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Checking In With Chancellor May: Proud

By Chancellor Gary S. May on August 6, 2020 in University

Thursday Thoughts: August 6, 2020

In this week’s Thursday Thoughts, above, Chancellor May says his superpowers do not extend to lowering tuition, but also notes that “your faculty, your instructors, your lecturers have really never worked harder than they have under these conditions to deliver the educational materials to you, for which you are earning the same credit hours toward the same degree, so please keep that in mind.”


To the UC Davis Community:

I continue to be impressed by how quickly, competently, smartly and collaboratively our entire community — faculty, staff and students — adapted to the suspension of most campus operations in the spring, and how everyone continues to remain focused on our mission as the coronavirus crisis in the United States nears the five-month mark.

As I said at the beginning, “We will get through this, together,” and, indeed, that’s what we are doing. Faculty switched to remote instruction for spring and summer, and staff provided support in myriad ways, including the Keep Teaching website. Now, as we head into fall quarter when most instruction will still be remote, we keep striving for improvement. For example, faculty and staff recently organized and attended the recent Summer Institute on Teaching and Technology (recordings and other resources from the program are available here).

Technology, of course, is key to remote instruction — but not all of it, not even in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, where staff collaborated before spring quarter on a major shipping project. They successfully delivered lab components — circuit boards and programming tools and the like — to 340 students up and down the state and elsewhere, so the department could “continue to educate future engineers and industry leaders,” according to a story posted to the Davis campus’s Staff Assembly website.

The story concluded: “Together, we can achieve anything to support our campus community and to maintain our reputation as a top university in the nation.” Thank you, ECE.

Staff Assembly has gathered 40 stories and shout-outs about positive efforts during the pandemic — calling out Counseling Services and the Office of the University Registrar and more than 30 other units. I encourage you to take a look. They’re on a page titled “We’ll Get Through This, Together.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I am proud of our Aggie community. You should be proud, too.

Information for students

Last week we provided a lot of information for fall, including our updated Campus Ready Plan and a comprehensive FAQ for undergraduate students, discussing what the quarter will be like, from health precautions to instruction. I strongly encourage you to look at both of these websites since they provide important information for you and they answer the most common questions that we are receiving. Please note that these websites are updated regularly, so please check them on an ongoing basis.

We also advise you to check Schedule Builder to see which classes have been designated “remote” for fall quarter. For classes without that label, we are still carefully evaluating which of them we can offer in-person, depending on public health guidance. Within the last hour, we received the state’s guidance for higher education — and we are reviewing it now. If allowed, we know we will be offering a limited number of in-person classes and only those with educational objectives that can be met only through in-person instruction. Once approved, these classes will be identified in Schedule Builder and we will notify students that the designations have been added.

To better accommodate students, Student Housing and Dining Services has again pushed back its cancellation deadlines. The new deadlines are Aug. 30 for residence halls and Aug. 23 for apartment housing for returning students and transfer students. Emails have gone out to all those who are currently under contract. The deadline extensions allow students to evaluate their options. Moreover, the extensions provide campus leaders more time as we review public health guidance from the state and Yolo County.  

Services for International Students and Scholars, part of Global Affairs, continues to provide updated information on U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other guidance for continuing and incoming international students this fall. This webpage also has a growing list of resources for international students to stay connected and build community, including opportunities to find mentors through the Global Ambassadors program and tips for success in remote learning from fellow classmates.

Other coronavirus updates

  • Travel — For the well-being and safety of those who must travel for university business, travelers must register their travel plans with the university (travel booked via AggieTravel/Connexxus is automatically registered). Registration is an important step in reducing risks during travel while keeping our community safe, especially in environments with heightened health risks such as COVID-19. Currently, all international travel on university business is subject to review by the UC Davis Travel Review Committee. Please see the Global Affairs website for specific information and ongoing updates for international and domestic travel.
  • Flu vaccinations — The UC Office of the President today announced an executive order requiring all members of the UC community to receive an influenza immunization before Nov. 1. In a statement, UC officials said: “The executive order is an important proactive measure to help protect members of the UC community — and the public at large — and to ameliorate the severe burdens on health care systems anticipated during the coming fall and winter from influenza and COVID-19 illnesses.” Read the complete statement.

Checking in elsewhere

  • Tragedy in Beirut — Vice Provost and Dean Joanna Regulska and other leaders in Global Affairs posted a message of condolence to UC Davis’ Lebanese community, in the wake of the devastating explosion in Beirut earlier this week. “We join the world in mourning for the victims and our hearts are heavy for all those affected by this catastrophe,” the leaders said.
  • Gilman Scholars We have been honored as a “Top Producer” for the second time in three years in this State Department program that awards scholarships to outstanding undergraduates so they can participate in global learning opportunities that otherwise might not be attainable due to cost. UC Davis’ newest recognition is based on having 51 Gilman recipients in 2018-19, the latest year for which the State Department acknowledged “Top Producers.”
  • Yolo County interim public health officer Thank you to Larissa May of UC Davis Health for stepping up to fill this important position at such a critical time. A professor of emergency medicine, she is also an expert in public health.
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — Good news for those of you who did not have the opportunity to join in a community viewing of the three-part documentary series Race: The Power of an Illusion (the online platform could accommodate only so many participants). The series is now available through the UC Davis Library, for UC Davis affiliates, via this link. Our community presentation drew 175 people, and a separate debriefing had 67 participants. I recommend checking out the series.
  • More from Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull, in yesterday’s For Your Information e-newsletter, provided a summary of campus trainings and resources on issues related to equity and antiracism, including a one-hour campuswide session to be presented by our Transformative Justice in Education Center, 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Aug. 26. Read (and sign up for) the DEI newsletter.
  • Aggie Athletics — First it was the Big West Conference, in which we compete in 17 sports, pushing back its fall season until at least January. Yesterday, the Big Sky Conference postponed its 2020 football season until the spring. That’s our conference for football. As a member of the Big Sky Presidents Council, I voted for the postponement — agreeing that the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and campus community was our overriding priority. Still, there are emotional ramifications, as UC Davis Athletics Director Kevin Blue wrote in a letter to the campus community today. That goes for our student-athletes and everyone else involved in Aggie Athletics, and fans like me. The best thing we can do is keep the spirit alive: Go Ags!

Sincerely,

Gary S. May
Chancellor

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