On Oct. 24, Chancellor Timothy White hosted his last town hall meeting, which included a campus overview presentation comprised of topics including Governor Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30 tax measure, the UCR Schools of Medical and Public Policy, fundraising campaign strategies, furthering research and economic development, and leadership transitions. With potential slashes of $250 million to the UC system if Proposition 30 does not pass, Chancellor White alluded to several approaches the system may take to account for the cut, including a student tuition increase of roughly 20 percent.
With much at stake for the current election season, Chancellor White highlighted a memorial, signed by the UC Academic Senate, which supported funding higher education bills inclusive of Prop 30. A memorial is the highest level of communication between the UCAS and Board of Regents. UC policy prevents all staff and faculty from utilizing campus resources to express political viewpoints, with the exception of the Board of Regents, who have openly expressed prior support for Governor Brown’s tax measure. Failure to pass Prop 30 would result in the system’s likely pursuit of refinancing of debt, reduced operating costs, possible changes in tuition to need-based financial aid, funding adjustments for retirement programs, and staggering tuition and fee increases.
“I don’t think the increase will be that much because there will be some savings like I’ve just said, but a big chunk of this will go right on the backs of students,” stated White.
In terms of the total undergraduate and graduate population, UCR has surpassed the 21,000 mark in enrollment for the first time in its history. A goal of the UCR 2020 strategic plan, passed in 2011, includes increasing the total enrollment of graduate and professional students by 18 to 20 percent. The number of international students has doubled and the freshman class has enrolled an additional 400 undergraduates, up from 2011-2012 to this year.
The UCR School of Medicine received accreditation on Oct. 2, which will allow the inaugural enrollment of 50 medical students begin their studies in August of 2013. Chancellor White explained the dynamic of increased student enrollment and the urgent need for sustained state funding for the medical school. “On the one hand, we’re celebrating an enormous success, the first public medical school in California in over 47 years…but at the same time we haven’t been able to extract any persistent dollars out of Sacramento,” stated Chancellor White, who added that continued advocacy for higher education will take place despite of inconsistent state funding.
With the accreditation for the UCR School of Medicine, students may now obtain a four-year medical education at UCR, instead of a mid-way relocation to UCLA. “The Thomas-Haider program, which has existed for 28 years, is not actually ending this year, it is transforming this year,” stated UCR School of Medicine Dean G. Richard Olds. “Historically for about the last 10 years, 24 students that did their undergraduate training for at least six semesters, have gone into the [program], for which they spent two years on our campus and two years at UCLA.”
Currently accepting applications on a rolling-basis, the new program will enroll 24 eligible UCR students and 26 will be slots open to the public, in which potential medical school applicants can apply through the online American College Application Service (AMCAS). With a 3:1 admissions ratio for UCR students, other candidates have a 10:1 chance in a pool of current applicants. Olds also noted that medical school deans are barred from the admissions process.
Assigned by Chancellor White, the search for a founding dean of the UCR School of Public Policy is currently spearheaded by Executive Vice Provost Dallas Rabenstein. Deriving from the existing UCR faculty, the candidate is expected to be selected by late November or early December.
Through a research and economic development plan, Chancellor White aims to expand a comprehensive fundraising campaign through private support, corporate partnerships and alumni resources. “Over the last five years, our ability to raise funds has now started to grow exponentially. This all occurred…in a very difficult economy where discretionary resources have been hit exponentially,” stated White, who anticipates a five percent annual improvement in total yearly research funding due to the opening of the School of Medicine.
“But of equal strategic importance for us is to get students engaged in cultural philanthropy while they’re still with us, so when they leave us as alumni, they stay engaged.” Last year’s senior class pledged $25,532, which will fund services for student veterans at UCR.
Expanding communications include a 75 percent increase of over 17,500 in UCR Facebook fans, along with 15.5 million visits to UCR’s homepage. Including the 34.7 million page views to UCR’s Living the Promise campaign, nearly 74.1 million impressions have been left through online news outlets, social blogs or even hashtag references.
Lastly, leadership transitions will include the replacement of interim Vice Chancellor of Finance and Business Operations Chuck Rowley through which airport interviews will be conducted in late-November. A search committee led by Dean of the UCR Graduate Division seeks to fill in the soon-vacant position of retired University Librarian Ruth Jackson. In succession of Michele Coyle, David Bergquist was named interim General Counsel effective Nov.1.
Launching a search for UCR’s next chancellor, UC Vice Provost Aimee Dorr collected input from the UCR community on Oct. 18. A search committee will select a candidate for interim chancellor, who will be sent for regental approval during the Nov. 13 to 15 bimonthly UC Board of Regents meeting. The overall search for a permanent chancellor may range from six to 18 months.
“As I have told President Yudof and Provost Dorr…that the question for them and for us is to not ask a new chancellor what we should be doing but to ask a new chancellor this is where we’re going, how are you going to help us get there?” said Chancellor White. “And that should be the criterion by which a new chancellor is chosen. UCR is in a position of strength and don’t ever doubt that.”
In regards to his departure, Chancellor White expressed the difficult decision to fulfill a greater role in the California and not due to any ill-will toward the campus. “You individually and the campus in the larger, greater Riverside community collectively will remain a part of me and my family forever. My many thanks, distinct priviledge really, of serving you as your chancellor,” stated White.