Alumna responds to fiscal crisis facing the university

Patricia Brown (left) and her dorm mate Debbie Hillyard on the bridge at Merrill College in fall 1973

UCSC alumna Patricia Brown (College Eight '75) sent the following response to a July 9 open letter to alumni and friends from three members of the Board of Regents and UC President Mark Yudof asking for help in spreading the word that UC excellence must be preserved and nurtured.

Re: An open letter to UC alumni and friends

I graduated from College Eight in politics at UCSC in 1975. I took my 13-year-old to UC Merced for the first time to hear Michelle Obama (and [former UC Board of Regents chairman] Mr. Blum). Last Saturday night, I took her to the UCSC campus to show her where I had spent some of my happiest academic pursuits and in hopes that she will be able to go to a UC--UCSC--like her mother. We drove through a nearly deserted campus at twilight when it was the most magical and the deer were grazing. The ghosts of Professors John Schaar and Norman O. Brown were lingering there for me.

When I told someone that costs in 1975 were about $735 a quarter, I left college without any debt, I had a full California scholarship, and UCSC had no grades, their remark was, "that life is dead." I am scared. Scared that in five years my daughter won't be able to make the grade to get into UCSC because another 25,000 UC slots have been eliminated. Scared that the costs will be prohibitive. This was not my vision when I spoke at my college commencement or went as a senior to Sacramento with Sen. Alan Cranston's son to meet Willie Brown and others to lobby for UC funding in the 1970s.

I never became rich with my college degree, but I became effective. I clerked for a federal judge, just became president of the local county Women's Democratic Club, have been a Girl Scout leader for seven years, and have practiced family and special education law for 15 years. I raised my daughter to reach for the stars--or, even better, a UC. I still read about three books a week from political history to mysteries to mindless fluff. I still fall in love with Beethoven every time I hear his music because of a class at UCSC called Beethoven's Imagination. I remember the radicals Tim Leary, Angela Davis, and Daniel Ellsberg who spoke at UCSC and wonder how I turned out so whitebread. The UC system is the crown jewel of universities and must be there not just for the Nobel Prize winners, but for kids like my regular, creative 8th-grader who hasn't a clue how her gestalt could possibly change at UCSC. There is more, much more to life than money. Intellectual prowess and curiosity and a mighty damn good education.

Patricia J. Brown, Esq.

Fresno, CA