Update on University Initiatives from Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter

With the start of the new academic year, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a brief update on some important university initiatives many in the UC Davis community have been following:

2020 Initiative

Since this initiative was launched in 2011–12, we have added about 75 percent of the 5,000 additional undergraduates called for in the plan. We will have nearly 28,000 undergraduates enrolled for the 2016–17 academic year, an increase of roughly 1,100 from a year earlier. So steep an increase was not planned for under the 2020 Initiative but represents our part of an agreement to enroll more California undergraduates as mandated by the state.

Approximately 85 percent of the new undergraduates are California residents. For the sixth year in a row, UC Davis will enroll more California residents than any other campus in the UC system. Since 2011-12, as student SAT scores and grade point averages have increased, the percentage of undergraduate students from underrepresented minority groups has grown from 20 percent to 26 percent. 

We have also been adding faculty and facilities to accommodate this growth. The Ann E. Pitzer Center recital hall and classroom space, as well as the new Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, open this quarter. Our new International Center is up and running, the Memorial Union renovation is progressing, and in June we broke ground for a new large lecture hall. The lecture hall, which can accommodate a class of up to 600 students, is designed to offer flexible and adaptable space for a variety of uses. It is scheduled to be available for instruction in winter 2018.

Since 2011-12, we have also added a net 115 tenure track faculty, which amounts to a 12 percent increase over that period of time. If you would like to see a list of disciplinary areas and proposals selected for funding in the 2016 competition in the Provost’s Faculty Hiring Investment Program, I draw your attention to this recent report on the Interim Provost’s website.

We have also hired 70 lecturers and adjuncts, for a 29 percent increase, and increased the number of associate instructors, TAs, and readers by 380, or 22 percent.

Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion

As part of our Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, a draft strategic plan is now available for review and public comment through the end of fall quarter. The final plan will provide an explicit framework for UC Davis to achieve its diversity and inclusion goals. All students, staff, and faculty are invited to attend the Campus Community Forum on October 27th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Conference Center to provide feedback on the plan. Other forums will be held throughout the fall quarter and will be advertised on the initiative’s homepage.

Hispanic-Serving Institution

With about 22 percent of our undergraduates expected to be Hispanic in the coming academic year, we are still on target to be eligible for designation as an Hispanic Serving Institution by the fall of 2019. The U.S. Department of Education designation would make the university eligible for significant federal funding for diversity and related programs. We are reaching out to Hispanics at community colleges in our region and throughout the state to offer them an excellent education—and university experience—at UC Davis. We are also making it easier for qualified students to transition from community college to UC Davis through Transfer Admissions Guarantee recruitments.

To show you how much this segment of our student body is growing, last year’s freshmen class of undergraduates included 1,060 students identifying themselves as Hispanic. This fall we anticipate that number will approach 1,400. We are also seeing strong growth in our Hispanic transfer students. Last year, we had 512 incoming Hispanic transfers; the number this year is expected to top 700.

Long Range Development Plan

Our Campus Planning office will host a series of outreach events during the first week of October to gather more feedback from the community about the campus’ Long Range Development Plan currently being formulated. As you will see on the website, the plan now calls for a more complex type of urban development that connects people and celebrates open space. 

Greater Sacramento Presence

We still believe it would be advantageous to UC Davis and our region to have a greater UC Davis presence in Sacramento. We plan to spend more time talking with and listening to community leaders in the capital city about how we can best serve all of our needs. As plans take shape, we will certainly share them with you. 

Fundraising for UC Davis’ Future

UC Davis recently closed a record-breaking fundraising year in which we raised $226 million. This is all thanks to our donors, who—through their support of student, faculty, research and capital projects—are helping UC Davis make the world a better place for generations to come. But there is still more work to be done. With this in mind, university leadership put forth a call for Big Ideas in fall 2015 to help identify interdisciplinary initiatives with the potential to benefit or transform UC Davis and serve as fundraising priorities. This process resulted in nearly 200 innovative proposals in sustainability, food, regenerative medicine and more. Of these, 45 proposals were selected to move forward to the next stage, with 10 to 15 expected to undergo feasibility testing in 2017. Remaining ideas will be disseminated to schools, colleges and departments for their consideration. To stay informed and to learn about next steps, please visit the Big Ideas website.

World Food Center

We continue to be engaged with faculty members in an effort to develop a blueprint for the World Food Center that will bring the greatest benefit to our campus, the region and California. In addition, we continue to consult with members of our campus community about the attributes and priorities that should guide the selection of the individual who will serve as the Center’s permanent director.  

Initiative to Improve Graduation Rates

UC Davis has undertaken an ambitious effort to improve our student retention and graduation rates while simultaneously experiencing unprecedented growth in our student body. Some of the new facilities and additional faculty cited above will directly help this effort. In addition, we have created new tools for students to plan their academic schedules and track their progress towards graduation. With the help of our academic advisers, we have also implemented mandatory advising in nearly all of our colleges for first-year students. With faculty leadership, we have reviewed each of our majors to ensure the courses required enable students to complete high-quality degrees in a timely manner. As we enter fall quarter with sufficient space in housing and in our classrooms for our largest-ever incoming class of students, we should feel proud of our continued ability to meet the challenges presented by our growth while remaining an institution renowned for the world-class education that UC Davis provides.

Research That Saves and Improves Lives

Collaborative research, which encompasses basic science, translational and clinical studies, is the hallmark of UC Davis. The UC Davis Clinical and Translation Science Center, Institute for Regenerative Cures and Comprehensive Cancer Center are just a few examples of School of Medicine programs that are developing breakthroughs to address the health challenges facing our world. The school’s faculty has a long track record of leadership and expertise in tackling some of society’s most pressing issues—including, for example, gun violence. President Napolitano recently announced that UC Davis will be the lead UC campus for the new University of California Firearm Violence Research Center, which will conduct transformative violence-prevention research that will inform effective prevention policies and programs.

Renowned Clinical Care

The UC Davis Health System has an extraordinary commitment to providing safe, high-quality care. In 2016, UC Davis Children’s Hospital became the first hospital on the West Coast, and only the fourth in the nation, to earn verification as a Level I Children’s Surgery Center by the American College of Surgeons. The designation means UC Davis has specialty-trained children’s surgeons in every discipline who care for newborns, children and teens. In addition, the UC Davis Transplant Center is one of the nation’s top-five programs in the number of overall kidney transplants performed each year. Recognizing that the shortage of available kidneys is a crisis for patients suffering from end-stage renal disease, the transplant team has aggressively sought to maximize the number of transplants and other options that it can offer residents of Northern and Central California.

Training Physicians to Advance Latino Health

The UC Davis School of Medicine, in partnership with the Permanente Medical Group of Northern California, has launched a comprehensive and longitudinal pipeline initiative to prepare doctors who will serve the Hispanic population in Northern California and the Central Valley.