As UCSB students, it’s easy to identify what makes our peers flock to the university; the student body is politically savvy and environmentally conscious, its scholars are awarded top honors on a regular basis and off-campus housing is located in an area that can be fittingly described as a beach paradise.
What’s often overlooked by the student body are the requirements to ensure smooth day-to-day operations at the university. More easily forgotten by the hordes of transient students departing UCSB after a few years are the names, faces and duties of the hundreds of administrators who log their hours on campus for the sake of the university’s academic mission.
That’s right — considering that most students only spend four years here, five tops — undergraduates are really just little fish in a large sea.
What follows is a spotlight of the biggest fish on campus. Pay attention — most of these school officials have been working here since before the 2011 graduating class was born.
Henry T. Yang
A former dean of engineering and distinguished professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue University, Chancellor Henry T. Yang is — quite literally — a rocket scientist.
Since joining UCSB in 1994 as both chancellor and a professor of mechanical engineering, Yang has seen the university weather a heavy storm. While economic recession has made marks worldwide, its effects have been particularly brutal on state education.
Despite substantial efforts to combat the devastating budget cuts, Yang said the end of the UC’s fiscal maelstrom is nowhere in sight.
“Our challenge this year is to sustain the remarkable momentum of our progress while continuing to absorb the state budget cuts,” Yang said in an e-mail. “Despite these budget challenges, we remain absolutely unwavering in our commitment to providing our students with the quality education they deserve. After all, our students are the reason we are here.”
According to Yang, one of his most challenging tasks is communicating effectively with groups such as the UC Office of the President, alumni, donors, community members and representatives in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to make sure that his decisions are well-informed and well-received.
“It is important for all voices to be heard so that each person becomes a true partner in the process,” Yang said. “I think that’s what makes UC Santa Barbara so special — we are not just a university, we are also a community.”
Yang is also well-known for demonstrating his commitment to the heart of the university: its student body. While some high-level administrators struggle to schedule time to spend with their student body, Yang said he thrives on it.
“My wife, Dilling, and I are privileged to live on campus, near our residence halls and dining commons,” he said. “One of the most enjoyable parts of our daily campus life is getting to know our students — sharing dinner at the dining commons, cheering at student performances and athletic events, talking with students during our regular walks around campus and Isla Vista and working with our students on campus issues.”
Glenn (“Gene”) Lucas
Executive Vice Chancellor
A UCSB alumnus himself, Gene Lucas went on to earn a Sc.D. degree at MIT before returning to UCSB in 1978 to teach at the College of Engineering. In addition to acting as Executive Vice Chancellor, Lucas has also worked as a professor of mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and materials.
As EVC, Lucas is UCSB’s chief academic officer. His responsibilities — in consultation with the Santa Barbara Division of the Academic Senate — include overseeing academic planning and programming, developing and implementing academic policy as well as monitoring the academic personnel process. The Office of the EVC oversees all academic entities, including on and off-campus instructional units and instructional support programs.
Lucas said he hopes to keep the university stable on its current track toward academic success and campus growth.
“I want to see [UCSB] continue to grow in distinction and diversity,” Lucas said in an e-mail.
While planning the university’s future remains a bright spot on his to-do list, Lucas said his job also requires him to handle some somber aspects of public education.
“Cutting budgets, laying people off, freezing hiring have all been difficult,” Lucas said. “Laying people off is the hardest because of the hardship this places on people that have been loyal contributors to UC Santa Barbara.”
Senior Associate Vice Chancellor, Administrative Services & Campus Architect
Today, UCSB is globally acclaimed as one of the most beautiful settings to attend college, but the campus actually used to be a ramshackle collection of WWII-era military installments when it was started. In between then and now, the credit for the striking physical appearance of today’s university goes to the likes of Marc Fisher and his predecessors.
Fisher oversees Design and Construction Services, Campus Planning and Design, Housing and Residential Services and Physical Facilities, just to name a few. As a licensed architect with a Master’s degree in the field, Fisher is the man with the plan — actually, quite a few of them. Over the last eight years, he and his colleagues have developed the 2010 Long Range Development Plan, Campus Plan, Campus Housing Study, Campus Sustainability Plan and Physical Design Framework.
Fisher said he looks forward to seeing the extensive work turn into tangible — not to mention environmentally-friendly — results.
“This is an exciting time for our campus,” Fisher said in an e-mail. “It will be a campus that takes full advantage of our physical setting, is rich in texture and yet orderly in form, with many new housing options for our students, faculty and staff. It will be a campus that relies more heavily upon bicycle and pedestrian circulation and will continue to push into new areas of sustainability.”
In addition to allowing him to utilize his passion for architecture, Fisher said his role at the university has given him the opportunity to join a tight-knit community.
“My job entails so much variety — it is truly never dull,” he said. “I get to work with great people and have direct access to a cross section of our campus community — students, faculty and staff — as well as our local community. Along with all of that, we are building and serving a campus environment commensurate with the academic excellence of this university.”
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
As UCSB students, we know that a university is defined by more than what goes on inside its classrooms. It would be safe to say that Michael Young is responsible for almost everything else.
As the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Young oversees more than 20 departments, including admissions, counseling, Student Health and the MultiCultural Center. After 20 years on the job, Young said his favorite part has always been — and will continue to be — his connection with the student body.
“I know this will sound corny, but I really love working with UCSB students,” Young said. “I feel that I lucked out and ended up in a great career, in a great place for students. I’ve also had some extraordinary colleagues here in Santa Barbara and it’s been an absolute joy working with these professionals, trying to do our best to serve students here.”
According to Young, the opportunity to develop a strong relationship with the student body is a double-edged sword.
“At times in my job, I have a responsibility for either life-or-death matters relative to students or I have to become involved in situations where the academic careers of certain students are at risk,” Young said. “I’ve found that, even after all these years — and I’m glad of this — it has not come easy. It’s pretty sobering. Every time I am engaged in one of those situations, I am reminded that each and every student is an individual with a life and with a family, with dreams and hopes.”
Although the Division of Student Affairs has been suffering at least $1 million of cutbacks a year for the past seven consecutive years, Young said he is determined to shield students from the repercussions.
“[My goal] is to find out the impacts and the implications of the budget situation and then respond to that so that we can find ways to live within our new financial realities and continue to provide high-quality services to students,” Young said.