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.

 

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Media Coverage 6/16/16

The legislature passed a $171 billion statewide budget that increases funding for UC, though the specter of AB 1711 — which would cap out-of-state enrollment at 10 percent and increase overall enrollment by quite a bit — still looms. Beyond UC, the budget is more conservative than legislative Democrats had hoped, as Brown was able to secure $2 billion to shore up the state’s rainy day fund. While the state’s economy has been growing, Brown senses a future recession is near. In total, UC gets $3.3 billion, an increase of $125.4 million over last year, though $18.5 million is tied to the Regents adopting a cap on out-of-state enrollment. The nature of that cap is unspecified by the budget bill. UC already has such policies in place on the three campuses with the highest rate of out-of-state enrollment — Berkeley, LA and San Diego.

Budget & out-of-state cap

6/15 – State budget heads to Gov. Brown: How education fared (EdSource): In addition to UC ‘s increased funding, CSU also saw a raise of $161 million. In the K-12 world, there was a big focus on early childhood education.

6/17 – Budget pushes UC to limit non-resident enrollment, CSU to boost graduation rates (EdSource):  The Regents are likely to discuss how to cap out-of-state enrollment in July or September.

6/16 – California lawmakers create a University of California research center on gun violence (LATimes): Included in the budget is $5 million to establish a center on gun research. The federal government has long had a ban on funding such research. The funding will cover the first five years of operations. Where the center will be located is still up in the air.

6/10 – California budget deal seeks nonresident enrollment cap at UC (SacBee): Written before the budget passed, this article notes an Assembly plan to give $1.1 million to the state auditor to annually look into UC was left out of the final budget deal.

More coverage: California Legislature approves $171 billion state budget (LATimes); California budget by the numbers (AP); California lawmakers approve budget bill – on deadline (SacBee); More State Funds, on One Condition (IHE)

UC Merced expansion

6/16 – UC Merced moves forward with major campus expansion (LATimes): UC Merced will take a public-private partnership approach to a $1.14 billion expansion that will create room for 4,000 new students.

6/15 – UC Merced to expand through unusual partnership (AP): The campus expansion will be funded by the university, the UC system and developers, who will share in the operating revenue from new dorms, a dining hall and other facilities. According to Napolitano: “UC Merced, the youngest campus in our system, is poised to become a model for our other campuses as we look for the most efficient ways to construct, operate and maintain facilities that enable us to pursue our teaching, research and public service missions.”

Katehi

6/15 – UC Davis chancellor sent aides to Switzerland to learn image-boosting tactics (SacBee): About $17,000 was spent on sending staff to study PR pros abroad and across the country in an effort to revamp the university’s own image.

6/10 – UC delays release of public records in UC Davis, Katehi probe (SacBee): UC says it is delaying the release of records requested by the Bee so as to not interfere with witness interviews pertaining to the Katehi investigation. The documents, requested in late March, include “contracts issued to consultants, emails, travel expenses for Katehi and other UC Davis officials and the complete text of a 2012 marketing study.” Also, it’s noted Napolitano claims she never asked Katehi to give up her faculty post.

This & That

6/12 – Students mark 32nd annual Latino graduation at UC Davis (SacBee): Less than 40 percent of latina/o and chicana/o students are enrolled by their junior year. UC Davis hosts a special graduation ceremony to celebrate those who do make it through.

6/13 – Report: California public colleges not producing enough STEM degrees (EdSource): California compares poorly to other states in terms of producing STEM grads, which this nonprofit thinks is a huge deal. The group, the Campaign for College Opportunity, seems to put more blame on CSU than UC, noting both systems produce about the same number of STEM grads despite CSU having twice the enrollment of UC.

Elsewhere in the great American West…

6/15 – University of Wyoming president to evaluate program cuts (AP): A downturn in the nation’s least populous state is forcing budget tightening at Wyoming’s only public four-year university. The school needs to trim $40 million. For perspective, the entire state budget is about $1.5 billion a year. Some of the savings will be made by reducing the amount of research faculty conduct and increasing the amount of teaching, as positions are left vacant.