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UC San Diego chancellor visits UMass

University of California at San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox spoke Wednesday in the Integrated Sciences Building on the future of public higher education.

“State governments are unreliable partners,” said Fox initially, encapsulating yesterday’s remarks. Beginning her lecture just after noon, she discussed how the current financial crisis facing America has affected the state of public higher education, particularly research universities.

Fox presented many methods which can burden and occupy the responsibilities that state governments are increasingly reluctant to address. Fox also touched base on the competitiveness of higher education and how to entice young people to pursue studying the sciences.

“This year alone, UC San Diego has experienced $85 million dollars in budget cuts,” said Fox. Budget cuts usually mean slashes in teacher salaries and underfunded research however, UC San Diego remains focused on advancing knowledge in math and science through excellence in education and research, according to Fox. She further elaborated that UC San Diego’s Sustainability 2.0 initiative transforms current research into new possibilities that skyrocket beyond imagination.

UC San Diego and Scripps Institution of Oceanography set the pace for climate awareness beginning in the 1950s. Researchers at UC San Diego and Scripps have expanded their early investigations into today’s studies of climate breakthroughs in every aspect of sustainability. With a daily population of over 45,000, UC San Diego can be compared to a small city.

Fox said that UC San Diego strives to practice and promote the principles of sustainability, which it defines as taking from the earth only what it can provide. Through the Sustainability 2.0 initiative, there are twelve elements of strategy towards which UC San Diego strives.

The twelve elements of strategy are: new technology in old buildings, alternative transportation, new technology in new buildings, new smart grid, conservation and recycling, advance in energy storage, developing solar power, developing fuel cells, reclaiming water sources, using ocean water for cooling and heating, wind power and faculty research.

These twelve steps that help UC San Diego become sustainable are saving the university millions of dollars annually. These savings make up for the recent budget cuts. Each strategy is made possible by private sectors without state or government help.

There have been many technological advances on campus to help the pursuit of sustainability. UC San Diego installed a one megawatt solar electric system on the main campus. The system will supply about 1.5 million hours of green energy per year.

Researchers at UC San Diego are also currently developing an alternative fuel station that will provide campus vehicles with alternatives to gas. One million square feet of existing buildings have received energy-efficient retrofits such as programmable HVAC controls, motion-sensitive light controls and installation of Energy Star equipment. In 2010, UC San Diego will be the first university to have an all-electric shuttle bus fleet. Students can rent these vehicles on campus for a low rate.

UC San Diego is investigating pumping sea water from La Jolla Canyon, a deep off-shore trench, through a system to help cool and heat campus buildings. Water will then be returned to the sea. Sea water, a clean renewable energy source, could offset up to four megawatts of energy, potentially saving 100 million gallons of water annually. All these developments are making the university a competitor in the field of sustainability.

Fox stressed the fact that breakthroughs in sustainability are only possible by emphasizing competitiveness and pushing the sciences to students across the country.

Fox stated that the way to entice students to pursue science is to sponsor science fairs.
“3,500 American students participated in science fairs this year alone,” she said. “Compare this to 7.5 million Chinese students,” she continued, “students are unprepared for a world of competitiveness beginning at higher education.”

Today, Americans are feeling the gradual effects of globalization. A sizeable fraction of the American workforce finds itself in direct competition for jobs with lower-wage workers around the globe. Also, Americans feel the push of attempting to accomplish cutting-edge scientific and engineering work. Because of globalization, driven by modern communications and other advances, workers in virtually every sector must now face competitors who live just a mouse-click away in Europe and Asia.

“You have to be competitive and ask until the answer is ‘yes,’ to get what you want,” said Fox.

Caitlin Soto can be reached at csoto@student.umass.edu.

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