Checking In With Chancellor May: We Are Prepared

In this week’s Thursday Thoughts, above, Chancellor May surrounds himself in campus history, in the Special Collections Room at Shields Library. And one of the question’s he’s answering has to do with some of his own history, from his college days.

Thank you, all of you, at UC Davis and elsewhere, for following COVID-19 protocols. You are taking responsibility for your own health, your family’s health and the health of your communities. We must continue our efforts, especially now. We are at a critical juncture in this pandemic, according to government officials. Cases are surging across the country, officials expect to see a spike from Thanksgiving, and we are coming up on the winter holidays.

California’s intensive care units are filling, prompting Governor Newsom’s announcement yesterday that the state will impose regional stay-at-home orders when available ICU capacity slips below 15 percent. The Greater Sacramento Region — including Yolo and Sacramento counties — is not there yet, but all reports indicate that, unfortunately, we are heading in that direction. We are prepared and do not anticipate any major disruption in our operations. UC Davis began fall quarter in September with a very conservative plan in place, including remote instruction for nearly all classes and with most employees working remotely. We will continue in this manner through winter quarter.

Next week the Food and Drug Administration will consider emergency approval of the first vaccine for the United States, and another one is not far behind. Of course, not everyone will be vaccinated at once. It will take time. Our established protocols still matter: face coverings, physical distancing, hand-washing, household gatherings only, and testing.

Here on the Davis campus, we are testing all employees and students who are accessing our facilities. The testing kiosk is in the ARC — and we’ve got two important logistical notes for you: First, starting this Sunday (December 6), the kiosk will have a new entry point: the double set of doors at the north end of the ARC as you are facing it from Parking Lot 25. This will bring people inside if there is a line, so no one is standing in the cold and rain this winter. Second, we need to rearrange the kiosk to accommodate the new entry point, and to do so we will have shorter hours this Sunday only: noon to 5 p.m. Remember, you must have an appointment that you arrange yourself through the Health-e-Messaging portal. Note: Please do not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes prior to your appointment.

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You may recall we advised students to get tested in the week prior to traveling for Thanksgiving and within seven days of returning but no later than this Sunday. We also said returning students should shelter in place until receiving their test results. The campus further advised students and employees to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning from out of state.

Now, as winter break approaches, we are again asking students to get tested before they leave. And we will have testing and self-quarantine guidance for their return; look for that information by Friday, December 18.

As always, students and employees should check out our Campus Ready COVID-19 Testing page for the latest information, including the kiosk schedule. Also, please note we have made it easier to get your testing questions answered, with an FAQ for all, and a phone number for students and email for employees:

Healthy Davis Together

Our campus-city partnership, Healthy Davis Together, is already operating a community testing site at the Davis Senior Center. Starting next week, we will add a second, in the lobby of the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Employees and students please note: Even though the new Healthy Davis Together testing site is on campus, you should continue to use the ARC kiosk.

Running the kiosks takes a lot of people, and we need more, so please spread the word if you know of anyone looking for work. More information is available here.

Healthy Davis Together also is working with Yolo County on mobile screening of residents and employees of long-term care facilities. We are proud to be part of this community and happy to share our saliva-based COVID-19 testing system for the benefit of all.

Budget considerations

Just before Thanksgiving, President Drake asked all of the campuses to develop plans to address the financial impacts of the pandemic, supplementing other planned actions to address the university’s financial challenges while preserving jobs to the fullest extent possible. In my initial response, I advised that we would consult with campus leadership — and today we began that process, posting our “Options to Address Fiscal Constraints Accelerated by the Pandemic” and inviting feedback from the Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors, Academic Senate, Academic Federation, Staff Assembly and student leaders (ASUCD and Graduate Student Association). You can see the options and background material here.

The options are in response to the UC Office of the President asking us to identify a total of $18.8 million in one-time savings on the Davis and Sacramento campuses. All actions are to be guided by our shared University of California priorities:

  • Protecting jobs and avoiding pandemic-related layoffs as much as possible
  • Supporting the health and well-being of employees and their families, including their long-term financial security, particularly for those in lower-paid positions
  • If salary actions are taken, in the spirit of equity and fairness, higher-compensated employees should carry a larger burden to protect employees with lower earnings
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Checking in elsewhere:

  • Staff Emergency FundWith a $3,000 contribution from Staff Assembly this week, we have met out initial goal of $30,000! How great is that? The application period will open Monday, December 8, and we are still accepting donations for this continuing effort. We are offering grants of up to $1,000 to staff members anywhere at UC Davis who need assistance, say, for housing, utilities, food or transportation. Assistance can also be provided when employees with limited resources are faced with medical expenses or expenses related to the death of an immediate family member, or a change in family situation. The Staff Emergency Fund webpage includes buttons for “How to Apply” and “Make a Donation.” Thank you, Staff Assembly and all donors.
  • Athletics director — Kevin Blue is leaving us at the end of the year to join Golf Canada as chief sport officer. We have been so fortunate to have had him at the helm of Aggie Athletics the last five years. As I said in our announcement, the organization has thrived under Kevin’s leadership. He led transformational change focusing on student-athletes’ academic success and lifelong success. For success after graduation, he developed the Aggie EVO System to help launch student-athletes into great jobs or graduate school. Oh, and we had some big successes in competition, too. Congratulations, Kevin.
  • Social mobility — We have again been recognized for our contributions to students’ social mobility, this time by the think tank Education Reform Now, a nonprofit advocacy organization. It ranks us eighth in the nation based on the six-year graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients, low rates of default on student loans within three years of entering repayment, and high rates of these students beginning to pay down student loans within five years of graduation. I could not be more proud of our record of providing the highest quality education and the resources to ensure that our students succeed while in school and beyond.

"Campus ready" email signature (with web address and cow on bicycle)Sincerely,

Gary S. May
Chancellor


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