Michael V. Drake standing in front of a window looking at the camera.

Checking In With the Chancellor: Beginnings

To the UC Davis Community:

I could not be more excited about the Board of Regents’ selection of Michael V. Drake as our universitys new president. He has a long record of standing up for students, and prioritizing issues of equity and access to higher education, and he has a vision that encompasses the role of faculty and staff in furthering the mission of the UC system (he is an ophthalmologist after all).

We introduced President-designate Drake in a late news story Tuesday, after the Board of Regents meeting, and I hope you had the opportunity to “meet” him in person during this morning’s livestreamed conversation with the board chair, John A. Perez.  You can watch the recording here.

Over the last seven years, President Janet Napolitano has strengthened our already robust role within the state, nation and world. I look forward to working with President Drake to take UC Davis and our system to the next level.

To that end, this week we released an economic analysis by an outside company showing that Aggie Square on our Sacramento campus will add about $5 billion to the region’s economy annually and support about 25,000 jobs. We also just completed the design of the first stage of the project, together with the city of Sacramento and developer Wexford Science & Technology. Our goal is to bring the university and community together to effectively connect and collaborate. Seeing Phase 1 come together gives me hope that UC Davis can and will continue to innovate in service to our community and region, even in the midst of uncertain times.

More new leaders

Speaking of hope and new beginnings, we learned more about our new provost and executive vice chancellor, Mary Croughan, who, on her very first day, July 1, sat down for an interview with our internal publications, Dateline and The Insider. Please read the story here.

Tuesday, we announced the appointment of Cynthia Carter Ching as interim vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Education. Professor Ching comes to the position having served as the associate dean for academic programs in the School of Education since 2015. Additionally, she has research expertise in issues relating to the use of technology in learning — which is certainly a valuable asset during the pandemic.

Survey on remote teaching

Kudos again to our instructors and TAs for navigating emergency remote instruction in spring quarter and this summer. If you haven’t already, the Center for Educational Effectiveness is asking you to share your knowledge in the Emergency Remote Teaching Survey — this version for faculty, this version for TAs. The results will be used to provide ideas for future remote instructors and help CEE and other campus entities improve support for remote teaching. Results will be made available to all UC Davis instructors and administrators, and will not identify any individual instructor, course or department.

And don’t forget our Summer Institute on Teaching and Technology the week of July 20. This year’s theme is “Remotely Possible: Moving Beyond the Emergency.”

Planning for fall

We are still planning our hoped-for mix of remote and in-person classes in the fall (offering our larger courses remotely and many smaller courses remotely and in-person as appropriate). With the ever-challenging pandemic, this plan may need to change again, but we are working hard to be able to provide specific information by the end of the month to help everyone with their own planning. We know what we want to do, but we also know our top priority is our communitys safety and well-being. Once again we ask for your patience.

Student visas

Monday, the federal government announced that it would bar F-1 nonimmigrant international students from staying in the country during the pandemic if their class schedules consisted entirely of online instruction. Yesterday, I joined with Provost Croughan and Vice Provost and Dean Joanna Regulska of Global Affairs in a statementdeclaring that the proposed guidelines run counter to our values at UC Davis, and that we remain committed to supporting our international students and scholars. They bring a wealth of experiences and knowledge, adding enormously to the excellence that puts us among the worlds leading research and teaching institutions. Provost Croughan and Vice Provost and Dean Regulska are following up with a letter to our international students today.

We are actively working across campus and the UC system to determine the best way forward together. Wednesday, UC announced that it would file a lawsuit to stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement from enforcing the order that President Napolitano called
mean-spirited, arbitrary and damaging to America.”

We are here to help in the meantime. The Global Affairs unit Services for International Students and Scholars, or SISS, has advisors available to talk by phone, email and Zoom, and will host a webinar at 11 a.m. next Thursday (July 16) with immigration attorneys to offer further clarification. Register for the webinar and find more information and the latest news here. Thank you to our remarkable SISS team, and thank you to our international students and community for your perseverance during what is undoubtedly a stressful and challenging time.

Also from Global Affairs: Summer Travel Advisory, updated July 9.

Beat the fatigue

While all of this is happening, we must not forget the continuing pandemic that shows no signs of going away, with the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise around California — Yolo and Sacramento counties included.

We must continue to take the pandemic seriously and to take care of one another. One of the easiest ways to do so is to wear a face covering in public places. It is a state mandate, and Yolo County has announced that it will be enforcing the face covering order, citing businesses that don’t comply. So if you visit a business in downtown Davis, wear a face covering! Face coverings are also required in campus buildings. By wearing a face covering in public you not only comply with state and county regulations, but you also help to keep our whole community as healthy as possible.

By now you’ve probably heard of “COVID-19 fatigue,” and might even be experiencing it. There’s nothing unusual about this in any crisis, says Kaye Hermanson, a UC Davis Health psychologist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. This is the time when our coping skills are more important than ever — like exercising and talking, thinking constructively, and practicing mindfulness and gratitude. Read more of what Dr. Hermanson has to say on this subject.

You’re also invited to another great presentation from the Academic and Staff Assistance Program: “Understanding Your Stress and Ways to Manage It,” scheduled for next Friday, July 17.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

We also have some excellent programming coming up having to do with the other critical issue of this time: diversity, equity and inclusion.

  • Addressing Privilege and Anti-Blackness in Research Culture, presented by the Asking Different Questions working group of the Feminist Research Institute, to consider how white supremacy persists in our research culture. (July 14).
  • Race: The Power of an Illusion, a three-part documentary, an opportunity to learn and dialogue with your colleagues. Presented by Diversity and Inclusion Education and Training, July 16, 22 and 28, with a debrief session scheduled for July 31.

I encourage you to reflect on and learn about issues of racial and societal injustices. Then find ways to engage in making a positive difference in our world.



Gary S. May

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