Chancellor's Friday Letters


Chancellor White’s Friday Letter of November 2, 2012

November 2, 2012

Dear Friends,

It is such a joy to be with people who have a desire to improve the material, social, health and spiritual welfare of humanity, people who have a general love for, or benevolence toward, the whole of humankind.

Such wonderful people among us are called many things…friends, leaders, philanthropists, professionals, generous, visionary, and community-minded are words that come to top of mind.

And over the years, UCR has been blessed to have many such people among our faculty, staff and students, as well as in the community-at-large.  These wonderful people selflessly provide critical student scholarships to help our most deserving or needy students, and/or donate funds for much-needed facilities, programs, and faculty research and outreach.

A few days ago we celebrated an inspiring couple by dedicating the entryway in our freshly renovated School of Medicine Education Building.  The Dr. Thomas and Mrs. Salma Haider Donor Wall states in part that Every Gift Tells A Story.

It’s that story that I wish to share with you today.

The Haider name is well-known because of the UCR/UCLA Thomas Haider Program in Biomedical Sciences . . .  but the story of Dr. Thomas and Salma Haider is not as well known, yet it is inspirational and special in a number of ways.

This is a couple who are neither alumni nor Riverside natives.  Yet they share the DNA of UC Riverside…that double helix, which interweaves a commitment to diversity and excellence with access to a culturally enriched education to people who might otherwise be ill-served or marginalized.

Tom and Salma Haider are also generous visionaries.

Fifteen years ago, they took note of our now 37-year-old biomedical science program, trying to position itself as the foundation of a full medical school.

Back in the day there were those who saw those aspirations as a pipe dream.

Not the Haiders.

Tom passionately believed that a medical school was urgently needed and he wasn’t going to wait for someone else to take the initiative. So he threw his wholehearted support behind the program, which took his name.

Former Chancellor Ray Orbach, who was on the ground floor planning for a UCR School of Medicine, recognized the importance of the Haiders’ early support in a recent letter to me: “The Haiders’ support was crucial at the earliest stages. Without them, I doubt that we would be celebrating now.”  I couldn’t agree more.

There were others who had witnessed those early years of the biomedical sciences program and the Haiders’ continued contributions, support and encouragement.

Craig Byus, director of the program and holder of the Salma Haider Endowed Chair remembered Tom Haider’s critical role on the admissions committee. Tom’s personal understanding of diversity, the disadvantaged, and those who struggled with English as a second language ushered into the medical profession students who might otherwise have been overlooked.

Neal Schiller, the new director of the Thomas Haider Program at UC Riverside’s School of Medicine, recalled that more than 700 current physicians – graduates of our program – have benefited from the support and encouragement so freely given by the Haiders.

At the dedication of the Haider Wall, however, the true wonder and legacy of the Haiders’ support crystalized when two current students from the program, Judith Gbadebo and Vincent La, spoke. Eloquent, articulate, and poised, they talked about how the Haider program allowed them to realize their dreams of serving communities that suffer from health inequities. Our students indicated that when they practice medicine in the future they will seek to help the medically underserved.  They also will give a hand-up to those who follow them.

What sweet words those must be to the couple who came to this country from Afghanistan so many years ago. Somebody gave Tom Haider a hand, he told us, so that he in turn could do likewise.

Now he and his family see, indeed we all see, how his dream will live on.

Warm regards,


Tim White

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From UCR to City Year
Congratulations to Farah Noor and 34 other UCR alumni and students who will be spending a year in inner-city schools to lower drop-out rates by inspiring young people to stay on the path to graduation. No other university in the nation had more students accepted to an Americorps program called City Year, which serves 24 cities.

Dunks, skits and basketball season
Get in on the fun of the basketball season tomorrow with the men’s and women’s home exhibition games. The women host Cal Baptist at 3 p.m. and the men face San Diego Christian at 7 p.m. Be sure to follow the link to the excellent Press-Enterprise photos from Midnight Madness.

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