Wrapping up the 2016-17 Year

June 28, 2017

Dear Senate Colleagues,

As summer begins, I want to thank our committee members for their service these past nine months. Committee work requires patience, as decisions via consensus are sometimes cumbersome and often non-linear. In the end, though, this work is vital to the success of our students and faculty. I am grateful for all who rise to the challenge. 

Last fall, I mentioned that UC Davis is accustomed to growth, change, and challenge—and what a year it has been for all three. Our campus continues to adapt to local issues, such as our larger than anticipated enrollment growth and budget realignments, and to broader ones, some of which pulled our campus into the center of national conversations. Many thanks to Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter and Interim Provost Ken Burtis for guiding the campus during this time of transition and adjustment.

It will be challenging for UC Davis to maintain momentum when external uncertainties complicate our long-term planning, as noted by Interim Chancellor Hexter at the State of the Campus address at the Senate’s winter quarter Representative Assembly meeting. As always, the Senate will participate in strategic campus planning and will continue, even in uncertain times, to advocate for our core values: an accessible, rigorous, and timely education for our students; the success of our faculty and staff; and contributions to the economy and society of California and beyond.

The Senate made headway this year on important initiatives. As a few highlights, we completed our third round of undergraduate program reviews and have initiated the fourth; these reviews evaluate programs’ success in achieving student learning outcomes and assess if programs are receiving adequate resources, so that the provost and deans can make budgetary decisions informed by academic needs. We examined campus challenges with academic integrity, which our educational policy committees will continue to address as necessary. And we participated in the hiring of, and initial conversations with, Chancellor-designate May. He and Senate leadership have already discussed how the Senate and his administration can collaborate in coming years, and I very much look forward to his arrival on August 1. 

On a related note, I have spent time this year reflecting on UC’s model of shared governance. To be effective, shared governance between faculty and administrators requires strong expertise leveraged by strong relationships. In any system of distributed authorities and checks and balances, there will be disagreements and tough conversations. If the Senate is frustrated with administrative processes or decisions, it is my job as chair to turn those frustrations into dialogues—to ensure that disagreements are discussed candidly and resolved with mutual satisfaction and respect. And if our administrative partners have frustrations with the Senate, we expect them to open a dialogue, too. 

In other words, effective shared governance requires a substantial investment of time and trust by all involved, so thank you for the investments you have already made. Collaborative, enduring institutional excellence is a focused marathon, not a haphazard sprint. I encourage us to remember this as we reflect on the past year and set our priorities for the next.

Finally, I would like to thank you, as faculty, for continuing to address the world’s most pressing questions in your research and teaching, and for making UC Davis the respected public institution it is. Your work is truly world-class.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful summer. See you in the fall! 

Sincerely,

Rachael E. Goodhue
Chair, Davis Division of the Academic Senate
Professor and Chair, Agricultural and Resource Economics