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 2000-2004 WASC Accreditation  

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Reflective Essay 1
Defining Institutional Purposes and Ensuring Educational Objectives
UC Santa Cruz defines its purposes and establishes educational objectives aligned with its purposes and character. It has a clear and conscious sense of its essential values and character, its distinctive elements, its place in the higher education community, and its relationship to society at large. Through its purposes and educational objectives, UCSC dedicates itself to higher learning, the search for truth, and the dissemination of knowledge. The campus functions with integrity and autonomy.

Since its founding and the arrival of its first students UC Santa Cruz has adhered firmly to its defined purpose: to serve with distinction the research, teaching, and service mission of the University of California. UC Santa Cruz’s educational objectives are listed below:

  1. Preserve a liberal arts ethos at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
  2. Foster a collaborative ethos in research, teaching, and service.
  3. Foster an uncommon commitment within a major public research university to innovative graduate and professional education.
  4. Foster an uncommon commitment to undergraduate education.
  5. Become the preeminent educational institution in the Silicon Valley and Monterey areas as well as Santa Cruz.
  6. Take advantage of the particular resources of the region, and work cooperatively with local and regional partners.
  7. Achieve a size and diversity that will enable it to serve the UC mission with distinction.
  8. Achieve a mixture of faculty, staff, and students that takes full advantage of the intellectual resources of a socially and culturally diverse state and nation.

There has been constancy in this purpose, which has been articulated clearly throughout UCSC’s history, most recently in the Millennium Committee report (1998). Comparing the Millennium Committee's report, which was adopted by the Chancellor with the endorsement of the Academic Senate, to the campus's first Academic Plan we are struck by the congruity of the two documents. Clearly we have developed evolving strategies to meet these objectives, and to address the maturational processes of the institution. The effectiveness of these strategies may be observed in the present state of the institution.

The Millennium Committee's report, and the subsequent update to the campus' Academic Plan, are the most recent examples of the campus's periodic examination of its institutional strategies which have taken place in individual units and around the whole campus. For example, since the early 1980s each academic program has been reviewed every 5 to 6 years by an external panel of distinguished scholars, and by several Academic Senate committees. These reviews focus on the productivity, quality, and reputation of the program's faculty, the quality of instruction and the coherence and rigor of the program's undergraduate and graduate curriculum and requirements. Achievements of undergraduate and graduate students are also reviewed, as well as the program's attention to student and faculty diversity; the adequacy of its staffing and facilities; the integrity of the program's mode of governance; the degree of faculty collegiality; the impact of the program on campus life, etc. Such reviews have weighed heavily in decisions regarding resource allocations and have proved essential in helping programs refine their emphases, establish hiring priorities, revise curriculum, and otherwise enhance quality and effectiveness.

We present below a brief history of the campus that offers representative examples of the consistency and self-awareness with which UCSC's faculty and administrators have articulated the campus’s mission and educational objectives. They show the seriousness and effectiveness with which the campus has used critical self-evaluation to achieve those objectives.

The Founding Years

When UCSC was founded in the early 1960s as part of the California’s Master Plan to provide higher education to accommodate the rapid growth in the State's population and economy, it dedicated itself to becoming a full partner in the UC system. That mission – to achieve excellence in research, teaching, and public service – has been served with distinction. UCSC's initial academic plan responded to UC's commitment to provide access to all academically qualified undergraduates (i.e., the top one eighth of California’s high school graduates) and to generate, through its graduate programs, the scholars, teachers, innovators, professionals, and business and community leaders needed by the state and nation. The plan envisioned that the campus would grow to a student population of 27,500 by 1990: 15,500 undergraduates and 12,000 graduate and professional students.

UCSC's founding faculty and administrators took seriously then-UC President Clark Kerr’s challenge to use this ‘fresh start’ to develop innovative strategies to serve the tripartite UC mission. In particular, the new campus determined to embed a liberal arts ethos and commitment to undergraduate education so firmly in the campus’s culture that that ethos would remain strong as the campus gradually developed a full complement of graduate and professional programs. Accordingly, the campus leadership worked to recruit an initial faculty who, in addition to having great promise as scholars, were skilled teachers committed to working closely with undergraduate and graduate students.

The campus quickly developed a full spectrum of graduate programs in the natural sciences. In the social sciences, humanities, and arts, however, it initially developed only a limited number of innovative Ph.D. programs. For example, the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Literature brought together faculty, who normally would have been in separate English, German, Romance Languages, and Classics departments; and the Ph.D. program in History of Consciousness involved the collaboration of faculty from literature, philosophy, history, art studies, sociology, anthropology, and political philosophy.

By keeping the number of students in individual graduate programs small, the campus ensured graduate students would develop close working relations with the program faculty. This strategy also enabled faculty to spend more time working on advanced projects with undergraduates. Many undergraduates were given opportunities to undertake original research under faculty direction. In order to focus undergraduates’ attention on the quality of their learning experience (rather than on striving for a grade) the Academic Senate voted to eschew letter grades and, instead, to combine a Pass-No Record system with written performance evaluations[1] for every student in every discipline. Key to the evaluation system was the requirement that each undergraduate, at the end of their senior year, should satisfy a ‘capstone’ exit requirement in their major. The major-sponsoring ‘boards of studies’ experimented with various forms of exit experiences. Some administered comprehensive written examinations; some developed ‘oral comps’ involving two or three faculty examining a graduating senior. A number of majors required a senior thesis, an extended research-based (or, in the Arts, creative) project generated under the direction of a faculty member.

Establishing a residential college system was a further major innovative strategy for fostering a liberal arts ethos, integrating interdisciplinary with disciplinary work, facilitating close student-faculty interaction, and enabling the campus to feel small while growing large. Although they have changed in a number of respects, colleges continue to function as a ‘transition home’ to students from their leaving high school to university graduation; they are essential in the metamorphosis of undergraduates, both intellectually and psycho-socially. The colleges provide a flexible arena for interdisciplinary thinking and scholarship, as well as simulating a family comprised of cohorts and faculty members. Colleges function as social, cultural and volunteerism centers, and are a major focus for alumni and peer reunions.

The Past Two Decades

A doubling of the student body and faculty over the two decades 1970-1990 necessitated major academic reorganization; this in turn strengthened the campus’s ability to achieve its founding educational objectives and serve the UC mission. Strategies to meet the expansion are shown below:

  1. Create interdisciplinary programs.
  2. Add new academic buildings.
  3. Increase residential college accommodation so that undergraduates live on campus at least two years.
  4. Build research institutes and professional schools.
  5. Take advantage of niche opportunities for graduate and professional growth.
  6. Increase outreach programs to increase access and diversity.
  7. Collaborate with a variety of off-campus institutions.
  8. Use information technology creatively.
  9. Build a first-rate library to include digital resources.
  10. Increase fund-raising activities.
  11. Enhance communication strategies about UC Santa Cruz values, goals, programs, activities, achievements, etc.

Beginning in the late 1970s, through a significantly expanded Admissions Office, the campus launched a sustained program to attract first-year and transfer students to the campus. By the mid-1980s, the campus was making concerted outreach efforts to underrepresented students. A comparison of undergraduate and graduate enrollments, by ethnic composition, for 1991-92, and 2001-02 clearly indicates the success of this sustained effort. Although proud of its success to date in achieving a more diverse student body, the campus (see Case Study) has continued to augment and refine its strategies for attracting and retaining a diverse student body that reflects the full spectrum of the State’s population.

As the faculty grew in size, boards of studies (which would be called departments beginning in the 1990s) were able to enrich their curricula, strengthen their requirements, and enhance their popularity, and a number of new undergraduate majors were added. Several of these majors, for example Business Management Economics, and Film and Digital Studies, have rapidly joined the ranks of the campus’s most popular majors.

The number of graduate students in existing programs grew steadily during this period; new graduate or professional programs were added gradually. Particular attention to encouraging such graduate growth and diversification has characterized the past decade, encouraged by both administrative and senate leadership. These efforts bore fruit in the recent inauguration of several new Ph.D. Programs, among them Ocean Sciences (1998 99), Environmental Toxicology (1999-2000), Politics (2000-01), Philosophy (2001-02), and Education (2002-03), as well as several Masters programs. At the same time, graduate students began to press for facilities and services that would enhance the quality of their lives. Such efforts led to a “Graduate Commons” that opened in 2002, and to discussions of the possibility of developing a college that would coordinate a variety of activities and career-development services geared explicitly toward graduate students.

The campus began offering courses in Computer and Information Sciences in the 1970s and, in 1997, the Baskin School of Engineering opened. This state-of-the art professional school specializes in new types of engineering, notably bioinformatics, genomics, nanotechnology, electrical engineering, software and hardware engineering. Several additional engineering and computer science programs were developed at both undergraduate and graduate levels, including M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Electrical Engineering. The campus considers further development of professional programs vital to its future stability and academic health, and is actively exploring several possibilities.

Interdisciplinary research institutes and activities were established in all sectors of the campus, among them the Center for Cultural Studies, the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community, the Center for Adaptive Optics, the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics, the Santa Cruz Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics, the Institute for Networks, Information Systems and Technologies, the Center for Dynamics and Evolution of the Land Sea Interface, the Center for Research on Education, Diversity, and Excellence, the Chicano/Latino Research Center, the Center for Global, International and Regional Studies, the Institute of Marine Studies, and the Institute for Humanities Research.

In addition to the important research emerging from these institutes, they have played significant roles in attracting visiting scholars, post-doctoral fellows, and new faculty and graduate students to UCSC, as well as in generating important external grants and gifts. For example, an initial investment in the Center for Humanities Research led to substantial funding by the Rockefeller Foundation. Our institutes and centers have demonstrably strengthened the campus’s reputation for cutting-edge interdisciplinary work.

In order to meet the goal of providing a superlative undergraduate educational experience, the campus has built many new physical facilities (discussed in Essay 3). The residential colleges grew gradually in size to between 1,200 and 1,500 students each, thus providing revenue to each college that enabled it to offer a more varied array of co-curricular and social activities for its students. Two new Colleges opened in 2000. Each offers a unique focus: one on international issues, and the other on aspects of community service. These Colleges were officially dedicated in October 2003.

The UC Santa Cruz Libraries

The growth of the campus's libraries has been and will continue to be critical to the academic growth of all fields. The opening of the award-winning Science and Engineering Library on ‘Science Hill’ in the early 1990s dramatically augmented the continually expanding resources of the original McHenry Library. The large new addition to the McHenry library, planned to begin construction in three years, will accommodate further expansion of library holdings and provide state-of-the-art web based services. The campus libraries have in fact taken full advantage of the web to enhance the campus's resources for research and teaching, at the same time that they have steadily built their print, multimedia, and archival collections. In addition to spending over $3.5 million annually over the next decade to augment its physical collections, thus adding steadily to its present holdings of more than 1,400,000 volumes and other items, the libraries will, through their partnership in UC’s California Digital Library, continue to contribute to and enjoy full access to the world-class resources of the entire University library system and will itself contribute significant specialized research resources to that system. As part of its development strategy, the Library will further increase its solicitation of non-state support, including both funding and research collections, from foundations, corporations, and private donors – a fund-raising effort that has already generated over $2.35 million in endowments and annual gifts. The campus anticipates that its investment in the Library's further growth will result in its admission to the Association of Research Libraries within the next decade.

With the Help of Our Alumni, Partners, and Other Supporters…

The role of UCSC alumni in supporting the campus’s objectives and mission was strengthened by means of an Alumni Council, regional alumni activities, and campus reunions. These activities and structures have helped keep alumni more fully informed about campus developments, to respond to alumni concerns, and take advantage of their own career successes and their movement into positions of leadership in and outside California.

The sizeable growth of campus fund-raising efforts, both the generation of research and curricular and institutional development grants and the generation of private and corporate gifts, has significantly enhanced the campus’s ability to achieve its educational objectives, as revealed more fully in Essay 3.

By cultivating partnerships, we have leveraged our resources, talents, and relationships. A variety of these partnerships is exemplified below:

  1. Most recently, the campus announced its partnership with NASA. UCSC will manage NASA’s first UARC (University-Affiliated Research Center) at the NASA Ames, Silicon Valley site. The contract is for $330 million dollars over a ten-year period. The partnership will generate opportunities and management monies that will contribute greatly to developing related research programs at Santa Cruz and at the Silicon Valley Center.
  2. UC Santa Cruz is currently negotiating a partnership with Cal Tech University to design and operate the new CELT (California Extremely Large Telescope). Currently it manages both the Lick and Keck Observatories.
  3. UC has developed the California Research and Education Network (and subsequently outsourced its management to CENIC). CalREN is one of the most advanced statewide and intercampus networks, which serves not only the UC, but all California’s educational institutions.
  4. The campus is an active research participant in two of the four California Institutes for Science and Innovation – playing a key role in both QB3 (California Institute for Bioengineering, Biotechnology and Quantitative Medicine), and CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society).
  5. To take advantage of the more than 20 research institutes with a focus on the Monterey Bay, the campus has partnered with both State and Federal agencies to create research facilities and service organizations that would be otherwise not possible. For example, Long Marine Laboratory leverages connections with NOAA, the California Department of Fish and Game, the US Geological Survey and state and federal marine facilities around the Bay (Monterey Bay Crescent Ocean Research Consortium).
  6. Our students and faculty have access to specialized disciplines and research programs through a sophisticated distributed learning network, and through off-campus partnerships. For example, the campus has several distance education classrooms (on campus and in Silicon Valley). The UC TLtC (Teaching, Learning & Technology Center) webzine highlights some of the programs in which our students and faculty participate.
  7. The campus interfaces with K-12 schools throughout California in programs sponsored and coordinated by our highly innovative and successful Educational Partnership Center (EPC) and supported by several large federal grants including a $14.8 million NSF Center for Informal Learning and Schools.
  8. The California Digital Library, a co-library of UC provides our students and faculty with access (on-line and in print – through a sophisticated interlibrary loan system) with resources at any UC Library.
  9. The campus is currently exploring a partnership with the Monterey Institute of International Studies, which will significantly strengthen and expand many of our programs in international policy studies, translation and interpretation, language teaching and international business.

The dramatic progress of the 1980s and 1990s was summarized in 1998 in a major campus statement, UCSC at the Crossroads, the report of the 22 member Millennium Committee. This report generated 113 ‘invitations to action’. The campus is answering these calls in order of priority, as is shown in the following essays.

The Millennium Committee’s report was a ringing endorsement of the campus's commitment to use its further growth to become an outstanding research university whose unparalleled commitment to highest quality undergraduate education was linked organically to providing excellent graduate education. The report challenged the campus faculty, students, and staff to engage with the region, the state, and the nation in long-term sustained partnerships. Among its most important conclusions was that campus planning processes had become incremental and formulaic, thereby muting UC Santa Cruz’s fundamental goals and objectives. To align processes and goals more systematically, the campus has used the conclusions of the Millennium Report as the foundation for the design of a new process for strategic planning. This story continues in Essay 3.

Aerial photograph of UC Santa Cruz. The campus of over 2000 acres, situated adjacent to Monterey Bay, was recently named the “most beautiful US campus” by the Princeton Review.

[1] Known prior to 2001 as the “narrative evaluation system.”



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