Strategic academic planning update

To: UC Santa Cruz community

From: Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Marlene Tromp and Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Martin Berger


EMERGING: Potential academic priority areas coming to the fore
LISTENING: CP/EVC Marlene Tromp will take questions on the planning process at the Feb. 21 Academic Senate meeting
ENGAGING: Last week’s Open Forums drew more than 150 faculty, staff, and students
INTERVIEWING: We recently conducted in-depth one-on-one interviews with 25 undergraduate and graduate students to gain insights into how we could better serve them

Deep thanks for your continued engagement with our strategic academic planning (SAP) process. Broad participation is vital as we chart our academic course forward. Today’s email is a regular update on our progress. The first few months of the process are foundational, as we work to understand our shared values and academic strengths, and begin to explore the major academic themes that have the greatest potential return—in terms of research and teaching—for additional investment. This can’t be repeated enough: There is no preconceived direction. Those who participate in our planning process will shape the plan. Our outreach is ongoing.


While we are still early in the process, surveys and interviews with hundreds of campus leaders, faculty, staff and students have begun to reveal some of our campus’s most promising academic themes. Beginning this week, we are kicking off our Themed Academic Working Groups. The groups will give faculty the chance to unite across department and divisional lines to collaboratively reimagine how their research and teaching could be enhanced. That could be through the infusion of new resources, the elimination of internal campus barriers, or the generation of new resource streams. The groups also will have the opportunity to make the case for why they should emerge as one of the campus’s academic priority areas. We want these academic areas to emerge organically, and then we want to understand what each group would need to best support its efforts.

Each group will be asked to produce a concise overview summarizing its plan and give a brief presentation at an open-campus forum in April. Both the overview documents and the presentations will be reviewed and assessed by the campus community, Academic Senate, and our deans. Our consultants also will conduct external research to test and, ideally, validate our assumptions. All review comments will be forwarded to the Academic Advisory Committee for further analysis and prioritization and, ultimately, submitted to the CP/EVC and Chancellor for the final determination of priority areas. Click here to learn how you can get involved.


Our consultants recently conducted in-depth, one-on-one interviews with 25 students. The aim was to understand why they picked UC Santa Cruz; what their experiences have been since their arrival; the ways in which we have served them well; and how we might improve. Results will be posted as soon as they are compiled. We also gathered key insights on the student experience from a recent open forum dedicated to students. Students praised a number of campus support organizations, lauded the overall quality of their majors, and noted that their decision to attend UC Santa Cruz often hinged on their personal connections to the campus. They also listed a number of ways in which we could work to improve their experience including more extensive disciplinary training for TAs, enhanced support for gateway courses, more coordinated support for first-generation students, and attention to various campus-climate issues.


We’re gratified that last week’s open forums drew engaged participants from across campus. We held seven two-hour sessions to give faculty, staff, and students the chance to share ideas on, and ask questions about, the SAP process. Audiences were clear in their hope that we’ll implement our plan, engage a broad cross-section of stakeholders for input, and communicate clearly about what we will implement and on what timeline. All told, more than 150 people participated. Thanks to all those who made time for the forums!


Late last month we wrapped up our Faculty Insights Survey, which asked our Senate faculty to weigh in on the most promising existing and emerging areas of research on campus. Roughly 20 themes emerged. Among them: biomedical, data science, digital humanities, economic justice, the future of earth and humanity, cultural heritage and public history, materials science and engineering, social mobility and economic opportunity, and water justice. The initial list will provide a starting place for our Themed Academic Working Groups. To learn more about the groups, click here.


Executive Vice Chancellor and Campus Provost Marlene Tromp will take questions on the strategic academic planning process at the Feb. 21 Academic Senate meeting. It gets underway at 2:30 p.m. at the Stevenson Event Center. Please plan on attending.


A Future State Design workshop—the first of a number of sessions designed to help us come to consensus on a broad theme for the campus around which we can coalesce—is set for 1:30–5 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in 108 Digital Arts Research Center (DARC). Please RSVP here by March 15, and mark your calendar to join the conversation.

In the meantime, please ask questions, make suggestions, and engage us in this process. Reach us via email or our electronic suggestion box. We read each and every comment and suggestion submitted, and do our best to respond to all questions.