Definition of a Big Idea

Big ideas are transformational, single-concept ideas that build on the strength and foundation at UC Davis, but move toward something more leading edge. They are interdisciplinary or have an interdisciplinary impact in an area where we have the unique capacity to be the best.

Instead of starting from a foundation of thinking "how much money can I raise for this project", the purpose of this exercise is to create a bold vision of what your program and department can achieve. We request these projects be large in scale and fall in the $25 million funding range.

When generating a potential Big Idea, please keep in mind the project's infrastructure needs. For example, what infrastructure is currently in place or could be repurposed for this project, and what new infrastructure would need to be built?

Questions to help formulate idea:

  • Where are we going?
  • Why does it matter?
  • Why is UC Davis uniquely positioned to house this project versus another institution?
  • What will it take?
  • What makes it different from other ideas that are similar?

What is not a Big Idea:

  • Building (UNLESS the building is a conduit for new programming, transformational research, etc.)
  • Big dollar amount
  • Bundling of smaller ideas
  • Naming opportunity (gifts are recognized with a name, not the other way around)
  • Incremental improvement/growth
  • HOWEVER, it will likely include some or all of these characteristics

Big Ideas differ from goal and priority setting, which often cover operational needs and aspirations.The process for goal and priority setting will be conducted by deans and department heads, and will include common fundraising items such as: chairs, professorships, scholarships, endowments.

Development will facilitate and deploy communication professionals to help craft the big idea narrative. DEVAR will provide a template for whitepapers so that the structure and flow are consistent. The whitepaper should be approximately 2-3 pages, and should answer the questions listed above.

Examples of Big Ideas:

Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital Building:

  • Will expand the number of animals it treats to meet overwhelming demand
  • First-class facility needed to maintain #1 world ranking
  • Facility will enable more leading-edge research

Chemistry Discovery Complex:

  • Interdisciplinary impact (serves students from many different schools/programs)
  • Chemistry is a core foundational discipline that is basic to many critical areas of STEM research, including but not limited to chemical engineering and biochemistry; these three disciplines are in turn the foundations of much research in the life sciences, health sciences, agriculture and the environmental sciences