Chancellor May and LeShelle, in this week’s Thursday Thoughts, above, discuss how they keep a positive mind-set amid current events, and the chancellor talks about teaching an online class before the internet was mature.
To the UC Davis Community:
The pandemic and the devastating loss of life. A presidential transition that turned violent last week. I am feeling the stress, as I am sure many of you are, too. I encourage you to reach out for assistance to get you through difficult moments. Self-care is important any time, and in these times in particular.
The Academic and Staff Assistance Program is available for staff and faculty and their immediate families: Davis campus employees, call 530-752-2727. UC Davis Health employees, call 916-734-2727.
A lot of us, me included, have been saying, “We’ll get through this together” — and I can’t stop thinking how I wish our divided country could adopt this mantra as we head into Inauguration Day and beyond. President-elect Joe Biden has called for unity, and we need it now more than ever.
Our Monday holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18), is a good place to start — via community service. As I said in my Jan. 1 “Chancell-ing” column, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is “a day on, not a day off.” At our law school, named after Rev. King, the Black Law Students Association, Law Students Association and the MLK Day Working Group have come up with three other options beyond donating your time to a community project:
- Government Benefits Webinar and Clinic — Trained volunteers will provide information on CalFresh and housing evictions, and help community members determine eligibility for benefits.
- Essentials Donation Drop-off — To be passed on to Saint John’s Program for Real Change in Sacramento.
- Blood drive — 10 a.m.-3 p.m. All appointments have been spoken for; walk-ins will be taken if space allows. (There’s another blood drive set for Wednesday, Jan. 20, in The Pavilion at the ARC.)
The law school groups also will host an online celebration at noon. Find more information here on the law school’s MLK Day activities.
Back in the purple
As you know, the governor lifted the Sacramento region’s stay-at-home order Tuesday afternoon, based on health officials’ forecast of an easing of the post-holiday surge in coronavirus cases. While we are heartened by the improvement in our region, we lament what is happening elsewhere in the state and extend our well wishes.
There’s good news from UC Davis Health: It has begun vaccinating its patients aged 75 and up, after having inoculated more than 11,000 frontline personnel and other hospital staff. Congratulations to UC Davis Health for its readiness and action.
Want to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines? Read our story and watch a recording of yesterday’s UC Davis LIVE program with Stephen McSorley, professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, and director of the Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases at UC Davis; and Stuart Cohen, professor of internal medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Health.
On the Davis campus, our shift back to the purple tier comes with few changes to our operations. The Activities and Recreation Center and the Craft Center are offering outdoor classes, but there’s no going inside the buildings. We don’t have indoor dining — it’s takeout only. And, after today, I am sorry to report our beloved Coffee House will close down and stay closed through winter quarter and perhaps longer. There are just not enough people on campus to justify keeping the CoHo open.
We continue to ban gatherings on our campuses and in our facilities (with exceptions for public health-related events such as blood drives), and we have updated our Campus Ready website to include guidance for off-campus gatherings: The state specifies that all gatherings must be held outdoors, and Yolo County limits such gatherings to a maximum of three households and 16 attendees.
We have also made an adjustment to our quarantine guidance, shortening the recommended duration to 10 days, in alignment with earlier changes at the federal, state and county levels.
“B” stands for “bright spots”
- Budget — Earlier this week, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Croughan and I announced that we had tabled consideration of budget reduction options that had been under discussion since last month. We are able to do this because of new federal stimulus money ($51.5 million) coming our way and the proposed state budget, which includes partial restoration of base budget reductions assigned to UC for 2020-21. Equally important, units across campus have identified more than $50 million in savings, already achieved or to be achieved this year. This is yet another example of our community pulling together, participating in shared sacrifice, for the future of our university.
- Basketball — Yolo County, back in the purple tier, is once again allowing sports competition — and that means our men’s and women’s basketball teams will be back in action starting Jan. 22-23 against the UC San Diego Tritons, with the women playing two games at home (LeShelle and I and the rest of the Aggie Cutout Crew will be there) and the men playing two in San Diego.
Keep the spirit
Like all of the UC campuses, we are planning for our return to in-person instruction in fall quarter. In the meantime, we’ve got to hang in there with our health protocols: face coverings, physical distancing and hand-washing, and asymptomatic testing at the ARC kiosk.
As we hit the 10-month mark in the pandemic, I cannot say enough how proud I am of our university community for your professionalism and perseverance during this challenging time. All have sacrificed for our great institution, and we will be forever grateful.
- Faculty — You have switched to remote instruction, put your seminars and panels online, and given your time to outreach in symposia, videos and media interviews.
- Students — You are maintaining your studies from near and far, and many of you are contributing to our fight against COVID-19, working as Aggie Public Health Ambassadors and shuttling students safely to quarantine and isolation.
- Staff — Those of you with essential duties are faithfully coming to campus, while others are working diligently from home, in support of faculty, students and campus operations.
- Researchers — You are tackling COVID-19 and continuing your other projects.
- Health care personnel — You are working tirelessly to treat the sick and console their family members.
As dedicated as all of you are, we thought you might need a pick-me-up, so we’ve launched a couple of contests with prizes including Apple products, gift cards worth up to $700 in value, to spend at local businesses — and 20 grand prizes: rent for a quarter!
- Every Aggie Together — In partnership with the UC Davis Health Center for Healthcare Policy and Research, this contest seeks public campaign messages to encourage everyone to wear masks correctly and consistently. Open to students, staff and faculty. Prizes include a MacBook Pro, iPad Air and Apple Watch, and the first 500 participants will receive specially designed UC Davis face coverings.
- In It Together — In partnership with Healthy Davis Together, this is a contest for UC Davis students (undergraduate, graduate, post-doc and professional school), presenting them with a new challenge every two weeks, such as using their social media to share COVID-19 safety precaution tips from reputable sources or hosting virtual events with friend groups or other living pods. Prizes will include hundreds of gift cards and the grand prizes we already mentioned: rent for a quarter for 20 people, up to $2,500, for housing in the city of Davis.
A reminder: Welcome kits and UC Davis-branded face coverings are still available at the Campus Store, free for students. The kits include a face covering, hand sanitizer gel, disinfectant wipes, thermometer strips and door opener/button pusher. If you’ve already received a welcome kit, you can pick up an extra branded face covering.
Checking in elsewhere:
- Duo for all students — Faculty, staff and student employees already use it, and, starting Feb. 9, UC Davis will begin enrolling students automatically in the Duo multifactor authentication system, which helps protect your accounts and information. Students should look for an email in a couple of weeks about what to expect. Accounts will be enrolled in batches, but you can enroll on your own schedule by signing up for Duo by Feb. 5. Once enrolled, students will need Duo to access the Advising Appointment System, MyBill and other campus services protected by the Central Authentication Service (CAS). More information is available here.
Hope for tomorrow
We have shown at UC Davis how a community can work together against a public health threat. This coming Monday we can come together to honor the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by helping to improve our communities. We UC Davis Aggies have a long, strong and proud history of helping those in need here at home and around the world, and this is what gives me hope for a better tomorrow.
Gary S. May