Campus LRDP: A blueprint for our future

To: UC Santa Cruz community

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive

Our campus has always pursued excellence and aspired to distinction — in teaching, in research, in access to education, in public service. The incredible achievements we have seen in our short history have not happened by accident. Our campus sustains a clear vision for its future, and a vital part of that roadmap is our draft 2021 UC Santa Cruz Long Range Development Plan, released earlier today.

Campus leaders and planners, with wide input from campus and community groups as well as the general public, have been working for nearly four years on this draft plan, known as our LRDP. Updated regularly over our 55 years, the LRDP sketches out in broad strokes what our main campus might look like two decades from now.

This type of long-range foretelling is not easy, and I offer my thanks to all who have taken part in the current plan’s development. The year 2020 was a valuable reminder that the road ahead can be hard to predict and is rarely without unexpected turns. But planning efforts of this magnitude are extremely valuable. They force us to ask hard questions about where we are as a university and where we want to be. They demand that we think deeply about the current state of higher education and the direction it is heading. They require us to reaffirm our values and principles, and to explore our role as a good neighbor as well as our obligation to the residents of our state.

The challenging part, of course, is to translate the answers to these big questions into a land-use plan, which is what the LRDP is at its core. Think of it as a city or county general plan. It designates specific areas on campus for certain uses, such as learning spaces, dining halls, housing, recreational areas or open space. The plan does not mandate or approve growth. It simply lays out where the infrastructure to support growth might occur if it is eventually needed and funded. Every component project in the plan would need some level of environmental analysis and its own approval before any shovel is lifted.

These are exciting times for our campus. UC Santa Cruz joined the American Association of Universities this past academic year, an incredible achievement for a university so young, underscoring the impact and quality of our research and teaching. Demand for a UCSC education remains at record levels, the diversity of our student population is growing, and we are educating an increasing number of first-generation and low-income students. We rank among the top universities in the nation for student social mobility, which suggests we are on track in our mission to provide educational opportunity and access to all Californians. Our responsibility is figuring out how to do that — how to educate the next generation of leaders — while also protecting what makes our campus special. This plan does that, charting an innovative, sustainable, and exciting course for our campus.

The UCSC of 2040 will be more accessible, functional and flexible. Our footprint will remain compact, with new learning, research and housing spaces for the most part clustered in the existing academic core. New paths and street designs will make us a more accessible, less car-dependant campus. New housing will handle additional enrollment and some of the employees needed to support that enrollment. The plan affirms our commitment to our student-serving residential-college structure, envisioning additional colleges as needed, offering our undergraduates the transformative experience of a small liberal arts college with the rigor of a major research university. And all facilities will be integrated into the landscape itself, just as campus founders first imagined nearly 60 years ago, highlighting our long-standing commitment to the campus environment.

The draft LRDP and the accompanying draft Environmental Impact Report are available online for review. We want your feedback. We have sought it regularly over the past four years as we have prepared and planned this process. Though state law requires that we provide a 45-day review period, we are providing 60 days to ensure the public has time to thoroughly review the plan. To make understanding the LRDP easier, we have created a community handbook that gives the public a summary of the much longer draft Environmental Impact Report and technical documents. We have crafted a Frequently Asked Questions webpage to help people understand the plan. Two online public meetings will be held next month to provide an overview of the LRDP. Public input on the plan and draft Environmental Impact Report will be accepted at the public meetings, via email at eircomment@ucsc.edu, or by mail:

Erika Carpenter
Senior Environmental Planner
Physical Planning, Development, and Operations
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High St.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

The draft 2021 UC Santa Cruz Long Range Development Plan is a visual expression of our mission, detailing how we will advance it while stewarding the incredible land on which the university resides. It is a clear guide for the next 20 years.