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President Yudof highlights UC contributions in state tour

UC President Mark G. Yudof is reaching out to communities across the state to highlight how the university serves all of California — even places without a campus or medical center.

From Redding to Bakersfield and parts in between, Yudof is speaking to civic groups, business associations and community leaders about the difference UC makes — from providing vital health and agricultural services to generating roughly $46.3 billion in economic activity within the state, even as public funding drops to unprecedented levels.

“The university has such an immense impact throughout California. Everyone has a stake in UC, even if you’ve never set foot on a campus,” Yudof said. “It’s critical that we tell people why UC is the best investment we’ve made and why it’s the best investment we must continue to make.”

Yudof also dispels common misperceptions about the university, such as the myth that only the rich can afford to attend UC or that tuition is increasing because the cost of producing UC degrees has gone up.

The tour encompasses a broad cross-section of cities and organizations. Speaking engagements kicked off in Vacaville in late February, and continued to Oakland and Hayward this month. Additional stops will include Redding, Chico and Fresno, and Yudof will deliver a keynote address to the California State Parent Teachers Association Convention in Anaheim in May.

On March 13, Yudof spoke about the state of public higher education on the American Council on Education’s plenary panel discussion in Los Angeles. The panel also featured California State University Chancellor Charlie Reed, California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott and Association of Independent Colleges and Universities President Kristen Soares.

Yudof, continuing to underscore how UC and other universities build economic opportunity and social mobility, stressed that higher education should be a national priority. The United States, which once led the world in the proportion of 20- to 29-year-olds with a college education, is now not even among the top 10, he said.

“We’re going to succeed internationally with our smarts,” Yudof said. “That means we need to be well educated … more clever, more entrepreneurial, more creative and more ingenious. We need a long-term national strategy.” He added President Obama has assembled a “great team,” but that making progress toward coherent federal policies on higher education will be very difficult because of politics in an election year.

In California, the university is the state’s third largest employer, with more than 190,000 on its payroll, and its work supports 1 in 46 jobs in the state, according to UC’s latest economic impact report.

The university leverages state funding to bring in $8.5 billion in federal and private dollars every year. And every $1 the California taxpayer invests in UC and its students results in $9.80 in gross state product and $13.80 in overall economic output.

UC remains one of the most well-regarded and coveted public education systems in the world, educating some 235,000 students every year. Its five medical schools train about half of California’s medical residents and students, and its medical centers provide unparalleled healthcare to people at all economic levels.

Many of today’s products and scientific advancements are the result of UC research, from sustainable farming techniques that yield rich crops to the flu vaccine and ongoing stem cell research aimed at finding cures to some of the deadliest human diseases.

Speaking to more than 120 business owners, civic leaders and educators at the Hayward Chamber of Commerce March 8 luncheon, Yudof outlined some of the direct ways that UC touches that community.

“Just look around Hayward: UC Berkeley’s Center for Educational Partnerships works directly with CSU East Bay as partners in Hayward Unified,” Yudof said. “UC’s Cooperative Extension runs 4-H programs — yes, even here — and community and school gardens throughout Alameda County. UC-trained doctors and residents staff Kaiser and St. Rose (hospitals).”

“That’s why it’s up to all of us to recognize that this goes beyond higher education,” Yudof continued. “Everyone in this room has a stake in the game. And that’s why I need your help. The legislators 90 miles up the road must be told that this state, and this city, need this university.”

The March 8 talk was the first time a leader of a major education system came to speak to the Hayward Chamber of Commerce, said Kim Huggett, chamber president. Yudof took questions from the audience after his speech.

“Although technically without a bricks-and-mortar campus in our city limits, the University of California does play a role in our community, from the many alumni that are here today to the research originating from UC facilities that helps Hayward’s technology, manufacturing and other sectors,” Huggett said.

For video and the text of Yudof’s Vacaville remarks, visit the UC Newsroom.

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