I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made with the Art Division’s new Creative Technologies online major, which we announced in October and will officially launch next fall. There’s a story in this edition of the magazine that breaks down what it is—a major focused on traditional teaching with additional curriculum in computing, historical context, and entrepreneurship. What makes it so groundbreaking is the online component—the major is the first of its kind on any UC campus. It is a good example of how we are working creatively to expand higher education opportunities, access, and equity.
Though we are excited to welcome new frosh and transfer students to campus each fall, we know that some students may be location-bound because of their need to support dependents or continue full-time work. For such students, moving to Santa Cruz may be challenging if not impossible. This major gives these students, as well as those who follow the more traditional residential education path, the opportunity to earn a UC Santa Cruz degree in the exciting area of digital arts.
Our expanded Summer Session is another way we are striving for educational equity. We have seen record-breaking summer enrollment in recent years, with our Summer Session and Online Education units funding, developing, and offering more online courses, which have been a big hit with students. Departments and colleges have simultaneously expanded their offerings, which help students make progress toward their academic goals. Thanks to innovative faculty, supportive academic advisers, and dedicated staff, we are able to offer a wide range of remote classes for our summertime Slugs, from foundational calculus courses for math, science, and engineering majors to personal finance instruction for all who are interested. Our expanded summer offerings give students an opportunity to get a head start, work toward a minor or double major, and graduate on-time or even early; they have had a direct impact on our three-year graduation rate. Summer online instruction is a positive student-serving development for our campus, and one that we hope to continue to grow.
Another front in our push to expand educational opportunity and degree attainment is our effort to strengthen transfer pathways so that more students choose to come to UC Santa Cruz after two years at a California Community College. We are focused on enhancing our support systems to help transfer students achieve their educational goals as they work toward completion of their bachelor’s degree from our campus.
I’m proud to say that UC Santa Cruz was one of seven public universities recently selected to take part in a project sponsored by the American Talent Initiative and the prestigious Association of American Universities (of which we are a member) that aims to create transfer program models of excellence—ones that demonstrate equitable access and long-term student success. The leaders of each of the participating universities met for the first time last month. It was exciting to talk about the shared challenges and opportunities before us, and to plot our course of action.
Our Cultivamos Excelencia project, funded by a $3 million federal grant, contributes to our efforts to support Latinx community college students in transferring to UC Santa Cruz. The project is building and strengthening relationships with local community colleges while allowing us to deepen our understanding of transfer pathways at the departmental level and streamline the transfer process. Cultivamos Excelencia helps transfer students attain their educational goals by expanding opportunities to participate in faculty-mentored research and prepare for graduate school. Nationwide, Latinx students receive about 12 percent of bachelor’s degrees but only 6 percent of Ph.D. degrees, and our campus is working to help to close this gap.
Our goals are big. We are working toward systemic change that will streamline transfer pathways and improve the lives of local community college students—so many of whom are Latinx, first-generation, and low-income students—while also improving retention and graduation rates on our campus, and closing equity gaps.
This work has been helped by funding provided by what we know as the “Compact,” a five-year agreement between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the University of California to prioritize the advancement of student-focused goals. Expanding access to the UC is a key element of the agreement, as is providing greater access to online course offerings. The state funds that have come to our campus as part of the agreement have been very helpful for our work to close equity gaps in key gateway courses, and in retention and graduation rates.
I’m heartened to see so much progress—each new project, program, and online major is a step toward a transformed university. Together we are working to make a difference in the lives of our students while at UC Santa Cruz and in their future careers.
Cynthia Larive, Chancellor