Joyce Rooks, Interim Director of the UCSD Craft Center
Laura Pecenco, grad student who uses the center
Related Story: UCSD Craft Center Closure
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. People who thought they'd be teaching, working and learning the Kraft Center at UC San Diego campus this fall got an unwelcome surprise last month. After 40 years of operation, the University closed the Kraft Center for this school year and its fate is not certain. UCSD says it's striking budget is to blame. Joining us to explain what the culture means push against instructor students and the community are my guests, Joyce Rooks is interim director of the Kraft center. Joyce, welcome to the program.
JOYCE ROOKS: Thank you very much for having us.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Laura Pacheco is a student who uses the center to create jewelry. And Laura, welcome.
LAURA PACECO: Thank you so much, Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And we're opening the phones. Have you taken classes at the UC San Diego Kraft center? What does its closure means to the community? You can reach us at 1-888-895-5727. Joyce, did you see this closure, or was it a surprise?
JOYCE ROOKS: Well this was a surprise. Kind of a blind side. But we've always been under threat because of budget issues but I just didn't expect it right away.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Were you expecting to register students for this semester? How far along had you gone?
JOYCE ROOKS: We had already begun registering students, the pressures had been sent out an outline registration was in full swing. And we had programs set up for the fall quarter. So, we were ready for our holiday sale, which people look forward to every year, and faculty show.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And the axe just fell.
JOYCE ROOKS: It just fell.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What did University say about having to make the budget cut?
JOYCE ROOKS: Well a lot of it came down to our facilities report that happened in April and it was not very good for us. And there have been other things happening, our budget hasn't quite done as well as it should have, so
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yeah, so basically you were basically told the because the University has been suffering so many cuts, that the Kraft Center was one of the places that was just not going to be able to operate this year.
JOYCE ROOKS: Yes
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us what the center specializes in what is unique about it
JOYCE ROOKS: It started four years ago as a commuter lounge and it was just a couple shacks that were cobbled together by Ron Carlson who was the previous director and we offered ceramics, glass point, jewelry, young, one of the only young programs in the country, silkscreen printing, and numerous workshops that we have from time to time done. The students just love the place we had a lot of community members coming to take classes there and also a really wide variety of people that classes.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I do want to make the point did you make it very well, Joyce, the yes it is a loss to instructors and students but this is also part of the community. A lot of community members took part in taking courses. And learning how to make jewelry and make & send all of these really sort of difficult Krafts to master at this Kraft center. I want to let everyone know that the number if you'd like to join the conversation is 1-888955727. Laura, you are a grad student and you've been using the center for three years. To make jewelry, right?
LAURA PACECO: Yes, yeah I've been making jewelry for three years and selling it as a side job as well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What did you used to enjoy at the Kraft center?
LAURA PACECO: Yes I learned how to cast the (inaudible) that's my favorite type of jewelry mounting. I have also learned about forging and I learned to sotter, everything like that has come from the Kraft center.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How did you come to know about the closing?
LAURA PACECO: I received an e-mail from the Chancellor for student life on September 26 and was really shocked. Already registered for two jewelry classes and had already set up my piece for them and so my schedule around this particular classes. So when I got this e-mail immediately called Carol civets, who is one of my jewelry instructors you know, to ask her what was going on and she had no idea. She hadn't even receive the mom because she doesn't have a UCSD e-mail address. So here I was telling my instructor who's worked there for 22 years that she, you know her classes were going through this year and she would be having a job there. And I felt really careful about that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So this is really, when I said the axe came down I was pretty accurate.
JOYCE ROOKS: Yes and it's not just about me it's about 30+ people that have lost their jobs over this and you know these are not full-time positions, but a lot of the instructors that teach there, they spend a lot of time volunteering for no pay. So they come in and do work outside of class time, they fire killed, they do a lot of preparation and that is one of the ways we've survived all these years, by volunteering.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You know, Laura, and I understand that you are a sociology major. But the way you talk about making your jewelry and selling your jewelry. This seems to have been a really important aspect of your learning and your time at UC San Diego?
LAURA PACECO: Definitely. And I think that it really balances out everything that I do. I spend hours and hours every week doing my research and teaching courses and I love all of that. But I think it's very important to have a creative outlet as well in place for some stress relief and it's always worked out very well for me that that has been on the UCSD campus so I can go directly from being a teaching assistant at the class and then go over and hang out with my son friends at the jewelry studio and really just relax for the rest of the day.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Joyce what has been the response to the closure of the Kraft center?
JOYCE ROOKS: I guess the stages of grief, outrage, and also support, people are really wanting to come out and do something to make sure that we are reopened and we've had a letter writing campaign that's been very good. I think we've got the attention of the administration and now it's just getting down to brass tacks and trying to get something done. Trying to have a positive solution, here.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Laura, you started a petition?
LAURA PACECO: Yes I did. So we have a petition that is on causes.com and also signon.org. The causes petition is for Facebook users. It's very easy to go in and sign it and pass it on to your friends as well. And the sign on one also allows people to sign the petition even if they don't have a Facebook account. We currently have over 1700 signatures at this point. It's going strong. We are still collecting more signatures. So I encourage everyone to sign it and pass the information along and definitely if you know at UCSD undergraduates and graduate students certainly encourage them to sign as well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You anyone who's been listening to this program for any length of time, Joyce, has been hearing about the cuts UCSD, San Diego State, all of higher education, all of our academies, all of our institutions of higher education have had to take from the state. The record of time. You know, you look at the website of what it says… The closures just for the school year, but if you scroll down it says that the closure could be permanent, is that what you are afraid of?
JOYCE ROOKS: That's what we are afraid of and we are wanting to do everything we can to affect the outcome that it's not close permanently. I'm of the belief that it's a great University. It has amazing research and sciences and it deserves to have a Kraft center of the caliber that we had.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That you have since 1972.
JOYCE ROOKS: You may not be the most beautiful place to some people, it's hidden in the trees. It's a very special place and it's like a special treehouse that has expanded over the years to, you know, and people just love it as it is now, it may not be compliant, but it is a great place.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me go to the phones., The number is 1-888-895-5727. Fran is on the line and hi, Fran, thanks for calling.
NEW SPEAKER: Maureen, congratulations to you for running this story today. I just signed the online petition to save and restore the Kraft center. I've lived here for 42 years and was a longtime user of the pottery wheels of the Kraft center. My daughter has used the Kraft center for years and years and years and now lives up there at the University. She and her husband have both used it pretty want to say simply that the new Chancellor has really misjudged by picking on this little place for arts and Krafts. That is really an intersection for kids from the University, faculty and staff who have used it, as well as large numbers of people from the community in general. They have spent a six-figure salary for a new administrator of the UCSD, and unnecessary administrator. They have six-figure salaries for a lot of people in the frustration. The only cuts they've made are two things like student access to classes. They have raised faculty salaries,
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Fran I'm going to have to let you go.
NEW SPEAKER: They have added to fees.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I really have to do this I'm so sorry friendly got your point and thank you so much for calling and friends point was that University made a mistake in meeting making this kind of budget cut, the choices their another issue involved is that there might have to be some type of extensive repairs, or modernization, the Kraft center as well?
JOYCE ROOKS: Yes we are suffering from 35 years of deferred maintenance in the building is not ADA compliant. We do need a lot of work and so that's a big part and we believe that we can raise the funds to have the work done. It's just a matter of whether the University will allow us to do that and you know, keep the location, what put us in another location.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So there are some other issues at play here. So you are working on right now in talks with University?
JOYCE ROOKS: Yes I have a meeting with Chancellor will be presented to him some ideas about how we can make the Kraft center viable, or keep it viable. And just have it be a well-run business on campus.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, Laura, is there anywhere else you can go, or any kind of vector space that you are thinking of for this school year?
LAURA PACECO: So I think there's a place that is like the Kraft center. Potentially I could find another jewelry studio and I've looked at a few other places. But they are far more expensive than the Kraft center is copied on the big issue for me as a grad student. You know, from my perspective it's certainly not as easy for me to use another studio. But the other thing about the Kraft center is a really allows you access to multiple disciplines have also taken a class in metal sculpture which is not something that I could finally went to a jewelry studio. I always have hopes of taking a screen printing class, glassblowing, beyond, and thus not available to me if I go to a place of the specializes in one discipline.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering Joyce, is there something you're thinking of organizing for this school year somewhere else, for, there seem to be so many people who are interested in this and really look towards the Kraft Center as the place to go and be creative?
JOYCE ROOKS: We would like to be able to find some temporary location we can move some of our equipment so it's protected and have a place, maybe a scaled-down program from what we have had we'll we make repairs and have some work done.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You have to keep us up-to-date on that, I've been speaking with Joyce Rooks said Laura Paceco. Thank you so much for coming in and talking with us today.
JOYCE ROOKS: Thank you for having us.
LAURA PACECO: Thank you, Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Be sure to watch KPBS evening edition weeknights at 6:30 on KPBS television. Join us tomorrow at noon on KPBS FM for discussion on San Diego's top stories on Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh and thank you for listening.