Good News for UC Irvine

What’s this? A bit of good news on the California education scene? I hardly know what to do with myself.

By pumping money into a few select departments and aggressively recruiting top researchers, UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine have hauled in more Nobels in recent years than UC Berkeley and UCLA, the system’s traditional centers of scholarship.

University leaders said the international prizes have become a badge of prestige for students and validation for professors toiling in relative academic obscurity.

“UC is not just Berkeley,” said Bill Parker, vice chancellor for research at the fast-growing Irvine campus, located in the middle of Orange County’s suburban sprawl. “The campuses formed 30, 40 years ago are now emerging as some of the best in the country.”

Since 1994, UC Irvine researchers have collected three Nobels, including one last week. Santa Barbara has picked up five in the past six years, including two in recent weeks.

Now all they have to do is slow the skyrocketing tuition costs and build a half dozen more campuses to keep up with the demand for quality higher education. I’m not sure UC Irvine can expand any faster than it has been. Every time I drive to the campus, there’s a new building going up. It’s been a perpetual construction zone for years.

I don’t expect my alma mater to collect any Nobel Prizes in the near future, but UCI is only a quarter of a mile away, so maybe some of the prestige will rub off. Ya think?

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