Message from Dean Gerardo Aldana

March 21, 2022

This message was sent to the CCS Community as part of CCS eNotes May 2022.


Dear CCS Community,

of course, I must acknowledge first and foremost the challenging times that we have all been through these past two years. I’m sure we have all learned some things that are good about ourselves, which had gone unrecognized, as well as some things we might like to change. We at CCS have done likewise, albeit on different scales and to different degrees. We do continue to push forward strategically, based on need and opportunity, as I hope you’ll see addressed below.

As an example of reassessing opportunity, David Watson ’99 (CCS Computer Science) and Vinitha Menon Watson ’99 (L&S Sociology and Communications) in 2006 graciously endowed a fund at CCS for Transdisciplinary scholarship. The College has hosted several fascinating educational experiences over the years, built around visits or residencies of scholars engaged in transdisciplinary work. Two years, ago, however, with travel restrictions in place and significant uncertainty in our in-person event futures, we reached back to Provost Bill Ashby’s notion that what is great about CCS is that ‘we just put really smart and curious people in the same room and see what happens.’ In this case, we took advantage of the fact that we have a whole population of smart and curious graduate students on campus who might be very interested in exploring ideas intellectually with our equally smart and curious CCS undergraduates. With that notion, Crossroads 2.0 was born.

This year saw the fruition of that concept, with two UCSB graduate students co-teaching a class in CCS on food justice. MacKenzie Wade and Mariah Miller developed their course around a large-scale issue that simply can’t be solved within a single academic discipline. Such conversations should foster new discussions amongst our CCS student body, allowing them to view issues from their disciplinary expertise, but learning to communicate across them. We’re now taking applications for the second offering of Crossroads 2.0 for Winter 2023 and we’re excited to see this program develop.

Another opportunity presented by the pandemic was the recognized need early on for outdoor educational spaces. Interactions outdoors were recognized as significantly mitigating the spread of COVID so we looked into re-imagining our CCS “Sculpture Yard” into a dual-purpose space. We have retained work areas for our Art students, while adding tables and umbrellas for socializing or collaborating outdoors. We haven’t given up the work-space for art, but we have embraced the idea that CCS is an intellectual cauldron for all types of curiosity – writers can and should cross paths with chemists, composers with mathematicians. Our patio space now provides for such, and does so with an investment in both beauty and function. Also, we still have some planters in the patio area to fill, so we’re looking for ideas if anyone is interested in volunteering them.

Speaking of CCS space, the case for a new building for CCS has been made countless times over the years. The campus has now supported our taking an important next step in the process. During the Fall Quarter of this year, the Campus Planning Committee invited us to form a CCS new-building committee for preliminary discussions. Campus personnel visited our building and met with representatives of our College to ascertain its status and develop a preliminary idea of the need. As a result of this initial study, we were granted authorization to seek an architectural firm to conduct a planning study – to determine what our current needs are, how they are being met, and what is as yet unmet. We received numerous applications and our top choice agreed to accept the planning study contract. Excitement is building and we’ll have a Town Hall for students to share their interests and concerns during the first week of Spring Quarter.

There’s always too much happening at CCS to report, so we invite you to reach out to learn more. That said, we hope you enjoy reading some of the news fostered by our little green, yellow and burnt-orange building and the community it houses.


Gerardo Aldana