Lessons to be Learned

Today’s LA Times carries the story of two neuroscientists recruited by USC from UCLA:

Arthur Toga and Paul Thompson will move to the USC Keck School of Medicine campus next fall, along with scores of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staffers who now work at UCLA’s Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, known as LONI. In establishing a new institute at the USC campus in Boyle Heights, they will also move substantial government and private grants that fund the lab’s $12-million annual budget as well as some of the highly sophisticated equipment used to investigate the brain’s inner workings.  (The move)…raises concerns about the ability of financially strapped public universities to fend off raids from deep-pocketed private colleges like USC.

The scientists did not divulge details of their new salaries and research funding but said they did not seek a counteroffer…  According to a UC website of employee compensation, Toga was paid $1.06 million in 2011, including basic salary and extra money for research work. Thompson was listed at $421,150…

Toga said he did not want to disparage UCLA but said private schools “are often a little quicker on their feet.”…

Full story at http://www.latimes.com/health/la-me-0510-usc-ucla-brain-research-20130510,0,6976660.story

Of course, Chancellor Block comments and says that although he is disappointed, not to worry, there is plenty left at UCLA.  But that is not a good response.   Let’s note that at UCLA, the LA Times had only to look up faculty pay on the website because of court decisions regarding pay at UC.  USC also has complete access to the data.  But no pay disclosure occurs, or is required, at a private university such as USC.  There is also the observation about private universities being able to respond quicker.  Sounds like plenty to worry about to yours truly.  Sounds like the kind of story that should be trumpeted to the governor – who still harbors his youthful notions of “psychic income” for faculty – and to the legislature that is busy mandating this or that for the university and pursuing fantasies of saving money via online ed.  Will we hear anything about these matters at the Regents meeting next week?

President Yudof is supposed to present a state of the university report to the Regents next week.  Instead of the usual presentation about UC – despite budget cuts – still being the best public university, how about taking up these issues for real?  After August, there will be a new UC president.  Whatever political constraints there have been on Yudof in the past, they are gone now.  Tell it like it is, Mark.  We’ll be listening.

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