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UC Irvine May Gain a New Think Tank at Regents' Meeting

November 18, 1987|BILL BILLITER | Times Staff Writer

The UC Board of Regents this week is expected to approve a new think tank at UC Irvine, the second for that campus in three months.

UC President David Gardner will recommend to the regents, who will be meeting in Riverside on Thursday and Friday, that they choose UCI as the site of a Critical Theory Institute. In September, Gardner recommended UCI for a prestigious new Humanities Research Institute, and the regents unanimously agreed.

The latest proposal would involve faculty members from throughout the UC system. They would examine how the humanities are taught and "develop new theories to deal with the increasingly complex issues of the 'human sciences' in the contemporary world," according to Gardner's proposal.

For example, topics might include how scholars interpret such chapters of history as the Vietnam War, said David Carroll, a UCI French professor. Carroll is the head of a 5-year-old study group at UCI.

'Seminars, Workshops'

"Faculty from departments and programs such as English, French, philosophy, history, comparative literature and Spanish would meet in seminars and workshops to discuss and debate current scholarship . . . ," Gardner wrote in his proposal. "Distinguished scholars from across the United States and abroad would be invited to participate in research projects through seminars and colloquia."

UC regents almost always approve Gardner's recommendations.

The new think tank would be funded by the UC system, rather than by UCI, which now pays about $45,000 for the group that Carroll heads. That kind of price tag, compared to the $800,000 the Humanities Research Institute will cost, also enhances the newest project's chances for approval, UCI officials said.

The Humanities Research Institute will involve up to 25 scholars per year who will be invited to live and study at the UCI campus. The institute will sponsor conferences with various themes, such as art history, bioethics and legal studies. The two think tanks would be separate and neither would involve new buildings or hiring of more faculty.

Colleen Bentley-Adler, a spokeswoman for UCI, said Gardner's latest proposal will add to UCI's prestige. Former Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. and current Chancellor Jack W. Peltason "have worked to make this a great research university," she said. "This proposal is just another step on the ladder to greatness for this campus."

However, on a negative note for UCI, the regents will receive a report on university hospitals that shows UCI Medical Center in the red, following a two-year climb out of debt.

$1-Million Deficit in June

The figures for June, the latest month reported to the regents, show a deficit of more than $1 million.

The report shows the other UC medical centers, at UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Davis and UC San Francisco, all continuing to show profits in June.

Leon Schwartz, director of the UCI Medical Center, revealed in July that the medical center may go into debt by as much as $9 million in the 1987-88 fiscal year. Schwartz said the cost of treating poor patients, a disproportionate amount of whom come to UCI Medical Center, is causing the deficit.

The state budget contains an emergency "cushion" of $8 million for the anticipated deficit this fiscal year at UCI Medical Center. In both 1984 and 1985, the Legislature provided extra money to bail out the hospital.

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