An old UCSB professor (nearing retirement), I agree wholeheartedly with the main goal supported by your editorial "New Mission for UC?" (Aug. 29): dramatic improvement of undergraduate education at the University of California.
However, there is a better plan for achieving this objective than the one you propose that Berkeley and UCLA continue as graduate-research universities while other UC campuses rededicate themselves to teaching first, research second.
(1) Award excellence wherever it now flourishes on UC campuses.
(2) Make all campuses put teaching first--or, even better, give teaching and research equal status.
(3) Study ways of making these two by-no-means mutually exclusive activities reinforce each other even better than they do now.
The Times asserts that UC consists of two "premier research universities . . . in terms of distinguished faculty members and rigorous graduate programs . . . part of the educational elite" plus other less distinguished universities.
It would be truer to say that the entire University of California is one elite university, indivisible, with a single president and multiple campuses. It boasts many centers of academic excellence, by no means all of which happens to be at Berkeley or UCLA. In fact, some departments and professors on the smaller campuses are better than those in the same fields on the larger campuses.
To demote these superior departments and professors to second-rate academic status simply because of their geographical location would not only be unfair to them. It would not serve the best interests of the people of California.