In response to your Sept. 2 article about the Lick Observatory — “Facing a waning future: Researchers reel from defunding of only UC-owned observatory” — I would like to clarify some important points.
First and foremost, the University of California never planned to close Lick Observatory. The economic recession and significant decline in state funding for higher education have forced the university to scrutinize every program and every dollar spent and to make many difficult choices in recent years. Still, Lick remains a valuable facility to university astronomers, and we want to see it continue to thrive.
Our efforts to chart the future of optical and infrared astronomy at the University of California — and to find partners and innovative funding strategies — have been ongoing for several years. These efforts involve three important observatories, one of which is Lick. For all of them, we need to develop and implement long-range plans that ensure their success. This planning process, with the vigorous participation of university astronomers, is underway right now.
Although the process may be challenging and may seem worrisome, our goal is to work collaboratively with the university’s astronomy community to continue to invest in world-class observatories that engage in frontier science and technology development.
Provost and Executive Vice President
University of California