The Next Step
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Of the some 3,000 colleges and universities in the United
States, just 62 are recognized through invitation to be a member
of the Association of American Universities as being truly outstanding.
Nine of those 62 universities are in California, and six of them,
including UCLA, are campuses of the University of California. The
regions surrounding great research universities are populated by
technology and medical centers, arts and cultural opportunities,
innovative businesses and steady, productive economic development.
In a knowledge-based economy, universities create knowledge and,
in so doing, generate hundreds of billions of dollars in economic
Research breakthroughs at the university will undoubtedly be among
the key drivers of the state's economic recovery, as well as its
global leadership in the high-tech and biotech industries. Clearly,
then, it is in the best interests of our region and the state to
have the brightest scholars propelling discovery and innovation,
and to have the brightest graduate students working in partnership
Q: How is competition from private
universities affecting us?
A: Private research universities, which have
not suffered cuts nearly as severe as those that have been made
to public universities, are working hard and spending lots of money
to attract the best and the brightest away from elite public research
universities like UCLA.
We need to see exactly what our competition looks like. At Johns
Hopkins, Duke, MIT and Stanford, for example, 90 percent of doctoral
candidates are fully funded. At UCLA, we can commit to multiyear
funding for just 20 percent of our doctoral students. That is a
disparity we have to narrow. We also need to consider the fact that
because competition is so fierce, the funding margins are amazingly
thin. Often $1,000 can mean the difference between winning and losing
a world-class doctoral student. The competitive situation is similar
for young faculty. In this environment, our faculty are attractive
targets for recruitment by other institutions. We are fortunate
that in recent years UCLA has been able to retain about 70 percent
of our professors who have received offers elsewhere. Still, many
are receiving multiple offers a year in regions of the country where
housing is more affordable and salaries are greater. This is why
the Ensuring Academic Excellence initiative is so important for
us right now.