Graph of UCSC faculty diversity
UCSC has made incremental gains in diversifying its faculty over the past decade.
(Giovanni Moujaes / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Higher Ed

At UCSC, what’s the impact of hiring 300 new faculty over the next decade?

Over the next decade, UC Santa Cruz will replace more than 200 faculty due to retirement or resignation — and hire for 100 additional positions. That’s the biggest change in its 57-year history.

At about 585 faculty members, UC Santa Cruz has one of the smallest faculties among the University of California schools.

Over the next decade, that number should rise to close to 700 as the school hires about 100 new faculty positions. That increase marks the largest in the campus’ 57-year history. Over that period, UCSC also anticipates hiring to replace 200 to 250 positions due to retirements and resignations.

That’s a lot of change, some of it generational, for the campus, which serves 19,000 students this academic year.

It also provides the campus an opportunity to both diversify its faculty and improve its student-faculty ratio, Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Campus Provost Lori Kletzer say.

While UCSC is No. 1 for women in leadership positions, administrators have set goals to further improve diversity among its ranks. The goals: reach gender parity and a faculty that is 25% Latino, American Indian and Black by 2032. In the past decade, the university increased its percentage of Latino, American Indian or Black faculty from 12.6% to 17%

“That would be a pretty significant growth. We think we can do that,” Larive said. “We’re being very diligent in our efforts to diversify the faculty.”

Currently at UC Santa Cruz, 4.6% of the student population is Black and 25.2% is Latino. The faculty is 3.5% Black and 12.1% Latino.

These rates parallel those of universities across the country. Some 33% of undergraduate students nationally are Black or Hispanic, while 9.5% of faculty are Black or Hispanic, according to a January 2021 report from the Southern Regional Education Board.

The increased pace of hiring should also allow UCSC to improve its student-faculty ratio, Kletzer says.

UC Santa Cruz has the highest ratio of students to faculty in the UC system, she says. At its current enrollment, the university would need to hire 72 additional faculty members to reach the systemwide average.

“One of the best ways for us to improve and enhance and advance the success of our students is to get them more exposed to our faculty,” Kletzer said. “To have smaller classes that come from a larger faculty to have more research opportunities. Every faculty member we add, that new addition can mean more research opportunities for our undergraduates, and more mentor opportunities for our graduate students.”

Even with a small faculty, she points out that in 2019 UCSC was selected to join the Association of American Universities (AAU), which is made up of the country’s top 66 universities.

“We are a small faculty — we punch above our weight class when it comes to research and research impact,” Kletzer said. “That’s what got us into the AAU. And we didn’t get there based on the number of faculty.”