UC Merced Update mastehead


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


March 24, 2008


Passing of Library Namesake Leo S. Kolligian Offers Occasion for Remembrance

Leo Kolligian
Leo Kolligian at Chancellor Kang’s Inauguration last fall


Friend and longtime supporter of the University of California, Merced Leo S. Kolligian died March 20. He was 90. Leo leaves an enduring legacy that will benefit future generations of UC Merced students.

Most notable in this legacy is Kolligian’s lifelong commitment to educational and charitable causes and activities.

An attorney and developer who graduated from California State University, Fresno, and UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, Kolligian practiced law in Fresno for more than 50 years. He served as deputy state attorney general under Robert Kenny and as a former chairman of the UC Board of Regents. As chair, he championed the cause for the first University of California campus in the San Joaquin Valley.

Kolligian and his first wife, Dottie, served as the first members of the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees. In that capacity, they persuaded other leaders throughout the San Joaquin Valley to join this key advisory board of the UC Merced campus. The couple’s devotion and contributions to the campus have been essential to the university’s development. Dottie died in 2000.

In recognition of the Kolligians' advocacy and support, one of the campus’ first buildings, the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library, bears their name.

“Since the time the Kolligian family’s gift naming the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library was announced almost seven years ago, we have literally seen the library rise from the grasslands as an example of what libraries will become in the 21st century,” Chancellor Steve Kang said. “Leo’s part in this remarkable accomplishment – and in the building of UC Merced – will certainly never be forgotten. We offer our sympathies to June; his son, Lee, who serves as a UC Merced Foundation Trustee; and their family and friends.”

Kolligian and his second wife, June, were frequent visitors to the campus and were present to welcome Chancellor Kang at his inauguration last fall.

Kolligian served for 12 years on the UC Board of Regents. He is past chairman of the Saint Agnes Medical Center Board of Directors, past president of Boys Club of Fresno and former president of the Armenian General Benevolent Union. In addition, he is a former member of the board of directors of the Fresno County Heart Association, Fresno Cancer Society, Sequoia Council of Boy Scouts and Fresno Arts Center, and a trustee of the Boalt Hall School of Law. In 1998, he was knighted in New York by the Sovereign and Venerable Order of St. John Priory.

Services will begin at 10 a.m. March 26, at St. Paul Armenian Church, 3767 N. First St., in Fresno.



Glushko-Samuelson Foundation Gift Will Boost Visibility of Cognitive Science Program

Robert Glushko


UC Merced, is quickly gaining international recognition in the cognitive science community because of its interdisciplinary approach to the study of thought and behavior. The Glushko-Samuelson Foundation has donated $50,000 to the UC Merced Cognitive Science Program to fund educational events and increase visibility on campus.

Last fall, Robert J. Glushko, president of the foundation and adjunct professor in the UC Berkeley School of Information, visited UC Merced as a guest speaker. Glushko met with cognitive science faculty members Teenie Matlock and Paul Maglio of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts and praised the university for its dedication to preparing young cognitive scientists for high-tech jobs and competitive graduate programs.  More

Chancellor Honored with “IQ” Award from International Electronic Design Conference

Chancellor Steve Kang
Chancellor Kang


The International Symposium on Quality Electronic Design (ISQED) selected Chancellor Steve Kang for its ISQED Quality, or “IQ,” award at the annual conference last week in San Jose. Chancellor Kang was cited for “leadership in promotion of academic excellence and innovation in electrical and computer engineering education.”

ISQED is a premier Design & Design Automation conference, aimed at bridging the gap between and integration of, electronic design tools and processes, integrated circuit technologies, processes & manufacturing, to achieve design quality. For more information, see http://www.isqed.org/.

Summer Session Opens UC Merced to All

Summer is an exciting time at UC Merced. It’s the one time of year when enrollment is open to almost anyone, regardless of academic experience.

“It’s a great time for anyone to take a UC class,” Assistant Registrar Erin Webb said. “It’s an intense session, but it’s great for those interested in what our campus has to offer.”

Students south of Merced have the option to take classes without setting foot on the main campus. A variety of courses will be broadcast via two-way, live videoconferencing to UC Merced’s educational centers in Bakersfield and Fresno to make learning more convenient for residents in those areas. Students enrolled in summer session through the educational centers will see and participate in the on-campus courses as they are happening.

Registration is open and will continue until classes start June 16. Students are encouraged to register early, because classes fill up.

Courses will be offered on a variety of topics, such as genetics, advanced math, the Vietnam War, and more. Additional options will be announced shortly.

Webb said the variety of courses makes UC Merced the ideal summer education choice for high school and college students, in addition to the general public.

“We really do offer something for everyone,” she said.

Summer session classes are open to anyone, but high school students need a letter of recommendation from their principal or counselor.

For more information on summer session -- including a course schedule -- visit http://summersession.ucmerced.edu, e-mail summersession@ucmerced.edu or call (209) 228-7734. Also, for the first time ever, UC Merced is opening its residence halls to students who want to live on campus while attending summer school. For information on summer housing contracts, visit http://housing.ucmerced.edu/

UC Merced Joins Older “Sisters” in Sacramento for UC Day

UC Merced delegation at State Capitol
A delegation of UC Merced alumni, staff and students gathers on the steps of the state capitol before meeting with state lawmakers to advocate on behalf of the university at UC Day.


All 10 UC campuses – along with the national labs and other systemwide organizations – lobbied at the state capitol March 4 as part of the annual Alumni Association of the University of California (AAUC) Day in Sacramento. This year, UC was recognized by the Sierra Club as one of the top 10 green universities in the United States, and therefore the system chose “UC Goes Green” as the theme for UC Day.

The UC Merced display area featured a natural-gas-powered car donated by Pacific Gas & Electric Corp and a working solar concentrator developed by Professor Roland Winston.

Nominees Needed for Spendlove Prize

The selection committee for the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance needs nominations for the 2008 award.

The annual prize was established at UC Merced in 2006 to honor a scholar, author, artist, or citizen who exemplifies in their work, the delivery of social justice, diplomacy and tolerance in the diverse local and global society.  The prize was made possible through a gift from Sherrie Spendlove in honor of her parents who remain dedicated to the residents of the Merced area.

Nominations may come from multiple parties and must be received by April 11, 2008.

For more information, contact Hans Björnsson, interim dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, at hbjornsson@ucmerced.edu or (209) 228-7742.



Child’s Play Leads to Serious Innovations in Shrinky Dinks Microfluidics

Michelle Khine


Microfluidic devices play an important part in cell assay for diagnosis of diseases and in cancer research. Usually, though, creating microfluidics is prohibitively expensive for academic researchers, not to mention their students.

UC Merced engineering professor Michelle Khine has set change in motion for microfluidics, helping explore a new medium that may make the field more accessible. That new medium is the children’s toy, Shrinky Dinks.  More

Professor and Students Launch Science and Environment Podcast

Mónica Medina


When Professor Mónica Medina of UC Merced’s School of Natural Sciences applied for an NSF CAREER award last year, she knew she wanted to include in her research plans an outreach component to speak to the multicultural population of California’s Central Valley. Tuned in to Web 2.0 communication platforms and the preferences of her students, Medina turned to multilingual podcasting as an economical yet far-reaching means of communication.

Medina’s lab team will present Science and Environment Podcasts in English, Spanish and Hmong. In the coming weeks, they will be ready for download or RSS subscription through the UC Merced podcast page at www.ucmerced.edu/podcasts.

The podcasts are each about two minutes in length and designed to be easy to digest for audiences without scientific background. More



Graduate Program Looking Back at 2004 Origins, Forward to Fast Growth

UC Merced Graduates

UC Merced’s decision to begin graduate programs before undergraduates arrived at the new campus followed the model of UC San Diego, where the early arrival of graduate-level researchers facilitated the rapid buildup of world-class research programs.

UC Merced also began its graduate-school enterprise in 2004 with an explicit interdisciplinary focus. That direction encouraged faculty members and their research teams to work toward a precipitous gain of widespread prominence in new areas of research like cognitive science, hydrology and computational biology.

It proved to be attractive to graduate students, as well.

When the first dozen graduate students officially enrolled at UC Merced in August, 2004, they were here on the strength of the original faculty members – following advisers from other institutions or signing on in spite of the unknowns of pursuing graduate degrees at a brand-new university campus.

There were unique benefits – a welcome dinner at the chancellor’s home, for example, and the freedom to customize their own degree programs. These pioneering students also faced unusual challenges: setting up labs, working alone in start-up research groups, and forging new relationships with other institutions. They worked off campus for the entire first year of their studies, and many continued to spend their days at Castle for most of the second year, as well. But the overwhelming majority persevered, creating a new culture of scholarship and creativity.

Four years later, UC Merced has awarded two master’s degrees, and several more graduate degrees – both master and Ph.D. – are anticipated in 2008 and 2009.

And the future looks extremely bright. Graduate applications for Fall 2008 have hit record numbers. As of Jan. 28, 290 students had applied for graduate study at UC Merced, and applications continued to stream in after that date. Many came from international applicants – an indication of UC Merced’s growing reputation worldwide.



Gallos Donation Allows Purchase of University’s First Steinway Piano


A $50,000 donation from Bob and Marie Gallo has enabled UC Merced to purchase its first Steinway concert grand piano to help support music performances, visiting scholar and artist programs, and launch the campus’ nascent music program.

“Bob and Marie Gallo’s dedication to education and their patronage of the arts are reflected throughout the San Joaquin Valley and beyond,” said Hans Björnsson, interim dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts and acting vice provost for Academic Planning. “This extraordinary concert piano will not only provide a critical foundation for the implementation of the music program, but will expand UC Merced’s ability to provide performance opportunities to faculty, staff, students and the community.”

Within days of the Gallos’ offer to donate the funds needed to purchase a concert grand, Björnsson traveled to Dale Erwin Piano Restorers in Modesto with music professor Kevin Fellezs. It took the duo a full day of testing concert pianos to find the one that met the university’s unique needs, including range and quality of sound.

The rare vintage Steinway ‘B’ Grand Piano was unveiled in front of a small group with a performance of “Song for Merced,” a piece composed by Professor Fellezs and dedicated to Marie Gallo. The seven-foot concert piano, made in 1952, will be housed in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium.

The piano will help launch the first of the campus’ planned music program, beginning with a Jazz Center and respective research programs. It will open the door to student and faculty recitals, visiting artist/scholar performances and lectures, along with a full repertoire of concerts.

The Gallos have been advocates of the newest UC campus since its inception. Bob Gallo has served on the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees since September 2003, and the couple supports the Chancellor’s Associates program.

New Scholarship Fund Will Help Aspiring Engineers

Calvin Bright


Undergraduate students enrolled in the School of Engineering at UC Merced, have a new avenue to help fund their education, thanks to a donation of $20,000 from the Bright Family Foundation.

The Calvin E. Bright Engineering Scholarship Fund was established to help engineering students pursue their goal of becoming engineers. The foundation believes that engineering is an important component to maintaining our nation's technical competitiveness around the world and is making a commitment to helping achieve this goal.

“The Bright Family Foundation recognizes the value of a UC engineering education," said Jeff Wright, dean of the School of Engineering. “This gift will enable us to support qualified students and help meet the nation's growing demand for a skilled workforce of trained engineers who will spearhead the innovations of tomorrow.”

For more than three decades, UC Merced Trustee Calvin E. Bright has designed and built award-winning homes and communities, and served as an industry leader to aspiring engineers. As founder and chairman of the foundation, Bright is committed to projects that serve the youth of the Central Valley with a special enthusiasm for education and health.



UC Santa Barbara’s Family Vacation Center Welcomes UC Alumni

UC Alumni can now take advantage of the beautiful seaside vacation center on the Santa Barbara campus. The UCSB summer alumni camp, the Family Vacation Center (FVC), will celebrate its 39th birthday this year. In commemoration, and for the first time in its history, the FVC will begin welcoming visitors with a current membership in any University of California alumni association.

The FVC started in 1969 to provide a relaxing and rewarding experience for the entire family. Since then, the center has hosted more than 60,000 vacationers. Their guests enjoy many activities as well as the exquisite surroundings of Santa Barbara, the nearby wine country, beautiful golf courses, and five-star restaurants.

For more information on the FVC, call (805) 893-3123 or visit the FVC's Web site. For more information on the UC Merced Alumni Association, contact Alumni Affairs Coordinator Stefani Martinez at (209) 228-2586 or smartinez6@ucmerced.edu



Chancellor's Associates is a premier group of donors who are recognized for their annual gifts of $1,000 or more to be used to fund the university’s greatest needs. Your gift to the Chancellor’s Associates provides the Chancellor with the opportunity to enhance UC Merced’s mission of teaching, research and public service.

Our appreciation is extended to our renewing Chancellor’s Associates donors Mike and Jeanne Salvadori, Warren and Susan Wainwright, Robert and Kimber Rogina and Stefani Martinez and Christopher Madril and first time donors Donald and Elaine Rhodes and Harold and Judith Johnson.

Chancellor’s Associates members are invited to attend the annual spring reception on Thursday, May 1.  Please save the date for this special evening in the Chancellor’s garden. A formal invitation will be mailed. For more information, contact (209) 228-RSVP.

For more information on becoming a Chancellor's Associates member, please contact Victor Mitre, director of annual giving programs, at (209) 228-4297. 



MTS Lecture Series Continues

The Mind, Technology, and Society Talk lecture series will continue Thursdays in COB 120.

April 3 – 5 p.m., COB 120
“Modeling Face and Object Processing: Salience, Samples, and Memory”
by Garrison W. Cottrell David Corina, Professor of Computer Science & Engineering and Director of the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center, UC San Diego

MTS is sponsored by the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation. The series’ goal is to encourage interdisciplinary research and provide a forum to learn about cutting-edge research in other areas or campuses. For information on the series, contact Professor David Noelle.

Frontiers Lecture Series Rides Again

UC Merced professors are participating for the fifth year in a row in a series of free, public lectures at the Challenger Learning Center in Atwater. The Frontiers of Science and Engineering lecture series aims to open up scientific and engineering topics to the general public through accessible lectures and opportunities for discussion with leading researchers.

The series opened in February with Professor Christopher Viney's report of his journey to Africa with National Geographic Television in search of samples of hippo skin secretions from animals in the wild.

On April 12, Professor Jennifer Lu will deliver her lecture, "Self-Assembly from Flagellum to Nanotube."

All lectures begin at 10 a.m. on Saturdays in the Challenger Learning Center, 3460 Challenger Way, Atwater. For more information, including the lecture series schedule for the rest of 2008, see http://www.challengersjv.org.

Fairy Shrimp Festival Highlights Arts, Crafts and Sustainability

Fairy Shrimp Festival

Mark Saturday, April 19, on your calendar and plan to check out the wide variety of arts, crafts and environmental booths that will be open during the Fairy Shrimp Festival, plus the many live musical acts that will perform. The third annual festival/Earth Day Celebration will once again be held in conjunction with Bobcat Day.

Bobcat Day is the premier recruiting event during Admissions season. It’s often the first look prospective students get at the UC Merced campus, and is filled with activities and informational sessions. Admissions folks are also planning seminars for area high school students that day, to help them become more familiar with the campus and with what it takes to become eligible to attend a UC campus.

Sponsored by the Green Club of UC Merced, the Fairy Shrimp Festival will give prospective students even more reason to want to visit and offers an entertaining look at the campus community. Plus, it demonstrates UC Merced’s commitment to the environment by celebrating Earth Day and showcasing green and sustainable work on campus.

Jim Greenwood, student life coordinator, said he expects about 700 people, including community members, to be on campus that day for the festival. There is still room for vendors wishing to participate in the craft fair, sponsored in part by the Arts Triad Club of UC Merced. Booth fees start at $25. For information, e-mail Greenwood at jgreenwood@ucmerced.edu.

The Festival, which runs from noon to 5 p.m., is free and open to everyone. Special musical guest Super Lucky Catz will perform at 4:30 p.m. outside of the Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center.

Third Annual Family Art Exhibition

The Third-Ever UC Merced Family Art Exhibition opens on Tuesday, April 15, and runs through May 9 in the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library. Students, faculty and staff members, and their immediate families are welcome to submit up to two works of art including painting, drawing, sculpture, mixed media, photography and digital media.

Please express your intention to participate by March 28 by sending an e-mail to libraryexhibits@ucmerced.edu or by calling (209) 228-4566. A submission form and instructions will be forwarded to you.

Everyone is welcome to view the art anytime the Kolligian Library is open. For more information, contact gbenedict@ucmerced.edu or mweppler-selear@ucmerced.edu.

Arts Initiative Exposes Students, Public to Culture

A partnership with the Gallo Center for the Arts will allow UC Merced to offer students the opportunity to expand their cultural horizons without breaking the bank.

The university will take a chartered bus of students and community members to see performances at the Gallo Center. “Break!,” an urban funk spectacular, will take the stage  of the Modesto center April 26, and the national Broadway tour of “CATS” will make its stop May 5.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of Mason, Robbins, Gnass & Browning, UC Merced students will be able to see both shows for $10 apiece, which includes transportation via charter bus. Members of the community may also participate in the program for about $60 apiece. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Michele Lahti at (209) 386-3210 or e-mail mlahti@ucmerced.edu.

“A portion of the public’s ticket price will go toward subsidizing students’ transportation costs,” said Charles Nies, associate vice chancellor of Student Affairs. “This allows members of the community to enjoy a great night of entertainment while also supporting our student body.”

As part of the partnership, “Break!” will be on campus April 23 to present a street-dancing demonstration, which should further inspire students to attend the April 26 show in Merced. The “CATS” performance will include a backstage tour and introduction to members of the cast.

“It’s an opportunity to expose students to the arts community in a way that’s both fun and convenient,” Nies said.

Other events:

March 28: Cesar Chavez Holiday (UC Merced closed)



• Total amount of proposals this month: $13,952,365
• Total amount of awards this month:  $323,106
• Total amount of awards from July 1, 2007 to February 29, 2008: $9,102,172


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