Last Wednesday, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi gave her annual back-to-school Convocation. However, this time her traditional speech had a twist.
Chancellor Katehi announced a new plan for UC Davis with the goal of increasing the student body and creating jobs due to the recent budget crisis, called the 2020 Initiative.
“The goal is to continue creating a university that can sustain its rising trajectory through its own best efforts, leveraging support from the state but rising above the fiscal limitations we now face,” Katehi said.
The plan will seek to add 5,000 students to the current undergraduate student body of 24,700, in the next five years.
The initiative will also support 300 new tenure-track positions for faculty.
“Today we find ourselves at a defining moment in our history as a campus. Since you cannot cut your way to greatness, the choice for me is clear,” Katehi said. “If we develop and expand our campus in a thoughtful and deliberative way, and if we increase the population of highly qualified resident and nonresident students and create an ever-growing endowment fund – as we are doing already – we will have a business model that works. Even in tough times like these.”
The initiative comes after the California state Senate signed the state budget, which left the UC system with a $650 million cut in funding from the state.
“We will not allow continuous and permanent reductions in state support to define a new status quo for UC Davis where our ability to excel is constrained by limited resources,” Katehi said. “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.”
At UC Davis, students are feeling the crunch as they face a fee hike of 9.6 percent for the upcoming Winter quarter, along with the 8 percent fee hike already signed into law.
“The state funding situation is dire and UC Davis must take a more direct role in its future success and sustainability,” said Don Saylor, Yolo County Supervisor, in a press release. “Clearly, Chancellor Katehi is acting in a responsible manner, and I applaud her for opening up a dialogue with the surrounding community to help shape UC Davis’ direction.”
The plan is currently in its planning stages, and Katehi encouraged students and faculty to provide input about the new plan by e-mailing email@example.com.
“…We must always remember as we move through this process that our focus be on innovation and excellence,” Katehi said. “It must never be growth simply for growth’s sake.” The Fall Convocation also included speeches by Mark Otero, a UC Davis alumni and CEO and founder of KilckNation Corporation, and Paul Henderson, an assistant professor of hematology and oncology. Both made speeches about their accomplishments and progress in their respective fields, and how UC Davis helped them on the road to success.
“I am lucky to be part of UC Davis, where big ideas are nurtured and where innovation is enabled through strong leadership, bold vision and a commitment to translate our discoveries into exciting new tools to improve the lives of our patients,” Henderson said.
HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.