Chancellor Blumenthal announces plan to retire

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Chancellor George Blumenthal

Chancellor George Blumenthal speaking at microphone

Today, I officially informed President Napolitano of my intention to step down as chancellor at the end of this coming academic year. I have decided that the time is right for me to step aside and allow someone else to assume the leadership of this remarkable institution.

It has been a great personal and professional honor to serve as the 10th chancellor of UC Santa Cruz. I am tremendously proud of the strides we have made over the past dozen years in advancing diversity, encouraging philanthropy, enhancing town-gown cooperation, and improving the academic standing of the campus.

We have swung open the doors of opportunity at UC Santa Cruz: The number of undergraduates from underrepresented minority groups has nearly doubled over the past decade. The percentage of entering frosh who are first-generation college students — the first in their families to seek a four-year degree — now regularly tops 40 percent. We are literally changing the lives of thousands of students, their families, and their communities.

Importantly, we have established a culture of philanthropy on campus that will serve us immeasurably moving forward. In 2013, we launched our first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign. The Campaign for UC Santa Cruz, which we wrapped up six months early, raised more than $335 million, surpassing our loftiest goal.

In 2008, we entered a new era of improved town-gown relations, which I sincerely hope will continue. Ten years ago we signed a historic agreement with the city and county of Santa Cruz, as well as with neighborhood groups, resolving longstanding litigation over water, housing, and traffic issues. This agreement has served as a model for universities and communities nationwide. Keeping this relationship strong serves all parties.

The colleges are a hallmark of our university, and we have renovated and expanded Porter and Merrill colleges, and are now on the cusp of a Kresge revitalization. We have added nearly 260,000 square feet of new space across campus. UCSC opened a satellite campus in the heart of Silicon Valley and a new facility in Scotts Valley for hundreds of our staff. We also have invested in our Coastal Science Campus with a state-of-the-art coastal biology facility.

In the past dozen years, the campus has significantly grown undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide range of disciplines. Our research funding has soared, thereby enabling the great minds we have on campus to do what they do best: pioneer innovative approaches in a host of fields and push the envelopes of knowledge.

Our academic reputation has climbed alongside this expansion. This past year UCSC ranked third in the world for research impact, grouped with MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley. Earlier this month we were named among the top 30 public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. I am tremendously proud of the outstanding endeavors by faculty, staff, and students that have enabled us to reach these academic heights.

I consider the 12 years I have spent as chancellor — it will be a lucky 13 when all is said and done — to be among the most fulfilling of my professional life. This university is filled with people eager to make a difference, change paradigms, and challenge conventional ways of doing things. That is what makes UC Santa Cruz the dynamic place it is and always has been. It has been thrilling to be a part of that mission since 1972, when I arrived on campus as an assistant professor, eager to help shape the future of a still-young university.

Now it feels like the right time to pass the reins. Our new Strategic Academic Plan is in place, and I sense the same energy on campus that I felt when I first arrived — a feeling that our future is limitless, and that we are on the precipice of remarkable change. I believe a new campus leader should help chart our next steps.

A national search for my successor will begin immediately, organized by the Office of the President. While I will officially retire when I step down, I plan to remain on campus, teaching and writing, and volunteering in ways that will help the University of California, which has given so much to me.

I offer my heartfelt gratitude to all for giving me the opportunity to lead such an outstanding campus. In particular, I would like to thank my wife, Kelly Weisberg, and my family for their support in this adventure. No one succeeds in this job alone!

Fiat Slug.

George Blumenthal