I want to publically thank Vice Chancellor and Dean Julie Freischlag for honoring me with the Hero’s Award on June 11. Julie created the Hero’s Award for UC Davis in recognition of above and beyond institutional commitment, outstanding service during times of change, exemplary community service and responsibility, and making a positive difference. As this first recipient of this award, I am even more honored.  The beautiful award sits front and center on my desk, a reminder of what more I can do to continue advancing health for our region, and this country. Thank you, Julie.

Speaking of advancing health, I’m pleased to share that UC Davis and UCLA have been awarded $15 million to establish Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence. Our teams are working on public announcements and finalizing details. It will take some time for the money to be distributed to us now that the 2014-15 state budget was signed on June 20. The Centers will be helpful in connecting research to the people of California to aid in what I now call a public health, or population level, crisis of mental illness.

In this moment, though, I am reflecting on the year plus discussions we’ve had with thought leaders in mental and behavioral health that led to this generous award. First and foremost I want to thank Pro Tem Senator Darrell Steinberg for his vision and support, as well as his team including Dr. Louis Vismara, Darby Kernan and Craig Cornett. I look forward to working even more closely with our esteemed partners at the UCLA Semel Institute, Drs. Peter Whybrow, Ken Wells, and Cynthia Telles.  Of course, my colleagues at UC Davis have been working tirelessly on our proposal, with particular thanks to Dr. Cameron Carter whose Sac EDAPT program illuminated the Senator’s ideas, Bob Waste for his governmental relations expertise, and to the staff who kept all the parts moving forward, especially Kristy Trouchon who is the project manager for this effort. We could not have created the Behavioral Health Centers of Excellence alone. I am grateful to everyone who helped. I look forward to sharing more information as we move forward.

“Chance favors the prepared network.” – Professor Andrew Hargadon, UC Davis Graduate School of Management