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New in Brief – 04/04/17

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President Napolitano Announces $10 Million in Funding for UC-Mexico Energy Efficiency Research

University of California President Janet Napolitano met last Thursday in Mexico City with Mexican Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquín Coldwell to announce $10 million in new funding for energy efficiency research, conducted jointly by Mexican research institutions and the UC.

Napolitano launched the UC-Mexico Initiative in 2014 with the Ministry of Energy of Mexico (SENER) to build partnerships and share resources amongst the UCs and Mexican universities, governmental agencies and private sector researchers.

The initiative primarily focuses on areas of mutual concern to both California and Mexico, such as affordable energy, clean water and air pollution.

“Through demonstration projects, innovative technology and integrated solutions to optimize our energy use, we will work together to achieve Mexico’s and California’s common long-term goal of finding solutions to the biggest challenges that humanity faces,” said Napolitano. “What works in Mexico will help Californians — just as what works in California will benefit Mexicans.”

UC Regents Propose Nonresident Student Cap

UC Regents will vote on a proposed 20 percent cap on nonresident undergraduate student enrollment at their next meeting in May. The regents intended to vote on the proposal at their last meeting in March, but postponed the vote after a lengthy discussion.

President Napolitano proposed the cap because of a provision in last year’s UC budget, which required the UC to adopt such a nonresident cap by May 1, 2017. The provision came as a result of a state audit highly critical of UC administration. Among the audit’s findings was the fact that UC began lowering standards for nonresident admission requirements and admitted about 16,000 nonresident students whose standardized test scores and grade point averages fell below the average resident students.

In the wake of ever-declining state funding for higher education, UC has resorted to admitting more out of state students to supplement its income and offset costs. Nonresident students in the UC system pay $40,132 in tuition and fees as compared to the $13,500 that California resident students pay.

To avoid accusations that UC serves nonresidents over Californian students, UC committed to admitting more in-state students through 2020. Admissions last academic year jumped 15 percent for California students.

The three campuses whose student populations are currently above the 20 percent cap — UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley — will have their populations capped at their current percentage so as not to affect current students and school funding.

Former UCI Trustee Charles  “Chuck” Martin Passes Away

Former UCI trustee, businessman and philanthropist Charles “Chuck” Martin died of cancer last Tuesday morning in Newport Beach at 80 years old.

Martin, who was also a Chapman University trustee, was first appointed as a UCI trustee in 2000. He served as Chairman of the Board for the Graduate School of Management from 2000 to 2005, which would later be named the Merage School of Business.

UC Law Schools Awarded Millions in Punitive Damages

The UC Irvine School of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law, UC Davis School of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law and UCLA School of Law were each awarded $4 million in punitive damages from a court case involving Wells Fargo wrongfully foreclosing on a couple.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher Klein awarded the couple $1 million in actual damages and $45 million in punitive damages. $20 million in damages went to the UC law schools, $20 million went to the the National Consumer Law Center and the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center and the last  $5 million in punitive damages would go to the couple.

UCI Launches Connected Learning Lab

UC Irvine launched the Connected Learning Lab (CLL) last Thursday to support interdisciplinary research and design between technologists and educational researchers.  The lab is sponsored by UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, School of Education and School of Social Sciences, as well as the UC Humanities Research Institute

Described as an “interdisciplinary hub dedicated to researching and putting into practice equitable learner-centered innovation in educational technology,” the CLL centers learning around individuals. It describes “connected learning”  as “when someone is pursuing a personal interest with the support of peers, mentors and caring adults, and in ways that open up opportunities for them.”

CCL highlights modern research showing that students and children perform the best in school when they are engaged and working on problems they personally care about.

Division of Continuing Education Launches New Program

The UCI Division of Continuing Education expanded its “UCI+One” to prepare recent graduates and other alumni for life after graduation. The new UCI+One Accelerator program functions as a 30-day fast track version of the normal program. Graduates in the program will receive individual advising and career coaching to help them transition to a career in their chosen field.

“In today’s workforce the next step in your career path requires a clear roadmap to success,” said UCI+One Program Director Leigh Poirier. “In order to foster students’ success after college, the University continues to extend guidance through programs such as UCI+One Accelerator to reach their career goals as quickly as possible.”

California Federation of Teachers Holds March for Immigrant Rights

The California Federation of Teachers held a rally in support of immigrant rights at its annual convention last Friday, in honor of Cesar Chavez Day. Hundreds of members marched from the Grand Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Sacramento to the state capital and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office.

The theme of the convention — “Organize, Resist” — was chosen to emphasize the support that teachers have for their students and their students’ families.

“We will not allow a McCarthyite environment of fear to envelop our schools and communities,” said CFT President Joshua Pechthalt. “We are here to show that educators and the entire community will stand together to ensure that our schools remain safe places of learning for all our students.”

Teamsters Union and UC Reach Tentative Agreement

The Teamsters Local 2010, which represents 12,000 administrative, clerical and support works across the UC, reached a tentative agreement with the university over wages, employment benefits and union rights after a  year of negotiations. Upon ratification by union members, the contract would take effect immediately and last until March 31, 2022.

The union bargaining team managed to negotiate up from the 7.7 percent wage increase over the life of the contract proposed by the university to a 19.4 percent compounded increase over the course of the five-year contract. In addition, workers would get a $1,200 lump sum payment upon ratification.