2000 Convocation: Chancellor's Address

FALL 2000 CONVOCATION ADDRESS
UC Davis Chancellor Larry N. Vanderhoef

"Growth:  Meeting the Challenge in the Next Decade"

Wednesday, September 27, 2000
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon

Freeborn Hall

Thank you very much Dean Langland.  Regent Emeritus Soderquist, you continue to be the master of giving back to your alma mater.  It means a lot to me -- and lots more, of course, to UC Davis. 

The rest of these folks on the stage are, all of them, campus leaders who will in their individual ways be important to the campus expansion that will occur during the coming year.  Their successors, in subsequent years, will be building upon their efforts.

As you know, the topic for my talk today is growth.  But first I want to address another topic that will be on your minds if you are readers of the Sacramento Bee.  You surely have noticed stories the past several days charging the campus – and the entire University of California – with concealing incidents of sexual assault.  I really don’t know where to begin in addressing the widespread inaccuracies and omissions in the Bee’s stories.  If this happened here at home it would be easy, because those reporters did something for which we would fire our faculty or suspend our students.  Namely, facts and information were very deceptively reported, and worse, selectively chosen if they supported the thesis of the articles and ignored if they did not.  This series of articles was perhaps most frustrating for the hundreds of people who over the last twenty-three years have been on point with regard to UC Davis’ commitment to prevention programs and support services.  These people are devastated.

So what can we do?  Well, you know the adage about getting in fights with people who buy printer’s ink by the barrel.  However, there simply are times when one has to take on that Goliath.  And so we have done something that is entirely unprecedented for UC Davis:  We have formally asked the newspaper to retract Monday’s story regarding the campus and to publish substantial corrections to references to UC Davis in Sunday’s article.  Such a request for a retraction is not made lightly, primarily because of the years and years during which we have held in high regard the Sacramento Bee’s reporters and leadership, and had a very productive and constructive working relationship.  But this request for retraction, supported by nine pages of documentation, is absolutely essential, and we hope that the Bee editors take it seriously.

It also occurred to us that a neutral third party might take a look at our circumstance, and so this week we invited no less an institution than the U.S. Department of Education to review our crime reporting practices.  We are absolutely adamant that the safety of our students, faculty and staff is of paramount importance – particularly with regard to violence against women and to sexual assault.  That has always been the case and that always will be the case, the Sacramento Bee notwithstanding.

Now, if I can calm down a bit here, I would like to get to the main topic of my talk.

I want to discuss with you today the major topic that is on the campus’ agenda this year, a topic that will be on the minds of everyone in our campus community for the next several years.  That topic is growth.

Growth -- I have learned over time that reactions, even to just the word, can range from unbridled delight to unconcealed dismay.  So I want to discuss my perspective on UC Davis growth with you and, in particular, three critical issues.  I will talk about the reasons for growth; then I’ll discuss the opportunities that can come with growth.  Finally, I want to spend most of my time on the challenges that growth presents and the actionswe have taken or must take to deal with those challenges. 

First to the fundamental reasons for growth.   I have heard, by now probably hundreds of times, expressions of concern that end with "Why do we have to grow?  Things seem just fine now.  Let's work on the few problems that we have and enjoy the moment."  There are times when that scenario is very attractive to me -- but then I remind myself, and I now remind you, that we are dealing here with a major expansion of the college-age population of the state.

Over the next ten years, the ten‑campus University of California system, by Master Plan Mandate, must accommodate over 60,000 new students.  One of our campuses, UC San Francisco, cannot be part of the solution because of its narrow area of specialization within the health sciences.  Three others are pretty much built out; UCLA, Santa Barbara and Berkeley will participate, but only to a lesser extent.  A fifth, UC Merced, will come into the equation, but only late in the decade.  Well, there are only ten campuses. That leaves five of us to get most of this job done.

We have for three years now gone through a system-wide process that has resulted in what I consider to be a fair allocation of this growth among the several campuses.  On average, the University of California will grow by three percent per year.  At UC Davis we will grow from 25,000 to something between 30 and 31,000, a growth rate of about 2.2 percent per year.  I consider this to be fair to UC Davis, and we are committed to meeting this obligation to the Regents and to the citizens of California.

There is a related reason, though, for ensuring that we accommodate this growth:  The University is reaching out, as never before, to students from low-performing K-12 schools.  We intend to enhance the academic preparation of these students and to improve the odds that these students will come to the University of California.  This student population will be more diverse than ever before.  As individuals, they will have all the advantages that exposure to that diversity can offer -- an introduction to unique views, differing principles, alternate values.  We will fail them if we do not give these tens of thousands of students opportunities that they never would have had just five years ago.  Supported by the Regents, Governors Wilson and Davis, and the Legislature, all of our campuses are paying special attention to schools that have been sending almost no one to UC, to students who will be the first in their family to go to college and need extra counseling, to school systems that have little capacity to offer AP courses. We are committed to these programs.  They will enable us to extend the life-changing reach of the University to high-achieving students in all high schools -- all high schools -- throughout the State.  We must make sure that we have room for these new students at the University when the time comes—and it will come!  I believe along with our Regents that our investment in their futures is a vitally important investment in the future of our State.

Now, a word about opportunities:  Growth is seen as a time of building and generating a new face and character for the campus. The most important opportunity that growth provides is to do new things and to enhance the quality of our programs.  The Academic Planning Council agreed with this approach and took as one of its implicit planning guidelines that the campus should use the opportunity offered by getting bigger -- to get better.  Simply growing uniformly makes no sense if we aim to take fullest advantage of the opportunity to do new things.  And so we must grow -- differentially.

The only way that differential growth, and therefore new elements of quality, can be introduced is if we have in hand a good academic plan to guide us.  We all understand that academic plans must be dynamic and flexible, but we do need a base upon which to work.  We also must understand that as time passes that academic plan will change to meet newly defined needs. 

We have been at this business of academic planning now for three years, and that planning continues.  As a result, we now have in hand, both at the campus-wide level and in every school, college and division, an excellent road map with exciting initiatives.  The plans call for expanding graduate enrollments, major investments in agriculture, a new school for the environment, exciting new initiatives in the arts, a bold program in genomics and informatics, building the social sciences, biomedical engineering, the N.E.A.T. initiative,.....and more, as you will hear about later in the fall quarter. 

As just one of many examples, since it is fresh in my mind, we have just completed a fall conference that pursued one of these proposals, namely, "How can we be a greater part of the solution to the K-12 problem in this state?"  That fall conference came out of the discussions surrounding academic planning, and this campus will change for the better because of it. 

And so we must now give our full attention and energy to the implementation of all parts of this academic plan if we are, indeed, to capitalize on the opportunities that growth can provide.

I’d like now to turn to the challenges of growth and to the actions we must take if we are to succeed.

I begin with the challenge of providing facilities for research, for this is probably the most expensive and complex problem we have.  The University of California has as one of its main roles, research.  That means that we must give priority to the resources required to conduct that research.  This research responsibility, which rests with the faculty, is always daunting, for truly excellent research is not easy to do.  The challenge for the campus, while we grow, will be to make sure that our faculty are not limited by what can be the negative effects of growth, such as lack of facilities.  We need to make sure that new faculty get started well in their laboratories and studios, that they have the space and equipment to carry out their research and creative activities, that our libraries continue to be first-rate and that we have the support services the faculty require for their work.  We are paying full attention to these needs --  the Provost has made sure that we have in our discretionary budget the funds needed for the start-up packages and services required in order for the campus to be competitive for the very best faculty.

And we’re giving attention to research facilities as well.  Under the leadership of Vice Chancellor John Meyer we are developing a ten-year capital plan to ensure that we meet those needs.  Regents, faculty and especially our development and planning and budget staff are working to make that plan a reality. Let me give you just one example of what we can do in the facilities area when we put our minds to it.  Because of the strong emphasis we know there is and will be on gene research in the biological sciences, the campus has secured $93M in funding for the research building that will house related programs -- the new genomics and informatics initiatives and the new program in biomedical engineering.  None of these dollars will come from the State’s capital budget.

Another challenge that affects both the faculty and our students will be the need for instructional facilities.  I know that there is concern about whether we will have the additional classes and the classrooms we will need for the expanded enrollments.  We are tackling that problem:  Registrar Jack Farrell, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Pat Turner and members of the Planning and Budget staff are pursuing strategies for providing high-quality classroom space using the most recent data on enrollment growth.  We know that there are two new large classroom facilities within our capital budget to help alleviate that problem. We know, too, that, in addition to more large classrooms, we must have facilities for small classes and seminars and discussion sections.  However, completion of those facilities is several years away and the study will recommend approaches to ensuring teaching space availability in the meantime.  Such near term approaches will require flexibility and a willingness to reconsider some of our current policies and practices.  By early February, the campus will have completed the preliminary inventory of these needs and the list of options we have for addressing them.  So we don’t have these concerns checked off the worry list just yet, but I want to assure you that we’re hard at work on them.

Facilities, of course, are only one part of the puzzle.  Will we have the online technology to enhance that instruction?  Will we have adequate advising resources?  Can we increase the opportunities and affordability of study abroad, greatly needed in my mind in our shrinking world?  Will students have easy access to the same academic advising, leadership and professional development opportunities, as well as the internship and career advice that they enjoy now?  Such support services are critical to our students’ futures.  Will the teaching quality match the increasingly high quality of our students?  Clearly, the answer to each of these questions must be an unequivocal “YES!”  With more "first-in-their-family" students coming to the University of California since just after World War II, all of this will be more important than it has been for fifty years and it’s a job that simply must get done.

And what about housing for our students?  Student housing in Davis has become unusually tight over the last few years.  There is only so much the university can do about what happens with housing in the city of Davis, and while we would appreciate the private sector handling our needs in this regard, it seems increasingly clear that they cannot, and so the burden is ours.

We surely must continue to make sure that especially first-year students have housing available to them when they come to campus.  As new students join our community from high school, on‑campus housing is an important part of the socialization process.  Life-long friendships are forged.  And, importantly, a fondness for the university is created that lasts a lifetime.  It's always amazed me that those dormitories and dining commons could spawn fondness, but that is, indeed, what happens.

We also have an increasing number of advanced students looking for housing on campus, as well, in part because they couldn’t find housing off campus, and in part because some of the more recent on-campus units, like Primero Grove, offer them affordable housing in apartment-like units. 

I am also concerned that this year, for the first time in awhile, we have not been able to accommodate transfer students. We must fix this problem.

In addition, of course, we will be planning new housing for graduate students, but housing is not the only graduate student problem with which we must contend.  The growth that lies ahead will also involve a significant increase in our graduate student enrollments, and it is essential that their financial support packages must be improved if we are to attract the most highly qualified among them.  Dean Gonzalez recently chaired a task force that recommended the changes needed to meet this challenge and these changes are being made.  The Provost has reallocated discretionary funds to meet the most critical needs, but the longer term solution will require us to increase substantially the private support for graduate student fellowships.  Fundraising for graduate fellowships must become a campus priority, not just the worry of the Graduate Dean.  I’m pleased to report that every dean will be sending his or her specific fundraising goals to the Provost and the Graduate Dean later this fall.

Now to the challenge of faculty recruitment.  This is a big one.  The task is enormous because, in fact, we will need to hire as many as eight hundred new faculty over the next ten years.  These faculty are, of course, needed for the growth, to teach the additional students, but we also must replace an unusually high number of retiring faculty over the next decade, so the already difficult problem of faculty recruitment for growth will be doubly complicated by the need to replace retirees.  This would be challenge enough, but the task is even tougher because we’ll be competing for faculty talent with all of the other growing campuses in this country. And all the hundreds of universities that expanded in the 60s and 70s will be replacing their retirees, as well.

So it is going to be the job applicants' market, and we must be resolved to face this competition head-on and make sure that we are doing everything in our power to recruit faculty members of the highest caliber to UC Davis.

We also have a very special kind of challenge regarding faculty and staff recruitment.  That is the challenge of dramatically increasing the diversity, the face of our faculty and staff.  I have always been very practical in my thoughts about diversity.  I am, in light of the increasing diversity in our general population, concerned about having a diversity of views and voices at our decision-making tables on this campus.  And I am concerned about successfully recruiting the best from an increasingly diverse class of student applicants.  If we are going to have a welcoming atmosphere for our students, and if we are to have the appropriate range of views expressed in our decisions, we must do everything we can, within the boundaries of the law, in pursuit of diversity.  As I have said many times, the pursuit of diversity is part and parcel of the pursuit of excellence. 

Here, again, we are already working.  Task forces on faculty and staff recruitment worked all of last year to produce many thoughtful recommendations that would optimize our chances of recruiting a faculty and staff that reflect the rich diversity of California.  I take these recommendations very seriously and I ask everyone responsible for faculty and staff recruitment to take them seriously as well.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the challenges we have and the “to do” list we have to meet them.  But I want to pause here to interject a point.  That point is that we already have a lot -- a lot -- of construction underway that will help us cope with the growth and capture its opportunities.  UCD will mean, more than ever before, "under construction daily." However, the buildings you will see coming out of the ground are not ends unto themselves.  They are the products of academic plans and will position us to attract the best faculty, staff and students to UC Davis -- the $50 million student classroom/laboratory building, the $93 million genomics building, the plant and environmental sciences building, the Center for the Arts, the $60 million in student-funded FACE initiative facilities, new student housing, and many more ....... in all, about one billion dollars here at Davis and $350M at our Medical Center.

And I want to note especially that the University is giving high priority to new facilities for our preeminent School of Veterinary Medicine.  I continue to believe that the "provisional accreditation" ruling was a mistake because it was not a judgment based on outcomes, but how I feel about that is irrelevant.  The fact is, we have the best faculty and students in the country in this School, and they deserve the best facilities in the country.  We are committed to that end.  We are investing, as a first step, $120M to ensure that our School remains the preeminent Veterinary Medicine program in the world.

If you are worried about the logistics of this much construction in such a short period of time, I want you to stop now.  I am worried enough for all of us, and I am not the only one worried in Mrak Hall.  Among us all we've got "worry" covered.

Through all of the growth, the construction, the recruitments, we must take special care to preserve those important qualities that we have come to call the “Davis advantages.”  One of those advantages has been the quality of life in the City of Davis.  It will not serve our purposes well at all if that quality is diminished in any significant way.  I also believe that the majority of the citizens recognize that the University makes Davis a better place.  In the near future that relationship will be further enhanced by the Center for the Arts, the hotel/conference center and restaurant, and by a long-range development plan that will add other amenities offered by the campus, two possibilities of which I will mention a bit later. 

That long-range development plan, or “LRDP” for short, is the vehicle by which we will examine the alternatives for accommodating growth.  The LRDP process, which will begin soon, will have input not just from our campus constituencies, but from our surrounding communities, as well -- Dixon, Winters, Woodland, Vacaville, West Sac.  The LRDP will of course be based upon the academic priorities of the campus, and it will identify the land and facilities required to carry out our mission. But the LRDP will also ask, with your assistance:  What kind of community do we want to be?  Is the University a stronger place when students, faculty, and staff live close enough to participate in the life of the campus?  Can we provide housing for more members of our campus community and simultaneously limit our impacts on regional air quality and transportation systems?  And what about childcare?  It must, as well, be on our list if we are to compete effectively for new faculty, and for new staff and students, but mostly it must be on our list because it's the right thing to do.  In short, how can we grow and at the same time improve the amenities valued by our community, from fine schools, to open space, to child care, to affordable housing, to bicycle commuting?  These are just a few examples of the important questions to be answered in the coming months and we will welcome your involvement and thoughts.

Let me turn now to staff issues.  I have said many times that the quality of our staff may be the quality that differentiates this campus from others like ours.  Staff support for our students and faculty is truly outstanding.  However, in this era of growth, we will be challenged in our efforts to hire a staff of the quality we have come to know and expect.  With a robust economy and increasing opportunities, the University of California is no longer the employer of choice, not only here, but in other UC communities.  We must make available to our staff the salaries, the amenities and the working environment that will allow us to recruit and retain the best.  We must work together to create a workplace of which we and they are proud and to which they want to contribute.  After decades of their service we have a moral obligation to get back on track.  And, importantly, we must learn how to work smarter in a world in which so many of our employees are represented by unions. 

We just simply have to do better.  Frankly, unresolved labor contracts and withheld pay increases that are already too small are, in my view, compromising the future of the University. If we do not fix this and other labor relations problems we will lose this great advantage -- the quality of our staff. That would be a tragedy, a tragedy, though, that we can avoid if we give the problems the attention they deserve.  We must do just that.

Many of the challenges we face, that I described earlier, especially the challenge of competing effectively for faculty, students and staff, and the challenge of holding on to the qualities of life that we treasure, lead me to know we must be bold in our planning.  As one example, I propose that we begin thinking about a new expanded version of Aggie Village.  Aggie Village, for those of you who are new, was an experiment -- a small housing community with an adjacent commercial site, built to help accommodate the housing needs of our faculty and staff. It turned out to be a true addition of quality to our city and to our university.  Considering the growth that is coming, the cost of housing for all of our constituencies, and other needs with which this community must come to grips, we will be presenting, during the long-range development process, the possibility of adding a similar but larger community, either on university property or immediately adjacent.  Two or three possible locations will be under consideration as part of the long-range development plan process. 

Imagine, if you will, a new community that would take into account the need for housing for all of our constituencies, faculty, staff, and students.  The units would sell at below market prices, with controlled appreciation, and controlled resale. This community would also be an environmentally friendly community on several accounts.  It would eliminate the need for car transportation that remote housing would cause.  It would, itself, be served by pollution-free transportation -- mostly bikes, but, as needed, clean-air public transportation vehicles, as well.  In sum, the newest, best ideas in planned communities would be incorporated into this new university community.

Some of these ideas, ideas that would enhance our larger community, are already coming to us for our consideration, as I mentioned earlier.  For instance, are there ways we can positively interact with and enhance the Davis school system?  In fact the Davis superintendent and school board members have already initiated discussions with us about the ways in which we can collaborate to face the growth challenge effectively and, most importantly, creatively.  As well, we know that as our society ages there will be an increasing need for retirement and continuous care facilities.  Collaboration with our medical center would seem to make this a natural for this new University Community.  Who knows what additional creative ideas will be forthcoming during the long range development process?  There will be many, I am sure.

To meet this challenge of growth we will need extraordinary efforts from all quarters.  Students and alumni must ask, "What can I do to make sure that those that follow me will have the same good experience that I had?"  Our communications and our governmental relations people must ask, "What can we do to assure that people are well informed about the changes we face?"  Each of us must ask, “What role can I play in shaping the future of UC Davis?  What special contribution can I make to help the campus succeed in the decade ahead?”  Plenty of challenges to be sure, but -- an adventure as well.

And so, let me close by telling all of you that it will be an adventure -- an adventure that can result in a greater sense of community, both on campus and between the campus and our neighbors.  I am determined that we will do this right.  I want you, as well, to be determined that we will do this right.  We will respond to the coming challenges with dedication and success and our campus will emerge much the better for our effort.  We are, after all, UC Davis, part of the great University of California, and dedication, success and excellence are what we are all about.

Thank you very much.