The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Protect the UC

Posted by demkid on July 13, 2009

I recently received this letter in my inbox, and think it should be viewed by as many people as possible…not just by UC alums, not just by citizens of California, but by all who care about and cherish the importance of quality, affordable education.  The UC is the country’s best educational system, and it seems that the powers that be never get this when they’re trying to get the state’s budget in order.  Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

The core money UC receives from taxpayers, via Sacramento, goes to the nuts and bolts of higher education, everything from paying professors to lighting laboratories. But it also establishes the institutional foundation needed to attract the research grants and endowments that enhance the mission and burnish the University’s international status.

Over time it’s been money well-spent. Of the more than 4,000 higher education institutions in the nation, only 60 research universities, public and private, have been judged worthy of membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. The UC has six members. No other state system has more than one.

In turn, the University has given back to California, not only by educating generations of high-achieving Californians, but also through its triumphs of research. From better ways to grow tomatoes to the birth of biotech, from viticulture to cancer treatments, UC campuses have been incubators of countless scientific and product breakthroughs that add quality to California life and invigorate its economy. For 15 years in a row, UC has developed more patents than any other university in the country.

This is what’s put at risk as state support shrinks. In the end, there are two choices: excellence or mediocrity. While a mediocre UC might cost less in the short term, over time it will enforce on society its own ledger of taxes. Top professors and researchers will begin to drift away, taking with them the best students. Pools of grant money will recede. The engines of invention will sputter.

The UC should be the last institution harmed by Sacramento politicians.  To double state prison funding and leave the investment in the University equal in real dollars in the past decade is pathetic.  Some people wonder why this country is falling behind, but it really shouldn’t be too difficult to figure that out.

On a related note, I just saw this article, about how the budget problems are jeopardizing more specific, highly-acclaimed programs, like UCDC.  Sad.  This state cares more about prisoners and illegals than perhaps its most meaningful asset.


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