Yesterday, I had a scheduled phone conversation with one of UCLA's Vice Chancellors that have the reigns while Chancellor Block is in Asia. We spoke for almost an hour and covered a wide range of topics with special emphasis on the current state of the Athletic Department and the incompetent leadership. This post summarizes the discussion and my recommendations after the jump.
First a summary of what was discussed and my impressions:
1. It should not surprise anyone in the BN that this Vice Chancellor is very intelligent, sophisticated and well aware of the "cloud" hanging over UCLA at this time. UCLA educates the best people and attracts some of the best people. This VC is one of them.
2. I outlined concerns with regards to the athletic programs and the incompetence of DG - many of which have been discussed here on BN. I emphasized the importance of athletics to the UCLA brand and how I, and many of you, feel that DG is diminishing this brand with his incompetence and poor leadership.
3. The VC agreed that academics and athletics are intertwined and both are critical to the global UCLA brand. We discussed how UCLA athletics tends to be the main ambassador and critical window to the university and how ignoring the athletic programs or any attempt to make UCLA an "academic only" school would be destructive and counter-productive.
4. The VC wanted to know where I am from and how I came to choose UCLA over several ivy league schools, $UC, and some schools in the midwest. I explained that due to my birthplace and athletic background, I was exposed to UCLA via athletics and I chose UCLA because, at that time, it was one of the few premier universities that excelled at both academics and athletics. I wanted a complete experience. This tied back into how the UCLA brand is made up of academics and athletics promoting innovation, discipline, perseverance and excellence and when one of these areas is diminished - all areas can feel collateral damage.
5. I reiterated that I will continue to boycott all efforts to collect donations for UCLA funds, purchases of UCLA merchandise and sponsors/boosters that support the efforts of DG. This will not stop until there is a regime change at Morgan Center and a re-commitment by the Chancellor to all areas of UCLA including athletics. I also pointed out that such a decision by UCLA leadership would likely lead to an increase in donations for all programs and that the current efforts to withhold donations would be put towards helping UCLA fundraisers meet or exceed their goals.
6. The VC believes that there is a lack of communication between UCLA administration and alumni/students that leads to misinformation, rumors and subsequent divisive responses. Although I agreed with this, the incompetence of DG is not a communication issue....it is a results issue. I was told the administration collectively cringed when DG said his plan for finding a new coach and subsequent search would be private knowing that this would not sit well with students, alumni, boosters and the media. The VC and the Chancellor are concerned about the abusive and mean-spirited nature of many blogs/reports which they perceive as counter-productive and destructive. The VC is committed to improving communication between UCLA and alumni (see below).
7. The VC does read BN. They have read many of your posts and I was surprised at how well versed the VC was on BN content.
8. We agreed to have a follow-up meeting in January.
9. I was informed the VC briefed the Chancellor by phone last night on our conversation, the key messages and has a meeting scheduled with him upon his return to discuss in detail.
Based upon this meeting, the following are my suggestions for the BN including students, alumni and fans:
1. Continue to withhold donations and boycott purchases of UCLA merchandise. It is tangible and visible and is working.
2. Continue to contact the Chancellor's office by phone and email. Be polite and direct. State the facts without emotion. Most of you are Bruins and were educated at the best university on the globe - lets act like it.
3. When you withhold a donation to a specific program at UCLA (ex: Medicine, Economics, Law, etc.) include a letter copied to the Dean of the program, the Chair as well as the Chancellor and VC of External Affairs. This will force the programs to engage the Chancellor and show they are being hurt by the actions of one individual and there is an easy solution. Again be polite and direct. State the facts without emotion. Most of you are Bruins and were educated at the best university on the globe - lets act like it.
4. When we contact officials at UCLA - I would ask that we do not use nicknames or derogatory slang for Dan Guerrero. When we do this, and I have been as guilty as anyone else, it permits the administration to dismiss your valid arguments as pure vitriol. Do as you wish on the blogs (although it has the same effect) - but in communications with officials please avoid personal attacks. They simply don't work.
5. I support the efforts for an ad in the DB, NYT, LAT, etc.. The national and international exposure is a major concern for the UCLA administration. The ad must be factual and non-emotional as well as devoid of derogatory slang vs. DG. We are Bruins and we are better than that. We can succeed without stooping to the level of our opponents.
Finally, my better half sends me a quote from Coach everyday. I think the one she sent today is very fitting: INTENTNESS
Stay the course. When thwarted try again; harder; smarter. Persevere relentlessly.
I love UCLA - always will. Go Bruins!