Chancellor's Spring Quarter Update

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor Blumenthal

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

As we approach the final days of Spring Quarter, I'd like to share some thoughts about the future.

For most of the last 20 years, growth buffered our campus from having to make hard choices, because new money flowed toward our new initiatives. That era, it's safe to say, is over.

Looking ahead, I believe one of our greatest strengths is our academic nimbleness. We are quick to reach across areas to build creative alliances. Bioinformatics and computer gaming could have emerged elsewhere, but they didn't. They happened here. The same spirit is evident in our digital arts programs and the new Rethinking Capitalism initiative. Interdisciplinarity has become a buzzword in higher education, but here at UC Santa Cruz, it is part of our institutional DNA.

Whether you call it an entrepreneurial spirit, a problem solving mindset, or "thinking outside the box," we are very good at this. It is an important aspect of what sets us apart, and I believe it will carry us through to better times.

Despite diminished budgets, my goals remain the same: I want our educational programs and our research initiatives to rival those of the nation's elite colleges and universities. I want innovation and creative interdisciplinarity to remain our hallmarks. To that end, we will invest strategically in programs with solid plans to become world-ranked.

Our track record gives credibility to those ambitions. This spring, our faculty have earned some of the highest honors in academia, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and selection as Guggenheim Fellows . And in the news this week, Professor Jerry Nelson of astronomy and astrophysics will share the $1 million Kavli Prize in Astrophysics for innovations in the field of telescope design.

The last several budget cycles have been difficult for our state. Our campus, the University of California, and all of public education have suffered deep cuts. At UCSC, we have had to make permanent cuts of more than $32 million to campus units since July 2008. In addition, we have endured $28 million in one-time cuts, a significant portion of which came in the form of this year's faculty and staff salary cuts.

So far this spring, the news from the governor's office has been positive for UC: Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed restoring $305 million that was cut from the university's budget last year, and he offered to contribute $51 million in new funds to the cost of unfunded student enrollments.

But the overall state budget picture remains bleak: The governor has proposed deep cuts to health and social services. I continue to believe that if lawmakers are forced to choose between funding higher education and social service programs, our state is in a no-win situation.

In my ongoing meetings with our region's elected state representatives, I've urged them to forge long-term, sustainable solutions. We deserve no less. I urge you to make your opinions known, as well, and to register online as a friend of the university at UC for California.

As chancellor, I regard securing public and private funding for our campus as one of my primary responsibilities. As we go forward, making impressive impacts in teaching, research, and public service, please join me in advocating for UC Santa Cruz.

Speaking of impact, this is the season to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of our students. If you haven't already, please visit this spring's "20 Grads/20 Days" feature on the campus web site to read about just a few of our outstanding students. They are an impressive group, and they make me proud.

I look forward to Commencement Week and offer my heartfelt congratulations to this year's graduates! Fiat banana slugs!