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Checking In With Chancellor May: We Can Do This!

By Chancellor Gary S. May on September 25, 2020 in University

Thursday Thoughts: September 24, 2020

Chancellor May and LeShelle are on the road again with Thursday Thoughts (above), allowing our Welcome Center sign to say what’s on everybody’s minds: Welcome! and Welcome Back! The Mays also answer a question about what they like best about Moove-In and talk about being insta-recognizable because of Thursday Thoughts on Instagram.


To the UC Davis Community:

This letter goes to all Aggies, but I’d like to start this week with a word to our students who are living on the Davis campus or close by this quarter. We’ve been busy all summer preparing for you, establishing protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. And now we are counting on your cooperation and assistance to help protect your health and your community’s health.

The same goes for me and other administrators, faculty and staff who are working on campus. As I’ve said many times, we are all in this, together. Let’s get through this quarter without the setbacks that other universities have experienced. With our late September start, we have been able to observe what worked and what did not work elsewhere. This has allowed us to adjust our plans accordingly, to strengthen them. In fact, all the people who worked so hard getting the Davis campus prepared for fall, well, they’re still at it — always looking for ways to improve. I am thankful for their efforts.

We’ve taken our planning beyond the campus boundaries, into our university town, with an initiative we call Healthy Davis Together. Mayor Gloria Partida and I discussed our collaboration in a published commentary last weekend.

And now comes fall quarter, our opportunity to show how Aggie Pride can meet this challenge and overcome it, not just here in Davis, but wherever our students and faculty and staff happen to be. All of you have made big adjustments, too, learning and teaching and working remotely, while facing other pandemic-related challenges at home. We appreciate everyone’s flexibility as we carry on our 112-year-old mission.

Out and about

Even though almost all classes are being taught remotely this quarter, we expect to see an increase in the number of people on the Davis campus, not in gatherings (because they are not allowed), but out and about, going to the Campus Store, Shields Library (which reopened yesterday), the Memorial Union (which reopens Monday) and other places.

Keep in mind, wherever you go, you will encounter restrictions. Shields Library is open to students, faculty and staff only, with reduced seating capacity to allow for physical distancing, and a cap on total occupancy. The Memorial Union also has cut its seating capacity — and those seats are for students only, by way of a same-day reservation system at the Information Desk. Also, no food or drink in the library or the MU (water in closed containers is OK).

Face coverings: We require everyone to wear one at all times inside (the only exceptions are when you are eating or drinking or in private spaces such as dorm rooms, single-occupancy offices, showers and the like) and outside when it’s not feasible to keep 6 feet of distance between you and other people. See our face coverings policy.

Next week we will see the beginning phase of our Aggie Public Health Ambassador program on the Davis campus. We are training students for this job, and they will be stationed initially at teaching tents, Shields Library and the Memorial Union. Ambassadors will educate people about campus protocols and encourage people to make healthy choices that reduce the transmission of COVID-19. We are grateful to the students who have taken on this role.

Soon we will invite students to pick up free welcome kits that include UC Davis-branded face masks. We’ll have 10,000 kits to give out, available at the Campus Store. We have branded face masks for Davis campus faculty and staff, too. Repro Graphics is partnering with colleges and schools and other departments to distribute the face coverings in bulk, and individual units will then distribute them to employees.

Another important protocol: the Daily Symptom Survey. Take it before you leave home, and if you are experiencing symptoms, please stay home. Students should contact Student Health and Counseling Services; employees should contact their primary health care providers.

Orientation Experience

This morning, our newest Aggies began the third and final component of the UC Davis Orientation Experience. The program began in late spring with Aggie 101 — a new online platform that introduced students to campus resources and various communities and helped them prepare for the start of the academic year. Next came remote Aggie Advising, which included individual meetings with academic advisors and access to resources for schedule planning, registration and continued advising support.

The final segment, also remote, is a multiday experience to help all first-year and transfer students find connections, build networks and have a celebratory start to their UC Davis journeys. Students, divided into small groups with orientation leaders, are undergoing an action-packed program during which they will interact with their colleges and majors, experience firsthand what a UC Davis course with world-renowned faculty will be like, learn about employment opportunities and how to get involved in campus life, and socialize with peers.

Students: You’ll be hearing from me and other campus leaders over the next few days! We are excited to welcome you to the UC Davis community.

Instructional flexibilities

The Academic Senate issued its fall quarter COVID-19 policies over the summer, and I noted them in my Aug. 21 letter. The Academic Senate has also posted the information here. The policies cover final exams (the requirement for such exams is waived in undergraduate courses; each instructor will decide if they will give a final), Passed/Not Passed (P/NP) grading for undergraduates and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading for graduate students.  

This week the Academic Senate sent guidance to deans, department chairs and faculty regarding remote and virtual instruction for winter quarter. We expect to provide more information in the coming weeks.

Anti-racism tool

Our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, besides dealing with the pandemic, has also been focused on an anti-racism strategy, in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd and others.

Earlier this week the office released the first of three important tools: “Being an Ally Requires Being an Anti-Racist: 11 Suggested Actions Toward Anti-Racism in the Office and on Your Own,” described as a practical guide to actions that units and individuals can take toward building a more inclusive community, workplace and classroom environment.

I encourage all to use this tool, to take action. As Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull says, this is how we will take ownership of developing and sustaining a strong, inclusive climate.

WarnMe test Oct. 1

We are switching to a new vendor for our WarnMe system, so it’s important that we test the system when we make the switchover next week. Make a note: The Davis campus test is scheduled for noon Thursday, Oct. 1. UC Davis Health will issue a concurrent test for its faculty, staff and students.

For newcomers unfamiliar with the system, it sends WarnMe emergency messages and Aggie Alerts by email, text and social media. The system already has your UC Davis email address, and you are encouraged to add your cell number for text messages. Click here to update or review your WarnMe information.

The new vendor, Everbridge, also pushes alerts via a mobile app that you can download for free. Read more in this Dateline article.

Parents, vendors and others without a ucdavis.edu email account can subscribe to receive WarnMe and Aggie Alert text messages from the Davis campus and some other UC Davis locations. Click here for instructions on how to sign up.

Checking in elsewhere:

  • Virtual Innovation SpectacularIt starts at 4 p.m. on 10.10.20 (Saturday, Oct. 10). All are invited to see “what happens when pure imagination meets the brilliance of UC Davis.” RSVPs are being taken now at ucdavis.edu/countdown (or call 530-754-2661). Look for more information in Tuesday’s Dateline.
  • Staff Emergency Fund As announced earlier this week, this new fund is a way to support our staff colleagues in times of personal financial hardship, not just as a result of COVID-19, but due to wildfires or anything else that may be going on in their lives. We want to be able to help. The fund is open for contributions — I’ve already committed to donating, as has everyone on the Chancellor’s Leadership Council. Grants of up to $1,000 will be available, but not until the fund reaches $30,000. I encourage you to donate if you can.

Trying times

The pandemic, wildfires, continuing racial injustice (such as this week, when a grand jury in Kentucky decided not to indict police officers directly in the killing of Breonna Taylor) ... any of these issues, individually, can be derailing, and the combination, for many, is paralyzing. We share with you our continued commitment to affirm you and uphold our values as stated in our Principles of Community.  

For support during this difficult time, we encourage faculty and staff to get in touch with the Academic and Staff Assistance Program on either the Davis or Sacramento campus. Students: We have counselors who are ready to visit with you remotely. Make an appointment here.

And, students, please know that we are looking out for you, too. This morning, Student Health and Counseling Services presented a webinar for faculty and staff, addressing signs of distress in students and how to respond, and how to make referrals. So many faculty and staff members have reached out to ask how they can help. For those who missed today’s webinar, we recorded it and will make it available soon. 

And, finally, a message for everyone: Please take care of yourselves even as you look out for one another. We are here for you.

­

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

Gary S. May
Chancellor

Media contact(s)

News and Media Relations News and Media Relations is a unit of the Office of Strategic Communications. Phone: 530-752-1930.

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