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Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Interview with the Chancellor
Interview by Raymond Hardie

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox talks about her decision to step down in July 2012, and discusses what she wants to accomplish during her last year in office.

While the incidents that took place in spring 2010 were painful, they may have been necessary for our growth. There has been a very positive response from students, faculty and staff, and there is an increased understanding of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion to our success.

 

Editor: The big news is that you are stepping down as chancellor.
Chancellor: Yes, I anticipate doing so before July 2012.

Editor: How long will you have served by then?
Chancellor: Eight years.

Editor: What three things are you proudest of having achieved here?
Chancellor: First, I would say our building program: finding a way to get over debt-ceiling limitations, using our bonding authority to address space allocation, and collaborating with the Regents. Second, would be our diversity efforts. While the incidents that took place in spring 2010 were painful, they may have been necessary for our growth. There has been a very positive response from students, faculty and staff, and there is an increased understanding of the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion to our success. Third is improvement of the quality of the graduate and undergraduate student experience.

Editor: Can you elaborate on that?
Chancellor: We learned from the Undergraduate Student Experience and Satisfaction survey that although students were happy with the academic portion of their UC San Diego experience, they were less happy about their social interactions. So we expanded opportunities for clubs to meet, provided more extracurricular options and opened a major extension to the Price Center, with its additional food venues and The Loft for evening entertainment. We also constructed the Village at Torrey Pines residences for transfer students.

Editor: You were described during our recent Alumni Weekend as an environmental chemist. What changes have you overseen here in the areas of sustainability?
Chancellor: We have been widely recognized for our innovative efforts in this arena. But, what is most interesting is that this effort has been led by staff. Campus officials have invested $60 million in retrofits, which resulted in a 20 percent decrease in energy use and savings of $12 million a year. The University also is using reclaimed water; has installed solar panel groves on parking lots and roofs; and is powering shuttle buses with biodiesel. And we have received numerous awards, including one from Sierra magazine, who named us one of the nation's top 20 "coolest" schools for its efforts to stop global warming and operate sustainably. We have achieved a lot, and clearly would like to do more.

Editor: Can you summarize some of the changes you see coming to the UC San Diego Health System in the near future?
Chancellor: Well, first of all, the Moores Cancer Center is now finished and functioning very effectively. We forged a partnership with Rady's Children's Hospital and we made a major addition to Shiley Eye Center. We have opened the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center and have major construction planned for four additional hospitals for advanced surgery for infants and women, and for surgical cancer treatment. The School of Medicine has also instituted review of its curriculum that will help us to compete effectively.

Editor: I have heard some discussion around the idea of a design institute.
Chancellor: Yes. When Suresh Subramani assumed his position as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs in May, one of his first steps—in consultation with all the deans—was the creation of a design institute. The idea is to create a new model for design that works from the specific strengths of UC San Diego—that is, to develop design as a collaborative art form. It would encompass all kinds of design from industrial goods, like cars and micro switches within a computer circuit, to community and city design. We have the interdisciplinary expertise to do this very well and it is an emerging area deserving priority.

Editor: What would you like to see accomplished in your final year?
Chancellor: A number of things. I would like to continue an emphasis on diversity and to develop more opportunities for students to learn about inclusion. And, I would like to start a program where our students are coached to be more competitive for post-graduate scholarships, such as the Rhodes Scholarship. We are working to improve the efficiency of our tech transfer office, and Vice Chancellor for Research Sandra Brown is off to a great start in that area. I want to see Executive Vice Chancellor Subramani's scholarly ideas launched with a greater integration of research programs. Finally, I'd like to solve several "unsolvable" problems so as to ensure a clean slate for the incoming chancellor of UC San Diego.

Raymond Hardie is the editor of @UCSD Magazine.