Hello Banana Slugs! This is an exciting time at UC Santa Cruz, as so many in our community are on campus again, living, working, and learning together. I’m thrilled to share some of what has been unfolding this winter quarter.
We have been keeping a tight focus on social justice. Distinguished sociologist Ruha Benjamin, a scholar of tech-reinforced racism, will speak at our 38th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Convocation, a virtual event set for Feb. 23. She is an African American studies professor at Princeton University who researches the ways discrimination is hardwired into modern technology. The convocation is free and open to the public. This annual celebration of King’s life and legacy has become a proud tradition for our campus.
Many of you — our alumni, especially — might still think about College Ten as … well … College Ten. We’re getting much closer to the day when we will formally name the college for the late John R. Lewis, a civil rights icon and leader in this country’s continuing struggle for freedom, equality, and basic human rights for all. In the run-up to the official naming, our Division of Social Sciences, Colleges Nine and Ten, our Institute for Social Transformation, and our Center for Racial Justice have organized Necessary Trouble, a five-part series of lightning talks and discussions centered on topics exemplified by Lewis. This celebratory series highlights the efforts of all in our community — faculty, students, staff, and alumni — working for social and racial justice, civic engagement, and democracy.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure to announce a bold faculty-hiring initiative that will shape the university’s future and improve our equity outcomes. We aim to hire 100 additional Senate faculty over the next decade. These positions are part of a broader effort to advance student success and research excellence, cementing our reputation as a global leader at the intersection of innovation and justice. This is the most significant faculty-hiring effort our campus has pursued since our founding, and the positive impact on our students and research enterprise will be immense. Coupled with roughly 200 additional hires anticipated over the next decade due to faculty retirements and separations, this initiative also offers us an unparalleled opportunity to increase the diversity of our faculty. UCSC is committed to real, transformative change, and this initiative advances our efforts on that front in multiple ways.
Finally, Alumni Week 2022 is right around the corner. This year’s festivities will stretch out over the better part of a week, April 19–24, and will include a mix of virtual and in-person events. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Alumni Voices,” and I invite you to join us. The website and registration page has just gone live. My thanks to the many alumni who eagerly raised their hands to participate this year, particularly in the popular Banana Slug Share Sessions. Your generosity, curiosity, and continued engagement with your university is very much appreciated.
Cynthia Larive, Chancellor