Checking In With Chancellor May: Preparedness

In Thursday Thoughts (above), Chancellor May discusses the importance of face coverings, and he and LeShelle May tell how they avoid (or try to avoid) news burnout. Plus, the chancellor answers the question: “Marvel or DC comics?”

To the UC Davis Community:

We are looking forward to the new academic year and to seeing you — students, faculty and staff — in person or virtually. Today we are sharing what we have done so far to prepare for both circumstances. The in-person component, of course, depends upon the pandemic, as well as local and state public health guidelines as to whether universities will be allowed to have any in-person instruction; we are still awaiting such guidance from both the state and county.

We have already announced that most courses in the fall will be offered remotely, that we will have very limited offerings in person. We expect to be able to provide course information in mid-August; we will post the information to Schedule Builder and alert students to the update. Our scheduling plan is subject to change if public health guidance says we can no longer offer in-person courses.

As was the case in spring quarter, students learning remotely will have access to services they would normally have on campus, including office hours with their instructors, advisors and counselors. We are continuing the laptop loaner program that we started last spring. For the limited number of students, faculty and staff on campus, we have developed guidance for health and safety protocols to reduce risk. We will keep you apprised of when we are able to return to campus in larger numbers, but please note that this will be undertaken in a gradual, phased approach.

I would like to draw your attention to the following documents we are making available today:

We know there are still questions that may remain unanswered, and some answers to your questions may have to be modified as the circumstances of this pandemic change. We will continue to provide and publish updates over the coming weeks and months as we get more guidance from county and state health officials.

Emergency Public Health Policy

Yolo County Public Health last week issued a new order that details increased concern over compliance with public health measures. We are concerned as well. Representatives from Student Affairs, Employee and Labor Relations, Campus Counsel, Academic Affairs, Academic Senate and Safety Services have drafted a new Emergency Public Health Policy for UC Davis that is ready for feedback from campus stakeholders. That expedited review process will occur next week and conclude with formal policy adoption no later than Aug. 14.

The policy calls for everyone to embrace the directives our Public Health officials have already ordered — measures that we know will help protect ourselves, families, friends and community members from COVID-19, like wearing a face covering, washing your hands, maintaining physical distancing and staying home when sick. It will also detail new mitigations such as taking a daily symptom survey whenever accessing a university building and ensuring the facilitation of contact tracing efforts.

I know these efforts are only effective when we as a community do them together. I also know the Aggie community is strong and I am proud to be a part of the effort to stop the spread.

Checking in elsewhere

  • DACA — Yesterday, Vice Chancellors Pablo G. Reguerin of Student Affairs and Renetta Garrison Tull of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issued a statement in support of our Undocumented community, in the face of the federal government’s latest attempt to undermine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. I join with VC Reguerin and VC Tull when they say, “We remain committed to advocacy and supporting our Undocumented community through our words and actions.”

  • Fundraising — Aggies have always taken care of Aggies, which is why we are heartened by this week’s news of a record fundraising year, which will help to fill the gaps that have emerged with this pandemic, especially in terms of emergency funding for students in need. Thank you to our donors who continue to see the good in what we do.
  • No. 1 hospital — UC Davis Health surpassed its own record, raising $89 million through philanthropy in the fiscal year that ended June 30, and also learned this week of its continued top standing in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s best hospitals. UC Davis Medical Center is once again the No. 1 hospital in Sacramento and among the 10 best in the state. Congratulations!

  • Aggie Square — Planning for our innovation hub on the Sacramento campus is moving right along. Phase 1 details are included in a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report, or EIR, that we have prepared for the Sacramento campus’s Long Range Development Plan, or LRDP, and that we have submitted for public review and comment.

  • Campus safety — Earlier this week I addressed the Board of Regents on our improvements in campus safety over the last several years, and our continued efforts through our Next Generation Reforms to Advance Campus Safety Task Force, which met for the first time Monday. You can see my presentation to the regents here.
  • Athletics — Back on the topic of the pandemic, we learned that the Big West Conference — in which we compete in 17 sports — had pushed back its fall season to at least January. Men’s and women’s basketball — winter sports — may still be able to start their seasons as scheduled, in November. We don’t yet know about football, in which we compete in the Big Sky Conference.

  • Online programming — Finally, I’d like to point out our university’s growing influence in livestreaming and podcasts. Yesterday we presented a UC Davis LIVE: COVID-19 program on “Children, Anxiety and Going Back to School,” featuring a psychologist and psychiatrist from UC Davis Health, who offered some solid tips. We have posted a story that includes the video (as of last night, the video had registered nearly 8,000 views on YouTube). Our Deans Discuss podcast, featuring Allison Brashear of the School of Medicine and Michael Lairmore of the School of Veterinary Medicine, also addresses COVID-19 issues. We also invite you to listen (or listen again) to Season 1 of our award-winning Unfold podcast (Season 1 focused on “Feeding a Growing Population”), and prepare for Season 2 on “Climate Change.”


Gary S. May

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