Chancellor's Friday Letters

The Story of Campus Achievement

The Story of Campus Achievement

April 9, 2010

Dear Friends,

Earlier this week I was in Sacramento with about 100 alumni and friends of UCR, telling the important story of our campus achievements, opportunities, and needs. It was inspiring to see the multigenerational alumni who trekked, on their own nickel, to help tell our story.

To each of them, thank you on behalf of all the current students, faculty, staff, and other alumni.

And for others not able to travel, I am grateful for your continuing advocacy on behalf of our students and faculty, and for our ability to continue to serve our community through business, science, agriculture, engineering, medicine, education, and the humanities and social sciences.

Later, I traveled to Oakland for the monthly meeting of the other UC Chancellors and the President, as well as a second meeting with leadership of the academic senate from around the UC system. This latter meeting occurs only biennially, and I, along with Tony Norman, the chair of the Riverside Division of the Academic Senate, was asked to present on the strong relationship this campus enjoys with our community.

We spoke to the power that this community exerted in originally establishing and sustaining this campus, and the consequent real and justified sense of ownership.

Furthermore, the fact we were founded as a land grant research university has strengthened our bonds with our community. These bonds were further strengthened by the fact that our faculty students and staff engage programmatically with many sectors of our broader community – local, regional, national and global. A third point of discussion was the importance of the campus climate that we have established, and that we strive daily to improve, also solidify those bonds.

I returned to campus Wednesday evening. And, as good fortune would have it for me, one of our faculty, Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tom Stahovich, was on the same plane. He told me about some seminars he had given that day at the invitation of colleagues on the Berkeley campus.

I was fascinated, because Tom and his colleagues, with significant funding from federal agencies and industrial partners, have developed the software that allows a pen to become an undergraduate tutor -in a context-sensitive manner – in the teaching of physics and mathematics, such as with diagrams and equilibrium equations. It is easier to see than to explain. A quick video is available at http://smarttools.engr.ucr.edu/video/newtonpen4.wmv .

This is really fascinating work… where was Tom Stahovich when I was studying such material for the first time a few years ago?

Tom’s work occurs in the Smart Tools Lab, which has a fascinating website ( http://smarttools.engr.ucr.edu/publications.php).

In this lab, students, faculty and staff conduct research in the development of intelligent design software. They have created systems that can learn to solve design problems by observing solutions devised by a human designer. They also conduct research in natural user interfaces; the work is focused on enabling computers to understand natural forms of human communication, primarily sketching, but also speech and gesture. The aim of this work is to create computational techniques and user interface design principles to enable natural, pen-based software for a variety of applications, such as engineering and education.


Best regards,


Tim White, Chancellor

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From Lip Gloss to Popsicle Sticks

Bourns Space Science and Engineering Day tomorrow is a great place to show children ages 8 to 14 the wonder of science. The free event lasts from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. tomorrow in the courtyard of Engineering Building II. Thanks to the UCR students who are volunteering.

Reza Aslan Sheds Light on Afghanistan

I always learn something new when Reza Aslan, assistant professor of creative writing, spars with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. This time he takes aim at politics in Afghanistan.

Environmentally Speaking

UCR’s Environmental Research Institute encourages the public and campus community to participate in a daylong workshop on air, water and natural ecosystems, alternative energy and other sustainability issues. “Pathways to a Sustainable Society” will last from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 15 at the UCR Extension Center in Riverside.

Find out what else is going on at UC Riverside at http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

More Information

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E-mail: chancellor@ucr.edu