A year of strategic academic planning

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor Marlene Tromp

Over the past eight months we’ve made tremendous progress on our Strategic Academic Plan. We’ve reached campus consensus on our design principles; catalyzed vital interdisciplinary plans for collaboration among researchers; begun to think about ways to reduce or eliminate campus barriers that stand in the way of research, teaching, and learning; and are well on our way to developing a draft of the plan for review by the Academic Senate this summer.

I’m inspired by the energy and dedication of the thousands of campus stakeholders who have participated in one-on-one interviews, group meetings, open forums, online discussions, workshops, and senate review. The senate, in particular, has been an early and productive partner. I wish to acknowledge the tireless work of Chair Olof Einarsdóttir, Vice Chair Kim Lau, and Committee on Planning and Budget Chair Carl Walsh. I hope those who have questions about process or the outcomes will remain in dialogue with us. Strategic planning is an ongoing process that must remain active to remain relevant, and I look forward to continuing the conversation with all of you.

Academic priority areas

The chancellor and I are now studying all the the feedback to identify strategic academic areas for investment, after having reviewed detailed feedback on the Themed Academic Working Groups (TAWGs) from individual faculty, students, and staff, as well as the LibraryInformation Technology Services, Academic Senate (cover letter and individual committee letters), and the Academic Advisory Committee. Supporting specific areas does not mean we will no longer support the rest of the university. To remain a vital university with a rich academic experience, we must continue to have breadth and depth of research and curriculum. The goal of designating priority areas is to support distinctive, interdisciplinary areas that span our academic divisions.

It is important to note the chancellor and I are impressed with the exceptional quality of many of the TAWGs and will seek ways to nurture a number of exciting initiatives that have the potential to enrich our university, our faculty, and our students. We remain committed to providing our undergraduates with a comprehensive education with excellence in the arts, engineering, humanities, physical and biological sciences, and social sciences.

Undergraduate student survey

We recently completed a survey of all undergraduates to better understand how we can serve their academic needs. The survey questions grew out of feedback received in a series of one-on-one interviews our consultants conducted with a cross-section of our students. The subsequent survey draft was shared with several Student Union Assembly officers and student groups for feedback. The survey was conducted between May 15 and June 5. In an effort to improve our response rate, we took student suggestions to promote it through social media, by tabling in Quarry Plaza, and by providing the chance for survey participants to win prizes. I’m delighted to report 1,071 students completed the survey, roughly 6.5 percent of all undergraduates on campus, a high rate of participation for an administrative survey. As soon as the results are analyzed, we will post them on the SAP website.

Design principles

With input from our campus community over several months, we developed, debated, and honed our design principles: clear, tightly defined guidelines that identify our institutional aspirations. The chancellor and I recently shared the final design principles to campus.

  1. Drive research and creative work that transforms our world.
  2. Create enriching experiential learning and research opportunities for students.
  3. Engage and support a diverse faculty, staff, and student body.
  4. Support generative interdisciplinary connections in research and teaching.
  5. Expand excellence and innovation in areas distinctive to UC Santa Cruz, such as social. justice, diversity, and sustainability.

Open forums

On May 23 and 24, we hosted 55 faculty, staff, and students at two open forums on strategic academic planning. During the events, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Martin Berger provided updates on the work accomplished, explained next steps, and took audience questions. The meeting notes and slides are available, along with all others, under Working Documents on the SAP Communications and Reports webpage.

Next steps

Over the coming weeks, we will announce our academic priority areas; engage the Implementation Working Group to develop roadmaps for reducing or eliminating key campus barriers; and release the draft plan and implementation playbook.

This summer, the Academic Senate will review the plan, so that we have time to respond to its feedback in September, before the start of the new academic year. Over the course of the 2018-19 academic year, we will begin the exciting work of implementation, under the guidance of Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Herbie Lee.

My special thanks

I am grateful to Martin for his leadership in strategic academic planning. He has invested enormous time, energy, and heart in this process. He has been ably supported by Special Projects Manager Andrea Cohen, who coordinated all aspects of the planning process. Andrea will continue work on strategic planning next year under Herbie.