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.

Media Coverage 04/02/17

A ruling on March 23 by the European Patent Office is good news for Berkeley. According to Science, the office ruled in Berkeley’s favor concerning a fight over licensing rights to the technology popularly known as CRISPR, announcing its intent to grant Berkeley a patent covering all of the technology’s applications. In February, the US Patent and Trademark Office ruled that Berkeley would have to share a patent for the gene-editing technology with the MIT and Harvard-affiliated Broad Institute. A Berkeley scientist, Jennifer Doudna, and her collaborator were the first to use the technology to edit the genes of prokaryotic cells. Shortly after, a scientist at the Broad Institute used the technology on eukaryotic cells, the type of cells found in animals and plants. Berkeley had asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to deny the Broad Institute’s application for a patent, but the office ruled the Broad application’s more narrow definition, which only covers the use of the technology in eukaryotic cells, could stand. The Berkeley application, which is still under review in the US, will apply to CRISPR technology more widely. As a result, any revenue from medical applications in the US, which is speculated to be in the billions of dollars, would likely be shared between the two patent holders. Science reports the Broad Institute is likely to challenge the European ruling, which would cover the technology’s use in about 40 countries, while Berkeley is also likely to continue fighting the US ruling.

In other news, the UC system saw its first drop in applications from international students in 12 years, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The article argues that the one percent drop from last year is driven by the election of President Donald Trump, noting that the decrease in applications from Mexico and nations with large Muslim populations were 30 and 10 percent, respectively. In The Atlantic, a right-leaning writer wrote a lengthy piece criticizing UC for spending $1 million on its investigation into misconduct by former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. Also, a planned visit to Berkeley by Ann Coulter has raised fears of violent protests. The event is co-sponsored by an organization that promotes discussion across the political spectrum.

3/27 – Europe says University of California deserves broad patent for CRISPR (Science): The article quotes a patent expert who advocates for the two sides to work out a deal. According to the article:

Cook-Deegan (from Arizona State) long has advocated that the public would benefit most if UC and the Broad reached a peace treaty and agreed to share, through what’s known as a cross-license agreement, in the CRISPR spoils. The new decision, he says, “further emphasizes the need for a cross-licensing deal, so folks can have some sense of what they can do and sell without getting sued, and from whom they need to get licenses.”

You can read UC Berkeley’s press release on the matter here. To brush up on the February ruling, click here for coverage from the LA Times.

4/1 – UC sees 1st drop in international applicants in more than decade (SF Chronicle): The article notes there is a precedent for US foreign policy impacting international applications:

The last time undergraduates from around the world shied away from UC, the United States had just led a multinational invasion of Iraq in 2003. The war coincided with a plunge in international interest in UC campuses and other American universities in 2004 and 2005 that even post-9/11 security crackdowns had failed to achieve.

3/31 – Commentary: Spending $1 Million to Get Rid of a Single Bureaucrat (The Atlantic): The right-leaning author recounts the Katehi story and criticizes UC for spending $1 million on its investigation.

3/29 – Planned Ann Coulter Visit To UC Berkeley Has Organizers Fearing Another Backlash (CBS): The article notes concerns that the event will result in protests similar to those which prevented right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking on campus.

Curious how the right-wing media is covering the Coulter news? Here’s a link to Breitbart’s take, which focuses on the violence which prevented Yiannopoulos (a former Breitbart editor) from speaking. Surprisingly, the article, much like UC Berkeley, seems to blame the violence not on students but outsider groups. The article also notes UC Berkeley’s history in the Free Speech Movement.

 

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 2/24/17

Gary May will be the next leader of UC Davis. The electrical engineer and computer scientist, who earned his doctorate at Berkeley, will fill the void left by Linda Katehi, who resigned in August after having been found to violate a number of university policies. His salary will be $495,000, including $75,000 coming from a private endowment. Elsewhere, UC President Janet Napolitano’s role advocating for undocumented students was highlighted by multiple publications, one of which contrasted her current position with the 2.5 million people she deported as Secretary of Homeland Security. In an op-ed, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks committed UC Berkeley to education more low-income students.

2/23 – Gary May confirmed as UC Davis chancellor, permanent replacement for Linda Katehi (SacBee): Gary May, 51, was confirmed by the UC Regents as UC Davis’ new chancellor. May, who will become the school’s first African American leader, is currently dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech. He assumes his post Aug. 1. The Bee notes:

May will receive an annual salary of $495,000, which includes $75,000 in faculty chairman funds from a private endowment. His combined salary will be almost 17 percent higher than former Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi’s $424,360. But UC made a point of saying in a statement that his base salary of $420,000 is less than Katehi’s base was.

Read more: LA Times | KCRA | Chronicle
2/23 – Why Immigrant Students Are Changing Their Minds About Janet Napolitano (Atlantic): The article notes that UC President Janet Napolitano has become a leading defender of students protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, despite overseeing the deportation of 2.5 million people while Secretary of Homeland Security.
2/22 – UC President Janet Napolitano blasts Trump immigration crackdown as a backward step (LATimes): Napolitano characterized Trump’s crackdown as too broad to be effective and likely to stir up fear and distrust, which will make communities less safe as people will be unlikely to cooperate with law enforcement.
2/23 – Dirks Op-Ed: Top universities must enroll more low-income students (SFChronicle): The out-going Berkeley chancellor affirms the campus’ commitment to educating more low-income students, via partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute, while characterizing the state of higher-education funding as perilous. A highlight:

Consider: An average of only 22 percent of students receive Pell Grants (an indicator of low-income status) at America’s top 270 colleges and universities — a list that includes the University of California campuses, Stanford, the California Institute of Technology, the Claremont colleges, and many others. By contrast, 38 percent of students enrolled at all other four-year institutions receive such grants.

In short, the wealthier among us have access to the best schools, while those from low-income families, who would benefit most from education at an excellent college, are excluded. This produces impediments to social mobility and contradicts our self-understanding as a meritocracy. The public has every right to demand more.

This is why UC Berkeley has joined a coalition of the country’s top colleges and universities in the American Talent Initiative, a Bloomberg Philanthropies and Aspen Institute-led effort that met for the first time last week. Our collective goal is to educate 50,000 more low- to moderate-income students by 2025. While UC Berkeley already prioritizes affordability and enrolls more low-income students — 9,000, or 34 percent of our student body — than any other university of our stature, we consider it essential to our public mission to give California’s underprivileged a stronger foothold in society.

2/17 – California assemblywoman introduces bill to freeze Cal State tuition until 2020 (LATimes): Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) has authored a bill to cap CSU and CCC tuition and mandatory fees. It is backed by the California Faculty Association, which represents the faculty in the CSU system.
2/22 – State Sen. Glazer introduces $2 billion higher education bond bill (DailyCal): Voters will consider the bond in 2018. The last such bond centered on higher education was issued in 2006. Campus leaders stressed the importance of funding structural maintenance at the Berkeley campus.

Media Coverage 1/27/17

UC Regents approved a tuition increase, campus leaders responded to conservative political figures at home and in DC and the health of UC President Napolitano became an issue.

UC News

1/26 – UC regents approve first tuition increase after six-year freeze; some students ‘infuriated’ (LATimes): Regents approved the first tuition hike since the system’s freeze agreement with Gov. Brown Expired. The paper characterizes the hike as:

Under the new budget, tuition will rise to $11,502 for the 2017-18 school year — a $282 increase. The student services fee will increase by $54 to $1,128.

Nonresident undergraduates will see a total increase of $1,688. They will pay the same higher base tuition and student fees as well as 5% more in supplemental tuition, which will rise $1,332, from $26,682 to $28,014 next year.

Financial aid will cover the increases for two-thirds of the university system’s roughly 175,500 California resident undergraduates.

1/24 – Cal football aide under fire since player death is let go (SFChron): The assistant football coach who designed a workout that led to the death of a student and a subsequent $4.75 million settlement is no longer with Cal.

1/25 – Want to know what the UC probe of Katehi cost? So do we. (SacBee): UC has withheld a number of public records requests made by the Bee, which investigated allegations of corruption by former UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi.

1/20 – It’s official: Cal athletics bleeding cash at astounding rate (SJMN): Cal’s atheltic department lost $21.7 million in FY 2016. The deficit is a result of interest payments on construction debt.

1/22 – Column: Napolitano’s cancer treatment took UC regents by surprise (SFChron): Matier & Ross note news of UC President Napolitano’s recent cancer treatment came as a surprise to regents. Napolitano is a breast cancer survivor, receiving treatment for the disease in 2000.

1/24 – California’s public universities need more stable financing, report declares (EdSource): The SF-based College Futures Foundation wrote an apparently unoriginal report noting UC and CSU need more reliable funding from the state.

1/29 – UC statement on President Trump’s executive order (UCOP): UCOP issued a statement criticizing President Trump’s executive action on immigration.

1/27 – Campus task force issues report on new student housing (UCB): In what could be characterized as “stating the obvious,” A Berkeley task force concluded more student housing is needed for both undergrads and grad students in a “draft” report

1/26 – People’s Park among targeted sites for UC Berkeley student housing (DailyCal): Article notes that the draft housing report identifies People’s Park as one possible site for housing. The park is famous as a site of student protest, including one in 1969 in which police shot and killed a student named James Rector.

1/26 – UC Berkeley chancellor affirms Milo Yiannopoulos’ right to speak on campus (DailyCal): Chancellor Dirks affirmed the universities decision to allow the conservative provocateur to speak on campus, stressing the university’s commitment to free speech.

1/27 – Op-Ed: The counterargument to Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley (DailyCal): Sociology graduate students Luis Tenorio and Miranda Smith argue that Chancellor Dirks mis-categorized Yiannopoulos’ speech as not hate speech.

Media Coverage 1/5/17

UC’s proposed tuition hikes dominated news. UCOP has emphasized that the hikes will only impact wealthier families, while critics have questioned the system’s swollen rank of administrators.

Tuition

1/4 – UC seeks 1st tuition hike since 2011; protests expected (SFC): UC Regents will vote on raising tuition for the first time since 2011, though in-state families making less than $150,000 would not see an increase, under the current plan. The income cutoff means about one-third of students would face a 2.5 percent hike. Out of state students can expect a hike of 5 percent.

1/5 – UC’s tuition increase: A case of funny math (SFGate): Asimov calls out UC for trying to fiddle with the optics of the proposed tuition hike by changing how it calculates tuition. Previously, fees were included in the tuition figure most often cited; recently, UC has separated the two.

1/6 – Editorial: UC tuition hikes? First justify your administrative bloat (SDUT): The editorial board calls out UC for its bloated administrative ranks, noting that administrators outnumber faculty and that CSU, by comparison, is running a much more svelte operation.

1/4 – Napolitano: UC quality not sustainable without tuition hike (SacBee): UC President Janet Napolitano told the SacBee: “We’re now hitting the point where we’re going to miss that sweet spot on quality – on really high graduation rates, on the kind of academic reputation that UC has. There’s only so many years you can go without a rate increase or a small tuition increase that doesn’t sacrifice a lot by way of quality. As much I’d like to say we can sustain this forever, we cannot.”

1/4 – UC proposes first tuition increase in six years for more faculty, courses and financial aid (LATimes): The increased tuition would fund financial aid and smaller classes, though student groups have protested the proposal.

Also see: Daily Bruin | Daily Cal | UCOP Statement

This & That

1/4 – UC president Napolitano says she wants UC Davis to expand into Sacramento (SacBee):  UC President Janet Napolitano says UC Davis’ planned expansion into Sacramento, which earlier was reported to have died with the resignation of Linda Katehi, is still on the table.

1/5 – Editorial: UC Davis, Sacramento make a promising team (SacBee): The Bee is happy the university still intends to expand into Sacramento–an example of old school newspaper boosterism at its purest.

1/1 – UC Davis dumped barrels of wine each year. Now it might sell for $80 a bottle (SacBee): A new law will allow UC Davis to sell student-produced wine.

1/4 – UCSD may build campus fire station (SDUT): Emergency response times are an issue in San Diego, especially on the UCSD campus.

 

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.