Spring 2013 Director's Welcome Letter

Friday, June 21, 2013

To our CIWR Community:

As my years go by, time seems to compress. Now five years rushes by in a snap and when I think about our undergraduates I appreciate how quickly their years here at UCSC will pass and what a fleeting opportunity they have to prepare themselves for a happy, productive, meaningful life.  

I want our students to leave UCSC feeling empowered and actually being empowered. Their actual empowerment will come from their liberal education that gives them the perspectives and abilities to deal with tomorrow's challenges. 

Their feeling empowered comes from their experience taking on challenges that I and other faculty put before them.  An ideal challenge pushes both their intellectual limits and their personal belief that they can succeed. Triumph, even partial triumph, generates confidence that their next great challenge can also be met. 

Through research and teaching, universities prepare students and society for the future. They play an essential role in our society's intergenerational rebirth. Except for us working at universitities, they may seem like distant places that operate under obscure and ancient rules. But there is an absolutely essential social and financial context to the university that directly concerns you and involves you. It is the social/financial context.  When funding for this higher education comes not just from the student and his or her family, and not just from the government, but from private individuals through donations a crucial connection is made. It is our demonstrated and indelible vote of faith in our future: our affirmation of values such as independence, productivity, ingenuity, generosity, social cohesion, and stewardship. It is an action that proves we have kept our faith with the generosity of past generations. And it lays the mantle of future stewardship squarely on the shoulders of those who inherit our legacy of liberal education. 

CIWR and WaterLab are tangible expressions of these values. WaterLab is a pilot-scale water treatment plant built by students with the goal of helping guide society to achieve a sustainable water future.  WaterLab has been created with the help of private donations, university support, government equipment transfers, City of Watsonville support, and the efforts of UCSC faculty, staff, and students. WaterLab is about students and about the future - a bright future in which our lives are not encumbered by the fear of poisoned and insufficient water supply.  A future in which the natural world has rebounded from the great stresses of our era's industrial transformation.  Pure water is essential to this vision and the students who study and participate at WaterLab will have skills and insights that will enable them to be tomorrow's leaders of the water sector.  They will have the broad perspectives to engage and overcome the major water problems of the future and the skills to navigate the technical challenges of water supply and treatment. They will also be bound to a strong tradition of stewardship since their experience emerges from the gifts of those who came before.  

Thank you to every one of you who has supported WaterLab and brought us to the verge of water flowing through our treatment system. Because of the emphasis on students our building process has been slow, but our broader goals are already being realized. If you are reading these words, I hope and expect we will meet and share the journey toward a sustainable water future.

With very best wishes,

Brent M. Haddad, MBA, PhD