UC Davis’ growth will be good for Davis
This story was originally published in and is reprinted with permission from The Davis Enterprise.
By Debbie Davis
The issue: The university’s 2020 Initiative should jump-start our local economy
It’s no secret that the health of UC Davis has a direct, and fairly immediate, impact on the health of the Davis community.
If UCD — our largest employer; indeed, our community identity — is ailing, we ail, too.
THAT’S WHY IT has been so difficult to watch over the past few years as UCD has weathered cuts amounting to 40 percent of its state general funds, resulting in programs cut or eliminated across campus, staff layoffs, faculty furloughs and record tuition increases.
But Chancellor Linda Katehi seized the day, so to speak, last week when she unveiled UC Davis’ 2020 Initiative, a plan to add 5,000 undergraduate students and 300 tenure-track faculty to the university over the next five years. The additions would be paid for in part by an increase in out-of-state students.
“We will not allow continuous and permanent reduction in state support to define a new status quo for UC Davis where our ability to excel is constrained by limited resources,” Katehi announced at the annual Fall Convocation.
“Dealing with state cuts cannot become a long-term strategy for our campus. I have now become convinced that we need to change our course.”
That course change would be significant, raising UCD’s overall enrollment from nearly 32,300 to more than 37,000 and increasing the faculty from 1,500 to about 1,800.
WE APPLAUD her leadership and endorse her vision. While the Davis community once would have been worried about the sudden influx of new residents, we’re ready to embrace the university’s proposed growth with open arms.
Our local economy needs the stimulus that would come with these new residents and employees. And our existing housing market — both in town and on campus — can handle the first surge and newcomers and be ready for the second wave a few years from now.
The growth is designed to help the university accomplish some important goals: give more deserving students the opportunity for a UC education; become financially stable; make the campus more international; support additional faculty; improve campus infrastructure; and boost regional economic opportunity and create new jobs on and off campus.
It’s that last goal that perhaps holds the most promise. UC Davis already has demonstrated what a powerful engine it is for the regional economy. Indeed, the UC Office of the President announced last week that UCD was responsible for about 56,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in economic activity in 2009-10. That’s about $10 for each dollar invested by the state.
KATEHI ISN’T GOING alone into this 2020 Initiative. She called on the greater campus community to become part of the process that shapes the future look and design of the university. To share your two cents, email email@example.com.
Here’s ours: What’s good for UC Davis is good for the Davis community. We’re wholeheartedly behind this initiative.