– Chancellor Khosla
The world is about to become a better place. That’s because more than 8,000 new UC San Diego graduates are joining the ranks of our distinguished alumni, faculty and staff who are already positively impacting our society and planet. It’s also due to the efforts of our campus members to fulfill the five goals we collectively developed in our first-ever Strategic Plan and achieve our vision as a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public university.
Fostering Research that Benefits the World
As a public research university, UC San Diego has a responsibility to conduct and translate research so that it benefits our community and world. Just in the last year, UC San Diego faculty have made much progress in advancing our Strategic Plan’s four grand research themes, as showcased by the headlines below.
- Understanding and Protecting Our Planet: UC San Diego produced the world’s first algae-based, sustainable surfboard.
- Enriching Human Life and Society: UC San Diego pushed stem cell therapies into a new era of real-world application with the first clinical trials.
- Exploring the Basis of Human Knowledge, Learning and Creativity: UC San Diego bolstered its reputation as a top neuroscience research center by earning new federal funding.
- Understanding Cultures and Addressing Disparities in Society: UC San Diego broadened college access through expansion of a nationwide program.
These are just a few examples of our multidisciplinary research initiatives that focus on areas where our campus has deep and broad expertise–from medicine, engineering and oceanography, to the physical and social sciences, and the arts and humanities. Our goal is to use our expertise and talent to first innovate, and then to disseminate discoveries that push the frontiers of knowledge, identify emerging and future trends and needs, shape new fields and enrich society.
Improving Graduation Rates
UC San Diego, like other elite public institutions, has complex requirements for graduation. We prepare students for a wide variety of careers in an ever-changing world, which requires ongoing evaluation of our curriculum to ensure our students’ success here on campus and in the workforce. This year, as part of our student-centered initiatives, UC San Diego undertook an extensive review of our graduation rate data and course requirements in order to improve time-to-degree, so students and their families can save both time and money. Our assessment led to several actions that include:
- establishing the Teaching and Learning Commons;
- streamlining many curricular requirements;
- standardizing community college transfer requirements;
- upgrading teaching lab space and classrooms;
- increasing the use of classroom technology;
- improving academic advising;
- making four-year plans readily accessible online;
- and expanding student support services.
Broadening the Path to College
Increasing college access and affordability remains a priority at UC San Diego. We continue to expand the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program, initiated in 2013, so more high-achieving, qualified students from underserved communities can attend UC San Diego free of financial worry and debt. The scholarship covers tuition and also provides each eligible student with $10,000 a year. In the first two years of the program, more than 110 students accepted the scholarship. Through an extended pilot program this year, we’ve offered 167 scholarships to students beginning UC San Diego in fall 2015. We’ve also enhanced campus resources and programs for our scholars including the addition of a designated study lounge, a peer-to-peer mentoring program and a summer transition program.
Enhancing Campus Climate
Our students, faculty, staff, administrators and community members continue to work together to enrich our campus climate. I thank all of the individuals and groups involved in adding two new important artworks to campus this year: the Black Legacy Mural and the Sojourner Truth statue. These art pieces provide education about the history and struggles of underrepresented communities, encourage important dialogue about social justice and equality, and reflect the diversity of our region and nation.
We also welcomed our new Vice Chancellor – Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Becky Petitt, in March. She has an excellent track record of success working collaboratively with students, faculty and staff to enhance campus diversity. While she will provide leadership, visibility and initiative for our continued efforts, encouraging and contributing to diversity is something we all need to work on together, as a campus and a community. The culture on our campus should be one of total inclusiveness, and we are focused on ensuring the best possible learning and working environment.
Celebrating Milestones and Making History
Among this year’s faculty honors:
UC San Diego has become a world-renowned university in only five decades because of the talent of our campus members and the sustained support of our community and friends. This year–because of our community’s generosity, engagement and partnership–we are positioned to make history with our highest fundraising year. We have already surpassed our $150 million fundraising goal before the official end of the academic year. In addition, the Rady Family Foundation has made a $100 million commitment to help recruit and retain faculty and fund strategic priorities at the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego. This support enables us to educate next-generation leaders, provide much-needed scholarships and fellowships, fund groundbreaking and translational research, and transform lives.
Our faculty and researchers also continue to attract state and federal research funding. UC San Diego once again exceeded $1 billion in research funding last year. This underscores the significance of our work, as well as the positive impact and return on investment that our faculty and researchers produce for the benefit of society.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary on campus, UC San Diego’s Technology Transfer Office reported this year that in just two decades our campus has created over 6,000 innovations, 1,000 patents, 1,000 licenses, and more than 200 companies founded on licensed university technologies. That would be an impressive portfolio for an age-old institution with a long history of research productivity. For a young campus like UC San Diego, our record of innovation and achievement is truly extraordinary.
As we close another academic year, I once again find myself proud and humbled by the accomplishments of our campus members. Opportunity, education and hard work are an amazing combination. What you think is impossible becomes possible, and that is something I see every day at UC San Diego.
With kind regards,
Pradeep K. Khosla