CHANCELL-ING: Starting on a Strong Note

Marching band performers play at pep rally
The UC Davis Marching Band, along with the Cheer and Dance teams, are set to perform at the Homecoming Pep Rally from noon-2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14 at the Silo Patio. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

Fall is one of my favorite times of year for many reasons. Our campus is once more a place of learning and thriving. We’re reminded of new beginnings and we discover new opportunities for growth.

We also are reminded that UC Davis is one of the best public universities in the country for how students experience their education, but also for how well they do beyond our doors once they graduate.

Blue graphic of Chancellor Gary S. May with text: Gary May Chancell-ing. A town-gown newspaper column.

We were pleased once more that US News & World Report ranked us as the No. 10 best public university last month. Washington Monthly also ranked UC Davis the second-best public university in the country for research, social mobility and public service.

We held our No. 4 public university ranking with Forbes in its 2022 edition of “America’s Top Colleges,” which is based on student outcomes, including graduates’ high earnings and influence.

All of this recognition reinforces the academic excellence that the campus provides. It reminds us of our public service mission that was on full display over the last two years of the pandemic. We continue to see collective efforts behind Healthy Davis Together get national attention.

World-changing research

We’re also seeing our research enterprise reach new heights. In August, UC Davis surpassed more than $1 billion in research funding for the fiscal year. Fewer than 20 public universities in the country can make the same claim.

These research awards get to the heart of who we are at UC Davis. A core part of the university’s mission is to address some of the world’s greatest challenges and drive innovation. And more than ever, UC Davis is being sought to find solutions and help create a better tomorrow for all.

Whether or not you’re part of the UC Davis community, the research taking place here has the potential to benefit all communities. It includes a two-year project to study alternative COVID-19 antigen production.

UC Davis is also on the forefront of finding new ways to feed a growing planet. Last year, a team of UC Davis researchers was awarded a $6.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a project called GEMINI, which has the potential to rapidly develop new crop varieties in the face of climate change.

This team is using 3D modeling, artificial intelligence and crop genetics to develop a tool that improves and accelerates breeding pipelines for legumes and sorghum, a species of flowering plants that’s often grown for cereals and animal feed.

Other research awards were awarded for projects related to autism research, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity among low-income individuals and a host of others. In all, this current record was up $102.9 million from the previous record set in 2020-2021.

Record philanthropy

Philanthropy at UC Davis is also soaring like never before. In each of the past three fiscal years, fundraising totals have continued to break previous records.

For the fiscal year of 2021-22, charitable giving surpassed the $300 million mark for the first time in UC Davis history. It actually crossed that mark by a notable amount, with a final total of $323 million overall. That included more than 58,000 gifts and pledges from 32,434 donors.

With each of our achievements, we are reminded more than ever that our partnership with the city and county has strengthened. We uplift each other.

Getting into the fall spirit

As we progress into fall, I encourage the community to reconnect with the campus. Aggie Spirit Week runs from Oct. 10 to Oct. 16, and it’s the perfect time to visit. You’ll find a variety of events including a tour of the Botanical Conservatory, class reunions, plus our homecoming football game against Northern Arizona on Oct. 15. Note that our home opening football game last month set a new attendance record with 14,000 in the crowd. We are grateful for the support and energy shown to the Aggies.

Don’t forget the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary season and has an exciting range of performances for your to enjoy. The Manetti Shrem Museum has a fantastic exhibit, “Young, Gifted and Black,” that’s on display through Dec. 19. Don’t forget that admission to the Manetti Shrem Museum is free for everyone.

As always, if you see me in Davis or on campus, please stop and say hello.

Chancellor Gary S. May’s monthly column is published in The Davis Enterprise and Dateline UC Davis.

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