UC Davis Chancellor Gary May with Doris Matsui and Davares Robinson

My Day with Chancellor Gary May

The Leadership Job Shadow Program

Guest blog post written by Davares Robinson, a third year political science major at UC Davis. 

I am a third year, Political Science major with an emphasis in Public Service. On April 2nd, 2018 Chancellor Dr. Gary S. Mary addressed a letter to the UC Davis community regarding the launch of his newly piloted Leadership Job Shadow Program. In the letter, the chancellor went on to state that he was, “…particularly struck by how many students [wanted] to learn more about how UC Davis functions on a day-to-day basis in all areas.” The program places participants in direct contact with community leaders. It is through hands-on experience that participants learn. There are multiple sectors to apply to. I applied to be a part of the diversity and inclusion sector of this program. On June 1st, I had the privilege of shadowing Chancellor May for the day. This was my experience.

Chancellor May with student, Davares Robinson

Community Outreach Through Office Hours

Our first stop together was to the Life Sciences Building, located adjacent to Sciences Lecture Hall. It is here that the Chancellor facilitates quarterly office hours in each of the four colleges and six professional schools. Chancellor May is adamant about being accessible. Not only are his office hours open to undergraduate students, they include graduate students, faculty, staff, and representatives of outside entities who wish to communicate and be in partnership with the university. We met with professors, academic advisors, organizational leaders, students and Davis locals seeking to improve the plight of the Davis community. The following topics were discussed: increasing campus career opportunities; increasing ethnic diversity, both within research and academic enrollment; UC Davis’ newest and largest housing project in history, to combat Davis’ housing crisis; the increase in enrollment of over 10,000 students over the past 10 years, and its financial effects; campus safety; and lastly, student advocacy and representation. Not only was the Chancellor quick to listen, he left each member with a clearer understanding as to what their next steps should entail. His recommendations always accompanied a point of contact. In the end, I asked how office hours serves his commitment to diversity and inclusion. Chancellor May responded, “Trust is most  important to me. If I am committed to building trust, I can provide opportunities for community engagement. Diversity is not one persons’ job on this campus.” The chancellor’s office hours are a great opportunity to gain direct insight on any topic, voice personal concerns, or even make your acquaintance with him. I recommend taking advantage of the Chancellor’s office hours. Chancellor May appreciates hosting them.    

“If I am committed to building trust, I can provide opportunities for community engagement. Diversity is not one person’s job on this campus.” – Chancellor May 


The Aggie Square Development

Chancellor May with Doris Matsui and student, Davares RobinsonUC Davis accounts for over 5,300 acres of land. Twenty-Five of those acres are located in the Stockton-Broadway corridor of Sacramento. Chancellor May wants to maximize how our shared community can benefit from it. One way to foster that is through the Aggie Square project. Aggie Square will serve as a site for both innovation and research through technology. According to  the Chancellor, it will create jobs and contribute to the economic development of the broader Sacramento area. The soon to be extended campus will be located in the Stockton-Broadway corridor. We met with California’s 6th District Congresswoman, Doris Matsui, to discuss the project’s efficient development; and lastly, that the aims of the project benefit UC Davis, Sacramento, and California at large. As a political science major with an emphasis in public service, this was a great opportunity for me to form a meaningful connection with someone who holds a position in office. An opportunity I would not have experienced if not for the Leadership Job Shadow Program. For that, I am thankful.


International Collaboration

Being a top research university requires the expansion of educational boundaries. We sat down with Sistema De, Innovation System of Guanajuato State. A university-based out of Mexico that seeks to improve higher education through technology, science, and international collaboration. A feat that has proven to work with the creation of engineered virtual environments for learning. The conversation centered around the benefits of this approach to education. The meeting was brief and I was able to witness how partnerships abroad play a role in navigating inclusion and diversity not just on campus, but internationally.

UC Davis Chancellor MayUC Davis Chancellor May with Ken Burtis

Housing Is of Priority

“…there is a 0.2 percent [rental] vacancy rate in Davis.” – Davis Greenwald

Access to housing undeniably affects inclusion and diversity within the UC Davis community. If you live in Davis, you may be aware that we are experiencing what is known as a  housing crisis. In an interview  on housing, founder of the Davis Vanguard, Davis Greenwald, stated, “…there is a 0.2 percent [rental] vacancy rate in Davis.” This being irrespective of the consistent increase in student enrollment. To combat this the Chancellor has chosen to fully promote the largest housing measure in Davis history. I attended a meeting with the chancellor,  and a guidance team composed of UC Davis law professors, lawyers, land contractors, financial consultants, staff, and residents. The purpose was to further prevent the West Village/Orchard Park project from being prolonged. In addition to strategizing more expansion projects. I learned that legalities have been preventing students from gaining guaranteed housing. In addition, state funding only accounts for 9% of the school’s budget.  Both of which posed problems prior to our increase in student enrollment, in tandem with the lack of adequate state funding. Still, the Chancellor pushes to expedite the process with a trusted team of advisors. The housing project aims to house more than 2,700 students within the city of Davis.


Job Shadowing is Priceless

Throughout my day, I engaged with countless community members, professors, students, administrative faculty, staff, a government official, and international companies. All of whom sought to enhance the experience of both the University and Davis. There is a tough level of difficulty that comes wiUC Davis Chancellor Gary May with Davares Robinsonth running this university. One must be sensitive to the community’s needs. You have to create opportunities for community engagement because it is necessary to make improvements. 

“I wake up every morning thinking, how can I make student lives better?” – Chancellor May 

The appropriate use of language is vital to foster inclusion. Accessibility is the key to promoting trust, and trust is essential to cultivate transparency. These notions are at the forefront of Chancellor May’s mind when making decisions. I was fortunate to gain insight into what is to come for UC Davis, and I was granted the opportunity to build relationships with various leaders. One being the Chancellor himself. The Leadership Job Shadow Program is priceless, and one of the best experiences that I have had across my three years here at UC Davis. Chancellor May plans to implement the program throughout upcoming academic quarters. If you would like to gain access to information on any area of campus, as well as make meaningful connections with campus leaders, I highly recommend applying to this program. Our sixth and last meeting for the day was an open quarterly meeting held in the Alumni Center. During it, I asked the Chancellor how he’s managed to promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects of his job. After all, this was his first year as Chancellor of the University. He responded, “I wake up every morning thinking, how can I make student lives better?” My job shadow day experience is a living testament to those sentiments. Thank you, Gary.