Gene Block to step down as UCLA’s chancellor next summer

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In 2006, soon after receiving the news that he would become UCLA’s next chancellor, Gene Block and his wife, Carol, finished their meal with a fortune cookie. The message? “In order to cross a great river, you have to take a great leap.”

Having leapt across countless rivers since, Block will step down from his role as UCLA’s top executive on July 31, 2024, after 17 years of transformative leadership.

In an era when most university leaders’ tenures last less than six years, Block has become an elder statesman in higher education and a guiding force not only for UCLA but for California and the nation. The choice to call it a day, he admitted, was bittersweet.

“This decision was by no means an easy one,” he wrote today in a message to the Bruin community. “But I have the greatest confidence in UCLA’s future, and I feel that the time is right — for me, for my family and for our campus.”

University of California President Michael Drake praised Block’s service and contributions to the campus.

“For nearly two decades, Chancellor Block has helped UCLA grow into a powerhouse of excellence, opportunity and access. He has been a dear friend and a dedicated partner in tackling many of the university’s challenges,” Drake said. “Chancellor Block’s efforts to forge new community partnerships, enhance the student experience and grow the research enterprise will benefit UCLA and the state of California for years to come.”

When he arrived on campus in August 2007 after nearly three decades at the University of Virginia, Block insisted that his goal for UCLA was “to make a great place even better.”

He has delivered on that promise, and then some. Under his stewardship, research funding has doubled, and the campus’s annual budget has increased from $4 billion to nearly $11 billion. Enrollment has grown by 9,000 students, and the campus has added more than a dozen new housing facilities.

The campus has risen from No. 4 to No. 1 among public universities in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, and UCLA Health is consistently rated among the nation’s top five hospitals. In athletics, Bruin teams captured 21 NCAA championships during Block’s tenure, boosting UCLA’s total to 121 — second-most among all colleges.

The Centennial Campaign for UCLA, at the time of its launch the largest fundraising effort ever undertaken by a public university, raised nearly $5.5 billion between 2014 and 2019, helping to bolster student scholarships, faculty support, research, capital projects and the campus’s endowment.

UCLA acquired new properties in the South Bay and downtown Los Angeles to better serve students and strengthen ties to the region’s diverse communities, opened nearly 25 newly constructed buildings on campus and in Westwood, and grew from the seventh-largest to the fourth-largest employer in Los Angeles County.

Read more on UCLA Newsroom here.