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Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Interview with the Chancellor
Interview by Raymond Hardie

This is the third in a series of interviews with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, leading up to the 50th anniversary of the founding of UC San Diego.

It’s an exciting time for our students to be involved in science and engineering, or for creating new methodologies in the social sciences and the arts.

Editor: In September, we will begin celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of UC San Diego. However, rather than look back at the past, I thought I would start by asking you to look toward the
future. What do you see as the most interesting new directions and developments in the academic
disciplines on campus?
Chancellor: First, it is important to remember that we are here because of our students, and what those students choose to study is an indicator of where the future of college education lies. It is both in the traditional and evolving disciplines. President Obama has said that our country needs major research and contributions in the areas of education, energy, environment, economics and also in culture. These five areas overlap very nicely with the declared interests of our students, who show an ever increasing interest in interdisciplinary studies.

Editor: How is that interest in interdisciplinary studies reflected in research and teaching?
Chancellor: We have created many organized research units on campus that address interdisciplinary challenges. Probably the largest is the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), which works with researchers from disciplines as diverse as medicine and archaeology. We also have mounted a major effort in sustainability, which is both interdisciplinary and cross-campus, involving not only faculty and students but also the staff. On the energy front, we are involved in demonstration projects both here on campus with solar and fuel-cell energy generation, and also in collaboration with partners in the Imperial Valley developing algae farms for potential use as biofuels. It’s an exciting time for our students to be involved in science and engineering, or for creating new methodologies in the social sciences and the arts.

Editor: Why is UCSD increasingly referred to as a university with international reach?
Chancellor: The experiments that we conduct locally have a national influence and may also impact global partners. And the interaction of our faculty with those working abroad strengthens the intellectual climate of the campus here. For example, Calit2 has done innovative work with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (see @UCSD, January 2010 issue). Together they installed the world’s ­highest resolution visualization environment, a version of our on-campus StarCAVE. And among many other projects, Calit2 is also developing a sophisticated computing network for the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

Editor: Apart from scientific research, in what other ways are we international?
Chancellor: To bring the focus back to students, UC San Diego has one of the largest percentages of
students who spend an entire year studying abroad in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America and also in increasingly diverse intellectual areas.

Editor: UC San Diego is always thought of as a science and engineering school and yet it has a powerful presence in the arts. What are you most proud of in UCSD’s nurturing of the arts?
Chancellor: The opening of the Conrad Prebys Music Center with its 400-seat concert hall is something that gives us all great satisfaction. It is a magnificent performance space. The Department of Theatre and Dance recently added a M.F.A. degree in sound design and the collaboration between the department and La Jolla Playhouse continues to reinforce the department’s position as number three in the country. Christopher Ashley, the artistic director of the Playhouse, just directed the graduate production of The Revenger’s Tragedy at the department. There is also innovative work coming from our visual arts department, particularly in the intersection of computation and art with the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts. Our students and faculty are on the cutting edge of the sciences, arts and humanities.