STATE OF THE CAMPUS: 'Strong,' despite many challenges
April 19, 2012
By Dave Jones
Despite the many challenges we face, “the state of our campus is strong,” Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi declared April 17 in her third annual address to the Academic Senate.
Katehi cited a number of accomplishments during the last year, including a 10.5 percent jump in research money in the first half of the 2011-12 fiscal year, compared with the same period in 2010-11. This contrasts with a decline in funding at most other UC campuses and units.
“Together we have earned a solid reputation as a world-class public research university with a bright future and a clear, well defined path to even greater heights and accomplishments,” she said in her prepared remarks for a meeting of the senate’s Representative Assembly in the Memorial Union’s MU II.
She spoke for a little more than 20 minutes, and the audience of about 80 — mostly faculty — responded with applause. She asked for questions, but there were none.
Katehi also addressed the campus’s challenges, including the aftermath of the Nov. 18 pepper spray incident. “I am relieved the (Reynoso) report is out and everyone can see what happened in November and the steps we can take to avoid something like this from occurring ever again,” she said.
Again, she accepted full responsibility, as she did when she addressed thousands of people who gathered on the Quad three days after the pepper spraying. In her speech this week, she said she considers herself accountable “for all the actions that need to be taken to make sure our campus is a safe and welcoming place.”
Research support climbs steadily
In discussing research support, Katehi showed a chart reflecting UC Davis’ steady climb (since 2007) in July-December research grant totals, to $443 million in 2011-12. The same chart shows the average total for the other UC campuses and units in decline for the last three years.
With total grant funding of $684 million in 2010-11, UC Davis is in the top 10 among public research universities nationwide, Katehi said.
On the subject of the university’s overall finances, the chancellor noted Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 budget proposal that gives an additional $90 million to the UC system.
But, she added, “We are at a pivotal moment,” considering that Brown also calls for a cut of $200 million if voters fail to approve his tax measure.
A $200 million systemwide cut would translate to $30 million for UC Davis. “To be as well prepared as possible for whatever the future brings, we are proceeding with the first phase of our incentive-based budget model July 1,” Katehi said. Read more in the provost’s April 12 budget letter.
Katehi reiterated her pledge “to personally and persistently advocate for the importance of preserving the public mission of the university … to advocate for additional state and federal investment in our university to help ease the financial burden being placed on students and their families.”
She called on everyone to join this effort, and to go beyond the Legislature and governor.
“The public must hear us, too. If we are silent, some may see that as a sign we don’t feel this is important.”
The chancellor also cited these accomplishments:
• Office of Research — Vice Chancellor Harris Lewin led a restructuring to bring under the same roof corporate relations, intellectual property protection and technology licensing, and appointed an associate vice chancellor to begin the New Venture Catalyst program.
“They will work closely with faculty innovators and others on campus to help spin out new ventures stemming from UC Davis faculty research,” Katehi said.
• Interdisciplinary Frontiers Program — It offers grants of up to $1 million over three years in two subprograms: RISE (Research Investments in Science and Engineering) and IFHA (Interdisciplinary Frontiers in the Humanities and Arts).
RISE was first out of the gate. “Within two months of the launch, the Office of Research received 115 RISE proposals … and impressive statement of the energy and innovation that exists at UC Davis,” the chancellor said.
• Partnership with BGI of China — UC Davis’ agreement with the world’s largest and most prestigious genomics institute “will put UC Davis at the forefront of the revolution in the genomic sciences, with impact throughout our health and life sciences disciplines,” while also creating an estimated 200 new jobs in the Sacramento region, Katehi said.
• Cancer Center — The National Cancer Institute designated the UC Davis Cancer Center as a “comprehensive cancer center,” one of only 41 in the nation. Read more about the designation that led to the center’s new name: UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.
• Freshman and transfer applications — Up 5.3 percent, to a record 62,542 for the fall quarter. The freshman application count jumped 7.8 percent, and freshman applications from international students jumped 99 percent.
• Student Community Center — It opened in January in the heart of the campus and has already become a popular destination. “It is a warm, vibrant home for a variety of student life programs and academic resources,” Katehi said, “a comfortable and welcoming place for students to study, collaborate and enjoy someplace that truly epitomizes the Principles of Community, by celebrating and honoring diversity.”
• UC Davis West Village — This planned net-zero energy community came to life in the fall quarter, with the opening of the first apartments. In January, the village welcomed the new Davis Center of the Los Rios Community College District.
In addition, Katehi said, the campus is moving forward with its plan to open University Hub, or U-Hub, at UC Davis West Village. This U-Hub and others to follow will foster collaboration among related research units, by bringing them together in one place — such as UC Davis West Village, where the U-Hub will focus on energy issues.
• Shared Services Center — The center, a key component of the campus’s push for greater efficiency, opened Feb. 14 after two years of planning. The center handles finance, payroll and human resources for 6,250 administrative employees — for an initial savings of about 25 percent, or about $4 million annually.
Katehi spoke of continued, significant progress on The Campaign for UC Davis, with commitments now totaling nearly $790 million — closing in on the university’s largest fundraising goal ever: $1 billion.
She listed these notable contributions in the last year: $10 million from winemaker Jan Shrem and his wife and fellow arts patron, Maria Manetti Shrem, for a new university art museum; and $5 million from alumni Mike and Renee Child, to establish the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Katehi also noted the ceremonial groundbreaking for the 8,000-square-foot Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building, made possible by a $3 million gift from the late winemaker Jess Jackson and his wife, Barbara Banke.
The chancellor said the campaign may conclude earlier than expected, after which the university will conduct campaign focusing on student scholarships.
• Athletics director — Applications are under review, the chancellor said, adding that she hopes to have the finalists on campus in mid- to late May. A campus forum is planned with the three to five finalists, and the chancellor expects to make her selection by the end of June or early July.
• 2020 Initiative — Three task forces — for academic resources, enrollment management and facilities planning —are due to have their draft reports to the provost by the end of the academic year, after which the administration will spend the summer refining the proposal to add 5,000 undergraduates and 300 new faculty by 2020.
“Our motivation is to stabilize our financial situation in the face of declining state funding, to make our campus more international and to continue to capitalize on our existing infrastructure and past investments,” Katehi said.
Reach Dateline UC Davis Editor Dave Jones at (530) 752-6556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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