Chancellor's Friday Letters

Leadership in Crisis

Leadership in Crisis

January 15, 2010

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, I met with several hundred students during a Leadership Lunch… students who had been nominated by their faculty and advisors as having shown clear signs of leadership… past, present, and future. You can imagine that it was an engaging lunch with many rich conversations among bright, engaged and aspirational students.

Also this week, the thoughts and prayers of people around the world turned toward Haiti, where a devastating earthquake has caused loss of life, homes, and livelihoods. The disruption and grief are difficult to comprehend. Accurate details will continue to unfold in days to come, but there is no doubt that the need is great.

Let me now connect these two thoughts.

Leadership at times is helping to set and take action on an agenda about things that matter. Leadership is also responding with action to opportunities that arise serendipitously. And a true test of leadership is recognizing when it is time to respond in a timely, helpful, and sustained way to disasters that affect others, particularly when the misfortune is not one of their own making.

I am moved and inspired by the fact that our students are demonstrating leadership and already doing something helpful to assist the people of Haiti.

Our students are organizing fundraisers as well as seeking ways to get the supplies of life to Haiti. One student indicated that, because of his interest in apparel design, he had access to hundreds of shirts and the like… and he would be finding a way to ship clothing to Haiti.

As the acute crisis passes, there will be long term needs for Haiti, and further opportunities for UCR students and others to provide leadership. Among these opportunities will be service learning and ‘alternative spring breaks’ to help rebuild homes, schools, libraries and lives.

Before this disaster struck we knew of the Haitian dissatisfaction with being one of the poorest nations in the world. Under new leadership Haitians were starting to find a better way by building infrastructure and advancing in a way they hadn’t experienced in some time. Now that momentum is lost…at least for the moment.

But with strong leadership, in Haiti and around the world, from this disaster will grow opportunity. This crisis will unite people in a common interest, and Haiti may be rebuilt perhaps better than ever. I predict that students at the University of California, Riverside, joining with other students around the country, will be a big part of that ultimate success story.

In the here and now, for those of us who want to assist there is valuable information in the following website, recommended by the U.S. State Department: http://www.interaction.org/crisis-list/earthquake-haiti

The American Red Cross also enables you to donate $10 by texting “Haiti” to 90999; the donation will be charged to your cell phone.

A few UCR students are Haitian, and we especially embrace them, and their families and friends. Fortunately, we did not have any students or faculty studying in Haiti. Please join me in extending your thoughts and prayers to the people of Haiti, and take a moment of leadership, of action, to commit to doing something no matter how small, to help.



Tim White, Chancellor

Training Elite Athletes at UCR
UCR Biologist Doug Altshuler was featured on the documentary show “Nature” last Sunday. The link below includes some of the fantastic video footage of his hummingbird training facility.

School of Medicine gets $4 million
With help from our representatives in Washington D.C., UCR’s School of Medicine received $4 million to support construction of facilities in preparation for the opening of the medical school in 2012.

By Any Other Name
Botanic Gardens Volunteers and local experts will demonstrate how to prune all kinds of roses at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17.

Wondering what else is going on at UCR? It’s all listed at http://happenings.ucr.edu

More Information

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