New academic year, new possibilities

To: UC Santa Cruz community

From: Chancellor Cynthia K. Larive

To students, staff, and faculty new to campus, welcome! I count myself among you — a new arrival excited to get the academic year started. I’ve been anticipating this new beginning for months. I am thrilled to be here, grateful for your warm reception, and energized by the opportunities I see for our campus. To those who are returning to campus, welcome back! I hope you all had a great summer break and are energized, ready to embrace the opportunities that a new beginning affords.

UC Santa Cruz is an extraordinary place, a campus where you will find countless opportunities to pursue your passions — academic, professional, and personal. Our 2,000-acre campus itself is special. As we begin our journey together, I would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the traditional and unceded territory of the Uypi Tribe of the Awaswas Nation. I also would like to share the UC Santa Cruz Land Acknowledgement developed in partnership with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band. I encourage you to use this statement as you host events and gather on our campus to recognize both the history of colonization and the enduring relationship to the land and stewardship by the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band.

A campus that makes a difference

UC Santa Cruz was just recognized by U.S. News and World Report as the No. 2 university in the country for student social mobility. This new ranking recognizes universities that graduate a large percentage of students from low-income households.

I am extremely proud to see the efforts of our students, staff, and faculty recognized. Together, low-income and first-generation students comprise roughly a third of our student body. UC Santa Cruz is committed to providing a high-quality education that can transform the lives of students from all backgrounds and to supporting students throughout their college journeys. Our campus community has long known of our strong commitment. Now many others do, too.

Who we are

Roughly 5,200 new students joined our campus community over the past week, and I am proud they have chosen us. We are a California institution at our core — roughly 86 percent of our new arrivals are Californians — but I am delighted that we are becoming a truly global campus. Our new students hail from 29 countries. That diversity helps create global citizens. It benefits our research and scholarship. Breakthroughs and knowledge creation occur when someone looks closely at a problem through a different lens.


Celebrating new students is vitally important. We must build a strong sense of community and inclusivity right from the start. What better way to usher new students into our Banana Slug community than with a festive, student-focused convocation? I am thrilled to be bringing back this annual tradition. I don’t need a chancellor-investiture ceremony to mark my start here. It’s much more important that our students have a positive event to launch them on their UCSC journeys. A convocation demonstrates inclusiveness, celebrates our scholarly pursuits, and highlights our focus on student success. I will be wearing my Banana Slug attire and cheering loudly. Staff members in the colleges will be guiding all new transfer and first-year students to the convocation this Friday.

My priorities

Opportunity and access are huge parts of my vision for UC Santa Cruz. My parents didn’t go to college. I came from humble beginnings in Deadwood, South Dakota. I know the challenges so many of our students face inside and outside the classroom because I lived them. And now I am so proud to be chancellor of one of the jewels in the University of California system. I am walking proof that higher education can transform lives. I want to put our students in positions to succeed wildly in whatever fields they choose.

I will also focus my early work on solidifying our status as a leader in research and creative scholarship. We must work together in our pursuit of research funding and build on the framework of our recently completed Strategic Academic Plan. A larger, more diverse faculty and graduate student population also will help cement our academic reputation.

Organization and processes aren’t subjects that typically generate a lot of buzz, but I believe some judicious organizational changes and streamlined processes will pay dividends for our campus.

Finally, we must proactively address inclusivity. Creating an inclusive campus climate is foundational to my vision for UC Santa Cruz. It’s why you will see me out and about on campus, talking to students, staff and faculty — and when you do, please come up to say hello. I want to know how you’re doing. Our campus community is a collection of microclimates, and the weather can feel markedly different depending on the climate you are in. Together we must create a community that celebrates differences, welcomes all, and works in common purpose.

To succeed as a campus, we all must learn to understand issues from different perspectives. That means addressing underlying, often-unconscious assumptions. It requires challenging, honest conversations. The payoff, though, will be immense as we find common ground and hammer out solutions to our many global challenges. Join me in this effort.

Best of luck to all during this 2019–2020 academic year, and I will see you around campus!