UCSC selects Akirah J. Bradley-Armstrong as vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Success

Currently at the University of Colorado Boulder, Bradley-Armstrong has more than 17 years of experience in supporting student success

Picture of Akirah J. Bradley-Armstrong
Akirah Bradley-Armstrong says the values she’ll focus on in her new role as vice chancellor include equity, integrity, authenticity, collaboration, compassion, action, and fun.

UC Santa Cruz has selected Akirah J. Bradley-Armstrong to serve as the campus’s next Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Success, concluding a nationwide search that included extensive stakeholder engagement. 

Bradley-Armstrong is a dedicated student affairs professional with 17 years of experience in the field. She comes to UCSC from the University of Colorado Boulder, where she has supported student success since 2016, most recently as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. She is also a faculty affiliate in CU Boulder’s Masters in Higher Education program.

Bradley-Armstrong’s appointment at UCSC, which begins May 16, concludes a national recruitment effort and campuswide stakeholder engagement process that began in May 2021. University Librarian Elizabeth Cowell and Cowell College Provost Alan Christy  co-chaired the search advisory committee.

“Akirah will be a powerful advocate for our students and a great addition to our campus community,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “I look forward to welcoming her to our leadership team. I’m grateful for the hard work of our search advisory committee and appreciative of everyone in our community who shared their thoughtful insights during the recruitment."

Bradley-Armstrong brings to her new role a wealth of experience in supporting student retention; providing safe space and community for underrepresented students; supporting freedom of speech; ensuring student wellness; and providing for student development and basic needs. She says that part of what drew her to UC Santa Cruz was seeing how passionate the campus community is about student support and success. 

“I’m really excited to be able to work with the brilliant staff and faculty at UC Santa Cruz,” she said. “There are a lot of great programs and ideas here. I also feel really excited to work with this student body. I like a student body that’s going to push for positive change. It makes us think critically about the work that we’re doing, and it keeps us on our toes.”

Over the course of her career, Bradley-Armstrong has held leadership positions in student affairs at CU Boulder, UC Berkeley, the University of Vermont, and Semester at Sea. She earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from UC Davis, where she conducted dissertation research on crisis response and support systems in higher education administration. A first-generation college student, she also holds a master of education degree from the University of Vermont and a bachelor of science in Business Administration from Mansfield University.

Bradley-Armstrong says the values she’ll focus on in her new role as vice chancellor include equity, integrity, authenticity, collaboration, compassion, action, and fun. One of her priorities when she arrives will be listening, learning, and observing to guide the creation of a shared vision for the future of the Division of Student Affairs and Success. 

“I’d like to uplift a collective vision of not only how we take care of students, but how we can take care of one another and our campus,” she said. “That vision is about defining our future. What do we want student affairs to look like at UC Santa Cruz, what do we want to be known for, and what can we contribute nationally to the field?”   

Bradley-Armstrong’s passion for student affairs work comes in part from her own experiences as a first-generation college graduate and her identity as a queer Black womyn. During her undergraduate education, she experienced incidents of bias that set her on a mission to create change within higher education. 

“I wanted to figure out how I could shift policies, programs, and procedures within the education system, and how I could be at the table representing voices that weren’t typically included in those conversations,” she said. “I believe there’s more we need to be doing in higher education to support students who look like me and to support all students who are underrepresented in other ways on campus."

Bradley-Armstrong says she looks forward to receiving open, direct input and feedback from colleagues and the broader campus community on crucial student-support issues.

“Let’s have the tough conversations that will help us grow,” she said. “If we’re not able to go there, we’re not really going to move the needle. I want to ensure that the folks who I’m working with trust my leadership and feel proud to be within student affairs or to be our partner."

With Bradley-Armstrong’s appointment, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Success Jennifer Baszile will serve as Associate Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Educational Partnerships continuing her work to advance equity in student success at UCSC and forging collaborative partnerships with other higher education institutions.

Baszile assumed the role as interim vice chancellor of the division starting in July 2020, serving during a critical transition period for the division. Her leadership has been instrumental over the past year and half, increasing student support and expanding the division’s scope and offerings. She will remain a valued member of the UC Santa Cruz leadership team.