I attended a meeting for counselors who work with Jewish students at UC Irvine. It was important that UC Irvine hosted this event, as they have had problems with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric among student groups. UC Irvine took this meeting so seriously that the Chancellor spoke with us – a group of about a dozen and a half counselors – for over an hour.
Chancellor Michael Drake, M.D. has been at UC Irvine since 2005. An ophthalmologist by training, he spoke about a range of issues, noting that Irvine’s School of Social Ecology gives students a strong foundation in public health. He also talked about an interesting philosophy of collaboration at Irvine’s very young law school: students are required to do a project with students from two other schools within the University, such as the business school or the school of engineering, working through a problem that students from the three colleges can address. Alternatively, law students must volunteer and interact with people in the community who need legal assistance. This requirement emphasizes experiential learning. Chancellor Drake also co-teaches an undergraduate class on civil rights with Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a nationally noted expert on the subject.
Chancellor Drake did address the issues of anti-Semitism on the campus and said that he has spent hundreds of hours working on the issue of tension between Jewish and Palestinian-supporter students. When asked about the comfort level in general of minorities on campus, Drake, who is African-American, noted that “students seem to flow interracially” better than previous generations. He said students on the Irvine campus are treated with respect and admiration, and that there is zero tolerance for any speech that is hateful or bigoted. African-American enrollment at Irvine has doubled in the past three years, and African-American students are reporting positive experiences at Irvine. Latino students make up about 25% of the freshman class. Drake also discussed UCI’s partnerships with Ben Gurion University and Hebrew University on technology issues and educational programs.
UC Irvine attracts a highly competitive applicant pool and is well-known for strength in the sciences, including chemistry, psychology and biological sciences. Here is a snapshot of statistics from the accepted students from the Class of 2012. Keep in mind that these numbers apply to all accepted students, not just the ones who eventually chose to enroll at UC Irvine.