UC Board of Regents chair visits to connect with campus community

UC Board of Regents Chair George Kieffer said he's planning to visit all 10 University of California campuses by the year's end to learn more about the needs and concerns of each campus. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

In an effort to learn more about UC Santa Cruz, UC Board of Regents Chair George Kieffer spent two days on campus meeting with faculty, staff, student leaders, alumni, and community leaders.

"I thought I knew Santa Cruz from other visits, but this involved a more substantive set of discussions,” Kieffer said. “ I learned a great deal, particularly with respect to housing and enrollment. And everyone was both candid and helpful. It’s a very engaged group of students, faculty and staff”

Kieffer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Santa Barbara and a law degree from UCLA, was appointed to the Board of Regents in 2009 and previously served as an alumni regent from 1978 to 1980. He was elected board chair in July. The University of California system is governed by the 26-member Board of Regents.

As Board of Regents chair, his goals include focusing on the quality of undergraduate education, examining the costs of higher education, preserving the university’s historic excellence in teaching, research and public service, and continuing to expand access to more and diverse Californians.

Kieffer said he's planning to visit all 10 University of California campuses by the year's end to learn more about the needs and concerns of each campus. He is hoping to promote the special nature of each campus.

Chancellor George Blumenthal said he was pleased to host Kieffer.

"The feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive," Blumenthal said. "His decision to engage students, staff, faculty and administrators on the issues they care about was very much noticed—and appreciated."

On Oct. 5, Kieffer met with faculty and administrative leadership, student government leaders, and the Staff Advisory Board.

Staff Advisory Board President Michael Luttrell said Kieffer was eager to hear about staff concerns, which include the housing crisis affecting the entire campus community; salary levels, given the proximity to the Bay Area; staffing levels, given recent enrollment growth; and more.

"Regent Chair Kieffer jumped right in asking us what was on our minds—what information would be good for him to take back to the other Regents," Luttrell said. "It was refreshing."

Nicole VanderMeer and Adrienne Ricker, co-presidents of the UC Santa Cruz Graduate Student Association, met with Kieffer to discuss issues graduate students face.

"I value the opportunity to sit down with a representative of the UC Board of Regents to discuss issues that affect UCSC graduate students like housing and normative time,” said Nicole VanderMeer, co-president of the UC Santa Cruz Graduate Student Association, "but it is frustrating when the response is consistently, 'petition your legislators.”

Kieffer sat down on Oct. 6 with members of City on a Hill Press, Banana Slug Network, and TWANAS in a discussion that focused on UC support for DACA students, free speech on college campuses, housing access and affordability, and the long-term financial path for the system.

The visit wrapped up with Kieffer touring the main campus and the Coastal Science Campus.

"Santa Cruz is special. It’s a particular goal of mine to help illuminate the differences as well as the similarities of our campuses, both in atmosphere and issues,” Kieffer said. “They’re all great. But there’s something so very unique about Santa Cruz you won’t find anywhere else and it’s so very clear why students choose to be there. We need to help with housing and classroom space. But it’s pretty darn cool.”