With the conclusion of the last academic year came the end of Chancellor Blumenthal’s 12 year tenure. In addition to new students, the 2019-20 school year also brings new administrators to UC Santa Cruz. The newly appointed chancellor, Cynthia Larive, sat down with City on a Hill Press to discuss her plans and excitement for the new year.
City on a Hill Press (CHP): How are you feeling, as you enter your first year as UCSC Chancellor?
Larive: I am so excited to be here, what a great university! It’s been really fun to get to know the campus a little bit this summer, but I am so eager to have the students fully back on campus. There is an excitement with the start of a new school year, you can feel the energy when all students are back.
CHP: What advice do you have for incoming students?
Larive: I want new students to know that UCSC supports them. We have a lot of resources available at their disposable, and to not be shy or nervous to take advantage of them!
CHP: What projects will the administration be focusing on this year?
Larive: I have three projects I want to work on. The first is administrative-based, and that is a realignment of some of the structure of administration. In the past, the [Executive Vice Chancellor (EVC)] has had a major role in all aspects of administration. I think that a more-balanced approach, in which the EVC and the chancellor work as partners, with the chancellor taking more responsibility with operations of the campus, and the EVC acting as the chief academic officer of the campus.
The second project I will be focusing on revolves around this administrative realignment, and that will be to improve campus communications. I don’t feel we are doing as good of a job as we can in communicating all of the wonderful things about our campus. I am asking communications to move from University Relations and to report directly to [me instead]. Soon, we will conduct a search to find a new Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications — which has been a vacant position for quite some time. I am also going to be adding a Chief Communications and Marketing Officer position. And so coupled with that, we wanted to focus on how to better tell our story through our website.
The third project is more interesting to students. We want to improve our emphasis on student success. Our graduation rates are not high enough. We have to work on retention and helping students graduate in a timely manner. This is in no way pushing students to graduate in four years, if they are eager to stay for a fifth. However, students who typically graduate beyond four years acquire more loan debt. Disproportionately, the students who acquire more loan debt can identify as first generation students, low-income students and POC students. That is a social justice issue. We want to develop paths to help students graduate in four years or less, if they choose to do so, which includes more classes, academic advising, tutoring and more. There are structural parts of student retention, but there are also climate issues. This prompts me to also work on making our campus a more inclusive space for students of all backgrounds.
CHP: Do you have any goals for this new year? What are they?
Larive: A lot of my goals are wrapped up in those administrative projects. However, another personal goal of mine is to meet as many students as possible, and begin to develop relationships with them in order to better serve the campus as a whole. I want to be as present on campus as possible.