University of California, Santa Cruz

University of California, Santa Cruz
The University of California 1868 UCSC.svg
MottoFiat lux (Latin)
Motto in English
Let there be light
Endowment$190.1 million (2017)[2]
ChancellorGeorge Blumenthal
ProvostMarlene Tromp
Students18,783 (fall 2016)[3]
Undergraduates16,962 (fall 2016)[3]
Postgraduates1,821 (fall 2016)[3]
2,000 acres (810 ha)[4]
Academic termQuarter
ColorsBlue and Gold[5]
AthleticsNCAA Division IIIIndependent
NicknameBanana Slugs
AffiliationsUniversity of California
MascotSammy the Slug[6]
UC Santa Cruz logo.svg

The University of California, Santa Cruz (also known as UC Santa Cruz or UCSC) is a public research university in Santa Cruz, California. It is one of 10 campuses in the University of California system. Located 75 miles (120 km) south of San Francisco at the edge of the coastal community of Santa Cruz, the campus lies on 2,001 acres (810 ha) of rolling, forested hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay.

Founded in 1965, UC Santa Cruz began as a showcase for progressive, cross-disciplinary undergraduate education, innovative teaching methods and contemporary architecture. Since then, it has evolved into a modern research university with a wide variety of both undergraduate and graduate programs, while retaining its reputation for strong undergraduate support and student political activism. The residential college system, which consists of ten small colleges, is intended to combine the student support of a small college with the resources of a major university.


Although some of the original founders had already outlined plans for an institution like UCSC as early as the 1930s, the opportunity to realize their vision did not present itself until the City of Santa Cruz made a bid to the University of California Regents in the mid-1950s to build a campus just outside town, in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.[7] The Santa Cruz site was selected over a competing proposal to build the campus closer to the population center of San Jose. Santa Cruz was selected for the beauty, rather than the practicality, of its location, however, and its remoteness led to the decision to develop a residential college system that would house most of the students on-campus.[8] The formal design process of the Santa Cruz campus began in the late 1950s, culminating in the Long Range Development Plan of 1963.[9] Construction had started by 1964, and the university was able to accommodate its first students (albeit living in trailers on what is now the East Field athletic area) in 1965. The campus was intended to be a showcase for contemporary architecture, progressive teaching methods, and undergraduate research.[10][11][12] According to founding chancellor Dean McHenry, the purpose of the distributed college system was to combine the benefits of a major research university with the intimacy of a smaller college.[13][14] UC President Clark Kerr shared a passion with former Stanford roommate McHenry to build a university modeled as "several Swarthmores" (i.e., small liberal arts colleges) in close proximity to each other.[13][15] Roads on campus were named after UC Regents who voted in favor of building the campus.

McHenry Library

Impact on Santa Cruz

Although the city of Santa Cruz already exhibited a strong conservation ethic before the founding of the university, the coincidental rise of the counterculture of the 1960s with the university's establishment fundamentally altered its subsequent development. Early student and faculty activism at UCSC pioneered an approach to environmentalism that greatly impacted the industrial development of the surrounding area.[16] The lowering of the voting age to 18 in 1971 led to the emergence of a powerful student-voting bloc.[17] A large and growing population of politically liberal UCSC alumni changed the electorate of the town from predominantly Republican[18] to markedly left-leaning, consistently voting against expansion measures on the part of both town and gown.

UCSC Chancellors
†Died in office

Expansion plans

Plans for increasing enrollment to 19,500 students and adding 1,500 faculty and staff by 2020, and the anticipated environmental impacts of such action, encountered opposition from the city, the local community, and the student body.[19][20] City voters in 2006 passed two measures calling on UCSC to pay for the impacts of campus growth. A Santa Cruz Superior Court judge invalidated the measures, ruling they were improperly put on the ballot. In 2008, the university, city, county and neighborhood organizations reached an agreement to set aside numerous lawsuits and allow the expansion to occur. UCSC agreed to local government scrutiny of its north campus expansion plans, to provide housing for 67 percent of the additional students on campus, and to pay municipal development and water fees.[21]

George Blumenthal, UCSC's 10th Chancellor, intends to mitigate growth constraints in Santa Cruz by developing off-campus sites in Silicon Valley. The NASA Ames Research Center campus is planned to ultimately hold 2,000 UCSC students – about 10% of the entire university's future student body as envisioned for 2020.[22][23]

In April 2010, UC Santa Cruz opened its new $35 million Digital Arts Research Center; a project in planning since 2004.[24]

The $72 million Coastal Biology Building officially opened on 21 October 2017 on the Coastal Science Campus.[25] The new campus houses the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department and faculty interested in the study of ocean, terrestrial and freshwater environments, marine sciences, ecology and evolution, and plant sciences. UC Santa Cruz is extending its environmental leadership in coastal science with a robust new program that will welcome its first cohort of students in Fall 2018. The Graduate Program in Coastal Science and Policy will train advocates and develop government and community responses to pressing sustainability issues.

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