Media Coverage 4/16/17

The UC system settled lawsuits with Sujit Choudhry, former dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, and Tyann Sorrell, a former assistant to Choudhry who accused him of sexual harassment. The deals were reached in March but not announced until Friday. As part of the settlements, Choudhry, who resigned as dean in 2016 amidst the scandal, will pay $50,000 to Sorrell’s lawyers and an additional $50,000 to a charity Sorrell will choose. Choudhry will be on an unpaid sabbatical through May 2018, retaining travel and research benefits. After that point, he will resign from the university. According to the Associated Press, “(UC) also will withdraw all disciplinary complaints against him, and will not be able to say he acted with sexual intent or posed a risk to faculty, students or staff.” In a comment to the AP, Sorrell’s attorney said, “This is just one more example of UC refusing to take sexual harassment seriously and once again offering a soft landing even after a finding of harassment.” The settlement ends a series of lawsuits and investigations that began after Choudhry began allegedly harassing Sorrell in 2014. After Sorrell complained that Choudhry kissed and hugged her, the university reportedly substantiated the claims and issued a temporary 10 percent pay cut to Choudhry. Sorrell subsequently sued the university, arguing that the punishment was too light. Choudhry also sued the university, in part claiming the school had discriminated against him.

In related news, the university has narrowed its search for Choudhry’s successor to three candidates: Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine’s law school; Laura Gómez, a law professor and interim dean of UCLA’s College Division of Social Sciences; and Kimberly Yuracko, a law professor at Northwestern University. Elsewhere, UC has appealed a U.S. patent ruling concerning CRISPR. If the ruling stands, UC would likely share licensing rights to the gene-editing technology with the Broad Institute.

4/15 – Harassment accuser condemns UC Berkeley deal (AP): The article quotes Sorrell stating, “This deal insults all who suffer harassment at the hands of those with power and privilege.”

4/12 – Search committee for new Berkeley Law dean narrows in on 3 candidates (DailyCal): In contrast to UC Berkeley’s recently completed search for its next chancellor, the three law dean finalists were invited to public events.
4/13 – University of California files appeal over CRISPR patents (Reuters): The wire service report offers an overview of the CRISPR legal saga.
4/13 – Why the University of California Is Appealing the CRISPR Patent Decision (Atlantic): The Atlantic highlights the high financial stakes of the appeal.
Also see UC Berkeley’s statement

Media Coverage 11/18/16

Another renowned member of UC Berkeley’s faculty has been found to have sexually harassed a student. Elsewhere, UC Regents are considering a tuition hike, though the political climate stemming from last summer’s audit may make it hard to pass.

Nezar AlSayyad

11/13 – Investigation: UC Berkeley professor sexually harassed student (SFChronicle): In this case, best to let the reporting speak for itself:

A renowned Middle East scholar and architecture professor at UC Berkeley spent months ingratiating himself with a graduate student before placing his hand on her upper thigh, proposing they become “close friends” and suggesting they go to Las Vegas, a campus investigation has found. / Nezar AlSayyad, an internationally recognized scholar and a frequent public voice on global issues, is the latest prominent faculty member at UC Berkeley found to have sexually harassed a student or colleague in violation of University of California rules, The Chronicle has learned. / A five-month investigation completed in October upheld nearly all of the student’s allegations. The 52-page report obtained by The Chronicle found that AlSayyad’s behavior became increasingly personal from 2012 to 2014, with frequent social invitations and hugs, as he sought to position himself as the student’s protector and make her beholden to him

11/15 – UC Berkeley students demand professor’s suspension (SFGate): Students have petitioned for AlSayyad’s firing.

See commentary 11/17 – Whom Does Secrecy Protect? (IHE)

Tuition

11/18 – UC tuition increase? Not after this year’s damning audit (SDUT): UC is making the case for its first tuition increase — on the scale of 2.5 to 3.1 percent — in six years, while CSU eyes a 5 percent hike. However, the articles questions whether the state’s audit of UC over the summer will make make it unlikely for the hike to be carried out.

11/18 – UC students disrupt regents’ meeting with protests against possible tuition hike (LATimes): As UC Regents met to discuss tuition hikes, about 80 student protestors demonstrated, momentarily derailing the meeting until police cleared the room.

Also see SJMN

Elsewhere in harassment news

11/17 – UC Regent’s Offensive Comments Lead To New Harassment Policy (AP): The UC Regents created new rules governing sexual harassment in response to comments Regent Norman Pattiz made to a woman at his place of work. Pattiz remains on the board. Under the new rules, all regents are required to take UC’s sexual harassment training.

Also see 11/9 – “UC regent’s breast comments prompt proposal for tighter rules on sexual harassment” (LATimes)

11/17 – Ex-UC dean accused of harassment drops suit against university (SFGate): Former UC Berkeley Law Dean Sujit Choudhry has dropped his lawsuit claiming racial bias against the university. The academic senate is set to hold a hearing to consider his job status.

Labor

11/16 – University of California workers strike for higher wages (KQED): Skilled trade workers at UC San Diego and UCLA were set to strike for higher wages.

11/16 – UCSF workers claim discrimination in IT outsourcing (SJMN): Ten UCSF employees fired as part of an outsourcing move are alleging they were fired due to their age and nationality (American).

Less Controversial

11/18 – UCD presents its housing plans to UC regents (DavisEnt): UC Davis aims to increase the portion of students living on campus from 35 to 40 percent as town-gown relationships begin to strain.

Media Coverage 10/14/16

The LA Times took a close look at Sujit Choudhry’s lawsuit against UC, and a few prominent labor lawyers think he may have a case. Elsewhere, UC’s $100 billion man departed and a firm accused of cheating the college admissions process was linked to UC.

UC News

10/11 – UC’s extraordinary legal battle with ex-Berkeley law school dean (LATimes):  Former Law Dean Sujit Choudhry is suing the UC system, arguing he is being treated more harshly than his white peers after he was forced to step down for sexual harassment. The suit claims Napolitano’s decision to increase his punishment was intended to “try to improve the university’s image, as well as her own.”

10/10 – Private Equity Chief at University of California Fund Departs (Bloomberg): Timothy Recker, who joined the system in 2007, was responsible for nearly $100 billion in assets. 

8/14 -How a Chinese company bought access to admissions officers at top U.S. colleges (Reuters): UC Berkeley admissions officials are noted for accepting plane tickets to attend a conference hosted by a Chinese firm accused of helping students cheat on college applications

10/13 – Campus Disabled Students’ Program has been noncompliant with state regulations for years (DailyCal): A program that helps students with disabilities adjust to college life will shut down at Berkeley after it was discovered the state-funded program was out of compliance with state rules.

10/13 – Online and Homegrown (IHE): California’s community college system is experimenting with a program whereby students can register for online classes hosted at other campuses should enrollment reach capacity at their home institution.

Elsewhere in higher ed

10/6 – University bureaucracies grew 15 percent during the recession, even as budgets were cut and tuition increased (Hechinger): A deep dive into the growing bureaucracies on college campuses and efforts to curtail the growth, often through consolidation under central services schemes.

Media Coverage 9/9/16

In a relatively slow week for UC news, UC Berkeley saw yet more controversy after the publication of a letter by Sujit Choudhry. Choudhry was dean of the law school until revelations about a lawsuit alleging he sexually harassed his assistant. Elsewhere, there was an interesting story on lobbying efforts by California’s community college students.

Choudhry

9/6 – Op-Ed: An open letter from Sujit Choudhry about sexual harrasment  (sic) (DailyCal): Choudhry argues the on-going investigation is inappropriate in light of an earlier report that included he had no sexual intent toward his assistant. Here is an excerpt worth reading:

I received an investigative report that concluded, correctly, that I was unconscious of my actions toward Ms. Sorrell. The report made many factual findings that I contested then and which I contest to this day. But I accepted the report in an effort to take responsibility for my actions, to learn from what had happened and to try to enable both Ms. Sorrell and myself to move on. And I accepted the report in exchange for a complete set of sanctions that the university handed down to me through then-executive vice chancellor and provost Claude Steele — sanctions that the entire campus leadership, including Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and his legal advisers, described as “warranted and appropriate for this situation.” By accepting the settlement offered to me by university leadership, I also made the judgment call not to exercise a number of rights available to me under university policy, which, in real and practical terms, I cannot effectively exercise now. I abided by and fulfilled every term of that sanction, including by apologizing in writing to Ms. Sorrell — an apology that, unbeknownst to me, the university literally put in a drawer and failed to provide to Ms. Sorrell for roughly two months.

This past March, Ms. Sorrell launched a lawsuit against the university and me. For days, the lawsuit was international news, and my picture appeared online, in print and on local television. My family was besieged for weeks by media from around the world. Four days after the lawsuit was commenced, I learned, through an article in a newspaper, that UC President Janet Napolitano had directed Dirks to ban me from campus and initiate a second, “do-over” disciplinary process against me, and that she had earlier called my behavior “groping.”

The public response was fast and furious. Petitions were circulated calling for me to be fired. I was called a rapist on Twitter. A leading national newspaper accused me of “forcibly kissing” Ms. Sorrell (it retracted that statement later). Another newspaper called me a “predator.” My 11-year-old daughter learned about the lawsuit from the internet on her school computer. She read racist online comments about me that she cannot erase from her mind. My wife developed serious health problems. I became too frightened to leave my own home, an exiled pariah. I watched helplessly as my reputation as an academic administrator, a scholar, a husband, a father and a friend crumbled in a matter of days.

The university has now launched a second disciplinary process against me, more than a year after the initial complaint was made and many months after the first process concluded with a full, complete, “warranted and appropriate” sanction. The public reaction to my case has everything to do with the university’s unprecedented effort to launch this “do-over” investigation. That public reaction was also fueled by the university’s handling of other sexual harassment investigations within the UC system. While I understand that context and share in the community’s concern that the university must be a respectful and inclusive environment, it is a fact that my case has been handled in an unprecedented manner because of the conduct of others and the administration’s desire to deflect attention away from itself.

Although neither Ms. Sorrell nor the university’s investigators considered my conduct to be sexual or predatory in intent, that fact — that uncontested fact — has, remarkably, fallen by the wayside in the rush to condemn me.

9/7 – Law school ex-dean’s letter on sex-harassment case sparks protest (SFGate): Protesters descended on Boalt Hall following the letter’s publication. Some even went so far as to question the Daily Cal for publishing the piece.

Higher Ed News of Note

9/4 – Lobbying for California’s 2.3 million community college students with a $0 budget (EastBayTimes): Despite a state law allowing community college’s to collect student fees to support lobbying efforts, the system’s campuses have been slow to impose the fee and organize student government structures to support lobbying. Nonetheless, a few students have taken it upon themselves to work for their colleagues, and five of the seven bills they supported are awaiting Gov. Brown’s pen, including a bill that requires schools to allow homeless students access to campus showers.

9/8 – Clinton to convene meeting with Petraeus, other national security experts (Politico): UC President Janet Napolitano will meet with Clinton to discuss the state of US security.

9/3 – Citing Safety Concerns, Northwestern U. Bans Tenured ‘Gadfly’ Professor From Campus (Chronicle): In an uncomfortable situation, Jacqueline Stevens has been asked by NU to undergo an evaluation of her “fitness for duty.” She counters that she is being punished for speaking her mind. Some of her colleagues say she has made them feel unsafe.

9/8 – UK vs. Kentucky Kernel newspaper | What we know (CourierJournal): The University of Kentucky is still suing its student newspaper over the publication of records it tried to conceal.

9/9 – Pennsylvania State Colleges Faculties Vote on Whether to Strike (NBC): The faculty of 14 campuses have been without a contact since June of 2015.

 

Media Coverage 8/5/16

The press turned its attention back to Linda Katehi, with the Bee reporting on Katehi’s luxurious UC-funded travel habits. Meanwhile, Nicholas Dirks was ridiculed by the student Daily Cal for building what it termed an “escape hatch” to elude student protests, a characterization the chancellor’s office rejected. Elsewhere, UCOP released a compensation report for 2015.

 Katehi

8/1 – UC footed first-class flights, high-end hotel rooms for Davis chancellor Katehi (SacBee):  Katehi’s bill for international travel, intended to woo donors, cost UC $174,000. The bill includes limo service, first-class seats and tour guides. The cost for her husband to join on the trips is not included in that figure, but the article notes it too was picked up by UC. The article notes Katehi often incurred fees for rebooking flights last minute and upgrading her seating. In 2011, while in Hong Kong, she secured an extra hotel room just for her luggage. Other tidbits abound in the article.

7/28 – The Katehi Years at UC-Davis (Chronicle): An overview of Katehi’s tenure leading UC Davis.

7/29 – The Slow-Motion Downfall of Linda Katehi (Chronicle): A look at Katehi’s resistance to her critics.

Dirks’ Door

7/29 – Campus builds escape hatch for Dirks’ office in California Hall (DailyCal): UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks had a $9,000 escape door built near his office in response to student protests.

8/3 – UC Berkeley denies chancellor built an ‘escape hatch’ to flee student protests (TheGuardian): A university spokesperson called characterizing the door as an “escape hatch” to be “the concoction of a 19-year-old headline writer.” However, the official did note the door was made in response to the student body’s tendency to protest.

This & That

8/2 – Forced to Justify Board Membership (InsideHigherEd): A closer look at new rules limiting UC officials capacity to serve on outside boards, with particular attention to a rule that requires officials to justify how the service will benefit UC. A more typical standard is to prove the service will not create a conflict of interest.

7/27 – Outgoing UC Student Association president submits report of recommendations to UC system (DailyCal): The association requests formal recognition by UCOP and the regents so it can’t be ignored when its presence would be deemed inconvenient.

7/4 – Former Berkeley Law dean criticizes faculty committee’s response to initial complaint, files new grievance (DailyCal): Former Berkeley Law dean Sujit Choudhry has filed a grievance attempting to block a new investigation into his misdeeds. Choudhry has been accused of sexually harassing his assistant. At first, Choudhry was docked some pay for a year and required to apologize and attend counseling. This second investigation, spurred by a lawsuit filed by the assistant, could strip Choudhry of tenure.

2015 Compensation
7/29 – Compensation at the University of California (UCOP): The UC system released it’s compensation report for 2015.
Also, State Controller Betty Yee released an update to a website that lists public sector salaries. One can filter by UC or CSU employment, thought names are not included. Meanwhile, the SacBee released an article showing the state’s most active lobbyists.