BY Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Dean
This has unquestionably been an interesting year for the School of Public Affairs community, a point in time in the School’s history that has presented unique challenges and prompted serious discussions of the ways in which our educational, research and practice programs can shape the future of communities in Southern California and change the policy models that make an impact on a national and even international level. Certainly the global economic crisis and California’s historic budget shortfalls have affected our School, and we have endured the painful budget cuts that have reverberated throughout the UCLA campus. Philosophically, this presented us with two options: 1) to hunker down and simply hope that the storm will end, or 2) to stand up and go forward with all cylinders running, and do more than has ever been imagined before. We’ve chosen the latter route, and this year alone the School has: � brought together major thinkers and leaders to address innovative, effective models of crime reduction and recidivism through the Rosenfield Crime Forum; � launched a bicoastal initiative to address social inequities in the education and training of public policy, planning and social work professionals through a new Social Justice Initiative; � welcomed several new members to the Board of Advisors, who have renewed a commitment to preparing the UCLA School of Public Affairs to address the societal and civic problems of the 21st century and beyond; � welcomed the addition of the Luskin Center for Innovation, an interdisciplinary effort that tasks top researchers at UCLA with addressing Los Angeles’ biggest policy challenges. For the next few years, the Center’s focus is on creating environmentally sustainable programs that will enrich our great city; � created new infrastructure to support the needs of a contemporary Public Affairs School, including a revitalized Web site and a new, school-wide Career Services Center; � received record-breaking numbers of applicants to the master’s programs in public policy, urban planning and social welfare, with candidates representing the top undergraduate programs in the country.
We are proud of these accomplishments. They speak directly to our core mission—to engage in world-class research while educating and training the leaders of tomorrow. Nonetheless, some actions we have taken are difficult and painful. For example, after thorough discussion and consultation with students, staff and faculty, it was decided that our Departments of Urban Planning and Social Welfare needed to institute professional fees for their programs. We understand the burden this places on our students, but the financial situation of the UC system left us no choice. We have pared our budget down to the bone while protecting the integrity of our academic standards; there are no more cost savings of any significance to be had. To alleviate the impact, the School is renewing its effort to establish new and ongoing financial support for student scholarships and for innovative fellowship opportunities such as the David Bohnett Fellowship program with the Office of the Mayor. I am grateful to all the participants in these frank and open conversations—the high level of involvement demonstrates a passionate commitment to maintaining excellence. They recognized that we cannot compromise our ability to bring in the best professionals from their respective fields to serve as instructors; that we cannot compromise on opportunities for professional enrichment; that we cannot compromise on retaining and recruiting the very best faculty; and that we cannot compromise on attracting the brightest students. As they say, “there is no need to waste a good crisis.” What this means in substantive terms is that we must continuously reexamine our core mission. We must build on the areas where we have strength and scale back on things that do not fit our central mission. The School has much to be proud of; we have come together as a community to respond to these most trying of times. We steadfastly maintain our commitment to excellence and anticipate success in the future. I look forward to having you join us on this journey. �
5/14/10 12:02 PM
The magazine of the UCLA School of Public Affairs