March 30, 2009
Welcome back from spring break and welcome to a new quarter. The last few months have been tough for many of us due to the global recession and the state budget cuts. But the federal economic stimulus package presents us with many new opportunities, and we are working hard to seize those opportunities.
Federal Stimulus Package Offers Opportunities
As funds from the federal economic stimulus package are distributed over the next few months, we’re pleased our students will benefit from tax relief and larger grants, and we hope our researchers will benefit from the more than
$15 billion investment in scientific research, which will spur discovery and innovation. Much of that stimulus money will go to the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health for basic research in fundamental science and engineering, and to expand jobs in biomedical research to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and heart disease. Some of the stimulus money will also be used to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants. In addition, our Office of Research Affairs is working with our researchers to identify opportunities to access funding from the stimulus package, including creating online listserves to facilitate interdisciplinary team-building, information sharing and collaboration in obtaining stimulus dollars.
The stimulus package will help make college more affordable by increasing the higher education tax credit; increasing the maximum value of Pell Grants, which will provide an estimated $33 million in new grant funding for UC students; and adding $200 million to the vital College Work-Study program. Supporting students in their endeavors has always been important to me, and UC President Mark Yudof has placed great emphasis on improving access to the University of California by making it more affordable. He initiated the “Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan” which allows students to receive enough scholarship and grant assistance to at least fully cover their systemwide UC fees if their families’ household income is below the state median of $60,000 per year. I am pleased the economic stimulus plan will help our students and researchers with their studies and their work.
Voters to Cast Ballots in Special Election
Californians will head to the polls May 19 for a special election. Voters will cast their ballots on a series of propositions aimed at solving the state’s budget crisis. For more information on the propositions, click here. These propositions will affect funding for higher education, and they are important since the 18-month state budget approved in February contained $115 million in new permanent funding reductions for UC. And, by virtue of other growing costs not addressed in the budget, the University’s total immediate state budget challenge has now reached a $450 million shortfall. We will continue to work aggressively with our state legislators to restore as much funding as we can.
Meanwhile, the UC Regents have endorsed Proposition 1A, the measure that would establish a “rainy day” reserve fund, regulate the level of spending each year, and increase the amount of funding held in reserve to guard against the dramatic ups and downs that have characterized state spending in recent years. The Regents’ Chairman, Richard Blum, has said that “by helping the state to achieve a more stable financial picture, Proposition 1A enhances the ability of the University of California to secure more adequate state support to fund its core mission in future years.”
UC San Diego Experts Discuss Financial Crisis
The global financial crisis has everyone talking, especially our faculty experts in business and economics, and several agreed to share their expertise and opinions at a community forum panel discussion on campus March 20. The event was organized by the Department of Economics and the Rady School of Management. The four economists and one psychologist agreed that recovery is impossible without reform in the financial sector. They discussed solutions such as a thorough government survey to locate the bad assets, the removal of toxic assets from bank balance sheets, and the need for improvement in transparency and accountability. They said our economic recovery could take years, as people try to get rid of their bad debt, and they talked about signs of recovery, which include gains in the stock market and an increase in consumer sentiment. If you’d like to watch the discussion in its entirety, click here. This was the second panel discussion we’ve held on the current global financial crisis; the first took place last October. We will continue to address this important topic as it affects our community, state, country and world.
Keeping the Lines of Communication Open
We are committed to sharing with you the latest information on the impacts of the global recession on UC San Diego. I encourage you to log on to our new budget Web page for updates and to share ideas. We are weathering this economic storm together, and if you have any suggestions on how we can become more efficient and streamline costs, we’d like to hear from you. I also appreciated your comments and suggestions at our recent and very well-attended Town Hall meetings in February and March. I want you to know I heard your concerns and I want to assure you we will maintain the core excellence of this university. We will continue to pass on information as we learn more about how the state budget cuts and federal economic stimulus package will affect the campus. I thank you for your patience, your hard work and your dedication to the university during these difficult economic times.
César Chávez Month Celebrated on Campus
The month of April is better known as César Chávez Month on the UC San Diego campus. And I invite the entire San Diego community to join us in our celebrations of Chávez’s life and legacy. Activities include lectures, a film presentation, a panel discussion, a cultural celebration, a youth essay contest, a student field trip and an artistic collaboration with the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. For a full calendar of events, click here. And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our students, faculty, staff and committee members who work tirelessly to promote diversity on campus and who put together the events for César Chávez Month.
There is much we can learn from the accomplishments of César Chávez and his core values, which include service to others, respect for life and the environment, knowledge and innovation. As the principal figure in the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, he founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. He fought for equal rights and respect for working families, immigrants and all Americans of Mexican decent, and he advocated for non-violent solutions. He knew the value of education, and he taught his union workers that persistence and hard work would lead them to their goal of gaining recognition of the importance of farm workers. During his lifetime, Chávez not only raised awareness about the struggles of farm workers, he also helped improve their pay and working conditions. He showed us that one person really can make a difference in this world. I hope you can join us this month as we commemorate the life of César Chávez.
Taking the Next Step toward Sustainability
Another important celebration takes place in the month of April – Earth Week. A variety of green events will be held on campus April 19-25, including a trash sort, a bicycle commute challenge, tree planting, an environmental careers panel and our annual
Sustainability Awards ceremony, which recognizes individuals and who have made our campus more sustainable. For more information on Earth Week, click here.
I’m also proud to say that our very own Vice Chancellor – Business Affairs Steve Relyea was honored by the California Center for Sustainable Energy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement” during the annual San Diego Excellence in Energy awards in March. At the awards ceremony, he received a unique wall plaque made from recycled bicycle-chain rings. The award recognized his hard work and dedication that have led to greater energy efficiency, behavioral changes, water conservation, waste diversion and green purchasing. UC San Diego was also recognized for “Special Achievement in Transportation.” Our Director of Parking and Transportation Brian D’Autremont accepted the award, which cited the significant energy savings and reduced carbon dioxide emissions achieved through the campus alternative transportation programs.
UC San Diego Is Lead Organizer for Local Science Festival
The inaugural San Diego Science Festival has been a tremendous success – and it’s not over yet! The grand finale of the month-long science series will be held on April 4 in Balboa Park. For more information on Expo Day and other science events, click here. The festival has helped increase awareness about the importance of science and the impact it has on people’s lives. And it’s a wonderful opportunity for young people and their parents to interact with our scientists and other research institutions throughout the county, and to see firsthand that science can be an exciting and rewarding career. As an organic chemist, I think it’s important to show students how scientific discoveries can be translated to everyday applications. We hope we’ve inspired some young students to consider science-related careers, and we want them to study science at UC San Diego. After all, Newsweek magazine did name UC San Diego the “hottest” institution to study science. I’m proud of the role the university played in the festival. UC San Diego’s BioBridge program took the lead in organizing the Science Festival, in collaboration with the San Diego Science Alliance, Connect, Biocom and other key organizations. BioBridge is a “hands-on” science education initiative conducted by UC San Diego in partnership with local school districts. We look forward to being a part of this new annual community event.
Both science and education are about helping people, and improving and saving lives. They also spur innovation and new technology, which contribute to the economy. And that’s something from which we can all benefit, especially now.
With warm regards,
Marye Anne Fox