Cynthia K. Larive

Cynthia K. Larive

Position: UC Santa Cruz

As the 11th chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz, Cynthia K. Larive leads an institution known throughout the world for its interdisciplinary approach to research for the public good, and for its commitment to social and environmental justice. Since its founding fewer than 60 years ago, UC Santa Cruz has been on an unprecedented trajectory, with its faculty advancing world-changing research and establishing its reputation as one of the most innovative, collaborative, impactful institutions in higher education. It is a place where ideas are converted into action, and action into real, transformative change.

UC Santa Cruz, which enrolls 19,000 students, joined the Association of American Universities in 2019 and the Association of Pacific Rim Universities in 2020, remarkable achievements that underscore the impact and quality of the campus’ research as well as the breadth and caliber of its graduate and undergraduate teaching. UC Santa Cruz also shares the distinction of being the youngest member of the esteemed 66-member AAU and is one of only four members that is also a Hispanic-serving institution. Additionally, underscoring the school’s reputation for positive change, UC Santa Cruz was named the No. 3 public university in the nation for students focused on making an impact on the world in the Princeton Review’s latest college rankings.

A common thread throughout Larive’s career has been her commitment to student success, inclusion and equity. She has led programs for undergraduate research and curricular innovation and has written extensively on active and experiential learning and mentoring. She has personally mentored 30 doctoral and master’s students, and she has been active in encouraging the participation and success of women and other underrepresented groups in the STEM fields.

Upon her arrival in Santa Cruz in 2019, she immediately prioritized improving graduation rates and eliminating graduation gaps for low-income and first-generation students, and for students from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education. She elevated the role of the campus chief diversity officer, and restructured the Office of Student Affairs and Success to align with her goals.

She also has been a booster of regional economic development, fostering the university’s relationship with Startup Sandbox, the premier local technology incubator, and launching the new Innovation and Business Engagement Hub to give potential industry partners and supporters a clear point of entry to the campus innovation ecosystem. She serves as a member of the board of directors of the California Campus Compact, the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

An accomplished bioanalytical chemist, Larive came to UC Santa Cruz from UC Riverside, where she was provost and executive vice chancellor. As provost, she was responsible for the academic enterprise, managing large-scale initiatives as well as the daily operations of the Riverside campus. Over her career at UCR, she served in a variety of other leadership roles including Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, Divisional Dean of Physical Sciences and Mathematics, and interim Dean of the College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences.

Larive has authored more than 155 publications, and has received funding to support her research from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and a range of foundations and corporate grant makers.

She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society, and has received campus and national awards for her teaching, research and leadership.

Larive is a first-generation college graduate, earning her bachelor’s of science from South Dakota State University and her master’s from Purdue University, both in chemistry. She earned her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from UC Riverside while raising daughters Erin and Megan with husband Jim.