Regional CEOs Advise Chancellor on Strategic Planning

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CEOs and corporate leaders from San Diego firms identified new ways to expand UC San Diego’s impact regionally and globally in a Feb. 25 early morning breakfast meeting with Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.

Many of the participants are themselves alumni, parents of alumni, or employers who have hired graduates and mentored students.  The executives underscored the need for closer ties on all fronts between innovation-based industries and university faculty and students. They offered to help prepare students to succeed in a workforce that values enterprise and teamwork.  And they asked the Chancellor to accelerate research and development partnerships that will yield collaborative breakthroughs.

The forum generated specific recommendations in two areas:

Do current UC San Diego degree programs meet the needs of today’s students and workforce?

  • Too often, local companies must look beyond San Diego to recruit qualified information technology engineers and pharmaceutical chemists.  More internships in high-demand areas could help UC San Diego graduates gain an edge in the job market.
  • Students must be better acquainted with real-world professional expectations.  They should be trained in networking skills and intellectual property issues, and they could benefit from “conditioning” about the importance of self-motivation, collegialty and working under pressure in the business environment.  Corporate leaders could work with the campus to design such programs for both undergraduates and doctoral candidates.
  • The university should broaden its current student mentoring “best practices”; examples include the Team Internship Program at the Jacobs School of Engineering.  Such programs should intensify efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented students.

How can UC San Diego better serve the San Diego and California community and economy?

  • Local life science firms often go outside San Diego to conduct Phase I and II clinical trials because this region lacks the needed infrastructure.  UC San Diego could close that gap.
  • The campus offers a wealth of seminars and symposia that would advance professional development throughout the regional industry.  Information about those programs should be more widely disseminated, and the campus should find ways to accommodate visitors who wish to attend (e.g., guides to accessible parking).
  • Faculty could benefit from professional internships at local firms that are generating advances in their fields.

Chancellor Khosla assured the group that their input will have significant influence on the planning initiative. “We’ll come back as this process moves along,” he said, “and we’ll have more conversations.”