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A Student, A Teacher, A Place to Learn

University Communications

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Spring 1996

A Student, A Teacher, A Place to Learn
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For a university, the only gift greater than teaching knowledge is discovering how to use it.

By Brian Copenhaver

Mark Hopkins is no longer a household name -- except at Williams College. Hopkins was president of Williams from 1836 until 1872. In his day, he was a figure of great stature in higher education, so great that a president of the United States, James Garfield, once described the ideal college education as a student at one end of a bench with Hopkins at the other. A learner, a teacher and a place to sit: In bare essentials, these are the elements of a school or university. Learning and teaching are the basics in any education worthy of the name, and they donít exhaust the possibilities for education.

Another potent combination, and one that better describes the UCLA that we know today, is learning, teaching and discovery. Once committed to discovery through research and scholarship, a great university transforms the knowledge that it transmits through teaching.

Sharing in the transformation of knowledge makes learning active, for students and teachers both. Active learning is the most powerful kind. Teachers who do research get personally involved in what they teach because they help create what they teach. Transforming knowledge breeds enthusiasm in transmitting it, and enthusiastic teachers make for excited learners. Excitement about learning grows when discovery itself enters the classroom. The researcher who teaches thinks of knowledge as something to be made new, not just to be made available.

A premier research university like UCLA puts discovery at the center of its mission, along with teaching and learning. Perhaps the advantages of this combination should be obvious, but not everyone finds them so. And the benefits donít come without cost. Taxpayers, citizens, families and students pay the bills. Theyíre the people to whom the benefits of discovery in a public university need to be clear and persuasive.

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