The Mays Host 1st Breakfast With the Chancellor

Staff Assembly Invites Participation in Future Breakfasts

Breakfast With the Chancellor group photo
They met for breakfast at the Chancellor&rsquo;s Residence, Aug. 17. Pictured, from left: <strong>Back row &mdash;</strong> LeShelle May, Karl Engelbach, Tasha Burr, Brian Waddell, Ahna Heller, Paul Cody and Jami Dehn. <strong>Front row &mdash;</strong> Brenda Scalzi; Lisa Varnum, Kelly Ratliff, Chancellor Gary S. May, Alissa Magorian, Gwen Caramanica, Darolyn Striley, Stacey Brezing and Honora Knopp. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo)


Chancellor May’s guests for his first breakfast with staff included most of the members of Staff Assembly’s executive board: Brian Waddell, chair-elect; Ahna Heller, communications chair; Jami Dehn, events chair; Darolyn Striley, past chair; Stacey Brezing, membership chair; and Gwen Caramanica, finance chair. Other staff guests: Karl Engelbach, associate chancellor; Tasha Burr, executive assistant, Community Resource and Retention Centers; Paul Cody, assistant director, Center for Student Involvement; Brenda Scalzi, budget manager, and Kelly Ratliff, interim lead, both from Finance, Operations and Administration; Lisa Varnum, athletic trainer, Intercollegiate Athletics; Alissa Magorian, executive assistant to the associate vice chancellor for enrollment management; and Honora Knopp; academic advisor, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.


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Chancellor Gary S. May and his wife, LeShelle May, hosted their first Breakfast With the Chancellor, Aug. 17. Staff Assembly organizes the monthly breakfasts.

The conversation began with Staff Assembly members talking about the history of the organization, its role at UC Davis and the strong support Staff Assembly has received from leadership over the years. They also talked about Thank Goodness for Staff and its many traditions (including the dunk tank and leadership’s participation in it!) and associated sporting events. The Mays said to sign them up for the 5K.

Beyond TGFS fun and games, Breakfast With the Chancellor offers what Staff Assembly describes as “a unique opportunity for staff to meet with the chancellor to discuss topics that impact staff (and) to share ideas on how to improve processes, increase revenue, implement solutions to challenges experienced by staff, and more.”

Here’s more of the conversation from the Aug. 17 breakfast:

Question to Chancellor May, on what had surprised him the most since his arrival at Davis — “All of the media attention.” He explained, “This is a much smaller area than Atlanta and there’s a lot of interest in UC Davis.”

Question to the chancellor about sharing what he’s heard on his “listening tour” — He said there will be topics and themes that present themselves and will be shared with those who want or need to know. He said he’s doing most of the administrative tours this summer and that he will embark on academic unit tours once the school year begins.

Question about commencement — Chancellor May said there will be no significant changes in 2018 because he wants to see how it’s done first.

LeShelle May, listening
LeShelle May at breakfast with Staff Assembly leaders and other staff guests. Chancellor May tweeted this photo, commenting, “Some of the best listening opportunities come over a meal.”

Question to LeShelle May about her role — She said she’s still working for CNN but that she’s going to scale back her work and do most of it remotely. On campus, she will be focused on STEM for women and minorities; sexual violence and harassment; and encouraging students on campus to volunteer for the Cuddle Buddy program in the neonatal unit at UC Davis Health.

Chancellor Gary May, holding cup of coffee
Chancellor May talks with staff members over breakfast.

Question to the chancellor about his current focus — He said a few of the top ones are improving engagement in Sacramento and planning for an innovation space there; working on UC Davis’ becoming a more cost effective and efficient campus; and attention on Davis campus facilities and housing.

Question to the chancellor about national politics and his thoughts on current events — He said he is “troubled by the leadership vacuum in Washington.” This led to a conversation about free speech and the protection of it, in which Chancellor May strongly believes. But, he condemns speech that incites violence, saying that the safety of the community is of paramount importance.


From a topic of conversation at Breakfast With the Interim Chancellor last year, to action in the form of the new Diversity Dialogue Series: The Muslim American Experience — a program by staff, for staff. The first panel discussion in the series is set for Tuesday, Oct. 3. RSVPs are required. See separate story.

Question to the chancellor about his service on outside boards — “My UC Davis time won’t be impacted. There are 168 hours in a week and I’ll likely spend 80 hours working for UC Davis, 40 hours sleeping, and board work will take place in the hours remaining.”

And, finally, a breakfast guest asked the chancellor how he came to learn about the job at UC Davis. A recruiter contacted him, said the chancellor — and, having UC roots (Chancellor May received his master's degree and Ph.D. at Berkeley), he was intrigued. He interviewed with the search committee, and, after that, received an email from UC President Janet Napolitano. He was offered the job, he accepted, and Napolitano made the announcement in February. Chancellor May began his new role on Aug. 1, and now he and his wife are living the Aggie life.

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