My December newsletter

December 19, 2016

Dear friends and colleagues,

2016 has been a dramatic and challenging year for our country. Here at the University of California, despite the challenges we’ve faced, our faculty, staff and students have continued to excel, innovate and give back to the community. As I reflect on some of our many accomplishments of the past year in this newsletter, we remain dedicated to our mission of serving all Californians with world-class education, research and public service.

I’m proud to say that in 2016 UC was once again ranked as the best public university in the country, and we increased the number of Californians who are benefiting from that academic excellence. We exceeded our commitment to enroll 5,000 additional Californians this past fall, and we are going to add another 2,500 Californians next year, and 2,500 more the following year. That’s over 10,000 additional California students who will have gained admission to UC in just three years.

Equally important is the fact that our newest undergraduates constitute the most diverse class ever admitted to UC. An impressive 42 percent of California freshmen admitted to UC this year were the first in their families to attend college. In addition, 37 percent of admitted students come from low-income families.

Through a program called “Achieve UC,” we have been reaching out to high school students all over California to promote the affordability of a UC education. I’ve visited many of these schools myself, and everywhere I go, the reaction is the same: Surprise at learning that 57 percent of California students receive enough financial aid to fully cover their UC tuition. An additional 18 percent pay less than full tuition. The Middle Class Scholarship Program provides aid for families with income up to $156,000. And unlike many of their peers who attend other universities, more than half of UC students graduate with no student debt whatsoever.

Privately funded scholarships and fellowships play a crucial role in helping to make a UC education affordable for many. I’m happy to report that philanthropic support for UC scholarships and fellowships totaled more than $166 million this past fiscal year. Because public resources remain constrained, we will continue to emphasize the importance of philanthropy in the years ahead.

While most people know that UC is celebrated for its scientific and technological discoveries, far fewer are aware of the economic value of our research and innovation. A recent study showed that UC contributes roughly $33 billion a year to California’s economy. With our Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiative creating an unprecedented competitive environment for our faculty and students to find solutions to society’s challenges, our imprint on the financial fortunes of California will only grow.

This year the State recognized our longstanding role as a driver of the California economy by funding our efforts to expand the State’s innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure. The “I am a UC Entrepreneur” campaign seeks to highlight the vast range of invention going on within the UC system, including the sometimes overlooked efforts of female entrepreneurs as well as our impressive graduate students.

We continue to address the environmental imperatives of climate policy and clean energy on multiple fronts — research, teaching, changing the way we operate, investing in climate change solutions, and being a model of positive change. This year, more than 200 UC professors took part in the first systemwide climate change and sustainability curriculum workshops in order to incorporate these topics into their teaching. We also made real progress toward our commitment to reach operational carbon neutrality by 2025, including making the largest purchase of solar energy ever by a U.S. university — 80 megawatts from two solar farms in Fresno County. We have not only decreased our greenhouse gas emissions, but saved $28 million in energy costs just in 2016, and nearly $200 million since 2004, as a result of energy efficiency projects.

In closing, I want to thank you all for your continued support of and interest in this great University. I hope you and your loved ones have a very happy holiday season.

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