A Message From the Dean - May 2020

An aerial shot of the UC Davis campus.

Engaging thoughtfully with resolve to move us forward

There are numerous reasons the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is a world leader in so many areas—bright students, hard-working staff and, of course, the willingness of our faculty to innovate and seek opportunities to keep California moving ahead whatever the circumstances.

The campus received good news last week from QS World University Rankings. We continue to hold our number one national ranking for agriculture, and now, in the organization’s first USA rankings, UC Davis is tied for first in diversity and internationalization. This ranking is a testimony to our commitment to the values of diversity and equity, and our global engagement. In the overall USA rankings, UC Davis is ranked seventh among public universities and fourth among those in California.

It’s in the fabric of the university to find silver linings and lay the groundwork for the future. I see signs of this as I look around and learn about our faculty research, even as they shelter in place. For instance, food security has certainly been on the minds of many people. Food production, safety and access are important to our livelihood and have become increasingly critical topics during this pandemic. A recent panel discussion with members of our faculty and industry representatives provided greater insight into the realities of our food supply, and while there have been disruptions in production and distribution from the COVID-19 pandemic, they will not last. The message from this dialogue of respected experts is that our food supply is largely resilient and will pass this “stress test” with a deeper appreciation for California’s diverse agriculture and environmental and human health. If you would like to watch this panel discussion, “Food Shortages in a Pandemic,” it was recorded and is available for viewing.

In other areas of the college, our faculty are looking at how many of us have adjusted our lives to working, teaching and learning remotely and how the essential role of internet access has come into heightened focus, including those areas in California where connectivity is limited. This pandemic is shining a light on several inequities among our communities, which provides us with the opportunity to collect data and support efforts for change.

Our researchers also see an opportunity to increase participation in clinical trials for some rural populations that experience significant health disparities such as heart disease and diabetes. Research efforts could be augmented by using community centers, regional facilities and other community partners to digitally advance health care delivery and chronic disease prevention. Read more about this important subject in an article on the opportunity for researchers to decrease digital divide.

I can assure you that while there are still a lot of unknowns, the college and the university are as committed as ever to our mission to serve the public. We are resilient, flexible and focused, and when we engage thoughtfully, and with the resolve we are known for, we will create the opportunities to respond to society’s needs and shape our future.