State of the Campus: Strain Not of Our Doing

Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter speaks to a crowd.
Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter gives the State of the Campus address at the Academic Senate’s March 3 meeting, held at the International Center. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Some of the biggest challenges facing UC Davis are coming from Washington, D.C.

That’s the message Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter delivered March 3 to members of the Academic Senate in the annual State of the Campus address. See the PowerPoint presentation that accompanied his address.

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He cited strains on international students and scholars because of President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration, as well as uncertainty about future levels of funding for research into climate change and other topics.

In an uncertain time, universities are more important than ever, Hexter said.

“We have to be a place where we continue our completely ideology-free pursuit of truth in whatever area,” he said. “And we also know that we are strong because of the diversity of our community in every dimension — and that includes, of course, our international students, our international scholars and the free flow of information in every direction.

“I hope that we can rally around that and be stronger because we’re going to have to be the places where all views can be heard, where truth is respected, where we work very hard to discern what might be a questionable truth from one that is more credible, and just do what we do best. That’s the challenge we have these days.”

Annual Report

Hexter recapped some recent successes — the opening last year of the Ann E. Pitzer Center, the International Center and the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art — and looked forward to future developments like the Veterinary Medicine Student Services and Administration Center, renovated Memorial Union, Tercero Student Housing Phase 4 and Betty Irene Moore Hall in Sacramento, all slated to open this year.

But the university faces other challenges, Hexter said. Namely, increasing costs from salaries and benefits, a shortage of fundraising staff and the largest deferred maintenance backlog of any UC campus.

Hexter, who referred to himself as the “once and future provost,” praised the hiring of Chancellor-designate and sci-fi-fan Gary S. May with a Star Trek reference of his own.

“He will boldly take UC Davis where no university has gone before.”

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