Chancellor Elected to Arts-Sciences Academy

The 240-year-old American Academy of Arts and Sciences last week announced UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May as one of its 276 newly elected members for 2020. They include artists, scientists, and leaders in the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

May’s classification in the academy is “educational and academic leadership.” Other new members in this category include Ana Mari Cauce, University of Washington; Sally Ann Kornbluth, Duke University; Vincent E. Price, Duke University; G. Gabrielle Starr, Pomona College; and Ngaire Tui Woods, University of Oxford.


Induction weekend for the 276 newly elected members, including 37 international honorary members, is scheduled for Oct. 9-11 in Cambridge, Massachusetts (pending guidance from public health officials). During the ceremony, each honoree is invited to the stage to sign the Book of Members identifying more than 13,000 people elected to the academy from its founding in 1780 through the present.

Their classmates in other classifications include Joan Baez, singer, songwriter and activist; Yasmine Belkaid, immunologist; Edgar Heap of Birds, Native American scholar and artist; Eric H. Holder Jr., lawyer and former U.S. attorney general; Clark S. Larsen, anthropologist of human health; and Claudia Rankine, poet and playwright.

Chancellor May joins 27 other academy members with current UC Davis affiliation, including emeriti. See the complete list here.

John Adams and John Hancock were among the founders of the academy in 1780, in the belief the fledgling republic of the United States should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good.

Indeed, the newest members will have an opportunity to help shape the future by contributing to the academy’s projects and publications focused on the arts and humanities, democracy and justice, education, global affairs and science.

“When academy members come together, bringing their expertise and insights to our work, they help develop new insights and potential solutions for some of the most complex challenges we face,” Nancy C. Andrews, chair of the academy’s board of directors, said in a news release.

May became UC Davis’ seventh chancellor on Aug. 1, 2017, after having served as the dean of the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology since 2011.

In a 26-year career at Georgia Tech, he was a member of the faculty of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and served as the school chair from 2005 to 2011. He was the executive assistant to the Georgia Tech president, G. Wayne Clough, from 2002 to 2005.

In October 2018, May was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering — one of the highest honors in the field — for his innovations in educational programs for underrepresented groups in engineering and his contributions to semiconductor manufacturing research. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He has been honored several times for his mentorship, including in 2015 when Barack Obama bestowed upon him a Presidential Award for Excellence in STEM Mentoring.

A prominent voice in higher education, May is vice chair of the Council of Presidents of the Universities Research Association and a member of the executive committee of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities board of directors, as well as a former advisor for the National Society of Black Engineers.

He is a commissioner of the Council on Competitiveness, a national organization dedicated to growing America’s economy, fostering innovation and increasing productivity through public-private partnerships.

May’s major initiatives at UC Davis include such a public-private partnership: Aggie Square, an innovation center to be built on the university’s Sacramento campus. Led by UC Davis and the city of Sacramento, the project is partnering with industry to spur economic growth and help create jobs at a variety of education levels. UC Davis has engaged a two-company team to design, finance, own and manage the first phase of Aggie Square. The design part of the job is underway.

The Association of University Research Parks presented its Leadership Award to May and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg in November 2019, for the unique partnership in Aggie Square.

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