Reflecting on the importance of our mission

I wanted to share the message I sent today to the UCSC community:

As we wrap up the quarter and prepare to usher in a new year, I find myself reflecting on the value of what we do at UC Santa Cruz. For me, the drive to move UCSC forward is rooted in a desire to provide opportunity to the next generation. Some call it "giving back." I think of it as investing in the future. 

As a product of public higher education, I know firsthand the impact that accessible, affordable, quality education makes in the lives of high school graduates. Thousands of high school seniors have just applied to UC Santa Cruz. They are hard-working and talented, and we as a campus are committed to helping them realize their ambitions.

For nearly 50 years, UC Santa Cruz has provided a platform on which students build their futures. The campus's impact has been shaped in part by strong campus values of social justice and environmental stewardship, and by students themselves.

Just a few years ago, a handful of students were interested in conserving energy, reducing waste, and saving water—this was before the term "sustainability" became a household word. Those students led the way for the campus, joined by staff, faculty, and administrators who responded enthusiastically to their vision. Today, UCSC's sustainability program is a vital part of this institution.

That's just one example of a student-led initiative that has become integral to who we are and what we do. Minority outreach programs are another example of student-to-student action that has enormous impact. Each spring, members of three student organizations—Destination Higher Education, A Step Forward, and Oportunidades Rumbo A La Educación--reach out to high school seniors from underrepresented groups who are considering enrolling at UCSC. Our students invite them to campus, host them overnight, and introduce them to college life. Not surprisingly, this personal approach makes a big difference; by the end of their visit, an impressive number of these prospective students are eager to enroll.

At the end of each year, when short days and long nights invite reflection, I ponder our collective impact and feel great pride. Banana Slugs--students, faculty, staff, and alumni--share a vision of a better, more just world. Enjoy the break, and I hope you return to campus in January feeling refreshed and ready for another busy quarter. Happy Holidays!

Comments or questions? Write to and put “Year-end message" in the subject line.