Berkeley in the News Archive

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Monday, 13 January 2014

1. Stanford dean takes UC Berkeley's provost post
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

Claude Steele, the dean of Stanford's Graduate School of Education and a former Columbia University provost, has been named the next executive vice chancellor and provost of UC Berkeley. "Claude is a world-class scholar, an extraordinarily gifted administrator, and a visionary leader with a deep commitment to teaching, innovation and collaboration," Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks says. "He is uniquely qualified to help sustain and expand our public mission and ethos, maintain our academic excellence and access and advance on our commitment to diversity in every sense of the word. We look forward to welcoming him to Berkeley." Dean Steele is a social psychologist, known for research on stereotypes and their effect on the performance of minority students. If confirmed by the UC Regents as early as next week, he is expected to begin March 31, replacing retiring provost George Breslauer. Other stories on this topic appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Business Times. Full Story

2. Mind and Matter: The Surprising Probability Gurus Wearing Diapers
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

Psychology professor Alison Gopnik writes about two new studies demonstrating how human babies and nonhuman primates make rational choices in estimation of probability. The study involving babies was co-authored by psychology professor Fei Xu. Professor Gopnik concludes: "This intuitive, unconscious statistical ability may be completely separate from our conscious reasoning. But other studies suggest that babies' unconscious understanding of numbers may actually underpin their ability to explicitly learn math later. We don't usually even try to teach probability until high school. Maybe we could exploit these intuitive abilities to teach children, and adults, to understand probability better and to make better decisions as a result." Full Story

3. Op-Ed: Meditation transforms roughest San Francisco schools
San Francisco Chronicle

Public policy professor David Kirp, author of Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School District and a Strategy for America's Schools, writes about the promise of meditation in Bay Area middle and high schools. Noting that an "impressive array of studies shows that integrating meditation into a school's daily routine can markedly improve the lives of students," he concludes: "While Quiet Time is no panacea, it's a game-changer for many students who otherwise might have become dropouts. That's reason enough to make meditation a school staple, and not just in San Francisco." Full Story

4. Moving day a success for UC Berkeley's Julia Morgan building
San Francisco Chronicle

The relocation of a 103-year-old landmarked Julia Morgan building to the UC Botanical Garden was successfully completed Sunday. Girton Hall, as it is known, was built by the pioneering woman architect and Cal alum in 1911 to serve as the Associated Women Students' building, at a time when women were not permitted access to most men's facilities. Its new purpose will be as a venue for conferences, exhibits, alumni events, and weddings. According to garden director Paul Licht, the move puts the building "back into the natural California setting that it was intended for, and it will return it to the social use it was intended for." Full Story

5. UC Berkeley preparing for busy flu season
KGO TV

Health officials on campus are preparing for a potentially severe flu season, as students return from winter break. Pam Cameron, of University Health Services, says they decided to hold pop-up clinics after learning swine flu was back. "Once they [the students] come back, we will have what we call pop-up flu clinics, where its short periods of time where they can just come in without an appointment and we can give them vaccinations, so that we can take care of a large number of students who might be interested in a short period of time. … We did it in the past. We did it in 2009 when H1N1 first showed up and in one clinic we vaccinated 600 people in two hours." Link to video. Full Story

6. Raise minimum wage, say some on the right
San Francisco Chronicle

A story about a Congressional effort to raise the federal minimum wage mentions a Labor Center study issued last year. It found that half of fast-food workers were enrolled in at least one public assistance program, costing federal taxpayers $243 billion per year for the fast-food industry alone. Full Story

7. Activist at vanguard of restaurant workers' rights
San Francisco Chronicle

Saru Jayaraman, director of Berkeley's Food Labor Research Center, is profiled for "emerging as one of the nation's top activists for restaurant workers." Jayaraman is the author of Behind the Kitchen Door, a 2013 book on worker abuse in the restaurant industry, and she says "foodies" need to connect their passion to political solutions better. "Every book you read by a food luminary -- every one -- talks about how the problem is corporate control over the food system," she says. "But the solutions are always, 'Go to the farmers' market.' 'Buy an heirloom tomato.' 'Buy organic.' It's always very individual and consumptive. It's not about targeting these corporations and loosening their control over our democracy, which is at the root of everything." Colleague Michael Pollan, a journalism professor who is also a best-selling author about the food industry, says about her: "She's incredibly smart and dynamic, and she's filling in the gaps between labor and food." Full Story

8. Op-Ed: The Great Redistribution a windfall for rich
San Francisco Chronicle

Public policy professor Robert Reich writes about economic redistribution as both a bad word and economic reality, concluding: "America has been redistributing upward for some time -- after all, "trickle-down" economics turned out to be trickle up -- but we outdid ourselves in 2013. At a time of record inequality and decreasing mobility, America conducted a Great Redistribution upward." Full Story

9. Loss of jobless aid leaves many with bleak options
San Francisco Chronicle

Associate economics professor Jesse Rothstein has studied the long-term unemployed and found that extended benefits help both the recipients and the economy by fueling consumer spending. "A Band-Aid doesn't heal a serious wound," he says, "but that isn't much of a reason not to use one." Full Story

10. Op-Ed: Away go our dollars down the delta drains
San Francisco Chronicle

Geography Professor Emeritus Richard Walker argues against Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to build tunnels underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to siphon water from the Sacramento River to pumps that feed the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. Citing a total cost of roughly $60 billion, including interest, he says, "That's a lot of money to waste on a bad idea." Full Story

11. Monkey Cage Blog: How patronage politics ate the Port Authority
Washington Post Online

Political science doctoral student Phil Rocco and Chloe Thurston, of Johns Hopkins, co-write a guest blog about political appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and their decision to make lane closures in an apparent gesture of political vengeance. "While this may seem de rigueur in a state like New Jersey," they write, "the story of how political appointees like Wildstein and Baroni gained so much decision-making power is actually much more complicated. It is a story of how seismic institutional changes at the Port Authority transformed an organization that was initially insulated from political corruption. However consequential, these changes have happened gradually, invisible to the public eye." Full Story

12. Chief official believed NJ lane closings illegal
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

Civil and environmental engineering professor Michael Cassidy, who occasionally works with the California Department of Transportation, comments on a preliminary traffic study that has been submitted in connection with the lane-closure controversy in New Jersey. "It could well be a good-faith effort," he says, "if not the finest in the annals. I cannot say this is not a study. ... You wouldn't want to publish it in an academic journal." Full Story

13. Erez Aiden Contains Multitudes
Chronicle of Higher Education (*requires registration)

Berkeley linguist and information professor Geoffrey Nunberg weighs in on a "new science" called "culturomics," saying: "The reason I don't trust these guys is that there's a crassness to the attitude that technologists, or 'scientistic' types, take to this material. ... [Harvard psychologist Steven] Pinker's a perfect example of this — the suggestion that we're not making progress in the humanities, that we need to put humanities on the same footing as the sciences, we need to create testable hypotheses." Full Story

14. Wonkblog: Stanley Fischer saved Israel from the Great Recession. Now Janet Yellen wants him to help save the U.S.
Washington Post Online (*requires registration)

An article about Stanley Fischer, nominated to be Janet Yellen's vice chair at the Federal Reserve, includes the following comments on his academic background: "He went to MIT for his doctorate, banging out a PhD in three years and then landing an assistant professorship at the University of Chicago. When Fischer arrived in Hyde Park in 1969, a chasm was about to open between Chicago, along with its peers near the Great Lakes — schools like Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Minnesota — and coastal powerhouses such as the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, and, perhaps most notably, MIT. The divide, known as the “saltwater-freshwater dispute,” was sparked when one of Fischer’s Chicago colleagues, Robert Lucas, launched an aggressive critique of Keynesian economics." Full Story

15. Hanmi Financial CEO Chong Guk 'C.G.' Kum charts course for growth
Los Angeles Times

Alum Chong Guk "C.G." Kum is profiled. President and chief executive of Hanmi Financial Corp, he says he started out studying neurobiology at Berkeley, intending to follow his father into academia. "When I finally told him I was not cut out for it, he said: 'I was wondering when you would figure that out.'" Talking about his late start learning the Korean language, he says: "In retrospect I wish I had a little more balanced upbringing, but back in those days there just weren't that many Koreans around. When I started at UC Berkeley there were probably less than 10 Korean Americans in the entering class." Full Story

16. Smart homes, wearable technology, more
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

A roundup of technology briefs includes an item about teen interns at TechHive, a Lawrence Hall of Science lab, having demonstrated their technology-based exhibits on Saturday. The exhibits were created with a range of digital media, hardware and software tools, and low-tech items such as bikes and shoes. Full Story

17. Monday's TV Highlights
Los Angeles Times

Frederick Wiseman's documentary At Berkeley about UC Berkeley during the fall 2010 semester airs tonight at 10 p.m. on PBS. Full Story

18. '1964' review: Impacts of tumultuous year still felt today
San Francisco Chronicle

1964, an "American Experience" documentary, will air at 8 p.m., Tuesday on PBS. The tumultuous year began less than two months after the JFK assassination and saw, among other things, the birth of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. It was the year that "led to the letting loose of everything," Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner says in the film. Full Story

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