@UCSD: An Alumni Publication

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Up Front: Letters to and from the editor
Shelf Life: Books
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Class Notes: Alumni profiles
Giving
Looking Back: Thoughts on UCSD
Credits: Staff and Contributors
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Interview with Chancellor Fox
Ché
A Call to Action
G.I. Blues and Golds
On Track
Campus Currents
Seahorse Magic
When Fizz Fizzles
Green Bombers
$12 Computers
Wall of Dreams
Cycling for Waves
Secret Scholar
All in a Twitter
Guesstimate or Calculate
Visions in the Desert Kingdom
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Up Front May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Welcome to your magazine’s new look. We have been listening to you over the last year, and the restructuring and redesign ­reflect what you have been telling us. We hope you enjoy it.

One of the main features in this issue is about a very different kind of restructuring, the result of the dire budgetary straits facing the UC system. It is a hard story to cover, but editing it reminded me of a lesson I learned when I was a 12-year old in Northern Ireland.

I grew up in a small fishing village called Donaghadee, and my high school (called a grammar school) was in another town. My father would occasionally let me skip the bus ride, and drive me the seven miles to school, along what was known as the Moss Road, where moss-covered peat bogs were still worked by local farmers for fuel.

One morning, we were driving through a hamlet called Ballyvester, when we passed a boy a few years older than me, loping along the road, happily whacking the blackberry bushes with a cane. “That boy is probably off to cut peat,” my father said as we drove by. “That’s his life.” Then he pointed to the satchel on my knees. “Stalin once said that every student is carried on the back of 18 peasants. If you ever get into university, remember that it’s this lad’s taxes that keep you there.”

At the time, I thought this was unfair, since I was speeding toward a morning of math tests and this hayseed was out merrily whacking blackberry bushes. I also thought it was dishonest of my father, since I knew he loathed Stalin. And yet, that concept of privilege and its obligations has stayed with me to this day.

I write and edit Class Notes and features about alumni and often have to check their ­graduation years and service to the University. It is sometimes surprising to see how many ­privileged alumni have never contacted UCSD, or donated to help the next generation of ­students. I often wonder do they realize how privileged they are in having received “an Ivy league education at a community college price.” And do they remember on whose backs they were carried?

Stanford University reports that nearly 40 percent of undergraduate alumni gave gifts in 2007-08. The alumni giving rate at UC Berkeley is 14 percent. In contrast less than 5 percent of UC San Diego alumni give back to their alma mater. Those are harsh figures. Do they mean that if you don’t have to pay market value for an education, you don’t really respect it? Or is it because we are so absorbed in the echo chamber of our own present-day concerns that we are incapable of acknowledging the powerful gifts we received in our past. The truth is that all of us who attended university were privileged and should give to the next generation at least what was given to us.

If I am truthful, I know it was those farmers and many other taxpayers who gave me the gift of education that they had never had. And most probably that carefree blackberry whacker was one of them.
So in this season of New Year resolutions, I am stopping to thank him, and the other 17, who carried me on their backs.

Raymond Hardie, Editor

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A c c o l a d e s

Excuse this brief interruption while we take a moment to congratulate ourselves. The UCSD Alumni Association was recognized in three different categories by the Council for the Advance­ment and Support of Education (CASE) at the CASE District VII conference in San Francisco, in November.

The Association won three Awards of Excellence for its creative use of technology, new programs and general interest magazine. It received a gold medal award for its innovative “AlumnIdea” crowdsourcing microsite that allows alumni to give interactive feedback; a gold medal award for the “Discovery Ambassador Initiative,” a program that reconnects alumni with the University; and a silver medal award for the magazine, which we hope you are happily perusing.