On behalf of all of us in the administration, please accept my best wishes for the new year. The strategic plan update sent earlier this week shows that UCI continues to make progress toward our aspirations despite ever-changing headwinds from state and national funding sources. We are learning to adapt quickly, pursuing opportunities that continue to enhance our academic excellence and support our vital engagement activities. For example, as state funding per student has declined, UCI’s deans and Academic Senate have worked together to develop 14 self-supporting degree programs. Fundraising for endowed chairs is accelerating, with eight new chairs created in the past year. We are seeing record growth in philanthropic giving to the university, with more than 100 percent increases in each of the two preceding fiscal years. UCI also has received substantial financial support from grants and contracts, marking the highest two-year period in research funding in campus history.
At the same time, social and political changes are impacting higher education, compelling universities to contribute our expertise to national discussions. UCI has responded by creating the Confronting Extremism initiative – a yearlong campus initiative to understand ideas and behaviors far outside of alignment with our campus values of social justice, equity and respectful dialogue.
While we must adapt and respond, we also need to recognize that rapid change can have unintended consequences within our community. To hear your concerns and ideas on how we can best manage change, I have asked our vice provost team – Michael Dennin, Doug Haynes, Frances Leslie, Diane O’Dowd and Judy Stepan-Norris – to host a series of academic forums. These meetings, listed below, will also provide an opportunity to discuss progress on our strategic plan.