UC Merced Update newsletter


February 1, 2005

UC Merced Supporters:
Welcome to this edition of UC Merced Update, offering you an inside look at recent campus news and development.

UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees

Please take note that the venue has changed for the March 9 meeting of the Foundation Board of Trustees. This meeting is now set to take place at the UC Merced Center in Fresno. Details about the meeting agenda, accommodations and other related information should arrive within the next two weeks. The meeting will be followed by a VIP reception at the Fresno Grizzlies 600 Club. As always, we encourage you to share with us names and contact information for business, political and community leaders we should invite to the reception as our special guests. Please contact Liz Essay in Special Events at (209) 724-4438 for additional information.

Originally, the site for our March meeting was to be the San Jose headquarters of Cisco Systems, Inc. This meeting was being arranged by UC Merced Trustee and Cisco Systems’ Senior Managing Partner for Global Education Bill Fowler. Unfortunately, the company’s new conference center will not be completed in time due to a change in the construction schedule – a familiar occurrence to all of us. We extend our thanks to Bill, who is now assisting with the coordination of our June meeting, which will be held at Cisco Systems.

Foundation Diplomats
Watch your mailboxes for information about the March 9 meeting
of the Foundation Diplomats in Fresno. The UC Merced Center in Fresno will serve as a base for the day’s activities, which will include a working lunch at the center and a tour of Fresno highlights. Diplomats will then join UC Merced Trustees and VIPs from the region for an evening reception at the Fresno Grizzlies 600 Club.

Chancellor's Associates Update

Initial planning is under way for a late March event for members of the Chancellor’s Associates. Invitations and details will be sent out in the coming weeks.

We are gratified that so many of you are choosing to renew your Chancellor’s Associates membership, which is fast approaching 200 individual and couple memberships. In particular, we would like to thank Foundation Board of Trustees member Dick Otter and his wife, Ann, for their recent renewal.

For additional information about the Chancellor’s Associates, please contact Associate Vice Chancellor Mike Campbell at (209) 724-4402 or by e-mail at mcampbell@ucmerced.edu.

Campus News

Foster Family Center to Prepare UC Merced Students for the Working World

Unveiling laws of physics demo machine

Engineering Service Learning students last year unveiled their machine demonstrating the laws of physics for the Castle Science and Technology Center. The Fosters’ gift will support additional projects to benefit non-profit organizations.


Recognizing that graduates of the University of California, Merced, will be an asset for regional companies that need prepared workers, the Foster family of Foster Farms fame has pledged $1.2 million to fund the university’s Foster Family Center for Engineering Service Learning. At the center, students will develop engineering, communication and management skills as they provide needed services to non-profit organizations in the area.

"Service Learning will be a cornerstone of engineering education at UC Merced," says Dean of Engineering Jeff Wright. "It’s a triple-win effort that creates opportunities for students, prepared workers for companies, and help for non-profit organizations. The Fosters deserve immense credit for their vision and thanks for their generosity in funding the program."

A group of students completed the first Engineering Service Learning project at UC Merced in summer 2004. Funded by a seed-money grant from the National Science Foundation, through the Engineering Projects In Community Service (EPICS) program at Purdue University, they created a machine to demonstrate the laws of physics for the Castle Science and Technology Center in Atwater.

Professor Valerie Leppert advised the project and will continue to direct Engineering Service Learning as the program grows with the help of the Fosters’ gift. She expects it to grow quickly and says the leaders of the program will encourage participation from students in all three of UC Merced’s schools – Natural Science and Social Science, Humanities and Arts along with Engineering.

Sports, Education Go Hand in Hand for Assistant Dean James Ortez


James Ortez


Sports and education are inextricable from each other in the life of James Ortez, recently appointed as UC Merced’s first assistant dean. As a small child in nearby Madera, he honed his math skills figuring baseball statistics, and his interest continued through his doctoral dissertation, which focused on student athletes who were the first in their families to attend college.

"For student athletes, it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not other members of their family have attended college before them," he explains. "The friendships, support systems and school services they find through athletics ease the transition for them. There are ways we can offer that support to any student who needs it, and we will have students who need it at UC Merced."

Ortez has been in close contact with Student Affairs about the importance of sports, even for the first students at UC Merced. Students arriving this fall will be able to participate in intramural sports on the new recreational field that is currently waiting for generous donors.

As assistant dean at UC’s first campus in the San Joaquin Valley, Ortez anticipates working with students who will have to make a cultural leap to receive a university education, as he did.

"After going to school in New York and at the University of Washington, I never thought I’d return to the Valley," he admits. "But the opportunity of having a new UC practically in my own back yard is amazing."


Campus Events

Professors Help Explore Evolution of Food in America

A trio of UC Merced professors will be featured speakers in the opening reception for "Key Ingredients: America by Food," a special Smithsonian Institution exhibition coming to the Merced County Courthouse Museum. Set to begin at 1 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 5, the introductory program will set the tone for this highly interactive exhibit exploring the diverse food traditions of our country.

Professor Gregg Herken, who was a senior historian and curator at the Smithsonian Institution, will offer opening remarks for the program and introduce his faculty colleagues, professors Jan Goggans and Jeffrey Yoshimi.

"With a Coffee Pot and Skillet" is the title of Goggans’ presentation, which will focus on the women who migrated to California during the Dust Bowl, bringing with them utensils and recipes, and ideas about cooking and housekeeping that have permanently shaped our culinary culture. She also will share examples of the work of photographer Dorothea Lange.

Adding another link to the theme of the traveling exhibition, Yoshimi will discuss the relationship between food and ethnic identity. Yoshimi says food, "which is fun and concrete," provides a good avenue through which to explore the more vague concept of ethnic identity.

For additional information, please contact the museum at (209) 723-2401 or visit www.mercedmuseum.org. An interactive Web site at www.keyingredients.org also has been developed in conjunction with the exhibition.

Conference Puts Spotlight on World Cultures Institute

Cultures of the world photo

UC Merced’s location in the San Joaquin Valley places it in a natural laboratory for research on the world’s cultures in the broadest sense. – Photo by Greg R. Hubbard

Writers, curators and other leading scholars have been invited to join members of UC Merced’s faculty for a two-day conference to help plan areas of excellence for the World Cultures Institute. According to Professor Ruth Mostern, who is serving on the planning committee, the conference is designed to help shape the vision and identify priorities for the institute.

Scheduled for Feb. 18 and 19 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center in downtown Merced, "Cultural Research in the 21st Century: Designing the UC Merced World Cultures Institute" will be organized around facilitated discussions that will examine cultures from many perspectives. Session topics include The World in Merced: Thinking Globally, Living Locally; Culture and Policy: Public Policy Health, Education and the Environment; Integrating the Arts with the Study of Culture; and New Technologies and the Study of Culture.

Two segments of the conference are open to the public, including a writers panel at 1:15 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 17 highlighting readings by several Central Valley authors. In addition, the public is welcome to attend the keynote presentation at 1:15 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 18 with Heyday Books publisher Malcolm Margolin and award-winning journalist/author Mark Arax as the featured speakers. Anyone interested in attending other portions of the conference, including the facilitated discussion sessions, is encouraged to contact the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts by e-mail at ssha@ucmerced.edu.

The World Cultures Institute will support research and conduct programming to strengthen the study of culture in the social sciences, humanities and arts; and allow scholars and students in engineering and the natural sciences to incorporate culture into their research as well.

Recent Media Coverage

January 27, 2005
Merced Sun-Star
Rosalio Ahumada

UC Merced Eyes Stem Cell Grant

As bigger cities jockey to become the epicenter of California's stem cell research community, Merced has plans to be a major player.

The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine will receive offers of free rent, hotel discounts and other perks as California cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego compete to house the stem cell research headquarters.

But the University of California, Merced, will be happy to get the research grants.

January 26, 2005
Bakersfield Californian

UC Merced off to good start

Build it and the students will come by the thousands, said its supporters. Critics scoffed as the University of California at Merced weathered numerous funding storms in the Legislature on its way to becoming a reality.

Supporters of the campus can be excused for chortling as the Merced campus has attracted more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate applications for its opening in fall 2005, exceeding expectations for UC's first new campus in 40 years.

January 24, 2005
Associated Press
Juliana Barbassa

UC Merced strives to attract Valley students

Kong Her, the youngest daughter of Hmong immigrants from Laos, wants to go to college - and not just any college.

She's been keeping up her grade-point average, taking advanced classes and aiming for the University of California, one of the most well-regarded public education systems in the country. But sinking into the large couch that dominates the living room she shares with her parents, eight siblings and two nephews, the petite high school senior lists the obstacles she faces. The family doesn't have money to spare for room and board in Los Angeles or Berkeley, and her parents, who didn't attend college, are hesitant to let their teenage daughter move far away.

January 21, 2005
Merced Sun-Star
Rosalio Ahumada

Environment groups sue county over community

Two local environmental groups are suing Merced County to block an 11,600-home community that the Board of Supervisors approved last month to benefit the new University of California, Merced.

The groups, the San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center and Protect Our Water, filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Merced County Superior Court against the county and the board. Both groups have members within the county, the lawsuit says.

January 20, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle
Tanya Schevitz

More than 9,000 apply to new UC campus

The University of California's new campus in Merced has attracted more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate applications for its opening in fall 2005, exceeding expectations for UC's first new campus in 40 years.

The applications for the Central Valley campus came from throughout California, with 2,500 from the Bay Area. The campus even attracted a few international applications.

The campus received about 8,000 freshman applications, 900 transfer applications and 170 graduate applications. About 1,000 will be admitted.

January 20, 2005
Modesto Bee
Melanie Turner

9,000-plus students interested in new UC

The University of California at Merced received more than 9,000 applications for its debut semester, and about 1,100 came from the San Joaquin Valley.

That works out to about 12 percent, which UC Merced officials called a "good starting point." The university had set a goal of drawing half of all applications from the valley, which typically trails other areas of California in sending students to the UC system.

Contact Us

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