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Web Feature

UC Berkeley Web Feature

UC leaders urge greater state support for graduate programs

– Citing the importance of graduate education and research for California's economy, University of California officials called on the state to increase funding for graduate programs at a legislative hearing held Tuesday (Oct. 18) in Sibley Auditorium.

Leading university administrators, professors and business leaders laid out their case to Assemblywoman Carol Liu (D-La Caņada-Flintridge), chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

M.R.C. Greenwood, UC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, explained why graduate education is essential to California. "In a knowledge-based economy, competitiveness depends on discovery, innovation and a highly educated workforce," Greenwood told the committee. "Graduate education and research have fueled California's innovation and economic development."

She cited a 2001 UC study that found that California's innovation and prosperity are at risk because of inadequate investment in graduate education. This underinvestment, she said, is also affecting student access because many students are not receiving enough financial support to pay for a graduate education.

Richard A. Newton, dean of UC Berkley's College of Engineering, echoed Greenwood's concerns both about student access at the graduate level and about the impact on the state's vitality if investment in UC's research mission falters. "With increasing student fees, the self-help levels that will be required of our students become astronomical and, for many, simply unmanageable," Newton said

Without increased investment from the state, Newton said, it will become more difficult for UC Berkeley to continue to attract high-quality students and leading faculty, especially in engineering, where Berkeley salaries are at an historic low compared to peer institutions. And without the best students and the best faculty, "We will not lead in the creation of new industries and new jobs for California," he said.

Liu acknowledged that many of her colleagues in the Legislature do not view graduate education as a priority. "Most people don't appreciate graduate students," she said. "If we want to help a vibrant economy in this state, we need to be a partner in stimulating and contributing to our schools."

Also testifying at yesterday's hearing was Corey Goodman, now an adjunct Berkeley professor of neurobiology and president and CEO of Renovis, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in South San Francisco. Goodman spoke about the interdependency between industry and the University of California.

"The state of California needs the biotechnology industry, both for its economy and for the health of its citizens," he said. "And the biotechnology community needs the state's higher education system to continue to thrive and teach and inspire and supply its creative fuel and workforce."

Goodman, who spent 18 years as a professor at UC Berkeley, co-founded Renovis in 2000 along with two colleagues from Berkeley and one from UCSF. A large percentage of the employees at Renovis are also UC alumni, he said.