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Incoming Chancellor May Visits Campus

By Dave Jones on February 28, 2017 in University

Welcome Gary May, UC Davis’ new chancellor

Incoming Chancellor Gary S. May visited UC Davis Friday and Saturday for the first time since he ventured here from that other UC down the road, in Berkeley, when he was a grad student there nearly 30 years ago.

Friday (Feb. 24), he was on the Davis campus, meeting with Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter, the Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors, and faculty, staff and student leaders; and he spent Saturday morning (Feb. 25) at UC Davis Health before returning to Atlanta. He serves now as dean of the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology; come Aug. 1, he will be UC Davis’ seventh chancellor.

Gary and LeShelle Map, laughing, at table.
Gary and LeShelle May, during one of their Feb. 24 meetings on the Davis campus. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

May’s wife, LeShelle R. May, accompanied him to UC Davis, and during their visit they got to see the Chancellor’s Residence where they will live. They have two daughters, Simone and Jordan, who are in college.

Thursday (Feb. 23), Gary and LeShelle May were in Los Angeles for the Board of Regents’ special meeting where he secured the chancellor’s post by a unanimous vote.

“When I was preparing for my interviews, reading the material that was prepared for me, describing Davis, the profile material, some of the words that stood out were words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘diversity’ and ‘upward mobility’ and ‘social good,’ and these were all concepts and attributes that really spoke to my own spirit and really motivated me to want to be in this role,” he told the regents after the vote.

Hexter will return to provost’s post

Hexter will continue to lead the campus as interim chancellor until May’s arrival. Hexter will then return to his post as provost and executive vice chancellor, and Ken Burtis, interim provost, will return to his position as a faculty advisor to the chancellor and provost.

In an email message to the campus community after the regents meeting, Hexter said: “On behalf of the entire UC Davis community, I want to extend our deepest congratulations and offer a warm Aggie welcome to Gary S. May, dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech. … I look forward to working with Chancellor-designate May and will do everything I can to make sure his and his family’s transition to UC Davis is a smooth one.”

Hexter said he was “deeply honored” to continue on as interim chancellor, at UC President Janet Napolitano’s request. “I could not be more proud of how we have come together as a community after a challenging spring and summer,” Hexter wrote in his email. “We have turned an important corner, and I am confident that Chancellor-designate May will have an extraordinary impact on this great institution.”

Napolitano calls May ‘a natural and dynamic leader’

Napolitano announced May as her pick for chancellor a week ago (Feb. 21), after a search that began last summer. She worked on the recruitment with an advisory committee that included members representing faculty, students, staff, alumni, the campus foundation and regents.

Gary May shakes a student's hand.
Chancellor-designate May meets a student at the ARC, Feb. 23.

She cited Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson’s high praise for May regarding his efforts to increase interdisciplinary collaboration to help graduates gain entrepreneurial confidence, and to mentor students and develop programs to attract and retain women and underrepresented minorities — “all of this has channeled his commitment into action.”

“President Peterson speaks of Dr. May’s vision, energy and thought leadership, and that’s what I and others on the search committee were so impressed by as well,” Napolitano said.

She continued: “He’s absolutely committed to building strong and open relationships with students, faculty and staff, to increasing UC Davis’ already impressive prowess in STEM fields, agriculture, social sciences, and the arts and humanities, and deepening the ties between UC Davis and the larger Davis and Sacramento communities.

“Dr. May is a connector and a listener. He is full of vision for where Davis can go and open to exploring possibilities, which the Davis and Sacramento communities are full of.”

More than half his life at Georgia Tech

May did his undergraduate work at Georgia Tech, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1985, and continued his education at UC Berkeley, where he earned a master’s degree in 1988 and a Ph.D. in 1991, both in electrical engineering and computer science. The same year he earned his doctorate, he joined the faculty of Georgia Tech — and he has been there ever since, or, as he calculated it in a Georgia Tech news release, “more than half of my life … 55.92 percent to be exact.”

He has led the College of Engineering since July 2011. With more than 400 faculty members and 13,000 students, the college produces more engineering graduates than any other college in the United States.

His academic appointment at Georgia Tech is in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his research focus is computer-aided manufacturing of integrated circuits. He has authored more than 200 technical publications, contributed to 15 books and holds one patent.

Casual group photo
Ken Burtis, interim provost and executive vice chancellor, left, with Chancellor-designate Gary S. May, second from right, and his wife, LeShelle, right, chatting with students on the Mrak Mall, Feb. 23. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

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About the author(s)

Dave Jones Dave Jones is the editor of Dateline UC Davis. He can be reached at 530-752-6556 or dljones@ucdavis.edu.

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