Through it all, he persevered in other major initiatives, including Aggie Square — a workspace for innovation and community engagement, not to mention an estimated economic impact of nearly $5 billion per year in the Sacramento area. He began working on Aggie Square even before taking office, working with Mayor Steinberg and others to pull together all the pieces, such as job opportunities and housing assistance for nearby residents.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place in February 2022 and construction is underway on the fenced site. It’s on the Sacramento campus but involves all of UC Davis, a sign of a new synergy between the Davis and Sacramento campuses.
The Neighborhood in Aggie Square the program, for example, is already operational, for undergraduate students in cohorts focused on topics such as transformative justice; biomedical engineering, policy and health care policy; and immigrants, refugees and human rights. Each “experience,” as they are called, includes multiple courses, an internship or research, and community involvement. And, when Aggie Square is built, many students will live there.
“Intolerance will not win”
Just weeks after taking office, Chancellor May found himself in Davis’ Central Park speaking at a Unit muster following the tragic death of a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia, who was hit by a car while participating in a counter-protest against white nationalists who had come to the home of the University of Virginia to spew their hatred . The driver was later convicted of first degree murder.
“I’ve spent the last few days thinking about what the tragic events in Charlottesville mean for UC Davis,” May told the crowd of 300, many of whom were seeing and hearing the new chancellor for the first time. “The images of an armed and angry crowd marching with torches on a university campus and chanting racist slogans were infuriating and frightening.
“We cannot allow our institutions of higher learning to become centers of ideologies contrary to all that our nation stands for. At times like these, I draw inspiration from a favorite saying of Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends downward. justice.”
“Intolerance will not win.”
In a letter to the campus community, Chancellor May drew a sharp distinction between free speech and what he saw in Charlottesville: the provocation of violence. This would be the first of many hate-themed messages from him.