Checking In With Chancellor May: ‘It’s Working’

In this week’s Thursday Thoughts, above, Chancellor May discusses UC Davis’ rising national profile, while LeShelle offers advice for first-generation women in STEM. Other topics include the chancellor’s take on the Marvel Studios TV show WandaVision and whether he can get LeShelle to watch it.

To the UC Davis Community:

We keep hearing about “herd immunity,” and I am happy to share today that we’ve achieved it within the UC Davis Health community, thanks to the fact that more than 90 percent of all employees have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

CBS News’ David Begnaud returned to the medical center for a live segment yesterday morning, after having first reported from the hospital when it administered its first vaccinations. “When we were here in December they had 210 employees out sick due to COVID,” he said. “You know how many they had as of yesterday? Only 10. More than 93 percent of the employees here at UC Davis Health all stepped up and said, ‘We will be vaccinated.’”

Among them: Chasity Whitmer, a labor and delivery nurse, who was initially hesitant to get the vaccine. She changed her mind, though, and is thankful she did — because, a few days after receiving her second dose, her husband, mother and grandmother all tested positive for COVID-19. Chasity and her grandfather, who unlike their other family members had been vaccinated, did not. Thankfully, the other family members recovered.

Anne Tompkins, interim director of employee health services, tells Begnaud: “It’s working. The numbers are a testament, people’s stories are a testament, that the vaccine is truly working. And we’re going to be OK.”

Indeed, we are going to be OK. How proud we are of Chasity and all of our nurses and physicians and other health system personnel for achieving herd immunity and providing such a good example for the nation and world — and hope for us all.

Davis campus vaccine clinic

Of course, we want herd immunity on the Davis campus, too, but it is going to take some time, because we have been receiving only 500 to 600 doses per week. Given the severely limited supply, we are focusing on all groups previously approved and will now include employees who because of their assignments are required to be on-campus.

As we have said all along: Please get your vaccine wherever you can, say, from your health provider or a pharmacy or a community clinic. And please be patient. It will happen. Refer to the Campus Ready COVID-19 Vaccine Program webpage for further information.

Meanwhile, Healthy Davis Together — our partnership with the city — continues to draw national attention, this time from Univision. One of its news crews spent yesterday morning in Davis, speaking with a UC Davis expert, an Aggie Public Health Ambassador, a testing site leader, private citizens and Mayor Gloria Partida, all in Spanish. The story will air soon, possibly at 6:30 tonight.

Spring, fall and study abroad

  • Spring instruction — Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Croughan has given approval for around 80 courses to be held fully or partially in person, provided the county where the course is to be given (Yolo County, in most cases) has achieved at least red-tier status in the state’s reopening system. “I am optimistic that Yolo County will achieve red-tier status next week, so my hope is that we can maintain that status (or better) for the start of spring quarter instruction on March 29,” she said. Yolo County is in the purple tier as of today, signifying “widespread” transmission of COVID-19. Moving to the red tier requires an improvement to “substantial” transmission.
  • Summer abroad — We are sorry to announce UC Davis has suspended study and intern abroad programs through summer 2021 due to the knowns and unknowns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific details and resources have been sent to students who had expressed interest in summer abroad programs, so that these students can plan for other opportunities. The Global Learning Hub within Global Affairs is committed to supporting students in participating in other global programs, such as new UC Davis Virtual Summer Internships and a variety of other virtual opportunities. Students with questions are encouraged to reach out to Global Learning Hub advisors.
  • Fall Planning Work Group — Established this week by Provost Croughan, this group comprising representatives from several areas of campus leadership will address issues relating to the resumption of in-person instruction, research and on-campus activities in the fall. This small group has been assembled to bring critical issues forward so they can be addressed in a coordinated fashion, with subcommittees doing more extensive work. Provost Croughan noted that the Resumption of In-Person Instruction Committee will retain its role reviewing proposals for in-person summer instruction, and the Research Ramp-Up Committee will retain its role in determining the details for research activities in Davis, Sacramento and elsewhere.

Checking in elsewhere

  • Principles of Community Week — The opening ceremony is set for 11:30 a.m. Monday (February 22); register here for the livestream. Other events are scheduled all week; see the full schedule here. We hold this celebration annually to rededicate ourselves to the principles by which we strive to maintain a climate of equity and justice demonstrated by respect for one another, and to confront and reject all manifestations of discrimination. Read the Principles of Community.
  • Enhancing Student Wellness Community of Practice — This campus work group has been hard at work for more than year analyzing student-support services, to determine and prioritize strategic investments aimed at improving student outcomes and eliminating gaps in four-year graduation rates. I am eager to hear the group’s findings and recommendations during a program from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday (February 22). All are welcome to attend. Register here.
  • Campus safety — Our Task Force on Next Generation Reforms to Advance Campus Safety is gathering input in a series of town halls, seven of which will be held over the next two weeks. I encourage you to attend. The first forum next week, 5 p.m. Monday (February 22), will be a general session, open to all. Read about the task force and its recommendations, and see the complete schedule of town halls with times and registration links.
  • Aggie athletics — As announced yesterday, our football team’s delayed season has been delayed again, by one week, to a March 6 opening game at Idaho. The Aggies had expected to begin play Feb. 27 against Cal Poly at UC Davis Health Stadium (with no fans allowed in). That game has been postponed to March 20. Regrettably, some of our other teams canceled their seasons, but I am happy to report the following teams are either back in action or soon will be: basketball, tennis, golf, baseball, softball, equestrian, track and field, women’s water polo, beach volleyball and women’s lacrosse. Go Ags!

Finally, next week I will deliver my annual State of the Campus address to the Academic Senate, during a meeting of the Representative Assembly, Thursday, February 25. The meeting starts at 2:10 p.m., and my address is near the top of the agenda. Anyone can attend; look for the Zoom link here. In this year of unprecedented challenges, I have much to share about all that we have accomplished, not the least of which is our response to the pandemic.

"Campus ready" email signature (with web address and cow on bicycle)

Gary S. May

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