UCI contacted me this week – a call to ask alums to help with the university’s fundraising efforts. What was I up to? And wouldn’t it be great if I could help the humanities department that helped me into my post-UCI career?
In the end, I offered up a donation. But make no mistake. Most of what helped me in my career was taught not by my university curriculum but instead from others in the newsroom of the New University, a UCI institution that seems to have as little support from the university now as it did when I was there.
I was on campus about a year ago. NPR wanted to interview me about some issues relating to Google and search. That’s what I do now; cover the search engine space through my site, SearchEngineLand.com. I’ve had a successful career as a journalist in the space, documenting the rise of search and Google for about 15 years now.
I used the studio at KUCI, stuck out in a parking lot, in a “temporary” building. Afterward, I went by to see how the New University might have changed over the years.
Not much. The New U remains stuck in the slums of Gateway Commons, still accessible by the same decrepit elevator I used back when I was there from 1983 through 1988. The offices have grown to take over the limited space that KUCI used to occupy. That’s about it.
After that, I went over to the new student complex. New, at least to me. It was voted on when I was editor of the New University, with the promise of room for all types of student organizations. Since that time, I gather it’s been expanded once or twice.
ASUCI does pretty well there. Lots of conference rooms, as well. But the student paper? Still stuck in the slums.
My choice of UCI was flawed, in retrospect. Going through the course catalog, it promised the opportunity of a career in journalism. Arriving on campus, as an English major, I discovered there were all of two classes devoted to that topic.
Despite this, I succeeded. So did many others that the New U. self-educated over time. From my generation, the New University gave birth to a current White House reporter for the Washington Post, a social media editor at the Los Angeles Times, a senior editor overseeing Wired at Conde Nast. Those are just a few success stories, off the top of my head. The New U. helped us all get there, despite UCI’s lack of support for it.
Make no mistake. I gained a great overall education from UCI and learned huge amounts from my many professors. But the experience sure would have been better if I felt like the university had cared more for the paper that was so vital to me and others.
Really want my money, UCI? For a start, get the New University into some nicer digs. Make me feel like it’s not some forgotten part of the university. That would speak volumes to this alum.
New University Editor In Chief, 1985