UC Santa Cruz’s newest Long- Range Development Plan (LRDP) will base future plans on the assumption of having 28,000 students on campus by 2040, Chancellor George Blumenthal announced at a Jan. 11 press conference.
As a campus already grappling with overcrowding issues, UCSC could see an over 50 percent increase in students in the next 22 years.
The LRDP is a general plan for the campus that is consistently updated by a committee of 20 members, three of which are students. In the LRDP, plans are made to accommodate the university’s continued growth with new facilities, resources and traffic control.
“That number, [28,000 students,] is close to the original agreement that Santa Cruz made with the University of California back in 1960,” Blumenthal said. “That turns out to be a realistic number.”
The original LRDP, released in 1963, stated an ultimate capacity for the campus set at 27,500 students by 1990. This would have included accompanied about 20 different colleges to sustain those numbers, compared to the current 10 colleges and about 19,000 students at UCSC.
The 2040 projected enrollment is in line with the original 1990 planning goal, but with the current housing crisis in Santa Cruz, a potential significant increase in enrollment could prove difficult.
The 2005 LRDP was met with similar criticism regarding housing shortages, which resulted in a settlement with the city and county of Santa Cruz. The settlement included an agreement to not exceed 17,500 undergraduates while that LRDP was in effect.
In response to housing shortages across the city and county, the university will construct Student Housing West (SHW ), estimated to be completed in 2020. But SHW alone will not solve the overcrowding problem as it will only add 3,000 beds for third- and fourth-years and students with families. There is currently no plan to further increase on-campus housing, resources and services accordingly.
According to Blumenthal, the 28,000 figure is a number to center the LRDP, not an enrollment target, and it may not become reality.
“If you were to assume that the university here continues to grow at the current growth rate of about 1.5-2 percent a year […], it’s a healthy growth, but it isn’t astronomical,” Blumenthal said.
It’s anticipated that other UC campuses will be experiencing similar, if not greater growth rates, he said. The UC Office of the President (UCOP) didn’t mandate a specific number, but all UC campuses are under pressure to grow due to requirements set on state funding.
A budget plan set forth by the Board of Regents mandated a 10,000 student enrollment increase over three years as part of a deal made with state lawmakers for additional funding. Some worry this could translate to UCOP withholding resources from campuses that do not meet system growth goals in the future.
“UCOP would be very unhappy with us as a campus if we weren’t going to grow at all, and it would in fact deprive us of resources that we might expect to get from the system,” Blumenthal said. “But nobody gave me a number, and I’ll have to take full responsibility.”