Dean’s Message: College of Letters and Science Magazine 2018

College of Letters and Science Dean Elizabeth Spiller

Experience outside the classroom opens doors for a lifetime

UC Davis is known and nationally recognized for its commitment to broadening access to students who have traditionally found higher education out of reach. More than 40 percent of entering freshmen are the first in their families to attend college. As the largest and most diverse college at UC Davis, the College of Letters and Science is at the heart of this effort. 

Money Magazine recently ranked UC Davis in the top 10 on their list of the “most transformative” colleges in the U.S., while The New York Times places us third among colleges, both public and private, that are “doing the most for the American dream.”

These and other recognitions are heartening and remind us that opening the doors to the university is just a first step. One of my goals as dean is to expand opportunities for students to make the most of their degrees. 

True education is always both an experience and a process, and some of the most profound and lasting student learning experiences happen beyond the classroom. Internships, travel abroad, research, and leadership skills are critical components of a liberal arts and sciences education that we value across the College of Letters and Science. The Purdue-Gallup Index, which has surveyed thousands of alumni across the nation, shows that these kinds of experiences correlate with long-term success and well-being that last a lifetime. We take these “extra” experiences seriously because we believe that they are essential. Half our students conduct independent research and creative projects beyond the classroom; our instructors lead more than two dozen Study Abroad programs in more than 30 countries. 

In this issue of the College of Letters and Science Magazine, we feature just a few of the thousands of students and alumni who have pursued internships, independent research, and study abroad in ways that not only benefit them in their journey toward meaningful and fulfilling careers, but also help to bring their strengths to the world as a whole. Philanthropy and alumni support help make all of this possible. 

The world beyond college is complex and ever-changing. Students who pursue their degrees with curiosity and apply their learning in real-world settings can be assured the doors of opportunity remain open well beyond their time at UC Davis.