My December newsletter

December 16, 2015

Dear friends and colleagues,

It’s been a busy, productive year and as 2015 draws to a close, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and what’s to come in the new year.

One of the things that continues to amaze me is the ingenuity, tenacity and dedication of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. Our people seize challenges and embrace them, whether it’s treating patients battling life’s deadliest diseases, developing water management strategies amid California’s drought, boiling years of academic work into a three-minute pitch in the UC Grad Slam, or advocating strongly on behalf of this great institution. That passion inspires me every day. It is what makes UC a powerful engine for nurturing the next generation of leaders, strengthening our economy and improving our quality of life.

And it’s what has fueled our work and achievements throughout 2015.

I’m proud of our commitment to expand access to a quality UC education for Californians. Under the budget approved by the UC Board of Regents in November, we plan to enroll 10,000 more California undergraduates over the next three years, starting with 5,000 freshmen and transfer students in 2016–17. In addition, the Regents approved UC Merced’s plan to double its physical capacity by 2020 to help meet the growing demand for a UC education.

We’ve made significant strides on our presidential initiatives. As part of our pledge to become carbon neutral by 2025 and help the world reduce its carbon footprint, UC scientists continue to research climate change solutions and actively engage in the public dialogue to tackle this global crisis. In October, UC’s top climate experts gathered with lawmakers and industry leaders in a UC summit focused on producing a practical blueprint for tackling climate change that can be applied in California and around the world. They proposed 10 recommendations that were shared at the UN Climate Conference in Paris earlier this month. The Bending the Curve report can be found here.

We were the only university invited to join a coalition led by Bill Gates to stimulate new energy technologies by providing early capital. And across the system, faculty, staff and students are reducing their own carbon footprints.

With respect to our Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, $300,000 in seed money has been awarded to promising UC-associated startups in the health sciences through our primeUC competition. I’m eager to see what these budding entrepreneurs will create. We also strengthened ties with our colleagues in Mexico as part of the UC-Mexico Initiative, and through the Global Food Initiative, we’re providing funding to 44 student fellows working on projects on food security, local food sourcing and more.

We’ve also taken important steps to ensure UC remains a safe, welcoming place to learn and work. We’re implementing a comprehensive, systemwide approach to address sexual violence on campuses, including mandating education and training for all students. In addition, I’ve launched the Fair Wage/Fair Work program to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2017 for all direct and contracted employees.

Across the system, the campuses continue to identify opportunities for increasing operational efficiency, such as through the new UCPath payroll and benefits system, which launched at the Office of the President in November. UCPath will roll out to campuses and medical centers soon.

Looking ahead to 2016, I can’t wait to welcome our 5,000 new freshmen and transfer students next fall, and I’ll work to ensure our young people receive an excellent education thanks to our world-class faculty. California undergraduates will see no tuition increase in 2016–17 — the sixth consecutive year without increases.

I’ll also focus on taking each of our initiatives to the next level.

While we have more work to do, we’ve made great progress this year. None of these milestones could have been achieved without the work and support of the UC community.

I want to wish all of you a happy holiday season, and I hope you’ll join me in making 2016 another successful year.

Thanks for reading and please email me at 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