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Monday, December 11, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Somebody at UCOP was thinking outside the box...

Was the somebody the politically-minded UC prez?

UC is about to bid to continue its managerial role in Los Alamos National Lab. But it is competing against the U of Texas (whose regents seemed to be split on making the bid)* and Texas A&M, which seems more gung ho about the effort. And, of course, California is not beloved to the Trump folks. So - read on:

Here is Wikipedia on Rick Perry, the current head of the Department of Energy (which will soon be evaluating the bid of UC to continue its managerial role in Los Alamos:

...Upon graduation from high school, Perry attended Texas A&M University where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets and the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He was elected senior class social secretary, and one of A&M's five "yell leaders" - students that lead Aggie fans in a series of "yells" during athletic events or other school events. He graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science...

And here is an article dated Dec. 9 from the Santa Fe New Mexican:

When the University of California submits its bid Monday to continue management of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the public institution from the biggest, bluest state in the country will have an eye-grabbing partner: Texas A&M University.

The two large university systems, one from a solid Democratic state and the other from the largest Republican-led state, are planning to join forces in a proposal to manage the national lab for the next decade, the Austin American-Statesman reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources.

University officials would not confirm the partnership to The New Mexican, but the director of one lab watchdog group, who was unaware of the partnership, said while it might seem like the two university systems make “strange bedfellows,” a Cal-Texas A&M partnership would be a good fit in many ways.

“It would make sense politically, certainly,” Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group said in an interview with The New Mexican earlier this week. “And it would seem to make sense from a research perspective. Both schools have a little different niche in that regard.”

Texas A&M, a land-grant college system with 11 campuses and a flagship in College Station, Texas, also gives the University of California, the lab’s operator in some form since its inception in 1943, a chance to move ahead with a fresh partner that can bring operational success in areas where it has been criticized: nuclear safety, hazardous materials handling, mechanics and logistics.

Another known bidder is the University of Texas System, a consortium of 14 campuses with a flagship in Austin. The UT System Board of Regents approved moving ahead with a bid at its November meeting...

University of California officials, who spent time in Northern New Mexico touting their long history and successes at the lab in late November, would not talk about potential alliances when contacted by The New Mexican.

“We can’t confirm or discuss any of our bid partners,” said UC’s Gary Falle, a government relations specialist working with California regents...

Full story at http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/uc-texas-a-m-to-team-up-on-bid-to/article_953ef4d6-1e04-57fb-833f-5edc42684a71.html

In short, the winds suddenly seem to have shifted in favor of UC's Los Alamos bid:

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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2017/11/4-to-3.html

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Open or Close?

There was some confusion in the midst of last week's fire near UCLA as to whether classes were to be held or not. Students were critical about delays in info,* although I have to say my smartphone kept buzzing with official campus updates and updates also appeared in my email. Yours truly probably would have leaned towards holding classes, since it was the last week in the quarter, and since nowadays an awful lot of students live in campus housing. Yes, the air was bad, but it was bad outside whether you were going to class or just outside nearby. And classes are indoors, are they not?

Yours truly attended the UCLA Anderson Forecast on Wednesday morning (Dec. 6) - which was not cancelled. Yes, attendance was held down because some folks did not want to make the trip, or couldn't. (I had to re-route to come to campus because of the closure of Sunset Blvd. near the 405.) But the conference went off without a hitch and it ran until close to noon. The air inside the auditorium in which the event was held was not smoky.

Education is what UCLA is all about. So cancelling classes should be a Big Deal. I hope we don't come to err on the side of cancellation whenever "events" occur. In a ten-week quarter, for a class that meets twice a week, each day lost is 5% of class time. For a class that meets once a week, it's 10%. Given regularly scheduled holidays (two Mondays disappear in winter quarter!), the percentage loss is in fact greater.

Of course, this is one person's opinion. But there needs to be a little voice somewhere that says "wait a minute" before the panic button is pressed.
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*https://www.chronicle.com/article/California-Wildfires-Upend/242006

Friday, December 8, 2017

More on the wolf at the door in college athletics

There continue to be news items that suggest the college athletics is going to have to change. It becomes harder and harder to pretend that athletes in the major sports are just ordinary students that do a little amateur thing on the side. There have been lawsuits about football concussions, pay for playing (in the same way that professional athletes are paid), etc. Back last February, there was this report:

The NCAA and 11 major athletic conferences announced Friday night they have agreed to pay $208.7 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit filed by former college athletes who claimed the value of their scholarships was illegally capped. The settlement still must be approved by a judge and it does not close the antitrust case. The NCAA said in a statement the association and conferences "will continue to vigorously oppose the remaining portion of the lawsuit seeking pay for play." The settlement will be fully funded by NCAA reserves, the association said. No school or conference will be required to contribute.

The original antitrust lawsuit was filed in 2014 by former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston. The case was later combined with other lawsuits and covers Division I men's and women's basketball players and FBS football players who competed from 2009-10 through 2016-17 and did not receive a cost-of-attendance stipend. In January 2015, the five wealthiest college conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference — passed NCAA legislation that allowed schools to increase the value of an athletic scholarship by several thousand dollars to the federally determined actual cost of attending a college or university.
Cost of attendance includes expenses beyond tuition, room and board, books and fees. Each member of the class will receive approximately $6,000, said Steve Berman, lead attorney in the case. "This is a historic settlement for student-athletes and there is more to come as the second part of the case seeks injunctive relief that will force the NCAA to pay student-athletes a fair share," Berman told AP in a text message Friday night...
Full story at:
It was reported yesterday that the judge in the case above has granted final approval for the settlement:

Change Coming to Grad Student Tax?

Inside Higher Ed is reporting a possible changing of the mind going on in the House on the so-called grad student tax (a tax on tuition waivers).

Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, on Thursday circulated a letter to House colleagues urging GOP leaders to exclude from final tax reform legislation a provision that would tax graduate students' tuition benefits. The letter signals at least one House Republican is focused on an issue graduate students across the country have organized around for weeks. 
On Tuesday, about 40 graduate students protested at the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan, leading to nine arrests...
See:
http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/12/08/house-republican-opposes-grad-student-tax

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fellows FYI

FYI: The new free speech center set up by the UC prez is accepting applications to become a "fellow" of the center. https://freespeechcenter.universityofcalifornia.edu/fellows/apply/

THURSDAY CLASSES CANCELLED...

...due to continued uncertainty about fires.