The selection of Gary May as the seventh chancellor at UC Davis could take it to the next level as a research university and as a partner in the Sacramento region.
He is an academic star after nearly 30 years at Georgia Tech, and since 2011 dean of its highly rated engineering school, which graduates more engineers than any other in America. He has ties to California, having earned a master’s degree and doctorate from UC Berkeley.
He is a national leader for increasing the numbers of African Americans and Latinos in science and technology fields – so crucial in our diverse state for future innovation and job growth.
And UC President Janet Napolitano, who picked May from 525 candidates, has promised that the new chancellor would be committed to strengthening ties between UC Davis and the city of Sacramento.
For all the faults that led to her forced resignation in August after seven years at the helm, former Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi understood the importance of UC Davis to the economic development of the Sacramento region and acted upon it.
We hope May will follow through on Katehi’s vision for expanding the UC Davis presence in Sacramento, possibly a satellite campus or a food-related center. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon immediately tweeted their congratulations Tuesday and said they looked forward to working with May.
On Thursday, the UC Board of Regents is to ratify his appointment and set his salary. He is to start Aug. 1.
May, 52, declined comment Wednesday at the request of Napolitano’s office. She made clear what she was looking for – someone who will boost the stature of UC Davis, will be accessible to students and faculty, and will build bridges with Davis and Sacramento – and says that May fits that profile.
It is his advocacy for racial diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) that has won him national acclaim, including an award presented by President Barack Obama in 2015. May says his passion on the issue grew from discrimination he faced during his own career, and points out that a predominantly white male workforce in science and engineering doesn’t fit America’s changing demographics.
There’s no better place than UC Davis for May to make a real difference in diversity in science.