Media Coverage 8/14/17

Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ last week released a plan for cutting the campus’s $110 million deficit by about $53 million during the 2018 fiscal year. The plan relies on new revenue from expanded academic offerings and gifts to account for over half the reduction. Nearly $20 million is slated to be cut from academic, research and administrative units, with a four percent cut for Cal Athletics and a five percent cut for BAMPFA. The campus’s top leaders will also forgo a salary increase.

According to campus leaders, the revenue-generating academic offerings include “new or expanded academic programming in University Extension, Summer Sessions, Concurrent Enrollment, Self Supporting Graduate Professional Degree Programs, and via Professional Degree Supplemental Tuition.” Despite the plan, there exists a $2 billion gap between the campus’s capital needs and projected funding. Budget items that will not face any reductions include academic salaries, scholarships and fellowships, funding of the Student Health Insurance Program and the campus’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Program.

It was a bad week for former Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who newspapers noted will have a fully-paid year off before returning to Cal as a professor. As is typical for exiting UC chancellors, Dirks will receive 80 percent of his former salary during his time away, which in this case means Dirks will make $434,000. Both lawmakers and faculty leaders are quoted criticizing the generous policy. Further, an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle questioned the utility of paying Dirks such a high rate as the university struggles to stay afloat. Meanwhile, a rather un-timely Wall Street Journal revived the “escape hatch” fiasco from Dirks’ tenure, when the campus was criticized for building an escape route from the chancellor’s office. The op-ed cites email records which show staff were concerned about violent student protests, and ends by suggesting the campus arrest students who break the law. Dirks had his own op-ed published last week in The Washington Post, in which he discussed the challenge of protecting free speech on campus in the face of violent protesters. The piece was criticized in a response published by the conservative National Review.

While the national media focused this week on the college town of Charlottesville, VA, where a white supremacist attending a rally murdered a counter-protester, local media covered the trials of two left-wing protestors accused of violence that allegedly occurred during riots in Berkeley earlier this year. Eric Clanton, a former community college philosophy professor, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon, a felony, for striking a man with a bike lock. Yvette Felarca, a teacher at Berkeley Middle School, is charged with felony assault and two misdemeanors. During the week, UC President Janet Napolitano waded into the political arena, writing an op-ed in The Washington Post calling on Congress to pass legislation protecting “dreamers” covered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Ten GOP state attorneys general have threatened to sue the Trump Administration if the president doesn’t repeal DACA by early September.

Berkeley’s Budget

8/10 – Campus unveils revenue-driven budget that cuts $15M from academic, research and administrative divisions (DailyCal): The article includes a nice campus-produced graphic that breaks down the cuts.

8/11 – UC Berkeley Budget Cuts Campus Deficit by Nearly Half (KQED): According to the article, “Teaching units would, for the most part, be able to use new revenue to meet their budget targets. Research units, however, would not have that cushion and would need to reduce their expenses by an average of 4 percent.”

Dirks’ Week

8/11 – Editorial: UC Berkeley perks are part of the problem (SFChronicle): The editorial notes such policies are not uncommon, but characterized UC’s as especially generous.

8/8 – UC Berkeley ex-chancellor to receive $434,000 while on leave (SFChronicle): The article quotes a spokesperson explaining the policy by saying its purpose “is to allow top-flight academics to get back up to speed in their field and begin research, which they weren’t able to do while in their administrative role.”

8/8 – Former UC Berkeley chancellor to earn $434,000 in paid time off (SJMN): BFA Chair Michael Burawoy is quoted as commenting, “Even though it’s part of his contract, this looks like a reward for incompetence. It is an appalling commentary on the distribution of benefits at a time of supposed fiscal crisis and when many students can barely scrape together a living. He should contribute half his salary to a fund for homeless students.”

8/9 – Op-Ed: The real issue in the campus speech debate: The university is under assault (WaPo): Dirks writes, “At Berkeley, as at other college campuses across the country, ensuring that students from minority backgrounds feel welcomed and supported, while also insisting on the unfettered exploration of diverse ideas, raises complicated issues even without the eruption of violent protest. Indeed, free speech controversies are embedded in what might seem to be fundamental contradictions, most notably between widely held campus commitments to diversity, inclusion, and social mobility on the one hand, and the constitutional right to free speech on the other.”

8/10 – Berkeley Chancellor Dirks Mischaracterizes Goldwater Proposal (NationalReview): The author argues his plan for campuses was mischaracterized.

8/9 – A Berkeley ‘Escape Hatch’ (WSJ): The rather unfocused editorial ends by noting, “So there you have it: Administrators are no longer figuratively retreating or cowering from out-of-control students. They’re creating the physical architecture to literally do so. It might be more dignified and less expensive to have these kids arrested when they break the law.”

Other News

8/11 – Op-Ed: Congress has the power — and the responsibility — to protect the ‘dreamers’ (WaPo): In the op-ed, Napolitano writes, “As University of California president, I also see the exceptional contributions that young dreamers make to our country. Most are the first in their families to attend college, and they work hard to further their educations.”

8/11 – UC owes $1.3 million to thousands of underpaid employees (SacBee): The settlement comes after a Department of Labor investigation found UC underpaid 13,700 non-academic workers by small amounts.

8/10 – Preliminary hearing for Eric Clanton, charged with Berkeley bike lock assault, pushed to September (Berkeleyside): Clanton was identified by an online effort that became a popular cause on the right.

8/10 – Berkeley Teacher Filmed Punching Neo-Nazi Arraigned In Sacramento (CBS/SF): Video allegedly shows Felarca attacking a man who has his hands raised.

 

Media Coverage 5/29/17

Assistant Professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies Blake Wentworth was fired nearly two years after an investigation substantiated claims of sexual harassment made by a graduate student. Wentworth, who had been placed on paid leave, has sued three of his accusers and the university. Even news of Wentworth’s firing, however, wasn’t free of the UCOP audit, as Wentworth’s attorneys claimed the timing of their client’s firing was intended to distract from the controversy. Over the week, newspapers continued to weigh in on the audit with opinion pieces. The San Diego Union-Tribune argued Gov. Brown should fill the four vacant Regent positions with individuals who will be more critical of the university system. In the Legislature, one lawmaker introduced a constitutional amendment that would limit UC’s autonomy, though the proposal is unlikely to clear the high bar for adoption. In a New York Times op-ed, the UC system was noted for its exemplary embrace of low-income students, though the piece notes declining state funding imperils the system’s commitment to inclusion.

Wentworth

5/24 – UC Berkeley professor fired nearly two years after sexual harassment claims substantiated (Guardian): The firing of Assistant Professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies Blake Wentworth comes two years after an investigation substantiated some of the claims against him. Wentworth has sued three accusers and the university. His attorneys claim the timing of the firing is intended to distract attention from the UCOP audit.

Also see Daily Cal

Audit and Finances

5/23 – State senator to introduce a constitutional amendment to limit UC’s 138-year-old autonomy (LATimes): State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azusa) has proposed a constitutional amendment to directly fund UCOP, a move intended to limit the autonomy of the UC system. Because the proposal is a constitutional amendment, not only would the Legislature need to approve the change, but voters would have to approve it as well.

See more SFGate

5/24 – Too many UC administrators make more than the governor (SFChronicle): State Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) argues that UC administrators are paid too much to justify raising tuition. Galgiani notes 712 administrators earn more than $190,103, the salary paid to the governor.

5/25 – Op-Ed: The Assault on Colleges — and the American Dream (NYT): A nice overview of how declining public funding for higher education has limited economic diversity on campuses. The UC system is highlighted as an exemplar of inclusion, though the author notes the future is precarious for the institution.

5/23 – Editorial: How Gov. Jerry Brown can force change fastest at UC (SDUT): The editorial calls for Gov. Brown to fill the four vacant UC Regent posts willing to take a more critical look at the system.

5/20 – Op-Ed: UC regents must take responsibility for independent audits of UC (SFChronicle): The City of Berkeley’s elected auditor argues the Regents need to insure UC’s own internal audit office is independent of and positioned to keep an eye on UCOP.

5/24 – Angst Over Middle-Class Aid (InsiderHigherEd): An overview of Gov. Brown’s push to eliminate the Middle Class Scholarship program, which benefits students whose families earn less than $156,000 but who do not qualify for aid targeted at low-income students.

Fruits & Genetics

5/24 – Sweet victory: UC Davis wins big-money strawberry fight (SacBee): A jury ruled that two retired UC Davis scientists stole the university’s intellectual property when they took a strawberry they developed while employed at Davis to a private company. The court still could decide UC must license the plants to the scientists.

Media Coverage 5/22/17

The flood of news concerning the UCOP audit slowed to a trickle this week, though the repercussions of an earlier audit made news. The Regents approved a cap on nonresident undergraduate enrollment, a policy change spurred by a 2016 audit that found in-state students were disadvantaged in the admissions process as UC sought the financial benefits of out-state-students. System-wide, UC’s undergraduate student body is about 16.5 percent nonresident. The cap will allow the proportion to grow to 18 percent at five campuses currently below that threshold. Four campuses—Berkeley, UCLA, San Diego and Irvine—exceed that limit. Instead of being forced to cut down on the proportion of nonresident students, these campuses will be capped at their current level. The Regents considered an even more lax plan, but withdrew it from consideration after lawmakers expressed exasperation, citing constituents with high-achieving high schoolers who had been denied admission to the state’s premier higher education system. As part of a deal with Gov. Brown, the system should now receive an additional $18.5 million in funding, money that will be used to fund the enrollment of additional resident undergrads, according to the Sacramento Bee.

News about the more recent UCOP audit focused on a Regents meeting which protestors briefly shutdown. The protestors were there to criticize UCOP for what the audit characterized as excessive compensation. The Regents voiced their support for President Napolitano at the meeting, pushing back against some aspects of the auditor’s characterization of UCOP’s budgeting practices. In an op-ed, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-South Gate) urged the Regents to more closely monitor UCOP.

In other news, Gov. Brown’s May budget revision makes the receipt of $50 million contingent on three conditions:

  1. State Auditor Recommendations: In an April 2017 report, the State Auditor identified a number of problems with the UC Office of the President (UCOP), including the office’s staffing size and costs, spending on systemwide programs, and overall budget. The Auditor’s report included dozens of recommendations designed to enhance transparency, operational performance, and state oversight. The Auditor called for these recommendations to be implemented over a three-year period (between April 2018 and April 2020). The May Revision would link budget-year funding with UC’s implementation of the April 2018 recommendations.
  2. Transfer Enrollment: The May Revision also expects all but two campuses (Merced and San Francisco) to enroll at least one new transfer student for every two new freshman students for the 2018-19 academic year. That is, at least one-third of each campus’s new resident undergraduate enrollment would need to be transfer students. This target is intended to align with policies called for in the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education. In 2015-16, 31 percent of UC’s incoming resident undergraduates were transfer students.
  3. Activity-Based Costing:  The May Revision’s final condition is for UC to pilot activity-based costing at three campuses. The purpose of activity-based costing is to identify program- and course-level costs of providing instruction and other services to students. Currently, one pilot is underway at the Riverside campus, and two campuses (Merced and Davis) have completed scoping studies for pilot programs

The Legislature is debating the budget, which has a June 15 deadline for passage.

Non-Residents

5/18 – UC pulls back welcome mat for nonresident students with first enrollment cap (SacBee): The article notes that nonresident enrollment increased rapidly during the recession, when the UC system saw its budget sharply cut. However, as the budget has recovered, nonresident enrollment has not slowed. Two Regents voted against the measure, with at least one casting their vote to signal support for more out-of-state students and the diversity they bring.

5/19 – UC leaders to cap nonresident student enrollment in 2018 (SFGate): The article notes UC enrolls more resident students than peer public universities.

UCOP

5/18 – UC regents defend Napolitano, thank auditor for probe (SFGate): The Regents pushed back on the auditor’s characterization of funds being hidden.

5/17 – UC students protest hidden funds, shut down regents meeting (SFGate): Protestors briefly shut down the Regents meeting, calling out President Napolitano for the perceived excesses of her office.

5/17 – UC regents meeting disrupted by protests over state audit finding of undisclosed surplus (LATimes): “Shame on you, Janet Napolitano. Shame on you, UCOP,” one student said at the meeting.

5/16 – Op-Ed: Speaker Rendon: In wake of audit, UC Regents need to wake up, better oversee President Napolitano and roll back tuition hike (SJMN): In his op-ed, Rendon wrote:

Regents must also demand transparency. We must receive clear, quality information and timely answers to our questions. That’s the only way to make informed budget, personnel and policy decisions.

I am frustrated with what Napolitano’s office has communicated and not communicated to the State Auditor, the public and the students. I will be ready with tough questions at the meeting. Legislators have to hold the Regents accountable, and the Regents have to hold the President accountable. That is what will bring lasting change.

Budget Revision

5/15 – State of California: LAO Budget Revision Analysis (LAO): The UC information is on page 26 of the report.

Media Coverage 5/15/17

A week-long parade of bad press following the state audit of UCOP has put questions about President Janet Napolitano’s leadership front and center. One lawmaker has already called for the former governor and Homeland Security secretary to step down. Gov. Jerry Brown is even in the mix, saying $50 million will be withheld from UC if the system doesn’t adopt the audit’s recommendations. In an op-ed, Napolitano said her office is in the process of implementing the changes. She struck notes of both apology and defiance, saying that things could have been done better, but insisting the audit’s implications of hidden money are fiction. Despite the negative news, Regent Richard Blum has called the criticism over the reserve fund “utter nonsense” and added he believes UCOP’s account of allegations concerning interference with the audit.

Nonetheless, concerns about UCOP meddling in the audit have led the Regents to vote to bring in an independent investigator to look into the interference claims. The San Francisco Chronicle reported three campuses changed responses in ways that painted UCOP in a better light, a finding that elicited harsh criticism from lawmakers. In response, Democrats have proposed making such interference a criminal offense.

Making matters worse, another story from the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted the high costs of retirement parties for UCOP employees, including one in 2015 with a bill of $4,200. The article also notes the $11,500 monthly rent on Napolitano’s Oakland apartment, though UCOP emphasized the space is used for official business and is paid for with private funds. Buried in the story is a note that iPads and cell phones have cost UCOP $2 million over a four-year stretch, a 29 percent increase. During the same period, the State of California was cutting cell phone costs by about 30 percent.

Amid the audit dustup, UC has also proposed a more politically palatable out-of-state student cap. Earlier, the university proposed capping the system-wide proportion at 20 percent, but after facing criticism, they’ve moved the cap down to 18 percent. Just as before, this new cap would not be enforced at campuses which currently exceed the limit.

Audit Fallout

5/11 – Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget holds back $50 million from UC to ‘hold their feet to the fire’ on reform (LATimes): Brown questioned the salaries of UC administrators and said his move would “hold their feet to the fire.”

2017-18 May Budget Revision

5/10 – Janet Napolitano, the ‘Political Heavyweight,’ Now Finds Herself Under Fire (Chronicle): This overview of Napolitano’s recent trials includes the amusing understatement: “Given the audit’s findings, however, (Napolitano) foresees spending more time working with state legislators to explain how the system is adopting the changes recommended in the audit.”

5/9 – UC audit reveals president’s office has extravagant taste (SFChronicle): UCOP spent $4,200 on a single retirement party in 2015. Between 2014 and 2016, at least 20 parties cost over $500. Additionally, UCOP spent $13,000 on dinner and security at a celebration of two departing Regents, though the money came from private sources.

5/10 – Op-Ed: UC president responds to critical audit (SFChronicle): Napolitano notes the suggested reforms will be implemented but emphasized the scope of UC’s responsibilities and questioned the audit’s characterization of its findings.

5/12 – $350 hotel nights, limo rides in Europe: UC audit finds more questionable travel expenses (LATimes): The LA Times piles on with more accounts of lavish spending, including a stay at a luxury hotel in Baltimore. UCOP notes no other hotels were available.

5/11 – California State Assembly member calls for Janet Napolitano’s resignation (DailyCal): Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) has called for Napolitano to step down. The article also quotes student leaders who are critical of the system president.

5/11 – UC regents take first steps to investigate alleged interference in state audit surveys (LATimes): The Regents will hire an independent investigator to look into allegations that UCOP interfered with the state’s audit. Napolitano says she supports the move.

5/14 – Column: Key UC regent is standing by Napolitano (SFChronicle): Regent Richard Blum called the brouhaha over the reserve money “utter nonsense.”  Blum used colorful language to describe Lt. Gov. Newsom’s characterization of the audit’s finding.

5/11 – A Cloud Over the University of California (NYT): The California-focused daily newsletter from the New York Times highlighted the system’s woes.

5/14 – Closer look at $175 million UC hid from the public (SFChronicle): A closer look at the “hidden” $175 million, which UC insists wasn’t hidden. The vast majority of the funds have been allocated, including money for food pantries and sexual harassment training.

Audit Interference?

5/10 – 3 UC campuses change responses in state auditor’s survey (SFChronicle): The article relies on records from the audit:

The surveys and previously unreleased emails show that administrators at UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego and UC Irvine removed criticism of Napolitano’s office or upgraded performance ratings in key areas at the direction of Napolitano’s staff. The interference — including a systemwide conference call conducted by the president’s office to coordinate responses among all campuses — prompted (State Auditor) Howle to discard all the results as tainted.

“The tampering is absolutely outrageous and unbelievable,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who requested the audit last year with Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, amid concerns over increased spending and rising tuition and fees. Napolitano oversees an office with a $686 million budget and nearly 1,700 employees.

5/9 – After blistering UC audit, interfering with state auditor could become crime (SJMN): Republican lawmakers are calling for a subpoena of relevant documents from UCOP’s offices.

5/9 – After UC probe, interfering with state auditor could soon be a crime (SacBee): The plan by two Democrats to introduce a bill is intended to clear up any confusion over whether such interference is criminal.

Out-of-State

 

5/9 – UC revises its plan to limit the share of spots going to out-of-state students (LATimes): UC has lowered the proposed cap on out-of-state students from 20 to 18 percent, though the four campuses above that limit would be able to maintain their current levels. Berkeley’s undergraduate population is 24.4 percent out-of-state.

 

Media Coverage 5/1

While the press cheered the nonviolent nature of Thursday’s protests, commentators characterized recent events as signaling the decline of free speech on campuses. Meanwhile, a scathing audit by the state on UCOP’s finances raised questions about whether recent tuition hikes were necessary. Calling to mind disagreements over an earlier state audit concerning non-resident enrollment, UCOP pushed back against the report’s findings, calling them misleading and over-the-top. Say what you will about university rankings, but for a bit of good news, Berkeley leads the nation for balancing excellence and affordability, according to a report by Forbes.

In her report, State Auditor Elaine Howle said UCOP has hidden $175 million in reserves while also lavishly compensating employees. She further says UCOP attempted to interfere in the audit by screening employee responses to questions. UC President Janet Napolitano countered with a lengthy rebuttal, noting that the reserve fund is not secret and that the majority of the figure Howle cites is already committed to campus and student services. Napolitano also said the screening of responses was intended to ensure accuracy.

Thursday’s protests, spurred by an on-again-off-again appearance by Ann Coulter (which, in the end, was off), were largely peaceful, though police did arrest students on campus. The tone of media coverage ranged from relief due to the absence of violence, to scorn at Berkeley for dishonoring its free speech legacy, to pity for a campus caught up in a debate that has little to do with the university.

UCOP Audit

4/25 – UC kept secret $175 million reserve as it raised tuition, state audit finds (SacBee): The Bee quotes lawmakers who are critical of UCOP:

Yet Assemblymen Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, and Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said all options are on the table. The lawmakers, who chair the Assembly Budget Committee and the panel’s education subcommittee, jointly requested the audit last August to determine if growth in staffing and spending at the Office of the President resulted in savings for campuses or duplicated work.

At a press conference, Ting and McCarty lambasted the office’s $175 million in reserves as exemplary of UC’s “mission creep” away from its primary focus on serving students. They said the money would be better redirected toward opening new enrollment slots, especially as the university returns to the Capitol each year seeking more funding.

4/25 – Press Release: UC responds to state audit report on University of California Office of the President (UCOP): The press release rebuts the audit and notes:

Just a week before the state audit report was released, three ratings agencies — Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poor’s — reaffirmed UC’s AA rating. Said S&P’s RatingsDirect report, “UC is sophisticated in many aspects of its financial operations, including debt and capital management, budgeting and forecasts, and centralizing expenses, which has helped maintain rating stability through the economic volatility of the past few years.”

4/5 – Letter: Napolitano’s response to a draft of Howle’s report (UCOP): Napolitano notes the $175 figure is exaggerated, and says the accurate size of the reserve fund is $38 million, which she calls a prudent size for the organization.

Also see a detailed point-by-point critique here.

4/5 – Letter: Regents’ response to a draft of Howle’s report (UCOP): The Regents take aim at a recommendation that the Legislature directly appropriate funds for UCOP, which, the governing board argues, would undermine UC’s independence.

4/27 – Big changes are needed at UC — starting with the Kool-Aid-drinking Board of Regents (LATimes): The Times has further criticism from lawmakers:

I hope the University of California is not tone deaf,” says Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, a moderate Republican from Contra Costa County. She’s vice chairwoman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “I’m deeply troubled by this very damning report. And I say that as an alumnus of the UC Berkeley law school. It’s very easy to pile on. We should give UC a chance to respond. And it better be good.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount), who sits on the UC Board of Regents, says, “We need really, really honest and straightforward answers.”

“A lot of things bother me” about the report, Rendon says, especially “charges that the UC president’s staff was obstructing the audit. That shows a tremendous need for more legislative oversight.”

Berkeley Protests

4/30 – Left, right Berkeley protesters display civility along with signs (SFChronicle): The article argues that the two opposing protest camps share a lot in common.

4/29 – Column: Berkeley a punching bag for angry people of all ideologies (SFChronicle): The sardonic column notes that Berkeley has become a symbol for every side to scapegoat:

Recent headlines should remind us Californians of yet another way we are lucky. Our state has the world’s best scapegoat: you.

You — our most distinguished public university and all the people, institutions and neighborhoods surrounding it — serve as a punching bag for angry people of all manner of ideological preoccupations. The right and the center can pin all of California’s liberal sins, real and imagined, on you. The left sees a reactionary threat in everything, from police action on or near campus, to the presence of law Professor John Yoo, who justified torture under President George W. Bush.

Yes, California as a whole takes a lot of critical blows. But can you imagine how much more bloodied the rest of our state would be if we didn’t have you around to absorb so much abuse? In recent months, as a furious world chokes on its own populist vomit, it’s been deeply reassuring to see you play your familiar role as California’s sacrificial lamb.

4/29 – Column: Ann Coulter gives readers another reason to bash Berkeley (LATimes): The article cites a variety of opinions on the matter from readers.

4/29 – Column: Berkeley, free speech and college campuses. The one thing that will change the game (FoxNews): The conservative outlet frames the episode as an instance of “progressive intolerance,” while pinning he blame for potential violence on the left.

4/27 – Column: Berkeley Forgets Its Purpose (NationalReview): The column argues that Berkeley is more interested in serving its brand and creating the next cadre of liberal elites to value free speech or a true education.

But don’t forget…

4/30 – UC Berkeley Ranked As Best-Value College In Forbes Report (CBS): UCLA came in at #2.

 

Media Coverage 4/10/17

According to a BuzzFeed report, UC Berkeley knew of at least three sexual misconduct complaints against John Searle, professor emeritus of philosophy, before he was sued last month by a 24-year-old woman. The suit alleges the woman was fired from a post as Searle’s research assistant after refusing his advances. BuzzFeed’s report claims that in 2014 Searle told an undergraduate he could not employ her in a research position because she was married and therefore would not be committed to the job. In 2013, Searle allegedly tried to kiss a foreign exchange student in his office. In 2004, a graduate student reported to the chair of the philosophy department that Searle had tried to play footsie with her under a table at an event for prospective students. After it appeared the university took little action in response, the graduate student transferred to another school. BuzzFeed reports that the three newly uncovered incidents were reviewed by UC Berkeley’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination. In a statement made through his attorney, Searle has denied the claims advanced in the March lawsuit, stating that he “questions the plaintiff’s motives for bringing her complaint.” The statement also notes that UC Berkeley treated any past allegations “appropriately” and that the footsie incident was “rejected by the university” after an investigation. UC Berkeley declined to comment to BuzzFeed due to confidentially concerns, but said a “rigorous investigation” into the claims related to the March lawsuit and past allegations are on-going. In other news, University of California President Janet Napolitano penned an op-ed championing the system’s research ties with Mexico, an initiative she says President Donald Trump has complicated. In another op-ed, UC Berkeley’s next chancellor, Carol Christ, and two coauthors criticized an attack by the Hungarian prime minister on the Central European University. Christ and her coauthors are trustees on the university’s board.

4/7 – UC Berkeley Was Warned About Its Star Professor Years Before Sexual Harassment Lawsuit (BuzzFeed): The article also notes that Searle is accused of inappropriate behavior in large undergraduate classes and of impersonating an offensive accent.

4/4 – Op-Ed: Hungary’s xenophobic attack on Central European University is a threat to freedom everywhere (WaPo): The authors have a harsh take on the PM’s move to limit the immigration of international students and faculty:

Let’s not sugarcoat this attempt at purging CEU. This is nothing less than an attack rooted in a xenophobic nationalism and an anti-intellectual mistrust of the conduct of free inquiry, research and teaching. The crackdown on CEU is part of Orban’s (the prime minister) larger crackdown on nongovernmental organizations and freedom of expression. In October, Hungary’s biggest opposition newspaper, which was critical of Orban, was shut down. The government has also pledged to tighten its grip on foreign-backed NGOs.

4/7 – Op-Ed: UC initiative with Mexico shows advantages of cooperation over confrontation (SacBee): Napolitano highlighted some outcomes from UC’s program in Mexico:

The initiative is now showing results, and these successes have come at a propitious time. Among the outcomes announced during this trip were a $10 million grant from Mexico’s Energy Ministry for energy efficiency projects with UC researchers, gains in combating diabetes on both sides of the border, and new student internships. A reception at UC’s Casa de California brought together more than 200 UC alumni living in Mexico who were eager to support the UC-Mexico partnership.

4/6 – UC president walks downtown Merced, future site of administrative center (MercedSunStar): A new $45 million UC Merced building in downtown Merced is intended to help revitalize the town. The university’s main campus is set off away from the Central Valley city.

4/6 – UC lead Napolitano brings can-do message to Johansen High (ModBee): Napolitano’s appearance was part of a program intended to increase the diversity and number of students applying to the UC system.

 

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.