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UPDATED NEWS BRIEFS: Wellman evacuated, Provost Pitts to step down, Chancellor's Colloquium

By Dave Jones on September 9, 2011 in University

Campus authorities ordered the evacuation of Wellman Hall around 1:15 p.m. today (Sept. 9) as a precaution against possible exposure to asbestos that may have escaped during an overhaul of the heating system. No one was injured, authorities said.

Firefighters wore breathing apparatus as they made a sweep through the building to make sure it was clear.

The 75 or so evacuees included students on the last day of Summer Session II, and some of them were believed to have evacuated with their final exams, to finish them outside.

Officials said the incident presented a low risk of exposure to asbestos. Still, authorities advised students to consult with Student Health Services if they had any concerns.

The evacuees also included participants in the UC Counselor Conference, which drew more than 1,000 high school and community college counselors. The evacuation occurred just as the conference was ending.

Environmental Health and Safety Services, and Facilities Management began the cleanup Friday afternoon, and continued monitoring the air in the building.

Asbestos fibers may have been released into a second-floor corridor when someone inadvertently turned on a building fan. The corridors had been blocked off since 6:45 a.m., and the fan was supposed to have stayed off while workers removed old asbestos insulation in preparation for the installation of new, energy efficient valves for the heating system.

Unfortunately, the fan came on for a few minutes, posing the potential for asbestos exposure.

Provost Pitts to step down

UC President Mark G. Yudof announced this week that Larry Pitts will step down next year as provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, the university’s highest ranking academic officer.

Pitts, a professor emeritus of neurosurgery at UC San Francisco, has held the provost’s post since February 2009. He indicated at the time of his appointment that he intended to serve only three years, Yudof recalled.

“Larry has informed me that he intends to remain true to his original plan and will step down in the new year to return to the well-earned retirement and family time that he interrupted to take this position,” Yudof wrote in a Sept. 6 letter to the Board of Regents.

Yudof said Pitts had lived up to his reputation as “an accomplished academic leader and a passionate and able advocate for UC and public higher education.”

Yudof said a national search for a replacement will begin in the coming weeks, and that Pitts has agreed to remain as provost until his successor takes office.

Colloquium on UCTV

Another installment of the Chancellor’s Colloquium Distinguished Speakers Series is coming to UCTV, starting next week.

The speaker is Bruce Alberts, a science adviser to President Obama, editor-in-chief of Science magazine and a former two-term president of the National Academy of Sciences. He spoke in the chancellor’s series in May, on the topic: “On the Future of Biochemistry Research.”

UCTV plans to present the program at 2 p.m. Monday (Sept. 12), and eight other times through Sept. 18. Click here for more information, including the complete schedule.

Within a few days after the premier, UCTV plans to have the program available in video and podcast formats.

UCTV maintains a website for the Chancellor’s Colloquium series, listing all available programs.

Where to see UCTV

Cable: Comcast Channels 15 and 17 in Yolo County, Comcast Channel 15 in Sacramento County and Surewest Channel 21 in Sacramento County. Click here for complete cable information.

Satellite: Dish Network Channel 9412


Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,