Editor’s note: For this edition of 10 Questions, The California Aggie sat down with Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Fred Wood. Student Affairs encompasses various campus units that pertain to student life.
Wood is a veteran to UC Davis. In addition to being a vice chancellor, Wood attended UC Davis as an undergraduate and a graduate student.
You have been at UC Davis for 27 years. What made you want to stick around for so long?
[It was] not necessarily my intention, I came for two years and ended up staying a lot longer.… UC Davis provides a truly exceptional undergraduate experience, and I witnessed [it] myself as a student and again as a graduate student. I think [I decided to stay because of] my experiences elsewhere, talking to others and realizing what special opportunities students have here.
What led you to apply for Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs?
I applied for the position at the encouragement of a lot folks on campus, some within Student Affairs. As a faculty member and as an Associate Dean, I realized that in helping students, you have to think of them holistically. You weren’t just talking to them about their academics – you really need to think about the whole person and the challenges they face: financial challenges, health problems … I found myself becoming more and more involved in Student Affairs.
What is encompassed within Student Affairs?
Student Affairs [is in charge of] CAPS, Cross Cultural Center, student housing, the Memorial Union, Women’s Resource Center; you can go on and on.
How do you oversee all of the different services that the Student Affairs Office provides?
You don’t do this job alone. The organization starts with a great staff that works directly with the students, and then [the staff] is broken into different units that have managers and supervisors, then they report to a group of vice chancellors and associate vice chancellors, and [who then] report to me.
I see my role as serving the students, first and foremost. Also, in the organization, I see my role as helping the staff with whatever their needs are. I’m trying to help [the staff] and they are doing all of the great and important work to help students.
How long does your term as Vice Chancellor last?
Any administrator serves at the will of the Chancellor. In general, you’re generally given sort of three to five years to do well and if it’s not working out then maybe try something else.… If I’m doing a good job and I’m serving the students and campus well, then my intention is to serve in this role as long as I am able.
Have you developed any programs since your becoming vice chancellor of student affairs in August 2007?
We are very interested in assisting transfer students, in retaining students, helping them to graduate and [seeing] what we can do to assist with their graduation. We are working hard in the mental health area. Students will see the expansion of the Coffee House, and we’ll be breaking ground on a new residence hall in the Tercero area. The Student Health Center is expanding. We are in the middle stages of creating the Student Community Center.
What services will the Student Community Center provide?
It would hold the units of the Student Affairs, the Cross Cultural Center, the LGBT Center, the Student Recruitment and Retention Center.
Also, in partnership with Academic Affairs, [it] would house a research center, a media-computer laboratory with instructional technology and it would have a new extended hours reading room.
How do you imagine the economic crisis affecting your ability to provide services to students?
We’re always in the process of budget adjustment. We get good budgets and we get weaker budgets. This one is particularly concerning internationally.… It’s a challenge for us certainly; every aspect of the university is being hit by the budget crisis.
Students are being asked to pay more fees, and all the units on campus are being asked to readjust their budgets a bit. We will do our absolute best in working with our student groups and talking through where to make our adjustments. We try to limit the impact on students to the [highest] degree we can. We take the students‘ advice on this very seriously.
[The budget] is a challenge, and I feel for students because they are paying more money and there are less services, and that’s never a good place to be. We will do everything we can within Student Affairs to continue to serve students as well as we can under the circumstances.
Have you ever been to the UC Davis bookstore at the start of term and is there anything you can do about crowd control?
I have been – as a student, a faculty member and as an administrator, and it’s pretty wild. We’re very excited about the bookstore expansion project that we are in the process of planning. We know that the bookstore needs more space and there [are] great plans to do that.
If readers walked away from this article knowing only one thing about you, what would you want it to be?
I think the thing I would hope that people would believe is that I care very deeply about this campus, the students, staff, the faculty and the entire community. I’m an Aggie through and through. I’m so proud of this place and so proud to have the opportunity to serve the campus in the role as vice chancellor.