November 22, 1999
Santa Clara Valley regional center discussed at forum
By Jennifer McNulty
As the academic planning process gets under way to establish a UCSC regional center
in the Santa Clara Valley, faculty and administrators are working together to embrace
the opportunities and address the challenges that face the campus as it seeks to
become the "UC of Silicon Valley."
During a mid-November Academic Senate forum on the regional center, Executive Vice
Chancellor and Campus Provost John Simpson announced the formation of an academic
planning committee that will develop a framework for the academic activities associated
with the center. Simpson has asked the senate's Committee on Committees to recommend
faculty members to participate on the academic planning task force.
Simpson made his remarks during the forum, which was attended by about 75 members
of the campus community. Academic Senate Chair Roger Anderson, a chemistry professor,
called the forum to facilitate discussion about plans for the regional center. Anderson
and Simpson were joined by six other panelists, including Manuel Pastor, chair
of Latin American and Latino studies.
Plans for the new UCSC facility have progressed since the idea was first proposed
by members of the Millennium Committee. Since then, a task force cochaired by Pastor
and Francisco Hernandez, vice chancellor for student affairs, has assessed UCSC activities
in the region with an eye toward building on strengths and satisfying unmet needs.
A regional center would augment and enhance the offerings of the main campus by offering
research, teaching, and community service opportunities for UCSC faculty, students,
and staff, while also raising UCSC's profile in the region. A site analysis is under
"One of our responsibilities as a UC campus is to provide leadership and to
share our resources with the community," said Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood. "In
Silicon Valley, what we have to offer complements alliances and affiliations that
will be valuable for faculty, researchers, and students."
During the forum, Pastor expressed strong support for a regional center, calling
Silicon Valley "the hyperactive edge of the new economy." In addition to
obvious benefits to the fields of technology and engineering, the region offers
tremendous opportunities for those in the arts, humanities, and social scientists,
said Pastor, citing the region's vibrant economy, its diverse population, the valley's
revitalized labor movement, pressing social problems associated with a widening
divide between the wealthy and the working class, and new digital arts technology--even
a generation of new writers emerging from Silicon Valley.
Raising UCSC's profile over the hill will also help the campus attract more of the
region's top high school graduates and would bolster existing outreach efforts, helping
to increase the diversity of the student body at UCSC, said Hernandez.
The Santa Clara County region is home to numerous high schools and community colleges
whose graduates would be poised to take advantage of UCSC classes offered in the
area. A regional center would help UCSC accommodate its share of "Tidal Wave
II" students who will soon flood the UC system. Recent reports suggest that
UC's systemwide enrollment will surge by 40 percent in the next decade. Even with
the new Merced campus, each campus will need to increase enrollment to accommodate
this anticipated growth.
A regional center would likely serve a greater number of "commuter" students
and working professionals than UCSC currently accommodates, according to Connie Martinez,
UCSC's director of strategic initiatives, who is coordinating the planning effort.
"We have deep roots in the community through extension's work," said Martinez,
former vice president of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, a nonprofit group
established to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the Silicon Valley.
"We want to make the transition to the university easier and more inviting."
In addition to raising the profile of UCSC in a vital region of the state, a regional
center would facilitate outreach and teacher preparation work being done through
the UCSC Educational Partnership Center and the New Teacher Center, and it would
help solidify the campus's relationships with industry, government, and community
organizations over the hill. Such affiliations would help UCSC in its mission of
educating the workforce of the 21st century.
At the forum, Martinez, who has conducted dozens of interviews with UCSC faculty
and administrators in recent months, said she has identified widespread support for
the research, educational, recruitment, and fund raising opportunities that exist
for UCSC in the Santa Clara Valley area, including a strong desire to improve the
campus's reputation in the region.
Her meetings with campus members also revealed challenges, including concern that:
- The speed of the planning process will move ahead too quickly and quality will
be sacrificed, or too slowly and opportunities will be missed.
- The faculty will be divided, physically and philosophically; ladder faculty
won't want to drive over the hill; and "nonentrepreneurial" faculty will
be left behind.
- The range of opportunities will dilute the focus of the project.
- Resources will be insufficient or diverted from the main campus.
- Industry partnerships could compromise academic freedom.
- Offerings will not meet UCSC standards; academic oversight will be inadequate;
cultural differences between Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz will preclude successful
- Opportunities for development, outreach, and lifelong learning will distract
from UCSC's commitment to undergraduate education.
- UCSC's efforts will duplicate what Cal State University and community colleges
- Short-term thinking will preclude a full understanding of the scope of the endeavor.
Martinez has identified "critical success factors" that will help increase
the probability of success, including focus, timing, involvement, incentives, and
"Like it or hate it, Silicon Valley is filled with tremendous challenges and
opportunities," Martinez told the gathering. "But all sectors--industry,
education, community, and government, agree that the number one issue in the region
George Brown, chair of the Physics Department and speaking as the chair of the Academic
Senate's Committee on Educational Policy, said a regional center could play an important
role in helping community college transfer students make the transition to a four-year
institution. He also encouraged faculty members to consult with colleagues at other
institutions to explore models for economic and pedagogical relationships between
"parent" campuses and "satellite" operations.
Physics professor David Belanger, speaking as the chair of the Graduate Council of
the Academic Senate, cautioned that a regional center without a research component
would be a "second-class campus" and would tarnish UCSC's reputation. Eager
to bolster UCSC's graduate enrollments, Belanger said a highly visible Santa Clara
center could help attract graduate students to UCSC in fields such as digital arts,
adaptive optics, economics, ethics, and many more.
Belanger and others said "an excellent transportation system" between UCSC
and the regional center would help create an "integrated intellectual community."
Alison Galloway, an associate professor of anthropology representing the Academic
Senate's Committee on Planning and Budget, expressed concern about "a lack of
clarity about who will be served" by a regional center, saying that "you
can't plan academic programs without some of these answers."
Galloway urged Simpson's academic planning task force to identify precisely what
students would be served and what their specific course needs would be, and she sought
assurances "beyond the tenure of the present administration" that funding
for the center would not be taken from the main campus's budget.
Simpson acknowledged that many of the questions that had been raised were "entirely
warranted, and I am doing what I can to allay those fears and get it right."
Among supporters of the regional center who spoke in favor of the project, sociology
professor Paul Lubeck cited existing research endeavors in the region and issues
such as immigration that "bridge the humanities and social sciences."
Anujan Varma, a professor of computer engineering, is enthusiastic about the research
opportunities such a center could offer those in his field, which is networking.
"A regional center would give the campus more exposure and allow us to do bigger
things than what we're doing now," he said before the forum. Exposure is key
to attracting funding opportunities, he noted. "For engineering, this is a matter
Talk of a regional center has piqued the interest of some arts faculty, as well.
Sharon Daniel, an assistant professor of film and digital media, is working with
colleagues at seven other UC campuses to establish a multicampus research group and
a systemwide Ph.D. program in digital arts. In an interview before the forum, Daniel
said that a regional facility might serve as a hub for participating researchers
and students, providing a valuable boost to those efforts while greatly expanding
Daniel's own resources.
"My own work requires high band-width communication infrastructure, as well
as fast and flexible multidimensional database technology," she said. "I
believe very strongly that artists should be involved in the design and creation
of new technologies, not just as end users."
Daniel conceded that there is some concern from advocates of traditional art practices
about the resources required to pursue research and instruction in technology-based
art practices, but she believes that new relationships made possible through a regional
center in Silicon Valley present opportunities in which the university can interact
"in relevant ways with what's happening in culture and society."
"As the academy, we need to be actively engaged in new developments in the world,
such as the design of new information and communication technologies that so profoundly
shape our cultural and social experience," she said. "Through engaged participation,
academics can be critical and help shape changing social and cultural conditions.
I think I can make political and cultural change through participation as well as
critical analysis. I think that faculty at a research university like UCSC should
probably do both."
In a sentiment articulated by several people at the forum, anthropology professor
Shelly Errington said: "I think this is a very good idea with all kinds of opportunities.
My concern is not about the content but the process. The Academic Senate as an organized
body should have a say in the planning. A handpicked committee won't guarantee a
high state of morale and enthusiasm on the part of faculty."
Simpson credited the Millennium Committee with laying the groundwork for the regional
center several years ago, and he noted that several other UC campuses envy UCSC's
preparedness as it anticipates the upcoming enrollment boom. "Other campuses
will follow our lead (planning regional facilities), and frankly, I'd like to keep
that advantage," he said.
A team is currently exploring possible sites for the center including sites in downtown
San Jose and at the NASA/Ames Research Center at Moffett Field. A total of $2.5 million
in seed funding for the center is included in President Atkinson's proposed university
budget for 2000-01. Planners hope to announce the selection of a site by spring.
More information about the regional center is available on the UCSC Web site at:
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