Preparing for more students this fall

To: The Campus Community

From: Chancellor George Blumenthal

This September, UC Santa Cruz will welcome about 650 more California undergraduates than enrolled last fall.

It will be a challenge to find room for these students--and I mean "find room" literally. Our challenge is that students are living in triples, lounges have been converted to living spaces, buses are full, and classrooms, libraries, and labs are at capacity.

Even though it's going to be tough, I am committed to accommodating these students and dedicating resources to ease the crunch. Here's why.

Responding to unprecedented demand for a UC education, the state legislature called upon UC in its budget to enroll an additional 5,000 California undergraduates--and committed to fund half the cost. The university is an independent institution, so legislators can't mandate what we do, but UC President Janet Napolitano agreed to the enrollment bump--and stepped up with additional funding for these new students.

The spirit of collaboration behind this enrollment increase aligns perfectly with the university's time-honored mission of serving the state and providing opportunity. I'm a firm believer in that mission; every single current UC student is benefiting from it, and I want to keep the doors open. The ripple effects are tangible to thousands of UC alumni, and to society as a whole.

UC Santa Cruz is enrolling more first-generation college students, more low-income students, and a more diverse student body than ever in our history. A UC degree is a powerful engine of social mobility, and I want UCSC to do our part in providing such opportunities for qualified applicants.

We'll get through this pinch with resources dedicated to our student success initiatives, and with some help from the state and the Office of the President. We are poised to hire at least 18 new faculty, fund an additional 275 courses and sections, boost the number of teaching assistants, and support the college core courses. We also plan to enroll more doctoral students, invest in the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, and upgrade classrooms and instructional equipment.

These investments will go a long way toward preserving the unique undergraduate experience at UC Santa Cruz. But we need to simultaneously think longer term, particularly in light of UC's commitment to enroll yet an additional 5,000 more California undergraduates by 2018-19.

We are already laying the groundwork to add nearly 1,000 new bed spaces in the next eight years or so, and we are working more broadly at the systemwide level to find new ways to finance construction and expand the pool of student housing.

We will be pressed to meet the challenges that come with enrollment growth, but again, the vision is laudable. Our students work hard to get here. When they are admitted to UCSC, they join an elite group of the best academically prepared high school graduates and transfer students in the state. They deserve the opportunities we offer.

That's why I'm going to continue to champion the needs of our students, working with campus leaders and staff to plan for the housing, classrooms, study spaces, and extracurricular facilities our students need. Next week I'll be meeting with lawmakers in Sacramento to make the case for the funding our students deserve.

We must prepare for slow, steady, responsible growth to accommodate the state's population. We must work together to remind legislators--and all Californians--that high-quality public higher education is a worthwhile investment. We must spell out the financial support that will be necessary to pay for increased access. And then we must join forces to secure the resources that will preserve access and quality for students today--and tomorrow.