It seems like only yesterday that LeShelle and I unpacked boxes and settled into Davis. That was in August 2017. The past five years have flown by.
When my tenure as Chancellor of UC Davis officially began, I came up with my own goals, including taking UC Davis to the next level through our excellence in research and teaching, strengthening our diversity, and meeting the basic needs of students.
Starting with connections
I knew I couldn’t do it all alone. I dedicated that first year to developing a decade-long strategic plan in partnership with faculty, students, staff, alumni and college friends, including our neighbors in Davis.
One thing I knew was that it would be important to make sure UC Davis could recommit to being a neighbor who makes a positive contribution to the city and county.
During my early listening tour, community leaders and students frequently brought up the challenges related to vacancy rates in the city. They urged the university to do more for student housing, including more affordable options, and to work on improving traffic for cyclists and pedestrians.
These needs were not new and had been smoldering for some time. I was willing to help turn the pages, and the area directors were willing to do the same.
A year later, we signed a memorandum of understanding between the university, the city, and Yolo County.
UC Davis has made significant strides in accommodating students since signing this agreement in 2018. We added approximately 4,000 beds to meet the MOU goal of 5,200 total new beds. Another 1,500 are under construction and are expected to be ready for occupancy in fall 2023.
UC Davis also agreed to contribute $2.3 million to local transportation improvement projects, including the Richards Boulevard/Interstate 80 intersection, County Road 98, Russell Boulevard and the Russell Boulevard Corridor, and a bike path west of the Highway 113 The first phase of the Reimagine Russell Boulevard project has started. The first step will design a roundabout where Russell meets Arlington Drive.
This renewed foundation of partnership and collaboration was especially important when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We quickly came together and used our collective strengths to help prevent the spread of COVID in our community through Healthy Davis Together.
results and memories
Just last month, the Mathematica organization released new information showing results from the Healthy Davis Together program. That Mathematica researchers found that in the first 16 months, the program’s efforts helped prevent 4,144 cases of COVID-19, reduced case counts by 60%, 275 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, and 35 COVID-19 cases. avoid related deaths.
Additionally, Mathematica’s analysis found that while Healthy Davis Together spent $34.1 million on Davis activities through January 2022, the Davis community avoided an estimated $112.7 million in withheld wages from averted cases Healthcare costs saved from averted deaths from averted hospital admissions and the value of life years saved from those averted.
I am grateful to the wider community for coming together so effectively to address the worst global public health crisis of our time.
In addition to these milestones, I have many fond memories of my first five years here. I enjoyed spending time with our students, either in conversation or going to the cinema together; cheering for our student athletes; Interview with William Shatner, Captain Kirk himself star trek; Celebrating our faculty’s national and international awards; and being immersed by employees at the annual Thank Goodness for Staff event.
Whatever challenges lie ahead, I am confident that we will continue to overcome them together. I know we will continue to celebrate more milestones together.
Thank you for being such great neighbors and partners for the first five years here. We are excited to see what the next five years will bring.