February 3, 2022

Chancellor Remarks at ‘Americans and the Holocaust’ Exhibit at the UCI Libraries

Good afternoon, everyone. I’m delighted to join you today to celebrate the opening of this important and timely exhibition.

The UCI Libraries are at the very heart of UCI’s work as a university. What we do here is very simple – we create knowledge, we curate knowledge, and we dispense knowledge. Our libraries are an unparalleled resource for our students, for our researchers, and for all of Southern California in accomplishing these tasks.  This traveling exhibition, “Americans and the Holocaust,” is an apt demonstration of the UCI Libraries’ importance to our community. And it is especially timely that we host it now, since just a few days ago the world marked the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the largest embodiment of the Holocaust, the concentration and extermination camps of Auschwitz.

The great American writer William Faulkner famously wrote, “The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.”  Looking to the past, as we do when we view this exhibition, can help us learn from others’ experiences and apply these lessons to today. Understanding and confronting extremism is a critical task for all of us given the threat it poses to our civic institutions, democratic values, and multi-cultural society. 

This exhibit is designed to challenge visitors to consider the responsibilities and obstacles faced by individual Americans as they made difficult choices, sought to effect change, and took personal risks to help victims of Nazism - even as rescue never became a government priority. A stated goal of the exhibit is to challenge people not only to ask, “What would I have done?”, but also to ask, “What will I do?”  These questions are important for us to consider in the face of growing extremism.

This exhibit, and related programming, is in alignment with broader campus initiatives, such as the Confronting Extremism initiative led by the Office of Inclusive Excellence. I urge you all to visit that office’s website, inclusion.ucu.edu, to learn more about UCI’s work in this regard.

We are honored to be one of only 50 libraries in the entire nation to host this important exhibition. And it is my great pleasure to introduce the person who played a key role in UCI’s being selected as a host library.  Representative Katie Porter is no stranger to UCI. Before she became a member of the United States Congress, where she has made her whiteboard famous, she was a Chancellor’s Professor of Law in our law school. We are proud to count ourselves among her constituents, and I’m delighted to invite her now to say a few words. 

Please welcome Representative Katie Porter.