Message from the Chair - June 9th 2020

To all interested parties:

A recent end-of-term message from a physics instructor contained an inappropriate analogy which was upsetting to many who read it. I am deeply sorry that our department has in any way added to the stress of these times and to the already heavy burden carried by some members of our university community. We will strive to do better in the future.

The UC Davis Physics Department is devoted to promoting equity and inclusion in our community moving forward. Here are some of the concrete actions we are taking:

  • In May we prepared a successful application to the American Physical Society's Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (APS-IDEA) network. Department members will attend the first workshop this Friday June 12.
  • We will apply this fall to increase our involvement in the APS Bridge Program, from a Member Institution to a Partner Institution. The Bridge Program aims to increase the number of PhD physicists who are African American, Hispanic American, and Native American.
  • To support the Bridge Program efforts, we will raise money for endowed fellowships for Bridge students. Many of our faculty have expressed interest in contributing. Bridge students have often been unable to concentrate fully on academics due to work hours, family obligations, and racial battle fatigue. With a year or two of focused work, without financial worries, the students can reach a new level of achievement.

I include below a statement sent a few days ago to all Physics Department members on behalf of the department's faculty.

Rena Zieve
Professor and Chair
Physics Department

Originally sent to Physics Department members on 6/6/2020:

We, the faculty members of the UC Davis Department of Physics, are shocked and saddened by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. Yet we recognize that this is only one of many recent similar acts in which unarmed black Americans have been targeted and murdered, victimized, or otherwise treated unjustly. We also recognize that many of these acts of excessive use of force and violence stem from the ongoing, systemic racism and bias that pervades our society and its institutions. We stand in solidarity with black Americans, we condemn this systemic racism and the violence it engenders, and we vow to speak up when we encounter racism, bias, or other unjust and unequal behaviors and attitudes.

As members of the faculty, our goal is to recognize fully the biases that prevent every person, particularly people of color, from achieving their full potential. Yet we realize our efforts have not been enough. As such, we vow to work harder for meaningful change leading to inclusion and acceptance of people of color in all facets of our society, and indeed in our own university and department. We call upon all members of the UC Davis Physics community -- faculty, lecturers, researchers, students, and staff -- to join us in creating a welcoming and nurturing environment for everyone, to reject violence in all its forms, and to strive to give everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential.

As part of our commitment, we pledge to actively engage in activities designed to increase opportunities for underrepresented minorities in physics, particularly at UC Davis. One such activity we will pursue is through the APS Bridge Program, which has the stated goal of increasing the number of physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority students. The APS Bridge Program was founded in part through the work of some UC Davis physics faculty, so it is fitting that we commit to increasing our participation now. We are also planning other activities to increase diversity in our field of study and in our department.

Finally, we also fully support the statements that have been made by leaders at UC Davis, such as Chancellor May and Interim Dean of L&S Kelman, linked below.

Signed in solidarity: The UC Davis Physics Department Faculty


Chancellor May:

Interim Dean Kelman:

UC Davis moment of silence for George Floyd:

UC Davis Principles of Community:

UC Davis Physics Dept Statement on Diversity: