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Spring 2003
Going After the Best
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In fact, it was UCLA’s diversity of disciplines and its “tremendous intellectual resources” that brought Dorr to UCLA from USC in 1981 — she took a substantial salary cut and lost a full-time secretary to make the switch. A specialist in child welfare, Dorr says she joined UCLA because “there are faculties all over campus that are related to my interest.” Dorr’s school works with a remarkably wide range of faculty encompassing just about every field, from the social, physical and life sciences to the schools of engineering, law and management. These faculties carry out research and public-outreach programs on common projects, besides sending students to each other’s classes. According to Dorr, this interdisciplinary approach, or the grouping of diverse subjects within one program for students, is UCLA’s greatest strength, and one that it has already exploited.

When it comes to collaborative research and teaching, says Executive Vice Chancellor Neuman, “UCLA is better in this regard than other campuses.”

A stellar example of such collaboration is the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), which broke ground in February for its new facility on campus. The CNSI is focused on developing the nanotechnological advances in information, biomedical and medical technologies that will dominate science and the economy in the 21st century, drawing on the expertise of physicists, molecular biologists, chemists, engineers, medical scientists and other scholars. Another collaboration is the new Institute for Cell Mimetic Space Exploration, which brings together researchers from engineering, physical and life sciences and medicine to develop machines for space that will mirror both the adaptability and intelligence of human beings.

SUCH ACADEMIC INTEGRATION IS TESTIMONY TO THE “ENTREPRENEURIAL RISKS WE UNDERTAKE IN INTELLECTUAL ENDEAVORS,” SAYS NEUMAN, “WHICH COMES OUT OF UCLA’S YOUTH. Older campuses would find it much more difficult to do this because they have embedded in them traditions dating back scores of decades, if not centuries.”

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