My October newsletter

October 30, 2015

Dear friends and colleagues:

The leaves are turning and falling, and the air is cooling. Autumn is upon us. Soon the winter holidays will be here and we’ll be thinking about the new year and what lies ahead. I’ve been spending a good deal of time thinking about next year, and the year after, and indeed more broadly about the future of this great University, and this great State.

As I think about UC’s future, what is forefront in my mind is that no one person or entity is or should be the sole arbiter of UC’s direction. UC does not belong to any one person or group. What I’m acutely aware of is that UC belongs to Californians — all Californians.

Accordingly, all Californians have a stake in the public dialogue about UC. And it seems to me the frame for that dialogue ought to be very broad, and aimed at what we can do, together, to ensure that the UC is even greater in the future than it was in the past.

What makes UC “unique,” in California and around the world, is that it both undertakes research of internationally renowned caliber, and it educates vast numbers of students.

Consider UC’s research mission, and the research that is combating and solving big public challenges.

For example, UC is tackling head on the effects of climate change in our State. Right now, a consortium of nine UC campuses is conducting research in these natural reserve lands so we can better assess how climate change will affect California’s ecosystems. Last December, we gave one of the first UC President’s Research Catalyst Awards to this consortium so researchers from across UC could undertake this critical work together.

Gov. Brown and I recently participated in a UC-hosted Carbon Neutrality Summit, which has very ambitious goals. For starters, it will marshal the vast intellectual resources of the University of California to identify 10 scalable technologies to combat climate change globally.

Additionally, several weeks ago we launched our Cool Campus Challenge, a 10-week university-wide competition that encourages and challenges UC faculty, staff and students to reduce their carbon footprints.

There is also the applied side of the UC research enterprise. Through numerous research efforts we continue to find ways to expand how UC generates economic activity in California — and beyond.

Two years ago, we launched the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. Under this initiative UC is now home to 27 incubators and accelerators. Last year alone, UC research led to more than 85 start-ups, and nearly 1800 new inventions. That’s almost five new inventions a day. Companies founded to commercialize UC technologies generated $14 billion in revenue.

These are just a few examples, and there are countless others.

UC’s education mission is equally transformative.

The University teaches hundreds of thousands of students, a vast number far greater than those educated by UC’s peer institutions. Recently, the New York Times announced that its College Access Index had demonstrated that the nine undergraduate campuses of the University of California “still lead the nation in providing top-flight higher education to the masses.”

As the population of our State swells in the next few decades, what will Californians do to ensure that millions more young people have a place at UC; that UC remains a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship; and that UC will be an even greater university in the future than it is today?

Your voice needs to help answer these questions just as much as those in Sacramento or at UC headquarters do. Your voice needs to be a part of a broad public dialogue about the future of UC. All Californians have an ownership stake in this University.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to share an idea or comment, feel free to email me at janet@ucop.edu. And please pass this note on to friends and colleagues you think might be interested. If they like it, encourage them to sign up for future newsletters.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano
President