Housing expansion supports student success

Vice Chancellor Sarah Latham
Vice Chancellor Sarah Latham

Living on campus is an important element in the success of our students. Immersion in a campus environment helps foster student engagement and a sense of community, as many studies have shown.

We have a responsibility to ensure adequate on-campus housing for our current and future students. In addition to providing housing in order to support student success, our campus has an obligation to provide on-campus housing as a good community partner.

As I shared during a campus message earlier this academic year, we are addressing the need for more on-campus housing through a new development in the western part of campus. This housing project will bring approximately 3,000 beds to campus and will include units for upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and students with families. The project is part of the UC housing initiative launched last year by President Janet Napolitano and builds upon the work of the Student Housing West study (PDF).

We are using a public-private partnership to construct the new units. Using this model allows us to deliver a substantially larger number of beds than was possible in the original Student Housing West study. In February, eight development teams were selected to serve on the UC bench of developers who would be able to submit proposals for housing projects at all UC campuses. In April, that list was further narrowed to three firms who will submit proposals for the UC Santa Cruz project. The firms are Balfour Beatty, Capstone, and EdR.

One of the development teams will be selected to construct the housing, though it will not own the new units. The units will be owned by a third-party nonprofit and funded through tax exempt bonds. Our goal is to ensure the student experience in the new units will be seamless to that of other campus housing units. The campus will retain all space assignments, student life, and residential programming.

Later this month, the three development teams will meet with students to learn more about student needs and programmatic preferences. They will use this information, in addition to the prior demand analyses and site studies, to develop their proposals to deliver 3,000 beds. A selection committee consisting of staff, faculty, and students will pick one of these developers for the project. The first phase of beds will be online for fall 2020, with the remainder online by fall 2022.

In the past few months, we have been presenting an overview of the project to various stakeholder groups. We continue to host opportunities for the community to learn more.

Tonight we are hosting a session for students at 4:30 pm in the University Center Terra Fresca restaurant. There will also be a general information session for interested members of the campus community at 1 p.m. on June 1 at the Stevenson Event Center.

We will post updates on the project and process online.