The University of California Board of Regents approved today (May 16) Dr. Cynthia K. Larive as the eleventh chancellor of UC Santa Cruz. Currently the provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Riverside, Larive has served the UC community for nearly a decade and a half as a faculty member, administrator and leader.

Dr. Cynthia K. Larive
Courtesy photo

“I am deeply humbled, honored and excited to lead UC Santa Cruz — a campus of the university I love and am greatly indebted to,” said Larive, who received her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from UC Riverside. “As a first-generation college student, I experienced firsthand the capacity of higher education institutions — and that of UC in particular — to level the playing field for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, and to positively transform their lives and their futures.”

Larive has worked to expand educational opportunity and student success throughout her 14-year tenure at UC Riverside. During this time, the campus closed the gap in graduation rates between Pell grant and non-Pell grant students, while raising overall degree-completion rates and diversifying the student body and faculty. As the chief academic officer, Larive boosted UC Riverside’s progress toward enrolling one California community college transfer student for every two resident freshmen. She also oversaw the creation of academic support and peer mentoring programs to help ensure transfer student success. As chair of the first mathematics task force, Larive helped catalyze curriculum changes and boost improvements in student success with critical gateway math courses.

“The breadth and scope of Dr. Larive’s academic credentials and knowledge, combined with her incredible dedication and passion for UC, make her the ideal visionary for UC Santa Cruz,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “Her wealth of experience will help propel the campus to further its research mission, increase student and faculty diversity, and elevate its international profile.”

Larive has been instrumental in raising the stature of the university, including the recruitment of the first two Nobel Laureates to UC Riverside, promoting faculty success, and strengthening the administration’s collaboration with the Academic Senate.

Said Chair of the Academic Senate Robert May, a member of the search committee: “Dr. Larive is an outstanding choice as UC Santa Cruz’s next chancellor. She possesses an exceptional combination of academic values and administrative acumen, a deep understanding of UC’s shared governance, and a demonstrated sensitivity to the needs and desires of students, staff, and faculty — and the university’s relationship to the surrounding community. I look forward to working with Chancellor-elect Larive as she steers UC to the highest echelons of education and research accomplishment.”

Larive has been the provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Riverside since 2017. Since 2005, she has held a variety of increasingly important, wide-ranging roles on the campus, including chair of the department of chemistry, divisional dean for physical sciences and mathematics, and vice provost for undergraduate education.

Carl Walsh, a distinguished professor of economics and chair of the faculty subcommittee on the chancellor search, stated: “I was struck by how many of Dr. Larive’s experiences, accomplishments, and passions matched the traits that UC Santa Cruz faculty, students, staff, and alumni said they were seeking in a chancellor. Her reputation as someone who works collaboratively, aiming to bring together the entire campus community to advance the mission of the institution, makes her a great choice to lead UC Santa Cruz.” 

Larive’s many academic and professional accolades include election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Award for Distinguished Service to the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry, the J. Calvin Giddings Award for Excellence in Education, and UC Riverside’s Innovative Teaching Award.

“Dr. Larive demonstrated incredibly strong social justice values, centered on expanding student access and educational success. Her commitment to student agency and improvement of the student experience make her ideal for the culture of advocacy here at UC Santa Cruz,” said Ayo Banjo, president of UC Santa Cruz’s Student Union Assembly and undergraduate student representative on the search committee.

An accomplished bioanalytical chemist, Larive earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from South Dakota State University, her master’s degree in inorganic chemistry from Purdue University, and her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry at UC Riverside.

Larive will start as UC Santa Cruz’s new chancellor on July 1.

The board approved her salary at $425,000, well below the compensation rate for such positions in similar markets. UC chancellors are among the lowest-paid university leaders when compared with their Association of American University (AAU) peers.

Larive, 61, is married to Jim Larive and they have two daughters, Erin and Megan.