Checking In With Chancellor May: Brighter Days

Chancellor Gary S. May, smiling, at lectern
Gary S. May delivers opening remarks at his Chancellor’s Colloquium Feb. 24, hours after his in-person State of the Campus address. Just before coming on stage for the colloquium, he and the other panelists tested negative for COVID-19, using rapid tests. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)


In a visit to the Craft Center for Thursday Thoughts, above, Chancellor May and LeShelle recognize the center for having produced 8,100 face shields and 7,000 cloth masks in the early stages of the pandemic, and note the forthcoming registration dates for the center’s spring classes. In questions and answers, the Mays offer encouragement to students for finals.

To the UC Davis Community:

As we look forward to spring break, the outlook is bright. We’re further easing restrictions and anticipating the in-person return of some of our most popular events. If you’re planning to travel during spring break, be sure to read our spring break testing guidance. Our asymptomatic testing program will remain in place at the start of spring quarter, so plan ahead and make your appointments. There are two changes beginning March 28: Those who are overdue for a booster shot will be required to test every four days, and students in residence halls who are current with their booster can move back to testing every 14 days.

Campus leadership monitors and reviews data continually and we will adapt, if needed. Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan shares my commitment to open and frequent communication with you. When it comes to loosening COVID-19 protocols, we will provide at least two weeks’ notice via email, social media and updates to the Campus Ready website. Of course, we know how quickly conditions can change during the pandemic. If we need to tighten restrictions on short notice, we’ll do everything possible to share information as soon as possible. 

Masks strongly recommended

As of this writing, according to the Davis campus’s COVID-19 Dashboard, our positivity rate is less than one-tenth of 1% (0.08% to be exact). That’s very encouraging. We’re lifting UC Davis’ indoor mask mandate on March 19, in alignment with federal, state and local public health guidelines. However, masks are still strongly recommended and continue to be required in health care settings (including testing kiosks), on public transit and in certain other locations. We support everyone who chooses to continue to mask indoors, including those who are immunocompromised or otherwise concerned. Please help us create a campus environment that is comfortable for everyone, regardless of their choice about masking.

Yolo County Public Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson recently addressed why lifting the mask mandate is the right thing to do, in part because of the effectiveness of “one-way” masking. “Because we now have masks that both fit and filter well, not everybody has to be masked for somebody at high risk to be well protected against COVID,” she said in a Davis Enterprise article. Refer to Sisson’s video explaining the changes and how to ensure that your mask fits well and is most protective. Also, in case you missed it, an article in The Sacramento Bee featured our successful Healthy Davis Together initiative.

Rest assured, we will remain just as vigilant about our public health in the months ahead.

Chancellor Gary S. May, smiling, holding shovel
After being appointed chancellor but before taking office, Gary S. May began working on his plan “to create a hub of innovation, economic development and community engagement in Sacramento.” More than five years of planning culminated with the ceremonial groundbreaking Feb. 16.
UC Davis junior Cristina Lopez, posing, “World Relief Sacramento” sign on building behind her
Long before the Aggie Square groundbreaking, Quarter at Aggie Square had already immersed dozens of undergraduate students in contemporary policy — and very human issues — and helped them get involved with related community organizations.

Coping with uncertainty

I would like to reiterate that our campus community stands in support of all those at UC Davis who are personally impacted by the crisis in Ukraine. Learn more in Dateline about available group support and one-on-one counseling.

I’d also like to share a message from Dr. Peter Yellowlees, chief wellness officer at UC Davis Health. He describes how many of us feel helpless and uncertain about Ukraine and he offers three strategies for coping. It’s good advice for everyone in these unpredictable times. The world is full of uncertainty and we all need to find ways to manage and adapt to change. The pandemic has shown us that. I appreciate your ongoing flexibility and understanding.

Student sweepstakes

The Aggie Public Health Ambassador program is hosting another sweepstakes for students for winter quarter. Any student who is compliant with the UC Vaccine Policy and up to date on their vaccines by March 28 will be automatically entered into a drawing to win an iPad. Eight winners will be selected on March 29 and notified via their UC Davis email. Good luck!

Academic flexibilities extended

The Academic Senate has extended academic flexibilities for the spring and summer quarters. The undergraduate Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) and the graduate Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) deadlines are June 2 for spring quarter, July 22 for Summer Session I and September 2 for Summer Session II. Undergraduate students considering P/NP grading should first review this FAQ. Also, as in fall and winter quarters, in-class final exams may be administered remotely, if the instructor so chooses and follows the Academic Senate guidelines. Read the Academic Senate’s updated policies and guidelines.

The Academic Senate plans to return to normal academic policies in fall 2022.

A workplace reimagined

We’re also supporting employees with increased flexibility by reimagining our workplace. The pandemic changed how and where we work. UC Davis listened to employees who wanted hybrid and remote work arrangements and created agreements that benefit both employees and their departments. In some cases, working remotely can enhance employee satisfaction, increase productivity and save space. Thanks to everyone who provided input and the teams that helped shape our flexible work program: the Sacramento campus’ Digital Workplace Program and the Davis campus’ Workplace Reimagined Workgroup.

Spring commencement and more

I’m excited to debut our consolidated undergraduate ceremonies at UC Davis Health Stadium June 10-12; students who want to participate can register online, beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, March 21. Graduate students eligible to participate in commencement have been notified and can register here before May 9.

Planning is well underway for the in-person return of both Picnic Day (April 23) and Thank Goodness for Staff (May 11), where you’ll have a chance to soak yours truly in the dunk tank. Athletics are also in full swing. Go Ags!

Women’s History Month

In honor of Women’s History Month, I encourage you to learn more about the incredible accomplishments of women at UC Davis. Read about 55 Remarkable Women of UC Davis highlighted as part of UC Berkeley’s 150 Years of Women History Project, as well as these groundbreakers:

  • Pam Ronald, who recently won the prestigious International Wolf Prize in Agriculture for her pioneering work in global rice sustainability
  • Diana Farmer, chair of the Department of Surgery at UC Davis Health and the first female fetal surgeon in the world
  • Estella Atekwana, dean of the College of Letters and Science and a pioneer in biogeophysics
  • Jamie Peyton, senior integrative medicine veterinarian, One Health Institute, formerly chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, who pioneered the use of fish skin to treat animals burned in wildfires

Welcome, new Aggies!

UC Davis saw a record-breaking 110,189 applicants seeking to enter as freshman and transfer students in fall 2022. The campus community can help welcome newly admitted freshmen, who are being notified today. Celebration Week kicks off Monday, March 14. Look for #New2UCDavis on social and join in with your own welcome messages.

There’s no doubt the word is getting out about this incredible university. UC Davis is on the rise. Or as they say in Athletics, we’re in the midst of an Ag-scension. Thank you all for everything you do to make UC Davis shine. Go Ags!


Gary S. May

Campus Ready graphic, cow on bicycle

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