I attended a high school known for its focus on science and mathematics. When I entered college as an engineering major, I knew almost nothing about the arts. Art had not been a significant part of my world. That soon changed.
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (a small college in New York City), where I was a student, required all students to take classes in both science and the arts. As a result, engineering majors learned to think abstractly, and arts majors learned the virtues of practicality. Humanities courses were organized temporally, and we studied every aspect of civilization for each period, including history, literature and art. By the time I graduated, I was an arts lover.
The role of the university must go beyond helping us to comprehend the physical world around us; it must increase our understanding of our society and ourselves. The arts provide the means to do that, because they give us insight into our species. They help us to understand each other. And they provide bridges between cultures and disciplines. While the sciences may be “life-extending,” the arts are “life-enriching,” and the quality of life is at least as important as the quantity.
At UCLA, we are so fortunate to have extraordinary arts and cultural offerings that enrich both the campus and the community. And we have the facilities and faculty to offer arts classes, not just to arts majors, but to all students. Our arts programs distinguish UCLA as the flagship arts campus of the UC system and as a leading arts and cultural center of the West.
To celebrate the vitality and breadth of our creative achievements, we have designated the 2004-’05 academic year as the UCLA Year of the Arts. Throughout the year, we are showcasing our wealth of knowledge; the world-class creativity of our faculty and students; and the talents of our performing and visual artists, scholars and curators.
The UCLA Year of the Arts officially began last fall with the dedication of Glorya Kaufman Hall, which houses our dance and world arts and cultures programs. It will continue through next fall’s opening of the Edythe L. and Eli Broad Center, the new home for UCLA’s visual arts. These magnificent facilities, made possible by the generosity of Glorya Kaufman and the Broads, are testaments to just how highly the arts are valued at UCLA.
The arts are central to UCLA’s three-part mission of education, research and service. As they help us look inward, they also enable us to reach out. They reflect and help shape our community.
Through my exposure to the arts in college, I learned to see beauty not only in a mathematical equation, but also in a great opera. I want UCLA students to enjoy that broad spectrum, and there are boundless opportunities to do so right in our midst.
Please join me in celebrating UCLA’s rich cultural life by participating in the many special events that commemorate the UCLA Year of the Arts. For more information, visit www.arts.ucla.edu or call (310) 825-8000.