UC Davis plans to build graduate programs in downtown Sacramento and a new veterinary hospital on its main campus as part of its “University of the 21st Century” plan, which includes an estimated $2 billion in construction projects, university officials announced Tuesday.
“As a land grant institution and the public research university of this capital region, it is our obligation to be at the cutting edge of these efforts and an additional campus in Sacramento is essential to those efforts,” Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said during the school’s fall convocation at the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts.
Although Katehi made no mention of the downtown Sacramento railyard in the speech, she told The Sacramento Bee last week that the site remains among a handful being considered. The satellite campus would include two new schools, one focusing on population and global health and another a public policy institute. The schools would offer master’s degree programs, but could be expanded to undergraduate programs in the future depending on demand, Katehi said.
UC Davis joins two other major academic institutions in proposing satellite campuses in downtown Sacramento. The University of the Pacific and Sacramento State in the last year have also announced plans to open public policy schools near the state Capitol.
“We want to be visible,” Katehi said in an interview. “We are the only UC so close to the state Capitol. … We need to create a name and a brand in the policy area. Whether it is food, water, energy sustainability or health, I think we can play an amazing role. That is my goal.”
She envisions a think tank of faculty on the Sacramento campus who can advise state lawmakers and officials. The campus would include student and faculty housing, offices for an extension program that will offer online master’s degree programs, as well as clinics and wellness activities.
The “University of the 21st Century” plan was developed in a yearlong discussion between university officials, staff, students and community members. The 10- to 20-year proposal, including plans for the Sacramento campus, will go before the UC Board of Regents next spring.
“The moment the regents approve it, we will start immediately,” Katehi said. She expects the first building would be completed on the Sacramento campus within three years.
Michael Lairmore, dean of the university’s school of veterinary medicine, broke the news Tuesday that a new veterinary hospital is expected to be completed on the Davis campus by 2026. The hospital is still in the planning stages and has yet to be approved by the Board of Regents.
As part of the plan, Katehi said the university will spend a minimum of $2 billion to renovate older buildings and build new ones on the Davis campus over the next 10 years. The campus currently has $1.3 billion in deferred maintenance – the highest in the UC system, Katehi told The Bee.
Construction already in the pipeline includes the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, which will cost $30 million and open by the 2016-17 school year. The school also is building a North Extension on the UC Davis Hospital in Sacramento.
One key proposal is a $400 million chemistry discovery complex that will focus on everything from cancer research to air pollution and nutrition.
“No university is as well-positioned as UC Davis to find solutions,” said Katehi during the convocation. “We have been developing the necessary expertise for a long time. Now, with the right framework and vision, we can make even greater contributions to the search for answers to these and other big challenges.”
Katehi said the vision of UC Davis as a “University of the 21st Century” ensures that students come first. One goal is to improve four-year graduation rates from 55 percent to 75 percent, which will “save them and their families money and free up space to provide access to more students who want a UC Davis education,” Katehi said.
In an effort to improve four-year graduation rates at the university, the campus is adding counselors, offering more core classes, working with community colleges to ensure units are eligible for transfer and creating student communities to help first-year students navigate college. The school also hopes to experiment with a handful of undergraduate classes taught by fellow students.
Carolyn Penny, the UC Davis director of campus dialogue and deliberation, said the message that students are the focus of the campus resonated deeply with her. “It’s our shared calling to inspire our students regardless of role,” she said. “It’s an explicit statement … that all of us have the responsibility.”
UC Davis, which had 25,515 undergraduates enrolled in the spring quarter, is halfway to its goal of adding 5,000 undergraduates between 2011 and 2020.
To meet their needs, the school plans to hire 650 new faculty by 2022. The increase adds 300 faculty positions and replaces 350 who will retire. Katehi said 45 percent of the faculty hired in the last three years have been women, 14 percent underrepresented minorities.
Research will remain a mainstay of the university, with a goal of obtaining $1 billion in grants annually by 2020. The campus won $786 million in research grants last year. It was the fourth consecutive year the university earned over $700 million in research grants.
Campus officials also announced that UC Davis’ endowment fund reached a record $1 billion during the 2015 fiscal year.