Chancellor's Friday Letters

Students Advocate for Education

Students Advocate for Education

March 5, 2010

Dear Friends,

This week I have benefited by sharing many hours with our students, working on issues that matter deeply to our society.

Much of this activity has been around advocating strongly for sufficient and predictable support for public education in California, so that we can sustain access and excellence at the University of California.

I am inspired by our students’ burning passion and desire to make a difference, and their willingness to take the time and make the effort to engage constructively with legislators and other government officials about the importance of public education to California and the nation’s future.

Thirty-seven UCR students went to Sacramento earlier this week. We met for pizza Sunday night to do the final strategizing, and on Monday walked the halls of the capital for formal visits with legislators and other government officials. Other campuses were also represented through the UC Students Association.

Visits were organized so that groups of 4-5 people, including students, Regents, President Yudof, and Chancellors traveled the halls together. We agreed in advance to speak about only three issues on which we all concurred. The legislators witnessed the power of seeing the students and administration speaking with one voice.

The first issue was affirming the core principles of the Master Plan for Higher Education (http://ucfuture.universityofcalifornia.edu/documents/ca_masterplan_summary.pdf ), which celebrates its 50th anniversary on April 26th. Of prime importance are the elements of sustaining accessibility, affordability and quality of higher education.

Secondly, we spoke about the importance to California’s future of having legislative support for the Governor’s funding request for the University of California. Although the Regents requested an investment of $913 million, the Governor has agreed to support only $375 million. These resources, coupled with the increased student fees, decreased expenditures on personnel, travel, and increased efficiencies in the way we manage the campus operations, will enable us to better serve the burgeoning enrollment.

Finally, we stressed the critical importance of full state funding for the Cal Grant program. This program, which helps support students from low-income families, is at risk again this year. Reductions in these funds would be devastating to the dreams of thousands of students. Indeed about 45% of UCR students receive some support through this program.

Yesterday, UCR joined many educational institutions in a “day of action.” Several hundred students, faculty, staff and community members gathered at the Bell Tower at noon to voice concern about the continuing erosion of support for K-14 and higher education.

Our rally was loud, but not violent in any way… our student organizers spoke clearly about the importance of non-violence. They know that violence and vandalism will alienate the public’s support for our efforts. The noble cause of public education is too precious to risk with such behaviors.

I saw many picket signs at the rally – some serious, some crude, and some with erroneous facts. I was moved by one of the signs, which poignantly stated, “I’m here for my little sister.” Our students realize this isn’t all about them, but rather the generations yet to come through the great halls of UCR to take their place as our future leaders.

Best regards,


Tim White, Chancellor

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