Campus update: The return from spring break; White House honor for Ramirez-Ruiz; plaudits for impressive holiday food drive

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor Cindy Larive

It’s great to see so many people out and about on campus. The spring-like weather of the past week surely hasn’t hurt, but there’s also so much happening right now.

I was able to catch our women's basketball team at the Kaiser Permanente Arena on Saturday. Thank you to all you Slug supporters who turned out. The women lost a Coast-To-Coast Tournament finals heart-breaker, but that doesn’t diminish the fantastic season these incredible scholar-athletes put together. They finished the regular season 16-4, a school-record for winning percentage. Congratulations!

Sunday I was thrilled to see ’da Kink in My Hair, put on by our African American Theater Arts Troupe on the Mainstage at our Theater Arts Center. The play was incredibly moving and thought-provoking. Congratulations to the entire troupe, from the actors to those working behind the scenes. It was an extremely well-done production. Thank you!

We’re smack dab in the busiest stretch of winter quarter right now, but take a breather when you can. Mental breaks are not only recommended but necessary!

The Highlights

  • COVID and spring break
  • Mask policy still in effect on campus
  • Resources available to those struggling with world events
  • Ramirez-Ruiz lauded by White House
  • Search for VC for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion under way
  • Campus lauded for impressive holiday food drive
  • March is Women’s History Month
  • Alumni Weekend reminder

Spring Break, before and after

Campus health officials have put together guidelines for those planning to travel this spring break. Following them helps protect all members of our campus community. We have been successful in mitigating the spread of COVID in our campus community by observing these types of basic precautions. It’s possible to have fun and still be safe!

  • Test on campus before you travel to protect your own health, as well as the health of your family and friends.
  • Make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccinations before traveling. Getting boosted as soon as you are eligible not only reduces your chance of getting seriously ill should you contract COVID, it is required by the University of California.
  • Know before you go: Follow the latest CDC guidelines for domestic and international travel.

Messages sent to students and employees this week detail what is expected upon your return from break. In short, students are required to test 24 hours before returning to campus. If your COVID-19 vaccinations are up to date, you are asked to take another test seven days after your return. If you are not up to date, you are asked to take a second test 48 hours after your arrival. Thank you for your continued care and cooperation in following campus COVID protocols. It demonstrates compassion and a concern for all in our campus community.

To allow for easier testing before your return to campus, at-home antigen testing kits are available for students to pick up beginning March 7 at the College Housing Offices, Bay Tree Campus Store, Barn Theater, and our Scotts Valley Center.

Campus mask-wearing protocols remain place

California earlier this week changed its mask guidance. The requirement that unvaccinated individuals mask in indoor public settings is now a strong recommendation that all persons, regardless of vaccine status, continue indoor masking. Masks will no longer be required in K-12 schools as of March 11, leaving it up to counties and school districts to decide whether to keep or rescind face-covering requirements. It feels great to be moving in this direction; however, please note that campus protocols have yet to change. We are currently reviewing our mask guidelines and expect to communicate expectations for spring quarter.

Resources available to those struggling with world events

I know that many people in our community have personal and professional connections with Ukraine, Ukrainians, and others now in peril. As Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer and I wrote in a message published in this week’s Tuesday Newsday, if you or someone you know needs support, please take advantage of the free campus resources available that are detailed in the message. These are difficult times, and it’s important that we support each other.

Professor Ramirez-Ruiz honored by White House

I was thrilled to learn earlier this month that Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, was honored by the White House with a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Mentors play a crucial role in developing a science and engineering workforce that reflects the immense talent that exists in all corners of our state, nation and world, and Enrico’s work in this arena is second to none.

Enrico has promoted STEM training research programs during his entire 14 years at UCSC, and has mentored hundreds of students, postdocs, and junior faculty. His NSF-funded Lamat mentorship program has been remarkably successful at increasing the number of historically marginalized students who earn doctorates in astrophysics, with a dozen earning prestigious NASA postdoctoral fellowships. Incredibly, Enrico and the Lamat program have together trained half of all historically marginalized students receiving astronomy Ph.D.s in the United States in the past five years. He is extremely deserving of this honor. Congratulations, Enrico!

Search underway for first VC for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

I am pleased to pass along that we have kicked off a national search for our first-ever Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We hope to complete the search in time to have the new leader on campus in the fall. Fostering an inclusive campus climate that embraces and values diversity and equity is a campus priority, and I look forward to campus input on the appointment. The finalists will visit us toward the end of spring quarter, with each giving a town-hall talk open to members of our campus community. More information on the search and how to offer feedback can be found on our Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion recruitment webpage.

Our most successful holiday food drive yet

I offer my deep gratitude to all who took part in the recent Second Harvest Holiday Food & Fund Drive. Each year the campus collects food and financial contributions for the drive, and this year we surpassed all of our previous totals. We raised the equivalent of 376,099 meals! That earned us the President’s Cup award, given each year to the public institution that raises the most meals during the annual food drive! As co-chair of the larger Second Harvest Drive, this campus effort makes me especially proud. UC Santa Cruz fosters such a strong culture of giving. There’s a deep sense of responsibility and community. I am grateful to everyone who helped make this year’s drive such a success. These are hard times economically for so many, and your contributions make a tangible, significant difference.

Celebrating Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month, observed every March, encourages the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in U.S. history. I appreciate the opportunity to honor the excellence of our colleagues, students, alumni, and friends. Look for stories throughout the month in Tuesday Newsday and on our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) that highlight some of the many women in our campus community doing extraordinarily important and impactful work.

I was extremely proud to learn recently that our campus is No. 1 in the nation among R1 universities for racial and gender diversity in leadership. Our gender diversity at the chancellor, campus provost, and dean levels stands out among our peers. Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Kletzer and I are committed to diversifying leadership at all levels campuswide, as we believe strongly that with diversity comes excellence.

Alumni Week 2022 coming at end of April

Alumni Week 2022 is just around the corner (April 19-24) and event registration is now open. This year features virtual events Tuesday through Thursday, with in-person events Friday through Sunday. Check out the website for the full slate of activities and register now! It will be wonderful to have so many Slugs connecting with us virtually and back on campus again!

I know these are busy times for everyone right now. Good luck to our students, faculty and staff as we wrap up the winter quarter.