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May 23, 2005

Chancellor outlines initiatives to address campus priorities

In her spring-quarter address to UCSC's Academic Senate on Friday (May 20), Chancellor Denice D. Denton described several initiatives that she is advancing to address campus priorities. She also announced that she will forgo a formal inauguration, focusing resources instead on advancing an active agenda for positive change. "Instead of spending money and staff time on ceremony, we'll be investing in our campus's academic priorities and in support for our students," she emphasized.

Chancellor Denton and outgoing Senate chair Alison Galloway attended a reception at the University House following the senate meeting.

Photo: Louise Donahue

Among the initiatives that Denton announced is a two-part program to enhance the campus's academic excellence. First, she is funding a baseline study of campus diversity, in collaboration with the Senate Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity. The study will commence over the summer, will comprise both quantitative and qualitative components, and will lead to recommendations for action in 2005-06.

Second, she underscored support for a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify academic initiatives, explicitly professional schools that would build on existing strengths and may also consider linkages to the Silicon Valley Center. Preliminary proposals are due October 1.

Other initiatives involve the development of a partner hire policy; a detailed plan to address UCSC's housing challenges; and a streamlining of staff recruitment and reclassification processes. Each of the initiatives includes specific details for planned action, along with a timeline for completion.

"All of this is going to take resources," the chancellor said. But she said she is determined to move the campus from the planning processes that have taken center stage in recent years to actual implementation of needed changes. "If we work together--students, staff, and faculty--we can really make great strides in moving forward in positive directions," she added.

Denton--who has spent a busy first 100 days of her chancellorship meeting with students, staff, and faculty; alumni, community leaders, donors, campus labor leaders, news media, and corporate partners; and local, state, and federal government officials--said what she has learned about the campus has made her "even more impressed than I was upon my arrival." The chancellor was joined at the senate meeting by Interim Campus Provost David Kliger, who outlined a process for aligning the budget with these emerging priorities. He said the campus will continue to move forward on its administrative transformation projects, improvements that will not only produce long-term savings, but also will make processes more efficient.

Budget decisions, Kliger said, will be made in two phases: allocation decisions concerning any new revenues, and realignment of the budget to reflect campus priorities.

While he said there is a "huge disparity between the needs and wants of the campus and the resources available to address these needs and wants," both Kliger and Chancellor Denton said the budget news out of Sacramento was more upbeat recently.

"This will be the first time in several years that our budget won't be reduced," Denton said. She also praised faculty, deans, and University Relations staff for their efforts resulting in $65 million raised during the nearly completed Cornerstone Campaign. The campaign to date has far exceeded the original $50 million goal.

On the subject of activities in lieu of an inauguration, Denton said specific plans are still being crafted. The celebration will include an academic symposium on diversity and excellence, cultural events, and the annual benefit dinner to raise money for scholarships and fellowships. Planning is focusing on the period leading up to Saturday, November 5, the date of this year’s benefit dinner.

Faculty members William Ladusaw (chair), Jean Brodie, Angela Davis, Joel Ferguson, Russell Flegal, Craig Haney, Nicole Paiement, Manuel Pastor, and Raquel Prado are serving on the committee to plan the academic components of the celebration.

In senate action, faculty adopted a resolution, requesting that UCSC "offer plans for sufficient and affordable faculty, student, and staff housing" if the campus intends to grow beyond 15,000 students. Senators described the impact that an inadequate supply of affordable housing has on the campus goal of recruiting and retaining quality faculty.

"This [issue] has clearly reached a crucial juncture," agreed Chancellor Denton, who pledged that her administration would consider options in loans and housing allowances, as well as evaluate other mortgage assistance programs in an effort to enable more faculty and staff to purchase homes at Ranch View Terrace and in other campus housing sites.

The chancellor also promised that, by October, her administration would develop a set of recommendations on how the campus can more effectively build housing for students, staff, and faculty; these recommendations will include both on- and off-campus options, she said.

Toward the beginning of the meeting, astronomy professor Sandra Faber presented a resolution thanking anthropology professor Alison Galloway for her two years of service as senate chair. With a prolonged standing ovation, the senate endorsed the resolution by acclamation.

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