LA Review of Books: The UC System Is Failing Its Graduate Students

What I didn’t completely understand when I accepted UC Irvine’s offer of admission almost six years ago was that I wasn’t just enrolling in a school; I was marrying a university system. And the UC system, I have learned, is one of the most dysfunctional families imaginable. The latest episode to stir up graduate student discontent is one that hits particularly close to home: the Pacific Rim Research Grant, which funded most of my first year here in Shanghai, has been largely suspended, with no explanation or indication of when/if the full program might be restored.

Read more about it in my latest LA Review of Books blog post:

Since 1986, the PacRim program has offered faculty and graduate students funding to hold conferences and undertake research projects in any discipline. Scanning the list of PacRim recipients since 2004, I spot many familiar names: former UC graduate students who received PacRim funds for dissertation research and have gone on to hold tenure-track jobs at schools including the University of Hawai’i, Penn State, Duke, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And that’s just in Chinese history, the field I know best; the program has supported hundreds of projects in a wide range of disciplines focusing on other countries around the Pacific Rim. PacRim grants have been especially important for UC’s many international graduate students, who are not US citizens and thus not eligible for the prestigious (and better funded) Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant.

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