Chancellor pledges support for researcher at staff forum

Chancellor Blumenthal addresses staff at the winter-quarter Staff Brown Bag Open Forum Feb. 27. (Photo by Gwen Mickelson)

Chancellor George Blumenthal likes to open his remarks at the quarterly Staff Brown Bag Open Forums on a positive note. But at Wednesday's winter-quarter meeting, he said, he didn't feel he could do that.

"I have to address the fact that there was a recent incident which I regard as extremely insidious that has taken place in Santa Cruz," said Blumenthal, referring to a Feb. 24 confrontation at the Westside home of a UCSC researcher.

Six intruders came to the front door of the home that afternoon and scuffled with the researcher's spouse before fleeing, according to reports.

The episode appears to be part of a series of recent incidents targeting UC faculty, students, and staff who conduct biomedical research, according to an earlier statement by the chancellor.

"I regard this event on Sunday as the most serious attack on academic freedom I've seen in the 42-year history of this campus, an effort to intimidate faculty members into not doing research of a certain type," Blumenthal told the audience of approximately 300 people at the Stevenson Event Center. "This is unacceptable. We will not tolerate it."

The campus will not succumb to intimidation of this sort, said Blumenthal.

"I salute the people who do research and encourage them to continue their research in the light of these threats," said Blumenthal to applause.