A Student’s Perspective on the Chancellor

It’s always a special and nervous time when a new chancellor takes the reigns of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Cynthia K. Larive came to us from UC Riverside, which is not far from my hometown, and ever since she got here Santa Cruz has never felt more like home.

I’ve been a fan of Dr. Larive ever since Santa Cruz Local traveled to Riverside to do an interview with her, which you can check out here. SC Local’s coverage gave some context into Dr. Larive’s modest upbringing as the first person in her family to attend college, which was inspiring. The Business Council then had the privilege of having her attend our August board meeting where she discussed her excitement about Student Housing West and the Long Range Development Plan.

Dr. Larive, or “Cindy” as she prefers to be called, immediately welcomed us with smiles all around. She beamed when discussing her enthusiasm about the university and all of its’ recent achievements including being nationally ranked #2 in Top Performers of Social Mobility by US News (just behind her alma mater UC Riverside which ranked at #1). Our second introduction occurred at the Community Welcome Reception held at the MAH a couple of days before UCSC officially started their fall quarter.

To hear the community welcomes our new chancellor in such a supportive way was remarkable. Community organizations such as Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce, Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Cabrillo College, City of Santa Cruz, and United Way of Santa Cruz County expressed their excitement to welcome our new chancellor to her new home. A common theme in all of Dr. Larive’s public presentations: partnership. With UCSC expected to have 28,040 students by the year 2040, partnerships between the university and the community are going to be essential to help with the impact of university growth.

Since becoming UCSC’s new official chancellor in July she’s also had a lot to learn about the way UCSC is run which is not something you do overnight. Dr. Larive always appears as calm and collected and even if she doesn’t know the answer to a question she makes sure to personally make a note of it so that she can get back to the person. By the third time I met our new chancellor at UCSC’s Long Range Develop Plan workshop, it was like I was seeing an old friend. I was even surprised to be introduced to Dr. Larive a fourth time in the City of Watsonville when she was welcomed at a special community meeting to hear the concerns of south county residents. She expressed that it was her second time visiting Watsonville that week (!) and once again she met with community members and voiced the need for more inclusive partnerships between UCSC and all parts of Santa Cruz County.

I appreciate and admire Dr. Larive’s immediate connection to the community which creates a level of open communication that is key in promoting partnerships with UCSC. One thing I value about our new chancellor is how approachable she is. Dr. Larive treats everyone with the same level of respect even if you’re not the most important person in the room. As a student, it’s hard to feel comfortable around the university’s top official with a history of distrust in the UC system’s ability to address student concerns. Dr. Larive’s down to earth personality along with her extensive experience in administration will greatly help her to adjust to the Santa Cruz experience. To say I’m excited for the upcoming years that await UCSC with Dr. Larive is an understatement. Did you know our new chancellor is an award-winning bioanalytical chemist? That certainly won’t be the last surprise, I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us.