Letter from the Chancellor: A Great Triton Thank You

UC San Diego Hillcrest Medical Center

As our campus community enters into week four of our virtual spring quarter, I would like to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to everyone for navigating the extreme challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The speed and grace at which you all were able to pivot complex education, healthcare and business procedures and practices has kept our academic enterprise moving forward during uncertainty. Thank you to our faculty, researchers, staff, students, parents and everyone in our hospitals and clinics.

As chancellor of UC San Diego, I am very proud of our health system and its dedicated employees for helping to make our community healthier and stronger.

UC San Diego Health is one of the nation’s most respected health systems because of what the health care workers do consistently each and every shift. They care. They care for patients, care for their families and advocates, and even care for one another as coworkers and teammates.

UC San Diego Health shines even brighter during times of public health crises. In the case of COVID-19, they have risen to new challenges that required more from them—more focus, more learning, more patience, and more effort. It does not go unnoticed. 

They are on the front lines of care and the front lines of community. Thank you for your critical part in preparing our hospitals and clinics and providing excellent quality of care for patients during this time of uncertainty. And thank you for your careful leadership in educating our greater community about this public health concerns associated with COVID-19.

Information Technology Services

One area of effort that we may not see until there are problems is information technology. I am also very proud of the exemplary performance from our Information Technology Services (ITS) department during this crisis.

Teaching technology at UC San Diego

The ITS team led three extreme transitions simultaneously on and off campus to ensure academic and enterprise continuity of our institution. The helpdesk call center moved from on-premise to online, quickly and efficiently re-training staff to perform seamlessly from remote locations. At the same time, they moved more than 100 software titles traditionally accessed by students at computer labs and staff at workstations across campus to the cloud in less than two weeks. They also trained faculty and faculty support staff on Canvas (our learning management platform) and helped transition hundreds of courses to remote learning delivery.

Any one of these projects requires expert planning, coordination and execution. Combine the three, and you see the complexity expand. These technology functions are foundationally critical to our success, and they have been handled adeptly by our amazing team of professional IT staff. Thank you for all you do, seen and unseen. I am grateful for your dedication, resilience and hard work.

Going Virtual

I have also been extremely impressed with the quick and seamless movement of content traditionally delivered in person to remote formats. Two efforts in particular have wowed me and many viewers: Virtual Triton Day and The Playground.

Each year we bring thousands of admitted students and their families to campus for Triton Day, where they meet current students, faculty, and a variety of student service coordinators. They attend a series of workshops and events and get the feel for life on campus at UC San Diego.

This year, we were not able to bring people to campus. So, a collaborative team made of staff from Enrollment Management, Creative Services and our advertising agency, Vitro, created Virtual Triton Day and fast-tracked development to meet the deadline. A mixture of pre-recorded video from programs and services across campus to live interactive webinars helped admitted students find answers to their important questions and—at the same time—experience the ingenuity of Tritons and the excitement of campus without stepping foot outside of their homes.

Virtual Triton Day

This content was well curated, well packaged, well promoted—thanks to our outstanding social media managers across campus—and well received by nearly 12,000 visits to the website. The virtual event was a tremendous success and sets the stage for Virtual Transfer Triton Day coming up next month. I’m very proud of our teams for their creativity and innovation during this stressful situation. Well done!

Another remarkable effort in the virtual realm came from UC San Diego’s Recreation department. Their updated landing page, rebranded “The Playground,” is a space where students and the UC San Diego community can get active, creative, meditative and stay fit through online classes, informative articles and virtual recreation programming. Users can explore and engage at their own pace with recorded content (Recreation Online) or join live classes via Zoom throughout the day (Recreation Live).

Users can also sign up for email delivery of content and text reminders to help keep their activity schedules on track. Since we’re working and studying remotely, the “Get Up Tritons” feature is particularly helpful. If you sign up, you will receive texts throughout the day to remind you to get up, stretch and move. There are even short videos to show you how. 

Screen shot of Get Up Tritons video found on The Playground

This helpful and inspiring content is popular. Overall website interactions and engagement has increased by 54 percent, and the number of first-time visits increased 43 percent. Email subscriptions are up and social media followers have increased as well. More than 11,000 new people have interacted with content on the Playground.

I am very impressed by the creative efforts and quick development by staff and student content creators. This collaborative effort is helping our entire campus community stay active, manage stress, and learn more about nutrition and overall health. Thank you for helping meet our physical needs and providing safe exercise guidance during the COVID-19 crisis.

Triton Strong

Collaborative learning and teamwork across disciplines is at the heart of UC San Diego’s academic, research and clinical success. As a team, we gather our individual strengths to accomplish more than we can do alone.

I am proud and grateful to see the strong spirit of our Triton community emerge in the face of such historic change. Though our friends and colleagues may appear only on a screen, and though our memories of a lively campus—the bustle of Library Walk on a sunny afternoon or the feeling of accomplishment leaving the gym at RIMAC—we are nevertheless keeping our sense of UC San Diego alive remotely.

From the birth of our experimental campus, UC San Diego faculty, researchers, staff and students made a commitment to collaborate with one another, to look deeper at the world around us in order to solve pressing issues. This poignant moment in history provides a true test of that commitment. As you can see, we are meeting that challenge. We are finding new ways to learn and exploring new opportunities for personal enrichment in our virtual Triton realm.

I extend a great Triton thank you to everyone for making this possible.

Priority One: Health and Safety

Image of the cell structure of novel coronavirus

The emergence of novel coronavirus and COVID-19 is presenting unprecedented challenges for higher education. The stressful nature of this rapidly evolving situation affects students, faculty, families, parents, staff and patients. The health and safety of our campus community is priority one. As a parent myself, I especially want to assure our parents that UC San Diego is working closely with federal, state and local partners under the guidance of public health experts to monitor and address the changing situation.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus on the UC San Diego campus. 

UC San Diego is taking preemptive measures to decrease potential contact with novel coronavirus by cancelling large events and meetings, adjusting class and work schedules, and educating our campus community about preventative measures and healthy practices.

Our approach is guided by three goals: (1) to protect the health of our students, faculty and staff; (2) to help slow the spread of the virus in California and the nation; and (3) to ensure the continuity of our teaching and research. All measures are in line with medical and scientific guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health.

As this is a rapidly changing situation, complex decisions are being made in coordination with other campuses and the University of California Office of the President. All communications about these and other issues will be disseminated through multiple channels as appropriate, including Campus Notice email and the Triton Alert Emergency Notification System. The status of current campus operations and access to archived communications concerning coronavirus are available on our dedicated website.

I encourage you to stay informed during this public health emergency. If you have not done so already, please sign up to receive notifications from the Triton Alert Emergency Notification System. Email and texts from this system will provide you the most up-to-date information and any necessary instructions. 

We understand that members of the campus community are concerned about the virus and may be experiencing heightened feelings of anxiety. Counseling services are resources are available. If you are a student, please contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPs) at (858) 534-3755. If you’re a campus employee, contact the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program at (858) 534-5523. If you’re a UC San Diego Health employee, please contact your Employee Assistance Program provider aligned with your medical coverage or call (619) 543-3200.

We are all in this together. During this time of uncertainty, we ask that students, faculty and staff remain calm, respect one another, and commit to our overall well-being. Your continued compassion and empathy will make a tangible difference on our campus and set an example for everyone you know.

Hearts and Scholars Dinner Celebrates Student Scholars, Thanks Generous Donors

Chancellor Khosla; Nidya Preza Campos, Muir College ’22; and Karen and Jeff Silberman at the 2020 Hearts and Scholars Dinner.

Chancellor Khosla; Nidya Preza Campos, Muir College ’22; and donors Karen and Jeff Silberman at the 2020 Hearts and Scholars Dinner.

Each year at the Hearts and Scholars Dinner, we come together to recognize the profound ways scholarship philanthropy transforms lives. We celebrate our students and their determination to make the most of their UC San Diego experience. And we provide them with an opportunity to say thank you to the individuals and families who have helped make their education possible.

Of all our shared goals as a campus community, there is none more important to me than helping students succeed. The Campaign for UC San Diego is making this possible. One of the highest priorities of the Campaign is to enhance the student experience. What does that mean?

It means ensuring academic success through specialized support programs and services. It means increasing affordable housing options on campus to provide a four-year housing guarantee to every student who wants it. It means improving infrastructure and our campus culture. And, of course, it means increasing support for scholarships.

We are already seeing tremendous outcomes from the Campaign and our shared efforts. Today, more than one-third of our new matriculants identify as first-generation college students. Partly responsible for driving that growth is the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program. CASP, which caters to first-generation students, has grown exponentially since its creation in 2012 and now provides more than 800 low-income students loan-free financial aid and proven student support programs every year.

CASP is growing because of donors like Karen and Jeff Silberman. In 2017, they established the Silberman Inspiration Challenge by pledging a $1-million-match of eligible contributions to the Chancellor’s Associates Scholars Program—the largest gift to the program to date.

Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Simmons; David Anyakora, Revelle College ’22; Albana Bakaj, Eleanor Roosevelt College ’20; and Chancellor Khosla at the 2020 Hearts and Scholars Dinner

Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Simmons; David Anyakora, Revelle College ’22; Albana Bakaj, Eleanor Roosevelt College ’20; and Chancellor Khosla at the 2020 Hearts and Scholars Dinner.

UC San Diego is among 30 universities in the nation that have teamed up with the American Talent Initiative to expand opportunity for low-income students. Over the past three years, UC San Diego added 1,642 Pell Grant students, more than any other ATI-member institution.

And finally, UC San Diego students from underrepresented communities have grown from 16% in 2012 to 27% in 2019. Latinx students have increased from 14% in 2012 to 23% in 2019. Diversity has increased, our graduation rates are up, and our time-to-degree is down. Our students are graduating in less time, which means less debt overall.

What we’re doing is working, and UC San Diego is consistently being recognized as a nationwide leader. For nine of the past 10 years, Washington Monthly named UC San Diego the #1 public university in the country for contributions to social mobility, research and public service.

With nearly $29 million awarded in scholarships each year, we are very proud to fuel successful outcomes for dedicated students. We can continue to build on this success with help from our community. Scholarships change lives. It only takes one to launch a student’s journey to become a positive, powerful force for change in their local and global communities.

Chancellor Khosla; Albana Bakaj, Eleanor Roosevelt College ’20; Esperanza Baltazar, Warren College ’23; Miriam Lopez, Warren College ’23; and UC San Diego Foundation Board Trustee Brian Powers at the 2020 Hearts and Scholars Dinner

Chancellor Khosla; Albana Bakaj, Eleanor Roosevelt College ’20; Esperanza Baltazar, Warren College ’23; Miriam Lopez, Warren College ’23; and UC San Diego Foundation Board Trustee Brian Powers at the 2020 Hearts and Scholars Dinner.

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