A Different Model for the UCSC Colleges: Colleges Nine and Ten, An Oral History with Deana Slater and Wendy Baxter

Interviewed and Edited by Irene Reti

96 pages, 2018

Mural, Colleges Nine and Ten

For the complete text of A Different Model for the UCSC Colleges: Colleges Nine and Ten, An Oral History with Deana Slater and Wendy Baxter in the University of California's Escholarship Collection.

The genesis of the vision for UC Santa Cruz’s newest colleges, College Nine and College Ten, dates back to the 1988 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP)[1], which responded both to faculty members who argued that the Social Sciences Division needed academic space in the campus core, and the demographic studies that demonstrated that UCSC would be experiencing rising student enrollments and would need to house more students on campus. The 1988 LRDP thus called for planning two new colleges that would integrate academic and residential facilities.

Fast forward to May of 1999, when under the chancellorship of MRC Greenwood and the vice chancellorship of Francisco Hernandez, The Colleges Nine and Ten Planning Advisory Committee issued a report entitled “Opening College IX and X.”[2] Among its recommendations were for these two colleges to “continue the tradition of the current UCSC colleges concentrating upon community life and student affairs,” while also “being centers of interdisciplinary curricula and courses, intellectual stimulation, research, conferences, and student projects.” The proposal was also for these colleges to be affiliated with the Social Sciences Division, as per the 1988 LRDP.

The authors of this report also stated, “...we have come to believe that the opening of Colleges IX and X represents a major new opportunity for UC Santa Cruz [which would build] upon the successes and learning from the failures of the past...” Embedded in this allusion to the past lies a complex, and often contentious history of UCSC’s relationship to its residential college system. In the early 1960s, the colleges were the vision and invention of founding chancellor Dean McHenry and then-University of California President Clark Kerr and were intended to make UCSC “seem small” as it grew because students would live and study in the intimate environment of their themed college. The idea was to combine the advantages of small liberal arts college (such as Swarthmore) with the resources of a major research university. Some of the inspiration also came from Oxford University and other British universities.

Faculty were appointed half time in their college and half time in their board of studies, which had less institutional power and resources than a conventional department. Each faculty member was expected to teach both for the college and the board. While college teaching and service yielded a rich plethora of innovative classes and interdisciplinary collaborations that still benefits UCSC today, it was not given much weight by the traditional University of California in tenure decisions. As the relatively affluent and fiscally expansive era of the 1960s faded into the inflation, austerity, and more conservative 1970s that was less open to innovative public education and more interested in job training, UCSC entered a crisis marked by declining enrollment and financial pressures.

Dean McHenry had also originally promised the Regents that the UCSC college system would not result in higher costs, but this was not proving to be the case. In addition, after UCSC opened, the funding formula allocated to the UC campuses per student was altered to allocate more money per graduate student than to undergraduates. This had a significant impact on UCSC, which had been founded with a focus on undergraduate education and had very few graduate programs. (The campus has yet to catch up in this area.) By 1974, Dean McHenry retired and was replaced by a chancellor who lacked leadership experience and left after eighteen months. Angus Taylor stepped in as acting chancellor and the search for a new chancellor began.

Enter Chancellor Robert Sinsheimer, who arrived from Caltech in 1977 to a campus ringing with rumors that UCSC, which once held the distinction of being one of the most prestigious and attractive campuses in the United States, might be closed for budgetary reasons. Sinsheimer’s response (he was educated at MIT to be a problem solver) was to develop and implement Reorganization, a plan which proposed a new vision for the UCSC colleges and ultimately was approved by the Academic  Senate.

This plan excised most of the academic role of the colleges (with the exception of a freshman core course) and assigned the academic mission of UCSC mostly to the academic divisions. (The exceptions to this plan were Oakes College and College Eight, which retained more of the original model.) The central mission of the colleges became residential life. Faculty members were relieved of curricular obligations to the colleges.

Reorganization eliminated the McHenry-Kerr model for the colleges. It was and still is criticized as part of one might call a “narrative of decline” at UCSC, the loss of a unique creative, interdisciplinary vision, a brave new model for undergraduate education in a public university. Even now, forty years later, the pros and cons of Sinsheimer’s Reorganization remain a heated topic in many of the oral histories conducted by the Regional History Project with longtime staff and faculty.  In an oral history conducted in 2004, Chancellor Greenwood quipped, “Some people call it the third rail of politics at Santa Cruz. If you touch the colleges, you’re dead.”[3]

The writers of the report “Opening Colleges IX and X” acknowledged this sentiment when they wrote, “While we can learn from some parts of the McHenry model, we cannot return to it. It has been rejected by the campus.” Instead they call for a third model of how colleges could work at UC Santa Cruz, which they call the Greenwood Model. This model builds on the post-Reorganization college focus on community life and student affairs and “engages faculty members and students in a way that the current colleges do not.” The writers were astute not to imply that the existing eight UCSC colleges should adopt this Greenwood Model, arguing instead that the two models could exist side by side.

The vision for these two new colleges was soon realized, with the exception of the endowment for the colleges, which the writers of the report emphasized would be important to its success. To this date, these colleges are awaiting endowment. College Nine opened its doors in fall quarter of 2000 and College Ten in fall of 2002. College Nine’s webpage articulates its philosophy: “College Nine has worked hard to successfully develop a strong community, build meaningful traditions, and emphasize our theme through co-curricular programming. College Nine’s theme of International and Global Perspectives recognizes the importance of cultural competency in the 21st century. The College Nine community offers students a range of opportunities to explore these issues and to develop skills as dynamic leaders. College Ten’s website states, “Consistent with UCSC’s founding vision, College Ten creates an integrated living-and-learning environment through engaging academic and extracurricular programs focusing on the theme of Social Justice and Community.” The two colleges retain a separate identity, but work closely together and share many staff members.

This volume documents some of the history of College Nine and College Ten through two oral history interviews: the first with Deana Slater, who has served as college administrative officer for both colleges since their founding and was part of planning the colleges even before they opened; and second with Wendy Baxter, director of academic and co-curricular programs for both colleges, also since before they officially opened. By focusing on the efforts of these two longtime dedicated staff members in founding and building these new UCSC endeavors, we also pay tribute to the sometimes invisible contributions of staff to this enterprise of higher education.

In this oral history Slater and Baxter discuss some of the key elements of the structure, philosophy, and programs at Colleges Nine and Ten, including the Co-Curricular Center (The CoCo), the Leadership Certificate Program, the Practical Activism Conference, the International Living Center, Alternative Spring Break and other service learning programs; The Garden Project, and the relationship with the Social Sciences Division

[1] Long Range Development Plan, 1988. Available in the UCSC Library’s Special Collections Department.

[2] A digital copy of this May 1999 report, “Opening Colleges IX and X” is in the College Nine and Ten University Archives at Special Collections at the UCSC Library.                                   

[3] See Randall Jarrell and Irene Reti, From Complex Organisms to A Complex Organization: An Oral History with UCSC Chancellor MRC Greenwood, 1996-2004. (Regional History Project, UCSC Library, 2014). See p. 52 for a discussion of College Nine and College Ten. Available in full text at https://library.ucsc.edu/reg-hist/from-complex-organisms-to-a-complex-o…