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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

UC Davis takes reins of UC Center Sacramento

It was a mere nine months ago that the UC Center Sacramento was on life support when a conversation between UC President Mark Yudof and UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi took place about its future.

As they descended in the elevator to meet with representatives from the center, Yudof expressed regret at the suspension of the program and asked if Katehi would consider taking UCCS under the management of UC Davis, Katehi said.

“And I said of course we will, and we will do it for the students,” she said.

The rescue operation was officially completed on Thursday, as officials from UC Davis held a press conference to announce that the university will assume control of the UCCS.

Robert Huckfeldt, UC Davis professor of political science and recently appointed director of UCCS, said the rebirth of the center was a collaborative process fueled by efforts from the UC Office of the President and UC Davis administrators and faculty.

“With the help of UC Davis and Chancellor Katehi, we’ve found a way to preserve and enrich the program here so that we can continue to serve the state government as well as future generations of students from all UC campuses,” said UC Provost Lawrence Pitts.

Founded in 2003, the UCCS is home to two undergraduate academic programs: a public policy program that operates all four academic quarters of the year, and a public affairs journalism program run in coordination with UC Berkeley that takes place in the summer. UCCS hosts approximately 120 to 130 students per year, according to A.G. Block, public affairs journalism director.

While experiencing its own financial trouble, the Office of the President made the regrettable decision to temporarily suspend operations at UCCS last year, Pitts said.

“You can imagine with such an excellent program we got lots of comments from students saying what are you doing, it was great, you shouldn’t be doing this,” Pitts said. “Our intent was not to discontinue the program, but to think of how to move forward with it in the future.”

Students enrolled in both programs are placed in an internship in Sacramento while simultaneously attending classes at the center that provide them with training for their work and relate to current state issues. Huckfeldt said that UC Davis will now provide support for the internship program through its Internship and Career Center.

“All the skills that I was learning in the classroom, I was able to apply at the internship,” said Ignacio Torres, a senior Spanish and communication major who attended UCCS last summer. “Because of this program I have the opportunity to attend graduate school and hopefully continue in journalism.”

UCCS students will now be enrolled at UC Davis during their time at the center, which will give them full access to benefits like health care and the ARC. This will also allow them to work with UC Davis faculty, even those not explicitly connected with UCCS, Pitts said.

In addition to continuing the existing public policy and public affairs journalism tracks, the center is moving toward the creation of a public policy research center that would connect networks of scholars within the UC system, Huckfeldt said.

“To bring together the resources of the UC system and have a think tank and source of information that legislators can rely on is a great goal,” said Assemblymember Tom Torlakson (D-Martinez). “The mission of bringing bright young minds together to have a learning experience and research and community service is a great win-win model.”

MIKE DORSEY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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