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November 16, 1998

Santa Cruz takes the lead in UC outreach efforts

By Jennifer McNulty

As the Office of Admissions gears up for its busy application season, Chancellor Greenwood kicked off this year's fall outreach efforts by visiting several regional high schools to meet with students, teachers, and administrators.

Chancellor Greenwood visited Overfelt High School in San Jose earlier this month as part of UCSC's ongoing effort to team up with regional K-12 schools.

Greenwood's visits to schools in San Jose, Castroville, and Hollister marked the beginning of UCSC's work with eight new partnership schools. The goal of the collaborations, which are being funded by UC's Office of the President and matching contributions from school districts, is twofold: to increase the number of high school students eligible to attend college and to enroll more of them at UC campuses.

The Office of the President has made it a high priority to reach out to underrepresented minorities and encourage them to prepare for college. The immediate emphasis is on students in grades seven through 12, said J. Michael Thompson, associate vice chancellor for outreach, admissions, and student academic services at UCSC.

"Legislators recognized that after Proposition 209, they needed to make a fundamental investment in the future," said Thompson, noting that UC's budget allocation enabled OP to devote significant funding to new outreach efforts.

Because UCSC has for several years actively pursued partnerships with K-12 educators, the campus was uniquely poised to pursue the new goals, noted Thompson.

"We have established a unified approach that aims to improve classroom instruction for all K-12 students while also focusing on the specific needs of underrepresented minority students," he said. The campus's vision has been recognized by OP, which has provided $2.74 million in permanent funds for outreach.

The levels of funding reflect the importance of the effort, said Thompson, noting that the goals are high: Within five years, the university hopes to double the number of high school graduates who are eligible to attend college and to mark a 50 percent increase in the number of students who actually enroll at a UC campus.

Greenwood's visits initiated the discussion regarding what each school wants and needs from UCSC, which is prepared to tailor programs and services to the individual needs of schools. Available services include faculty support, tutoring for students, counseling services for students, training for career counselors, analysis of test results, access to UC libraries and public events, and university field trips.

Administrators like Thompson had their confidence bolstered when this fall's third-week enrollment numbers were released because the numbers indicated that UCSC's outreach efforts are on track: The campus reported a 3 percent overall increase in total students, a 20.6 percent increase in the number of entering freshmen students from underrepresented groups, and a 12 percent increase in Asians compared to the same period last year.

New outreach tools being unveiled this fall include a 15-minute video about UCSC that will be sent to all high schools and community colleges in the state, as well as to the top 3,000 applicants. Filmed by 1997 UCSC graduate Shaun Peterson, the video features spontaneous, unscripted testimonials from students and faculty about the unique academic opportunities available to undergraduates here.

"It's remarkable to hear from the students about the extraordinary educational experiences they had at UC Santa Cruz," said Thompson. "Their comments, combined with those from our faculty, make the best case for coming to UCSC."

The video is narrated by theater arts professor Paul Whitworth, and four local bands contributed music. Peterson used fast pans and MTV-style production techniques to give the video a contemporary feel, said Thompson.

In addition, the campus has produced a 30-second television commercial and four public service announcements for broadcast on cable stations in the Santa Cruz, north Monterey County, and Los Angeles areas during the month of November. The commercial, which also features Peterson's footage, is aimed at 14- to 18-year-olds, said Thompson.

"We wanted to experiment with different media efforts to reach students in new ways," said Thompson. "For instance, we've never done a commercial before."

The PSAs, which were produced in English and Spanish, focus on four universitywide college-going themes: admissions deadlines, financial aid, the value of attending college, and transferring to a UC campus from a community college. The next broadcast area will likely be the Santa Clara Valley.

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