Checking In With Chancellor May: Embracing Diversity

The fellowship recipients, all associate professors, from left: Diane Beckles, Colleen Bronner, Milmon F. Harrison and Margarita Jimenez-Silva.

Checking In With Chancellor May: Embracing Diversity

To the UC Davis Community:

Congratulations and thank you to our inaugural Chancellor’s Fellows for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Diane Beckles, Colleen Bronner, Milmon F. Harrison and Margarita Jimenez-Silva, faculty members recognized for the outstanding support they give to underrepresented students and/or students from underserved communities.

Thank you to the Davis Division of the Academic Senate for working with me to establish this new fellowship program. The honorees are stellar examples of Goal 3 of our 10-year strategic plan, To Boldly Go: “Embrace diversity, practice inclusive excellence and strive for equity. Make UC Davis a place of excellence for learning and working by supporting a culture that values the contributions and aspirations of all our students, staff and faculty; promotes wellness and a culture of sustainability; and cultivates the open interchange of ideas.”

Our efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion have never been more important than during this time of social unrest and demand for change in our country. I am grateful for everyone’s efforts — faculty, staff and students — to help us achieve not only our goal but the goal of so many of us to build a more just American society.

We are making diversity gains on all fronts, and we expect that will be the case among the new undergraduates who enroll this fall. Yesterday we reported that we had offered admission to a record 45,820 applicants, including an all-time high of 29,775 California residents, and that about a third of all our newly admitted students identified themselves as being from historically underrepresented groups — African American, American Indian, Chicano/Latino and Pacific Islander. That’s about the same percentage of underrepresented students as we had in last year’s admission data, and our projection for this year is that we will see an increase in the number who enroll.

Fall planning

As I noted last week, we are still hoping to announce our plan for fall by the end of this month. We have made some preliminary decisions, however, as outlined today in a letter to members of the Academic Senate and Academic Federation, as well as graduate students, from Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan and Academic Senate Chair Kristin Lagattuta.

  • All classes with enrollments greater than or equal to 50 students will be taught remotely.
  • For classes with fewer than 50 students, in-person instruction may be possible. The decision to hold in-person classes will be decided by the instructors of record in coordination with department chairs and deans, followed by committee review and approval by the provost — and will be subject to public health guidelines.

The campus is working with the schools and colleges to determine which courses will, for pedagogical or other reasons, be offered in person, the appropriate locations and the resources that will be needed.

In regard to remote instruction, the letter asks faculty to be mindful of the varied circumstances that their students will be facing and make reasonable adjustments to syllabi and teaching methodologies to address them. “We hope that in your roles as teachers and mentors, you remain especially mindful of UC Davis’ Principles of Community and our responsibility to give all of our students every opportunity to succeed, excel and thrive,” the letter states.

Indeed, we aim to create a positive experience for students, faculty and staff when we begin the fall quarter on Sept. 30.

The pandemic

new article from UC Davis Health helps explain where we stand with COVID-19, in our region and state, drawing on the expertise of Brad Pollock, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences and chair of UC’s Public Health COVID-19 Working Group.

“We were doing well until Memorial Day weekend,” Dr. Pollock said. “The coronavirus had been smoldering along. But pent-up energy around the holiday and the loosened restrictions gave people a false sense of security that COVID-19 was no longer a threat.”

Now, with the number of cases on the rise, the governor has rolled back the state’s reopening, and this in turn has us revising our Guidelines for Return to Administrative and Office Work to more strongly encourage departments to slow down. Work that can be done remotely, should continue to be done remotely through the fall quarter, says a new memo to leadership from Kelly Ratliff, vice chancellor of Finance, Operations and Administration. Unless there are significant and compelling reasons to bring staff back to campus (e.g., managing facilities that remain open, supporting critical research programs, providing hands-on services to employees/students, etc.), then employees should be directed to continue remote work. 

You’ll find the guidelines on our Campus Ready website, along with remote-work resources, downloadable signs and information on reporting COVID-19 concerns and confirmed cases.

New vice chancellor

Please join me in welcoming Pablo Reguerin as our new vice chancellor of Student Affairs, starting Monday. He is the former associate vice chancellor of student achievement and equity innovation at UC Santa Cruz and is excited to return to our community after earning his doctorate in our School of Education’s CANDEL Program (CANDEL stands for Capitol Area North Doctorate in Educational Leadership), in 2017. With extensive leadership experience in student affairs and equity and inclusion initiatives, we know his vision and expertise will have a positive impact on our students and their needs.

International students

I am very relieved with the federal government’s decision earlier this week to rescind a directive that would have prohibited international students from taking all of their courses remotely, even if that is what circumstances called for during the pandemic. 

Normally, international students can enroll in only one online course per term. The government granted an exemption for the spring and summer due to the pandemic. Then came the July 6 announcement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, telling students that if their schools offered only remote instruction in the fall, then the students needed to either transfer to different schools or leave the country. This would have applied even if a school started the fall with in-person instruction, and then, because of health concerns, switched to all-remote instruction during the term.

Last week I joined Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan and Vice Provost and Dean Joanna Regulska of Global Affairs in speaking out strongly against the government’s proposal to modify the flexibilities it set in place last spring when UC Davis and most other universities switched to all-remote instruction.

In addition, the University of California and many other universities announced legal action, calling out the proposal for its cruelty, especially at a time when international students — indeed, all students — are already dealing with so many changes in their academic programs, and for its disregard of public health and safety.

As UC President Janet Napolitano said after the government backtracked, “This sudden reversal by ICE is a win for common sense and for public health.”



Gary S. May


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