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Chancellor's Message

by: Raymond Orbach   (June 2000)

“Thank you for the beautiful flowers. I come here when I need to think. God bless.” –Nicole

That note dropped secretly into the gardening cart of a UCR groundskeeper speaks volumes about what makes the University of California, Riverside special and of the commitment to caring that exemplifies the campus as it grows and matures.

Competency may be in the big things; but quality is in the details.

As heavy construction equipment moves across the campus in a building boom unmatched since the 1960s, the values that typify UCR since its creation continue. This issue of the university magazine examines how UCR will become better and bigger during the next decade.

Former UC President Clark Kerr coined the term “Tidal Wave II” to describe the challenges facing the University in the first decade of the new millennium. Tidal Wave I developed as a consequence of the arrival of the war baby children. Baby boomers inundated primary and secondary schools in the 1950s and early 60s. They finally surged into America’s colleges in the mid-1960s. The University of California then grew by 6,000 students a year for seven years. UCR nearly doubled in just five years, from 3,100 students in 1964 to 6,176 in 1971. UC created three new campuses, Irvine, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz. These new campuses absorbed 28 percent of the new students.

Tidal Wave II follows from the children of the Boomers. It will bring the University of California an additional 63,000 students by 2010, a number equal to the size of five UCRs. Yet UC will be able to build just one new campus and it will absorb only 8 percent of the expected new students. UCR will again double, this time to 22,000 students by 2010.

Why not limit enrollment and hold back the tide? To do so would be to break faith with the people of the state of California who have supported UC. We owe it to students who have worked hard to graduate in the upper one-eighth of all of the public high school graduates in the state and are therefore eligible to attend the University of California. We owe society the creation of leaders of our state and nation in commerce, science, education, the professions and public service.

Those who fear that growth will dilute the quality of the university need ask themselves, “Is the University of California today better than the UC of the 1950s?” It certainly is. It will be still better in the future.

We are working hard at UCR to imbue our campus with the values that have made it a place of excellence in research and scholarship.

And a place where an unknown Nicole feels impelled to write a note thanking a groundskeeper for making our university a beautiful place, a landscape of flowers, a place to think.

The juxtaposition of gardens and tidal waves is not incongruous. It speaks to the blossoming of flowers and students, and UCR’s presence.

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