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.

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 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.

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 10/7/16

This week, Reich for UCB chancellor makes the news, Napolitano takes a stand for free speech and safe spaces in a Boston (?) newspaper, the Feds increase higher ed transparency, a strike at Harvard and Portland State University announces free tuition.

Robert Reich

10/4 – Robert Reich urged by faculty group as new UC Berkeley chancellor (SFC): The BFA supports Reich, but both the man himself and Napolitano remain mum. The new chancellor will be named in five months time.

10/4 – Op-Ed: Robert Reich would be superb leader for this campus (DailyCal): BFA argues Robert Reich is well-suited to address the university’s challenges.

Napolitano

10/2 – Op-Ed: It’s time to free speech on campus again (BostonGlobe): Napolitano notes that students shouldn’t be shielded from ideas they dislike, but notes the importance of safe spaces.

The University of California is the largest and best public research university in the country. In the 1960s, when the Free Speech Movement began, our student body was 55 percent male and overwhelmingly white. Today, 53 percent of UC students are women, 42 percent are the first in their families to attend college, and nearly 40 percent of this year’s entering class identified themselves as either black, Latino/Latina, or a member of another historically underrepresented ethnic or racial group. Moreover, sexual identity was hardly on the radar in the 1960s. Today, students self-identify in myriad ways.

Students, therefore, come from a much broader range of backgrounds, and they often benefit from gathering with others of similar backgrounds to share experiences and support one another. At UC we have many different types of student centers and student activities; some of our newest are for undocumented students. You can call these “safe spaces,” but I call them a good idea… 

…I’m not especially fond of the letter recently sent by the dean of students at the University of Chicago that seemed to support free speech Darwinism. As stated earlier, even free speech has its limits: time, place, and manner restrictions, for instance. Chalking an anti-immigrant pro-Trump slogan on a sidewalk is one thing; spray painting it on a building is another.

CSU

9/30 – ‘Finish in Four’ is new mantra for California State University (SacBee): CSU is adding more sections of popular classes, giving advisors tablets and setting them loose and asking students to sign pledges in an effort to increase the four-year graduation rate.  The project is estimated to cost $400 to $500 million and is intended to combat the state’s projected deficit of degree holders.

Elsewhere in higher ed

10/5 – Harvard Hit With Strike by Dining-Hall Workers (Chronicle): About 750 workers refused to arrive on a Tuesday after contract negotiations continued to stall. Frozen food was used to feed the hungry students.

NB: According to Politico: “The Education Department on Friday unveiled a database of the agreements that colleges have with banks and other providers of financial products on campus. Under new regulations finalized by the Obama administration last year, colleges were required to post online their contracts with banks and financial institutions.” No UC schools are listed, but a few CSU are.

NB: PSU is offering free tuition to students who meet the following criteria:

  • Current resident of Oregon
  • Graduate from an Oregon high school
  • Admissible to PSU as a first-year freshman for the fall 2017 term
  • Have a 3.4 cumulative unweighted high school GPA
  • Eligible to receive a federal Pell grant as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Enrolled full-time at PSU, 15 credits per term
  • Students must apply for federal loans

Media Coverage 9/16/16

This week, UC Berkeley cancelled a student-led course on Palestine after pressure from various groups affiliated with Israel, UC President Janet Napolitano openly campaigned for Hillary Clinton and the often-criticized but nonetheless influential USNWR rankings affirmed that despite its financial struggles, the UC system’s campuses are still considered the finest public universities in the nation (for a more meaningful story about USNWR, look to the Fresno State link). Oh, and and the UC’s debt is $17,200,000,000.

Palestine Course

9/15 – Suspension of controversial Palestine class at UC Berkeley sparks debate (Guardian): The class, entitled “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis” has been accused of being “anti-Israel and antisemitic” and “intended to indoctrinate students to hate the Jewish state.” Hatem Bazian, a lecturer, was the faculty sponsor of the course. In the article, he notes the class went through the required approval processes.

9/15 – Berkeley Bans a Palestine Class (AcademeBlog): The AAUP’s blog presents a thorough timeline of the controversy.

More coverage – Inside Higher Ed | SF Chronicle

Rankings

9/13 – California schools score high in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 college rankings (SFGate): Berkeley is the nation’s best public university, according to the newest iteration of the USNWR ranking, a scheme more often criticized than praised. Nonetheless, this is the 15th year in a row in which Berkeley tops the list.

9/13 – Fresno State’s graduation rate puts school No. 1 in U.S. News and World Report ranking (SacBee): More meaningfully than the above, Fresno State was found to lead the nation on a metric that compares an institutions graduation rate with its expected rate, based on demographic profiles of students.

Debt

9/15 – University of California debt soars to $17 billion; regents consider new borrowing policy (SJMN):  As the UC system approaches its limit of debt borrowing, the regents may consider creating a new policy to allow for more borrowing.

Napolitano

9/11 – Column: UC President Janet Napolitano leaves no doubt she’s with Clinton (SFChron):  The UC president is hosting a fundraiser for Clinton, which the Chron suggests is the first instance of a UC president actively campaigning for a presidential candidate. According to the article:

Legal guidelines issued by UC’s office of general counsel say the university “may not endorse or contribute to candidates for elective office.” It also says UC officials “should use care to avoid confusion between private and public roles.