Coastlines Online, UC Santa Barbara Alumni Association


Fall 2017

Around Storke Tower

Diversity Graduate Program Builds on First Year Success

When Timnit Kefela first arrived at UC Santa Barbara last fall, she felt like “a fish out of water.” An African-American coming from a small, “more diverse” institution, UCSB felt large and impersonal. Kefela’s impression quickly changed thanks to the Graduate Scholars Program.

“My experience with the Graduate Scholars Program has been one that fosters familiarity. The talks and events create a connection between faculty members and students and have been beneficial,” said Kefela, a first-year Ph.D. student in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management.

The Graduate Scholars Program, which is moving into its second year, was established to provide support to underrepresented graduate students including minorities, first generation college students, students who identify as LGBTQ, females in departments with less than 20 percent female enrollment, veterans, disabled students and any others from non-traditional backgrounds. Participants are paired with advanced doctoral student and faculty mentors, and have the opportunity to participate in professional development workshops, networking events and lectures by visiting scholars. In its first round, 56 graduate students took part in the program with new enrollment expected to exceed last year’s cohort.

“The program aims to facilitate the development of social and professional networks, to acquaint students with resources that support academic success, and to introduce students to the broad and diverse community of academics at UC Santa Barbara,” said Carol Genetti, dean of the UCSB Graduate Division.

The mentorship aspect of the program has been especially significant. Graduate scholars meet regularly with their mentors to discuss academic, personal or social issues or challenges. Program participants emphasize the importance of the support received from mentors.

“I have a very involved and supportive graduate student mentor who is in my program and has made concerted efforts to help me and my fellow mentees,” said Agustina Bertone, a second-year Ph.D. student in Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology. “I also enjoyed touching base with our faculty mentor who gives us a safe space to discuss experiences and stresses.”

Hear firsthand what staff, faculty, students and mentors have to say about the GSP experience: For more information, visit the Graduate Scholars Program website at or contact Michele Johnson, assistant director of Diversity Initiatives at or (805) 893-4424.

UCSB Retains High Rankings

UC Santa Barbara has once again been ranked in the top 10 best public universities in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Among both public and private institutions, UCSB placed No. 37.

The magazine ranked UCSB’s College of Engineering at No. 20 among public universities with engineering schools that provide bachelor’s through doctorate degrees. In addition, the university was listed at No. 14 among public universities in the “Least Debt” category, and at No. 13 for ethnic diversity.

In addition, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018 lists UCSB at No. 53 out of 1,000 universities worldwide. The Times ranking is unique among international university surveys as it evaluates schools by the full scope of their missions, including teaching, research, transmission of knowledge and global outlook. Peer ranking from senior scholars in over 140 countries is also applied to the ranking.

To see additional UCSB rankings please visit

Small But Mighty

They represent less than 1 percent of the student population on the UC Santa Barbara campus, but in June the American Indian Student Association (AISA) was awarded Campus Organization of the Year by the Office of Student Life. AISA was chosen from all other student groups for its diversity of programs, leadership development, contributions to the campus and increased member participation.There are 240 Native American students at UCSB who come from multiple tribes and reservations across the United States.

Home Sweet Home

UCSB students have new digs this year. The university has opened its new student apartment complex, San Joaquin Villages, on Storke Road on the western side of campus. Home to about 1,000 3rd and 4th year students and four faculty advisors, the development includes a new dining commons and a market with local and sustainable food options. The apartments were designed with sustainability in mind through the use of less water, energy and greenhouse gases.

Class of 2021

UC Santa Barbara welcomed 4,525 new freshmen and 2,210 new transfer students in September, for a total of 6,735 new undergraduate students, fewer than the 7,042 new students who entered the university in fall of 2016. The university received nearly 82,000 applications from prospective freshmen, a 6% increase from the previous year, and offered admission to nearly 27,000 with an admittance rate of 32.8 percent. The Class of 2021 is the most diverse and academically accomplished of any applicant pool the university has had in the past. Applicants’ average high school GPA was at a record high of 4.25, with an average SAT score of 1996 out of 2400.

Red Light, Green Light

Isla Vista has a new traffic signal in one of the community’s busiest crossroads, Pardall Road and Embarcadero del Norte. The four-way light was installed to help better manage the heavy bicycle and pedestrian traffic and improve safety in the intersection which has the highest accident rate in the area. Students had protested the traffic light project fearing it would increase congestion and urged the county to consider other ways of controlling traffic in the area. The $300,000 price tag was split by the Santa Barbara County Community Development Block Grant Program and UCSB. Warnings will be issued to violators during the initial two weeks after the start of fall quarter.