Ralph Hexter, UC Davis' Enthusiastic Ambassador

Name: Ralph Hexter

Affiliation with UC Davis: Currently Interim Chancellor, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor since January 2011

Alma mater: Harvard University

Tell us a little bit about your college career and the journey that led you to UC Davis?

Well, I went to Harvard University, graduated with a degree in English and American languages and literatures in 1974. I received my second undergraduate and Masters in Classics and modern languages from Oxford University. I went on to do my Ph.D. in comparative literature at Yale. Then, in 1995, I became a member or the UC community. I became a professor of Classics and comparative literature at UC Berkeley.

Why did you choose to work at UC Davis?

I had previously been at a research university and then a liberal arts college. UC Davis embodies the ideal of a public and research university. Some people don't know this, but I was a founding member of the LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education at Hampshire College. When I was at UC Berkeley, I realized there was a glass ceiling in early 2000's. There were not many gay leaders, and that is something I tried to work towards changing.

What has been your goal for your time in office as Provost and as Interim Chancellor?

Well, my first goal is to stay sane. The next would be to advance UC Davis and complete four new dean searches. Not only that, but increase our funding. Most people do not know this, but funding is allocated to each college individually. The College of Letters and Science cannot just be given a bit of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science's funds, so that's why increasing our funds is important.

Any platforms and initiatives you wish to achieve this year?

The biggest thing this year is that I am committed to seeing and preserving the notion of an open dialogue. Making campus more available to free speech for all those who wish to participate. There is a need for open dialogue, even openly controversial issues. Because of personal distaste, there should not be arguments. People need to realize words of prejudice have power and if you wish to demand, then it must be fair. No matter how hard the conversation, as long as it is a safe environment, it should be allowed for people to have a conversation at a public university. If people have different opinions they can choose to go and listen to opposing views or not attend.

What would you like students to know about the position of a chancellor and what it stands for? Not many people know what a chancellor does or is.

A chancellor is someone people see as a figure who is living in their own bubble, when in reality it is a certain position and place that has to have strict balance at all times.

Advice any collegiette can follow?

Realize whatever happens, you can do better and it's okay to try again.

Favorite color?

Royal blue

Favorite TV Show?

Return of Will and Grace

Favorite Book?

Essays of Montaigne

What would you like to see change at UC Davis? What do you believe we are doing right?

We are not convinced of how great of a university we are. I like to think of myself as an enthusiastic ambassador for the university. UC Davis used to be a part of UC Berkeley's campus, but we are such a great university and it's time people know that. Our basketball teams did do well in national tournaments this year, and they are putting the UC Davis name out there. Our veterinary medicine school is number one in the world. The New York Times ranked us as third in the nation for schools that are doing the most for the American Dream. We are on a really strong trajectory and our excellence in teaching, research, and public service will only get better. 

*None of the images belong to Her Campus or the author

Cover image source: Classics at UC Davis

Image in article source: UC Davis Interim Chancellor