Student welcomes attendees to Mondavi Center COVID-19 testing.
The Mondavi Center plays host to a Healthy Davis Together testing site. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

CHANCELL-ING: Shining and Collaborating in the National Spotlight

One of my key goals when I came to UC Davis was to make the university a household name. I believe that goal is now being fulfilled, and not just with UC Davis’ high rankings in academics and social mobility.

Through our partnerships with the city of Davis and Yolo County, we’re clearly showing the country what a successful town-gown partnership looks like between a university, a city and a county.

Our teamwork continues to flourish in the fight against COVID, along with collaborating successfully on local issues of transportation and student housing. In terms of college towns, it doesn’t get much better than Davis.

But don’t just take my word for it. Take it from the New York Times, NBC News, Univision and many other outlets, which all recently shared the story about Healthy Davis Together.

Said the New York Times: “Public health experts say the initiative is the most ambitious program of its type in the country and could be a model for other universities.”

In light of this national news, we had plenty to discuss and celebrate this week at our “town-gown” meeting between UC Davis, the city of Davis and Yolo County (via Zoom, of course). The annual meeting was one of the commitments we made under the memorandum of understanding 2018.

The last time we’d held this meeting was October of 2019 — just a few months away from our worlds being turned upside-down. We met back then in the UC Davis Genome Center auditorium. No one could have known how pivotal that building would become for our entire community. It’s now the heart of Healthy Davis Together.

The Genome Center has since processed more than a quarter-million COVID-19 tests since the pandemic began. The value of living in a city with a world-class research university and testing facility like this couldn’t be more apparent.

As part of the MOU and in our continuing strong relationships with the city and county, we’ve joined forces to support the community. Earlier this week, I participated in a virtual ribbon cutting to commemorate the improved bike path on Russell Boulevard near Highway 113. I was joined by Mayor Gloria Partida and members of the Davis City Council to mark the occasion.

I’m pleased that construction is ongoing at The Green at West Village and Shasta Hall, with new construction at Orchard Park expected to start this year. When Orchard Park is complete in 2023, we will have built 6,000 new beds for our housing community.

We’ll need this kind of partnership even more in the months ahead. Like all other UC campuses, UC Davis is planning on a return to in-person instruction in the fall. This is due to the development of COVID-19 vaccines and our outstanding asymptomatic COVID-19 screening test for all UC Davis faculty, staff and students.

I can’t wait to see our community fully activated again. I’m ready to see everyone riding their bikes, walking around and enjoying campus and the city in the usual way. I’m sure you are, too.

So, the work continues. It’s been a long year but, through all of the challenges and the unknowns, we’re showing what Davis is made of. We’re full of heart, we’re resilient and we strive to help others.

Let’s continue to show the country — and the world — how we do things in Davis.

Chancellor Gary S. May’s monthly column appears first in The Davis Enterprise and then in Dateline UC Davis.

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