@UCSD: An Alumni Publication

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Up Front May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2
   

Letters to the Editor

Watson and @UCSD Critiqued
While I realize yours is a public relations organ, it still is a bit much to promise a “candid” discussion with Joe Watson and deliver the pap I discover inside the May 2007 edition. There is no mention here of the 1972 student strike Dr. Watson provoked with his rejection of participatory governance at Lumumba-Zapata College, nor of the unanimous recommendation of the search committee for the vice chancellor Student Affairs position that some other candidate be selected even though everyone knew the job description had been written for Dr. Watson.

Little wonder that when I was a student at UCSD, “Watson = Mobutu” was inscribed into the very concrete of the campus. Nor is it much of a surprise that after a couple decades of his oversight, students are according to your interviewer deeply dissatisfied. The college was determinedly attacking every student-built institution as I graduated, and it was clear that Dr. Watson’s appointment was part of a broader plan to destroy the
vibrant campus culture that had grown organically and replace it with a manufactured, fraternity-inflected “spirit” stripped of social and political concerns and so devoid of real life.

So today the alumni magazine celebrates the fact that the campus is so open as to welcome a society of flat earthists who prattle about six-day creation and the like, and offers us Joe Watson of all people as a defender of the Lumumba-Zapata tradition. It is a performance worthy of the finest traditions of Stalinist journalism, and proof once again that paper will take anything that is put upon it. Memory, however, has rather better defenses.
Jon Bekken, Muir ’82

Watson and Affirmative Action
As everyone knows, Dr. Watson is retiring. There have been many dedications to him throughout the year and while I think it is necessary to honor his 41 years of service and his achievements, I also think that we should acknowledge the Dr. Watson that many students of color experienced. A Dr. Watson who decimated funding to EAOP and consistently chose to cut funding to outreach, OASIS, and other programs that supported students, especially students of color.

While chairing the Student Affirmative Action Committee, I never felt that he supported our positions, experiences, or needs. In fact, I felt that his focus on the individual made him blind to issues of the community. For many students of color, the community is all that we know. Cooperation, family and reciprocation form our foundation. Many of his policies and decisions went against these principles. It’s important that while we celebrate the man, his legacy isn’t romanticized, but instead, examined and improved upon by the new vice chancellor of Student Affairs.
Perse Hooper, Muir ’04

The Glamour of Killer Tomatoes
I appreciated the look back at UCSD’s famous Killer Tomatoes (May 2007).

During my student days working for Audio/Visual Services, I once ran into the Four Square Productions crew—shooting a scene near one of our storerooms. They had turned the basement of the Humanities Library into the sub-sub-basement of a top secret military installation. I helped them deal with some daunting technical problems, including a blown circuit breaker and a balky elevator door.

It was many years before I finally rented the film on DVD, and was devastated to see that my scene did not make the final cut. But, to this day, it remains my most cherished contact with the beauty and glamour of the film industry.
Nathan Meyers, Warren ’79

Cover Boy
John Valva is leaving for a position in the Bay Area. We will miss him. He became executive director of the UCSD Alumni Association in 2001, and from the beginning was determined both to contact all alumni and engage them in a revitalized relationship with their alma mater. He was equally determined to foster the Association’s relationships with students, by enriching their lives while on campus.

With John as publisher, we launched this magazine and he gave me the freedom to explore how it would best serve its readers, you. Our website was reconstituted and we also launched the monthly e-newsletter CampusLoop, which now has an email circulation of 49,000. While he was at the helm, the alumni regional chapters grew from four to nine, and seven regional representatives and three affinity chapters were added. The Freshmen Sendoff program was launched as were New Grads Mixers and Career Networking Nights. We took UCSD on the road with UCSD Near You—a lecture series that brought some of UCSD’s most talented professors to talk to alumni, parents and friends around the country.

With his eye on the next generation, John introduced a range of programs to foster the UCSD Alumni Association’s relationship with students. We launched the Triton Junkyard Derby, which saw 22 teams of students and alumni careening toward boxcar glory this year. We also launched the new Life 101 series bringing over 50 alumni volunteers back to campus, annually, to inspire students in their choices of careers. And during his tenure the Association created a number of new need-based scholarships, raising over $840,000 in the last two years.

He was also a cheerleader for his staff and believed in compliments and carrots. He created a positive work environment and, because of that, he inspired us all. I will miss his clarity, his optimism and his creativity.

John was imaginative, dedicated and fearless in representing alumni. He energized and expanded the Association, and we look forward to building on that legacy.

If anyone ever deserved to be on the cover of the magazine it was John. So John, here it is.
— Raymond Hardie

Feel the need to wax eloquent or spout off? Write to us at:
alumnieditor@ucsd.edu.

@UCSD Cover Image:  Rady's Edge

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