Dear Campus Community:
With just a little over a month until we close out 2021, it’s hard to believe all we have navigated since the beginning of the year. Eleven months ago, we were in the midst of a difficult wave of COVID-19 infections and the process for vaccine distribution was just beginning, but we were hopeful that we could expand our in-person classes and residential living in the fall.
The homecoming bonfire event last weekend marked the first large student event since the pandemic began and was possible only after focused effort on the part of our community to vaccinate and practice safe behaviors along with a decrease in community COVID-19 transmission. The fireworks show seemed to take on new meaning this year as each spray of lights celebrated a return to something we had missed.
If the last two years have taught us anything, we know conditions could change. But the progress we have made in the last eleven months is significant—a testament to the challenges we can tackle as a community.
Long Range Development Plan
The UC Riverside Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) is a land use plan that maps the physical development of the campus. It defines objectives for planned growth and expansion without identifying all of the details about how it will be implemented. At the November UC Board of Regents meeting, UCR received approvals for our next LRDP. Some highlights of that plan include the following:
• Grow enrollment up to 35,000 students by 2035 assuming sufficient resources;
• Increase graduate student enrollment from 14% to 20% of total enrollment;
• Add student housing for 7,500;
• Support student population with corresponding increases in faculty, staff, and campus space;
• Manage the majority of campus expansion within the East Campus land; and
• Prioritize the West Campus for agricultural research.
Thank you to the members of the executive committee, steering committee, and working groups whose diligence resulted in a plan which allows us to expand our research enterprise and access for students while preserving our agricultural tradition.
Native American Heritage Month
The approval of the LRDP coincided with Native American Heritage Month, another reminder of the gratitude owed to the Cahuilla, Tongva, Luiseño, and Serrano peoples and all of their ancestors and descendants, past, present, and future—for the opportunity to live and work on these homelands.
Currently, there are several projects to further acknowledge the history of our campus. A recent article about the Native American Garden being built near the HUB describes the effort to create a space to pay respect to the contributions of our indigenous community and acknowledge the historical injustice perpetrated against American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. While heritage months provide a chance to raise awareness, celebrating the culture and contributions of our indigenous faculty, staff, and students is an activity that must be ongoing.
Giving Tuesday is November 30
On November 30, UCR will rally for student needs on Giving Tuesday as explained in this message. For 2021, we are spotlighting the Beyond Brilliant fundraising initiative announced last month with a focus on student scholarships, experiential learning, and health and well-being. Please visit dayofgiving.ucr.edu to learn more or donate.
On November 26, the Mission Inn in downtown Riverside will turn on its holiday light display once again. The return of the Festival of Lights has turned my thoughts toward another place in Riverside that shines bright.
I frequently reference our University of California motto, fiat lux, or “let there be light,” which shows up as motif in our brand elements—but it’s so much more than that. There’s a light I see in you, the employees of UCR who work to advance the university. From your efforts, springs forward a light that shines on students and knowledge. I’ve often said that universities aren’t buildings, they’re people. And at UCR, “Let there be light” isn’t a phrase, it’s a description of all of you. Thank you for all you do to illuminate the meaning of fiat lux and create light at UCR. In this month focused on gratitude, I’m grateful for all you do.