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the best attracts the best talent, which in turn creates the
innovation that translates into creating jobs, creating industries,
creating wealth. … Wealth creation translates into philanthropy
that comes back to the university."
Garrett: One thing
that sometimes goes underappreciated is the incredibly strong connection
between UCLA and the community college system. Today, roughly one-third
of the students in each graduating class at UCLA began their college
careers in community colleges. Indeed, UCLA is No. 1 among major
research universities in Pell Grant recipients from low-income families.
Warren, how do you view this linkage between elite institutions
in the California higher education system such as UCLA and the community
Furutani: For me,
the community college is a bridge to get students into the university.
There are many different steps along the way to arriving at a flagship
school like UCLA. For some people there will be off-ramps as they
pursue different educational goals. They may go straight into business,
they may go into different kinds of educational or job-training
programs. But the issue is making sure that those bridges exist
from one sector of the public education system to the next. And
if the bridge turns out to be a drawbridge — if we take the
best and bring them in and then lift the bridge so that no one else
can enter — then we have a problem. We have to bring in not
only the best and brightest, we also need to have diversity within
the class. UCLA can be elite, as long as it is not elitist.
Garrett: It is not
a question, then, of either excellence or access — both are
necessary for us to be competitive and successful. These twin goals
that were front and center in the creation of the University of
California, the leading public university system in the world, are
still the right goals.
Let me use my own son as an example. He goes to school at UCLA,
which we are very pleased and proud of. But candidly, he was lucky
to get in. He was an average student. And you know what an average
student at UCLA is: He had a 4.2 GPA and a 1300-plus SAT. And that
made him average. To me, that speaks to the necessity to make sure
that we have a public higher education system that operates along
a continuum. The issues that face education at the lower end of
the spectrum are equally important as those at the top end.