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State of the Campus: ‘We Are On the Rise’

By Dateline Staff on March 6, 2018 in University

Highlights from Chancellor Gary S. May’s State of the Campus address, given last Thursday (March 1) to the Representative Assembly of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate.


Chancellor May speaking at podium.
Chancellor May gives his address in the multipurpose room of the International Center.

I’ve been chancellor for about six months, and this is my first “State of the Union,” so to speak. During those six months, it’s become clearer to me by the day that we are a university on the rise. We have great news to share, and I’m excited to tell our story.

We’ve entered a new era of campus strength, from the research labs to the athletic fields. We’re moving forward with fresh leadership, bold new ideas and strategic planning to enhance our strengths and ensure future growth. In short, there’s no better time to be an Aggie.

New leadership

With Adela de la Torre leaving to become San Diego State University president (congratulations to her), we’re now recruiting for a vice chancellor of Student Affairs and a new vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

I believe this new leader will help us fulfill our mission to support underrepresented students and ensure that our campus reflects the growing diversity of California’s population. It will enhance our recruitment efforts in drawing the best and brightest students, faculty and staff.

‘To Boldly Go’ strategic plan

This is by no means a top-down, exhaustive plan to be set in stone. Rather, it’s a universitywide effort to develop a living document that assembles our many outstanding pieces into a coherent whole and provides a road map to preeminence over the next 10 years.

Though the committee’s public brainstorming sessions have largely concluded, the inbox on the website — — remains wide open to additional input and will continue to be reviewed. I’ve personally read every single submission to date.

We’ll have the first draft of the plan ready to share for public comment in April. I’m sure this draft will spark more discussion from a broader range of participants. And we’ll collect this input as we shape a final version for release this summer.

Managing growth

UC Davis has all but reached its planned enrollment capacity of 39,000 students. It’s clear that people are practically banging on our door to get in. We received a record 95,207 applicants to study as freshman or transfer students next academic year. This is an increase of 7,550 applications — 8.6 percent over last year.

A few weeks ago, we awarded a contract for redeveloping the 90-year-old Walker Hall. Graduate students who assist in teaching and research are badly in need of more space, so this building will be brought back to life for them.

In addition to serving as grad student headquarters, Walker will house three new multimedia classrooms for our growing undergraduate population.

To keep pace with undergraduate growth, we’re also building what will be the largest lecture hall on campus. We’re calling it California Hall, but please see me afterwards if you are feeling generous and would like it named after yourself or know anyone who would like that honor.

Also, we’re more than halfway through a six-year, $25 million program of renovating and modernizing the aging classrooms on the Davis campus.

Student housing

Housing, of course, is a critical need. ... I’ve heard from many students about significant challenges that distract them from their studies. These problems go far beyond sleep deprivation and the stress of finals week.  They affect our students’ very well-being.

We’ve been able to raise our housing goal from 6,200 to 8,500 new beds on campus by 2030. About 500 of those beds would be for graduate students and students with families at the new and improved Orchard Park apartments complex. The other 1,800 units would be added to West Village.


Another high priority is to accelerate diversity so that our university community better reflects the demographic makeup of California. 

With this fall’s newcomers, we now meet the numeric threshold for becoming a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution. This means that Chicanx/Latinx students now comprise at least 25 percent of our domestic undergraduate student body. 

Attaining this status opens the door to significant federal grant funding to help these students to succeed at UC Davis.

I’m happy to report that plans are moving forward to create a research and innovation hub in Sacramento to both advance our academic mission and bolster the economic vitality of the Sacramento area. — Chancellor Gary S. May

Aggie Square

The public needs to see the value of a public university. This is especially true for UC Davis as we are neighbors of our capital city.

I’m happy to report that plans are moving forward to create a research and innovation hub in Sacramento to both advance our academic mission and bolster the economic vitality of the Sacramento area.  

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and I recently formed a joint task force to: explore potential sites for Aggie Square, identify potential public and private funding sources for it to succeed, and outline how to improve transportation between Sacramento and Davis. The group will make its recommendations by April 1.

The best is yet to come

UC Davis is moving boldly into the future, and our students fly high when they leave campus. We’re providing a pipeline of talent to Silicon Valley, to health centers around the world, to politics, and to the great wineries and breweries and ... you name it. And the best is yet to come.

About the author(s)

Dateline Staff Dave Jones, editor, can be reached at 530-752-6556 or Cody Kitaura, news and media relations specialist, can be reached at 530-752-1932 or