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NEWS BRIEFS: Research partnership, hotel expansion, Iranian studies, phone removal, National Park Service

By Clifton B. Parker on June 16, 2011 in University

@font-face { font-family: "Arial"; }@font-face { font-family: "Cambria Math"; }@font-face { font-family: "Calibri"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 10pt; line-height: 115%; font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; }.MsoChpDefault { font-size: 11pt; font-family: Calibri; }.MsoPapDefault { margin-bottom: 10pt; line-height: 115%; }div.WordSection1 { page: WordSection1; }Research agreement with Sun Yat-Sen University

UC Davis is forming a partnership with Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangdong, China, to promote collaboration in research, teaching and cultural exchanges.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi and Anlong Xu, vice president of Sun Yat-Sen University, signed an agreement of cooperation June 9 at a ceremony at SYSU’s Guangzhou campus.

UC Davis and SYSU representatives will now develop more specific working agreements that will cover collaborations in various areas. Among the areas on which the two universities expect to collaborate are medicine, agriculture, marine sciences, transportation, and social sciences, said Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis.

UC Davis is internationally recognized as a leader in research in agricultural and environmental sciences, medicine and biology. The campus includes a medical school and teaching hospital ranked in the top 50 in the U.S., one of the nation’s foremost veterinary medical schools, the Bodega Marine Laboratory and the Institute of Transportation Studies.

Founded in 1924 by Chinese leader Sun Yat-Sen, the university is located on four campuses in Guangdong Province on the banks of the Pearl River and the coast of the South China Sea. Its mission is to advance knowledge and educate students in the arts, science, technology and other academic areas that will best serve China and the world in the 21st century.

With this signing, UC Davis now has agreements of cooperation with 136 international universities and institutions, including 22 in China and five in Taiwan. UC Davis recently signed an agreement with BGI, the world’s largest genome sequencing institute, based in Shenzhen, China.

Public comments invited on hotel, road project

UC Davis is seeking public comments through July 29 on a draft environmental impact report that involves a hotel expansion and a road extension on the south portion of campus.

The first project would expand the Hyatt Place hotel by adding 52 rooms to the existing 75 rooms (for a total of 127 rooms.) The expansion would take place on a landscaped area within the developed parcel of the hotel to the north and east of the existing building. The hotel’s existing parking lot will not need to be expanded.

The second project would involve an extension of Old Davis Road to A Street. About 1,100 feet of new roadway would connect to the south side of Parking Lot 5. It also involves converting the existing Old Davis Road (between A Street and Mrak Hall Drive) to a bike and pedestrian path.

The campus built part of the connector in 2009 to provide access to the university’s new Conference Center and the privately-owned hotel. With this road extension, hotel guests would have a more direct route between the hotel and downtown Davis.

The comment period for the draft EIR will extend from June 15 to 5 p.m. on July 29. Comments can be e-mailed to or sent to:

Sid England
Assistant Vice Chancellor-Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability
University of California
One Shields Avenue
436 Mrak Hall
Davis, CA 95616

Comments may also be presented orally during a public hearing at 7 p.m. on July 7 in the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center on the Davis campus.

The Hyatt Place opened on March 17, 2010. In March of this year, the planners released their initial environmental report for the hotel expansion and road construction. A 30-day public review period ended on April 21. The goal is to present the project to the Board of Regents for approval.

More information, including the environmental impact report, is available here.

Iranian studies gains position

The UC Davis Middle East/South Asia Studies Program will establish its first visiting lecturer in Iranian/Persianate studies, which brings the university closer to its goal of offering a minor in Iranian studies.

“This will surely propel this program to a new level of activity and prominence,” said George R. Mangun, dean of the Division of Social Sciences.

A lecturer will teach Iranian studies courses each year, and the program will expand course offerings on Iran, offer additional conferences and support further academic research in Iranian studies, he said. The program expansion is funded in part by a $250,000 PARSA Community Foundation grant. This grant helps create the first endowed fund in the program, which will provide a secure source of funding that Iranian studies can count on in perpetuity.

The Middle East/South Asia Studies Program was started in 2001 with two faculty and five courses that enrolled more than 300 students. The program gained status as an undergraduate minor in 2004 and became a major in 2008. It now has about 20 teaching faculty and 30 affiliated faculty and offers 80 courses that enroll more than 2,000 students.

The program has expanded from teaching one language, Hebrew, to teaching three languages, adding Arabic and Hindi/Urdu in recent years after the program won a Department of Education grant in 2006.

UC Davis is one of only a handful of universities in the country that offers an undergraduate degree in Middle East/South Asia Studies.

The PARSA Community Foundation is the first Persian community foundation in the United States and the leading Persian philanthropic institution practicing strategic philanthropy and promoting social entrepreneurship around the globe.

More information:

Campus to remove public safety phones

The campus will remove all of its 107 public safety phones and replace only 18 of them with keypad service phones this summer now that their emergency purpose has been largely overtaken by the wide use of cell phones and the introduction of 9-1-1 wireless service on campus.

Facilities Management is scheduled to begin the project with the removal of 22 phones from the South Entry area of campus next week, and Communication Resources plans to have all the phones removed by the end of August.

Each phone will remain operational until just hours before it is physically removed, said David Hamaoka, the associate development engineer who is overseeing the project for Communication Resources.

A 2009 report by a task force found the phones are used infrequently and for purposes other than seeking emergency help.

To read more about the phone removal, click here.

Campus refunds National Park Service

UC Davis has repaid nearly $1.8 million that it overcharged the U.S. National Park Service. Campus officials said that the university has taken initial steps to prevent a recurrence of the problem, which was found by an internal audit, and is conducting further review to improve its internal accounting and oversight processes and determine if disciplinary action is warranted.

The $1,789,193 in overcharges occurred between 2002 and 2009 under contracts between the National Park Service and the university’s Crocker Nuclear Laboratory, the internal audit found.

Under the contracts, the lab tests air samples from national parks and wilderness areas for haze-causing particulate pollution. The testing is part of the federal IMPROVE (Interagency Monitoring for Protected Visual Environments) program.

UC Davis launched an internal audit last March after lab staff raised concerns. The audit found that the lab had overcharged for analytical services to the park service, and inappropriately used the excess funds for unrelated scientific work, including salary support for staff working on other projects.

UC Davis shared the results of its audit with the National Park Service and agreed to repay the overcharges by June 12.

Since identifying the problem, the campus has improved its oversight of the lab’s billing processes and now requires the lab’s chief administrative officer to report directly to both the UC Davis Office of Research and the director of the lab.

“It’s regrettable that the National Park Service was overcharged and that these funds were mishandled in this way,” said Wendi Delmendo, chief compliance officer for UC Davis. “Nevertheless, we are pleased that our internal controls successfully identified this issue and that we were able to resolve it. Employees reported a concern that led to a thorough campus auditing. We promptly shared our findings with the National Park Service, and we are taking steps to prevent this from happening again.”

The employees responsible for administering the park service contracts left UC Davis before the audit was completed.

"UC Davis now will review the conduct of those individuals administering the contract when the overcharges occurred, and pursue appropriate disciplinary actions, if merited,” said Vice Chancellor for Research Harris Lewin.

The Crocker Nuclear Laboratory was established in 1966, built around a cyclotron particle accelerator. Over the years the facility has had a wide variety of applications, including nuclear research, measuring air quality, testing the authenticity of historic artifacts, making radioisotopes and treating eye cancer.

Media contact(s)

Clifton B. Parker, Dateline, (530) 752-1932,