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Garrett: We haven’t
yet talked about how undergraduates fit into this research enterprise.
Betsy, you have many interests on campus, but also you’re
involved in other higher education institutions in the U.S., including
your alma mater, Wellesley College in Massachusetts. One of the
things that stands out about Wellesley is its success in creating
an undergraduate experience that really equips the students to go
on to graduate careers. Based on your involvement with a liberal
arts college as well as with UCLA, how do you assess the value of
a large research university to undergraduates?
Knapp: The research
university offers enormous exposure and opportunities to an undergraduate
student. As fine an institution as Wellesley is, I don’t think
the students there have quite the same richness of experience and
exposure to what they could do next as they would at a research
university. In that way, UCLA has a great advantage.
I’ve been a member of the board of The Anderson School for
many years. My husband and I endowed a competition there for M.B.A.
students to spearhead the development of a business plan. And one
of the ways we’ve tried to expand this program, to have an
impact on the undergraduate experience as well as the graduate,
is to have the M.B.A. students identify business-creation opportunities
by visiting other parts of the campus — in engineering, the
sciences, the arts, for example. It provides an opportunity for
graduate and undergraduate students to work together.
Garrett: You certainly
have a broad perspective.
Knapp: Yes. But also
as an entrepreneur and businesswoman, I recognize the need for business
creation, and the research university is a key engine in that arena.
I am also a very practical person, and I recognize the importance
of skills development. Students have to come out of school with
the ability to do something, as well as with a sense of the direction
they might want to go in the future. They receive greater exposure
to those possibilities as undergraduates at a research university.
If I could change the subject for just a second here, one of the
hats that I wear is that of a member of the Campaign Cabinet for
Campaign UCLA. I am very concerned about the resource gap, but one
positive thing that we ought to recognize is that UCLA has raised
$2.7 billion-plus. There is a remarkable capacity that exists for
private funding of higher education. I think it speaks to an extraordinary
interest on the part of UCLA’s constituents, be they alumni
or be they the public at large, to support the campus. Limited state
support is going to continue to be a problem; private support is
key to helping to address that problem.