Two students wearing masks studying on lawn.

Checking In With Chancellor May: Protecting Our Community

I hope you are all staying healthy as we approach the midpoint of spring quarter and that you are feeling relieved by the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. We continue to plan for a return to regular operations, smooth and safe, in the fall.

Part of that involves the systemwide policy proposal, issued yesterday, that would require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty, academic appointees and staff who are accessing campus facilities. It would be contingent upon the federal government’s standard approval of one or more vaccines (they have emergency-use approval at this point). California State University is doing the same.

UC, by issuing its proposal now, is engaging with campus communities on the details and allowing time for people to get vaccinated. It is something we strongly encourage anyway, policy or no policy. Already within our UC Davis community, more than 6,500 people have voluntarily submitted their vaccination information in our Health-e-Messaging portal, and we expect to see the number go higher now that vaccination eligibility has been expanded to everyone 16 years old and up.

With every shot, we are further protecting the health of our community, our loved ones and ourselves.

And let’s keep getting tested as well. We have seen an uptick in positive cases from the coronavirus variants that have emerged in Yolo County. I know there’s a lot of fatigue out there from the past year, but the pandemic is still with us and asymptomatic testing is as crucial as ever.

Our students have been role models in this effort. So, let’s continue to get tested weekly and follow best practices that include wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distance from other people. Yolo County has not moved into the yellow tier as we thought we would by now, but with your continued diligence we can look forward to fewer restrictions on the activities we enjoy so much.

2021 commencement

We are thrilled that our students are excited about our limited in-person commencement plans, which we announced last week. Additional information went out this week, and some students expressed concern about the legitimacy of the commencement text messages they received. Those text messages were, in fact, official communications from campus.

While we can accommodate only 300 students for each commencement time slot, the campus is committed to providing as many time slots as needed to allow each graduate and their guests to participate and celebrate. Rest assured every eligible graduate who wishes to participate in the in-person commencement processionals will have the opportunity to do so. If you still have concerns, please send a message to

Gatherings and meetings

With evolving guidance from the state, we continue to update our events and gatherings guidance for on- and off-campus events and activities. UC Davis departments are now permitted to host events (e.g., meetings, trainings, conference, etc.) as well as social/informal gatherings on and off campus as long as they follow the detailed guidelines and restrictions on this webpage. Please review the detailed guidelines and restrictions here.

A step toward justice

Like many of you, the three guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd left me emotional. This past year has been full of stress and trauma as racial and social injustices have been thoroughly exposed in our society. We still have much work to do, but Tuesday’s verdicts provide a sense of relief and hope that we’re moving in the right direction. My full statement on the verdict can be read here.

In this time, Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull reminds us of the importance of self-care and creating space to express our feelings. Please watch her video, which also includes resources for the UC Davis community in these turbulent times. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has created a resource and reflection webpage that includes a calendar of “Caring for Ourselves” events.

Virtual picnicking and giving

I hope you enjoyed last weekend’s virtual Picnic Day, our springtime tradition for more than 100 years. Thanks again to the student board that was determined to keep the event thriving in a virtual setting for the second year in a row. I’m confident that next year we’ll be back to celebrate Picnic Day in person — Doxie Derby races and all.

It turned out to be a weekend for the record books. There’s no other way to say it, but our UC Davis community crushed it on Give Day, the fifth annual campus fundraiser that ran during Picnic Day weekend. The record-setting results are in and nearly $3.5 million was raised from more than 5,600 individual gifts. Donations came in from 46 states and 16 countries, with the final tally beating last year’s record by nearly $1 million.

These gifts help support emergency funds for the Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center, the ASUCD Pantry, the Staff Emergency Fund and many other critical needs. Other gifts support a wide range of efforts, including scholarships for Chicanx/Latinx students, funds for first-generation students, and support for COVID-19 testing and care.

I’m grateful for all who donated to UC Davis and UC Davis Health on Give Day. Your enduring support of UC Davis, especially during a pandemic, is a great bright spot in these historic times. And we’ll continue to get stronger with your help.

Chatting with Rosie Rios

I wanted to end with another bright spot this spring quarter. The final edition of the Chancellor’s Colloquium for this academic year is set for 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, and it’s bound to be a good one. I’m set to interview Rosie Rios, the former treasurer of the United States who served under President Barack Obama. She’s also the proud parent of a current UC Davis student.

Rosie’s insights will be especially poignant, given the tremendous economic challenges from the pandemic. I’m looking forward to this virtual conversation and invite you to participate as well. You can submit questions through the event’s registration page, and on Twitter via the hashtag #AskRosieRios. I hope you’ll join us!


Yesterday we sent out transfer admissions notices that generated so much excitement on social media that for a time “UC Davis” was trending nationally on Twitter! We are eager to welcome our transfers as members of the Class of 2023.

I thank everyone for doing their part to make UC Davis a place that deserves to be trending. We have so much to look forward to, and we’ll get there through your continued teamwork and care for one another. Stay safe and keep on shining this spring.


Gary S. May

Campus Ready graphic, cow on bicycle

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