Late last week, Chancellor Linda Katehi announced that Steve Currall, Dean of the Graduate School of Management would be appointed as an adviser on UC Davis’ possible opening of a third campus, and as a catalyst between UC Davis and the Northern California business community.
Chancellor Katehi, according to UC Davis Dateline, “is exploring the idea of having a campus closer to the state capital in Sacramento as a way to enhance UC Davis’ contributions to and impact on public policy in areas such as food, health and the environment.”
“Effective Oct. 1, Steve will serve in the role of chancellor’s adviser and will act as a liaison with campus stakeholders and various external communities during the planning discussions about a possible third UC Davis campus,” the chancellor wrote in a letter to the campus community.
Mr. Currall will step down as dean, and the chancellor and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter will appoint an interim dean as the Oct. 1 transition date draws closer.
Mr. Currall assumed the deanship in July 2009, coming to UC Davis from London, where he was a vice dean and faculty member with joint positions at University College London and the London Business School.
Looking back on Mr. Currall’s five years as GSM dean, Chancellor Katehi wrote: “The school has grown in both size and stature and I am deeply appreciative of Steve’s work and leadership to enhance the reputation and accomplishments of the school.”
Assemblymember Mariko Yamada released a statement on Monday, “Recent news of a possible ‘Third Campus’ for UC Davis has raised both great interest and concern, especially with regard to the location of the existing UC Davis World Food Center. Dean Steve Currall’s appointment and a stakeholder advisory body whose membership is in formation will help address both dynamics.”
“The concept of leveraging UC Davis’ proximity to the State Capitol is clearly worthy of exploration, and discussions around such a project must be thoughtful, inclusive and transparent,” the Assemblymember stated. “Because the existing World Food Center (WFC) and the Third Campus proposal may be associated in the future, I encourage all parties to consider regional impacts. With multiple agricultural leaders, a rich farming heritage and community support, I am deeply committed to maintaining the WFC’s primary functions in Yolo County. I appreciate Chancellor Katehi’s invitation to provide input, and look forward to participating in the dialogue as the vision proceeds.”
Last month it leaked out that plans were in place to potentially put the World Food Center at the railyards in Sacramento.
The university backed away from that report, however, and a source told the Vanguard in May that there were no firm plans about the placement of the potentially $1 billion center and that faculty are balking at the notion of relocating to Sacramento.
The chancellor sent out a release which formally announced plans to create an advisory group of deans, faculty, staff and students to help UC Davis explore the academic program for a possible new campus in Sacramento.
According to the release, Chancellor Katehi first mentioned the idea of a third campus in her annual State of the Campus presentation to the Academic Senate in February. At that time, she said the campus would emphasize UC Davis’ commitment to education, research, clinical and policy aspirations with a focus on food, health and the environment.
“Because of our location, history and expertise, UC Davis is in a unique position to be an even greater positive source for California state government and policy than we have been in the past,” Chancellor Katehi said in a letter announcing her plans to create the advisory group to help crystallize the vision for a third campus.
“To take full advantage of that opportunity and raise the profile and reputation of the entire university, we have been thinking for some time about developing a third campus somewhere in Sacramento,” she wrote. “The time is now right to begin moving forward with this process.”
Mayor Joe Krovoza declined further comment on Monday, but back in May he issued a statement as well, noting, “The city of Davis looks forward to our continuing collaboration with UC Davis to support their increasing global prominence and resultant economic development.”
The mayor sees the proposed RFEI on a potential innovation park as a path forward for both the university and the city of Davis.
“With respect to the World Food Center, our Davis innovation park plan creates 450 acres of available land for companies and campus development,” the mayor said. “Davis is ideally suited to play a significant role for the growth of the food center. Our community is in a unique position to support the expansion of research on campus, and companies and visiting scholars that connect to campus research.”
Mayor Krovoza, who is leaving office after an unsuccessful run for State Assembly, added, “Our long list of community assets that would support the innovation from the World Food Center include close proximity to unrivaled agricultural lands and our leadership in food systems, as demonstrated by our internationally recognized Farmers Market. We look forward to continued engagement with UC Davis on this exciting venture and believe that success of the food center is a regional and global benefit.”
In her letter dated June 19, 2014, Chancellor Katehi wrote that she has been “exploring the possibility of developing a third UC Davis campus closer to the California Capitol in Sacramento to enhance our contributions to and impact on public policy in areas such as food, health and the environment.”
She said, “Very shortly, I will announce the members of a visioning committee for this initiative. The initial task of this committee is to help us craft a plan that engages the UC Davis campus community and regional stakeholders in developing a bold and exciting vision for the possibilities relative to a third campus.”
She sees Steve Currall as the leader who can advance this process.
She added, “In addition to his role as an adviser to me on the vision and possibility of a third campus, I have also asked Steve to serve as a catalyst between UC Davis and the business community in California and, more specifically, the greater Northern California region. In this regard, his primary responsibility will be to strengthen existing relationships and partnerships between UC Davis and California businesses and to explore possible new partnerships.”
What this means for the location of the World Food Center is anyone’s guess.
—David M. Greenwald reporting