The Spirit of UC Santa Cruz

The Spirit of UC Santa Cruz

November 17, 2019 10 By William Hollis


[music playing] students are very passionate about a lot
of different things here on this campus. There are so many student orgs. that are
going out into the world and changing things on their own. They’re
not waiting for approval. students on this campus have a unique
thirst for wanting to do something more than
just attend class, go home, see a friend or two, hang out, and
then, you know, repeat the process the next day. we have a really, a strong commitment
to sustainability to environmental issues. We have a strong
commitment to social justice. A commitment to social and environmental responsibility. That’s been
something that’s been the hallmark of UC Santa Cruz since we first began. [music playing] Part of the culture of Santa Cruz is the ability
to look at things in completely new ways. I was able to go after problems without fear that were really the biggest problems. We sat down and asked ourselves, based on DNA, what makes us human? This is an
incredibly profound question. Creating the conditions for possibility, for experimental thought.
Creating the conditions also has to do with creating the
conditions so the students feel that they can think experimentally; That they can buck the system; That they can actually have a really radical new way of approaching things. We were able to step out and make a fearless suggestion that was ridiculed
by many at the time that ultimately led to the human genome
project [music playing] Everyone talks about being multi-disciplinary, but at UC Santa Cruz we’ve
actually put it into into effect in a way that really works. Sometimes my students are biology students, and or they’re economic students and they’re
taking an art history class for a little bit of culture. But in my class, they learn about the
Civil Rights Movement in relationship to some really interesting painting that
took place in the 1960’s. We have
collaborations with the physicists, applied math, earth and planetary sciences. It’s a richer environment
for a high-powered research institution We have faculty who’ve had enormous affect on their whole field of study because they’ve been willing to ask the
fundamental difficult questions that nobody else has been willing to ask. I was able to ask the question what is
the molecular basis for cancer? and how can we have a precision
treatment? This is really an incubator for new ways of thinking. Nobody said I couldn’t do that, and I did it. and we built the biggest cancer database
in the world. The national database. even though we don’t even have a med
school. Nobody said we couldn’t assemble the human genome so we did [music playing] In the astronomy department, we’ve taken huge risks. We went out on a limb and invented, and then proceeded to build the world’s largest ground-based telescopes. We’re very much on the brink at this point. We are able to sequence genomes at a rate which allows us to
accumulate enough data to start to understand the awesome complexity of cancer. [music playing] But if you don’t take risks, you’re never
going to accomplish great things, and the culture of wanting to accomplish great things is
what really pervades UC Santa Cruz. Living at Santa Cruz has encouraged me
to think about how my knowledge can do more than just
entertain people, but also change the course of human history. That’s thinking audaciously. That’s
going for it. That’s what Santa Cruz is all about [music playing]