Chancellor's Friday Letters

Above and beyond the call

Above and beyond the call

January 7, 2011

January 7, 2011

Dear Friends,
First, let me say happy New Year and I trust that you had a chance at some point over the past several weeks to gather with family and friends.  And to our faculty, staff and students – welcome back to campus.

I ask you to pause for a moment and thank the unsung heroes on our campus who, when nature recently decided on a little mischief in the form of torrential rains, stepped forward – and not back – to avert disaster.

We don’t give enough recognition or credit to these co-workers.

Typically when we think of the University of California, Riverside, we think of our faculty, our academic programs, and the achievements of our undergraduate, graduate and professional students.  We think of music, lectures, and sports.

But behind all of our academic efforts is a group of dedicated people who, in effect, run a small city of about 26,000.  These hard-working members of our community deal with all the vital support… from providing food and health services, to operating and sustaining our utilities, roads, grounds, and buildings… 24/7/365.

The rains that besieged our campus in late December totaled almost nine inches, against an average annual rainfall of a bit over 10 inches.

And when you see that the campus is nestled up against the base of the Box Springs Mountain Reserve, you begin to understand the issues, as the surrounding streets become culverts directing more than our fair share of water to campus.

The rains began in earnest the Wednesday before Christmas, and their direct impact lingered through Christmas Day and into the following week.  Most of our employees in physical plant, environmental health and safety, and transportation and parking came in on short notice during their scheduled time off or vacations.

Decisions were made that were just right, averting major and significant damage, particularly to our electrical service and all the instrumentation it supplies.

Some 250 Physical Plant employees worked long hours up to Christmas Day to keep our campus secure so students, faculty and staff could function with minimal disruption.

Jerry Higgins and his plumbers assisted Eric Schuler and the electricians who were keeping our electrical vaults and switches dry. A major catastrophe was avoided when they shut power down for several hours to ensure our electrical switches did not explode, which would have shut the campus down for two weeks before total electrical power could be restored.

Teams of personnel poured over the campus, double-checking elevators, card-access systems, fire doors, generators, etc. for full functionality once power was restored.

Building and grounds teams were on roofs cleaning out scuppers and drains that were overloaded with debris. The carpenters were also in full force fixing roof leaks and assisting with flood control.

No minor task when you consider that we have about 7 million square feet of roof!

While their families and loved ones were at home well into Christmas evening, they were here cleaning out street inlets so that the storm water could leave the campus. Custodians were indoors cleaning up the roof leaks.

Parking personnel were out clearing drains of debris so that our lots did not flood.

The Environmental Health and Safety staff were involved in the emergency communications, keeping students, staff and faculty away from points of imminent danger.

All of these efforts demonstrate a commitment to place and purpose that goes way beyond the norm. Good for them. Good for us. It makes UCR a special place to learn, discover, live, and work.

I know I speak for all with a hearty thank you. If you’d like to join me, send some words of thanks to http://fridayletters.ucr.edu/leavefeedback and I’ll get them to the people involved.

With best wishes,


Tim White, Chancellor

Lindy Night at UCR

Tomorrow night the university has an opportunity to say thanks to a man who influenced hundreds of UCR student athletes: Dr. Franklin Lindeburg, affectionately called “Lindy.” I encourage you join me at the game, when his jersey number #54 will be retired. That number represents the year Lindy started as athletic director at UC Riverside.  Tip-off of the Highlander Men’s Basketball game against CSUF is at SRC… there are still some seats available and it will be televised on FOX.

Mosquitoes and Human Health

A few weeks back I wrote about the lifesaving research of Entomology Professor Alexander Raikhel. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, his work to combat diseases carried by mosquitoes was recently the subject of a profile in the leading journal of that organization. He is also the subject of a campus profile, including a video about the important work of the Center for Disease Vector Research.

Grad Student Takes an Expedition Below Ground
A UCR graduate student of public history Steve Duncan took NPR through the underground tunnels of New York City, past homeless encampments, over subway tracks and through sewer systems. Read and listen to an NPR piece about the journey.
Find out what else is going on at UC Riverside: http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

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