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Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Welcome back message

9.24.13

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome back to a new year — one that is filled with promise and opportunity. I have a good feeling that 2013-14 is going to be an amazing year for UC Davis.

Even before the new academic year began, U.S. News and World Report continued to rank UC Davis as one of the 10 best public universities in the nation. Certainly the rankings underpin the achievements we have attained together. It takes a strong mix of instruction, research, student-centered attitudes and a commitment to excellence to maintain our position. We have worked hard to ensure that UC Davis is recognized for its commitment, because together, we have made many improvements and put students at the focus of all we do.

While many of us are engaged in activities with our 2020 plan, it is important to pause and celebrate the progress we have made. If you look around the inner core of campus — from new signage, to classroom renovations, to improvements in our infrastructure, we are trying to make this a campus where the teaching and learning activities are enhanced.

We have recruited another stellar class of freshmen, and we welcome our largest incoming class in campus history, with 5,150 freshmen and 3,150 transfer students. These students are extremely competitive academically and represent the diversity of California and the world, coming from more than 40 countries and increasing the proportion of historically underrepresented groups on campus.

Our faculty profile has also changed in the new year. We hired 55 new faculty members last year, representing the best and the brightest from the U.S. and countries around the world, and we initiated the recruitment of 110 faculty this year, including 35 new positions created as the first part of the 2020 Initiative's promise to hire 300 new faculty. We continue our efforts to build a world-class faculty that represents all of our populations. Of last year's faculty hires, almost half are women and almost 20 percent belong to underrepresented minorities. Because of the 2020 Initiative, the next few years bring an unprecedented opportunity to make our faculty more diverse, more engaged and more reflective of California and the global vision of UC Davis.

Faculty achieved new heights last year — too many awards and honors to list, but let me acknowledge a few — and our research reached a new high, exceeding $750 million despite sequestration. Emerita Sandra Gilbert (English) received the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. We saw American Academy of Arts and Sciences elections for Louise Kellogg (Geology) and Emerita Susan Mann (History). Dan Sperling (Civil Engineering, and Environmental Science and Policy, and founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies) is the recipient of the Blue Planet Prize of the Asahi Glass Foundation — the "Nobel Prize" of environmental scholarship. I am eager to see what great new milestones our faculty will achieve this next year.

Last year was also a successful year for the Health System, and I want to thank Tom Nesbitt for his leadership last year and into this year as our interim vice chancellor and dean. In February, we will welcome Julie Freischlag, currently the William Stewart Halsted Professor and department director and surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, as our new Health System leader. The entering class is more diverse than in the past with underrepresented minority students increasing from 22.9 percent to 36.5 percent. With this commitment to serving California, we also celebrate the Health System's role in leveraging technology to improve health, and this will be a tremendous asset as we move forward. Our Health System just won the prestigious Davies Award, in recognition of excellence in using electronic health records to improve health care delivery and safety. And our renowned telehealth program is building on its successes — such as pediatric critical care telemedicine and virtual tumor boards, as just two examples — to develop creative ways to expand access to high quality care for all people, regardless of where they live.

With a focus on integration and interprofessional education, our Health System is well positioned to meet the challenges presented by our nation's implementation of health care reform. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing has developed unique M.S. and Ph.D. programs specifically designed to educate professionals who can lead change in this dynamic environment. And to expand the health professions work force, the School of Nursing just launched new master's degree programs to prepare nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide primary care in rural and underserved communities. In the medical school, special M.D. "tracks” prepare students to serve in areas of California, such as the San Joaquin Valley, where citizens have great unmet health needs.

The campus continues to align its research initiatives to address the current scientific grand challenges facing the nation and the world. For example, the Interdisciplinary Frontiers Program, representing a campus investment of nearly $15 million over three years, has funded 20 new transdisciplinary research projects that will align the campus to grand challenges in the sciences, engineering, humanities and the arts. These programs, involving more than 100 faculty from all schools and colleges, will make us competitive for large-scale federal, state and philanthropic funding opportunities and ultimately will affect the way we live and work.

In looking ahead, I would like to share with you my highest priorities. I want to continue to work toward creating an environment where students thrive — improving everything from advising to support services to pedagogy. Always putting students at the core of everything we do, let us continue to seek ways to improve our support for them so that their dreams of graduation and a college degree are realized on a timeline that is reasonable for them.

I also look forward to closing The Campaign for UC Davis next spring. We are making tremendous progress toward achieving the goals of our first comprehensive fundraising campaign to raise $1 billion from 100,000 donors. As of June 30, 2013, the university has raised $973.4 million from 101,000 donors through The Campaign for UC Davis in support of our students, faculty, staff and programs.

It takes a team pulling together to achieve results like we have achieved and which we hope to see in 2013-14. I want to thank everyone for the excellence you bring every day to our missions of teaching, research and service. We are making a difference in the lives of many with the work that we do. We are "One UC Davis," united in solving some of the most pressing problems of our nation and the world. I am grateful for all you do.

Sincerely ,

Linda P.B. Katehi
Chancellor, UC Davis