To the UC Davis Community:
Today is Juneteenth, a national observance of the abolition of slavery. But as we celebrate this freedom, and reflect on the sad history that preceded it, we must also consider how our country still falls woefully short of its founding principles of equality and justice for all. I saw signs this week of progress on related fronts, giving me hope for the future.
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — We cheered yesterday when the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind this program. The decision, in a lawsuit that UC pushed to the high court, allows hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including some 4,000 enrolled at UC, to stay in this country, at least for now, to pursue their studies and aspirations. Read my DACA message. Also see a statement from our AB540 and Undocumented Student Center, in a document that also includes information on resources.
- Gay and transgender rights — In a Monday ruling, the Supreme Court declared that the same federal statute that prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace (part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) also applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. UC Davis Health celebrated the decision, while also expressing concern and continued support for the transgender and nonbinary communities, who face a separate battle regarding discrimination in health care.
- Proposition 209 — Approved by California voters in 1996, it prohibits the consideration of race and gender in admissions decisions. Monday, the UC Board of Regents voted unanimously in support of its repeal and to endorse a legislative proposal (Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5, or ACA 5) that would put before voters the question of stripping the law from the state Constitution. “I am proud UC endorsed giving California voters the chance to erase a stain, support opportunity and equality, and repeal Proposition 209,” board Chair John A. Pérez said. All the chancellors as well as the systemwide Academic Senate also support ACA 5.
In my Juneteenth message yesterday, I talked about the opportunity this day brings to recognize how our country rose above a painful chapter in our history, and to consider the work that still needs to be done in the name of social justice. My family and I will observe this day in the name of freedom, justice and the power of community, and we encourage you to do the same. We also invite you to “attend” an online Juneteenth festival, today through June 28, co-sponsored by Sac Cultural Hub, a partner of UC Davis’ Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Tuesday, I was pleased to announce my appointment of our next provost and executive vice chancellor: Mary Croughan, whose roots run deep at UC Davis and in the UC system. She’s an Aggie alumna (and now an Aggie mom) who went on to have a 30-year career with UC: faculty member at UC San Francisco, chair of the systemwide Academic Senate, faculty representative to the Board of Regents and executive director of the Research Grants Program Office at the Office of the President. Now, after three years at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she is a professor of public health and where she served as vice president for research and economic development, she is coming home.
We are also preparing to welcome our new vice chancellor of Student Affairs, Pablo Guillermo Reguerín, who currently serves as associate vice chancellor of student achievement and equity innovation at UC Santa Cruz, a position he’s held since 2017. He is also an Aggie, having earned a doctorate from the School of Education’s CANDEL (Capitol Area North Doctorate in Educational Leadership) Program.
Welcome, Mary! Welcome, Pablo!
Planning for the fall
Also on Tuesday, we provided an update on our plans for the fall quarter, when we will offer remote instruction along with some in-person instruction if county and state health guidelines permit. We recognize that students, their parents and faculty have important decisions to make, based on our plans. While our plans are not as detailed as some people would like, we want to ensure that we take time to carefully plan and reflect the most current data and guidance available to us.
As you know, this crisis is evolving day by day. Yesterday, for example, Yolo County reported it had tallied 76 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the 14-day period ending June 17, exceeding one of the metrics the state is monitoring in connection with the county’s reopening. This does not mean the state will automatically roll back or halt the reopening. But the county will be reviewing case data to determine if other protective measures are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Also yesterday, amid a surge of cases, Governor Newsom issued a face-covering order for the entire state. (Yolo County has mandated face coverings since April 24.) So this pandemic is constantly evolving.
No. 1 priority: Safety
Here’s what we do know: All in-person classes will be offered in larger than usual classrooms, residence halls will have reduced density, and dining commons and other food services on campus will operate in a way that complies with public health requirements for physical distancing and food safety. All campus spaces, such as libraries, on-campus study spaces and computer labs, the Memorial Union and the Coffee House, will be operated according to public health guidance to include physical distancing and mandatory use of face coverings. In addition, all common-use areas and surfaces will be cleaned at regular intervals, and hand hygiene stations will be broadly available across campus.
We also have protocols in place for reporting COVID-19 concerns and confirmed cases among employees and students on the Davis and Sacramento campuses — so the university can respond appropriately.
Our team, including Student Health and Counseling Services, Occupational Health and Risk Management, reviews the medical circumstances surrounding each report. They provide medical guidance to affected individuals and ascertain risk to the campus, while continuing to balance the need for privacy. They evaluate proximity issues for individuals who have had close contact with positive cases, and coordinate our case investigation efforts with Yolo County Public Health to help ensure appropriate notification and testing of potentially affected individuals. In most of these circumstances, the risk to campus is very low. Most times, no further action is necessary aside from providing guidance on monitoring for new symptoms.
You will find the reporting protocols here: They’re simple, involving a single email address for the Davis campus and a single address for the Sacramento campus. Please be sure to follow these protocols — they are for everyone’s safety.
I want to thank everyone again for your good work during the difficult circumstances of spring quarter, and wish you all a happy summer. Speaking of summer, it officially starts tomorrow, and our first Summer Session (all remote) starts Monday.
UC Davis Health and the UC Davis Medical Center have been open throughout the pandemic, and services that had been reduced are now fully restored. The Davis campus has had employees working remotely and is gradually bringing more of them back to campus, guided by the Campus Ready website. There is much hard work ahead for all of us, but we know we have the right people for the job, as we continue serving the state, nation and world.
Gary S. May