Editor’s Note: University of California President Janet Napolitano recently returned from a two-day trip to Mexico, where she met with government officials and academics to discuss the recently announced UC-Mexico Initiative, which aims to bolster cross-border academic and cultural ties. The initiative comes on the heels of an agreement between President Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña-Nieto to increase student exchanges between the two countries. Napolitano spoke with NAM education editor Peter Schurmann about the initiative and about the recent shootings at UC Santa Barbara.
What was your initial reaction to the shooting in Santa Barbara?
I was just horrified. In fact I had literally just gotten back from Mexico City, and like most people I was looking forward to a nice, calm three-day weekend. But then you have to go into, ‘What do we need to do?’ We need to make sure the campus has an emergency operation center up and running. The [UCSB] chancellor was in Boston visiting his grandchildren [so] we needed to get him back to the campus; working with the sheriff’s office to get the identities of the victims so that we could then reach out to the families; making sure those who are in the hospital are getting good care. All those things have to happen simultaneously.
At the same time, [we were] thinking about support services the campus might want to offer students, staff and faculty in terms of counseling. A couple of our campuses were already done with school, so they were able to make resources available immediately. The [UCSB] campus decided it wanted to have a memorial. They did that on Tuesday, and cancelled class. It was a remarkable event – 20,000 young people crammed into a football stadium totally silent. It was just very powerful.
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