In this week’s Thursday Thoughts, above, Chancellor May and LeShelle discuss weighty topics of booster shots and parenting — and the most important question of all: Does the chancellor collect action figures?
To the UC Davis Community:
Today, I’m pleased to introduce the new and improved “Checking In With Chancellor May” email. I started this email in March 2020 as part of our efforts to keep our broader campus community updated about the quickly changing state of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, I’ve heard positive feedback from so many of you who look forward to these regular updates from me. With that in mind, I decided to continue “Checking In With Chancellor May” on a monthly basis.
I’ll continue to share COVID-19 updates as needed, but we’ll also begin to highlight what’s new and noteworthy at UC Davis. That includes the amazing scholarship, research and public service that’s happening across our university. You can forward this email to connections who may be interested in news about UC Davis and they can subscribe using the form on this page. Likewise, if you would prefer not to receive future updates from me, you can use the link to unsubscribe.
It’s wonderful to be back on campus together, with clubs, athletics and other events in full swing. I hope you’re taking advantage of the many opportunities to connect with our Aggie community. This week is Spirit Week, filled with activities leading up to tomorrow’s Homecoming football game in which the Aggies will take the field with a 5-1 record. Also this week, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts held its first live performance in more than 19 months.
Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion
We’ve also been busy with activities that move our mission forward. Earlier this week, we held our third annual strategic plan implementation retreat, this one focused on our goal to embrace diversity, practice inclusive excellence and strive for equity. UC Davis leadership along with students, faculty and staff spent a whole day discussing how to advance this goal. I’m pleased with our progress to date. Many people across both campuses are fully engaged with our efforts to embed diversity and inclusive excellence in everything we do.
I’m also happy to report that the Leadership Job Shadow Program is back. This quarter, 38 students will spend time alongside myself and other campus executives to learn more about the complexity and challenges of running a top 10 public research university. By the way, we have hundreds of student jobs available, if you know someone who is interested. Students can apply via Handshake.
1 million tests
With regard to COVID-19, our return to campus is going well. Campus compliance with the UC-wide vaccine mandate is 99% and our case positivity rate among people going through our asymptomatic testing is below 1%. Speaking of which, we just passed an incredible milestone. We completed our 1 millionth test this week, a little more than a year after we began offering the tests to students, faculty and staff in September 2020 — in a program that we later expanded to serve Healthy Davis Together and other community groups. “Reaching 1 million tests is an impressive milestone, reflecting both our seriousness in meeting this challenge and the incredible intellectual resources of our faculty,” Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan said. Plant sciences professor Richard Michelmore and his team at the Genome Center developed the saliva-based testing that provides rapid results in 24 to 48 hours. It’s gone a long way toward preventing outbreaks and keeping our communities healthy. Read more in this news release.
More on COVID-19 and flu
With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we’ve issued testing and compliance guidance for employees and students for the weeks of Nov. 22 and Nov 29. Please review the guidance and plan your testing appointments accordingly. The ARC testing kiosk will close early on Wednesday, Nov. 24, and will remain closed on Thursday, Nov. 25.
If you saw last week’s “Twindemic” warning from UC Davis Health, rest assured that we’re also preparing for flu season. The UC Office of the President has issued an executive order strongly encouraging flu shots for everyone in the university community, requiring students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated or to affirmatively decline the vaccine by Nov. 19. Learn more about the campus flu clinic for students, how to upload your flu vaccine information and how to decline.
Points of pride
With so much transformative work happening all across UC Davis, it can be difficult to keep up with the news, like the extraordinary efforts of our Oiled Wildlife Care Network, rescuing birds and other wildlife, including endangered species, from the oil spill in Orange County. Read about our work to save these animals. This is who we are …
UC Davis is back, and the future couldn’t look brighter, thanks to our students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni and supporters. I hope this email will continue to serve you well. It’s just one way I’m working to keep the communications channels — and feedback loops — open. You can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If you saw my recent TikTok debut, you may be wondering, as I am, how it managed to stack up so many views. In any case, it was certainly fun to try something new. I really appreciate the engagement and interaction on social media, so let’s keep the conversations going. Go Ags!
Gary S. May