Spring update; plans for fall; record applications

This message includes information on the following topics:

  • New indoor masking policy
  • Fall Quarter 2022 - Planning for in-person instruction 
  • Chancellor Larive presents to the UC Regents 
  • Record applications to UCSC
  • Search announced for Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 
  • First gapless sequence of a human genome covering each chromosome from end to end is available
  • Grad Slam 

Dear UCSC Community, 

Welcome to spring quarter. I’m so happy we’re starting this quarter off on a high note. There’s much good news to share, but first I want to take a moment to acknowledge the heartbreaking loss of human life and displacement in Ukraine since the invasion by Russian forces six weeks ago. I share with many the hope and prayer that a resolution, so difficult to see right now, brings the return of peace and the maintenance of sovereignty. 

Mask Policy Update

Now to a few updates. With the recent updates to state and federal public health guidelines, we have decided to update our mask policy. As of April 10, masks will not be required for most indoor settings at UCSC facilities. Even with this change, the use of masks will continue to be strongly recommended. Masks will still be required on campus public transportation, in the Early Education Services centers, and in clinical settings, such as the Student Health Center and indoor COVID-19 testing sites. We encourage our community to continue to treat each other with respect in this next phase of pandemic response. 

While we are relaxing the indoor masking policy, vaccination and regular testing requirements remain in place. We need all members of our campus community to continue to follow the asymptomatic testing requirements and get a booster as soon as they are eligible. Employees working on-site must continue to log into the symptom checker as it currently is a Cal/OSHA requirement. 

Plans for Fall 2022

Chancellor Larive and I were happy to announce that we are planning for in-person instruction for this fall - fully in-person (no remote instruction) with online courses as approved by the Academic Senate’s Committee on Courses of Instruction. Except in rare cases, remote attendance in in-person courses for the entire quarter will not be available in 2022-23. As was the case prior to the pandemic, online courses will make up a small percentage of the overall course offerings during the academic year. Thanks to our Banana Slug community for their commitment to minimizing the impacts of COVID-19 and prioritizing our collective well-being.

At the same time, I want to stress that we will continue to rely on the guidance of our county, state, and federal health leaders, and when needed, enforce mitigation measures to support the well-being of our campus community and operational needs. 

UC Regents Presentation

On March 17, Chancellor Larive shared a bold vision for the future of UC Santa Cruz with the Board of UC Regents. A detailed 40-page Strategic Campus Overview was provided in advance laying out how the campus’ strengths, challenges, opportunities, and planning processes are advancing the campus vision.

The faculty-hiring initiative was detailed in the report as the greatest opportunity for the campus, while housing — both the strong need for it and the difficulty campus has had in its attempts to build more of it — was singled out as the biggest challenge. Chancellor Larive and I were very happy with the overwhelmingly positive remarks and feedback from board members. 

Record Applications

We are eagerly waiting to find out who will be a part of our new first year, transfer and graduate student cohorts. The university has once again had a record number of undergraduate applications - more than 77,500 from first-year and transfer students. That’s a 3.5 percent increase over last year. We continued to see interest from the diverse students across our state.

With a few still open, the Graduate Division has received just under 4,780 applications. That is about the same number as last year and includes masters, MFA, and doctoral programs. 

Infant Care Reopening 

We are happy to announce that in fall 2022, Early Education Services (EES) will be reopening its infant care program and expanding the operating hours. The new hours will be 7:30 am -  5:30 pm. With the increase of service, additional teachers and teaching assistants will be added. 

We anticipate being able to provide care for up to six infants between the ages of 11 and 24 months. As space permits in our toddler program and as infants are ready, they will begin transitioning as early as 18 months.

Search for first VC for diversity, equity and inclusion

We’ve launched a search for UCSC’s first vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Herbie Lee will chair the search advisory committee. We hope to have the new leader on campus in the fall. Judith Estrada will continue to serve as the interim chief diversity officer until our new vice chancellor arrives. We’re grateful for the leadership she provides to our campus and her commitment to transforming our campus.

A Breakthrough Achievement

Congratulations to Karen Miga, assistant professor of biomolecular engineering at UC Santa Cruz, and Adam Phillippy at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) for being the first to truly complete the sequence of a human genome, covering each chromosome from end to end with no gaps and unprecedented accuracy. It is now accessible through the UCSC Genome Browser and is described in six papers published March 31 in Science. Because of their research and others before them, UC Santa Cruz continues to be at the forefront of genomics research and plays a leading role in the Telomere-to-Telomere and pangenomics efforts.

Grad Slam 

I had the opportunity and honor to serve as a judge at this year’s Grad Slam which was held at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center last month. This is a fantastic event where we see the intellectual contributions, energy, exuberance and joy of the research of our graduate students. Being back in person after two years added its own joy. This event is a full-blown collective effort of our Graduate Division colleagues, and I am so grateful to them for a great evening that I know was the culmination of a lot of preparatory and background work.

Amanda Quirk won first place for her presentation, The Tale of Two Galaxies: Studying How Galaxies Change Over Time. As our champion, the 5th-year Ph.D. student in astronomy and astrophysics will compete in the systemwide Grad Slam in San Francisco on May 6.

Jessica Kendall-Bar, a 5th year Ph.D. student in ecology and evolutionary biology, took second place for her presentation, Eavesdropping on the brain at sea: A first glimpse at sleep in wild marine mammals. 

The People’s Choice award went to Melissa Marini Švigelj, 4th-year Ph.D. student in education,with an emphasis in sociology, for her presentation, The Limitations and Potentialities of Educational Civil Rights Protections under IDEA for Incarcerated Children.

I’d like to share a few recent accolades. You can find a more extensive list on the NewsCenter Awards & Honors page. 


Five faculty members in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz have been honored as American Astronomical Society Fellows. They are (from left to right) Professor Natalie Batalha, Professor Emerita Sandra Faber, Professor Emeritus Douglas Lin, Professor and Director of UC Observatories Claire Max, and Professor Emeritus Stan Woosley. This new award from the American Astronomical Society (AAS) honors members for extraordinary achievement and service.


Ocean scientist Claudie Beaulieu wins NSF CAREER Award

Claudie Beaulieu is a professor of ocean sciences. Her research program is motivated by the need to understand the drivers of variability and change in the ocean and climate, and it addresses the challenge of harnessing increasingly complex environmental data.

Computer scientist Yang Liu wins NSF CAREER award

Assistant professor of computer science and engineering Yang Liu will study how algorithms can become biased by replicating existing biases in the data sets that train the models. His team will build models to understand and predict humans’ behaviors when interacting with machine learning algorithms

Marine scientist Adina Paytan wins EGU’s Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal

The medal is awarded annually in recognition of exceptional contributions to the biogeosciences. Paytan studies chemical and biological processes in the oceans, how they have changed over time, and how they are affected by human activities.

Danielle Dadiego named recipient of 2022 Society for American Archaeology Dissertation Award

In her dissertation, Beads, Bullets, and Brokerage: Exploring Economic Agency in Eighteenth-Century West Florida, Dadiego combined three different methods in historical archaeology to provide evidence of how goods moved through colonial and indigenous communities in 18th century West Florida.

Campus News

A remarkable, first-time film course tackles the criminal justice system

In a unique undergraduate class called Making an Exoneree, undergraduate film and digital media majors are paired with law students at Georgetown University to make the case for the innocence of five people behind bars. 

War in Ukraine: Background, Context, Prospects and Implications. 

On March 4th, a panel of UC Santa Cruz faculty, Ph.D. students, and alumni held a discussion on the historical and political context for Russia’s war in and on Ukraine. The event was co-sponsored by the Institute for Social Transformation, The Humanities Institute, and the Arts Research Institute.  

Revised Kresge Renewal project will nearly double number of student beds at UCSC’s sixth residential college

Aside from maximizing the capacity of existing apartments, Kresge will add new residential halls that include 400 beds intended for first-year students. 

UC Santa Cruz to implement strategic plan for internationalization

The university is advancing comprehensive internationalization to ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are prepared and encouraged to study, teach, conduct research, and work in a global context, and that institutional policies, programs, and initiatives are aligned to achieve this shared goal.

The Deep Read Launches - The Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi is this year’s selection. 

The book tells the story of a first-generation PhD student of Neuroscience and her search for the source of human addiction. The novel explores personal loss, the benefits and costs of cultural assimilation for immigrants to the United States, and the contrast between religious faith and scientific inquiry.

You can find more stories highlighting the work, research, and accomplishments of UCSC students, faculty, and staff on the Newscenter website. 

I want to thank each of you for your part in making it possible for us to relax the mask policy starting April 11th. I never get tired of pointing out that UC Santa Cruz is all about community and because each of you has put community first, we all benefit.