In the wake of the terrible incident at UC Merced yesterday, I'm thinking about our friends and colleagues at our sister campus. I hope you'll join me in keeping the victims in your thoughts. If you need support, please remember that resources are available to all students through Counseling and Psychological Services and to faculty and staff through the Employee Assistance Program.
I've just returned from an 11-day trip to China, where campus representatives and I met with U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus, as well as with academic leaders and students at Chinese colleges, universities, and high schools. Our primary goals were to build bridges to foster research partnerships and study-abroad opportunities for Chinese and UCSC students.
Students from China make up the largest percentage of international students at UCSC, and I want to build on that success—as well as increase the flow of students from Santa Cruz to China. UCSC has one of the highest percentages of UC students participating in the Education Abroad Program. That made quite an impression on Baucus, who studied overseas as a college student, an experience, he said, that changed his life.
Joining me was Joel Ferguson, professor of computer engineering, senior international officer, and associate vice provost of international education. Joel's responsibilities include supporting international students and initiatives, and his office will be working with Baucus's staffer Dorrit Lowsen, a UCSC alumna (BA, Environmental Studies, '99), to help streamline travel and visa arrangements for students and visiting scholars.
The value of in-person conversations was brought home after our meetings with Baucus and Lowsen, and many others. Email and phone calls, even teleconferencing, are fine to a point, but there's nothing like face-to-face meetings. They provide a forum to share ideas and concerns, brainstorm solutions to problems, and identify synergies and common interests that foster enduring alliances.
On the trip, we were able to get two commitments from the Chinese Scholarship Council and Ministry of Education. They agreed to support 40 additional students each year at UCSC to study and and conduct research. In addition, because of the Chinese partnership in the Thirty Meter Telescope Project, they agreed to form a 10+10 program between 10 Chinese universities and 10 in the U.S. (eight UC campuses, as well as Caltech and the University of Hawaii) to support 50 Chinese scholars per year working on astronomy issues at one of the U.S. campuses.
I'm grateful to Astronomy and Astrophysics Professor Doug Lin, who arranged many of our meetings, including with leaders of universities and high schools in Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai.
In many ways, Doug embodies today's international scholar: He was born in New York, grew up in Beijing, attended high school and college in Canada, and earned his PhD. at Cambridge University in England. After postdoctoral research positions at Cambridge and Harvard, he joined the UCSC faculty in 1979. He's equally at home on all shores of the Atlantic and Pacific, and, as the founding director of the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University in Beijing, he is a veteran facilitator of international exchange programs for students, faculty, and postdocs.
This trip follows similar journeys I've made recently to Korea and India. Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway will be traveling to India later this month to further those conversations.
We are committed to raising UCSC's visibility as a destination for international scholars and to increasing opportunities for our students, faculty, and researchers who want to collaborate overseas.
Closer to home, I'm delighted that the campus has reached one of our top diversity goals: We've just received our first federal grants to support Latino student retention and success. We became eligible for these funds when the enrollment of Hispanic undergraduates topped 25 percent in 2012, so it's gratifying to receive resources that will help these—and all—students.
The campus's diversity and globalization goals are linked. I'm proud that UC Santa Cruz attracts students with a broad range of backgrounds, all of whom will benefit as the campus claims a greater presence on the international stage. First-generation college students, who make up about 40 percent of this year's frosh class, deserve the same array of life-changing opportunities as their peers whose parents earned four-year college degrees. Those opportunities include exposure to international students, who make up about 5 percent of our undergraduate population. The advantages of that exposure will pay off as our graduates live and work in today's global society.
We are building bridges to success, locally and globally. As always, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.