The good hands people: Celebrating undergraduate achievements in research

Morgan Appel, director of UC San Diego Extension's Education Department

One of the more pleasurable aspects of serving in a postsecondary administrative role is the opportunity to interact with the next generation of academics and to gain insight into cutting-edge research across the disciplines. At UC San Diego these occasions are facilitated by Academic Enrichment Programs, who serve as the stalwarts for innovation among our youngest and most ardent scholars. As a moderator for a panel in economics and public policy for the spring Undergraduate Research Conference, I was duly impressed by the caliber and diversity of research and topics pursued—everything from the ‘Bitcoin Bubble’ to the social ecology of parklets in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and New York. Every presentation sophisticated and elegantly complex, but shared in a way that multiple constituencies could appreciate and act upon. One could feel a palpable synergy develop between undergraduate researchers and the event as a whole sent a clear message to us long-term denizens of the academy: STEP UP YOUR GAME. QUICKLY.

In our capacity as academics — and as academic administrators particularly — it is rather easy to drown in the mundanity of routine. Schedules, budgets, policies and procedures frequently dominate the limited time we have at campus such that we become harried and hurried, forgetting what drew us to the University in the first place. Understanding that education is less profession than it is calling, I would recommend that those of you needing an espresso shot of motivation spend a few hours with our professorial progeny. You will find them considered and exuberant, hungry for what you have to offer professionally. And do rest assured — the future of postsecondary education is in very good hands.

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