A Life Flight helicopter approaches the medical center roof.

Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis

A History of Community Outreach

by | May 1, 2018 | Environment, Health, Spring/Summer 2018, What's Next

As one of his first initiatives, our new chancellor is partnering with Sacramento leaders on an innovation hub in Sacramento.

It’s called Aggie Square. Inspired by a similar initiative Chancellor Gary May helped bring to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, the idea is to develop a state-of-the-art live/learn/work/play environment built for collaboration. Here startup companies would take university research and develop commercial products for the marketplace. Students would have opportunities for internships that could turn into jobs.

May is following UC Davis’ tradition of serving communities across the state. Significantly, we offer our public service where the communities live.

A UC Davis research boat on Lake Tahoe

Above: A UC Davis research boat on Lake Tahoe (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

This tradition started in 1914 when the University of California sought to show its commitment to working with people “beyond the ivory tower” and created the California Agricultural Extension Service (now called UC Cooperative Extension), which placed university agents in counties to offer research and education in those communities.

Lake Tahoe became a prime example of public service in 1959 when limnologist Charles Goldman started measuring the lake’s water quality. His research linked runaway development in the watershed to an alarming decline in the lake’s world-famous clarity. The building boom clouded the waters with sediment-laden runoff and rising volumes of poorly treated sewage that emptied into the lake. The findings by Goldman and colleagues were pivotal in decisions to upgrade wastewater treatment and pipe the effluent outside of the basin. Their systematic water sampling and analysis also gave land-use regulators the scientific backing to rein in development and keep Tahoe blue.

Beyond preserving “one of the most beautiful places in the world,” Sid England, retired assistant vice chancellor of environmental stewardship and sustainability, said Goldman’s legacy is the 2006 Tahoe Environmental Research Center in Incline Village, Nevada, set up to continue monitoring the lake’s ecological health.

Though it encompasses numerous high-rise hospitals and service centers in central Sacramento, the UC Davis Medical Center has been a health leader for four decades.

From the school’s opening in 1968, founding dean John Tupper knew he needed a to give the fledgling medical school and its 50 students access to enough patients to provide topnotch training. The university and Sacramento County, however, were in snarled negotiations over the county hospital, and the county decided to end its contract in 1972, according to Ann Scheuring in the campus history Abundant Harvest.

Tupper and California Assemblyman Gordon Duffy changed the dynamics. The dean obtained a $5 million grant increasing the number of family practitioners (and doubling our medical student body). And, Duffy “issued an ultimatum,” according to Scheuring, that Sacramento County and the university come to an agreement. In 1972, we bought the hospital for $1 (and for another $8 million bought associated buildings, 12 acres of the old fairground and equipment).

Now patients throughout the western region of the United States have access to one of the only three Level I trauma centers in California for pediatric and adult trauma care with one of the country’s best medical schools and a nationally ranked teaching hospital.