An update on President Drake’s systemwide priorities

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To the UC community, 

Last year at this time, I shared with you my presidential priorities for the University of California. These priorities were informed by numerous conversations and partnerships with UC students, faculty, staff, alumni, Regents, and other stakeholders. They were also informed by our collective desire to align the University’s work more closely with the needs of California and to provide the world with solutions and innovations that benefit us all.

I’m immensely proud of the progress we have achieved together in these areas over the past year, and I want to share a few highlights of that work with you.

Expanding opportunity and excellence

  • The University is on track to add 20,000 more students by 2030 — equivalent to building a whole new campus, but without the cost or challenges of such a project. We’re also on track to award 200,000 additional college degrees by 2030, on top of the one million degrees initially projected. This last year alone, we added more than 84,000 new undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • We’re also continuing to advance our goal of creating debt-free pathways to a UC education. For fall 2022, the University awarded 6,000 debt-free financial aid packages by setting aside a larger portion of tuition revenue for financial aid than we have in previous years. This was possible thanks to our adoption of the Tuition Stability Plan. We’re aiming to grow the number of students who benefit this fall to 15,000.
  • We’re pushing forward on diversifying our student and faculty populations, improving timely graduation, and closing equity gaps. We achieved a 73% four-year graduation rate for freshmen, up from 66% in 2016. The two-year graduation rate improved for transfer students as well, from 57% in 2016 to 60% now.
  • Five of our nine undergraduate campuses have achieved Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) status, and the remaining four campuses are on track to achieve this milestone by 2030. 

Leading on climate change 

  • In 2022-23, the University awarded $15 million in climate innovation grants. We also just announced another $80 million in climate action grants that will fund 38 projects across the state involving dozens of partners. These grants were part of a $185 million commitment by the state for climate research collaborations – and we are immensely grateful for that support.
  • Our campuses continue to lead the way in sustainable operations. For example, UC Irvine is on track to open an all-electric hospital by 2025, and UC Berkeley recently received funding for the Clean Energy Campus project and is on track to shut down its natural gas-fueled co-generation plant in 2028.
  • In July, we announced that the University has adopted a new, stronger climate protection policy — one that prioritizes direct emission reductions, limits the use of carbon offsets, and encompasses transportation emissions in its reduction targets. This is an exciting development in our ongoing sustainability efforts.

Strengthening an inclusive, respectful, and safe community

  • All UC campuses and medical centers are moving forward with implementing the UC Community Safety Plan. One example of this work is UC Santa Cruz establishing a Campus Mobile Crisis Team with members trained in mental health interventions. The team can provide incident de-escalation, outreach, or referrals for additional services without law enforcement contact.
  • We have expanded our outreach and education partnership programs across California. These programs prepare students who are low-income, first-generation, or from underrepresented groups to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • We’ve awarded $2.7 million to 276 students through the Native American Opportunity Plan and Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Award in the 2022-23 year. This is a new financial aid offering that ensures that in-state systemwide Tuition and Student Services Fees are fully covered for California students who are also enrolled in federally recognized Native American, American Indian, and Alaska Native tribes.
  • The University has also launched new trainings to improve leadership competency on mitigating bias, gender awareness, and soon, anti-racism.

Promoting health across California, including in our most vulnerable communities

  • We are improving access to screening and chronic disease management in vulnerable populations for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and Long COVID. For example, the UC Lung Cancer Consortium has developed a five-year strategic plan to address the low rate of lung cancer screening in California.
  • We are working to expand access to UC health care resources for our own students, faculty, and staff. One step we have taken is transitioning the Self-Funded Health Plan team from UC Health to Systemwide HR, which will better align our systemwide benefits structure.
  • We continue to improve our approach to managing health care affiliation relationships. Our staff submitted the first annual report to the UC Board of Regents in September 2022, which outlines the implementation of consistent processes and practices across all UC Health locations.

Looking ahead

I’m excited about everything we have achieved together this year, but the work isn’t done. In every one of these areas, we must continue to push forward on our goals — whether it’s decarbonizing the University, improving student-faculty ratios, doubling down on transfer student support and success, expanding access to quality health care for vulnerable communities across the state, or improving operational processes. While these are long-term goals, I have asked UCOP leaders to monitor and to establish milestones for the next year and to report to me on their work. I look forward to sharing our continued progress with you.

Every UC community member has contributed to these accomplishments — and every one of you is critical to our future success. Thank you for all that you do every day on behalf of the University of California. I wish us all a productive and successful academic year.

Michael V. Drake, M.D.
President
University of California

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