Chancellor's Friday Letters

The Power of One Professor

The Power of One Professor

February 17, 2012

Dear Friends,

Hang on – I’m going to open my email inbox to you.

Well, at least one email – you wouldn’t want to see the rest.

This email deals with the power of one. And I know from many other experiences here that this sort of an impact is occurring in many places, at many times, by many people at UCR… It is one of our distinguishing characteristics and a point of pride and enduring impact.

In a letter written to Pam Clute, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor for Educational and Community Engagement… “This email may seem unusual, but I hope you get them all of the time. My name is Allison [W.] and I have to thank you for having inspired me many years ago.

“When I was in the third grade, I wanted to be an astronaut. My mum found out that Dr. Sally Ride was giving a talk at UCR and she got us tickets to go. Dr. Ride wasn’t able to make it that day due to weather and you stood in for her and gave the most phenomenal presentation. You were so beautiful and smart and funny. I wanted to be just like you and have my Ph.D. too. I didn’t even care that I didn’t get to meet Dr. Ride.

“When I was in the eighth grade we had something called Project Rose and a few girls from my science class, including me, researched a scientist or mathematician and gave a presentation as if we were them. It was a long time ago, but I believe you were involved with the program and you came to our presentation. I [emulated] Emmy Noether, and afterwards you told me how great I had been and that you were happy I had picked to be a mathematician. I still remember feeling ten feet tall. We also spent a day at UCR visiting different science departments as part of the project. I learned that day how much I loved physics.

“I chose to go to UCR for my BS because I knew you were there and I knew if you were there, it was a good place to be. I got my BS in physics in 2007 and just a week ago I got my Ph.D. in biophysics and I am off to Case Western Reserve University for my first postdoc. I’ve never changed my major, even when it was tough, and I always knew I would have a Ph.D. like you do.

“Even now, on rough days, I think about you and how it’s a good thing to be smart and motivated despite what people may say. Your outreach touched my life and I would not be the woman I am today without the experiences I had with you at such an influential age. Thank you not only for what you have done for me, but also for what you are doing for young women everywhere. I’m proof it makes a difference.”


What powerful evidence of the impact that one person can have! Pam would say she was just doing her job. But like so many others at UCR – faculty, staff, students and alumni alike – her enthusiasm, her commitment, and her example were clearly inspirational to this young woman.

And many among us, in turn, would say that we are where we are today because of the influence of a special person or two in their lives. Whether it is a teacher, a family member, a sports figure, or just someone who reached out at a moment of need, many of us have experienced the profound impact that just one individual can have.

It can be you. And then it would be good for you, and good for us.

Best wishes,


Tim White, Chancellor

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