With last week’s commencement ceremonies behind us, UCLA’s 2023–24 academic year has come to a close. This offers a natural moment to look back on a year filled with both significant challenges and important achievements.

I recognize that the challenges are probably foremost in many of our minds. Nearly the entire academic year was set against the backdrop of war in Gaza, which — while troubling in its own right — also unfortunately sowed division and strife on the UCLA campus. Much of our community engaged with this complex topic peacefully, but we also saw political advocacy devolve into discrimination and harassment. Frustratingly, in some cases, disagreement even led to outright violence (which continues to be actively investigated).

The war’s impact on our campus reached a crescendo during our spring quarter, and this period now looms large in UCLA’s collective consciousness. I do not wish to downplay the anxiety Bruins continue to feel, or the significant healing that we will need to do. I do believe, though, that it is important to remember that our university community is not defined solely by our current, difficult chapter. In fact, looking back, this year was also marked by incredible achievement.

During the 2023–24 academic year, UCLA inaugurated a new performance space, the UCLA Nimoy Theater; incorporated into our health system a new hospital serving the San Fernando Valley; and established the game-changing UCLA Research Park — where, among other things, we will work to fight cancer and autoimmune, neurological and cardiovascular diseases.

We announced a transformational gift to the Institute of American Cultures to advance our ethnic studies centers, launched the first disabilities studies major in the UC system, and further developed our Dialogue across Difference initiative to help us work through conflict in humane and compassionate ways.

Reflecting our trademark excellence, Bruins took home honors that included the National Medal of Science, the National Book Award, two MacArthur ‘genius’ grants, and two NCAA championship trophies in women’s water polo and men’s volleyball.

And as we look to the future, we are grateful to be guided by a campuswide strategic plan, launched last fall, that promises to shepherd the university into a new era of innovation and inclusive excellence.

Though we face a turbulent period, these achievements — and many others like them — are still things we should take time to celebrate. They are emblematic of the kind of bold, forward-thinking initiatives that our community is known for, and that I have seen throughout my 17-year tenure as chancellor.

This summer, I am stepping down from that role, and UCLA will welcome a wonderful new leader, Julio Frenk. And so in closing, I want to simply offer my thanks to Bruins near and far for many remarkable years.

Thank you for your dedication, creativity, resolve and commitment to excellence.

Thank you for the compassion, respect and support you have shown one another.

Thank you for supporting our university’s important mission, and thank you for representing the very best of public higher education.

At UCLA, even in dark times there is still so, so much light.

Fiat Lux!

Read more from UCLA Magazine’s Summer 2024 issue.