Monday Memo: news & views about working at UC

For the Week of August 18, 2014

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Raymond Burse, Kentucky State University's interim president, has given up more than $90,000 of his $350,000 annual salary to give campus minimum-wage workers a raise to $10.25 per hour. "Other college presidents have taken similar actions," reports Vox Media.

Not here at UC, however. In fact, a tripling in the number of "highly compensated individuals" at UC between 2004 and 2012 "is coupled with a decrease in job security and compensation for most workers," writes Bob Samuels, president of UC-AFT (representing UC lecturers and librarians).

A demonstration in support of UPTE bargaining at UC Berkeley. Photo by Eric Gillet

A new report by the US National Research Council recommends that university labs "'move chemical research beyond simple compliance to the adoption of a culture of safety ... that transcends inspections, standard operating procedures, and chemical safety plans,'" according to Scientific American.

UC is stepping up out-of-state recruitment for undergraduates, reports the Sacramento Bee. "Data about statements of intent to register released in July suggest that this fall’s incoming class could have a record 20.2 percent nonresidents," raising "concerns that Californians are being pushed out of the UC system." Recruiting drives included as many as 20 visits to China and separate visits to India. Nonresidents pay $23,000 per year in addition to the $12,000 tuition, and the regents have endorsed such recruiting. One columnist at Justia.com, considered criticisms of the strategy, but reached conclusions that generally favored it.

Demonstrating just how close the relationships are between UC and agribusiness, strawberry growers are alarmed at the imminent departure of two strawberry breeders at UC Davis, according to the Sacramento Bee. Varieties developed by UC represent just over half of California’s $2 billion-a-year crop, and the university has received tens of millions in royalties and research grants. Now UC Davis’s strawberry breeders are leaving to form their own company, prompting the California Strawberry Commission – which has funded research at UC Davis for decades – to file suit over an alleged breach of contract..

Meanwhile, UC Davis launched 14 commercial startups in the past year, the largest number of ventures in one year to be based on UCD technology. "Nearly doubling the number of university-based startups is a major milestone," said one UCD official. “This achievement illustrates the huge potential of our faculty for driving economic development."

One more story about UC Davis: an administrative nurse was awarded $730,000 for retaliation after she blew the whistle on an unethical pain management research project undertaken on San Quentin prison inmates without their consent.

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