Chancellor's Friday Letters

Our Town-Gown Ties

Our Town-Gown Ties

October 23, 2009


We probably each have an idea what Town-Gown relationships are, but when one seeks definition the list quickly becomes unwieldy… indeed a GoogleTM search of ‘town gown relationships’ revealed ‘about 98,700′ entries!

We are very fortunate to have among the best town-gown relationships among the campuses of the University of California.

Why is this so? Why does it matter?

This relationship is due in large measure to Riverside’s Mayor Ron Loveridge, the staff at City Hall, and all members of the City Council… particularly Andy Melendrez and Mike Gardner, whose wards are most directly impacted by the university. Our strong town-gown relationship is also due to the partnerships we have with the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, and members of the Chicano/Latino, African American, Native American, and Asian/Pacific Islander communities.

But it is deeper than just this. Town-Gown relationships are one manifestation of a larger paradigm of “engagement through outreach”.

UCR is intent on strengthening engagement through outreach with the communities we serve. This ‘natural laboratory’ provides a fertile environment for our teaching and learning environment, and for research and creative activity. It creates innumerable opportunities for our faculty, staff and students to give of their talent and time to benefit others.

From the beginning UCR has benefited by a Citizen’s University Committee (CUC) that has encouraged and nurtured a positive productive relationship among us. CUC has unfailingly recognized the powerful economic, social, cultural and environmental force that a university brings to its community.

Our success to date is also because campus and community leaders work at our relationship. We engage town-gown meetings, bringing together leadership of the university and the city, including planning, law enforcement, housing, etc.

We discuss ways to improve the campus and near-campus life, as well as ways in which we can sustain strong relationships with neighbors and businesses as our student population and campus grow. In this regard, and with the support of the Mayor and others, we have initiated a Charrette to design a plan that will be good for our students and employees, the business community, transportation concerns, and our residential neighborhoods.

We are expanding engagement with Riverside’s Eastside to help that community’s youth value, understand and engage in education at higher levels.

We engage with area schools to use the power and passion of UCR’s employees and students to improve opportunities for others.

I would be remiss not to also point with pride to relationships that extend out to the Coachella Valley, down to Temecula and other communities in the Murrieta Valley, into Imperial and San Diego counties, over to the coastal communities in Orange and Los Angeles counties, and up into San Bernardino County and the communities of the San Joaquin Valley. There are, of course, examples where impact of our engagement is nationwide (such as with air quality) and worldwide (such as with drought resistant rice).

Great research universities recognize we cannot have walls around our enterprise, but rather we must be fully engaged with our community. This is in addition to the expectation that U.S. research universities conduct cutting-edge research that fuels national innovation, and foster a learning environment that promotes social, economic and environmental advancement, enriches the understanding of humanity, and educates the leaders of tomorrow.

The University of California, Riverside… engaged with matters that matter around our local community and the world.

Warm regards,


Tim White, Chancellor

The campus YouTube channel features 64 videos, including faculty interviews at CNN/Local Edition, a student’s guide to “Things to Do in Riverside” and the families building loft beds at last month’s move in day. One of the videos, featured on a New York Times science blog, has more than 4,000 views now.

October marks an important anniversary for UCR and for the environment. Fifty years ago four UC scientists, including UCR’s Vernon Stern, published a research paper that outlined a new pest control strategy that reduced the use of pesticides by managing pest populations through more natural means. Integrated Pest Management is now standard practice, and we have Professor Stern to thank for that.

It is official. UCR has 19,439 students this fall. It is a record. We are shaping the lives of these diverse and excellent students. I know you will be proud of what they do today and in the future.

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

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