Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fundraising for UCLA

For those of you who are friends of UCLA and live close to California's Orange County, I encourage you to attend this UCLA fundraising  event on April 12th.  Glen MacDonald and I will both have interesting things to say about Climate Change solutions and challenges.  While my inner-economist tells me to free-ride and say "no" to all requests I receive from my university concerning talking to parents, alumni and friends of the school, I actually say "yes" to almost all of them.

Why?  I'm a funny guy and I know how to interact (in a two way conversation) with people who do not hold lofty doctorates from fancy places.  Most professors are not social animals and prefer to talk rather than to listen. I hear what you say.   

I also believe that UCLA is at a key point in its history.  I have told senior members of the University's administration that we should accept $0 per year from the state.  We need to go "cold turkey" and not take another dime.  Cutting our "financial lifeline" would liberate us from silly Sacramento rules and signal to our thousands of alumni that it is up to them to step up and play a leadership role in supporting the school.  The politicians in Sacramento have other priorities -- somehow excellence is not one of them.

UCLA pays its basketball coach and its football coach over $2 million each.  This signals that either we really think that is valuable stuff or that we believe that it promotes donations to the school.  In my vision for the "new UCLA", the faculty will step up and make a serious case for why UCLA will continue to be a great school and in fact that we will improve as a research university because we have embraced free market principals.

In capitalism, higher quality products feature a higher price tag.  To justify the prices we will charge for attending UCLA, we need to deliver quality.  What is quality?  It is both research and teaching excellence.  Our students at both the undergraduate and graduate level must become better problem solvers and be able to convey succinctly and clearly the ideas they are proposing.  They must be able to "crunch data" and be able to test hypotheses rather than simply rehashing opinions based on their passions.

The faculty must show that we are serious professionals who are working on hard, relevant problems and not merely an elite leisure class who indoctrinate the next generation with hip ideas.

Show up on 4/12 and get a taste of what I'm trying to do.