Wrapping up a great year and looking ahead

To: UCSC Community

Looking ahead to commencement this weekend, I'm feeling very proud.

We do many, many things well on this campus, including instilling in our students the habit of independent thought. The ability to think critically—to assess the evidence and arrive at one's own conclusions—is the hallmark of a liberal arts education. I think the world needs more of that, not less, and I take comfort in knowing that more than 4,600 Banana Slugs are heading out to make their mark on the world.

This is the time of year when we take stock of our accomplishments and present awards to recognize achievement. I had the good fortune to meet one of our impressive students at our annual student achievement awards reception. Kristoffer Hellén transferred to UCSC from Cabrillo College and has made the most of the opportunities we offer, writing a senior thesis in history that won the top award for undergraduate research, the 2013 Steck Family Award. You can read his story here.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of presenting teaching awards to seven outstanding faculty members. We celebrated another important campus value when we presented the 2013 Chancellor's Achievement Awards for Diversity to five individuals and one student organization. Just this morning, I had breakfast with participants of the Chancellor's Undergraduate Internship Program, who have made great contributions to the campus.

Already, of course, the wheels are in motion to continue the process: We received a record number of applications and have admitted a talented class for the fall.

For me, I've spent much of the past nine months on the road, meeting with alumni, parents, and friends of the campus to shore up support for our mission. I've chronicled much of what I've been up to on my blog. Rest assured, support for UC Santa Cruz has never been stronger. And with good reason: Faculty are doing path-breaking research, students are more engaged than ever, and our partnerships with external collaborators are strong.

A year ago this spring, UCSC was ranked one of the best universities in the world under the age of 50. My goal is to be one of the best in the world, period. Great universities don't just happen; they are the product of people who care. Between now and our 50th anniversary in 2015, you'll see us rolling up our sleeves to ensure that we have the resources, vision, and focus to reach our full potential. There will be plenty of opportunities to get involved.

For now, let's enjoy the achievement of this year's graduates. We all contribute to their success. And to those of you who are about to join the illustrious ranks of UCSC alumni, I hope you'll keep in touch. I'm always available at chancellor@ucsc.edu. Congratulations to the Class of 2013!