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UCLA

An Even Greater Good

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By Jack Feuer, Photos by Michal Czerwonka

Published Jul 1, 2014 8:00 AM


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THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST

“This isn’t about test tubes or wind tunnels. It’s about people and brilliant minds,” says Judy Olian, dean of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, about the Campaign. “We have to be in a position to attract the best of those minds.”

The Centennial Campaign’s financial goal of $4.2 billion includes $1.5 billion for student and faculty support, encompassing endowed scholarships, fellowships and faculty chairs. And that net will be cast wide. No matter what individual goals the various units of the campus may have in the Centennial Campaign, attracting and keeping the best undergrads, graduate students and faculty is a paramount objective for all of them.

“If you look at our founding documents, we were created with the goal of serving the poor boys and girls of Los Angeles, to keep the doors open to people from all walks of life,” notes UCLA Law School Dean Rachel Moran. “So scholarships are going to be front and centerin this Campaign. We look at our peer law schools, and we don’t have a comparable number of scholarships.”

Financial support from UCLA alumnae group Gold Shield helped convince third-year student Addison Yang to come to UCLA. Gold Shield has contributed more than $1.4 million to the UCLA Alumni Scholarship Program, providing support and mentoring to more than 700 scholars since 1939. [See related story: Taking Care of Our Own]

“It was an offer you couldn’t refuse,” Yang says, adding that “public universities often lack the intimacy of a private institution, especially [if the private school has] a smaller student body. I feel a lot more connected to the university, my peers and the alumni network because of Gold Shield.”

The optimists who are drawn to the university are the beating heart of its excellence, because it is they who make a difference. Five years from now, says A. Eugene Washington, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, “goal is to be even better positioned to meaningfully improve the health of the communities we serve. And,” he continues, “that healthy position is defined by our ability to first maintain a community of the best and brightest people. That is the principal objective coming out of the Campaign: to have the right people in place, with the resources to fulfill their potential as we fulfill our shared vision.”

“Hiring and retaining top talent is the basis of everything that makes UCLA great,” adds Tony Pritzker, co-chair of the Executive Committee of The Centennial Campaign for UCLA. “But it is a competitive world out there. We have to be in a position to be creative in our offers to get the best minds here at UCLA.”

A NEW COURSE FOR CURRICULA

A major component of the Centennial Campaign is to give deans and faculty the ability to develop cutting-edge curricula for a world in which the only constants are endless change and blinding speed. The Campaign’s financial goal includes raising $1.65 billion for programs and research.

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“We need to create a model of teaching and training and collaboration that prepares students for a world that moves very, very fast,” says Alessandro Duranti, dean of the Social Sciences Division of the UCLA College. “We don’t know what the technology will be in five years. But we can teach them to be flexible and have an attitude that will allow them to adapt to change and be creative.”

Support from the university’s philanthropic partners will help power the creation of new areas of study in virtually every field of academic inquiry that arises out of transformations in society as a whole. At UCLA Anderson, for example, a new program in data analytics teaches students how big data is used in everything from agriculture to business. Donor support is also fueling the growth of the school’s undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship in a major partnership with the College.

And, bolstered by philanthropic support, the Social Sciences Division’s ongoing Dissertation Launchpad — one of the first programs of its kind — is teaching social science and psychology graduate students to present their research in a language that can be understood by a wider, nonacademic audience. The idea for the 10-week program came from watching students in the Startup UCLA Accelerator program, in which student entrepreneurs “pitch” their products. Launchpad participants learn storytelling techniques and get the type of training experts receive to give TED talks.

Meanwhile, in the College, a new medical humanities track will have merged the study of the humanities, social sciences and the arts with medical education and practice. In addition to premed, students in the program will take courses in English, religion, history, philosophy, sociology and psychology.

At UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT), there will be two new centers — the Center for Social Impact Entertainment and the Center for Storytelling, Technology, and Innovation. Each will serve as a premier hub for thought leaders, innovators, visiting artists, faculty and students to advance groundbreaking research in story, performance, technology, social responsibility and global diversity.

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