UC being sued for withholding officers’ names on Davis task force report

Two California newspapers, the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times, are suing the University of California for failing to release the names of the officers involved in the pepper-spray incident at UC Davis. The two news outlets, who are owned by the McClatchy and Tribune companies, believe that they were “[left with] no choice but to bring this petition to protect the public’s right of access to this important information,” reports the LA Times.

The hold on the release of the officers’ names was part of the university’s settlement terms with the Federated University Police Officers Association (FUPOA); the latter sought to withhold the names for privacy and safety reasons, especially in light of the death threats that had been received by one of the involved officers whose name was made public. After this court decision was made, reporters at the Sacramento Bee and the Los Angeles Times petitioned the university but were unsuccessful in obtaining the names through the California Public Records Act.

Alameda Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo pointed out that the injunction against the release of the names does not warrant the regents’ withholding of the officer names in future cases. Prior to the legal scuffle with the FUPOA, UC officials had expressed their support for the full release of the task force report including all officer names.

Extended family of 3,000 volunteer for double-blind Alzheimer’s drug trial

Alzheimer’s Disease, an almost untreatable health condition associated with memory loss among older individuals, will be put to the test in a double-blind clinical trial in Colombia. The project will be led by experts from the University of California such as Ken Kosik, co-director of UC Santa Barbara’s Neuroscience Research Institute.

The tests will be conducted on a Colombian family of approximately 3,000 individuals who share common DNA, lifestyles, diets and a predisposition to Alzheimer’s. Kosik, along with Eric Reiman from the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, are tackling a unique form of the disease that is passed down by a mutated gene.

Since the trial will be double-blind, neither the researchers nor families will know whether they will be receiving the new drug Crenezumab or a placebo. Crenezumab’s ability to delay or even prevent dementia among those with the genetic mutation will be under scrutiny and the results may be available within two years. The $100 million clinical trials were approved by federal officials and will begin in early 2013.

CSU receives record 743,000 applicants

Application rates to the California State University’s 23 campuses are up 5 percent from last year. The increase in applicants has translated into a higher level of competitiveness among applicants since the university expects to be admitting around 350,000 applicants (nearly the same number as last year). The increase in competition is coupled with an enrollment freeze for spring 2013 and the implementation of a wait-list for the following year. Conditions for the CSU could become even more grim if Governor Brown’s tax initiatives fail to pass in the November ballot; under this scenario, the CSU would receive a $250 million trigger cut.

“The CSU is caught between a huge demand to attend our universities and a state that simply is not providing adequate funding for these students,” stated Eric Forbes, CSU assistant vice chancellor, in an article by the Los Angeles Times. “We are facing a tipping point in terms of the promise of access that is at the heart of the CSU mission.”

Initial reports have indicated that the increased demand and unstable financial setting will result in 20,000 to 25,000 qualified students being rejected by the CSU. Nonetheless, the CSU has demonstrated a priority on enrolling California students; CSU officials anticipate that the incoming class will likely consist of 95 percent California students.

CSU Chancellor announces retirement after 14 years of service

Charles B. Reed, who has served as chancellor of the California State University system for 14 years, will be retiring from his position. Reed announced his decision on May 24 and will remain as chancellor until a replacement is selected by the CSU Board of Trustees. “Throughout my time here the CSU has grown by more than 100,000 students and I have been honored to sign more than a million diplomas. I take great pride in the CSU’s mission to serve California’s students and I am proud to have played a role in carrying out that mission during these critical years,” stated Reed in a statement addressed to the CSU community. During his tenure as chancellor, Reed revamped the CSU’s efforts to attract students from minority backgrounds and endorsed outreach programs aimed at high school students.

“In my four years in California, the chancellor has been an effective and reliable ally in the fight to keep alive for future generations of Californians the promise of an affordable, top quality education. We have worked as partners in Sacramento, attempting to persuade the state’s political leadership to reverse its chronic disinvestment in public higher education,” stated UC President Mark Yudof in a press release. Yudof noted that Reed was a strong advocate of expanding the federal Pell Grant program to enable more Californians to receive a higher education.

The chancellor indicated that he had been considering retirement for some time, but first wanted to conclude the CSU’s search for new campus presidents. The retirement comes in the midst of a 9 percent tuition increase for fall 2012 and the possibility of further cuts to the CSU if Governor Brown’s tax initiative fails to pass.