2016-17 Undergraduate Education Updates

Date: 
20 Sep 2016
Description: 

Dear All,

As we welcome new, continuing, and visiting students to campus, I want to thank everyone for their collaboration and efforts in supporting our students and the unique and exceptional UC Santa Cruz experience. There are many things of note heading into fall and the coming year, and I wish to highlight a few in this lengthy email.

It is exceptionally wonderful to head into the new year with Rachel Carson College (formerly College 8). The name is a perfect fit for the college and our campus. The new college endowment and the Robert Headley Presidential Chair for Integral Ecology and Environmental Justice will ensure long-term success of the college’s many academic and co-curricular programs related to sustainability. Please join me in congratulating Rachel Carson College Provost Ronnie Lipschutz, University Relations, and all others involved in this momentous change to our campus.

There are two giant projects that will touch every aspect of our division: student recruitment and the curriculum management project. Student recruitment will continue to be under the intense microscope of the Office of the President and the State as we focus on geographic diversity, amplifying this year’s gains in African-American and Native American enrollment, heightened outreach to underserved communities, and meeting enrollment targets as exactly as possible. Michelle Whittingham will be leading this work through broad collaborations, most especially with Admissions, Financial Aid, Global Engagement, Institutional Research and Policy Studies, and the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid.

The curriculum management project is working to redesign the tools, documents, and processes at the core of our academic mission: how we archive and present our requirements and offerings (the general catalog); how we update and improve courses and programs (the online curriculum approval system); how we plan, schedule, and budget curricula (the campus curriculum and leave planning system); and how all these systems interact with each other and most importantly with students, advisors, and curricular managers. I will be working closely with the Office of the Registrar, Academic Senate, and the entire campus community on this project. To better align reporting structures for these two projects, the Office of the Registrar will begin reporting to me effective today.

A third giant project will be touching every lower-division incoming student in future years: the design and refocusing of the first-year curriculum to enhance our collegiate delivery of the key academic foundations of reading, writing, scholarship, and community. This collaboration among the Council of Provosts, Writing Program, Academic Senate, and Divisions of Undergraduate Education and Humanities is challenging as we seek to better apply the most recent research in student learning, development, and success to our campus at a time of increasing students and student need, but also constrained resources. I am confident that as we continue to examine this project from all angles, an appropriate approach will be found leading to deliberative change over the next few years.

I could go on about our multitude of giant and large projects throughout and surrounding the division (ecommons, prior prior year, three-year pathways, student success collaborative, summer academies and hosting WASSA, talent search, transfer pathways, student growth, college record renaming, Koret scholars, orientation leader selection and training, web-based personnel actions, ...), and the even broader range things that we do daily to ensure our students’ and campus’ success. However, I wish to turn to some additional thoughts.

My favorite part of 2015-16 was traveling around the campus and division for informal discussions with many of you in small or smallish groups. I learned about the great work that is going on throughout the division, as well as some of the challenges being faced from enrollment and application growth. Even in the absence of new resources, I am glad that themes that appeared, such as discussions of workload due to staff vacancies or rapid application growth, for example, are leading to some positive changes. Because of these discussions, some units have implemented a more streamlined and targeted recruitment timeline intended to reduce the amount of time the unit spends to fill a vacancy. I will continue to work with leaders and units to see how we may continue to seek solutions. Equally or more valuable was the opportunity to learn about the many backgrounds and experiences that have led to our collective dedication to educational access and success. Thank you all, and I am looking forward to continuing informal discussions this year.

Coupled with this informal feedback, I would like to personally encourage everyone who has not yet done so, to take part in the Divisional Employee Engagement Survey, with appreciation to the Personnel Advisory Group and the Operations Advisory Group. The survey is providing important feedback that I will be working on with divisional leaders to seek to find ways we may address themes and issues that are provided.

Coincident to the naming of Rachel Carson College, I am pleased to introduce new letterhead templates for use throughout the division, both the archaic “(letterhead for internal use)” and the formal letterhead. These letterheads highlight the many collaborating parts of our division as well as the modern technology of two-color documents. The templates, which will need to be adjusted for unit names, are available above.

Finally, I would like to share the results of the many hands who participated in our collaborative art project during the staff appreciation breakfast. Jennifer Hamilton, an art and cognitive science major from Rachel Carson College and Summer Session put together a creative collage of the decorated hands seen below.  I am delighted to have the original in my office as an illustration of the many UE hands working to help our students succeed; if you have a chance, please stop by to view and chat.

Thanks, and welcome to 2016–17,
Richard