Chancellor May: Welcome to a New Academic Year

To the UC Davis Community:

Welcome to the 2023-24 academic year! The fall quarter is always a time of fresh ideas and energy throughout our Aggie community. I hope you’ve all had time over the summer to relax and reconnect with loved ones and are looking forward to the new year like I am.

Among the best

We’re starting the new quarter with great momentum. Last week, US News & World Report named UC Davis as the No. 6 public university in the nation — up four spots from the previous year. As we welcome a whole new class of Aggies this week, we want them to know they’re joining an institution that demonstrates excellence in research, teaching and public service every day.

Additionally, UC Davis has been recognized as a leader in finding solutions for our most pressing global challenges such as climate change, food systems, global health and social justice. Our university exceeded $1 billion in new external research awards for the second fiscal year in a row, a milestone that few other national universities have achieved.

Prioritizing health and well-being

We make the health and well-being of our UC Davis community a priority. If you’re new to campus, you may not have experienced our notable bike culture, which also includes e-bikes and scooters. With so many new folks on the road, I encourage you to watch this video that contains guidance to make sure you’re being safe and aware of your surroundings.

For those on foot, especially at night, please learn more about Safe Rides. It’s a free service that runs seven days a week and offers rides in security vehicles or escorts on foot by an Aggie Host security officer.

The well-being of our Aggies means we are also aware of needs around food security, housing, finances and mental health. Our Aggie Compass Basic Needs Center is ready to connect with you and identify resources and services that will help you succeed.

Another resource is our newly launched Health 34 team. This team delivers free, non-emergency support for physical and mental issues, such as minor accidents, panic attacks, roommate troubles and other needs. Even more resources are available at Aggie Mental Health, a website hub that provides extensive information and resources to help students, faculty and staff.

Finally, in terms of safety and well-being, I urge each of you to act as an upstander by intervening when you observe warning signs of sexual misconduct. UC Davis does not waver in our commitment to supporting students and employees who experience sexual harassment or sexual violence. The Center for Advocacy, Resources & Education, or CARE, provides confidential support to those who have experienced any form of sexual violence or harassment. Please take some time to learn more about sexual violence prevention and reporting options.

Get involved

As the year goes on, I encourage you to explore campus, get involved and take advantage of the opportunities you’ll find. One of those is the Leadership Job Shadow Program, which pairs undergraduate and graduate students with campus leaders for a day. Participants learn up close about the complexities of running a major institution like UC Davis, while also sharing their ideas and opportunities. Applications will be accepted from Sept. 28 through Oct. 4.

Our Undergraduate Research Center is the perfect place to get hands-on experience that’s valued by employers and graduate schools. In fact, approximately 50% of our undergraduates participate in hands-on research or design projects under the mentorship of a professor. This level of student participation and faculty support far exceeds that of most other universities.

Connecting with the Internship and Career Center is another crucial way to prime yourself for success after graduation. It hosts advising services, career fairs and workshops that help our students identify their interests and aptitudes. For more information, attend their fall open house Tuesday (Sept. 26) from noon to 2 p.m. in South Hall.

And of course, fall is a time for fun and relishing in the UC Davis community. Stay tuned for information about Sunset Fest, an annual campus concert hosted by ASUCD that kicks off the fall quarter.

Also, mark your calendars for homecoming weekend, which takes place Oct. 6-7 and includes the big football game against the University of Montana. Come out and show your Aggie Pride!

Growth mindset

Let’s move into the year with our minds open and with the welcoming attitude that we’re known for. UC Davis is your place to grow, get challenged and build community from a wide variety of backgrounds. The First Amendment compels us to uphold the right of free speech and it’s one of our university’s core values and vital to our higher education mission. The right to express our opinions and viewpoints is both an opportunity and a challenge to learn from and develop critical thinking skills to identify disinformation and discern ideas.

Our Principles of Community honor our diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experience and emphasize our culture of mutual respect. I urge you to review or re-acquaint yourselves with these aspirational goals.

The diversity of our campus brings with it many cultural and religious events throughout the year. I encourage you to be mindful of these events and observances, which are highlighted on our Multicultural Calendar.  

Acknowledge the land

Before I close, I want to acknowledge that for thousands of years, this land on which we’re gathered has been the home of Patwin people. Today, there are three federally recognized Patwin tribes: Cachil DeHe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community, Kletsel Dehe Wintun Nation, and Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.

The Patwin people have remained committed to the stewardship of this land over many centuries. It has been cherished and protected, as elders have instructed the young through generations. We are honored and grateful to be here today on their traditional lands.

I wish you a year of new discoveries, good health and personal growth. UC Davis is a place where people can feel they belong — a place where they can aspire to meet their dreams, ask big questions and make big accomplishments.

I’m grateful to all of you for moving our mission ever forward. Let’s get the year started, together. Go Ags!


Gary S. May

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