Chancellor's Update -- June 2024

June 20, 2024
Kim A. Wilcox
June 20, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

Following another successful graduation season, I am filled with gratitude at all you do to help students achieve their educational dreams. Over the last three weeks, approximately 6,000 students received their baccalaureate or graduate degrees from UC Riverside. More than 40,000 guests celebrated in person at ceremonies while another 40,000 streamed events online. 

Last month, a few of our graduates participated in a video that showcases how they value their degree along with gratitude for people in their life that inspire them. It’s worth watching if you need a reminder of how deeply our work impacts students.

While some of us have been busy with end-of-academic-year activities, others have been managing the daily functioning and maintenance of a campus or preparing for summer sessions and fall quarter. But before we say goodbye to one year and rush into the next, I want to acknowledge just a sampling of the phenomenal university achievements we enjoyed in 2023-2024.


On July 1, 2023, UCR officially became a member of the AAU. This was a significant milestone that reflected our university’s strength in both research excellence and student success along with focused efforts by many to join this exclusive group of institutions. 

Having achieved this goal, we are working to further expand our research efforts. Last week, Provost Watkins and Vice Chancellor Torres announced plans for the RAISE Institute, a Campus Interdisciplinary Research Center that will be focused on research in artificial intelligence.

I fully expect the new center will catch media attention in the same way UCR discoveries found their way into news stories around the globe over the last 12 months. The potential for a universal vaccine, a first-ever great white baby shark photo, a canine parasite, the role aunts play for LGBTQ+ youth, and earthquake insights following shakes in New Jersey and Turkey are just some of the topics that found their way into news stories in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, the New York Times, and CNN, among others.

One “fruitful” discovery that continues to create excitement is the Luna UCR, a UCR-bred avocado more than 80 years in the making. With a nutty flavor, smooth texture, and a tree that requires less water and space, Time Magazine named it one of the best inventions of 2023.


When we celebrate graduating students and research accomplishments, we are also celebrating the amazing faculty members who make UCR their academic home. 

In early April we received news that the 2024 Guggenheim fellows include UCR’s Won Ju Lim, filmmaker and lecturer; Anna Betbeze, visual artist and associate professor; Jos Charles, poet and visiting instructor; and alumni recipient Lewis deSoto. UCR tied with Rutgers for the most Guggenheim recipients among all public universities.

Then, in late April, Professor of Philosophy John Fischer was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

On April 30, we held a daylong event, “The Frontiers of Physics: A Celebration Honoring Barry Barish.” Last fall, distinguished professor of physics and astronomy Barry Barish received the National Medal of Science from President Joe Biden for his pioneering work at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory where he confirmed a key part of Einstein's theory about gravitational waves. 

We recognize these outstanding achievements while also acknowledging all the incredible work our faculty members are accomplishing throughout the entire university.


For five years running, ever since the ranking was established, U.S. News & World Report College Rankings has named UC Riverside among the top two universities in the nation for social mobility. UCR again ranked No. 2 among all colleges and universities. 

UCR also climbed 13 spots overall, from No. 89 to No. 76, coming in at No. 36 among public universities. A subcategory I especially appreciate is the “most innovative” list. Based on nominations from university presidents, provosts, and admissions deans. This year, UCR moved up 16 spots to No. 25.  

The UC Riverside School of Business's MBA program jumped 13 spots this year compared to last year while the School of Public Policy moved up 26 places in two years.

Meanwhile, Washington Monthly ranked UC Riverside No. 7 among U.S. universities for its performance with Pell Grant recipients, highlighting UCR's commitment to supporting low-income students. 

With all of the above accolades, it’s no wonder that the Princeton Review named UCR one of the Best Value Colleges, highlighting UCR's excellent academic standards, affordability, and commitment to positive social impact and sustainability.


One of the ways UCR supports our region and state is through community engagement and economic development. In the last year, important higher education organizations acknowledged these efforts. First, the American Council on Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching certified UCR with the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. Next, the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU) designated UCR as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) university. 


UC Riverside achieved a record-high 57,240 first-year applications for fall 2024, marking a 9% increase from the previous year. This milestone highlights the university's growing appeal.


When it comes to accomplishments, one of the important metrics is graduation rate. This year, we showed year-over-year improvement, with 4-year transfer graduation reaching 85.9% and first-time frosh 6-year graduation reaching 76.5%.


To support research excellence and student success, we held ribbon cuttings for the Student Health and Counseling Center and School of Medicine Education II. Progress continued for the new School of Business building, set to open in a few months. 

In November, we also held a groundbreaking for the next phase of North District, a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Riverside Community College District that continues our work to support transfer student success. 


UCR Athletics scored another year of impressive achievements. The Women’s Basketball team made its first WNIT tournament appearance since 2016. Senior Jordan Webster crossed the 1,000-career point mark and was a first team All-Big West player.

In Track and Field, Norma Alvarez won the 3K steeplechase Big West Conference Title while Raykiyat Olukoju won the 200m Big West Conference Title. 

Additionally, UCR received national recognition from the NCAA for its academic progress rate, a measure of eligibility and retention. 


When I step back and re-read the list of accomplishments, I’m reminded of the 1980’s song, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” At its core, UCR is grounded in optimism. Even when grappling with modern problems, our work is oriented toward finding new solutions and educating the leaders of tomorrow. 

But beyond that, we took big steps forward over the last year. And on that foundation, we’ll achieve even more together in the coming year. Thank you for making our future so bright.