News Wrap-up: Dec. 14 – 19


UC Divests from Private Prisons Amid Student Demands

The University of California system has sold an estimated $25 million of its indirect holdings in private prison companies after black student unions at all nine UC campuses unanimously passed a resolution calling for immediate divestment.

The UC chose to sell its investments on Dec. 1 after meeting with students from the Afrikan Black Coalition, a UC-wide group of student-led organizations for black students. The coalition had raised concerns since November, when it issued a press release highlighting the UC’s investment in private prisons.

UCSB Plans for More Solar Power Through New Partnership

The university is planning to install six new solar arrays throughout the University of California, Santa Barbara campus starting in the upcoming spring quarter through the end of 2016. UCSB has partnered with Silicon Valley-based solar energy provider SunPower for the new installation, which is set to generate 5.3 megawatts in total, representing approximately one-third of UCSB’s peak electrical demand.

SunPower will install, maintain and operate the system. The arrays are set to be installed over the Events Center (Thunderdome), Robertson Gym, Lot 38 (between Storke Field and Harder Stadium) and three other campus parking structures. The project is estimated to produce $14 million in savings in electrical costs over two decades and cut UCSB’s greenhouse gas emissions by six percent.

Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Named New Head of UC Investment Fund

The University of California’s new $250 million investment fund will be led by high tech entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé, UC officials including UC President Janet Napolitano and UC Chief Investment Officer Jagdeep Singh Bachher announced on Tues., Dec. 15 via conference call.

Originally called UC Ventures, the fund was announced back in Sept. 2014 as an independent fund targeted toward research emerging from the UC. Napolitano cited the need to maintain an independently led and managed fund with a pro-entrepreneurial approach, and a team with entrepreneurial experience as reasons for taking on Ranadivé to lead the fund. The UC Office of the Chief Investments Officer, also known as UC Investments, will provide the anchoring capital at around $250 million with the opportunity for additional investment from other donors.

Hazardous Spill Response Drill at UCSB

Elings Hall became the scene of a large-scale, real-time drill, responding to a theoretical hazardous chemical spill on Thurs., Dec. 17. The massive drill involved roughly 50 people and five agencies including firefighters from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Santa Barbara City Fire Department, Montecito Fire Protection District and Carpinteria/Summerland Fire Protection District, which together make up the South Coast and Santa Barbara Type-2 Hazardous Materials Response Teams.

The scenario involved a spill near one of the laboratories on the third floor of Elings Hall. The responding firefighters were not given the scenario beforehand. These drills occur on an annual basis.