Saturday, September 24, 2016

Listen to Regents Afternoon Session of Sept. 14, 2016

We are following our new practice - which was introduced when the Regents switched to YouTube temporary archiving - of first uploading the audio of meetings indefinitely and then providing some discussion.

We previously posted the audio of the afternoon of Sept. 14, which involved three simultaneous committee meetings.*

You have to be quite wonkish to enjoy the session of the Compliance and Audit Committee. However, the sessions of the Public Engagement & Development Committee and of the the Governance and Compensation Committee. The former dealt with fundraising (philanthropy) and UC lobbying. The latter primarily with the fallout of the Katehi affair and the question of chancellors and other key officials serving on outside boards. With regard to philanthropy, what you will hear is primarily descriptive - so many dollars targeted, shares from medical centers vs. the rest of campuses, capital vs. faculty (particularly endowed chairs) and students. If there is a grand strategy at either the campus or the UC-wide level, I didn't hear it. Most of what happens occurs at the campus level. The lobbying discussion focused primarily on Sacramento. There was some mention of federal efforts. Local lobbying was not mentioned, although campuses do have dealings with municipal officials. The lieutenant governor - who is openly campaigning to get rid of the world "lieutenant" in his title in 2018, has made legalization of marijuana and gun control part of his campaign - and is backing the related propositions on the November 2016 ballot. So when the discussion turned to the 17 state ballot propositions, he elaborated on both - although they have little to do directly with UC.

It became clear in the discussion of the new policy that top executives should only serve on two board maximum - that the Regents are not sure what policy they actually adopted. At issue essentially is whether the new policy - two instead of three - applies only to new hires or whether it applies to incumbents. There was a mix of views as to whether there were legal bars to changing the employment deals with incumbents and whether - legal issues or not - whether the limit of two applied only to new hires. If you go to the link in the footnote below, you can hear it all.

Now what we need is a faculty recruitment video... match UCPD's:
...or maybe to match UCLA Delta Gamma's:

Friday, September 23, 2016

There's always room for one more

On move-in day at UCLA, freshman Ashley Sanchez pulled two bins filled with blankets, toiletries, cleaning supplies, snacks, notebooks and her favorite stuffed whale to her new dorm and opened the door. Three beds, three desks and three wardrobes were squeezed into a room that used to house two students. As the last roommate to move in, Sanchez was left with the top bunk in a tight corner with a low ceiling over the right half of the bed. Her mother, Silvia Valladares, surveyed the space with a protective parent’s eye.

“This is a small, little room for three girls,” she fretted. Doubles turned into triples are now the norm at UCLA, which began classes Thursday with 1,000 more registered California students like Sanchez piling onto a campus already packed from years of enrollment growth.

And it’s not the only University of California campus scrambling to make room for the largest influx of new students in decades. Overall, nearly 8,000 more California students committed to a UC campus over last year. The larger class is part of a deal UC President Janet Napolitano made with Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature to enroll 5,000 more California students this year — and 5,000 more the next two years — in exchange for more state money. 

Finding room has strained UC campuses across the state. Some are squishing four students into double rooms, moving students off campus, even leasing beds from other colleges. They are hiring hundreds of new instructors and expanding services, including tutoring and mental health counseling...

Full story at

Cram 'em in:

UC Beats Harvard

The UC endowment dropped by 3.4% last fiscal year.* In that department, we outdid Harvard which lost only 2%:

The Harvard University endowment reported a 2 percent loss on its investments for fiscal 2016 and warned that returns may be lackluster for some time. The world’s largest college endowment, which is in transition as it searches for a new chief executive, had its worst year since 2009. Over the past decade, it would have made more money if it had simply invested in a big basket of US stocks and bonds.

“This has been a challenging year for endowments and clearly these are disappointing results,” Paul Finnegan, chair of the Harvard Management Co. board, said in a statement. He said the board and staff of the fund are “taking the steps necessary to ensure HMC can continue to most effectively support the mission of Harvard University over the long term.”

Executives at Harvard Management declined to say when a new leader would be named. Stephen Blyth stepped down as chief in July, after a medical leave and just 17 months in the role. He had been promoted to the job in January 2015, succeeding Jane Mendillo, who had led the fund through steep losses in the financial crisis...

Full story at

Switch coming

Although it was announced back in April, Anthem Blue Cross is touting its regaining of the UC health care contract starting in 2017 (after we had a spell with Blue Shield):
Say, isn't Anthem Blue Cross the carrier who was hacked and exposed zillions of records of UC patients and former patients? Anyway, the new contract is for three years so there will be some stability after the switch. We can hope that the switch back to Anthem will be made without disrupting things for those currently covered through UC's health plans.

The only advice we have for folks is not to be asleep at the switch:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Without Peer

From Inside Higher Ed:

Robot-Written Peer Reviews: Computer-generated gobbledygook can pass for the real thing with many faculty members, study finds.

The headline says it all. But isn't the purpose of a peer review to demonstrate how smart the peer is compared to the author? Just asking.

Maybe I should ask the robot:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Zero Correlation Between Evaluations and Learning

New study adds to evidence that student reviews of professors have limited validity.

September 21, 2016, Inside Higher Ed, Colleen Flaherty

A number of studies suggest that student evaluations of teaching are unreliable due to various kinds of biases against instructors.... Yet conventional wisdom remains that students learn best from highly rated instructors; tenure cases have even hinged on it.

What if the data backing up conventional wisdom were off? A new study suggests that past analyses linking student achievement to high student teaching evaluation ratings are flawed, a mere “artifact of small sample sized studies and publication bias.”

“Whereas the small sample sized studies showed large and moderate correlation, the large sample sized studies showed no or only minimal correlation between [student evaluations of teaching, or SET] ratings and learning,” reads the study, in press with Studies in Educational Evaluation. “Our up-to-date meta-analysis of all multisection studies revealed no significant correlations between [evaluation] ratings and learning.” ...

Full report with links at

Of course, if you read the above as an instructor - and if you always knew it - remember there is also something called "confirmation bias."

But it's also true that a finding of zero ain't nothing: