UC President Janet Napolitano delivered the following remarks at today's Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco:

As delivered

Thank you, Chair Lozano.

I am pleased to report that our plans for in-state enrollment growth proceed apace. Both freshmen and transfer applications are up, and the admissions process is well underway.

In the course of this enrollment push, I have been listening carefully to our Chancellors, our faculty, our staff, and our students, about the challenges that accompany this endeavor.

One challenge is to sustain the academic excellence that makes us the nation’s preeminent public research university. To this end, we are hiring faculty members, evaluating programs, and undertaking new initiatives to support our academic endeavors. You will hear more about these efforts from our Provost and others, both at this meeting and throughout the spring.

The second, recurring concern is the issue of affordable student housing. Indeed, student housing is the top issue the UCSA leadership has raised with me. Not only is housing related to enrollment growth, but many of our campuses are located in some of the most expensive real estate markets in California.

In response to this concern, today I am announcing the President’s Student Housing Initiative. Our Chief Financial Officer, Nathan Brostrom, in collaboration with his colleagues at UCOP and across the campuses, will lead this initiative. Our initial goal is to add at least 14,000 additional student beds by the 2020 academic year. These beds will encompass a mix of undergraduate and graduate housing, as well as apartments generally open to all students.

We will do everything possible to accelerate the timetable we have set. That includes speeding the completion of housing already under construction, as well as housing that is currently on the drawing boards. At the same time, the initiative will spur new housing construction and acquisition.

Through an internal development team based at the Office of the President, we will directly support the campuses as they develop additional housing, which will include streamlining the processes necessary to do so, again on an accelerated timeline. As currently contemplated, much of the funding will be external, and the CFO’s office will collaborate with the Office of the Chief Investment Officer to facilitate additional funding alternatives with interested third parties.

In the months to come, CFO Brostrom and team members from the CFO and CIO offices will visit all 10 campuses to better understand their specific housing needs. They will also assess any existing barriers to development, such as debt capacity or siting issues. A key priority is to ensure this housing is and remains affordable for UC students.

I think this is an exciting and timely initiative that meets a real need for our students and our campuses. We look forward to sharing its progress with you in the months to come. 

Later today, we will consider the appointment of three new University of California leaders. These include a new director for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and new CEOs for the UC San Diego and UC Irvine medical centers. Two weeks ago, the Board approved a new CEO for the UCLA medical center by interim item.

These appointments are important business for this Board to take up. Each of these leaders will play a profound role in elevating the University of California to new heights—whether through the trailblazing research of Berkeley Lab, or the renowned patient care and health sciences enterprises of our medical centers.

Strong leadership is a hallmark of the University of California. And I am pleased that within the last month, two additional leaders have joined in enhancing the research activities of the UC community.

In December, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé announced the creation of a new venture fund that will invest in innovation opportunities emerging from the University of California. Our CIO’s Office is an anchor investor, and with the approval of the Committee on Investments, has committed $250 million to this fund.

And just last week, the University of California launched a new $4 million Alzheimer’s disease initiative, based at UC San Diego. Doctor Howard Feldman, a distinguished neurologist and expert in geriatric cognitive disorders, will lead the UCSD Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study. Both this new Alzheimer’s initiative and the new Global Brain Health Institute here at UCSF, which was announced at the time of our last Board meeting, are just two recent examples of UC’s leadership in understanding and ultimately conquering these devastating diseases.  

UC received another exciting reminder of its leadership in science and innovation last month, when President Obama announced the recipients of the National Medal of Science, and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

These medals are our nation’s highest honors for achievement and leadership in advancing the fields of science and technology.

Paul Alivisatos, the current Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, was awarded the National Medal of Science.

Arthur Gossard, a Professor of Materials and Electrical Engineering at UC Santa Barbara, and Chenming Hu, a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley, were awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

President Obama called the work of all the award winners, quote, “a testament to American ingenuity.”

That description rings true not only for the commendable efforts of these three medal recipients, but also for the broader academic and research efforts that take place at the University of California as a whole. Ingenuity is what we do.

There’s UC’s ingenuity in finding solutions to climate change, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2025. That ingenuity may be found in the 10 scalable solutions report our researchers developed this past fall. And it’s found in the University’s decision to join Bill Gates and his Breakthrough Energy Coalition as the sole institutional investor, which, as the Chair mentioned, we did in Paris at the UN Climate Summit last fall.

There’s the ingenuity of our Global Food Initiative. The GFI has created fellowships for more than 100 UC students working on projects that range from community gardens to food waste. And it has sparked a national dialogue on food through robust social media channels, and a video series partnership with Mark Bittman called “California Matters.”

There’s the ingenuity embodied in our efforts to expand our scholarship and research around the globe. Just two weeks ago, several of us from UC traveled to Cuba to assess our existing research partnerships in that country, as well as the possibility for expanding those partnerships.

There’s the ingenuity inherent to our Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiative. This initiative is creating an unprecedented competitive environment at our University for solutions to society’s challenges.

That includes identifying and supporting faculty members who are finding new ways to solve these challenges, such as the 2016 winners of the President’s Research Catalyst Awards. Their research runs the gamut from conservation genomics to drought and carbon management.

And it includes the introduction of new competitions like primeUC, which took place right here at Mission Bay last month. This was an unbelievable event. 20 promising life-sciences start-ups, out of more than 260 entries from across the University, wowed a packed auditorium of supporters and potential investors.

The winner was a start-up called Spinal Singularity. Its founder is Derek Herrera, who is a retired Marine captain, and who recently graduated from UCLA’s Anderson School. Spinal Singularity will revolutionize the usage of catheters, and has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries. Derek was himself paralyzed from the chest down by a sniper when he was serving in Afghanistan.

Before I close, I would like to say a few words about the efforts of the President’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault.

Two weeks ago, UC implemented new system-wide procedures for investigating, adjudicating, and imposing sanctions in student cases of sexual violence and sexual harassment.

These new procedures assign specific authority, roles, and responsibilities to designated UC offices to ensure consistency across the University. They set projected timeframes designed to promptly and effectively respond to complaints. And they outline a fair, trauma-informed process in which both a student filing a complaint, and a student responding to a complaint, can be heard, offer witnesses and evidence, and appeal.

These procedures represent an important next step in our University’s development and implementation of a comprehensive approach to address sexual violence and sexual harassment on our campuses. They do so in a way that increases transparency and consistency across the University. And critically, they also help foster a culture of respect and safety among all members of the UC community.

I have great confidence in our team, and in the milestones they have put into place. And our work on this important issue continues.

Chair Lozano, this concludes my remarks.