Dear Staff Colleagues,
I wanted to write to you today on this first Monday since I assumed the position of Acting Chancellor while Chancellor Katehi is on leave. A leadership transition of this magnitude, even a temporary one, is of course a very significant undertaking and inevitably generates many questions and concerns.
As you may have heard, President Napolitano spoke to me on Wednesday after 5 p.m. and only hours before my new assignment began. Staff in many offices sprang into action to support this sudden transition, for which I am deeply grateful.
I want to assure you that UC Davis will continue to pursue its core commitments as vigorously and creatively as we have in recent years. These commitments include growing our excellence in teaching and research; growing our impact in improving individual lives, our society, and our planet; keeping a first-rate education accessible and affordable for all students, regardless of their background; strengthening our leadership role in addressing the most-urgent global problems; and creating a fully diverse, inclusive, mutually respectful, and safe environment where all members of our campus community can succeed, excel, and thrive.
To be sure, our present circumstances both highlight a need and present an opportunity for us to reassess and in some cases reform certain organizational and operational policies and practices, which we will do with appropriate consultation, including with the Academic Senate when appropriate. What will not change or be diminished are the core commitments mentioned above; the fundamental programmatic priorities that serve us so well; or the impressive momentum toward ever-higher achievement that has for many years been vigorously advanced by Chancellor Katehi.
Now let me bring you up to date on a number of specific issues that directly affect staff.
In keeping with UC policy, I have asked the Office of the President for permission to name an Acting Provost. This action will help to ensure that appropriate attention is paid to the many matters that are properly overseen by the university’s chief academic officer. I am hopeful that my request will be approved by the end of the week.
All three current dean searches (CBS, GSM, L&S) remain on course. We are in the recruitment phase for the next dean of CBS. The second of four GSM finalists is visiting the campus today, and the others will follow in rapid succession. The four L&S finalists will visit between May 16 and 27. The search professionals assisting us have joined me in reaching out to the finalists and assure me of their undiminished enthusiasm for UC Davis.
The search for the SOE dean will launch shortly, and I will charge the recruitment advisory committee personally. Meanwhile, I am rapidly getting up to speed on the searches in which Chancellor Katehi had been playing a direct role and will communicate particulars on them as soon as possible.
All budget meetings are continuing apace. The first six meetings occurred last week, and many more budget meetings will occur over the coming weeks. There should be no delay in making decisions on the matters currently under consideration. In addition, I am reviewing a number of other budget-related organizational and operational efforts; some may be paused or slowed so that we can focus on the most important priorities in the coming months. Finally, there are projects that have been on the Provost’s desk that we are all committed to seeing move forward, including a new revenue sharing model for master’s students and over $5 million of classroom investments that will fund multi-year plans to renovate, improve technology, and add seats.
As you can imagine, the staffs of the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of the Provost are working overtime to meld, until an Acting Provost is on the ground and running, the calendars of two leadership positions into one for me. During this period in which I will have augmented calendar obligations, I will ask deans, vice chancellors, and others to represent the university at some of the events where I had been scheduled as Provost. I appreciate everyone’s understanding for last-minute scheduling changes that may be necessary.
In addition, I want to report that I have spoken to many major donors, UC Davis Foundation trustees, and members of the Chancellor’s Board of Advisors. They have all reiterated their strong commitment to UC Davis and to supporting our vision of greater excellence and impact. To be sure, they have also shared with me how deeply recent events and our current circumstances have affected them, but their continued support of our campus and mission, and their optimism about our future, remain solid. Given the critical role that philanthropy plays in our ability to do our important work, this is indeed good news.
Finally, I met with Jessica Potts, Chair of Staff Assembly, and Lina Layiktez, a former chair, this morning. We spoke of the importance of communication at all times, but especially now, and we will be working to set-up opportunities for further dialogue.
In closing, let me say that I greatly appreciate your understanding, your patience, your flexibility, and your support during this transition period. I will make it a priority to keep you up to date on issues affecting staff and the university in general. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Ralph J. Hexter