The University of California Center in Sacramento is here to stay.
In a May 6 reception held at the center, UCCS staff as well as alumni, students and various state dignitaries gathered to commemorate the program’s achievement and proclaim it a permanent asset to the University of California.
The center was established five years ago as a pilot project with the goal of furthering the dialogue between the UC and capitol communities and to promote excellence in public policy through academic research and public service, according to the center’s website.
The center was primarily created for three reasons, said Gary Dymski, director of the center.
“The first [reason was] to bring the next generation of leadership of California into the state capitol and allow students interested in public policy and opportunity to experience the sphere of state government,” he said.
The second reason was to augment the public policy and academic options available to students and provide a first-class opportunity for experimental learning, he said.
“And third, we wanted to provide somewhat of an academic frontdoor for the UC system here in the state capitol,” he said. “There are many faculty and researchers who have been involved in various ways with state policy makers, but we had nothing here within the region of the state capital that was accessible.”
The UCCS has worked to accomplish its original goals by striving to deepen policy research and student engagement. The center has tried to provide the 420 students who have passed through its doors with a unique and engaged internship experience.
“A UC education is heavy in theory,” said A.G. Block, director of the center’s journalism program. “Any time you can go out and get your hands dirty in an arena that you have an interest in pursuing, it’s very valuable.”
Block stressed that a multitude of opportunities are available to students in a diverse array of fields.
“Whatever you’re interested in, there is an internship in Sacramento – home base for the people who make the state policy for your area of interest,” he said. “Being here allows for an immediate point of view working alongside the policymakers.”
By placing some of the UC system’s expert professors in the capitol, the program has helped state policymakers by providing convenient expertise.
A team of UC researchers was able to link up with policymakers and provide them with advice on how to best address the state’s wildfire problems, which have increased in intensity and damage, Dymski said.
While the capacity to help the capitol community will continue to grow, the academic program will remain fairly small, Dymski said.
“We’ll probably remain small and selective, but I do think that we’ll be more involved with professional schools as we go forward,” he said.
The center began holding law and policy seminars with faculty from Davis and Berkeley this year and will begin informing students on public health policy this summer – something Dymski said is a common interest throughout the UC system.
“We present a really exciting opportunity for students to be involved with some levels of responsibility that are unusual for internships,” said Dymski. “People with various skills and interests are put right into the flow of things they’re interested in.
MIKE DORSEY can be reached at email@example.com.