UC Merced Update mastehead


Welcome to this edition of UC Merced Update, providing you with an inside look at recent campus news and developments.


February 16, 2007



On Feb. 21, Yosemite National Park and Delaware North Companies will host our Board of Trustees at the world-renowned Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. The objective of this event is to provide the Foundation community an opportunity to come together to discuss current board topics and also to share some of the exciting initiatives between Yosemite and Sequoia national parks. We will discuss the potential of these partnerships to form mutually beneficial and enduring relationships.

For regular committee members, the day’s events are set to begin at 1:30 p.m. with a welcome and special briefing, followed by Focus Area, committee and full board meetings until 5:30 p.m. Foundation Diplomats are encouraged to join the Trustees and faculty members at a Focus Area meeting of their choice, followed by an informative tour of the historic Ahwahnee. The day’s meetings will be capped off by a VIP reception from 5:30-7 p.m.

This event will be an opportunity to enjoy the scenery and amenities from the famed five-star Ahwahnee Hotel, while hearing compelling presentations by key park personnel and esteemed faculty. Acting Chancellor Rod Park will introduce UC Merced’s newly appointed Chancellor Steve Kang and his wife, Mia, to our Trustees, Diplomats and guests.

To obtain additional information, please contact our Special Events office at (209) 228-4416 or specialevents@ucmerced.edu



Here’s a look at the latest news from our Alumni Affairs Office:

Cat Spots – Connecting Businesses and UC Merced Students

This spring, UC Merced collegiate alumni returned to campus with 35 exciting new connections to the community. Cat Spots is a new program that connects UC Merced, the Merced Visitors and Conference Center and local businesses. This program helps show students all that Merced has to offer while also giving local businesses the opportunity to benefit from the growing number of students, visitors and consumers.

Through Cat Spots, businesses provide discounts or incentives to students and in return, each business is noted as a Cat Spots participant on the UC Merced Web site. Cat Spots is a great way to advertise all the wonderful shops, activities and amenities the community has to offer.

For more information on Cat Spots or to become a Cat Spots business, visit http://alumni.ucmerced.edu or contact Alumni Affairs Coordinator Stefani Martinez at (209) 228-2586.

Graduation Coming

UC Merced is looking forward to graduating more than 60 students this spring. The Office of Alumni Affairs is developing activities for graduating students and preparing to welcome our new graduates into the UC Merced Alumni Association. Graduates, while working hard to complete their final semester, are also planning the second annual Class Gift fundraiser in conjunction with the SJV UC Alumni Network.

San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network Wants You!

Are you an alumnus of the University of California and live in the Central Valley? If so, join fellow UC alumni in the San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network. Enjoy social and networking events, opportunities to support UC and much more! For more information, visit http://alumni.ucmerced.edu and click on “SJV UC Alumni Network.”



Chancellor-Designate Excited About Potential of UC Merced, Central Valley

Tom Atkins and Steve Kang look over map of UC Merced

Chancellor Sung-Mo "Steve" Kang gets a look at the big picture of the campus with Facilities Management Director Tom Atkins.


UC Merced’s next leader is already anxious to get to work.

Sung-Mo “Steve” Kang, now the dean of the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, said he feels deeply honored and humbled that the UC Regents and President Robert C. Dynes have enough confidence in him to ask him to become the next chancellor at UC Merced, and he would start his job now, if he could.

In mid-January, he and his wife, Mia, visited the campus for the first time since his appointment, meeting with staff, faculty and student groups in several different forums.

Kang said he is excited to work with the faculty and staff members who have made UC Merced what it is today – a growing, vital and diverse university with limitless potential.

He told the campus community he plans to get to know the school and the area, increasing ties with local leaders and boosting already strong support for the campus.

“It’s the Valley’s turn,” Kang said during his campus visit. “This is California’s new frontier.”

His priorities, he said, include furthering plans for the medical school, increasing faculty, staff and students and expanding academic programs, and working with the “already strong team that’s now in place” and with the community to take UC Merced to the next level.

Kang, the dean of the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, starts his job here on March 1. The UC Regents approved his appointment in early January, after a search that began last summer.

Those who know Kang well say there are many reasons he’s the right fit for UC Merced.

He’s a first-generation college student himself, having grown up in a low-income family in South Korea. He earned a scholarship that brought him to the United States in 1969, and earned his degrees from East and West coast universities, including UC Berkeley. He has been part of other colleges, but also has private-sector experience, applying his electrical engineering skills to help Bell laboratories develop the first 32-bit microprocessors.

More than that, though, Dynes said, Kang is a rare mix of “scientifically aggressive” and “personally, a really nice man.”

UC Santa Cruz grad student Shon Kim, who has worked with Kang since 2001, when Kang took over as Baskin’s dean, said Kang is a great mentor.

“He is a kind person, who listens to others and acts consistently,” Kim said. “I am going to miss working with him.”

Glen Winans, assistant dean at the Baskin School of Engineering, said UC Merced is gaining a real asset.

That Chancellor Kang emphasized teamwork during his recent visit would come as no surprise to Winans.

“Steve is dedicated, focused and understands that excellence is a collective effort,” Winans said. “He does not hesitate to seek input and new ideas. Steve really embodies an essential characteristic of successful leaders… that ‘none of us is as smart as all of us.’”

For more information on Chancellor Steve Kang, visit his Web site at http://chancellor.ucmerced.edu, and see the photo collage below for pictures from his first official campus visit!

Medical School Planning Moves Forward

Carlos Martini

Carlos Martini will help develop the medical school business plan.


The proposed medical school for UC Merced is getting down to business.

A planning group comprised of academic leaders from UC Merced, UC San Francisco, UC Davis and UCSF Fresno met in December to discuss options for a medical education program in the San Joaquin Valley, leading to a medical school at UC Merced.

The planning group overwhelmingly recommended that UC Merced develop The Health Services and Medical Education Initiative, an independently accredited medical education program based on partnerships with UC Davis and UCSF.

A priority for The Health Services and Medical Education Initiative is to train students with an emphasis on cultural sensitivity, a flexibility to operate in multiple health care systems, and a willingness to focus on patient-centered health care. The initiative’s two main research arms, biomedical sciences and population-based health research, continue to grow.

UC Merced officials are working toward a target date of 2012 for its first medical class, expected to have about 32 students.

Medical students attend four years of post-graduate education and then generally complete a four-year residency program. Based on a 2012 start date, UC Merced medical school graduates would begin practicing in 2020.

The vision for the UC Merced medical education initiative will leverage training opportunities at existing hospitals and clinics throughout the region, avoiding the cost and time needed to build a university-owned teaching hospital.

Plans now call for students to receive training in basic and applied sciences at the UC Merced campus, and receive their clinical training at clinical campuses throughout the region, such as in Fresno, where the UCSF Fresno medical education program provides clinical rotations. Additional clinical campuses would be added in the future.

“Establishing a medical school in the San Joaquin Valley will help address the health-care-provider shortages in the Valley,” said UC Merced Dean of Natural Sciences Maria Pallavicini. “The economic benefits associated with a medical school, both its education and research, will have a broad impact on the region.”

Statistics show that physicians tend to stay in areas where they are trained.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Valley,” Pallavicini said. “It has the potential to keep healthcare dollars in the area and to address population-based health issues that are prevalent here, such as diabetes, obesity and asthma, to name a few.”

The December meetings, the academic recommendations and the hiring of Dr. Carlos Martini, a physician and nationally known expert, to consult in developing a business plan for the initiative, wrapped up the second phase of planning.

The next step is to develop a written proposal to present to the UC Office of the President. Organizers hope to have the business plan completed in June.

UC Merced has very high hopes for the initiative.

“Ideally, we will provide opportunities for students in the San Joaquin Valley to stay in the region to obtain both their undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees,” Pallavicini said.

For more information about the Medical Education Initiative, please visit



View photos of Chancellor-Designate Kang's visit

Chancellor-designate Steve Kang visited UC Merced Jan. 23 and 24, meeting students, faculty and staff and getting to know the facilities. Catch a glimpse of his visit in these photos.



Professor’s Research Shows Valley Irrigation Hides Global Warming Effects

Lara Kueppers

Lara Kueppers


MERCED – The prevalence of irrigation throughout California – especially in the Central Valley – could mask the effects of global warming, a new research paper indicates.

Professor Lara Kueppers, with the School of Natural Sciences at UC Merced, said she and two colleagues from UC Santa Cruz began looking at how irrigation’s natural cooling can affect mean temperatures in certain areas. The paper has been published in the prestigious science journal Geophysical Research Letters.

What they found is that irrigation causes the mean temperature in summer months to drop, even as greenhouse gas emissions drive temperatures upward.

“It gives a false sense of security,” Kueppers said, “because the irrigation makes it really difficult to assess the effects of greenhouse gases.”

Kueppers and her colleagues used a computer model to look at California, which essentially became a look at the Central Valley, the state’s largest irrigated area.

Their model indicates that August’s mean temperature in irrigated areas has dropped by about 6.5 degrees Fahrenheit, while greenhouse gas emissions are expected to warm the Earth about the same amount.

Kueppers’ paper has a major implication: activities related to agriculture, forestry and development do matter to the climate, she said.

“If we don’t consider what we’re doing to the area by urbanizing, which removes farmland that has a cooling effect, we could very well end up with a much hotter Central Valley,” she said.



Campus dorms under construction

Construction on the next phase of housing is moving forward.


Come fall, there will be no shortage of residence halls on campus. With a dry winter so far, construction has moved forward rapidly on Sierra Terraces, the second phase of campus housing.

By fall, UC Merced will have bed space for just over 1,000 students, and freshman and transfer students have first dibs on rooms.

Housing Director Leslie Santos is about to begin advertising to draw more students to on-campus housing – it’s a great experience, and UC Merced offers state-of-the-art facilities.


Kuwaiti doors donated by Dr. Joseph and Marie Barkett

These one-of-a-kind doors are now on permanent display in the Lantern area of the Kolligian Library.


A pair of handcrafted, one-of-a-kind palace doors from Kuwait will serve as a regal portal for the World Cultures Institute’s artifact collection, thanks to Dr. Joseph and Marie Barkett.

Dr. Barkett, from Stockton, is a member of the UC Merced Board of Ambassadors. He received the one-of-a-kind doors as a gift from a Kuwaiti emir as a gesture of gratitude for his assistance during the Gulf War.

Handmade by an East Indian family with generations of experience in creating palatial doors, this set is made of teak and covered by mother-of-pearl rosettes adorned with brass stars, and valued at $210,000. They were planned for a Kuwaiti palace, but were given to the Barketts as a gift, instead.

Envisioned as a centerpiece in the museum/gallery planned for the research institute and Kolligian Library, the doors will be displayed along with other artifacts that celebrate and showcase the histories and cultures of the world.

A summary is posted on the Library site: http://library.ucmerced.edu/specialfriends/



Frontiers of Science and Engineering – the 2007 lecture series at Challenger Center for Space Science Education Center – starts again this month. All lectures start at 10 a.m. Saturdays in the Challenger center’s auditorium.
Feb. 17: Professor Christopher Viney, “Technology: Boon without Bane?"
March 17: Professor Wei-Chun Chin, “Red Tide and Harmful Algal Blooms.”

Other events:
Feb. 20: Mardi Gras celebration
Feb. 22: Black History Month Oratory Contest and Reception
Feb. 22-24: Performances of "The Vagina Monologues"
March 3: Sibs & Kids Weekend; Kababayan Experience
March 14: Etiquette Dinner
March 15: Cultural Kat Walk & Festival
March 16: Spring Faire/Irish Festival


Total amount of proposals this month: $4,970,718
Total amount of awards this month: $73,247

Total amount of proposals from July 1, 2006 to date: $106,922,802
Total amount of awards from July 1, 2006 to date: $8,075,916


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