Media Coverage 3/25/17

Once again UC Berkeley is in the news after a high-profile professor has been accused of sexual misconduct. John Searle, professor emeritus of philosophy, has been accused in a lawsuit of sexual assault, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. A 24-year-old UC Berkeley alumna alleges that, while she was employed at the Searle Center for Social Ontology, Searle groped her and told her they would become “lovers,” promising to support her career. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff told university employees, including the Center’s director, Jennifer Hudin, who took no formal action. The plaintiff claims that her salary was cut and she was fired after refusing Searle’s advances. The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, also alleges Searle watched pornography on campus. Searle stopped teaching an undergraduate course in March.

In other news, the Sacramento Bee reported that the four-month UC investigation into former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi cost nearly $1 million, which came out of UCOP’s endowment. The UC system’s other tarnished chancellor, soon-to-be-former Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, was found to have improperly received around $10,000 worth of free gym benefits. At UC San Diego, a conservative organization is supporting a poster campaign targeting UC President Janet Napolitano over her support of sanctuary campuses. In an interview, Napolitano insisted the UC system is committed to continuing partnerships with Mexican researchers.

News

3/23 – A Former Student Says UC Berkeley’s Star Philosophy Professor Groped Her And Watched Porn At Work (BuzzFeed): The article contains a PDF of the lawsuit and notes that BuzzFeed has received tips of other complaints against Searle.

Also see: Inside Higher Ed | SFGate

3/24 – UC spent nearly $1 million in probe of former UC Davis Chancellor Katehi (SacBee): UCOP insists the money does not include tuition or state funding.

3/23 – UC is moving forward with Mexican initiative, regardless of Trump actions (LATimes): Despite President Trump’s hostile stance toward Mexico, UC insists it will continue a close collaboration with researchers within the United States’ southern neighbor.

3/24 – UC probe finds Cal chancellor got improper freebies from gym (SFGate): The report notes:

“After a months-long investigation by the president’s office, UC concluded in September that Dirks had improperly allowed a ‘newish’ $3,500 elliptical exercise machine to be installed in the chancellor’s home; had been given a complementary, four-year membership to the Recreational Sports Facility worth $1,870; and had 48 free workout sessions with Wicks worth ‘a minimum of $3,120.'”

Also see: LA Times

3/23 – Posters to go up at UC San Diego targeting Janet Napolitano and ‘sanctuary campuses’ (LATimes): A conservative organization plans a poster campaign to target UC President Napolitano over her support of sanctuary campuses.

3/23 – Press Release: UC, Teamsters reach tentative agreement on labor contract for clerical staff (UCOP): The contract will last until 2022. According to the press release:

  • Wages: An annual 3 percent wage increase for every covered employee, totaling 18 percent over the life of the contract.
  • Ratification bonus:  A $1,200 bonus per clerical employee, paid upon contract ratification (except those at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory due to U.S. Department of Energy regulations).
  • Health care: A $25 limit on any rate increases to the Kaiser and Health Net Blue and Gold health insurance plans, to further protect lower-salaried employees in an ever-changing health care market. The typical UC clerical employee will continue to pay an average of just $32 a month, or $384 per year, for generous health benefits for themselves and their dependents. By contrast, the average American worker pays more than $5,200 per year for less generous health benefits for just themselves.
  • Retirement benefits: Employees hired before July 1, 2016 — the vast majority of all UC clerical staff — will continue to receive the same retirement benefits they currently do at the same contribution rates. Employees hired on or after July 1, 2016 will have the option to choose either a traditional pension plan or a 401(k)-style plan, whichever fits their preference and needs.

Media Coverage (3/3/17)

An investigation by the Bay Area News Group has exposed the extent of sexual misconduct on UC campuses, turning up 124 incidents following a records request, which the UC system took 16 months to respond to (a number of other outlets made a similar request, receiving the records at the same time). A number of upsetting stories emerged from UCSF, the campus with the greatest number of incidents. The documents also reveal a tendency to go easy on senior faculty compared to low-ranking staff employees. Elsewhere, a records request by the Sacramento Bee revealed that instead of relying on its own communications team, Berkeley hired an outside PR firm to the tune of $400,000 to manage fallout from a series of cuts announced last year. The lengthy article is worth a full read, as the Bee makes a good case that Berkeley’s early termination of the contract was motivated by the paper’s records request  (which took eight months for the campus to fulfill).

Also see Daily Bruin | KQED | DailyCal

2/28 – University of California: Sexual misconduct widespread across 10 campuses (SJMN): Between January 2013 and April 2016, over 100 UC employees were disciplined for sexual misconduct. About one quarter of the total are faculty members. A majority of the cases were the result of staff complaints, while 35 percent stem from student complaints. As the article notes:

UC San Francisco had 26 cases, the most of any UC campus, ranging from a cook offering a co-worker money for sex to a top fertility doctor inappropriately touching nurses and calling them “bitches.” UCLA had 25 cases, including a French professor who wrote over 300 poems professing his love to his graduate assistant, and a cancer researcher who sent sexually explicit jokes to colleagues and had been accused of sexual harassment twice before. UC Davis had 13 cases and UC Irvine had 11 and UC San Diego had 9. UC Berkeley had released records of 19 cases last year.

3/2 – Records reveal discipline inconsistencies in UC sex harassment (SFChronicle): The article argues that high-ranking faculty members have received more tempered punishment for their behavior compared to staff.

3/1 – Editorial: UC’s systemic problem — sexual harassment (SFChronicle): Given the scope of the problem, the paper calls for transparency moving forward when new incidents arise.

3/3 – Layoffs, budget cuts prompted UC Berkeley to pay out $306,000 for PR contract (SacBee): UC Berkeley signed a $419,400 contract for an outside firm to handle news of cuts last year instead of working with the campus’s full time communications team, a move UC President Janet Napolitano was aware of. The revelation is the fruit of a public records request by the Sacramento Bee which the campus took eight months to fulfill. Only about $300,000 was paid out as Berkeley cancelled the contract. The article notes that this move happened at the same time as UC Davis received scrutiny for a similar deal, also broken by the Bee. The article notes Berkeley began the process to cancel their contract the same day that the Bee made its records request to Berkeley. Berkeley denies a connection between the request and the cancellation.

3/2 – U. of California Leader Advises Patience as the Trump Era Dawns (Chronicle): UC President Janet Napolitano affirmed the university’s commitment to students covered by DACA. She also stressed that the system did all it could to allow Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at UC Berkeley before the event was cancelled due to violent protesters. The system’s leader also touched on Title IX, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Trump’s singling out of UC Berkeley on Twitter.

Media Coverage 2/10/17

We now have a likely candidate for UC Berkeley’s top post, Paul Alivisatos, while UC’s run of large settlements following sexual misconduct continues at UC Riverside.

UC News

2/6 – Ex-Lawrence Berkeley chief is front-runner for Cal chancellor (SFChron): UC Berkeley Vice-Chancellor for Research Paul Alivisatos is considered the frontrunner in the search for Berkeley’s next campus leader. Alivisatos, who formerly ran the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is apparently prized for his familiarity with the campus and his hard sciences background, which the article suggests is seen as key for fundraising. Robert Reich has not applied for the chancellor job, according to the article.

2/9 – Jury awards $2.5 million to former UC Riverside counsel fired after alleging sex discrimination by campus officials (LATimes): A jury has awarded a former UC Riverside attorney $2.5 million, finding that UCR officials fired her in retaliation for reporting allegations of gender discrimination. As the article notes:

Michele Coyle, who served as chief campus counsel from 2006 to 2012, alleged that she and other women were subjected to “rampant gender discrimination” by Dallas M. Rabenstein, who became UC Riverside executive vice chancellor in 2010. / In a civil complaint filed in March 2015, Coyle alleged that Rabenstein favored men for promotions and salary increases, intentionally misreported data on gender-based salary differences for a federal audit, refused to accommodate women with young children, called some women “biddies” and labeled others who asked for raises as “overly aggressive.”

See the complaint here. More from IHE.

2/7 – After landmark settlement, questions remain in UC Santa Cruz rape case (SJMN): Following a $1.15 million settlement concerning the alleged rape of a student by a professor at UC Santa Cruz, UC will soon issue a report describing its Title IX investigation of the matter.

2/7 – UC Berkeley Chancellor: Trump’s Threat to Cut Federal Funding ‘Ill Informed’ (KQED): Chancellor Dirks notes UC did what it could to allow Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus, and that President Trump’s threats to withhold funding are ill-informed. Dirks stressed that he believes the violent protestors were not students.

2/6 – UC Berkeley probes staffer after post-protest Web campaign (SFGate): A Berkeley staff member  has been accused by far right online circles of some crime relating to the protest of Milo Yiannopoulos. Campus police and the FBI are investigating.

2/6 – 2016 East Bay Person of the Year: Janet Napolitano (Oakland Magazine): In a lengthy article, the magazine praises Napolitano for her commitment to undocumented students and her ability to juggle addressing multiple chancellor scandals.

Holiday Season Media Coverage

Athletics

12/23 – Chancellor Nicholas Dirks gives Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics more time to determine Cal’s athletic future (BearTerritory): A task force looking into the financial stability of Cal’s sports teams will not meet its intended deadline for proposing reforms.

Read Dirks’ full letter here.

12/16 – Commentary: Cutting Cal rugby remains wrong answer (EBT): Rugby could be a casualty of the athletic task force.

12/23 – Former UC Berkeley athletic director says she was overruled on field hockey space decision (DailyCal): There are disputed accounts of who supported turning Cal’s field hockey venue into a multi-purpose field, a transformation that has led to a Title IX investigation.

Housing

12/12 – UC Berkeley overcrowding: Students studying in San Francisco, living at Mills College (SJMN):

12/11 – Homework, but no home: How Bay Area housing costs affect some UC Berkeley students (SacBee): A new Homeless Students Union at Berkeley is confronting a growing issue on campus, but the school lacks official data on the scope of the problem.
Katehi
11/22 – UC Davis drops big plan for Sacramento with Katehi’s departure (SacBee): A plan to build a campus for the World Food Center in Sacramento has died with the departure of Katehi.
12/14 – Hundreds vie for UC Davis top job (SacBee): UC Davis has reviewed 525 applicants hoping to lead the campus after the tumultuous tenure of Linda Katehi ended in controversy.
Labor
Elsewhere
12/13 – Field of Dreams: Public Higher Education in the United States (LARB): A review of The Great Mistake: How we wrecked public universities and how we can fix them.

12/24 – Editorial: Montgomery, On UCSC’s outrageous mass destruction of books (SJMN): At UCSC, around 80,000 volumes were destroyed or moved to storage facilities, a move undertaken with no faculty input.

12/23 – UC Berkeley braces for Breitbart provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos (SJMN): The noted conservative “troll” was invited to campus by College Republicans, but the school is asking the student group to help foot the security bill, which could run $10,000.

12/21 – UC Regents Win Cancer Drug Licensing Ruling (IHE): The ruling should net the system $32 million.

12/22 – Which means what, exactly? (UCLA faculty blog): Facebook announces a new research collaboration with a number of schools, including Berkeley and UCSF, intended to generate “new revenue streams” in virtual reality and AI. Not much more information is out there…

12/19 – California freshman applications to UC continue record-breaking climb (UCOP): In-state applications to the UC system climbed, while out-of-state and international applications declined.

Media Coverage 10/28/16

News has been slow to appear, but a study from Occidental College received national attention for its discovery of widespread hunger among UC employees. Elsewhere, the SF Chronicle dug into the “Kafkaesque” situation surrounding Dirks’ personal trainer (no one transforms along the lines of Gregor Samsa) who has been on paid leave pending an investigation.

Hunger among UC employees

10/19 – California Today: For Some U.C. Workers, Skipping Meals to Make Ends Meet (NYT): A study found 45 percent of the system’s full-time administrative employees experience hunger. The study was conducted with support from the Teamsters union, which represents the workers. UC suggests the timing may be political, as the system is in labor negotiations.

10/17 – Seven in 10 UC workers struggle with food insecurity (LATimes): See the report in full from Occidental College.

UC News

10/17 – UC Berkeley chancellor’s personal trainer in ‘Kafkaesque’ tangle (SFChron): The former boss of a trainer being investigated by UCOP for offering Dirks free training lessons has, essentially, accused UCOP of wasting the system’s money and time.

According to his whistle-blower complaint, if there’s been any improper spending, it’s the more than $53,000 in salary and benefits that has been wasted these past six months keeping Wicks on the payroll but not allowing him to work.

10/25 – Giving cash to Clinton’s campaign? Good chance you work for University of California (SacBee): Private donations by UC employees to the Clinton campaign led all such blocks, followed closely by Alphabet (Google).

10/20 – State lawmakers discuss future of higher education at campus forum Tuesday (DailyCal): At an event organized by the CSHE, Carol Christ asked lawmakers if a predictable formula for tuition increases would be palatable in Sacramento. She received a terse reply:
“I would think that would be perfectly reasonable,”  Liu, the District 25 senator, said at the forum. “In fact, we did carry a piece of legislation when I was in the lower house, (but) actually the UCs opposed it. They didn’t want anything that was gradual, predictable or affordable. They wanted do it on their own.”

10/24 – Campus leadership prompted vice chancellor Bob Lalanne’s resignation (DailyCal): Former VC for real estate had his position terminated and declined to take another post, citing tumult within the admin ranks.

Elsewhere in higher ed
10/26 – Tuition bills up, but borrowing down (Politico): Average in-state tuition rose about 2.4 percent, but borrowing is down to $106.8 billion, off from a peak of $124.2 billion in 2011.

See the College Board’s new report on pricing, “Trends in College Pricing 2016.”

10/24 – This photo essay shows what it really means to be adjunct faculty (WaPo): A collection of photographs from Ithaca College displays the plight of adjunct faculty members.

Media Coverage 9/30/16

Soon-to-be-former UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirks told an audience Clinton’s plan for free tuition “won’t happen.” To offset a mostly quiet week on the UC news front, I’ve included some recent reports on free tuition and the state of American higher education. Also this week, Blake Wentworth, a faculty member accused of sexually harassing students, filed defamation suits against three of his accusers.

Free Tuition

9/27 – Berkeley chancellor: Clinton free college plan ‘won’t happen’ (THE): Speaking at summit, Dirks said he would “love” to see Clinton’s plan happen, but that political realities will likely get in the way. He also noted free tuition may lead to greater government control of research institutions, which could be a problem. He may having in mind the federal ban on firearms research, an area where the UC system is actively picking up the slack.

9/29 – US Dept. of Ed report: Reaching the Limit (link): While college costs are rising, students have begun taking out more federal loans. However, a rising amount turn to the private market (with its higher fees and interest) before they’ve maxed out their federal options.

9/29 – Campaign for Free College Tuition report: How expensive is free college for states (link): Report calculates the cost per state of free tuition, but notes these large sums may be offset by returns from a more educated workforce.

9/29 – APLU report: Public University Values (link): The APLU has launched a campaign to improve the public image of large research universities. The campaign emphasizes decreased state funding.

Other UC News

9/30 – Low Returns, High Pressure (IHE): The return on UC’s endowment is a very poor -3.4 percent. Trump has suggested he would cut federal tax breaks for university endowments should they not lower costs sufficiently.

9/29 – Berkeley professor at center of sexual harassment scandal sues his accusers (Guardian): Blake Wentworth has sued three students who accused him of sexual harassment. The assistant professor of south and south-east Asian studies claims the accusations are false and intended to derail his career.

More DailyCal | SFGate

Elsewhere in higher ed

9/28 – Small Agency, Big Impact (IHE): The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stepped into the world of private student loans and for-profit universities

9/29 – Mizzou Incident Rekindles Anger Over Treatment of Black Students (Chronicle): Mizzou is back in the spotlight after an ugly incident where slurs were shouted at students of color

Media Coverage 9/2/16

There was a bit of a dustup among members of the Berkeley faculty that played out on the editorial pages of the student newspaper. Renowned (and quite famous) scholar Judith Butler accused a small, secretive group of faculty of conspiring to oust Dirks, though Butler did attempt to withdraw an editorial she wrote advancing such claims. Unfortunately, it was published anyway. The chairs of Political Science and Sociology responded, noting such theories are not based in reality. Also, the paper took a shot at Dirks’ failed global campus in Richmond. Below, there is a section of news on the NRLB decision allowing grad students to unionize at private schools.

Editorials on Dirks

8/30 – Editorial: A fond farewell to the Berkeley Global Campus (DailyCal): A well-aimed swipe at Dirks and his administration’s focus on a doomed project while so many problems were apparent on Berkeley’s existing campus.

8/30 – Op-Ed: Next chancellor must rebuild trust (DailyCal): A piece written by current and former chairs of the Berkeley Faculty Association argue the next chancellor must not accept the current status of state funding and the methods used to stay afloat in such an environment, such as increasing tuition and a reliance on corporate money. The writers propose a new statewide tax to return funding to 2000 levels.

8/30 -Op-Ed: Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ resignation no great mystery (DailyCal): Mara Loveman and Eric Schickler, chairs of sociology and political science, respectively, respond to claims advanced by Judith Butler that Dirks’ resignation was pushed by a small secret group of faculty members. The pair note 47 faculty members called for a meeting of the senate to discuss a no-confidence vote, a number well above the 25 required.

UC News

8/31 – UC President Janet Napolitano on Leadership Changes, State of UC System (KQED): A long interview with the UC president on what challenges await the UC system.

8/30 – New California Community Colleges Chancellor Wants College to be Accessible for All (KQED): A long interview with the the recently appointed Chancellor of the state’s community college system.

8/30 – Search for new UC Davis chancellor is on (DavisEnt): The hunt for a replacement for Linda Katehi has begun. The article notes Regents hope to approve the next leader by early 2017.

9/1 – Sen. Barbara Boxer is donating congressional papers to UC Berkeley (LATimes): The retiring senator will have a lecture series named after her, intended to highlight women in leadership roles.

9/1 – Former GSA president to leave UCLA, finish law school at NYU (DailyBruin): Former UCLA GSA president transfers after he says he was harassed for his opposition to the BDS movement. The right-wing press has picked up on the story.

8/30 – Cal State students could get help graduating on time under bill sent to governor (LATimes): A bill is before the governor that would give extra help at CS campuses to low-income and first-gen students, plus community college graduates and students from communities with low college attendance rates.

8/30 – UC Davis Medical Center to house first-ever state gun violence research center (SacBee): UC Davis will host a gun violence research center, a project that the legislature created this session.

NLRB Ruling

8/26 – Op-Ed: Academic Work Is Labor, Not Romance (Chronicle): In light of the NRLB’s decision to allow grad students at private universities to unionize, the author reflects on how academic labor is often misperceived as something other than work. The author also notes this ruling helps elucidate how universities are built on the backs of the perilously employed, namely graduate student teachers and adjuncts.

8/28 – Graduate Students Are Workers: The Decades-Long Fight for Graduate Unions, and the Path Forward (TruthOut): An overview of the history from the NRLB’s ruling against Brown students in 2004 to its recent reversal.

8/30 – CORPORATE UNIVERSITIES ARE SHOCKED TO LEARN THEY HAVE GRADUATE STUDENT EMPLOYEES (RemakingtheU): Parsing the NRLB’s decision and the response form private universities, who have warned grad students organizing may change the nature of the student-advisor relationship.