Campus update: Quarter winding down, commencement plans in place, enroll in Summer Session now

Dear Campus Community,

I hope the wonderful weather we’ve been experiencing has given you a boost as we speed toward the conclusion of spring quarter. The next few weeks are among the busiest of the academic year. Instruction ends June 9, followed by finals, commencement, and then it’s on to summer! To our students, good luck as you prepare for the end of the term and your final exams. Know that the whole campus is rooting for your success. To our faculty and staff, thank you for all that you do to support our students and to advance the mission of our university. You are making a difference in the lives of so many.

For those of you who are graduating, congratulations! We are so excited to see what you will accomplish as Banana Slug alumni, and we hope that you will stay engaged with UC Santa Cruz as you continue on your personal and academic journeys.

This academic year has been a remarkable one. Naming UC Santa Cruz’s Research Center for the Americas in honor of social justice icon Dolores Huerta was a special way to kick off the year. That was immediately followed by the news that our campus had earned the prestigious Seal of Excelencia certification in recognition of our campuswide efforts to serve Latinx students. From our deep involvement with the release of the first human pangenome to the launch of our new Center for Coastal Climate Resilience to the opening of our long-planned Institute of the Arts and Sciences off-campus gallery — the strength, energy, and determination of our Banana Slug community continue to amaze me.

The Highlights

  • Commencement plans in place
  • Something for everyone at Summer Session
  • May is AAPI Heritage, Jewish American Heritage, Mental Health Awareness Month
  • Input sought on Leading the Change, the UC Santa Cruz Strategic Academic Plan

Looking forward to commencement

Commencement is an exciting time at UC Santa Cruz. Family, friends, and the campus community are able to come together during Slug Crossing to celebrate the Class of 2023. Set for Thursday through Sunday, June 15-18, on the Upper East Field, Slug Crossing will also be live-streamed for those unable to join in person. Other virtual components of the celebration will be available on the Commencement 2023 website starting at 5 p.m. that Thursday.

I know many faculty and staff enjoy volunteering at commencement. Helping students and their guests have the best experience possible is a wonderful feeling. If you’d like to get involved, there is an online sign-up form that lists available volunteer opportunities. Thank you so much for your help.

Enroll in Summer Session

While summer is often a time for internships, jobs and vacations, it’s also a fantastic opportunity for students to make progress toward their educational goals. Our new Pay For Only 10 program helps students take advantage of educational benefits that can be had through summer session. This summer, all current and incoming UCSC and UC undergraduates will only pay for up to 10 credits of summer tuition, even if taking more than 10 credits. This means our students can make degree progress this summer at reduced cost. An array of online and in-person courses are available to complete major and general education requirements. Please visit the Summer Session website for details. Also, remember that Summer Session classes are open to everyone, so faculty, staff, alumni, community members and even eligible high school students can learn about a host of topics from our stellar instructors!

Celebrating May heritage and awareness months

UC Santa Cruz strives to be a place where every student can see themselves and be themselves, where the diversity of our students is celebrated each day. Our communities are made better by embracing and celebrating the differences that define us. With that in mind, I’d like to recognize some of the heritage and awareness months that take place in May.

  • Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is an opportunity to highlight the history, culture and contributions of generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have enriched our community. At UCSC, our Asian American/Pacific Islander Resource Center (AA/PIRC) is a leader in efforts to co-create engagement with students who identify as part of the Asian American, Pacific Islander, South Asian, Southwest Asian and North African diasporas on our campus. The AAPI Faculty and Staff Group meets regularly and recently launched a newsletter to elevate the collective voice of the community and to recognize and share the accomplishments of its members. UC Santa Cruz holds the distinction of being one of only two members of the Association of American Universities designated both as an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI), highlighting our commitment to equitable educational access and research excellence. A new endowed professorship for the UC Santa Cruz Center for South Asian Studies will advance the center as a thriving hub for faculty, students, and visiting scholars.
  • Jewish American Heritage Month marks the contributions of generations of Jewish Americans to our community, state, and nation. California is home to a large and vibrant Jewish population that traces its roots to all corners of the globe. Our Jewish students, staff, faculty, and community members have helped shape UC Santa Cruz into the center for academic excellence it is today. Our Jewish students find community in a number of student organizations, among them the Jewish Student Union and the Leviathan Jewish Journal. Some of them also find community in external organizations such as Hillel and Chabad. Academically, Jewish Studies is an exciting interdisciplinary program that connects historical and contemporary expressions of Judaism with the arts, history, religion, world languages, and other areas. It is important for us to acknowledge that we, as a campus, have more to do in supporting our Jewish community members and speaking out against all forms of hate and injustice, including antisemitism. The recent high-profile incidents that took place on and off campus have prompted additional reflection about how we can support our Jewish students and all members of our community. Some of these ideas are just starting to come to fruition, and we will be sharing them at the appropriate times. In the meantime, it is important that we come together as a community to celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month with the joy it deserves.
  • Mental Health Awareness Month encourages us to attend to our own mental health and to the mental health of those within our communities. The need to raise awareness about mental health has never been greater. Study after study has shown that our collective mental health has suffered in recent years, and college students are no exception. Even pre-COVID, college students reported deteriorating mental health and well-being, and this time of year is especially difficult, with end-of-quarter assignments and final exams right around the corner. The 2021-2022 National Healthy Minds Study revealed that nearly 23 percent of surveyed students indicated severe depression, 18 percent indicated severe anxiety, and 30 percent said they often felt isolated. These figures require our shared attention and response. A good starting place is to acknowledge the situation — Mental Health Awareness Month does that — and address the circumstances contributing to it. We encourage students and colleagues to participate in one of the many activities planned throughout May by Student Health Outreach and Promotion and by Counseling and Psychological Services. Year-round, CAPS provides assistance for students while the Employee Assistance Program can provide counseling and support to faculty and staff.

AAPI Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month are opportunities for us to commemorate and celebrate joyfully while repudiating efforts to divide us. As Banana Slugs, we stand together as a community that celebrates and upholds differences. There is so much at stake in ensuring that UC Santa Cruz continues to be a more diverse, welcoming, and inclusive climate for all.

Another opportunity to weigh in on our strategic planning work

As Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer and I announced earlier this month, we have reached a milestone in our campus community’s work on Leading the Change: the UC Santa Cruz Strategic Plan, our effort to develop a shared vision for the campus future. After nearly a year of gathering feedback, the final Leading the Change committee draft reports and draft mission and vision statements are now available for review. Community feedback on these reports and statements is so valuable, and we are collecting it through Friday, June 30. Please weigh in to help craft the direction of our campus over the next decade! These collective insights will be reviewed and included as appropriate to finalize our work. Please visit the website for more information.