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Chancellor announces plan to grow enrollment, jobs

By Mitchel Benson on September 21, 2011 in

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi unveiled a major campus initiative on Wednesday that is designed to increase the number of deserving students who would benefit from a UC education, while boosting regional economic opportunity and creating new jobs on and off campus.

Specifically, the campus is in the early stages of studying whether it can add 5,000 more qualified undergraduate students in the next five years — with an appropriate and responsible mix of instate, out-of-state and international students — and support 300 new tenure-track faculty positions. The campus currently has 24,700 undergraduates (nearly 32,300 total students) and about 1,500 faculty.

“The goal is to continue creating a university that can sustain its rising trajectory through its own best efforts, leveraging support from the state but rising above the fiscal limitations we now face,” said Katehi, who announced the 2020 Initiative during her annual fall convocation address, which traditionally launches the beginning of the new academic year.

Given the reality of shrinking state support for higher education, Katehi said UC Davis has two choices:

Accept permanent reductions in state support, which will continue to constrain UC Davis’ ability to excel, or, take control of the campus’s own destiny by developing new strategies and budget models that will move the university forward in the coming years.

“Today we find ourselves at a defining moment in our history as a campus. Since you cannot cut your way to greatness, the choice for me is clear,” Katehi said. “If we develop and expand our campus in a thoughtful and deliberative way, and if we increase the population of highly qualified resident and nonresident students and create an ever-growing endowment fund — as we are doing already — we will have a business model that works. Even in tough times like these.”

In her convocation address, Katehi emphasized that the 2020 Initiative “is being developed in broad strokes. Nothing is set in stone. Nothing will be decreed from on high.”

She called on the greater UC Davis community to become a part of the process that shapes the future look and design of the university. The campus has published an e-mail address for those who want to send comments on the 2020 Initiative:

“I want to hear your thoughts and ideas as we develop the details for this initiative,” she said. “I want to see where there is passion, interest and sound reasons to grow. What do you want to see happen? And, we must always remember as we move through this process, that our focus be on innovation and excellence. It must never be growth simply for growth’s sake.”

At a news conference after the convocation, which was held at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, several community representatives joined Katehi and other campus leaders to support the 2020 Initiative. They included Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor; Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez; Davis Mayor Pro Tem Rochelle Swanson; Michael Bisch, co-chair, Davis Downtown Business Association; and Rose Cholewinski, vice chair, Davis Chamber of Commerce.

“The state funding situation is dire and UC Davis must take a more direct role in its future success and sustainability,” Saylor said. “Clearly, Chancellor Katehi is acting in a responsible manner, and I applaud her for opening up a dialogue with the surrounding community to help shape UC Davis’ direction.”

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (who did not attend the news conference) commented, “UC Davis is one of our region's greatest competitive advantages, and a tremendous partner to my administration and the city. I applaud Chancellor Katehi for her vision and leadership, particularly in driving innovations that will create jobs and grow our regional economy. ”

Since the fall of 2009, UC Davis has taken and continues to take many steps to become more efficient and to reduce costs. The campus’s Organizational Excellence Initiative, Shared Service Center program and other cost-cutting efforts are visibly reducing expenses and improving efficiency. 

At the same time, UC Davis is unique among the 10 campuses of the University of California, with a physical footprint that is compatible with a larger undergraduate and graduate student population. The university has nearly 6,000 acres and 17 million square feet of maintainable building space.

“This fortunate circumstance, combined with our investments during the past 10 years in the physical infrastructure of the campus, positions us well to leverage our resources through careful and strategic planning,” Katehi said.

UC Davis’ preliminary analyses indicate that by adding a combined 5,000 more instate, out-of-state and international undergraduate students in the next five years, the university can accomplish a number of important goals:

  • Bring the benefits of a UC education to a greater number of deserving students.
  • Become financially stable.
  • Make our campus more international, to create a more diverse educational climate and to prepare future global leaders.
  • Provide sufficient additional revenue by 2020 to support an additional 300 new tenure-track faculty positions, bringing the total to approximately 1,800 FTEs (full-time equivalents).
  • Improve our existing infrastructure and make investments needed to sustain and grow excellence across the campus.
  • Boost regional economic opportunity and create new jobs on and off campus.

UC Davis is calling the effort the 2020 Initiative because preliminary analyses indicate that it will take until that year to enroll the appropriate mix of additional students, hire the new tenure-track faculty and make the necessary infrastructure investments, all aimed at accomplishing the university’s goals of excellence and improve its standing as one of the nation’s top public research universities.

As a first step, Katehi and other university administrators have begun consulting with the leadership of the Academic Senate about the creation of task forces to analyze and further develop the proposal.

In the weeks ahead, Katehi will appoint three groups comprised of faculty, staff, students and others that will be charged with exploring issues related to enrollment, academic planning and campus infrastructure.

Last month, Katehi and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter announced to the campus that Ken Burtis, professor of genetics and past dean of the College of Biological Sciences, had agreed to assist them in the 2020 Initiative, serving as their liaison with various constituencies and coordinating the strategic planning effort. At the time, they also announced that Assistant Vice Chancellor Karl Mohr would partner with Burtis to support the process.

“Together, Ken and Karl will engage the campus community as well as friends and neighbors in our surrounding communities,” Katehi said in an Aug. 10 memo to the campus’s leadership, “to ensure their input is considered in our ongoing planning efforts.”

Media contact(s)

Mitchel Benson, (530) 752-9844,

Julia Ann Easley, 530-752-8248, mobile 530-219-4545,