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Design Principles

Strategic Academic Plan

Design principles are clear, tightly defined guidelines that identify a conceptually coherent set of institutional aspirations. The five UC Santa Cruz principles are intended to represent the objectives of a large number of campus constituents, and be distinctive, precise and unambiguous. The design principles advance our institutional values and will help facilitate a shared understanding of why particular initiatives have been prioritized.

Drive research and creative work that transform our world

UC Santa Cruz seeks to be a pioneering research university, a home to faculty and students who not only lead their fields, but push them into new territory. Ranked 4th globally for research influence, the university’s faculty is the single most cited in the world, with a reputation built by breakthroughs from sequencing the human genome to sparking the global sustainable agriculture movement. Identifying and building on its faculty’s unique strengths—in areas that cut across all of its academic divisions and school—will allow UC Santa Cruz to recruit the best faculty and expand its research in high impact areas that will help drive innovation, sustainability, and ethical technology.

Create enriching experiential learning and research opportunities for students

UC Santa Cruz aspires to be a place for students to think big. Already more enriching than most public and private colleges, UC Santa Cruz wants to be a place where students discover by doing, driven by profound curiosity and a spirit of engagement. Worldclass natural resources and off-campus experiences, coupled with innovative research and creative opportunities, provide unique learning environments for students. However, demand for these key hands-on experiences currently exceeds supply. By supporting the most transformative experiential learning and research opportunities, UC Santa Cruz can build on its strengths and find new ways to be inclusive and provide transformative experiences for its students. UC Santa Cruz can also expand its learning opportunities outside of the classroom by deepening its connections to external organizations, so enabling more enriching partnerships. The wide range of valuable on- and off-campus experiences will prepare students to be creative thought leaders who are sought after for their innovative thinking and who have capacity to impact powerfully the world around them.

Engage and support a diverse faculty, staff, and student body

UC Santa Cruz seeks to enhance its longstanding commitment to social justice. It understands that the campus community must work together to ensure that the education we deliver meets the needs of all our students, including those who are underserved and from diverse backgrounds. Among its achievements, UC Santa Cruz is a leader in graduating first generation students and is ranked 13th for social mobility. The university also ranks highly in terms of value and ethnic diversity. UC Santa Cruz is well-situated to demonstrate that diversity in academic environments has enormous social and material benefits. Much as the first organic farm at the university played a key role in the global organic revolution, UC Santa Cruz can assume a leading role as a champion of diversity in higher education. The students Entangled interviewed emphasized the importance they place on the institution’s diversity, noting that it enables and encourages them to embrace their individuality and thrive in our increasingly heterogeneous society. In the years to come, these students will be powerful advocates for diversity and inclusion throughout their professional careers.

Support generative interdisciplinary connections to research and teaching

UC Santa Cruz is committed to free expression, vigorous debate, and the examination of all viewpoints. By bringing together a global community of individuals with diverse backgrounds, UC Santa Cruz aspires to propel faculty and students to examine the intersection of seemingly unrelated fields, paving the way for innovative, inventive, and serendipitous discoveries that have big impacts. For example, a UC Santa Cruz professor of ecology and evolutionary biology is looking at what enables seals to hold their breath for 90 minutes under the Antarctic sea, and the findings of this work might have implications for understanding aging in human beings. In addition, the Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust, a public-public initiative launched in 2017 by an interdisciplinary team of faculty will enable teachers, principals, social workers, public and mental health professionals, judges, and probation officers to share information in real time about students and the services they are receiving. However, currently, the university’s structure does not reflect an institutional priority on interdisciplinary work. UC Santa Cruz needs to break down barriers and create new connections between departments and divisions to further promote interdisciplinary work. Experts in the humanities could work with STEM professionals toward breakthroughs in technology ethics. Environmental science and engineering departments could team up to study ways to combat global health and climate change. UC Santa Cruz is primed for breakthrough research and teaching to emerge by lowering the barriers to and incentivizing the work of cross-disciplinary research and teaching.

Expand excellence in innovation in areas distinctive to UC Santa Cruz, such as social justice, diversity, & sustainability

UC Santa Cruz aims to reinvigorate its reputation as a gamechanger. It has an unparalleled commitment to social justice that extends far beyond its campus, targeting injustice, advancing diversity, and delving into new fields often overlooked by other universities. It is one of the “green” colleges and has participated in a global movement toward sustainability. Its student body is devoted to community service, and the university seeks out and supports visionary, socially driven faculty, fostering a community that is at once idealistic and practical, creative and analytic.

With technology spurring fundamental social and economic transformations that are likely to hit underserved communities particularly hard, there is a growing need for UC Santa Cruz’s deep knowledge of and commitment to promoting equity, diversity, and sustainability. It is vital that UC Santa Cruz support these core areas of excellence. Doing so will enable the university to continue attracting the like-minded faculty, students, and staff that make UC Santa Cruz a vital, unique, world-class community of innovators.