Future chancellor visits campus to engage with students
Earlier this year, the Editorial Board wrote about how Gary May was a promising choice to be UC Davis’ next chancellor. We remain optimistic as the Aug. 1 start date for his tenure approaches.
May is holding available hours on the Memorial Union patio from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 14, as an opportunity to get to know the student body. The Editorial Board has compiled points that we believe are important for May to clarify.
With the fallout from former Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi serving on the board of two for-profit companies, there remains a deep distrust within campus sentiment of income not tied solely to the university. It was surprising, then, when it was revealed by The Sacramento Bee that May himself sits on multiple boards. Although the University of California says that his involvement is not a conflict of interest and will benefit the university, we would like to know the extent of his involvement with these boards and how — or if — his participation in them will affect his style of leadership and his administration.
At Georgia Tech, May led diversity initiatives to enroll a larger number of minority and international students within the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The Editorial Board would be interested to hear of how he specifically plans on increasing the diversity to underserved populations of campus at such a large research institution like UC Davis.
As the dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering, May brings a wealth of STEM knowledge to the university, as did his predecessor. May has written about how arts should not be fully integrated within the STEM fields of study, writing that combining arts with the sciences “dilutes the essential need and focus for STEM.” Collaboration between arts and the various disciplines of the sciences would not detract from the focus of STEM and would only serve to put these subjects into a broader historical, societal and global context. It would complement and not devalue the knowledge of those fields. The Editorial Board wants to know how May’s philosophy regarding STEM fields will affect the on-campus interdisciplinary relationship.
UC President Janet Napolitano wanted a chancellor who would be able to increase and strengthen the reach of UC Davis in Sacramento. May should be able to express his priorities for Sacramento and his plans for extending the influence of UC Davis into the area. How will his time and efforts be divided between maintaining and improving a world-class institution and expanding regional influence?
Most importantly, the Editorial Board encourages students to take advantage of this opportunity to meet with their future chancellor and share with him the expectations that the community holds.
The Editorial Board urges the incoming chancellor to continue open dialogue and community engagement. A transparent approach to leading a large public university like UC Davis is essential for a safe and strong campus community.