President Dynes Shares Lessons
Learned During Campus Town Hall
UCSD Last Stop in Statewide Inaugural Tour
Kate Callen I January 31, 2005
Fifteen months after he left UCSD for Oakland, UC President Robert C. Dynes came home January 24 for the last stop in his statewide tour of all 10 university campuses. At several events throughout the day, highlighted by a campus town hall meeting, Dynes shared lessons learned in what he called "an intense year" and said emphatically, "The University of California has an impact on virtually every aspect of life here in California. . As I told the governor, 'If the University of California becomes just another university, the state of California will become just another state.' And that actually rang through to him."
Dynes, who was named UCSD's 6th chancellor in 1996, delved into a range of issues during his visit, including the UC budget, staff salaries, diversity, and K-14 academic preparation. His manner was as laid-back as ever; his presidential game plan is anything but.
Dynes is taking direct aim at some of UC's toughest challenges, such as the dwindling numbers of African-Americans on UC campuses, a crisis that he said is "at a tipping point." He believes the university should take a lead role in overhauling the state's K-12 system: "The master plan for higher education is the envy of the nation . we need a master plan for K-12 education as well." And he wants a surge in UC-driven R&D innovations to "create the jobs that will then get filled by our graduates."
But Dynes' most pressing goal, and the key to achieving his other goals, is to reverse the decline in state UC funding. "We have to immediately stop the continual bleeding," he told the town hall audience, "and you've all suffered from it." Thanks to increases in the 2005-06 budget stemming from the compact Dynes signed last year with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, "we can reduce the size of faculty-student ratios," he said, "and allow raises for faculty and staff . I am enormously grieved by the fact that we have gone through four years of budget cuts, and I have put raises as a top priority."
As an employee noted during the Q&A period, Schwarzenegger's 2005-06 budget withdraws a one-time allotment of $17 million for UC enrollment and K-12 academic preparation programs. Said Dynes, "I've made it clear to the governor that I am going to advocate very strongly to maintain and hopefully grow outreach programs." But if the funding isn't reinstated, Dynes vowed to cover most of the shortfall. Academic preparation "is an integral part of the University of California and not an add-on . regardless of what we finally pry loose from the state, we will commit $12 million of our own money."
On African-American recruitment and retention, Dynes said he is working with black leaders throughout California to boost student achievement in black neighborhoods. "Proposition 209 forbids us from doing certain things but not from helping communities help themselves," he said. "Look at the Preuss School. Why does it work? Because parents are paying attention to their kids . [and telling them] it's cool to get an A."
Pressed further on the need for more African-American faculty and staff, Dynes said he has ordered studies patterned after gender equity research that will refute myths about applicant shortages. "The standard line was that there weren't enough women in the pool," he said. "As soon as we proved that it wasn't true, the hiring of women increased, because that was no longer an argument that anybody could hide behind."
Dynes praised a pilot program that adds staff advisors to the Regents' Committees on Educational Policy and Grounds & Buildings, and he commended outgoing Regent Ward Connerly for pioneering the effort. "My hope is that the staff on those committees are so outstanding that the Regents will become dependent on them," said Dynes, "and that they will not think twice about expanding that program."
In lighter moments, UCSD's former chief made it clear where he has left his heart - "It is really a pleasure to be back home again, and I do regard San Diego as home" - and he showed why it's good to be president. Asked about parking problems, he replied, "This is a campus issue. You should raise it with the chancellor."
A member of the Office of the President delegation that accompanied Dynes also enjoyed a warm homecoming. Associate President Linda Morris Williams, who was Associate Chancellor during the Dynes years at UCSD, was on hand for the town hall forum and for a meeting with UC alumni that evening. "I too enjoyed the homecoming," said Williams. "The future of UCSD is exciting, and I am proud to have been part of its last 16 years of development."
As Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said when she welcomed Dynes at the afternoon gathering, "President Dynes is one of us. He needs no introduction, but I'll give him one anyway." And she invited him back for a campus tradition that has been part of his legacy. "He's been keeping in shape for the 5K run," Fox said, "and we hope we'll see him in the fall for the 5K's 10th anniversary."