Remarks to the Board of Regents

July 16, 2014

UC President Janet Napolitano's remarks to the Board of Regents at its July 2014 meeting, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Chair Varner.

I’d like to begin this morning with two items that concern our university community.

Two months ago, an unspeakable tragedy took place in Santa Barbara. It is one that shook our university community—our university family—to the core.

Incidents like this are rare on our campuses. But the issues that led to this tragic shooting are commonly known, and threats to our campuses do exist. Addressing these issues is a top priority for me and the chancellors. We are actively working to do so. Though we are not going into the details of that process at this meeting, we will discuss them in the fall. At that time, a full report will be presented to the Board on campus security, student mental health, and Isla Vista.

Later today, you will hear an update on the University Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Violence and Sexual Assault. Our work on this important issue continues, and we are making significant progress. As I said at our last meeting, curbing sexual assault on college campuses is a challenge that requires the efforts, engagement, commitment, and resolve of everyone—from students to staff to faculty to leadership. And I am pleased that the entire UC community has stepped up to that challenge.

I would now like to address a major endeavor that came together in the last several months, and that incorporates all three missions of the University—research, teaching, and public service.

Two weeks ago, we launched the University of California Global Food Initiative.

This initiative grows out of a collective commitment made by all ten UC chancellors and myself. It is a commitment to apply a laser focus on what UC can do as a public research university—in one of the most robust agricultural regions in the world—to take on one of the world’s most pressing issues.

Our goal is audacious, and it is far-reaching. It is our intent to do everything in our power to put the world on a pathway to feed itself in ways that are nutritious and sustainable.

To that end, each of our campuses, as well as two of our national labs, has a designated faculty representative to our Global Food Initiative Council. Other University stakeholders are also represented. Together, we are addressing issues such as food purchased by the campuses, collaborative research into sustainability, the effect of climate change on the food supply, development of new, drought-tolerant crops, and many others. In addition to research, I have given each campus funding for three student fellowships in the food arena. As you might imagine, student interest in the Global Food Initiative is very high.

In my mind, the Global Food Initiative embodies our working motto that UC “teaches for California, and researches for the world.” I will keep you posted on the Initiative’s progress during the coming months.

Now, I would like to turn to the fiscal stability of our University.

We can all agree that in order to address its long-term funding needs, UC must develop new funding models. I am firmly committed to this effort. We must support our students and faculty who wish to attract private capital to bring their research into the marketplace. That’s why I recently removed the ban preventing the University from taking on equity interest in companies that evolve from our research.

Our efforts must also include new models of philanthropy. That is why today I am announcing the creation of the Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs.

This new program allocates $50 million from the Presidential Endowment Fund as an incentive for donors to establish 100 new endowed chairs across our ten campuses in the next five years.

We have structured the program so that the annual payout from each chair will include a base amount for the chair-holder’s scholarly allowance. But the mechanics of these new chairs differ from those of most chairs at UC. After the base amount has been paid to the chair-holder, the remaining payout will go to support faculty salaries and graduate student fellowships. This is because it is our intent that these new chairs help address the elements of our academic enterprise that were hit hardest by the funding cuts made during the recession.

The Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs is one of the efforts we are undertaking at the University to secure new revenue—specifically, revenue that connects to and fosters our academic excellence.

I want to be clear, however, that we cannot do this alone.

We have been making the case in Sacramento that the University is not far from reaching the point where tuition increases can be both low and predictable. It is not far from the point where the University budget can be brought into full balance, where no gaps are carried over from one year to the next. But the University cannot reach this point by itself. It needs a full commitment from the State of California in order to do so. Put simply, the State of California will not thrive if this University does not thrive. Somehow, some way, we must persuade our elected leaders to place a higher priority on public higher education, and to provide greater support to one of the state’s greatest and most innovative institutions—the University of California.

I intend to devote even more of my energies to our advocacy efforts in the months ahead. I appreciate all the help and leadership the regents have given, and I trust I can rely on your continued efforts in this regard.

Chair Varner, this concludes my remarks.