UC President Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday that she has selected Gary May, a UC Berkeley alumnus and dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering, to become the seventh chancellor of UC Davis.
The UC Board of Regents will vote on May’s appointment Thursday at UCLA. If approved, May will take over from interim UC Davis Chancellor Ralph Hexler on Aug. 1, according to a UC Office of the President press release.
Hexler replaced Linda Katehi as chancellor last August after an investigation found that Katehi had violated multiple university policies. While Katehi was chancellor, the UC Davis administration allegedly paid consultants $175,000 to filter search results pertaining to an 2011 incident in which a former UC Davis police officer pepper-sprayed multiple student demonstrators.
“(May) was chosen from an extraordinarily talented pool of candidates because I believe he’s the right person to guide UC Davis to even greater heights,” Napolitano said in the press release.
May, who earned his master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from UC Berkeley, joined the faculty of Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering in 1991. May is the co-creator of Georgia Tech’s Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Science, or FACES, program, which has helped 433 minority students earn doctorates in science or engineering, according to the press release.
“Gary has led the largest, greatest and most diverse college of engineering in the US,” said Laurence Jacobs, associate dean in the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech who has worked with May for almost 20 years, in an email.
In addition to his accomplishments in engineering, May is widely recognized for his mentorship. He was honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring by President Barack Obama in 2015.
Raheem Beyah, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech, called May his “life mentor,” adding that May is the reason he became a professor. Beyah said he and May have worked together since May served on Beyah’s doctoral candidate panel in graduate school.
“When I saw the announcement, my reaction was ‘It’s time to build him his own building,’ ” Beyah said. “When I have a big decision to make, he’s the key guy I go to. He’s always available, no matter how busy he is.”
UC Davis spokesperson Dana Topousis said in an email that UC Davis is excited about the announcement of the May’s selection but said she could not comment further until the appointment is confirmed by the regents.
Napolitano’s announcement for UC Davis’ seventh chancellor comes in the midst of UC Berkeley’s own chancellor search. The search process, which began in October, is scheduled to end in March, with the approval of a candidate by the regents.
ASUC President Will Morrow said he was unable to provide specifics about the progress of the chancellor search but indicated that the search is on track.