CHANCELL-ING: A Look Forward to All That’s in Store in 2024

Rendering of coffee center building interior
A rendering shows the design of the Coffee Center lobby and espresso bar.

Winter quarter at UC Davis is well underway and we continue to advance our mission of excellence in research, teaching and public service. That mission allows us to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our times, including climate change, feeding a growing world, and bettering the health of all living beings. Also at the core of our efforts is our commitment to being a good neighbor with the city and surrounding region.

Blue graphic of Chancellor Gary S. May with text: Gary May Chancell-ing. A town-gown newspaper column.

Looking ahead to the year unfolding, we’ll have many opportunities to come together as a community. We’ll unveil new and remodeled facilities that enhance the university’s world-class education and harness our research strengths.

Leading facilities

One such event will take place this spring. We’ll dedicate the new UC Davis Coffee Center, which involves more than 50 UC Davis faculty members. They come from a range of academic fields such as engineering, plant sciences and agricultural economics. The center is training the next generation of scientists and leaders while helping the coffee industry become more sustainable.

In the winter, renovations are expected to be completed at our chemistry building. The enhancements will include a host of new laboratories, offices and collaboration spaces. Renovated teaching labs at Hutchinson Hall, which houses such departments as plant pathology, are also planned to debut this year with more flexible learning spaces for students.

Including all

Another focus is to continue efforts to showcase our university and community as inclusive and welcoming. I’ll be on hand to address the César Chávez Youth Leadership Conference, which will be held March 16 at our University Union Credit Center. It's a hallmark UC Davis event, having taken place here for more than two decades. With the legacy of César Chávez in mind, we’ll host thousands of students, families and teachers from all over the state for a day of cultural celebration and learning about college access and enrollment. Our goal is to fully inspire the participants to pursue a college degree. If they choose UC Davis for their studies, we’ll be even more thrilled.

We will also expand our support of students’ basic needs. One highlight of 2023 was launching the AggieEats food truck. It was the first of its kind on a college campus: A food truck that offers free or low-cost meals with a confidential pay-what-you-want model.

The truck serves nearly 600 meals a day. We’re aiming to increase that capacity and find other ways to support food security. One of those includes plans to move The ASUCD Pantry, which provides students and employees with free groceries and basic necessities, to a larger location in the Memorial Union.

Working together

I’m also looking forward to meeting new people from all over the community and reinforcing our longstanding partnerships. I’m particularly eager to work with Josh Chapman, the new mayor of Davis, and build on the strong town-gown relationship that our university and city share.

We ended 2023 with a productive meeting of the annual 2x2x2 committee, which includes two representatives each from UC Davis, Yolo County and the city of Davis. This committee was established in 2018 as part of a memorandum of understanding between our three entities.

In December, we discussed housing and mental health resources. An update was also provided on Hate-Free Together, a partnership between UC Davis, the city of Davis and Yolo County to end hate incidents and promote safety. I’m encouraged to see this initiative moving forward, including plans for community workshops and a new website with resources and information on how to get involved.

Upcoming events

And of course, we have many ways that we’ll come together over the year. Picnic Day is coming in April, right around the corner. I’ll look for you to join me in rooting for our Aggies at sports events, enjoying shows at the Mondavi Center, and exploring the world of art at the Manetti Shrem Museum. I encourage you to join me for my upcoming Chancellor’s Colloquium, scheduled for March 6, where my guests will be journalists from our region who will share their personal and professional journeys. More details about that panel and future Chancellor’s Colloquium guests and dates are coming soon.

In these times that can make us feel exhausted and discouraged, let’s stay hopeful for peace and optimistic about what we can achieve together.

Chancellor Gary S. May’s monthly column is published in The Davis Enterprise and Dateline UC Davis.

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