Checking In With Chancellor May: Moving Forward

Chancellor May outdoors looking into the camera with crossed arms.

Checking In With Chancellor May: Moving Forward

To the UC Davis Community:

We continue to make hard decisions, but none of them detracts from our UC Davis mission. We continue moving forward — “boldly,” as always — with spring quarter and Summer Sessions, vital student services, emergency veterinary care, COVID-19 health care and research, and so much more.

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel traditions, including next weekend’s Picnic Day, when tens of thousands of people would normally be on campus. And while the urge to celebrate may have some of you thinking, Well, maybe we can have a “small” party anyway — we implore you: Don’t do it.

Nor should we see gatherings this holiday weekend. We are still under shelter-in-place orders, the coronavirus threat is real, please do not jeopardize your health or anyone else’s.

Two days ago, in emails to students, staff and faculty, I announced we were postponing spring commencements — perhaps the hardest decision of all. But we are moving forward with a virtual ceremony and are exploring options to have our graduates return in December for the real thing. They deserve it.

Picnic Day and commencement connect us to UC Davis like nothing else. But, even without the actual events, we can still connect with our favorite university — by participating in our fourth annual Give Day, from noon Friday, April 17, to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 18. And, remember, it’s totally online, at, so it’s safe to attend.

We are proceeding with Give Day, because, as I said, we are moving forward. During and after this pandemic, we still have research to do, discoveries to make and students to teach — including those who at this very moment are considering whether to say “yes” to coming to UC Davis in the fall. This week and next we are hosting those newly admitted students at Aggie Experience Live! — our remote version of the open house known as Decision UC Davis. More than 7,000 prospective students have participated so far, and, judging by all the comments we are seeing on Facebook, they are liking what they see.

Instruction and assessment

This is Week 2 of spring quarter. Students are settling into their remote learning routines and midterms are approaching. Faculty members preparing for exams should be aware of our new Guide to Remote Assessment and Testing Options(available on the Keep Teaching website). The Center for Educational Effectiveness and Academic Technology Services created the guide to present options beyond online proctoring that promote academic integrity and equitably assess student learning in this new remote environment.

We also are announcing remote instruction will continue during Summer Sessions. Hundreds of courses will be offered, so summer will still be a good time to access high-demand classes for progress to degree. Registration opens April 27. Students can check out the Summer Sessions website for dates, courses and the rest of the information they’ll need to plan and register.

Instructors should contact their departments with questions about remote summer instruction. (And, if health directives change, some in-person laboratory courses may become available for Summer Session II. Stay tuned for details.)

Regarding graduate instruction, the Davis Division of the Academic Senate this week approved changes that provide increased flexibility for late drops and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading for graduate students for spring quarter 2020. More information is provided in this letter from Jean-Pierre Delplanque, vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies; and Kristin Lagattuta, chair of the Academic Senate.

Other new resources

  • Virtual UC Davis  As the campus has shifted to remote learning for spring quarter (and Summer Sessions as well), departments within the Division of Student Affairs have gone virtual to continue to support and empower students in ways that align with public health and safety guidelines. Our new Virtual UC Davis website offers information on the wide range of services still available to students — including Student Health and Counseling Services, Academic Assistance and Tutoring Centers, bookstore, Campus Recreation, Community Resources, Services for International Students and Scholars, Student Disability Center and Student Resources for Remote Learning.
  • Zoom privacy — With coronavirus-created demands, we all now collectively spend much of our time on Zoom. Its use nationwide has jumped from 10 million monthly users in December to about 200 million daily users today. This week and last, we’ve seen a surge of concern and national media related to privacy and security on Zoom. Our campus privacy officer and chief information security officer joined forces to discuss some concerns raised by our teaching community. Their letter also introduces FAQs with resources to help you strengthen privacy and security on Zoom

Student employees

We value our student employees, and we know, for some, their UC Davis income is vital to their ability to persist in their studies and pay for essentials such as food and rent. Yet their opportunity to keep working may be complicated amid suspended campus operations (indeed, some of them may have left Davis). They are eligible for paid administrative leave, but we also are encouraging their supervisors to think creatively about project work and other tasks the students could still perform remotely. Our Internship and Career Center is available to brainstorm ideas; call 530-752-2855 or send an email to

Mitigating the crisis

We continue to be grateful for what our health care personnel are doing in Sacramento, and what our researchers are doing on both sides of the causeway. Yesterday we learned of another patient leaving the UC Davis Medical Center after receiving treatment that included being enrolled in a clinical trial. We arecollaborating with the state to quickly and significantly boost California’s testing capacity. A new web application developed here allows users to track COVID-19 cases and testing across the globe.

Researchers responded quickly Monday when the Office of Research put out a call for proposals for COVID-19-related projects — and 10 of them received funding just three days later. More awards are yet to come.

As this crisis (hopefully) nears its peak, it is important for the rest of us to adhere to the CDC’s guidelines: Practice social distancing, don’t gather in groups. This goes for all ages. Please stay home, please limit your trips to the grocery store (and when you go, go alone).

And with warmer weather due this weekend, another reminder: If you plan to visit the Arboretum and Public Garden, or the Putah Creek Riparian Reserve, keep as much space as possible (at the very minimum 6 feet) between you and others. Some of our trails are narrower than 6 feet, so please consider going someplace else, or stay home. We cannot let down our guard.

We close this week by expressing our heartfelt appreciation again to our medical center heroes, our researchers, and all other faculty and staff supporting our continued mission.

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