As a labor economist and former undergraduate economics professor at UC Santa Cruz, Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor (CP/EVC) Lori Kletzer assumes her position eager to interact with students on a personal level. City on a Hill Press sat down with CP/EVC Kletzer on Aug. 14 to discuss her plans for the upcoming year.
City on a Hill Press: Going into your first full academic year as CP/EVC, what are some general goals you have for the campus?
CP/EVC Lori Kletzer: I never want to lose sight that we’re a small enough campus that I can actually be engaged with students and with faculty. So one of my goals, and it’s one I share with the chancellor, whether we do it separately or together, is just to get out of this building. And not just to be with people, but to be with people where they are, in those spaces. It’s really important to me to be out in the spaces where people have their lived experiences here. […] But also, the faculty of UCSC need to look like the students of UCSC, who we want to continue to push to look like the people of California. We are not as far along in faculty diversity as we are in students. And I take central responsibility for whatever the levers are that you can pull from the EVC’s office. So I’m excited by having the opportunity to have the authority to pay attention to something that I’ve cared very much about.
Labor Union Relations at UCSC
CHP: As you know, the union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299 has conducted multiple strikes in the past few years over unfair labor practices. So with your background as a labor economist in mind, how do you view that scenario? And how do you plan to support our staff?
Kletzer: I am an unabashed advocate of trade unions, of unions and the benefits of union representation. I have been my whole life. And that doesn’t change when I become EVC. […] Perhaps where this job becomes the most difficult is being able to provide an environment that is supportive of freedom of association and freedom of speech, while also being mindful of the need for students, faculty and staff to be able to continue to do business, where the business is coming to class. I’ve always had respect, but probably critical respect, for campus administration, at those particular moments where it seems as if the interests of our represented workers are not in complete alignment with the interests of us as a day-to-day educational institution. You know, my job here is to balance all of that. […] My hope is that we can reach a successful systemwide conclusion to this negotiation. I think our workers deserve that.
Housing and Food Insecurity
CHP: As student food and housing insecurity becomes more and more of an issue nationwide, but specifically on this campus and in Santa Cruz, are there any administrative plans to make dining hall services and/or on-campus housing more affordable for all students and accessible in general?
Kletzer: There are many things we need to do. Build more campus housing, make sure that it’s affordable. Think about financial aid, make sure that when we help students, one of the things we have to be careful of is that when students are assisted by Slug Support, that it doesn’t show up as a reduction in their financial aid package […] We also want to think about how do we support the emotional needs of students who are food and housing insecure. Obviously, we’d love to eliminate the insecurity piece. We’re not going to get the insecurity piece down to zero, immediately. So, I also want to do the best I can to support those who can also be helping our students at an emotional level, as we acknowledge the burden of being here as a student and being housing and food insecure. And I’m really proud of the fact that I think we’ve made a major contribution — although we’re not there yet, maybe not even halfway — in destigmatizing food and housing insecurity. Because that’s the only way we can actually measure how much is out there.
CHP: What advice do you have for incoming students?
Kletzer: Introduce yourself to your faculty members. Go to those first office hours, even when you don’t have anything to say beyond, “Hi, my name is Lori Kletzer, and I grew up in Santa Cruz, and I’m taking your whatever class that is, and I just wanted to introduce myself.” Because that’s also part of the sense of belonging. I want incoming students to know that they belong here. And you know, my example to you asks incoming students to put themselves out there, but we all know you have to put yourself out there in a new community. […] So, get connected with your faculty, get connected with your peers in your classes and have an open mind and try to challenge yourself.