UC Santa Cruz prepares to open for 45th new class

The University of California, Santa Cruz will welcome its 45th class of new students this week, ushering in the 2009-10 academic year.

'Move-in' activities begin on Thursday, September 17
An estimated 4,150 new undergraduate students are expected, most of whom will move into university housing during the four-day fall-quarter "move-in" that begins on Thursday, September 17.

UCSC is also expecting nearly 400 new graduate students on campus when classes begin on Thursday, September 24.

The following facts and figures describe this year's new students and the campus that is preparing for their arrival and a new academic year:

2009-10 Enrollment:

Fall-quarter enrollment on campus is estimated to be 16,770 - slightly more than the 16,613 who attended in the first quarter a year ago. UCSC's three-quarter-average enrollment for the year, always lower than the fall-quarter enrollment, is projected to be 16,350.

In a year in which state support for higher education steeply declined and budgeted spaces on most of the UC system's campuses decreased, an estimated 3,250 freshman are projected to be UCSC students in the coming quarter. Expected among UCSC's 4,150 new undergraduate students are approximately 900 transfer students, most of whom are coming from California's community colleges.

Approximately 380 new graduate students are also expected, 70 more than enrolled this time a year ago. The new students are expected to bring the total number of UCSC graduate students to 1,570 - about 80 more than last fall.

Academic Preparation and Ethnic Diversity Increase:

While fewer in numbers than last fall's unexpectedly large freshman class (3,962), this fall's freshman are more academically prepared and ethnically diverse. The grade-point-average of the entering class is projected to be 3.61; last fall's entering freshmen entered with an average 3.54 GPA.

Nearly one-quarter of the class (24.7 percent) is comprised of students from ethnic backgrounds that have been underrepresented within the UC system. The 24.7 percent is a jump from last fall's 22.1 percent. This fall's freshman class is also expected to comprise 22.9 percent students who are Asian American. Nearly 44 percent (43.9) of the students identified as White/Caucasian, and 8.6 percent declined to report an ethnicity.

"We're also very excited that more than one-third of our freshman class [36.9 percent] will be the first in their families to earn a four-year degree," says Michelle Whittingham, UCSC's associate vice chancellor of enrollment management and director of admissions. The 36.9 percent compares with 33.8 percent a year ago. "All of our students and families are to be congratulated for their dedication and commitment to education."

UCSC People in the News:

The new academic year begins at UCSC on the heels of two new campus accolades:

. The campus is one of 25 profiled in the cover story of Newsweek magazine's fall 2009 special issue on U.S. colleges. The article describes UCSC as the place to go for "Overachievers Who Need to Stop and Look Around."

. UC Santa Cruz has placed seventh in the Sierra Club magazine's third annual "honor roll" of the top 10 greenest colleges in the nation.

"The quality of UCSC students and the magnificent beauty of our campus have long been recognized," Whittingham said. "But these two new honors really speak to the commitment of our students and their desire to make a difference in our world."

Construction Nearing Completion:

. Digital Arts Building: Work is ongoing, and the building is opening this fall. Located near the Elena Baskin Visual Arts Center, the $25 million arts building is slated to house the expanding digital arts program as well as to provide 10 studios for art faculty, a photography studio, and expanded space for music and theater arts classes.

. Porter Residence Hall: Just in time for the fall quarter, the campus is reopening the newly renovated and expanded Porter College Residence Hall B. Through creative engineering, the campus added a sixth floor to the building, providing an additional 120 "bedspaces" on campus. This increases the total capacity of Porter Residence Hall B to 468 residents.

Construction Just Beginning:

. Biomedical Research Building: Site preparation work began last December on this project, located in the Science Hill area of the campus. The four-story building will contain approximately 92,000 square feet of space to support interdisciplinary research for the Departments of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Environmental Toxicology, and Biomolecular Engineering concentrating in health and medical issues. To support construction of the building, UCSC will receive $64.4 million of a new $199.9 million UC systemwide bond agreement. Another $1 million of the UC total will help the campus complete work on the Digital Arts Building (above).

Class Size Helps Mitigate Budget Challenges:

Bill Ladusaw, UCSC's vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, says reduced state support has made curriculum planning especially challenging this fall.

"When I met with incoming students, their parents, and other family members during our new-student orientations this summer, I acknowledged that some of the classes that students need for degrees would have to accommodate more people and that we would reduce the number of our elective classes," Ladusaw says.

But Ladusaw says the curriculum challenges have been at least partially offset by the fact that the size of the freshman class is smaller than in recent years. "We have ensured that the college core courses will be able to accommodate all of the entering frosh, and our tracking indicates that entering students were able to successfully enroll in a full schedule of classes this fall."