It happened in quick succession.
In April, UCR Chancellor Kim Wilcox said during his investiture that he will add 300 faculty members in the next five years, that UCR will expand its physical size and reach, and that UCR will become more global.
Soon after, Time magazine created a model of federal standards for universities that shows UC Riverside is highly effective with its student population. In fact, it showed that when it comes to low-income and diverse students, the nation would be better off if there were 100 more campuses like UCR.
Then in May, three national thought leaders from around the nation came to campus to share their views on “The Future of the American Research University.”
“UCR will challenge its deans, chairs and directors to align opportunities for their students to engage in study, research, internships and experiential learning abroad around the strategic research partnerships and community platforms of their colleges, departments and schools.”
University of Washington Vice Provost for Global Affairs Jeffrey Riedinger
The executive summary? We need more universities like UCR.
“UC Riverside is an unbelievable role model of what the future of higher education needs to achieve,” said Arizona State University President Michael Crow, who leads a state system of 76,000 students. He especially noted UC Riverside’s ability to graduate students equally across ethnicities. “It is humbling for the rest of us,” Crow said.
“We are at an evolutionary moment,” he said about public higher education. “Some organizations will begin to find ways to scale this kind of public service education to a new model of excellence and accessibility that operates in real time, not academic time. “[UCR is] already on this path and moving in this direction.”
University of Washington Vice Provost for Global Affairs Jeffrey Riedinger said to become a global university, “UCR will challenge its deans, chairs and directors to align opportunities for their students to engage in study, research, internships and experiential learning abroad around the strategic research partnerships and community platforms of their colleges, departments and schools.”
“UC Riverside is an unbelievable role model of what the future of higher education needs to achieve.”
Arizona State University President Michael Crow
If curriculum requirements are too rigid to permit students to study elsewhere, those requirements need to change, he said.
Distinguished Professor of Hispanic Studies David Herzberger noted the difference between many individual international projects and a global university. “To me, UCR is already wonderfully international, but in an island sort of way. Look at our website. We have at least 10 separate pages that begin with the word ‘international,’ so I think a lot of our colleagues are doing terrific work in international types of activities but we don’t feel like an international campus because we haven’t managed to integrate all of these activities.”
The final speaker was Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, an influential agency in the higher education world.
“UC Riverside, by itself, serves more students eligible for Pell grants than the entire Ivy League put together,” said McPherson of the federal grants that go to low-income students. He said he was impressed by UCR’s success in graduating students from all walks of life at the same rate. “I hope you know how unusual that is.”
“UC Riverside, by itself, serves more students eligible for Pell grants than the entire Ivy League put together.”
Peter McPherson, President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
Sharon Walker, an associate professor who holds the John Babbage Chair in Environmental Engineering in the Bourns College of Engineering, noted that adding 300 new ladder-rank faculty in the next five years will be heavy lifting and will require more staff support and more research and teaching space. She also said this is the campus’s chance to hire more diverse faculty.
McPherson shared an astonishing statistic, that 80 percent of the children of the richest families in America earn college degrees while only 10 percent of the children of the poorest families do. That inequity is a real problem for the nation, he said, and it is a problem being tackled by the large public research universities.
UCR is up to the challenge.
“UCR is increasingly seen as a model for academic excellence and academic attainment in the 21st century,” Chancellor Wilcox said during his investiture. “And it happens at precisely the time when our country is struggling to identify new models for higher education that will assist us in achieving our national goals.”
How lucky is that?