Welcome to the New Year - Academic Senate Priorities

September 20, 2016

Dear Senate Colleagues,

Welcome back! I hope you had a refreshing summer and are excited for the 2016-17 academic year.

My name is Rachael Goodhue, and I am your Chair for 2016-18. Jon Rossini is your Vice Chair. We are only two of many faculty who will be serving this year, and to them we give our sincerest thanks. Please see here for a full list of committee chairs and members.

UC Davis is accustomed to growth, change, and challenge. Born as the small University Farm, today we educate the most California undergraduates of the ten UC campuses. One in every 204 Californians, in fact, is a UC Davis alum. We offer a high quality, accessible education to an increasingly diverse student community, even as state support for higher education has faltered. Now, as our enrollment increases and our search for a chancellor commences, UC Davis is again growing and changing. As a Division, we have the opportunity to help shape this new period of growth and solve the accompanying challenges.

Beginning this month, the Division will take part in hiring a new chancellor. Our representatives will ensure the new chancellor understands the Academic Senate’s responsibilities to the campus and value as a partner to the administration. UC Davis flourishes through shared governance, as it takes a true partnership between faculty and administrators to achieve the campus’s goals. I look forward to building this partnership with the new chancellor.

Next, divisional leadership has established two main priorities, in the form of questions, to address this year. While these are divisional priorities, they are campuswide in nature, and I encourage the entire campus community to be involved in the answers.

First, how can we ensure that our undergraduate students are able to graduate in four years (if they wish to do so), while maintaining their access to a high-quality education? We must be innovative in our use of instructional resources and in the delivery of curriculum. Regarding resources, the Division will continue to facilitate the Four Year Degree Initiative, which brings together several campus units to assess and revise how we utilize classroom space, provide resources for impacted classes, coordinate waitlists, advise students, and much more. Regarding educational quality, the Division will discuss how to maintain academic integrity in our digital age, and will continue to assess our campus’s programs, courses, and curricula to ensure that learning outcomes are of the highest caliber and are evaluated routinely.

Second, how can we maintain an environment that fosters excellence in research and responds to the needs of faculty? Our research infrastructure needs critical investments, both in physical terms and in administrative functions. In conjunction with our administrative partners, the Division has been studying these problems and this year will focus on identifying and enacting solutions. The Committee on Research recently surveyed faculty to understand what factors hinder research quality and productivity; the Committee’s report will help prioritize corrective actions. In addition, the Division will continue to work with administrative partners through two recently charged task forces: the Animal Care Task Force and the Joint Task Force on Organized Research Units. The Animal Care Taskforce (a special committee of the Executive Council) will consider investments in rodent-related infrastructure, the restructuring of rodent recharge costs, and long-term solutions for administrative oversight of, and planning for, animal research on campus. From this collaboration, the administration has already committed to building a new $15 million cage wash facility. The Joint Task Force on Organized Research Units will assess the roles and operations of the myriad of research units housed across campus, and will recommend new guidelines for streamlining and increasing transparency across these units.

To guide our work on these priorities, the Division is reaffirming three operating principles: transparent communication, collaboration, and efficiency. Transparent, open communication helps parties understand each other’s priorities and values, strengthening collaborations in turn. For the benefit of the university at large, it behooves us all—as individuals, and through our units—to maintain and deepen strong, collaborative working relationships during this time of change. In reaffirming our operating principles, the Division commits to leading by example, and we encourage the campus community to join us in valuing not only what we do, but how we do it.

In this spirit, the Senate office is working to make Senate service a more efficient and meaningful experience for faculty. The Senate office will be updating ASIS (the Academic Senate Information System) to improve communications within committees, and will be updating the divisional website to showcase how Senate service affects students, faculty, and the campus overall.

In closing, UC Davis is a world-class university that continues to build upon its century-old foundations of teaching, research, and public service. By shaping our growth and addressing our challenges collaboratively, I am confident we can preserve access to the high-quality education we have long offered and maintain the excellence in research we have long pioneered. Together these priorities will uphold and heighten our missions as a leading land-grant university.

Thank you very much, and my best wishes to you for Fall quarter and the new academic year.


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