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03/23/2017

Supervisors Encouraged to Lead Violence Prevention Exercises

The Caltech Crisis Management Council is urging supervisors to lead their teams in tabletop exercises this spring focusing on how to prepare for, mitigate, and respond to incidents of violence on campus. Training and information about conducting these exercises will be provided to interested supervisors on April 3 and April 10. Both sessions will be held from 2-3 p.m. in Crellin 151.

To participate in a session or learn more visit www.emergencypreparedness.caltech.edu

03/10/2017

Smoking on the Caltech Campus

In response to questions from members of our community regarding smoking on campus, Caltech is participating in an educational campaign to remind our community of the existing municipal codes around smoking in and around buildings.

All individuals on the Caltech campus, including residents, employees, and visitors are subject to adhere to the Pasadena Municipal Code, which includes specific regulations on tobacco use. The city ordinance (8.78) prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces, in and around multiunit housing complexes, and within 20 feet of all campus building doorways, windows, and vents. Smoking is further prohibited (ordinance 8.78.085) in all common areas of multiunit housing complexes, such as our student houses, the Catalina Apartments, and other rental properties owned by Caltech. It is important that all members of our community abide by local laws and respect those who wish to avoid secondhand smoke.

Our intent with this communication about smoking is to ensure that all Caltech community members have an appropriate environment where personal choices are not inhibited. It is incumbent upon all community members to be respectful of personal tobacco choices. Likewise, those who choose to use tobacco should attempt to minimize its impact on others, and those choosing to avoid tobacco products should take steps to ensure their own comfort.

Finally, for those who are struggling with tobacco use and would like to quit, Caltech's health care plans offer smoking cessation programs when requested. For Caltech community members who do not participate in our health care plans, alternative plans (e.g., the American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking program) are available. Please use the following link to get more information on how to stop smoking: https://benefits.caltech.edu/quitsmoking

Caltech is a campus where everyone who lives, studies, and works must experience a welcoming environment. One important part of such an environment requires us to ensure the full rights of individuals within the laws of our society. 

If you have any questions about this announcement, please contact Ken Hargreaves

02/06/2017

400 Year Old Engelmann Oak Tree Notification

Since last summer Caltech Facilities has received numerous inquiries asking whether or not Caltech's landmark 400 year old Engelmann oak tree has finally died. Anyone who grew up here in Southern California or who has been on campus long enough will already guess the correct answer to that question is 'It's hard to know.' During long periods of drought it is common for native oaks to suddenly turn completely brown, drop all their leaves, and go dormant; appearing completely dead until without warning green shoots reappear in the treetops once the rains begin again. Just like the slow, measured, metabolism which results in an oak's ironlike hardwood, testing for mortality in oaks is a slow process measuring different parts of the multiple trunks, canopy, and what are known as 'buttress roots.'

During the January meeting of the Trustee's Council on Institute Sustainability [CIS] their Oak Tree Task Force reported conclusive findings that the tree no longer supports enough viable tissue to recover, and so the council has formally declared the tree to be dead. As a venerable local landmark centuries before Caltech first built on this acreage in 1910 it will be sadly missed by many of us here on campus and our alumni, by our Pasadena and San Marino neighbors, and by all those campus visitors over its most recent century who have had their pictures taken under those massive branches outside Parsons-Gates.

Readers of the Caltech Ion's October 15, 2016 announcement will already know that 'the old oak by the chemistry building,' as it was referred to by students in Caltech first 1919-20 yearbook, was badly damaged by the big windstorm a few years ago, further weakened by sustained drought, and had recently been under treatment for a fungal infection.

In the case of an oak estimated to be more than 400 years old, it will not be a simple matter of chopping the tree down and replacing it with a fresh sapling from the local nursery. Arthur Fleming, who donated the land in 1908, was a lumberman and tree expert so the original campus master plan was designed around this tree as a central feature of the site. It will take both planning and consideration of the many variables involved to adjust the landscape to this loss while making proper use of as much of the remaining tree debris as we reasonably can. Samples for scientific study have already been requested from the Division of Geology and Planetary Sciences, as well as local and regional government agencies.

CIS, tasked with long term issues of resource use and campus infrastructure, formed the Oak Tree Task Force at the beginning of Fall Term with the expectation that the process of tree removal and regeneration of the site will take roughly a year. Already they are planning to use historical, scientific, and cultural data from the tree as the basis of a series of programs for Caltech's annual Earth Week and Arbor Day events; are working with the Office of the President to plan a ceremonial 'first cut' potentially during Alumni Weekend in May; while facilities staff are negotiating with a specialty arborist to fully dissect the tree starting after commencement.

It is anticipated that many of you will want to learn more about these plans and to make comments on the future use of both the tree remains and the location, so CIS will hold a campus wide Town Hall meeting as its first program on Wednesday, February 15 at noon in the Avery Dining Hall. The Oak Tree Task Force will post updated content as it become available on the www.sustainability.caltech.edu website and will accept all comments by email at sustainability@caltech.edu.

 

John Onderdonk
on behalf of the Council on Institute Sustainability

01/19/2017

Photography: Red Door Cafe

Photography for Development and Institute Relations will take place at the Red Door Cafe between 3 and 4 p.m. on Friday, January 20. This will not affect service.

12/05/2016

Flu Shots Available While Supplies Last

Faculty and staff members, postdocs, and students can get a flu shot at the Student Health Center on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday from 8:30–10 a.m. and from 1–2:30 p.m. A Caltech ID is required. For those pregnant or breastfeeding a note from a primary care physician is also required to receive the flu vaccine.

11/21/2016

Beckman Museum Open First Friday of Each Month

The Beckman Room is a small museum devoted to the history of chemistry and to the scientific and philanthropic work of Arnold O. Beckman.

The museum is open to walk-in visitors the first Friday of every month.

1–4 p.m., Beckman Room, Beckman Institute, Room 131

11/01/2016

Annual Asbestos Notification

Annual written notice of the presence of asbestos-containing building materials is being provided to all campus Faculty, Staff, and Students as required by California Health and Safety Code Section 25915.2. Copies of this legislation are available in Environment, Health, and Safety (EH&S).

Prior to 1979 asbestos was used extensively in the building industry throughout the United States for thermal insulation, fireproofing, and in structural support materials. At Caltech, asbestos was used to insulate hot water and steam pipes as well as ventilation ducts. It may be found in some attics, mechanical rooms, and in some floor and ceiling tiles.

The mere presence of asbestos in a building does not necessarily mean that a health hazard exists. Asbestos-containing building materials are not a health threat unless asbestos fibers become airborne and are inhaled.

Exposure to airborne asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease. Three of the major health effects associated with asbestos exposure are: 1) lung cancer; 2) mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin lining of the lung, chest and the abdomen and heart; and 3) asbestosis, a serious progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs.

In areas where the asbestos is not airborne when bonded or encapsulated, such as floor tiles or painted and properly maintained insulation materials, there is little or no risk to health.

Accordingly, it is important not to disturb asbestos-containing materials. Caltech's policy restricts work on asbestos-containing materials to properly trained and equipped personnel. Moving, drilling, cutting, or otherwise disturbing such materials can pose a health risk and should not be attempted by untrained personnel. Campus Faculty, Staff, and Students should immediately notify EH&S if they observe suspected asbestos-containing materials which are not properly maintained.

The Environment, Health, and Safety Office maintains records of asbestos sampling and air monitoring results performed during the course of asbestos abatement work. These records are available for review by appointment by contacting EH&S at extension 6727.

10/06/2016

Hiring Undergraduate Work-Study Students

The Financial Aid Office and the Career Development Center are working together to expand the Federal Work-Study program. The goal is to provide students with more job opportunities and the Caltech Community with additional student staff at very low cost.

Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a program of financial assistance for eligible students that is jointly-funded by federal and departmental contributions. It allows students to work to earn a portion of their college expenses.  The Department of Education allocates funds to Caltech to pay 75% of the wages of work-study students so hiring offices only pay the remaining 25% of the wages. Some students have been awarded Caltech Work-Study, in these cases the cost sharing breakdown is 60%-40% Institute and departmental contributions.

If you are interested in hiring a work-study student, use the link below to create an account and start posting your jobs now!  

https://caltech-csm.symplicity.com/employers

Instructions on how to post a job are available in the Supervisor Guide. Once you have hired a work-study student, please consult the Supervisor Guide for general guidelines on working with work-study students. Should you have any questions regarding the work-study program, please do not hesitate to contact the Financial Aid Office at x6280.
 

Don Crewell
Director of Financial Aid

09/30/2016

Campus Political Activities Policy

As the California election season continues, it is worth drawing attention to a campus policy of timely interest.

Caltech, as a non-profit institution, is subject to federal laws that impose restrictions, and even prohibitions, on certain political activities by Caltech and the use of Caltech resources in connection with political activity.   As the general election approaches, it is timely to remind the Caltech Community that the Institute has a Political & Campaign Activities Policy, posted at http://governmentrelations.caltech.edu/federal/politicalactivities, which provides guidance on what is and is not permitted in order to keep Caltech in compliance with legal requirements.

In summary, the applicable laws dictate that no person may engage in any political activity in support of or opposition to any candidate for elective public office on behalf of Caltech or use any Caltech resources for such a purpose.

While all members of the Caltech community are free to express political opinions and engage in political activities, it is important that they do so only in their individual capacities and avoid even the appearance that they are speaking or acting for Caltech in political matters.

Accordingly, any and all political activity in support of or opposition to any candidate for elective public office (including giving or receiving funds or endorsements) directly or indirectly using the Caltech name is prohibited. Use of Caltech resources for such purposes is also prohibited.  Prohibited activities include:

  1. Reimbursing employees for campaign contributions;
  2. Providing Caltech services, facilities, equipment or support for political purposes (Support includes such things as mailing lists, office space, photocopying, interdepartmental mail, electronic mail, duplicating machines, computers and facsimile machines);
  3. Using Caltech office addresses or e-mail addresses as a return mailing address for political mailings;
  4. Using Caltech telephones for political campaign purposes. However, campus residential telephone services may be used for these purposes.
  5. Using Caltech letterhead or the Caltech seal in support of a candidate or political party.
  6. Providing hyperlinks to web pages of candidates on Institute web pages.
  7. Official remarks at an Institute meeting by an Institute official in support of a candidate, political party etc.

We do permit incidental personal use of email and other resources and this policy does not prohibit such use.  So, for example, you are not prohibited from emailing several friends that you plan on attending a campaign event. If, however, you are acting on behalf of a campaign or actively campaigning for a candidate (for example doing mass e-mails), you should refrain from using Caltech resources.

Permissible Political Activities

As noted above, this policy in no way inhibits the expression of personal political views by any individual in the Caltech community.  Nor are faculty, students and staff prohibited in any way from joining with others in support of candidates for office or in furtherance of political causes.  There is no restriction on discussion of political issues or teaching of political techniques.  Academic endeavors which address public policy issues are in no way affected.

If you are planning on engaging in political activity, please review the Caltech policy so you are familiar with the rules governing Caltech.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Director for Government Relations at extension 6256 or by email at hdaily@caltech.edu.

09/26/2016

Academic Year Welcome from the President

The most impressive feature of Caltech to me is the Institute's spirit of reinvention. Members of our community switch fields, make abrupt turns in career directions, if the problem to be solved is fundamental, entrancing, and impactful. This ethos not only leads to new ways of understanding and manipulating nature—geobiology, quantum information, medical engineering, to name a few recent examples—but it also sustains a powerful culture of fearlessness and ambition.

The start of a new academic year is in itself an act of reinvention. High school students morph into masters of the problem set, upperclassmen emerge from the Core to define their own intellectual pursuits, our graduate students transform into faculty colleagues, staff members help the research enterprise hum by stepping in wherever needed. The autumn quarter is a time when the rhythm of academic life quickens and so much seems possible.

It is also a time that requires intentionality. The poet Wislawa Szymborska reminds us that: When I pronounce the word Future, / the first syllable already belongs to the past. It takes an act of will to focus on the big ideas, to challenge ourselves to push forward into new territory rather than to settle for the familiar.

Caltech's history has been marked by a gimlet-eyed focus on issues that matter by people committed to creating knowledge for the ages and inventing technologies that transform the human experience. This year is the Institute's quasquicentennial, and we as a community have the opportunity to write new chapters in Caltech's history consonant with its greatest ambitions and highest values.

There is urgency to this quest given tendencies in society at large to reject unfettered inquiry and devalue scientific approach and understanding. As Szymborska also writes: The next day / promises to be sunny, / although those still living / should bring umbrellas. It is only by living up to our aspirations, challenging each other's thoughts through rigorous argument and opening ourselves to a diversity of perspectives, that we will refine our ideas and make substantive progress. I wish you a year of reinvention, discovery, and sunshine.

Sincerely,

Thomas F. Rosenbaum
Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and Professor of Physics

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