UCLA: 2015-16 in Review

Campus Update

Chancellor Block thanks the Bruin family for a memorable year.

Graduation season is among the most inspiring and exhilarating times of the year to be at UCLA. Beginning in mid-May, when commencement ceremonies start, you can find soon-to-be graduates posing for photos in their caps and gowns beside the Bruin statue and any number of other campus landmarks.

This year, however, our joy and sense of accomplishment are tempered by our sadness and sense of loss following last week’s tragic shooting that claimed the life of Professor Bill Klug. You have all been affected, some more deeply than others. But I hope that each of you has found courage and resilience through the love and compassion of our Bruin community. Please visit this site to learn about a fund we have established to support Professor Klug’s family.

There is no better way to honor a man who dedicated his work to helping others reach their goals than to take a few moments to honor the achievements of some amazing members of the UCLA community.

So many of our new graduates have made their marks in ways that improved our campus while also embodying UCLA’s highest ideals through their service to our local and global communities. One of them is Kim Anyadike, who at age 15 made national headlines when she piloted a four-seat Cessna from Compton, California, to Newport News, Virginia, accompanied by a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. More recently, Kim became a member of UCLA’s Flying Samaritans, which brings medical care to Tijuana, Mexico, and a mentor for at-risk youth in South Los Angeles.

Another outstanding graduate is Grant Guess, who traveled to Togo for two summers to help a school there develop an agri-business so that it could help pay for services for young people with conditions ranging from Asperger’s syndrome and autism to cerebral palsy and brain damage.

I also want to acknowledge two faculty members whose recent achievements merit special mention. Owen Witte, the founding director of our Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, has been appointed a University Professor by the University of California Board of Regents. Professor Witte is one of just 40 faculty members from the entire UC system who have received this extraordinary honor since 1960. His exemplary work is aimed at understanding the development of disease on a cellular level as a way to define potential targets for new treatments, and it has already helped countless patients fighting disease.

The continued achievements of Professor Catherine Opie have also been a source of great pride. One of today’s preeminent artists working with photography, Professor Opie has had exhibitions this year both at the Hammer Museum and MOCA, and a new work of hers is scheduled for installation this summer at the new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse downtown. With a wide-ranging body of work, she has become known as a leading documentarian of American society, an exceptional artist and a true master of her craft.

Finally, I want to acknowledge our remarkable staff for all they do to keep every aspect of campus life functioning at the highest level, all year round. I especially want to recognize Mike Lee, computing resource manager in the UCLA College Division of Social Sciences. Besides serving this year as president of Staff Assembly, Mike has helped promote our Healthy Campus Initiative, is a strong advocate for diversity and has coordinated myriad activities that encourage staff to get out into the community, including many related to sustainability.

These individuals are just a few of the thousands who make our campus the incredible community it is, and who have made 2015–16 a memorable and productive year. This fall, I will send a broader update about some of the fantastic achievements and milestones of the past year. Until then, I congratulate our newest graduates and wish you all a relaxing and enjoyable summer.

  • Gene D. BlockChancellor