Chancellor discusses campus concerns

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Chancellor discusses campus concerns

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<b>University will focus on solving issues involving wages, safety through transition to Gene Block</b>

By Jackie Barber
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams addressed myriad staff concerns such as Chancellor-elect Gene Block, employee compensation, and campus security on Tuesday afternoon during a staff meeting.

About 100 staff members attended the meeting, hosted by Staff Assembly President Shelley Brown.

Abrams began his speech by praising the staff&#39;s contributions to UCLA, calling the unique sense of community fostered on campus "a treasure" for such a large university and said he is impressed with Block.

"You will find him open, a quick study, and one whose values are all in the right place," Abrams said. "I&#39;m confident he will make a great chancellor."

Abrams said the biggest challenge for Block will be "recruitment and retention of both staff and faculty."

He cited the high cost of housing in Los Angeles as an obstacle in attracting employees from elsewhere, as potential employees have expressed concern about their ability to afford quality local housing.

Each year the university attempts to increase the salaries of its faculty and staff, but these salaries have fallen below market, Abrams said, adding that a long-term goal for the university is to bring salaries back to market value.

Raises for the university&#39;s lowest-paid workers is also a current focus, Abrams added. He said the university has been working with the unions toward this goal.

Abrams called the salary concern "a work in progress," but said he believes Block is up to the task and is familiar with similar issues because of his experience serving as president of the University of Virginia.

UCLA employee compensation is a major concern not only for the UCLA community, but also for the Los Angeles area, said Nicole Moore, lead organizer for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union Local 3299.

"Custodians (at UCLA) are paid 25 percent below what community college custodians are paid, and many people here are without a living wage," she said. "We have many concerns about the budgeting process. We want to make sure UCLA is not creating poverty in the Los Angeles community."

She said the university must address its role in providing quality jobs and affordable health care.

Abrams enlisted Karl Ross, chief of university police, to address campus security in light of the recent Virginia Tech shootings.

Ross said there are 61 campus officers, and after the Columbine shootings in 1999, these officers have been trained for active-shooter situations.

The department is also "tied into a terrorism early-action task force," Ross said.

Ross said a group from the department meets with Student Psychological Services weekly to monitor possible threats.

The most likely disaster on campus, though, is an earthquake, Ross said.

Abrams pointed to the new Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, which is not yet open, as a positive development this year.

"It&#39;s going to be the most technologically advanced hospital in the United States, and possibly the world," he said.

Brown read anonymous questions submitted for Abrams by the staff, including a question on the "lingering challenge" of course and space availability.

The session also gave Abrams the opportunity to speak about the renovation of Pauley Pavilion, and he said a committee has formed to raise money and make decisions on the project.

The building&#39;s name will not change, nor will the basic structure, but the committee has hired a firm to do preliminary designs, which Abrams has seen and called "very exciting," he said.

Design ideas include reconstructing the bleachers to create better viewing angles and building a concourse to encase the building. Digging underneath Pauley to build a practice court is also a possibility, though an expensive one, he said.

The renovation may be constructed by John Wooden&#39;s 100th birthday in about three years, Abrams said, prompting enthusiastic chatter from the audience.

Dinora Duarte, Staff Assembly historian and secretary and an organizer of the event, said though there were no surprises, she was pleased with Abrams&#39; presentation.

"Considering he won&#39;t be here after July 31, I thought he had a good grasp on where the university is going," she said.

She added she believes the assembly gave the staff a valuable opportunity to hear ideas firsthand from the chancellor.

"We actually really look forward to the event," she said of the annual assembly.

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Original Source:<a href=http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/2007/may/09/chancellor_discusses_campus_concerns/> The Daily Bruin - May 9, 2007</a>

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Jackie Barber

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2007-07-13

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Sara Hood

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Saba Riazati <editor@media.ucla.edu>

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eng

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Jackie Barber , "Chancellor discusses campus concerns," in The April 16 Archive, Item #715, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/715 (accessed April 24, 2014).