Checking In With Chancellor May: Planning Ahead

Chancellor Gary S. May addresses "Thursday Thoughts" audience, outdoors
Chancellor May warms up the audience before Aug. 2 recording of a special episode of “Thursday Thoughts,” marking his and LeShelle’s fifth anniversary at UC Davis. See the video below. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

To the UC Davis Community:

The new academic year is just around the corner, so, as you can expect, we are busy planning for the fall. As always, the health of our campus community is a top priority, which is why we have established a public health unit in Student Health and Counseling Services, to address COVID-19 and monkeypox (MPX) and other challenges that come our way.

See our news story, Student Health Center Forms Public Health Unit, posted Aug. 22.


Davis campus students are required to be compliant with the UC Vaccine Policy by Sept. 21 either by being up to date on vaccines and boosters or submitting a religious or medical exception request. Students who are not in compliance by Sept. 21 will receive a registration hold on their accounts for fall quarter. Please visit the Information for Students and Families page on the Campus Ready website for additional details about the vaccine policy compliance process. The vaccine policy also applies to employees.

It’s clear that COVID-19 will be with us for some time. UC Davis continues to monitor for the virus through weekly wastewater testing, which helps inform our decision making. We have reviewed the scientific literature and heard from many people, and, at this point, we are not likely to increase the frequency of wastewater testing given that Davis is not a large urban center. Also please note: We have access to daily test results from Stanford’s Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network (SCAN).

We encourage our students, faculty and staff to get tested regularly for COVID-19. The Davis campus testing kiosk — offering free, asymptomatic testing (saliva-based) — remains in operation, although in a new location: Human Resources Administration Building (1050 Blue Ridge Road), across La Rue Road from the ARC. The kiosk is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday (closed Fridays and Saturdays). Testing is by appointment only through the Health-e-Messaging portal. Please note: Testing appointments are limited from Sept. 13 to 15, due to move-in.

At-home antigen tests are available for free as follows:

  • By mail from the federal government.
  • From no-charge vending machines around Yolo County. The machines are accessible 24 hours a day at the Mary L. Stephens Davis Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St.; West Sacramento City Hall, 1110 W. Capitol Blvd.; Winters City Hall, 318 1st St.; and Esparto Regional Library, 17065 Yolo Ave. (with one more to be installed in Woodland).
  • From Yolo County libraries during open hours.

I would also like to recognize the effects of long COVID and the impact it continues to have on people. We are learning more about it every day, in UC Davis Health’s Post-COVID-19 Clinic, which opened in November 2020; and in our research and clinical studies, including one assessing the risks for children.

Students affected by long COVID should work with the Student Disability Center for resources and support. Employees should work with Disability Management Services. These units are busy, so please reach out to begin the interactive process as soon as you can.

Mother holds toddler at ocean
Confronting Climate Anxiety: Environmental science writer Kat Kerlin profiles UC Davis scientists whose work is deeply, tangibly connected to the Earth and its ecosystems. They’re tracking changes across the planet in search of solutions, working through anxiety with action — and sometimes even a little joy.
Chancellor May in academic regalia, wearing medal, smiling, at investitureat in
5 Years Leading UC Davis: “It seems like just yesterday I was unpacking boxes and feeling my first Davis summer heat.” In fact, it’s been five years since Gary S. May became chancellor, and he continues to lead the university into a new era. Listen to him reflect on his major accomplish-ments as well as challenges he has faced.

Masking and air filters

I recognize that there is still some anxiety about masking. While the Davis campus does not have a mask mandate in place, we strongly recommend that people wear masks indoors to reduce risk.

Free masks are coming soon. The university plans to distribute one N95 mask to every student and employee this fall quarter, with this one-time distribution to take place in September. For more information about the distribution, students should contact their major departments, and employees should contact their departments or units. See “Directions for departments” on how to acquire mask supplies.

Remember that a proper mask fit is especially important. A 10-minute video is available for students on how to properly use N95 masks, also called respirators. They are rated to filter out 95% of particles.

Employees are required to complete a 10-minute video training about the proper use of N95 masks.

Yolo County also offers video guidance on masking. Further information can be found at Campus Ready and through the California Department of Public Health.

If you’re concerned about air filtration at home, a Corsi-Rosenthal Box is a cost-effective device that can be built with just a few components. The box was co-invented by Richard Corsi, dean of the College of Engineering, and has received acclaim nationwide. Visit this link to learn how to build your own Corsi-Rosenthal Box.

MPX (monkeypox) information

In partnership with Yolo County Public Health, we are monitoring MPX cases and taking important steps to prepare for the likelihood that MPX infections will be identified on our campus. It is important to note that anyone can get MPX, and viruses do not discriminate based on identity. That said, while MPX is a public health concern for all, the current risk to the general public is low. We are dedicated to supporting those who are most impacted by the current outbreak, and stand with our queer and trans communities against stigma and discrimination.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MPX is a rare disease that is spread through close, typically skin-to-skin contact. Scientists are still learning some specifics about how MPX is spreading in the current outbreak, but we know that MPX is not spread through brief conversations or walking by someone with MPX.

Vaccines are currently available in Sacramento County for people who meet the eligibility criteria. Please click on the links below to learn more about MPX symptoms, prevention and transmission:

We know some members of our community have questions about MPX and our return to campus this fall. We are working on developing an FAQ to provide information regarding campus response measures.

Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) is ready to handle calls from students who have concerns about potential exposure, as well as students who have symptoms or signs of infection. Faculty and staff with similar concerns should contact their health care provider for diagnosis and treatment. Counseling services are available to students through SHCS and to faculty and staff through the Academic and Staff Assistance Program (ASAP).

Commencement makeup

Our first makeup ceremonies for spring 2022 undergraduate commencement are coming Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26 and 27 (with the final one scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 10). These celebrations are open to all undergrads who were registered for the June ceremonies.

All of the makeup ceremonies will be held in the University Credit Union Center. The registration deadline to participate in one of the three makeup commencements is Monday, Aug. 22. Please click here to register and find more information.


This month marks a special milestone. My service as UC Davis chancellor started on Aug. 1, 2017, and these last five years have simply flown by.

I arrived with many boxes to unpack and a very specific set of goals. I was determined to take UC Davis to the next level through our research and teaching excellence, to strengthening our diversity and to meet students’ basic needs like never before.

That first year was all about listening and learning from the entire UC Davis community. Based on extensive feedback, I developed a decadelong strategic plan in partnership with faculty, students, staff, alumni and university friends, including our neighbors in Davis. I hope you’ll watch this video about my UC Davis journey thus far. You can find a story and links to other coverage here.

I’m pleased to see so much progress on many fronts. A recent marker of that success can be found in another milestone: research funding awards. For fiscal year 2021-22, UC Davis set a campus record by garnering $1.07 billion in research funding. As a result, UC Davis joined an exclusive group of fewer than 20 public universities across the nation that have surpassed more than $1 billion in research funding.

This historic moment reflects the growing impact that UC Davis research has on the world. To learn more about what this milestone means, I encourage you to watch this video.

The mission that I started five years ago continues. I’m focused on enhancing student success and well-being, on building our research and entrepreneurship. I’m committed to our university becoming even more inclusive.

Thank you for all of your feedback and input as we take UC Davis to new heights. Let’s continue to work and grow, together.


Gary S. May

And, as promised, our special episode of Thursday Thoughts from earlier this month, the first to be recorded in front of an audience, on the occasion of our five-year anniversary at UC Davis.

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