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Leading Together

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By UCLA Chancellor Gene Block

Published Oct 1, 2017 9:00 AM


Like the city in which it was born, UCLA is a beacon of innovation and invention. In the past 10 years, we have laid the groundwork for a second century of progress and transformative change.


Photo by Amanda Friedman.

UCLA sits on the far western edge of our continent, in a city known for reinvention and imagination, and with an expansive view of opportunity. I can think of no other place like it.

It has been a great privilege to serve as chancellor of UCLA these past 10 years. Working with our faculty, students, staff, alumni and our local leaders, UCLA has accomplished incredible things that have strengthened this great university and solidified our place among the world’s best research institutions.

This past decade has seen the construction and renovation of a new and modern campus skyline, which now includes the Luskin Conference Center and the Edie & Lew Wasserman Building, to name just two; the growth of our research enterprise, with nearly $1 billion in research funding and the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that helps deliver UCLA innovation to the world; and a thrust into new areas of study that has kept us at the forefront of discovery, such as our groundbreaking work in the field of “big data” to treat human suffering or our pioneering work in the “digital humanities” — a modern approach to studying our past. And we’ve redoubled our commitment to service, which begins for all new students when we send them across Los Angeles on Volunteer Day.

Thanks to all of these things and so many more, our partnership with Los Angeles has never been stronger. Thousands of our students make a difference in our communities every day, volunteering anywhere there’s a need.

Meanwhile, our UCLA community schools and Extension programs give hope and opportunity to all those eager to learn more. Hosting forums on all manner of topics — some with community partners — we’ve worked to start conversations on important topics across this city. And, in return, Los Angeles has enriched the experiences of our students and the quality of our education. UCLA has been selected to host the 2028 Olympic Village for athletes from all across the world. When Los Angeles wins, UCLA wins.

Now, as we near the close of our first century and look to begin another, we aim to redefine the role of public universities — how they teach, discover and help others.

We must do an even better job of sharing our ideas — across borders and disciplines — to find solutions to our common problems. The challenges of our time, and the obstacles our students will face in the world, are not confined to merely one subject area. Our future depends on graduates and scholars who can confront challenges with innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial thinking.

The delivery of that interdisciplinary education must also be modernized to meet the demands of our time. No longer should teaching and learning be confined solely to classrooms and lecture halls. We must devise a sophisticated delivery of knowledge that infuses state-of- the-art technology, interaction and engagement into every course. This should include online education that increases access and affordability while preserving the hands-on campus experiences that prepare our students to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Although the future will require us to change and adapt, we will never deviate from our core values. We will always strive to be a university that welcomes diverse points of view and reflects the community we serve. We will always hold true to our public mission in order to serve the people of California and better the lives of those around us. And we will always regard Los Angeles as not only our home, but also as learning laboratory where cutting-edge research and education inspire our students to become leaders who understand the rewards of service and community.

We have worked hard over these past years to re-energize our alumni and friends — those who believe in UCLA’s transformative power. We now have the momentum and support to answer the challenges of this new era. Together, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

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