Chancellor's Friday Letters

Supporting Freedom of Expression

Supporting Freedom of Expression

November 18, 2011

Dear Friends,

The issues of our times are certainly making us think deeply.

So, so many issues are swirling about today, and it is easy to miss, or not grasp, or not connect with the core message and the substance.

This may be because of the number of topics in front of us, or because we are put off by the techniques of the messenger, or some combination.

At times we can easily be distracted by the shallow treatment of these complex issues in media sound bites, or the bias to the far left or right that fails to offer balanced and thoughtful treatment.  We also can be distracted and angered by the criminal behavior of a minority, or encouraged by and supportive of peaceful protest and civil disobedience.

While these concerns are in fact legitimate, we must also endeavor to get past them to reach the core of the issues at hand.  And I believe it important to ask ourselves whether there is a common theme that ties these apparently disparate “movements” together.

Consider a sampling of diverse concerns that are churning today:  the nationwide Occupy movement, the political campaign ramp up rhetoric, the sustained disinvestment in public education, a lingering depressed economy with concomitant unemployment and foreclosures, the distribution of wealth in America and globally, the influence of special interests on policy formation at all levels of society.

Regardless of our personal views and opinions on any one of these issues, I opine that in aggregate they are a call for help and a call for a recommitment to the notion of sustainability in its most seminal fashion.

And inherent in sustainability is the notion of plasticity, the capacity to change.

This call for help is a call from ourselves, to ourselves.

This call for help demands that we think more deeply about how to sustain our communities from many interrelated perspectives – social, economic, safety, educational, cultural, healthcare, and environmental.

This call for help requires deeper and broader insight into the hydraulics among these variables, as well as the variables themselves.

This call for help requires a will to take action on policy, as well as individual and societal behavior, to effect the change that will be necessary to endure with a good quality of life.

So how can UCR play a larger role in helping the community sort through these complex issues? By doing what we do best – creating and using knowledge to foster open and thoughtful dialogue and to deepen understanding.

I am pleased to note that Dean Steve Cullenberg, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and Dean Sharon Duffy, University Extension, have agreed to work with all the deans and members of the faculty to offer some marquee evening courses/lectures for our students and the broader community in the winter and spring of 2012.

This new effort will complement what we are doing today in the many courses and seminars that UCR offers on aspects of these interrelated issues.  One such example is our public policy seminar series that features, on December 1, His Excellency Muhammad Al-Jasser, Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, speaking on economic challenges for policy makers: http://chass.ucr.edu/announcement/2011/12-01-11.html.

My hope is that these learning opportunities will encourage analysis of the facts, engage robust discourse, and test divergent ideas for the future.



Tim White, Chancellor

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The Brainy UCR Magazine
The latest issue focuses on research related to the brain, a mass of fatty tissue that determines who we are as individuals and as a species. Read those stories and the latest campus news:

Space – the Social Frontier
UCR’s Professor Donna Hoffman of the School of Business Administration is cited in a national article, that dealt with how NASA uses social media to generate interest in space exploration.

Support the Highlanders
Missing the NBA basketball season? The next home game for our women is tomorrow at 2 pm against CSUB (http://gohighlanders.com/splash.aspx?path=wbball&id=splash_182), and for our men is November 30th against USC (http://www.gohighlanders.com/splash.aspx?id=splash_185). This is a milestone game for the program, with the launch of our new athletic logo and an opportunity for the Highlanders to demonstrate their talent. I’ll see you at both.

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

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