Campus update: Ready, set, commencement

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor Cindy Larive

I hope Memorial Day weekend has given you a boost as we speed toward the end of spring quarter. We have a week of finals, jump right into commencement ceremonies, then summer will be upon us. This entire academic year has been a unique experience. I am both grateful for and proud of the resilience and strength our community has displayed over the past year. What we have done together is nothing short of amazing.

The highlights

Work on commencement in full swing

Our Banana Slugs have worked hard and deserve to be celebrated, and I am excited that the public health picture has improved enough to allow for an in-person component to our Commencement 2021. Links to all of the virtual ceremonies will go live at noon on Friday, June 11. Our first-ever Slug Crossing — the in-person piece of commencement — also kicks off Friday, June 11, and will continue through June 13. Each Slug graduate who has registered — that’s about 3,000 of you! — will take part in a traditional stage crossing on the East Field. Graduates of the Class of 2020 have been invited as well. The Slug Crossing will be livestreamed, with a link posted on the commencement website just before 9 a.m. June 11, when the first Slugs cross the stage.

Faculty and staff volunteers are still needed for Slug Crossing to help make sure everything runs smoothly! Volunteers will help set up signage, prepare the space for the weekend, and clean up once the weekend is over. Consider signing up to volunteer. Your time and assistance would be greatly appreciated by me, the organizers, and especially by our graduates!

I am so grateful to everyone involved in supporting this year’s virtual commencements and Slug Crossing for their hard work and creativity in finding new ways to celebrate our graduates and honor their achievements. I look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our students and welcoming them into our community of more than 140,000 UCSC alumni!

Expanded Summer Session a boon for students

While many eyes are already on the start of the next academic year, our Summer Session organizers are deep in preparations for a busy few months before we get to fall. Last year saw a record-breaking 38 percent increase in enrollment over 2019, resulting in the highest summer enrollment in campus history! There was a big jump in lower-division students taking online classes, and we experienced double the typical enrollment of newly admitted frosh and transfers. We anticipate maintaining those high levels of enrollment this summer.

Over the past five years, Summer Session and Online Education have funded, developed, and offered more and more online courses, which have been a big hit with students. Departments and colleges have simultaneously expanded their offerings to help students make progress toward their academic goals. The switch to remote instruction (even labs, studio arts, and service learning) has provided class accessibility we hadn’t fully realized our Slugs desired. Thanks to innovative faculty, supportive academic advisers, and dedicated staff we are proud to offer more than 400 remote classes for our summertime Slugs. Our expanded summer offerings give students an opportunity to get a head start, work toward a minor or double major, or graduate early and have had a direct impact on our three-year graduation rate, which has risen to the highest level in the University of California system, tying us with UC Irvine. This is a positive, student-serving development for our campus that deserves recognition.

Though we will not have the same number of camps and conferences we usually see during summer, we are hosting some programs in person. Other programs, such as our Science Internship Program and COSMOS will be remote.

Vaccination guidelines for fall still being developed

Many of you have questions about the proposed UC Office of the President policy mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all faculty, staff, academic appointees, and students accessing any UC facilities beginning this fall. The policy is still being finalized, and we will pass along additional information as soon as we have it. In the meantime, UCOP has created Q&A documents for both students and employees to answer questions you might have.

The vaccine is currently administered under Emergency Use Authorization. On Tuesday, Moderna became the second drug maker to ask the FDA for full approval of its coronavirus vaccine in people 18 and older. Pfizer announced early last month that it was seeking full approval.

Input sought on draft UC campus safety policy

Hopefully you have seen the draft Presidential Campus Safety Plan that was sent to all members of our campus community earlier this week. The proposal, from the UC Office of the President, lays a foundation for transforming UC’s culture, policies, and practices to create campus communities where all feel equally welcomed, respected, and protected from harm.

I encourage you to share feedback, questions or comments on the plan during the 30-day period, which extends to June 30, by sending an email to Comments from our community will be collated and provided to the Office of the President. This feedback will be considered in advance of President Drake issuing a final UC-wide plan this summer.

This draft Presidential Campus Safety Plan for the system does not supplant the ongoing work on our campus to create lasting change. I look forward to receiving the recommendations of the UCSC Campus Safety Community Advisory Board as they are finalized, then communicating broadly with all of our campus constituencies.

Saluting student achievement

Finally, as we are in Student Achievement Week, I’d like to offer my congratulations to the many students across all departments, divisions and colleges who have been recognized this past week for their extraordinary research, scholarship, leadership, athletic pursuits, and other endeavors. There are simply too many award winners to list them all here, but please know that I am exceedingly proud of our creative, talented, hard-working student body. You make us all proud to be Banana Slugs — and are exactly who the world needs right now.

Good luck in these final days of the academic year! Go Slugs!