Dear Graduate Students,
As I write, the campus community is undergoing difficult times in several respects. Recent campus events highlight the urgency of engaging the issues of our day with intellectual rigor and conducting ourselves in ways that enable dialogue and debate without fracturing the community of which we are all part. Whatever differences may be held around analyses or tactics, we all share a common commitment to restoring public funding of higher education and changing the overall economic conditions that challenge our entire society.
In that spirit, I want to draw your attention to a series of events called the Campus Forum on the Future of Public Universities. I attended the first forum on October 25, where Peter Schrag, Robert Reich, and Angela Glover Blackwell spoke and answered audience questions on “Social Inequality and Social Opportunity.” I have always felt strongly that engaging these issues is an important responsibility at the core of what it means to be a public university. While we can be proud that our University educates large numbers of students who come from limited means, most wealthy countries (not only our own) are seeing an increase in income inequality and a decrease in social mobility. For example, discussions in Washington and in Sacramento in the last year have called into question sources of student funding such as Pell Grants and Cal Grants, illustrating how important it is to follow these issues very closely.
Future topics in this campus series include “Taxation and Citizenship” (December), “Economics of Higher Education” (February), and “The Public Character of Public Universities” (April). I hope you will make it a point to study the nuances of these vital issues and to direct your perspectives to those in our state and federal governments who can make a difference.
Andrew J. Szeri
Dean of the Graduate Division