UC Santa Cruz earns prestigious honor — membership in AAU

To: UCSC Campus Community

From: Cynthia Larive, UC Santa Cruz Chancellor

While UC Santa Cruz is only 54 years old, our faculty, students, and staff have pushed the frontiers of transformative research and creative scholarship. We are known for challenging conventional thinking and our collaborative approach. We bring diverse perspectives to the most difficult problems of our day, and our commitment to social justice means that wherever we go, we go together.

While our community is humble, we know the incredible impact we’ve had in our relatively short history. This week we learned that our peers know it, too, as our campus earned one of the most prestigious honors in higher education — election to the Association of American Universities.

This achievement is an inflection point for our campus. It shines a spotlight on the across-the-board strength of our research work as well as our high-quality graduate and undergraduate instruction. Campuses are not elected for being strong in one field. Eleven UCSC faculty are members of the National Academy of Sciences, two dozen are members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, while 35 have been elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The innovative and collaborative work of so many made this honor possible. Election to the AAU is a formal acknowledgment of the power that comes from applying diverse perspectives to the world’s biggest challenges. I could not be more proud or grateful for the work of Slugs past and present.

UC Santa Cruz is the seventh University of California campus to earn this accolade. The association, founded in 1900, has just 65 members, a powerhouse collection of public research universities and private institutions. 

We have always been a strong, research-focused university, but one with an uncommon emphasis on undergraduate instruction and an unwavering belief in social equity and justice. That is not a common combination in higher education, but it is key to our strength.

Our success is not possible without our full community and the participation of students, staff, and faculty from all backgrounds. It is particularly gratifying that our admission to the AAU comes on the heels of being ranked No. 2 in the nation for social mobility. We are working hard to better serve a new generation of students and to ensure equitable access to quality higher education. These values help define us on the national stage. We will have the opportunity to further advocate for innovation and inclusivity in higher education policy as we join the pre-eminent national organization of research institutions.

I am so proud to serve a university that measures elite status by how wide we can open our doors. I am thrilled to announce this honor — and to know UC Santa Cruz will now have a bigger impact in helping to define the future of higher education.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this message stated that the University of California, which has seven campuses in the AAU, was the only university system to have more than one campus in the association. The State University of New York has two campuses represented.