2020 Initiative to move forward

The University of California, Davis, will move forward with its “2020 Initiative,” an ambitious plan to build on the institution’s excellence, create a more diverse community of scholars, and achieve financial stability, campus leaders announced today. 

The decision, reached after 16 months of extensive study and consultation with campus and regional stakeholders, puts the university on a path toward adding up to 5,000 new students by 2020, along with corresponding increases in graduate students, faculty, staff and facilities. 

“After this broadly consultative process, we are ready to get to work,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “The 2020 Initiative is a bold but measured path forward for our university, one that will take UC Davis to a level of excellence beyond that achievable with current levels of investment from the state, while sustaining access for deserving California students.”

Katehi first proposed the 2020 Initiative during her 2011 Fall Convocation address, as a way to respond to the challenges facing the university through planned growth rather than further cuts, leveraging the infrastructure and capabilities of the campus to achieve greater financial stability and enhance the national and international diversity of the student body to the benefit of the institution’s academic mission.   

A detailed implementation plan for the initiative’s first phase is in development and anticipated to be complete in May. 

“Our first efforts will be directed at preparing a strong foundation for growth,” said Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor. “Hiring new faculty and staff, investing in graduate education, building new classrooms and research buildings, strengthening our recruitment activities to attract the most outstanding students from around the state, country and world, and developing our capacity to maximize student success from admission to graduation and beyond — all will be critical investments during the first phase of the 2020 Initiative,” Hexter said.  

Planning models developed for the Joint Report of the 2020 Task Forces project that when the initiative is fully phased in, net revenues from additional tuition and fees might range from $38 to $50 million a year. These funds in turn will be deployed to high-priority campus needs.  

“This initiative is not a panacea for all of the budget ills that ail the university, but among the many possible courses of action available to us to address this crisis, it is perhaps the one that will have the longest-lasting impact,” Hexter said. 

Hexter noted that the amount of annual net revenue will depend on more than a dozen variables, foremost among them the ratio of California, national and international students. While this ratio remains to be determined, the 2020 task forces strongly favored models that sustained access for California students while significantly increasing the number of national and international students.

All students would reap the benefits of increased interactions with people from other cultures and parts of the world — experiences that will better prepare them to become global leaders — as well as from campuswide investments in facilities, services and staffing.  

Campus leaders anticipate modest changes in enrollment during the initiative’s first phase, to be followed by an increasing rate of growth during the initiative's middle years and a final phase in which the campus transitions to a new equilibrium level of enrollment. 

“The 2020 Initiative should be seen as a commitment to a goal rather than to a specific plan for the next seven years,” said Ken Burtis, faculty adviser to the chancellor and provost, and project leader for the initiative. “This will be an iterative process involving successive rounds of assessment, consultation and revision that will allow us to optimize our actions each year based on outcomes from the previous year.” 

Rebecca Sterling, president of the Associated Students of UC Davis and a 2020 task force member, said this measured approach will ensure that growth does not come at the expense of the excellence of the university or the experience offered to students. 

“Everyone appreciates that it’s critical that we get it right,” Sterling said. “As the campus contemplates growth, it must do so with the highest priority being to maintain and enhance the overall quality of the university.” 

The campus is committed to maintaining current student faculty ratios, and anticipates that the addition of 5,000 undergraduate students will involve hiring about 300 additional faculty as well as significant increases in graduate student enrollment. 

“Well-planned growth in undergraduate enrollments over several years, kept in balance by new opportunities in faculty research and graduate education, will continue to move UC Davis up its current trajectory while at the same time help stabilize the campus budget,” said Bruno Nachtergaele, chair of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate and a professor of mathematics at UC Davis. “The goal of the 2020 project is to coordinate the planning of all aspects of this growth: expanding the student applicant pool, upgrading facilities and technology for instruction, adding student housing, and recruiting additional faculty and graduate students.”

Construction of new facilities such as classrooms, student services and research space will be aligned with growth as the initiative proceeds. Investments are also anticipated in the hiring of staff who provide advising and other critical support services for students and the campus.

The region also will benefit as the campus invests in its future, said Don Saylor, a member of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. 

UC Davis now generates $7 billion a year of economic activity for the region and nearly 70,000 jobs, an impact that will increase by 2020. 

“The 2020 Initiative not only will bolster the campus’ international profile, enhance academics and establish a new fiscal equilibrium, but it is an essential component of the region’s awakening to the next economy,” Saylor said.  

The Joint Report of the 2020 Task Forces contains the findings of three task forces comprising faculty, staff and students. The groups were charged with conducting an in-depth examination of key areas that will be impacted by the initiative: enrollment management, facilities planning and academic resources. Their joint report was submitted to the provost in November. Campus leaders have been discussing the findings with broad-based groups on campus and in the broader community in the months since, seeking comment and feedback.

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Claudia Morain, (530) 752-9841, cmmorain@ucdavis.edu