Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis

Regents Confirm Gary May as Chancellor

May 30, 2017 | On Campus, Spring/Summer 2017

UC Davis has its seventh chancellor, Gary S. May, engineering dean at the Georgia Institute of Technology, confirmed by unanimous vote of the Board of Regents at a special meeting on Feb. 23.

“When I was preparing for my interviews, reading the material that was prepared for me, describing Davis … words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘diversity’ and ‘upward mobility’ and ‘social good’ [stood out], and these were all concepts and attributes that really spoke to my own spirit and really motivated me to want to be in this role,” May told the regents after the vote.

May assumes his new position on Aug. 1. Ralph J. Hexter has been leading the campus on an interim basis since last April, and he will return to his former post, provost and executive vice chancellor, upon May’s arrival.

In an email message to the campus community after the regents meeting, Hexter said he was “deeply honored” to continue on as interim chancellor, at UC President Janet Napolitano’s request. “I could not be more proud of how we have come together as a community after a challenging spring and summer,” Hexter wrote. “We have turned an important corner, and I am confident that Chancellor-designate May will have an extraordinary impact on this great institution.”

The chancellor search began last summer and involved an advisory committee that included members representing faculty, students, staff, alumni, the campus foundation and regents.

Making her recommendation to the regents, Napolitano said, “Gary May is a natural and dynamic leader who measures his own success by how well he helps others to succeed.”

May did his undergraduate work at Georgia Tech, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1985, and continued his education at UC Berkeley, where he earned a master’s degree in 1988 and a Ph.D. in 1991, both in electrical engineering and computer science. The same year he earned his doctorate, he joined the faculty of Georgia Tech — and he has been there ever since, with a research focus on computer-aided manufacturing of integrated circuits. He has led the College of Engineering since July 2011.

An avid “Star Trek” fan, May donned Capt. Kirk’s uniform for a photo shoot for the fall 2015 issue of Georgia Tech’s alumni magazine.
“Kirk led by example, he empowered his crew, he was decisive when the time came, and he forged new ground,” May wrote in a blog post in September. “All leaders need to be a Kirk at times.”