Chancellor offers state-of-campus address

During the Academic Senate Representative Assembly Feb. 26, Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef offered his annal State of the Campus Address. A large portion of his addess is offered here:

State of the campus addresses have pretty much gone out of vogue across this land for reasons that at once seem obvious and obscure - obscure because more than ever it is one of only a few opportunities for any individual to get even a sense of the entire increasingly complex campus.

Quite obvious, though, because as individuals in a university community, we seem not to have time. We are working longer hours and harder than we ever have before. Lunch is an apple at our desk. The days of faculty starting work at 9 a.m. over leisurely morning coffee, then ending it with a 4 p.m. gathering for afternoon tea, with a relaxed 90-minute lunch in between were a reality in 1930 according to Berkeley records, but they are long gone in 2002.

Perhaps in line with that phenomenon, this talk will be relatively free of subjects about which you likely are already informed, such matters as the campus response to 9-11, the landmark Mondavi gift, events leading to the campus decisions on growth, and so forth. Rather, I will discuss the future as best I can see it for our university.

The future begins with the faculty

That future begins with the faculty, and I am not intending here to be ingratiating. It is in fact the faculty who bear the burden of the mission of the university - teaching, research and service - on their collective shoulders.

Regarding teaching, there has been much said this year about the quality of undergraduate education. An entire op-ed piece was written recently that described our undergraduate teaching on this campus as going in the tank. In fact that rhetoric comes out of a circumstance unique to one small corner of this campus and spins out of a situation that involves union bargaining. For that reason I won't say any more about it. But in fact, there are many good things to say about the way our students and our faculty are interacting, and the new and entirely different experiences that our undergraduates can have during their four or five years here on campus.

The number of freshman seminars is increasing as we speak and there will be new incentives announced shortly that will make that number even larger than it is. The out-of-classroom experiences that we all know are so valuable to the education of an undergraduate, at least for the traditional undergraduate student, have increased to the point where many of us have got to be saying to ourselves, "I wish they had that when I was a student."

Getting a head start with K-12

But that is not to say that we do not have problems, problems with class size and availability, especially problems with the academic preparation that our students have coming into the university. While I have no doubt that these students communicate with each other as well as students ever have - sometimes in language the flies over my head I must add - our classical aspirations about appropriate means of communication and composition seem not to be met.

It is easy for us to blame K-12 education for this phenomenon, but even there we must remember the complexity of the circumstance - that at the fourth-grade level in the state of California, for example, 50 percent of the students come from homes where English is not the first language.

These facts of our changing world have to be taken into account as we consider the successes of K-12 education. We must think differently about how we do K-12 education, and, most important, UC Davis must be, and is very much a part of that process. Our K-12 outreach programs have more than doubled in just five years, and our new School of Education is aborning. Our pursuit of truly equal opportunity for a successful college experience requires our efforts.

The campus growth that we are facing in the coming eight to 10 years is in some ways ominous and in other ways very exciting. Once again I return to the needs of the faculty. If we are to recruit the very best that can be recruited, then we must have the circumstance here that will lure and keep them.

Finding creative funding sources

We need the money for start-up packages. We must do better with our partnership opportunity program. We must address work-life issues. We must increase our facilities by near $1.4 billion worth of buildings. And we must do more than we have been doing to retain the best staff on this campus. Because retaining great faculty requires our retention of great staff.

So here is what is going on.

With regard to facilities, our 10-year plan is working toward addressing that problem. The difficulty comes in that it is a $1.4 billion problem and our current estimate is that we can come up with only about two-thirds of that, with only two-thirds of that amount coming from the state. That is not enough, and I will come back to that problem in a moment.

With regard to start-up packages for faculty whom we are able to recruit when we do have the facilities necessary for their work here on campus, that is a budget challenge that we are working on now. Once again, there are many colors of money that can be put to that task, not just money from the state which really only supplies one-fourth of what we need, but money from other sources as well, like gifts to the university, funds from philanthropic foundations and creative financing where we are able to take advantage of the projected increase in campus non-state funds.

We are, of course, very concerned about the deteriorating 2002-03 budget - it's been called a house of cards - and the important thing is that we must have a plan and we must know where the shortfalls are possibly to come.

It's time to think capital campaign

To help deal with the long-term problem, the time has come for this campus to begin its plans for a comprehensive campaign. That effort by universities has more commonly been called a capital campaign - you may know it by that term. But in fact "comprehensive campaign" is better language, because it tells the greater story, namely that buildings and facilities are important when we do such campaigns, but there are so many other things that we must have if we are to continue to improve.

We need endowed chairs for faculty, we need better support for graduate students and, to a lesser degree, undergraduate students. We need the best staff. Those are all campus issues that can be addressed by a comprehensive campaign. It is not just about buildings.

Keeping compensation competitive

With regard to the staff, we have had many discouraging months and years during the 1990's. During the early part of the decade we had to decrease our numbers of staff. During the comeback years in the later 90s we never did quite come fully back with regard to staff, but we were definitely on the rise.

But now we are having difficulty in increasing the salaries because of the state's economy. Fortunately, we are competitive with regard to staff compensation in this geographic area. But our staff is terrific; we should aim to be more than competitive in salaries.

What has the University done? First, our healthcare comes at minimal cost. As well, we have not had to contribute to our retirement fund for many years. We have also made a 3 percent contribution to individual CAP accounts. These addends make our total benefits package more than competitive, and that is comforting. However, we know the lure of higher wages, and we must be cognizant of its importance. It is the California legislature, though, and not the "UC reserves" as some have suggested, that has to solve that problem.

A new, affordable neighborhood

Another matter that all of us will be hearing more about has to do with housing. Perhaps everyone in this room is well situated with regard to housing, but it is also true that each and every one of us is saying, "I am glad I bought my house back then."

I have no confidence that our future will ever be as good as our past in this regard. So as we work through the many, many concepts that are on the table regarding our Long Range Development Plan, one important aspect is what we are calling a new neighborhood on campus. This neighborhood will have many features, but the most important one among them is affordable housing for our faculty, staff and students.

As we have learned from our Aggie Village experiment, not only will this housing be affordable, it will, under our particular restrictions, become more affordable as time passes. I have seen nothing so far that tells me that we can avoid doing this neighborhood, and as we think about it, we are all realizing that it can add so much to the city.

We have been in important discussions, for example, with the Davis Joint Unified School District for more than a year now. We can add to its quality in our neighborhood. We are also envisioning, together with our local community colleges, an education center. As well, this neighborhood would employ, from the very beginning, all of the latest and best concepts regarding transportation, the environment and sustainability. In that regard, it would be an important experiment worthy of a research campus.

Boosting graduate student support

This campus has also become increasingly engaged in another problem that faces not only us, but the entire UC. Especially for those of you who have been here your entire career and do not have comparisons to make, UC does very poorly in our support of graduate students. I will not go into the detail of this, but suffice it to say that when it comes to our ability to recruit out-of-state - especially international students - we don't do as well as our peer institutions. We simply are not able to include all populations of potential graduate students. And exclusion of any sector any time always means that the average quality of the final product will not be as great as it otherwise could be.

The regents recently appointed a graduate commission. Our (suspected) shortfalls in graduate support were confirmed, and the commission has made several recommendations to improve our circumstance. I am quite confident that those recommendations will be implemented over the next several years. We have special actions that we can and must take on this campus, and Provost Hinshaw and Dean Gonzalez are taking the necessary steps in that direction.

Reviewing our admissions practices

Regarding students and student admissions, much has happened over the last two or three years. We have also seen the comprehensive evaluation come on line. In fact, this evaluation for admissions is not immensely different at all from what we have done for many years now. I must continually tell those that believe that this means we will no longer be using "the numbers" that they need not fret. In fact, how applicants do with regard to their grade point average and their standardized test scores are still primary in our UC Davis admissions process.

We are also seeing a reconsideration of the SAT I and its ostensible measure of aptitude. That is a debate about which all of you have heard and will continue to discuss. It is entirely conceivable that we will be going to a different test, based on the recommendation of the systemwide senate.

Dedicated constituencies

And so there is lots for us to be proud about; and there is lots for us to be apprehensive about. There are occasionally matters for us to be angry about. So what else is new? Fortunately, we are a dedicated group of engaged constituencies.

The faculty especially cares as much as ever about how we do the business of the university. I believe that the administration has been working well together with you and I see no reason why that will not continue. For that I thank you very much and, as well, I am grateful for your time today. Thank you.

Media Resources

Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932,

Primary Category