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June 12, 2006

Foundation trustees get detailed campus update

Trustees of the UC Santa Cruz Foundation received a thorough primer of the university’s priorities and programs at Foundation Leadership Day June 8.

Photo: Michael Isaacson
Acting dean of Engineering Michael Isaacson gives a presentation, above, to the Foundation trustees. Below, Chancellor Denton is joined by trustee Garry Spire and his son, Alex.
Photos: Jim MacKenzie
Photo: Chancellor Denton with Gary Spire and son

The daylong event featured morning presentations from Chancellor Denice D. Denton, two vice provosts, and the five academic deans. In the afternoon, trustees selected one of five two-hour tours to attend--Biomedical Sciences & Engineering, Humanities, Economics, Anthropology, or Digital Arts and New Media.

Many later attended the Foundation Forum “Origins,” lectures from George Blumenthal, Bruce Bridgeman, and Gary Lease. Blumenthal, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, took the audience on a journey through “A Century of Paradigm Shifts in our Thinking about the Universe,” noting key discoveries by Albert Einstein and Edwin Hubble, among others. Bridgeman, a professor of psychology and psychobiology, delved into “Origins of Humanity and Origins of Consciousness.” And history of consciousness professor and interim humanities dean Gary Lease addressed a modern controvery in his talk, "Does God Have a Future? The Illusion of Intelligent Design." (See earlier Currents story)

The goal of Leadership Day--part of two days of foundation activity--was to provide trustees with an overview of UCSC’s academic vision and give them an opportunity to experience some of the unique research and teaching on campus.

“Today, the challenges we face demand an interdisciplinary approach” to research and teaching, Denton told trustees, calling UCSC’s hallmark since its founding a “best practice” later mimicked by many but surpassed by none. Denton also outlined six areas of academic focus for the future.

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education William Ladusaw pointed to high marks UCSC gets from student surveys on student/faculty interaction, and Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Lisa Sloan discussed how graduate students and their research can “enhance the undergraduate experience.’’ Sloan said graduate students now comprise about 9 percent of the student body. The goal is to raise that to 15 percent, she said.

During lunch, University Librarian Virginia Steel outlined plans to transform McHenry Library into a library of the future.

The UCSC Foundation is a key organization of volunteers--some alumni, some not—which promotes better community understanding of the university and solicits private gifts in support of academic programs, scholarships, and capital improvements. The foundation manages an endowment valued at about $45 million.

“The most important part was getting an overview from the deans and understanding the incredible diversity and breadth of the programs,’’ said Susan Hammer, a longtime trustee and former mayor of San Jose. “It made it all come alive.” She called UCSC a “well-kept secret … that has something for everyone.”

Friday, trustees held their formal board meeting and heard from Carl Walsh, vice provost for UCSC’s Silicon Valley Initiatives. Walsh said that Silicon Valley with “less than 1 percent of the nation’s population yet generates 10 percent of the patents.”

UCSC is positioning itself as the UC of Silicon Valley and is expanding research and teaching efforts there.

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