It's Sunday afternoon and with spring finally in the air, the students back on campus, and the Jim Mora era of UCLA football set to finally hit the field in a few days, Bruin Bites has returned from its short spring break inspired hiatus. So, if you're looking to enjoy the last few hours of this nice sunny weekend (at least here in California) before heading back to the grind tomorrow (to say nothing of watching a NCAA tournament final which will, of course, not feature Ben Howland's dumpster fire basketball program), let's get you some UCLA-related news. Nothing earth-shattering (saving the extended thoughts, with some interesting data points, on Chianti Dan's failure to hold Howland accountable for tomorrow morning, so stay tuned), but a couple of neat points.
With that said, let's turn to the bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse as we wrap up the weekend with the return of Bruin Bites from spring break:
- Starting off with football (since it's on everyone's mind with Mora's first spring practice set to get underway on Tuesday), our former coach (and otherwise great Bruin) Rick Neuheisel has apparently landed himself a new job already. SbB (one of our favorites, BTW) is reporting that Rick will be joining the new Pac-12 Network as an analyst and color commentator this upcoming season. It's great to see Rick staying involved with football and, from a UCLA point-of-view, it'll be good to have a classy pro-Bruin voice in the studio. This will be a great fit for a coach that everyone likes, but who just couldn't put it all together once in the hot seat.
- Turning to campus concerns, apparently, the number of commuters at UCLA is at its lowest level since 1990, which is good (but probably not good enough for those of you stuck in traffic in Westwood Village and on the 405 everyday). With on-campus housing being a focus of UCLA's development plan (why do we have these well-thought out plans for the university for everything but sports?!), these numbers aren't really a shock. It's good to see UCLA leading the way in addressing Los Angeles' endemic traffic gridlock problems, by starting in our own neighborhood.
- On the flip side of that, UCLA managed to bungle up financial aid, although it came in the form of the classic Monopoly Community Chest card: approximately 7,000 UCLA students checked their bank accounts and found double the amount of financial aid they were supposed to receive. Apparently, the university deposited the money not once, but twice. Oops.
- Once again, those South Campus engineering egg-heads are up to their old tricks: developing an engineering break-through that could, eventually, impact the way we use electricity and fuel in the future. In an article full of words that my North Campus brain cannot comprehend, UCLA engineers developed a method for converting carbon dioxide into a liquid fuel by using electricity. In short, it's the first step in a process that could lead to major shifts in how we fuel our motor vehicles, something that is very exciting.
- During last Thursday's regents' meeting at UCSF, three UCLA graduate students were busy getting arrested during protests (the usual student protests against increasing tuition). But that's not the story: rather, mentioned in passing by the Los Angeles Times (what a surprise, they missed the real story), is two notes: first, that the regents delayed a decision on UCLA's plan to build a $162-million conference center and hotel on campus, telling UCLA that they were skeptical about the project's economic viability (duh!), and second, that despite criticism of UCLA's plan to sell the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden, the regents took no steps to stop UCLA from doing so. Does anyone else see the irony in UCLA saying they can't afford to maintain the Japanese garden, yet finding a way to go forward with a $162-million project that even the regents think is flawed (oh, and only $40-million comes from that alum gift, so where is the other $122-million coming from?).
- So, if you also think that UCLA selling off the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden is a short-sighted travesty (which wouldn't be a surprise given how Gene Block has pretty much failed as UCLA's chancellor and has no long-term vision or sense of accountability), LAist has a great article that not only spells out the background of this hidden treasure, but lists various ways that you can help try to save the garden. Good stuff.
Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites for the tail-end of the weekend. Hopefully, you're enjoying the last few hours of the weekend relaxing, but don't forget to check out what you can do to save the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. Check out the official Save the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden website here. Don't let Block and the visionless bureaucrats at Murphy Hall destroy one of UCLA's unique prizes.