UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale is Using Ivy League and White House Experience in the Task of Running the State’s Largest Public University
Albert Carnesale was inaugurated as chancellor of UCLA in May 1998, becoming the eighth chief executive in the university’s 82- year history.
With more than 35,000 students, 4,000 faculty members, 16,000 employees and an annual operating budget exceeding $2.3 billion, UCLA educates and employs more people than any other college or university in California.
Before assuming the helm of UCLA, Carnesale was at Harvard University for 23 years, serving in numerous capacities first as a professor, then as academic dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and then as provost of Harvard University.
Aside from his lifelong involvement with academia, Carnesale consults widely in both the public and private sectors on foreign and defense policy issues and has acted as a nuclear arms consultant for the administrations of every sitting president since Richard M. Nixon.
Carnesale is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
He also serves on the boards of Teradyne Corp. and Mellon Financial Services West Coast.
Question: UC President Richard Atkinson has caused quite a ruckus with his proposal to eliminate the SAT I exam as a requirement for admission to the UC system. How would that affect the UCLA admission process?
Answer: Rather than trying to assess “aptitude” for college-level work, which is the goal of the SAT I, President Atkinson would rely more heavily on standardized “achievement” tests, such as the SAT II, that assess mastery of specific subject areas. Just over half of the entering freshmen class is selected solely on the basis of academic factors, such as high school grade point averages, SAT I and SAT II exams. Applicants not selected on academic criteria alone receive an even more comprehensive review, which takes into account factors such as honors and awards received, leadership, extracurricular activities, special talents, overcoming life challenges and an essay. Under President Atkinson’s proposal, the SAT I would no longer be included among the many factors considered in that evaluation.
Q: Last year, UCLA raised nearly $330 million from private sources, mostly from the Los Angeles community. That’s 7 percent of the university’s budget. What is UCLA doing to increase that figure?
A: Campaign UCLA seeks to raise $1.6 billion in private funds in five years (ending June 30, 2002) for support of academic programs. More than $1.3 billion has been raised so far, but we still need additional support for core needs, such as building and upgrading state-of-the-art facilities for the humanities, arts and social sciences and supporting graduate education and undergraduate instruction. Constructing and equipping a 21st-century health sciences center and increasing our general endowment are also priorities.
Q: Your first year at UCLA was the first year of Proposition 209. What strategies, if any, have you implemented to retain an ethnically diverse student body?
A: Our short-term strategy is an aggressive recruitment, retention and information campaign with one simple message: Under-represented students are wanted, needed and welcomed at UCLA. Over the long term, we want to affect change in the K-12 schools themselves, by improving teaching, curriculum, materials, resources, counseling and student-support services. UCLA has created community-outreach centers in neighborhoods where K-12 students live. These Community Educational Resource Centers (CERCs) have been created in five low-income areas in L.A. Their goal is to improve student preparation and will enable UCLA faculty, students and staff to work in partnership with local businesses, schools and community organizations to provide outreach services at key neighborhood locations on a daily basis.
Q: The UCLA Medical Center accounts for about $1 billion a year in revenue. That’s nearly half of UCLA’s overall budget, yet the university’s hospitals face an operating deficit this year. Why is that?
A: Inadequate reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, combined with managed care constraints, are forcing the nation’s academic medical centers to cut back on essential functions, such as advanced medical research, training and patient care. Before managed care, our doctors and hospitals charged higher fees for the higher-quality clinical care they provided, and that revenue helped pay for crucial research, training, and treatment for those patients who are most ill. Under managed care, your HMO doesn’t pay a nickel more if you go to a university teaching hospital instead of a non-teaching community hospital.
Q: What is UCLA doing to control the rising costs of tuition and fees to ensure that it remains affordable for all Californians?
A: UCLA has not raised student fees for six consecutive years. In fact, fees for resident undergraduates actually decreased 10 percent over the past two years. The average total for resident undergraduates this year is about $4,000. That’s lower than the fees charged by comparable public universities and is far, far lower than fees charged by private universities.
Q: As a scholar, your research focuses on the impact of technological change on defense and arms control policies. How has technology changed the quality of education at UCLA?
A: UCLA is a pioneer in making IT an integral part of the undergraduate experience. UCLA was the first university to provide every undergraduate student with a personalized home page that is linked to a Web site for every course in which he or she is enrolled. From their home pages, UCLA students can send e-mail, find a library book, read the student newspaper, monitor their degree progress, consult an academic counselor, and keep up with the activities of their favorite clubs all without leaving their dorm rooms. The newest feature provides fast, private access to their test scores and grades, and enables instructors to submit those grades through a secure electronic system.
Q: In recent months the UCLA men’s basketball team a major source of revenue for the university has lost two student-players to the NBA draft and several other players are having a hard time meeting minimum academic eligibility requirements. How much confidence do you have in the men’s basketball program and its current leadership?
A: Let me begin by saying that all four seniors on the team are on track to graduate in June, all five juniors are on track to graduate as well and, in the spring quarter, five of the players made the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. The men’s basketball team also has the most improved grade point average of all men’s sports this past year. Coach Lavin is running a clean program that emphasizes academics as well as basketball. Changes in the NBA compensation structure in recent years have increased the incentives for outstanding basketball players to leave the university to join the NBA.
This national trend has affected a number of top schools, including UCLA.
Q: On a completely different topic, given your extensive experience advising presidents on defense issues, how would you advise President Bush regarding his policy toward Iraq?
A: I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to answer that question.