UC-wide – Over the holiday season, the University of California doled out over $33 million to 35,000 alumni.

The former students – who all participated in a class action lawsuit against the University over disputed fees – received checks varying in value from as much as $12,000 to as little as $1. On average, most were sent $200 to $300.

A state appeals court ruled in November 2007 that the UC had improperly raised fees for professional students during the spring and summer quarters of the 2003 academic year. The court deemed that the UC had breached its promise that it would not raise fees for professional students and that thousands of previously enrolled students were therefore entitled to refunds with interest. The California Supreme Court rejected the University’s final appeal and reinforced the ruling, leaving the University owning $42 million in refunds and interest.

Most of the money was dispersed in December.

So how did the University pay for the tens of millions it owed? Last May, the UC Board of Regents voted to maintain a $60 surcharge in the educational fee currently assessed to students until all costs incurred from the court case are recovered. The fee was first implemented in Fall 2007.

UCLA – A scientific experiment left a UCLA research assistant with chemical burns on 40 percent of her body.

The fire, which occurred in the Molecular Science Building on the UCLA campus on Dec. 28, scorched the victim with scores of second- and third-degree burns. Another research assistant in the building managed to extinguish the chemical fire with water before the fire department arrived on scene.

According to the press release, the victim of the fire – an unnamed 22-year-old woman – was working in a UCLA lab when a pyrophoric compound – a substance that can ignite when it contacts water or humid air – was accidentally exposed to the air.

The compound, T-Butyl lithium, ignited a chemical fire that left the victim with second- and third-degree burns on two-fifths of her body. The victim was transferred to a burn center in Sherwood Oaks, the press release said, and remains in stable condition.

The Molecular Science building suffered no structural damage.

UCSF – UC San Francisco has accepted a $7.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle the shortage of healthcare workers in Tanzania, Africa.

The two-year grant will be implemented to support the collaboration between UCSF Global Health Sciences and the Muhimbili University of Health Allied Sciences in Tanzania to create, document and execute strategies to help MUHAS and other African institutions meet their countries’ health workforce needs.

According to UCSF and MUHAS, solving sub-Saharan Africa’s healthcare worker shortage has long been a priority, but until now has been without substantial funds. This project will apply the resources of two major universities to engage the problem and will focus on developing an institutional partnership model that can be replicated in other developing countries.

As the only public health university in Tanzania, MUHAS is faced with the difficult task of solving Tanzania’s long-term need for healthcare professionals in order to improve health outcomes for its patients.

As part of the program, UCSF faculty will join forces directly with their counterparts from MUHAS to share educational technologies and curriculum for training healthcare workers.