A Decade of Crisis
Reduced State Funding
In 1975, State funding for the building of College Eight was abruptly cancelled, beginning what would become a decade-long construction freeze on the UCSC campus.
A global economic contraction ended the postwar economic boom that had supported the dramatic growth of the University of California under Governor Pat Brown and President Clark Kerr and the resulting long-term reduction of state funding continues today. As a result of state budget crises, the university became increasingly reliant on external resources. UCSC, with its underdeveloped graduate programs and development strategy, suffered disproportionately.
Cultural Shift Leads to Declining Applications
Demographic trends exacerbated the situation. The distance of the campus from urban centers, once an attraction, was now a liability. The campus image suffered from a broad cultural shift away from the experimentation of the sixties. Declining undergraduate applications beginning in the Fall of 1973 led to campus planning in 1976 for a steady-state enrollment of only 7,500.
To some, this represented a welcome pause after fifteen years of nonstop growth. In the town of Santa Cruz, tax revolts and a turn toward environmentalism led many to hope the University would stay small. Others, on and off campus, feared stagnation and an increasingly marginal position in the larger University. Internal disagreements and political unrest were earning UCSC a reputation for "ungovernability." And the bright pastoral vision of the new campus had already darkened. In the early 1970s, horrific serial murders in Santa Cruz County made isolation in the redwoods fearful, particularly for women.
Internal Debates over the Identity of the University
Shrinking resources and the enrollment crisis sharpened a debate as to the academic role of the residential college system and faculty obligations to that system. This was a structural issue that had been present from the beginning in a university seeking to be simultaneously a liberal arts college and a significant research center. The debate had implications not only for the academic program but for the kinds of buildings, and their locations, that would emerge should the campus again began to grow.