50th anniversary brought focus, collaboration for the future

As co-chairs of the 50th Anniversary Campus Coordinating Committee, we’d like to look back and take stock of all that has been accomplished over the past year. First, we want to thank our fellow committee members and the hundreds of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and community members whose efforts, ingenuity, and passion for UC Santa Cruz came together to make the 50th anniversary a resounding success.

The planning process for the 50th brought the campus to a new level of coordination and sophistication. Staff and faculty across divisions who usually work relatively isolated from one another were able to pull together to showcase exceptional research, faculty, and students, and highlight distinguished alumni's impact on the world.

We’d like to point out a few highlights:

  • In January, Professor Emerita Angela Davis drew more than 1,900 people to the Rev. Martin Luther King Convocation at the Civic Auditorium.
  • Nearly 600 people attended Brandeis University professor of law, public policy, and women’s studies Anita Hill’s talk in February.
  • In April, we sponsored the local TEDx event at the Rio Theatre. It sold out with 700 attendees. Thirteen of the 23 speakers were affiliated with UC Santa Cruz, providing significant visibility for a range of our research endeavors.
  • We saw an 18 percent increase in alumni attending April’s Alumni Weekend over the previous year, with 2,486 attendees; 1,613 of them alumni. Even more significantly, 962 people, including 609 alumni, made Alumni Weekend 2015 the first event they ever attended hosted by UC Santa Cruz.
  • In November, the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce gave UC Santa Cruz its Organization of the Year award.
  • And finally, Founders weekend in September was a one-of-a-kind event that engaged the entire campus. More than 70 pioneer faculty and staff from 1964 to 1967 attended. The Fiat 50 event was the largest sit-down dinner ever held in Santa Cruz, serving seated dinner to 750 guests.

The increased engagement, focus, and visibility helped the campus attract private funding for eight new endowed faculty chairs across a full range of disciplines as well as in the University Library, bringing the campus total to 30.

The new endowed chairs are:

  • Kenneth R. Corday Family Presidential Chair in Writing for Television and Film (Division of the Arts)
  • Symantec Presidential Chair in Storage and Security (Baskin School of Engineering)
  • Sage Weil Presidential Chair for Open Source Software (Baskin School of Engineering)
  • Jordan-Stern Presidential Chair for Dickens and 19th Century Literature Studies (Division of the Humanities)
  • Richard L. Press University Librarian Presidential Chair (Library)
  • The Faggin Family Presidential Chair for the Physics of Information (Division of Physical and Biological Sciences)
  • Wilton W. Webster Jr. Natural Reserves Presidential Chair (Division of Physical and Biological Sciences)
  • Stephen R. Gliessman Presidential Chair in Water Resources and Food System Sustainability (Division of Social Sciences)

This boost in resources for faculty research came as campus supporters seized the opportunity to match funds committed by UC President Janet Napolitano and in turn helped the Campaign for UC Santa Cruz pass $215 million this year, keeping us on target to reach our $300 million goal during 2017-18.

Even more critical, the 50th fostered a unified perspective that did not previously exist, enabling us to think as one campus, the total being greater than the sum of the parts. We were able to increase our visibility and deepen our connections to the early alumni, faculty and staff, and connect them back to today's students and campus.

Moving forward, we believe UC Santa Cruz will continue to benefit from thinking and acting in these collaborative ways so that when we reach out as a campus our work is well coordinated to ensure we make the most of our efforts and resources.

Susan Gillman is professor of literature, Tyrus Miller is professor of literature and vice provost and dean of the graduate division.