@UCSD: An Alumni Publication

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Revenge is Sweet
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Up Front May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

As we began the new year, I had the pleasure of participating in two milestone gatherings. We had our first annual Young Alumni Reunion, which was closely followed by Roger Revelle’s 100th birthday celebration. This is also the year when the committees to celebrate UC San Diego’s 50th anniversary, from 2010 through 2011, kick into high gear. And, this year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s Origin of the Species. Already, you are probably asking: “Where is he headed with this?” But bear with me for a bit, I think I can pull it all together.

You don’t have to have a UCSD degree to recognize that profound events are rapidly changing our world. My own view is that the economic turbulence we are experiencing is just one part of a larger picture, wherein we are living beyond our means in many ways. For the first time, we are confronted as an entire species with the finite limits of our little blue planet. One hundred and fifty years ago, Darwin opened up a brand new way for us to understand how life works. It is not static but evolves and adapts. In fact it must. No organism is guaranteed a place, and any that cannot change and adapt along with its environment, declines or even becomes extinct. Clearly, cultures also must evolve and adapt to new challenges in order to thrive. But cultural evolution does not depend entirely on random mutations to generate new forms. We can think about these problems and make deliberate changes. As social beings, our big problems always require the resources, organization, and moral support of our communities. Faced with the need to rapidly evolve society in profound ways, what sort of attributes would we want in a community so that it can help us meet the challenges we now face in creating ways to live that can sustain the people of our planet?

We might start with building a strong foundation, comprised of some of the world’s best earth scientists—people like Roger Revelle, one of UCSD’s founding fathers, who first made us aware of the extent of human influence on the environment. We’d need to add top notch scientists and engineers from many disciplines to help develop better means of managing our resources and our health. Management science and social science will be essential. And we need art, music and theater too, to engage us on an essential emotional level. So let me pause and ask: Is this starting to sound like someplace you might know?
I thought so.

But that is not enough, and this is where you come in. We need leaders and engaged citizens of every stripe: business, professional, family, spiritual, and yes, political too, all working together. Our alumni community is a young one and, even on the cusp of retirement, our first classes are still active. But as UCSD approaches its 50th birthday, the sense we get from our conversations is that our alumni community is beginning to mature and take on a true partnership role with the University and the larger community. We welcome this, and we’d love to get you actively engaged in our mission. I’m sure you will find it inspiring and rewarding. Our young alums are engaging in greater numbers than ever and they can teach us a lot about how to communicate too. Check out the fast moving world of networking. Link up online and make connections with your classmates and with us. Let’s help shape the future together.

Sheldon Engelhorn, Revelle '72

President, UCSD Alumni Association

Before I go, I’d like to take the opportunity to add a personal tribute to a fellow alum: I’m writing this letter in Oahu, where I’m attending a celebration of the life of Joe Pepping, Revelle ’72, who passed away in February of multiple myeloma. Joe was a vibrant, compassionate soul, and my best friend, best man, and surfing mentor. I was blessed to know you. Peace, dear friend.

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


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