Dear Chancellor Block-
I graduated from UCLA in 1971, magna cum laude, with a degree in political science. I cherish my time at UCLA, and have been a consistent contributor as a Chancellor's Associate.
I would like to suggest a hypothetical, which leads to an issue of concern. Let's imagine that the sociology department, or the civil engineering department, or any other academic department of your choice, is competing against every other top university to attract and retain the best students in the country. Let us suppose further that the identity of these students is widely known, and that the universities which are successful in attracting these students is also widely known.
Please also imagine that UCLA has been able to attract 16 of these students over a 4 year period, from 2008 through 2011. For the sake of argument, this is roughly the same number of students which are attracted by other top universities competing against UCLA over this same period.
The goal of UCLA is presumably not simply to attract and admit the top students in any given field. The goal is presumably for students who attend UCLA to become engaged, to mature and prosper in the UCLA environment, to hopefully graduate, but short of that to stay at UCLA for a long enough period to become an ambassador and role model to others. Admission is not the goal. Retention and success are the goals.
Now what would your reaction be if 8 out of the 16 top students admitted in the 4 year period to the sociology department or the civil engineering department transferred to another university, rather than continue their education at UCLA? And further compounding the issue, what if 2 of those top 16 students were dismissed from the program, due to an inability to integrate them successfully with their compatriots?
If more than half of the top students in a single department had departed early, either on their accord or through dismissal, you should wonder what is going on. At a minimum, the head of the department should be relieved of his or her responsibilities, and asked to continue his or her career elsewhere. The wisdom of retaining their superior, who would tolerate this track record of instability, would also be in doubt. I would submit in fact that this superior should also be relieved of his or her responsibilities, to ensure that more adequate oversight was available in the future.
That is exactly the situation we face with the men's varsity basketball team, under the direction of Ben Howland and his supervisor, Dan Guerrero.
You have no doubt received plenty of correspondence which suggests that a change needs to be made, due to win/loss record, lack of titles, etc. That is not the focus of this message. Rather, the focus is on the clear lack of stability and direction in the program. I happen to think that the recent lack of success at the national level is related to the lack of stability and direction. But the win/loss record is a symptom. A more clear symptom is the players who are leaving in waves, rather than continue their association with our basketball program. The disease, which needs to be cured, is the mismanagement and misdirection of the program under Ben Howland and Dan Guerrero.
For the record, here are the names of the student-athletes who transferred in the last 4 years, and their transfer institution-
Drew Gordon (New Mexico)
J'mison Morgan (Baylor)
Brendan Lane (Pepperdine)
Mike Moser (UNLV)
Josh Smith (Georgetown)
Tyler Lamb (Cal State Long Beach)
Matt Carlino (BYU)
De'End Parker (University of San Francisco)
Please, for the sake of our institution and for the sake of potential future student-athletes considering UCLA, cure this disease. Remove Dan Guerrero and Ben Howland from their positions, and begin the process of finding replacements, as quickly as prudently possible.
Thank you for your consideration of and attention to this matter,