Senate discusses UC affairs

    UCSD’s division of the Academic Senate convened on Nov. 26 to hear reports on the progress of UC Merced, the implementation of comprehensive review and the revision of admissions tests.

    Jessica Horton
    Guardian

    The meeting commenced with Chair Joel E. Dimsdale stating that it is not yet clear how the recently disclosed California state deficit of over $20 billion will affect the implementation of Prop 47, which is to allocate $56.9 million to UCSD.

    “”So far, signals are that K-12 and health care will be the most significantly cut,”” Dimsdale said.

    Biochemistry professor Douglas Magde, who attended the UC Merced groundbreaking ceremonies on Oct. 25, reported on the current situation of the newest UC campus. He heard addresses made by UC Merced’s chancellor, Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, as well as by Stanford professor of physics and Nobel laureate Robert Laughlin, who grew up in the Central Valley. Magde spoke of Tomlinson-Keasey as a “”trendsetter”” and as the first female founder of a major research university.

    Gov. Gray Davis, as well as many community members and students, were also in attendance for the founding ceremonies of the first research university of the 21st century and the first major university in the San Joaquin Valley.

    “”I had heard in an intellectual way how much this campus meant to the people of the Central Valley, but I didn’t realize this until the groundbreaking,”” Magde said.

    He reported that the first contract, which includes building of roads and a bridge, has been approved, and that a second one, which is to secure the construction of the first three buildings, is in the works.

    UC Merced has hired 14 academic professorial chairs, and according to Magde, the university is confident of three more. It also hired a dean of student affairs, a dean of engineering and librarians, but no faculty.

    However, the task force is currently making eight more offers, and Magde said all the candidates have distinguished resumes. UC Merced hopes to have 80 faculty members by the time the campus opens to its first class of about 1,000 students in the fall of 2004.

    “”If the students are going to apply sometime in 2003, we need a catalog sometime in the next few months, but we have no faculty, so it was a little hard to have course descriptions,”” Magde said. “”But we did discuss grades, adds and drops, etc.””

    Magde reported other challenges facing the task force, including its hope to have a division of engineering and a school of business as soon as possible.

    He also reported that UC Merced has begun its dual admissions program, which accepts students who have completed sufficient equivalencies in community colleges, in the hopes of attracting transfer students from day one.

    In other systemwide issues, chemical education professor and Chair of the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools Barbara Sawrey reported on the success of the use of comprehensive review in last year’s admissions process.

    “”[B.O.A.R.S.] was very pleased with what we found, and the task was completed on time, which was a real feat when you had to read thousands of additional documents,”” Sawrey said.

    She commented on the public’s mixed reaction to the changes, hoping that the policy would soon become more accepted.

    “”We’ve changed things, so that makes everybody nervous,”” Sawrey said. “”We’re looking at improving the written material we put out to explain the process.””

    Sawrey also discussed other B.O.A.R.S. issues, including the revisions of admissions tests. The SAT is being revamped so that the SAT I will have a writing component, the SAT II writing test will disappear, and the difficulty of the SAT I math section will increase by at least a year’s worth of material, all by 2005. Sawrey said that B.O.A.R.S. will have to look at these changes, which could affect UC admissions standards for 2006.

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