Students learning to use a drone in the "Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems for Agriculture and Environmental Science" class last year.
Students learning to use a drone in the "Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems for Agriculture and Environmental Science" class last year.

A Message From the Dean - October 2020

Invest in our shared future through the UC Davis Expect Greater fundraising campaign


On October 10, UC Davis publicly launched its most ambitious fundraising effort ever. The goal: raise $2 billion over eight years for programs, research, people and projects to propel the university’s efforts to address the challenges and opportunities facing California, our country and the world. The theme for this fundraising campaign is “Expect Greater: From UC Davis, For the World.”

We are grateful to our donors who already contributed more than $200 million toward the college’s $500 million goal. They give because they believe in the power of our transformative research and innovative curriculum that impacts agriculture, the environment and our communities. With your support, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will be instrumental in achieving that goal.

You may be familiar with some of the “Big Ideas” our faculty are actively researching, developing and promoting. One example is Smart Farm, which is helping launch a new era in agriculture and food production—thanks to collaborations with industry and philanthropic partners. We’re working to improve our understanding of how plants respond to their environment, enhance animal welfare, address food safety, turn big data into useful applications, and minimize agriculture’s environmental footprint while increasing productivity. We are designing, building and testing advanced robotics and sensors that respond to crop needs and promise to fundamentally transform farming for the future. Read about projects that are making a difference under the Smart Farm umbrella.

The Big Ideas concept began several years ago with a call out to faculty, staff and students on how the university could more proactively help solve society’s greatest challenges. The people in our college—and our community of donors—have embraced this idea and are engaged in several Big Ideas through the university’s strategic plan. The One Climate Initiative is focused on developing global climate solutions by accelerating groundbreaking science and practical interventions. This initiative embraces a holistic approach and integrates across disciplines with partners in industry, government, NGOs and communities. It prioritizes human health and environmental justice and will create a new model for how public research institutions partner with stakeholders for the greater good.

One of the things that’s unique about UC Davis is the broad array of experiential learning opportunities we provide for our students. They get hands-on experience not only through their classes, but also through internships, field trips and independent research projects that provide valuable skills to prepare them for future careers. In our college, we offer some of the most exciting, real-world experiences to be found on campus—or anywhere, for that matter—whether a student’s interest is in agriculture, the environment or in human and social sciences.

In addition to supporting activities outside the classroom, we are also committed to attracting and retaining a diverse group of students. Scholarships help students defray tuition and other costs of attending so they have the time to focus on academics rather than worrying about how to pay for their education or taking on part-time work to put themselves through college. During the 2019–2020 academic year, our college awarded 137 scholarships totaling more than $1.5 million to 663 undergraduate students and 55 fellowships totaling more than $580,000 to 100 graduate students. Think of the difference this support has made in the lives of our dedicated students!

These are extraordinary and challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic upended our sense of normal and disrupted our lives in ways no one thought possible. But we haven’t stopped teaching, researching, learning and working to serve California and the world. Indeed, the faculty, staff and students stepped up to meet this and many other challenges this year in truly admirable ways. These efforts and our continual pursuit of excellence are the essential ingredients we need at this time to move society forward.

UC Davis is known the world over as a place that gives people the opportunity to discover who they are, cultivate their skills and talents, and reveal the character they have to be the leaders of tomorrow. We need them now more than ever.

And we need your support in this fundraising effort to help us create equitable communities, a more prosperous economy and a healthier environment. We invite you to join us through your support of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Across our college’s 14 departments, there are many programs where philanthropic gifts can deepen our strengths in areas such as food safety, soil health, behavioral economics, plant pathology, animal welfare, atmospheric science, nutritional biology, chronic disease prevention and many more. You can learn about philanthropic opportunities in the college here. By making investments in teaching, research and facilities, together we can advance discovery and education in these and other fields for generations to come.

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