From the chancellor: Approaching a milestone

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Chancellor Blumenthal (photo by Jim MacKenzie)

When I walked onto the UC Santa Cruz campus as a young assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics in 1972, I had no idea I'd be here for the next 42 years—and certainly no notion that one day I would be chancellor!

I was only in my 20s. The campus was just seven years old—no one was thinking of its 50th anniversary. Yet here I am, and here we are. Next year—2015—marks our 50th year, a major milestone for UC Santa Cruz.

Looking at old photos brings back so many memories. I've uploaded a few to the UC Santa Cruz timeline, a great interactive "scrapbook" created as part of our 50th anniversary celebration. See if you recognize the tall, bearded professor—and then submit your own photos at

For me, it's been an amazing ride. I joined the campus in its relative infancy, drawn to an already strong Astronomy Department and attracted by UC Santa Cruz's youth and spirit of daring.

There have been bumps along the way, but let's face it: Nothing worth doing goes smoothly for 50 years! And our setbacks are vastly outnumbered by our successes: From the Earth to the heavens—literally, sustainable agriculture to astrophysics— UC Santa Cruz has had an outsized impact during its first 50 years.

We won the race to assemble the first map of the human genome— and then we put it online, ensuring that this amazing resource would be available to the world—for free, forever.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act has its roots here, in the work of beloved researcher and teacher Ken Norris, who helped write the legislation in 1972. Today, faculty, students, and alumni are building on Ken's legacy with their contributions to California's sweeping coastal protection network.

Our researchers are investigating novel approaches to treating cancer and protecting the environment. Our artists and historians are shedding new light on the civil rights movement, creating interactive works to engage the public on environmental issues, and much more.

And for nearly 50 years, our graduates have been making their marks on the world: authoring bestselling novels, writing Pulitzer Prizewinning exposés, directing pathbreaking films and television series, advocating for the less fortunate, launching innovative businesses, and opening the eyes of students of all ages.

There's something about UC Santa Cruz—the physical setting, the creative blending of the disciplines, the encouragement of free thought and questioning authority—that nurtures the best in each of us.

There is no place I'd rather be than right here at UC Santa Cruz, on the cusp of a momentous year.

—George Blumenthal, chancellor