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Mr. Stevens Goes to Washington
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The View from Murphy Hall
Culture Watch:Take a Walk on the Wild Side
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Winter 2000
The View from Murphy Hall
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Q: What has been your greatest disappointment?

A: My biggest disappointment came with the initial impact of Proposition 209 (the California initiative that banned race and ethnicity as considerations for admission), which was a marked drop in admissions of underrepresented students. The numbers have been getting a little better each year since then, but they're still far too low.

Q: Why do you feel diversity is such an important issue?

A: Student diversity is a hallmark of UCLA's excellence, and I believe very strongly that students get a better education in a diverse environment. Diversity of backgrounds, beliefs and experiences is among the most valuable of educational assets. Not having as diverse an environment diminishes the quality of education. In addition, we are educating the future leaders of this country, and diversity is essential to producing graduates who are capable of leadership in a multicultural society.

Q: UCLA is educating tomorrow's leaders, but the very fact that, as an institution, we are operating on such a high plane brings about a tension between breadth of education and depth of education. As a premier research university, what should our role be?

A: Many students are properly interested in vocational training and preparation for that first job, but that should not be the primary education function of research universities like UCLA, which are not educating the average student. Our students need a broader experience than simply being trained for that first job. It is important for students to specialize in something, to peel the onion, so to speak. But they also need to learn that not everything in life is an onion; they need to learn about things beyond their fields of specialization.

That approach is becoming increasingly difficult, however. It used to be that simply being a college graduate gave one a huge comparative advantage in the job market, and it didn't really matter much what you studied. But today, more than half of high school graduates are going on to some kind of institution of higher learning, and many are focused on getting that first job. They see breadth of education - simply becoming an informed person - as less important than learning something that will get them a leg up in the workplace.

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