2020 Long Range Development Plan update

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor George Blumenthal

As we spend 2018 celebrating the Year of Alumni, I’d like to talk to you about what we’re doing to prepare ourselves to teach the next generation of students—our future graduates.

Last spring, I brought together a group of campus constituents and members of the greater Santa Cruz community to begin creating our 2020 Long Range Development Plan. These leaders, with input from you and the community as a whole, aim to have a draft of this plan in hand later this year, at which point it will undergo a rigorous environmental review.

An LRDP is like a city’s general plan. It designates areas of campus for certain types of use: open space, for example, or housing. It does not mandate growth. It simply provides a blueprint for it when it’s needed and when there’s funding available. It’s an extremely effective, proactive planning tool as we look two decades down the road and contemplate how best to educate our future students.

Earlier today I met with a group of community appointees who were convened as part of an advisory group to make sure we gather multiple perspectives on the plan. Hearing different viewpoints is important because the LRDP touches on issues that affect all of us who live and work in this community: water use, traffic, and housing.

As I mentioned above, the LRDP is not an OK for enrollment growth. However, we need to have an enrollment target to determine our space and facilities needs. This includes classrooms, lab spaces, housing, student-support services, and other facilities critical to a university experience. The number I have asked the LRDP planners to consider is 28,000 students by 2040. I have no doubt this figure will trigger some conversations, so I want to share with you the reasoning behind my request.

This number does not come out of thin air. It makes sense for a host of reasons.

It walks us out two decades, to the year 2040, using a growth rate of 1.5 to 2 percent a year. That’s about 400 students annually. This is the rate at which we have been growing. We would see an increase in undergraduates—with special focus on transfer students—and, more substantially, those in doctoral and master’s programs.

The figure has actually been public for nearly 60 years. Roughly 28,000 students has long been the enrollment vision for UC Santa Cruz, outlined in our very first LRDP in 1963, created not too long after the city of Santa Cruz approached UC about building a campus here.

Importantly, I am asking for a strategy of phased investments to accommodate future growth. In other words, there would be no sudden jump from the roughly 18,000 students we accommodate today to 28,000. Growth would be incremental, proceeding only if identified impacts are mitigated. Maybe that will be water use, vehicle trips to campus, or the number of on-campus beds we provide.

I believe this approach will allow us to keep our campus values front and center. Structured correctly, a plan with strong mitigations will allow us to grow larger, while actually reducing our impacts.

Some will question our need to grow at all. I’d remind them that the University of California is facing unprecedented enrollment pressure. More than 56,000 people — a new record — applied to UC Santa Cruz to be first-year students this coming fall. We also saw 11,300 students apply to transfer here from community colleges. We’re seeing this type of demand systemwide, and it’s our institutional mission to provide educational opportunity to this state’s growing, increasingly diverse population. We have an obligation to these students, just as we have served today’s students and the generations before them.

So what’s next? Later this month, on Jan. 18, a special interactive LRDP forum for students will take place at 5:30 p.m. at Kresge Town Hall. Interactive forums for faculty and staff took place in November and December. Forums for the broader Santa Cruz community are currently in the works, and details on the events will be published soon on our LRDP website.

A good plan requires a wide range of input, so please join me in this process. If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions, feel free to email me at chancellor@ucsc.edu.