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 email@example.com.
on behalf of the Council on Institute Sustainability
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
Director of Financial Aid
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:
- Reimbursing employees for campaign contributions;
- 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);
- Using Caltech office addresses or e-mail addresses as a return mailing address for political mailings;
- Using Caltech telephones for political campaign purposes. However, campus residential telephone services may be used for these purposes.
- Using Caltech letterhead or the Caltech seal in support of a candidate or political party.
- Providing hyperlinks to web pages of candidates on Institute web pages.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please join me in congratulating Dr. Jennifer Howes on her promotion to Director of Health and Counseling Services. Jennifer has very ably served as the acting Director for the past eight months and had been a Staff Psychologist and Liaison to Residential Life at Caltech since 2011. Jennifer holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has extensive experience in working with our students as well as the larger Caltech community.
The resources and services provided by the Health and Counseling Centers are essential components of our approach to providing a safe and healthy environment at Caltech. The leadership of the Director and the efforts of our dedicated staff are key factors in creating and maintaining this environment. I am looking forward to continuing my work with Jennifer and her team, and supporting the ongoing development of Health and Counseling Services.
Joseph E. Shepherd
Vice President for Student Affairs;
C. L. "Kelly" Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering
I am pleased to announce that Kevin Gilmartin, Professor of English, has been appointed the Dean of Undergraduate Students effective July 1, 2016. Kevin is an accomplished scholar and author who brings to this position twenty-five years of experience in teaching and mentoring our students. A recipient of Caltech's highest honor in teaching, the Feynman Prize, Kevin has shown a keen interest in the welfare of our undergraduate students in and outside of the classroom. I look forward to working with Kevin. Please join me in welcoming him to the Undergraduate Dean's office.
I thank Barbara Green for her outstanding efforts as the Interim Dean over the past year. Barbara will be returning to her regular position as Associate Dean in July. We are indebted to her for her work with our students and service to the Institute. Please join me in thanking her for being so willing and committed to the success of our undergraduate student body.
Joseph E. Shepherd
Vice President of Student Affairs
C. L. "Kelly" Johnson Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering
Starting August 29, 2016, there will be a new website for submitting routine service requests to the Facilities Department at Caltech.
The AiM Customer Portal is a self-service, flexible, customer access point for submitting service requests, checking work order status, and reviewing cost information.
The AiM Customer Portal will be available via access.caltech.edu starting Monday, August 29th. You may use this portal for submitting requests for facilities maintenance, event support, chauffeur trips, Graphic Resources print jobs, Security building access and other Facilities services.
For more information regarding the AiM Implementation, please see the presentation that was given at recent AiM Town Hall meetings or download the AiM brochure.
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