Welcome to Winter Quarter!

To: UC Santa Cruz community

From: Chancellor George Blumenthal

Welcome back for Winter Quarter and best wishes for a healthy and happy 2018!

A new year means new beginnings, so I’ll jump right into an exciting initiative launching this week that will run throughout 2018. We’ve dubbed this our Year of Alumni. Of course, we’re always celebrating our alumni—all 110,000 or so of them—but this year marks the 50th anniversary of our first alumni association, so we thought we would take the opportunity to honor the many successes of our graduates.

When you’re back on campus, you’ll no doubt notice the banners, installed over winter break, honoring some of our notable alumni. See if you can find all lucky 13! The signs, featuring graduates across the disciplines, are tributes to the culture of innovation, exploration, scholarship, and creative expression here on campus. It’s exciting to think the faces of current students will one day adorn future banners.

Expect Year of Alumni talks and visits by returning Slugs throughout this calendar year, and a stellar Alumni Weekend is already in the works. Check out our Year of Alumni website for details, and for a host of features on the great work our alumni are doing.

On the prospective Slugs front, I am delighted to say UC Santa Cruz is more popular than ever. More than 56,000 young women and men applied to join us as first-year students this coming fall. That is a record high—and well-deserved recognition of the outstanding undergraduate opportunities we offer.

Our hard work to boost transfer students, meanwhile, is paying dividends. We saw a nearly 12 percent jump in the number of applicants from California community colleges. More than 9,800 students applied to transfer to UC Santa Cruz for fall 2018. We will continue to accept transfer applications until next week, so that final number is expected to be even higher!

Interest from ethnically diverse California applicants is also holding strong. This year’s figures are in line with last year’s, with about 5 percent of frosh applicants African-American, 31 percent Asian-American, and 36 percent Chicano/Latino. This trend importantly helps UC Santa Cruz reflect the population of California while also enriching the educational experience of all of our students.

As campus becomes even more diverse, I am committed to creating an inclusive environment that values and supports every person in an atmosphere of civility, cooperation, professionalism, fairness and respect. This is important work that is really never finished, and we are always seeking new ways to engage students, staff and faculty.

In November, we hosted a very successful First Amendment event. Our Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is midway through its wonderful Dialogue Series—events aimed at bringing the campus community together to have honest discussions, often about challenging subjects, to foster a healthy campus climate. In addition, we’re looking at safety improvements—improved lighting and an expanded Safe Ride Program—to enhance the overall feeling of safety on campus.

I’d also like to draw your attention to a few upcoming campus-sponsored events.

  • On Jan. 30, UC Santa Cruz Dean of Humanities Tyler Stovall and History of Art and Visual Cultural Professor Jennifer Gonzales will lead a conversation on "Freedom and Race." This moderated discussion is part of “Questions That Matter: A Series of Public Dialogues in Santa Cruz,” developed by our Institute for Humanities Research.
  • On Feb. 8, we are delighted to have Kimberlé Crenshaw, professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, and a leading authority on civil rights, race, racism, and the law, as keynote speaker for our 34th annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.
  • Finally, Nirupama Menon Rao, an ambassador, scholar, and poet, is the featured speaker at this year’s Sidhartha Maitra Memorial Lecture on Feb. 23.

These events are unrelated but have a common theme—the importance of exploring our differences while also celebrating our common humanity. I can’t think of a better message as we start another trip around the sun.

So welcome back to the most beautiful university in the world. Take a moment to appreciate our surroundings—the redwoods, the meadows, the stunning bay. We should all resolve to do that more throughout 2018!

As always, please feel free to share your ideas, suggestions, and concerns with me at chancellor@ucsc.edu.