Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the Week of May 11, 2015

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California schools are likely to benefit as “California's budget surplus soars to new heights,” reports the Bay Area News Group – which also says Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins “wants to see a slice of the surplus go to UC and CSU. But, she said, for UC to get its money the system would have to freeze in-state tuition, limit out-of-state student enrollment, implement pension reform and cut administrative costs.”

“State disinvestment in public higher education is driving tuition increases” according to a new Demos report on “myth and reality in the crisis of college affordability.” While “administrative bloat is a popular theory,” the author says “This myth is not only blatantly untrue, but takes attention away from the real problem: states aren’t investing in their students. Instead, they’re saddling them with crippling, life-long debt.”

“If states continue down this path of disinvestment,” claims a blog in the Washington Post, “some will soon contribute nothing to higher education and leave schools and parents to fend for themselves...” For example, some researchers project that if current trends continue, “Colorado, Louisiana, Arizona and South Carolina, will contribute nothing to higher education in the next 10 years.”

Disinvestment and other societal factors are leading adjunct college professors to join “the fight for a living wage,” says Paul Rosenberg in Slate, “making the point that virtually all jobs nowadays are, or at least can be, McJobs...”

“A solid majority” of California voters “agree that pension reform should come before the consideration of any tax increases,” according U-T San Diego, based on a poll commissioned by pension reformers. These include two former city officials who believe “pension obligations are siphoning money from local governments’ core services,” reports the Sacramento Bee.

“Motivated by the fear of possible new federal regulations, university leaders gathered in Washington on Wednesday as part of a national study commission seeking strategies to improve lab-safety conditions,” reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. These panels “have come at a time of increased attention to the problem” because of the death of lab worker Sheri Sangji at UCLA (and subsequent criminal charges against UCLA and her professor), and about 120 other incidents in university labs since 2001. This year’s panel (the third) emphasized “ways of expanding upon and carrying out some of the ideas raised by the previous two commissions” – such as developing a “’near-miss reporting system.’ Such a system has proved invaluable for airline safety ... since an approach that relies solely on investigations of actual crashes can miss a huge number of learning opportunities.” (A subscription is required to read the full article.)

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