred by concerns about living costs, poor mentorship and job prospects.

In other news, Berkeley’s new chancellor, Carol Christ, will not move into University House, the chancellor’s mansion which her predecessor had spruced up to the tune of $1 million. In an op-ed published by the Guardian, Christopher Newfield reiterated his pitch to make public higher education more affordable, a case he made in his recent book, The Great Mistake. Commentary in the Fresno Bee criticized the turf war between the state’s three higher education system, putting a spotlight on opposition to a program that allows community colleges to offer a single four-year degree. The author notes such a program may help the state combat its projected shortage of degree-holders.

Regents Meeting

7/13 – In wake of critical audit, UC Regents take a close look at president’s budget (LATimes): Board Chairman George Kieffer called the state’s move to directly fund UCOP “very wrong,” though the article notes the Regents more closely examined the proposed budget than in previous years. Kieffer is quoted as saying: “Most troubling … is the incursion into this board’s authority to manage the university, for there is no daylight between legislators setting the [president’s] budget and legislators someday setting a particular campus budget.”

7/13 – Regents choose LAPD inspector general for UC system oversight role (LATimes): In a statement, Napolitano said: “Alex Bustamante was selected for this critical position at the university based on his impressive career focused on legal and compliance matters.”

7/13 – UC Regents Approve President’s Budget, Question Constitutionality of Legislative Control (KQED): Regent Hadi Makarechian said of the new funding model, “This is an erosion of our autonomy. We need to preserve our rights. If we continue with this precedent, next time we may get into the chancellors’ budgets.”

7/13 – UC Board of Regents passes budget, debates new HR program (DailyCal): The article quotes one Regent as saying, “It looks like we’ve gone from UCPath to the long and winding road.”

7/12 – UC Regents discuss UCOP audit implementation, student climate (DailyCal):

7/13 – UC gets OK to ask some applicants for letters of recommendation (SFChronicle): Campuses will also be able to ask for students to complete a questionnaire or to submit more grades.

7/12 – UC regents panel backs limited use of letters of recommendation at campuses systemwide (LATimes):  The change will take effect for fall 2018 admissions.

7/12 – UC Board of Regents adds experts in sports management, media, arms control, finance (LATimes): A profile of the four new Regents recently appointed by Gov. Brown.

7/13 – UC regents name new provost, chief compliance officer (SFGate):

Elsewhere

7/10 – New Cal chancellor shuns campus’ pricey mansion (SFChronicle): In addition to the houses’s renovations, $700,000 was spent on a security fence.

7/14 – Op-Ed: Let’s undo the great mistake – make university tuition free (Guardian): At the end of the article, Newfield makes the $48 pitch.

7/10 – Commentary: California faces higher education crisis, but politicians dither (FresnoBee): The author notes allowing community colleges to offer four-year degrees is especially key in rural areas.

 

Media Coverage 7/10/17

As UC admissions numbers were revealed this week, the press framed the numbers as both retreating from and advancing a directive from lawmakers to enroll more in-state students. Highlighting a perceived preference for international students, the Sacramento Bee ran the online headline, “UC Davis admits 60 percent of international students but 36 percent of in-state applicants.” SFGate put a more positive spin on system-wide figures with the headline “UC on track to enroll more Californians.” The LA Times split the difference, running “UC on track to enroll 2,500 more Californians this fall, but admission offers decline from last year’s near-historic gains.”

So what actually happened? UC admitted 69,972 California students, a giant leap over two years ago, when the system admitted 61,834 in-state students. However, this year’s figures reflect a decline from last year, when the system admitted 71,178 students from the Golden State. Despite the dip in admission offers, UC says it will enroll 2,500 more California undergraduates this year, fulfilling a pledge it made with lawmakers and the governor after a controversial audit accused the system of favoring non-resident applicants. In total, the UC system agreed to increase in-state enrollment by 10,000 over a three-year stretch, a process that began with an increase of 5,000 last academic year. As UC notes in a press release, “More California students are enrolled at the University of California than at any point in its history.”

In other news, the man the SF Chronicle’s Matier & Ross called the front-runner for Berkeley’s top post has accepted the position Carol Christ held before becoming chancellor this month. As the campus’s new executive vice chancellor and provost, Paul Alivisatos will essentially be second-in-command. The leadership of the UC Regents also saw a passing of the torch, as Monica Lozano stepped down as chair following the conclusion of her one-year term. George Kieffer, an LA-based attorney appointed to the board in 2009 by Schwarzenegger, was elected to a one-year term. He was previously president of the board which oversees the state’s community colleges. While it didn’t receive press attention, the Regents pulled an agenda item that would have allowed UCOP to lower contributions to retiree health benefits.

Admissions Numbers

7/6 – UC on track to enroll 2,500 more Californians this fall, but admission offers decline from last year’s near-historic gains (LATimes): The article highlights the plight of students who thought they had a good shot at admission but fell short, especially at UCLA, where over 100,000 potential freshmen applied, a record for the nation.

7/6 – UC Davis admits 60 percent of international students but 36 percent of in-state applicants (SacBee): Twenty-seven percent of admits were international students, the highest share in the system. However, these numbers reflect Davis’s lower yield of international admits, especially compared to campuses like Berkeley and UCLA.

7/6 – University of California opening more seats for in-state students (KPCC): A UC spokesperson is quoted as saying, “President Napolitano’s initiative to increase California resident enrollment is in direct response to the extraordinary demand, of course, in California, for seats at the University of California.”

7/6 – UC on track to enroll more Californians (SFGate): The article notes UCLA has displaced Berkeley as the most selective campus.

You can read UC’s press release here.

Leadership News

7/5 – Paul Alivisatos named next executive vice chancellor, provost (DailyCal): “This position is a very exciting and special one because we have a new chancellor coming in,” Alivisatos is quoted as saying. “I’m excited about working closely with her and the rest of the community so that Berkeley can really define what the future of public education is.”

7/5 – Prominent L.A. Attorney George Kieffer Elected Chair of UC Board of Regents (LABusiness): The brief article notes Kieffer’s background.

 

You can read UC’s press release here.

Media Coverage 7/3/17

UC Berkeley’s new chancellor, Carol Christ, has announced the outlines of her plan to reduce the campus’s deficit from $110 million to $57 million during the 2017-18 school year. The cut is part of a four-year deal the campus made with UCOP, though coverage by the Mercury News portrayed it as Christ’s decision. Just over half of the reduction will come from increased revenue, including gifts, Christ announced in a press release. Nonetheless, she notes meeting the goal will be “painful.” Excluded from the cuts are “contracts and grants, including research funding from non-governmental sources; all scholarships and fellowships; programs funded with student fees; all instructional salaries; and utilities.” According to the release:

The (budget reduction) targets that divisions have been assigned are highly differentiated because of the way in which we have calculated the base. Targets for instructional divisions are about 1 percent; those for administrative, research, and service divisions are between 4 percent and 5 percent. I am pleased that many instructional divisions will meet their targets almost entirely from increased revenues.

Non-academic units are meeting their targets primarily through staff and service level reductions. Our overall staff workforce has shrunk by approximately 450 FTE within the last fiscal year. Total salary growth has slowed substantially over the past two years. We experienced a high of 6 percent growth in FY 2014-15 and expect it to remain flat in FY 2017-18 compared to this fiscal year. For the coming year, with the approval of the Office of the President, the senior leadership of the campus has agreed to forgo any salary increases.

In other news, the UC system announced new policies for responding to staff and faculty sexual misconduct, including a clear timetable for investigations and the involvement of chancellor’s in approving punishment. This week’s development in the UCOP audit saga includes a failed attempt by Republican lawmakers in Sacramento to authorize a forensic audit of UCOP. Democrats insisted the office be given time to make reforms, while the LA Times quoted State Auditor Elaine Howle saying she never found anything “nefarious” in her audit of UCOP. Meanwhile, the Regents approved a joint venture with Owl Rock to create a strategic loan fund, with UC committing $100 million in equity capital.

6/27 – Incoming UC Berkeley chancellor lays out plan to reduce budget deficit (SJMN): The article infers layoffs will result from the cuts and fails to note that the cuts are part of a deal Christ inherited.

See the official UC Berkeley statement here.

6/28 – Carol Christ teases budget, plans to halve $110M deficit (DailyCal): The article notes the campus deficit is scheduled to be eliminated by 2020. In an interview with the student paper, Christ emphasized a focus on revenue-generating programs, such as “UC Berkeley Extension, Summer Sessions, self-supporting degree programs and philanthropy.”

6/29 – U. of California System Changes How It Responds to Sexual Harassment and Violence (ChronHE): The article notes some of the changes:

Clear roles and responsibilities for Title IX offices and other campus offices in the adjudication and discipline processes for cases of sexual harassment and violence.

Completion of investigations within 60 business days. And 40 days after an investigation is completed, a decision on discipline should be made. After an investigation, respondents and complainants can communicate with the decision maker about the outcome.

Review and approval by a chancellor or chancellor-designee of discipline proposed by a staff member’s supervisors. For faculty members, a peer-review committee on each campus will help the chancellor come up with a resolution that includes discipline. All complainants and respondents will be informed of any outcomes.

6/28 – Democrats block Republican legislator’s proposal for forensic audit of UC Office of President (LATimes): Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, argued such a review would bolster UC’s credibility.

6/22 – Op-Ed: UC San Diego is failing in equity and diversity (SDUT): A retired UCSD administrator argues the campus is failing Chicano students.

6/29 – Owl Rock forms loan fund with University of California Regents (Reuters): The fund will “invest in senior secured loans that are made to middle market companies or in broadly syndicated loans.”

6/29 – UC Berkeley: Free speech lawsuit is unfounded (Berkeleyside): UC Berkeley has asked a court to dismiss a free speech case raised by student groups who allege the campus blocked conservative speakers from campus.

6/28 – A possible first in Berkeley: Housing for the homeless in People’s Park (Berkeleyside): A plan to address a shortage of student housing may also include housing for long-term homeless individuals.