My April newsletter

April 5, 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

I write to you at the beginning of spring, a season of growth. After an El Niño winter, California is green again, bringing renewed optimism and energy to our state.

This seasonal renewal prompts me to talk about fresh developments in the three areas that make up UC’s mission: teaching, research and public service. Just as plants require air, water and earth to grow, we must nourish all three of these elements for the university to thrive.

Teaching

I’m pleased to report that UC will enroll 5,000 more California resident undergraduate students this fall, followed by an additional 5,000 in the next two years. The ways we are helping California’s teens get on a path to UC are numerous: Hundreds of UC staff and thousands of UC undergraduates are providing college advising at middle and high schools with large low-income or underrepresented populations; we’re providing free online AP courses and helping students prepare for standardized tests; we are working with families to understand how they can afford a UC education.

We’re also teaming up with California Community Colleges to expand outreach and support for students aiming to transfer to UC. Aided by $2.6 million in funds just approved by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, this collaboration will continue to focus on students who might otherwise face obstacles to accessing a UC education, including those from low-income backgrounds, foster homes and underrepresented racial and ethnic groups — in addition to veterans and active-duty members of the military.

Access to UC for community college students is also expanding due to our Transfer Pathways program. Transfer Pathways outlines a single set of community college courses that prospective transfer students can take to prepare for a particular major at any of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses. An additional 11 Transfer Pathways were finalized this month, bringing the total to 21 pathways developed for the most popular majors for transfer students, covering two-thirds of all transfer admissions applications we receive.

Research

Whenever I visit students such as those I recently met at the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, I see our future researchers and innovators. Keeping UC’s research platform vibrant and attractive to new talent is essential for continuing our record of innovation, which contributes to our society and economy by addressing critical issues such as cancer, drought and clean energy production. It is also important to recognize those already in our midst who are continuing UC’s tradition of unparalleled research accomplishments.

Recently, the U.S. government recognized 14 UC researchers with “Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.” The fact that so many of our staff members were awarded this prestigious and highly competitive honor for younger researchers shows the thriving state of our programs. And that level of accomplishment extends far beyond California. I recently visited UC researchers based at CERN in Geneva, where they make up the majority of U.S. scientists working at that eminent site — the world’s largest particle physics laboratory — exploring the fundamental structure of our universe.

Public Service

As I think most of you know, I have spent my career in public service — as U.S. Attorney, Attorney General and Governor of Arizona; U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; and now as president of UC. Not only has public service been the fulfilling center of my own life, I believe it is essential for a healthy democracy.

To help UC students consider entering careers in which they serve this greater purpose, I have created the Presidential Public Service Fellowship program. By providing up to $2,500 in need-based financial support, these fellowships help students participate in internships through the Washington Program (UCDC) or the UC Center Sacramento (UCCS). This new program will enable students who may not have otherwise been able to participate in these programs to gain valuable work experience and exposure to the rewards of public service in our nation’s and our state’s capitals.

These recent developments are a small sampling of the myriad ways in which our staff and faculty are working to fulfill UC’s three-part mission. I am enormously proud of — and inspired by — what the university accomplishes every day, and I will continue to strongly advocate for all three elements of our work.

Finally, I want to close by addressing a couple of issues that have been in the news recently.

The State Auditor recently issued a report criticizing the university on a number of matters, including enrollment of out-of-state students. Because the report makes a number of false and misleading assertions, we have issued a detailed response, “Straight Talk on Hot-Button Issues: UC Admissions, Finances, and Transparency,” (pdf) a comprehensive, data-driven report that counters the inaccuracies in the Auditor’s report. You may also find it helpful to read this short article summarizing our response.

As recent cases reported in the media have illustrated, we must continue our work dealing with sexual harassment and sexual violence. As part of our ongoing effort to strengthen our processes, I recently established a new Systemwide Peer Review Committee (pdf) to review cases of sexual assault or sexual harassment that involve senior leaders. Earlier this year we implemented new systemwide procedures for investigating, adjudicating and imposing sanctions in student cases of sexual violence and sexual harassment, and we will likewise be reviewing the procedures for cases involving faculty and staff in the months ahead. We have made demonstrable progress in addressing this issue, but there is more work to do in order to ensure a learning and working environment free of harassment and harm for our students, staff and faculty.

Thanks for reading and please email me at janet@ucop.edu if you’d like to share an idea or comment. Feel free to pass this letter onto friends and colleagues and to encourage them to sign up for future newsletters if they’d like.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano
President