Campus update: Celebrating Earth Day, thank you Spring Give supporters, Potential Slugs in their element

To: UCSC Community

From: Chancellor Cynthia Larive

The UC Santa Cruz community will join millions of people worldwide next week to commemorate Earth Day, established more than a half-century ago to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It’s a day tailor made for UC Santa Cruz. Sustainability is a focus of our research, a tenet in our operational practices, a core pillar of our recently completed campuswide strategic plan, and an increasingly important element of every campus capital project we pursue. Our students have been powerful partners in our efforts to advance sustainability, and we’ve built an especially strong Sustainability Office that helps to keep us at the forefront of climate-action and sustainability trends.

Rachel Carson College – named in honor of the scientist and author who helped to launch the environmental movement – is holding a weeklong series of events dubbed RCC Earth Week 2024. Events kick off on Earth Day itself, Monday, April 22. The college’s newly opened dining hall is a testament to our commitment to live by our values. We dual-plumbed the building and will soon harvest rainwater for non-potable demands such as irrigation and toilet flushing. The building is all electric, which enables us to power it with clean, renewable energy sources. We utilized super-insulated building skins, which reduces the need for cooling systems, and the primary structure material is CLT, or Cross-Laminated Timber, which is a state-of-the-art renewable wood product. The Rachel Carson project and our Kresge College renewal were among the first projects in the UC system to utilize this sustainable material.

Something new we’re trying to help our community members live more sustainably is a recycling app. At its core is the acknowledgement that, well, recycling and composting properly can be confusing! Tossing items into incorrect waste streams can lead to landfilling recyclables or compostables. We hope the Recycle Coach helps to stop that. The app tells users exactly how to dispose of any item on campus. Since UCSC’s waste rules are built into the app, you can discard your items knowing you’ve selected the right bin. Visit the newly updated UCSC Waste Management website for more details.

Additional campus Earth Week happenings can be found on the Sustainability Office events page, including a Campus Clean-up planned for May 4 to close out Earth Month.

The Highlights

  • Dealing with the impacts of a campus power outage
  • Broad support for Spring Give
  • Awards program honors impactful innovation
  • Celebrating our golden alumni
  • Potential Slugs in their element

Dealing with the impacts of a campus power outage

The campus power outages of the past week have been difficult for our community, and I want to assure everyone that we have been doing all we can to ease the burdens that the outages create. Our utility team was in close contact with PG&E during both power failures, as the outages were the result of problems the utility company was experiencing off campus. Thank you all for your patience. I understand that these outages can be stressful. I am especially grateful to the hundreds of staff and faculty members who pivoted from their usual duties, devising creative instructional methods, providing dining options for on-campus residents, refueling emergency generators, and generally making sure our community members were cared for. That is no small task for a campus of our size. We do have a back-up cogeneration power system on campus, but it only has the capacity to meet a fraction of our power demands. For that, we depend on PG&E, and as evidenced by the outages, the wider public-power system is not without issues.

Broad support for Spring Give

The generosity of the UC Santa Cruz community never ceases to amaze me. This year’s Spring Give, our annual crowdfunding effort that wrapped up Friday, raised a remarkable $150,478, with more than 2,260 donors taking part. Both figures are big jumps from last year. The total raised increased by about 40 percent and the number of those giving jumped by roughly 200 percent! That is amazing. The Spring Give is unique in that it allows donors to pinpoint exactly where their money is going, with dozens of campus organizations drumming up support from their backers. Thank you to all involved – University Advancement organized the event and a whopping 86 student groups took part – and especially to all who gave!

Innovation awards recognize work across campus, in community

Congrats to the recipients of the 2023 Chancellor’s Innovation Impact Awards, which were announced Thursday evening. The awards recognize the outstanding research and creativity taking place across the university and wider Santa Cruz community. This year’s awardees were three faculty members – Holger Schmidt and Susana Ruiz (and her team) each received an Innovator of the Year Award, while David Haussler was honored for Lifetime Achievement in Innovation – and Santa Cruz’s Homeless Garden Project, which was presented with the Community Changemaker Award.

Now in its second year, the awards program celebrates innovation with positive real-world impacts. That’s what is so special about these awards. We’re recognizing members of our community who are committed to addressing the world’s most vexing issues and solving longstanding scientific and technical puzzles that have the potential to greatly improve people’s lives. Others who are honored are literally getting their hands dirty to help give their neighbors a better future. It is inspiring to come together to celebrate all of this work!

Alumni Reunion Weekend draws a crowd

The campus was filled with golden Banana Slugs this past weekend as Alumni Reunion Weekend celebrated graduates from the classes of 1965 through 1974. The annual weekend honors those who have reached the 50-year milestone and serves as our recognition that UC Santa Cruz’s standing as a premier research and educational institution results from the contributions made by those earliest alumni. More than 200 people attended events Friday through Sunday. Highlights included the dedication of a new path to Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery in the name of late Cowell Provost John Lynch, and numerous events that brought together alumni with current students – interactions that are special for both groups.

This summer, we’ll host another alumni event, as Return to the Redwoods happens Aug. 16–18. It is a one-of-a-kind campus experience during which alumni can stay overnight in the residence halls, letting them show their kids, grandkids or friends what is so magical about this place. Last year’s event saw 400 alumni register for events, with 300-plus choosing to spend the weekend living in campus dorms and apartments at Cowell and Stevenson colleges. Based on early registrations, this year’s attendance could double the 2023 number. It is shaping up to be a fantastic new UC Santa Cruz tradition. Visit the event website for more details.

Ooze coming? Potential Banana Slugs check out campus

They say Banana Slugs come out in the rain. Well that’s apparently the case with potential Banana Slugs, too, as we had a packed house at Banana Slug Day on Saturday despite stormy weather. An estimated 4,000 admitted students and their families visited campus for the special preview day. It was a chance to celebrate their admission, tour our beautiful campus, and connect with our extraordinary community. Highlights included a housing display featuring a dorm room mock-up, interactive Baskin Engineering and Coastal Campus tours, tables on student resources and organizations, and lots of opportunities to chat with faculty. A standout event was the Black Excellence Breakfast, featuring performances and a panel discussion. Additionally, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions is hosting admitted-student receptions in more than 15 locations across the United States and nine international cities, with Transfer Banana Slug Day slated for May 11. Opportunity and access to an excellent educational experience are two of our core values, and it’s exciting to show prospective students the possibilities that lie ahead!