Chancellor's Friday Letters

Realistic Aspirations

Realistic Aspirations

October 2, 2009


As we complete our first full week of the new academic year, I reflect on the palpable vibrancy as our students and faculty engage in literally thousands of interactions in our classrooms, studios, laboratories, fields and through the internet. But buried not far below this energy, expectation and aspiration of our core purpose, you can sense that we are all searching to define and find a way to thrive in our new economic reality. In this vein, I draw your attention to two events that took place this week.

The first was the launch of a vital strategic planning process, led by our Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Dallas Rabenstein, that gathered well over 100 faculty, staff and students to draft our path forward… we call this initiative “UCR-2020,” as it will provide strategic clarity to our future. Later this year, the work of this group will be shared broadly for comment on and off campus, and ultimately it will create the path forward that provides guidance to investing our resources to meeting the expectations and emerging needs of our society.

The second event was our first Town Hall meeting of the year (http://chancellor.ucr.edu/), in which several hundred faculty, staff and students gathered in person and through webcast for 90 minutes. During the Town Hall, I summarized outstanding achievements of our faculty, students and staff, and discussed our new economic reality and the difficult actions that affect virtually everyone on campus.

The Town Hall discussions also exposed a need and interest to become very serious and entrepreneurial as we cast a new strategic and visionary course of excellence for UCR… this point is aptly summarized by the William Ward observation that the pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist sits idle and hopes for the winds to change, and the realist adjusts the sails to be able to continue to advance. And so it is the case, our UCR-2020 effort will give us guidance on how best to adjust our sails and provide a realistic aspiration for our future.

On my way to the Town Hall, I interrupted a student walking and asked how her school year was starting. “Oh, just fine,” said this sophomore in Political Science. I queried back a little, and she offered that she was flummoxed by a required book being sold-out for a large lecture class… a serious student I concluded privately. And then she confessed she was very concerned about the rising costs and her financial aid… she couldn’t see a path forward yet… a pallor of worry came visibly over her as we concluded our chance meeting. As we parted, I wished her well with her journey as she put her earphones back in… the seriousness of that plaintive moment hit me hard and sticks.

This sophomore’s story is an example of why our UCR-2020 plan will be so instrumental for sustaining excellence as we refine and pursue our aspirational vision. We are engaging in setting our sails differently and strategically going forward, so she and all others yet to be here can access the highest quality public university education in America, and so our research and creative activities can fuel the knowledge base for what is yet to come.


Tim White

I’m glad to report that even in an economic downturn, UCR has raised more than $20.5 million in cash private support this last fiscal year, a four percent drop from the previous year. Some campuses have seen donations drop up to 50 percent.

I’d like to invite you to reserve a spot at the Chancellor’s Dinner on Oct.
17 to raise money for merit scholarships for our students. We will honor two distinguished alumni, Gary McCord and Cindy Le, and the family of Milton W.
Stratford, a donor and friend of the campus who championed scholarships.

University Carillonneur David Christensen will give a free concert at noon Monday. Enjoy lunch on the lawn – what a magnificent way to spend an hour.

Wondering what is going on at UCR? It’s all listed at www.happenings.ucr.edu

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