Berkeley in the News

A daily selection of stories about UC Berkeley and higher education that have appeared in the local and national media.

Friday, 29 August 2014

1. Berkeley in the News will take a break Monday, September 1, in observance of the Labor Day holiday. Publication will resume Tuesday, September 2.

2. Napolitano delivers clever message at Nexenta OpenSDx Summit
San Francisco Chronicle

UC President Janet Napolitano talked about the benefits of basic science -- the study of something for pure scientific and intellectual curiosity that often yields theories and predictions -- at the Nexenta OpenSDx Summit in San Francisco on Thursday. The summit focuses mostly on the Internet -- data centers, servers, and local access networks -- but Napolitano focused on the "guts of the innovation economy," according to this reporter. "We often forget that someone had to build basics we rely on," Napolitano said. The University of California, especially its Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses, includes some of the biggest players in converting research into licensing fees and startups that might go public or be acquired. Witness the uptick in university-run incubators in the Bay Area.
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3. Attacking the Opportunity Gap
Inside Higher Ed

This article begins: "As affirmative action continues to backslide, support for economic equality is growing. Could these narratives be combined to fuel new ideas that take advantage of this common ground?" Noting that admissions plans could be part of the solution, the writer says: "An even more nuanced approach to evaluating applicants has been developed by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC-Berkeley. Under the institute’s Opportunity Enrollment Model, each applicant is given an 'opportunity score' that is informed, in part, by the applicant’s neighborhood, including the neighborhood’s poverty rate, job growth rate, and proximity to employment, health care, and public parks, among many other factors. ... Because the Opportunity Enrollment Model is technically race-neutral -- it reflects the racial makeup of the applicant’s neighborhood, not the race of the individual applicant -- universities could likely rely on opportunity scores to identify economically and racially diverse students in states where affirmative action has been outlawed. In order to help these ideas along, universities and nonprofits could forge partnerships with mission-aligned members of the tech community, who may be able to develop software and databases that help implement such models."
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4. Diversity in Political Science
Inside Higher Ed

Political science professor Rodney Hero, Berkeley's Haas Chair in Diversity and Democracy, spoke about insufficient diversity in the political science profession at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association on Thursday. As the association's incoming president, he said there is lots of room for reform within the association, since past winners of association honors and current members of specific interest sections are overwhelmingly white men. “These outcomes -- fairly or not -- do not look like the society we live in," he says. Adding that there's a phenomenon of 'two' when it comes to diversity quotes, he says, "Oftentimes the minimum is considered to be the maximum.” He also pointed out that some political scientists ignore the racial and gender issues inherent in their work, and that class issues should be included in discussions of diversity.
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5. A push is on in the US to reunite families torn apart by El Salvador’s civil war
PRI

During the brutal 12-year civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s, many children were forcibly taken by armed forces and illegitimately put up for adoption. After the war, in 2006, Berkeley's Human Rights Center helped set up a DNA registry that could be used to reunite Salvadoran adoptees with their biological parents. A public-awareness campaign through conventional and social media has raised awareness of the program among the two million Salvadorans now living in the US, but -- as the example of one mother's search for her lost child indicates -- the program can only work if the biological children hear about the campaign and also want reunions. Link to audio.
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6. Op-Ed: Widened Panama Canal may threaten West Coast port jobs
San Francisco Chronicle

Public policy professor Michael Nacht co-writes this commentary about negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association that represents port employers at 27 West Coast ports. Noting that the contract expired July 1, the authors write: "The immediate goal is to avoid serious disruption of trade from East Asia that could have deleterious economic effects throughout the West Coast. A longer-term concern, however, is whether a widened Panama Canal will harm the West Coast economy as more shippers shift to all-water routes through the canal to Gulf Coast and East Coast ports. ... The extra capacity offered by the widened Panama Canal ... could result in at least a 6 percent to 8 percent reduction in volume for the West Coast ports. Millions of dollars in lost revenue and the loss of thousands of jobs could follow." Making recommendations for topics to consider in the talks, they conclude: "The negotiators need to come to an agreement soon and remember: A constructive labor-management partnership is the best strategy to ensure that both will prosper in the challenging economic times ahead."
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7. Getting ready for the big one
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

Architecture professor Mary Comerio, a disaster recovery expert, compares the disaster preparedness plans of small and large Bay Area cities. “The suburban communities like El Cerrito, Albany don’t tend to do as much,” she says. “The larger ones are much more focused” on what buildings are vulnerable and how to restore vital services. “The smaller communities are much less far along” because they have fewer resources.
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8. The Morning Download Blog: Pay-by-Touch iPhone Could Boost Internet of Things
Wall Street Journal Online (*requires registration)

In a roundup of technology news, the status of Google's self-driving cars is mentioned, and a researcher at Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies is quoted for saying: “The public seems to think that all of the technology issues are solved. ... But that is simply not the case.”
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