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Up Front May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2
   


Producing an alumni magazine is often an interesting puzzle. You quickly learn that what is newsworthy when you are planning the issue may not be newsworthy when it is dropping in mailboxes. At about the time we were putting this issue together, the election campaigns were in full swing. The daily news outlets were feeding us a dizzying deluge of campaign sound bites ranging from emigration, to gender and race, to Iraq, to the soaring price of gasoline. Then the economy imploded and the news cycle added soaring unemployment, the collapse of the real estate market, toppling financial institutions, and more recently the plummeting price of gasoline. Will these subjects still top the news cycle as you read this? Truthfully, I haven’t a clue.

Therefore I am grateful that UC San Diego like other great research universities works on a longer and more measured rhythm than the frenetic pace of the moment-to-moment news cycle. At any given time, researchers from biosciences to politics, medicine to communications, physics to visual arts, and engineering to theater, to name but a few, are working on long-term projects that may not mature for years. In our article on Roger Tsien, the UCSD professor of pharmacology, chemistry and biochemistry who recently received the Nobel prize, he credits his almost 20 years spent studying the lowly jellyfish with his success. As the features on Tsien and on the economic impact of UCSD on California and the region show, research often has a practical impact on society at large—and in fact UCSD is one of the most successful universities when it comes to translating research from the lab to market.

Yes, research takes its own time, and the University, as an institution, also has its own measure of time—a decades-old narrative that will culminate in the 50th anniversary in 2010. The article on Herbert York, the founding chancellor, is the first in a series we have titled Witness to History. And in editing the article, I have had the pleasure of reading up on the University’s genesis.

It is humbling. It was, and still is, a place of visionaries and that much overused word Pioneers. These women and men were not trapped in the quagmire of the moment. Often ignoring the pessimistic news cycles of their day they dreamed bigger dreams. And we are their heirs, enjoying the inheritance they left us. They had a vision or more precisely many visions that melded into one. They dreamed of transforming a dusty, sand-blown Marine base into a world-class institution. It is appropriately symbolic that this campus was originally inhabited by the Marines, because every inch of this ground and every department and every dollar was fought for by these pioneers and by their successors.

So over the next 18 months we ask you to join us in remembering this special place. We invite you to share ideas as to how to celebrate the 50th and also share any photos and recollections that you may have.

Write to us at: alumnieditor@ucsd.edu. We are listening.

Raymond Hardie, Editor

Rady's Edge

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