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UPDATED: Napolitano reports to regents on West Village 'learning and living'

11.13.2013

‘Commitment to students’

Wednesday night (Oct. 23), after dinner at the Chancellor’s Residence, Napolitano and the chancellor went to the Coffee House for a casual meeting with Carly Sandstrom and Bradley Bottoms, president and vice president, respectively, of the ASUCD — which operates the Coffee House.

Two student managers gave Napolitano a behind-the-scenes tour, taking her into the kitchen to see where all the CoHo favorites come from, and the cleanup work that was under way as closing time neared.

Bottoms said Napolitano was interested in all of the ASUCD’s enterprises, from the CoHo to Unitrans to the Bike Barn. “And we gave her an Aggie Pack shirt,” he said.

Sandstrom added: “UC Davis is very student-centric, and the president really sees that.”

At midday Thursday (Oct. 24), Napolitano met with some two dozen students — including Sandstrom — over box lunches at the Welcome Center. Well, everyone had a box lunch except for Napolitano, who had learned of the CoHo’s taco salad the night before and commented that she would like to try one.

“So we made it happen,” Sandstrom said. “And she absolutely loved it.”

Sandstrom said Napolitano, at the lunch meeting, “really showed her commitment to students. She was very candid, answering questions, asking questions.”

UPDATE (Nov. 13): During her visit to UC Davis in late October, the university’s new president, Janet Napolitano, stayed the night in a UC Davis West Village apartment. Today, in remarks at her first meeting of the Board of Regents, she described the remarkable reality of West Village.

“I fell asleep in an actual living laboratory — now, some of my college science professors might say, yes, that's the Janet we remember — but this was different,” she said. She had slept at UC Davis West Village, the largest planned zero net energy community in the country.

“On the ground floor, they're researching batteries, energy, water, all in the quest for sustainability. On the floors above, students, faculty and staff live and work side by side, in structures that make use of the green technologies being explored below.

“And the beauty of it is this: What's being learned and lived in West Village will someday, if all goes according to plan, be scaled up and exported to all of California, the nation, the world.

Napolitano also talked about the Sacramento City College Davis Center, at one corner of the UC Davis West Village town square.

UC Davis and Sacramento City College devised the center — the only community college outpost on a UC campus — in an effort to increase community college transfer rates to UC, described by Napolitano as “a noble and necessary goal.”

“One idea behind the West Village project is that, by studying in close proximity to UC students, low-income and first-generation two-year-college students will be encouraged to believe that a UC education is within their reach.”

•••

In reporting on Napolitano's visit, Dateline UC Davis posted its first story on Oct. 24, then updated it on Oct. 28. The Oct. 28 update appears below:

By Dave Jones

After hosting UC President Janet Napolitano last week, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi came away even more convinced that “President Napolitano will be a transformational leader for the UC system.”

“She is truly committed to keeping the world class education offered by UC Davis affordable for families and will be an outstanding advocate for our efforts to add 5,000 students and 300 faculty to our ranks by 2020,” the chancellor said.

The new UC president spent about a day and a half on the Davis and Sacramento campuses, Wednesday-Thursday, Oct. 23-24.

Napolitano, the former secretary of Homeland Security and governor of Arizona, met students, staff and faculty; heard from undergraduates about their interdisciplinary research; saw medical students in a training session at the Center for Virtual Care; and caught up with ASUCD leaders in a nighttime visit to the Coffee House.

She spent Wednesday night in an apartment at UC Davis West Village, the university’s model of sustainability, and arose on Thursday for visits with faculty, students and others associated with transportation and energy research programs housed at West Village.

There’s “amazing innovation and creativity going on at these campuses, and it’s wonderful to see the students, what they’re doing,” she said, referring to UC Davis and the other UC locations — four campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — she has visited since she took office as the UC president on Sept. 30.

“These campus visits are not intended to serve any ceremonial or publicity purposes,” she said in a mid-October email message to the university community. “Rather, they are meant to allow me, as a newcomer, an opportunity to listen and learn about the challenges and opportunities faced on each campus, and to hear from as many perspectives as possible.”

Pedal Power Pavement Project

Katehi greeted Napolitano upon her arrival Wednesday afternoon, and they walked from Mrak Hall to Ghausi Hall, in the engineering district, to visit with undergrads and graduate students in a lab.

“She liked our presentation and thought it would be really useful,” said Richard Lee, a third-year student in civil and environmental engineering. He and one of his teammates spoke outside the lab about their interdisciplinary project: the Davis Bike Pavement Management System.

It’s an inventory and analysis of city of Davis bicycle paths, with an added bonus: a first-of-its-kind priority system for maintenance, Lee said. The team, which goes by the name Pedal Power Pavement Project, is doing the work for less than $1,000 — funded by a UC Davis grant.

Melinda Zavala, a fifth-year student in aerospace and mechanical engineering, said Napolitano is doing exactly what she should be doing as the university president: talking with students about their work.

As for being chosen to present his research to the president, Lee said: “It makes me feel like I’ve made some good choices, like coming to UC Davis.”

More listening

Napolitano’s schedule also included meetings with the Academic Senate’s Executive Council and the Academic Federation’s leadership, Staff Assembly leaders, the health system’s leadership, and deans and faculty members involved in establishing the UC Davis World Food Center.

Bruno Nachtergaele, chair of the Academic Senate, said Napolitano “asked us what we would like her to do.”

“So we talked about working with Sacramento and the public of California to explain what a great place this is and why it’s important to support it — and how (UC) can make a difference in the life of Californians and the big issues that face California: its water, its climate, its food and health.”

The senate’s Executive Council also stressed the need to do more to attract and support top graduate students.

Davis and Sacramento campus staff leaders met jointly with Napolitano. “I found her to be very down-to-earth, and, in my opinion, she made us all feel at ease,” said Lina Layikatez, the Davis campus Staff Assembly chair.

As Napolitano had done with faculty, she asked staff what they would do, if they were in her shoes. Layikatez said the conversation touched on salary and diversity issues, mentorship opportunities and career management, and the need for a way for staff to communicate directly with Napolitano, in a safe manner.

A look at telemedicine

At the UC Davis Health System, Napolitano visited the pediatric intensive care unit, or PICU, the Institute for Regenerative Cures and the MIND Institute, as well as the Center for Virtual Care, where medical students work with automated mannequins.

“President Napolitano was very supportive of and engaged in what we do here in the PICU,” said Judie Boehmer, director of Patient Care Services at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

She said Napolitano was very interested in the health system’s telemedicine services — and got to see a conference in progress between the health system and Lodi. “She was very pleased to see what we do to support rural hospitals in California,” Boehmer said.

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