UC Regents visit San Diego campus, hospital

    As part of its first formal visit to the UCSD campus since 1999, the UC Board of Regents attended discussions on accommodating campus growth and the progress of health sciences that were presented by faculty and students on Feb. 26 at Thornton Hospital.

    While the focus of the day was on the ways UCSD is growing both physically and in the domain of health sciences, the issue of UC labor practices was also brought to the Regents during the public comment section of the meeting. Four speakers, all employees of UCSD, voiced their demands for an increase in wages and fairness on the UC end of the negotiating table.

    One speaker, a member of the Coalition of University Employees, addressed the Regents on the same day that the union, which has not succeeded in obtaining the 15 percent increase in wages it asked the University of California for, joined UC Council-AFT in protest on seven UC campuses.

    Another speaker who participated in the protests, UCSD Cancer Center Staff Resource Associate Carolan Buckmaster, argued that the University of California’s bargaining techniques were unfair and that the low wages resulted in a high staff turnover rate.

    “”This kind of regressive bargaining has happened time and time again,”” Buckmaster said.

    Dynes welcomed the input.

    “”I embrace [the speakers] for being open and honest,”” said Chancellor Robert C. Dynes following the meeting. “”These are legitimate concerns that exist on our campus.””

    During the meeting, Dynes addressed the Regents about the changes on the UCSD campus since their last visit.

    “”These are certainly not good times; UCSD will pick up about one-sixth of the growth of the UC system,”” Dynes said of the current economy. “”We expect not to maintain excellence, but to increase it throughout the growth process, and that’s going to be difficult.””

    Vice Chancellor of Resource Management and Planning John Woods spoke about the growth of the UCSD campus and the measures being taken to accommodate it. According to Woods, in 1989, UCSD had estimated that it would enroll 25,500 students by the year 2005; today, planning has increased that estimate by 6,500. Parking space estimates suffered a similar increase, jumping from 25,230 to 27,200. Woods said he is also working on UCSD’s goal to house between 40 and 50 percent of students on campus, which will include new housing by 2005.

    “”We need adequate state support,”” Woods said. “”We are depending on the state for core support, including building and infrastructure.””

    However, according to Woods, the university is finding ways to face the budget challenge by finding private funds to construct new buildings on campus, pointing to the Powell-Faught bioengineering hall that opened this year.

    Woods stressed the importance of keeping the university’s open spaces, including the park reserves.

    “”This area has gotten more and more urban, and we think people will soon turn to UCSD as an oasis,”” Woods said. “”But even in UCSD, we have set aside and will keep reserves.””

    He also addressed plans to make the University Center increasingly important to campus life.

    “”We’re going to make sure in the years to come that this area becomes a hub of activity,”” Woods said.

    Transportation and parking, according to Woods, is also a problem for campus planning.

    “”We worry that in the long run, it could affect our ability to recruit faculty and staff,”” Woods said, adding that he hoped San Diego transportation would be improved so that the land planned for parking could be used for building.

    Woods also mentioned plans for a new addition to the Stuart Collection, which would be located by the bioengineering building.

    The health sciences discussion featured both faculty and students from the School of Medicine, who focused on their work and visions of a cross-disciplinary future for medicine at UCSD.

    “”We need to tear down barriers that prevent interdisciplinary approaches,”” said professor of medicine Edward Holmes, introducing a presentation on the College of Integrated Life Sciences. “”The purpose of C.O.I.L.S is to really engender and enhance cross-disciplinary research and patient care.””

    David Merrill, an MD candidate, spoke about his own interdisciplinary research.

    “”The best thing about being at UCSD is that I’ve been able to collaborate with people from all over campus in my research,”” Merrill said.

    Dynes said he felt that the Regents had been impressed with the presentations.

    Several Regents asked questions about specific research.

    “”I don’t mean to seem cynical, but I wonder how much this cross-disciplinary approach is related to funding,”” asked Regent Velma Montoya.

    Several members of the faculty replied that they felt that there was funding, but only because there was a real need for physicians with these sorts of backgrounds.

    “”I think the Regents were blown away,”” Dynes said. “”Not so much by the faculty, but by the medical students, who are terrific.””

    The Regents’ two-day visit will continue on Feb. 27 with presentations on research, teaching, community service, the California Cultures Initiative and homeland security topics, accompanied again by public comments.

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