Campuswide initiatives for 2020-21

To: UC Santa Cruz faculty and staff

From: Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer

Through this past summer, the campus leadership team discussed the challenges of the emerging budgetary environment and began to look for opportunities that could broaden access to our educational programs, improve our financial outlook, and advance the efficiency and effectiveness of our processes during uncertain and constrained budget times. Many ideas were considered, and four emerged as clear priorities that warranted further investigation. I am excited to lay out for you today the campus initiatives we are moving to a discovery phase:

  • Create online degree programs; 

  • Grow our Summer Session; 

  • Implement a formalized campus budget process;

  • Study the possibility of converting to a semester-based academic calendar. 

We are now assembling small groups that represent different facets and organizations on campus to investigate the opportunities and risks presented by each project, identify stakeholders, and estimate the required resources, anticipated benefits, and possible alternatives. In this discovery phase, each team will develop a comprehensive understanding of the initiative and chart a path forward. Each project will progress on its own timeline. 

Online courses and degree programs

Our current campus response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the necessary reliance on remote and online instruction, is a change in practice that reveals how technology and instructional design can expand our teaching and learning spaces beyond the constraints of physical location. While our current environment is far from ideal, it does prompt us to examine the possibilities for access to our instructional programs. The development of fully online degree programs, both at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, would benefit both our campus community and the many California residents unable to relocate to Santa Cruz to earn a UC degree. Growing our online programs would also allow us to meet state demand for access to UC programs, without the need to build more classrooms or dorms. Expanding enrollment would also boost revenue, provide more support opportunities for our graduate students, and strengthen our position to hire more faculty. This initiative is being headed up by Herbie Lee, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, and Tracy Larrabee, Senate Committee on Educational Policy Chair and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering.

Grow our Summer Session 

Our Summer Session has seen seven consecutive years of sustained and accelerated growth, punctuated by 38 percent growth this past summer. Summer Session participation is a significant factor in undergraduate student outcomes, and has large and positive benefits for the campus including graduate student and faculty employment, tuition and enrollment revenue, and housing and other revenue-generating services. We have made changes to various aspects of the program since 2013. This initiative is the next step. Setting a goal of continued enrollment growth of 10 to 15 percent annually will further improve undergraduate time to degree and boost campus revenue. This initiative is being headed up by Richard Hughey, Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, and P.K. Agarwal, Dean of University Extension.

Institute a campus budget process structure

This effort aims to define an annual budget and funding allocation process. Our annual budgeting and resource-distribution processes have historically been driven by incremental mandatory cost increases and ad hoc spending requests. Consequently, it is difficult to engage in multi-year planning and to provide resource transparency. There are a number of budget related projects currently underway including implementing standard reporting, and a proposed new resource allocation methodology that, along with a formal budget process, will enable the campus to have a common and consistent understanding of available resources across organizations and functions. Moving to a more formal and structured budgeting process will allow campus leaders and managers to make financial decisions that support campus values and priorities and divisional goals. This initiative is being headed by Kimberly Register, Budget Director, and Dard Neuman, Senate Committee on Planning and Budget Chair and Associate Professor of Music.

Study the change to a semester-based academic calendar 

This initiative will consider a possible academic calendar change, from quarters to semesters, and what challenges and opportunities that change could spark. This initiative is being headed by Paul Koch, Dean of Physical and Biological Sciences and Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Jennifer Baszile, interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Student Success. The discovery phase will start in January 2021 for this project.

In this discovery phase project charters will be developed which will allow for input and consultation on the goals, approach, staffing, and timing of the initiative and create the necessary context for decisions on whether or not to proceed. While this work begins this year, I fully anticipate these projects to be active over the next few years. As this phase proceeds, more information will be shared. In the meantime, I extend my appreciation to all of the project leaders and their teams as they begin their work.