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


April 13, 2007



Chancellor Kang at Chancellor's Associates reception

Chancellor Kang visits with guests at the Chancellor’s Associates reception at the Multicultural Center in downtown Merced.


As part of the Chancellor’s Listening Tour, a Chancellor’s Associates reception was held on March 26 at the Multicultural Arts Center in Merced. The Chancellor’s Associates and their guests were given the opportunity to meet Chancellor Kang and his wife Mia and learn more about his background and vision for UC Merced.


A special thank you to all our Chancellor’s Associates members who, through their donations and participation, have made the campus’s premiere support group such a great success.

We welcome back renewing members John and Nancy Westerholm, Paul and Kathleen Zizza, Laverne and Sonia Caldeira, John and Dora Bennett, David and Carolyn Rogina, Tim and Billie Razzari, Steve Spinelli and Kay Flanagan-Spinelli, Robert and Kimber Rogina, Sheila Wishek, Lee and Sandee Boese, Liz Chavez, Hank and Kelly VanderVeen and new members Derald and Michele Lahti.

Additional information is available by contacting Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations Mike Campbell at (209) 228-4402 or by e-mail at mcampbell@ucmerced.edu.



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

Class Gift
The graduating class of 2007 has chosen to give the university a statue of the school mascot - the Golden Bobcat. The graduates are working with the San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network to raise funds for the gift and they have started meeting with local artists in search of the perfect design to bring the Golden Bobcat to life. The class of 2007 is expected to have approximately 70 graduates.

For more information or if you would like to make a donation to the class gift, please call Alumni Affairs Coordinator Stefani Martinez at (209) 228-ALUM.

Spring Reception - April 25
The San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network Spring Reception with the Chancellor will be held on Wednesday, April 25, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. The Spring Reception recognizes UC alumni and will honor the UC Merced Class of 2007. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at https://epay.ucmerced.edu/alumni or by calling Stefani Martinez at (209) 228-ALUM. Ticket proceeds will benefit the Class of 2007 gift to the university.



Chancellor Kang Kicks Off Listening Tour in Merced

Chancellor Kang with Alicia Reyes students

Chancellor Steve Kang stopped at Alicia Reyes Elementary School in Merced to speak with children mentored by UC Merced students on the first day of his Valleywide Listening Tour.


UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang started his San Joaquin Valley Listening Tour on March 26 in Merced, then made a stop in Modesto on April 2. The purpose of the tour is to introduce the chancellor to various community and educational leaders from Bakersfield to Stockton. He’ll also reach out to key groups in the Bay Area, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles.

In Merced, Kang met with elected city and county officials to discuss ways to strengthen UC Merced’s ties with the community. Later he gave admitted students from Merced College an opportunity to ask questions. Kang enjoyed lunch with local educational leaders, and discussed his missions for the university, including education and research.

A highlight of the new chancellor’s day was his visit to Reyes Elementary School where he interacted with Junior Bobcats who are part of UC Merced’s Mentoring Program. The students sang two songs and listened intently while he told them about his background and his long road to becoming UC Merced’s Chancellor. Before heading out to meet with various community groups, Kang impressed the students with his soccer skills when he joined them in a scrimmage.

Kang wrapped up the first day of his 100-day tour at a special reception given for the Chancellor’s Associates at the Multicultural Center in downtown Merced, where he offered his thoughts concerning the issues and challenges facing the Valley.

A week later in Modesto, Kang had the opportunity engage with educational and community leaders, media outlets and students to discuss a shared goal of increasing college-going rates for all Valley students, regardless of socio-economic background. The day began with a meet and greet with local elected officials and representatives from the Great Valley Center.

After a meeting with the Modesto Bee Editorial Board, Kang attended a lunch with 15 area educators and a lively exchange of ideas ensued.

He then headed to Modesto High School and met face to face with students who have been admitted to UC Merced in the fall. He answered important questions about attending the newest UC campus and encouraged them to consider UC Merced as their first choice. Kang's Modesto High visit also included a meeting with faculty members in math, science and the International Baccalaureate programs.

Later in the afternoon, Kang had an informal dialogue with 25 diverse ethnic leaders including members of the Latino, African-American and Chinese communities.

The day concluded with more than 130 distinguished guests joining Kang at a lovely reception at the McHenry Museum.

Chancellor Kang with Modesto High School students

Newly admitted Modesto High School students meet with Chancellor Kang to learn more about UC Merced.


Other stops scheduled on the tour:
Fresno – Tuesday, April 17
Bakersfield – Thursday, April 19
Coalinga/ Lemoore – April 23
Visalia – Thursday, April 26
Stockton – Thursday, May 3
Silicon Valley – Monday, May 21
Los Angeles – Wednesday, May 23 and Thursday, May 24

UC Merced Administrator Named Vice-Chair of UC Staff Diversity Council

John White

Director of Capital Planning John O. White has been named Co-Vice Chair of the University of California Staff Diversity Council.


UC President Robert Dynes has announced the appointment of the University of California Staff Diversity Council, and UC Merced’s Director of Capital Planning John O. White has been named co-vice chair.

White serves as president of the UC Merced Staff Assembly and UC Merced senior delegate for the Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUSCA) where he serves on its Diversity Work Group. He first got involved in improving campus diversity in 1983 as an undergraduate at UC San Diego. White said taking a leadership role on the council will provide him with a unique opportunity to see some of outstanding projects and initiatives under way throughout the UC system. His interest is in making these efforts sustainable.

“This is the first time that the UC system has focused specifically on staff diversity issues from a systemwide perspective,” White said. “Although all UC locations have a variety of diversity programs and resources, it is unclear which programs have the greatest effect with respect to improving the recruitment, retention and promotion of a diverse workforce. It is crucial that the best diversity programs be supported and propagated.”

The goal of the 19-member council is to advise senior UC leadership on a broad range of diversity matters throughout the UC system. Council members are slated to hold their first meeting in April and will meet monthly for the first six months. “The Council will be successful because President Dynes had the foresight to make it a permanent body,” added White. “Council members were appointed to a two-year term, which demonstrates the President’s commitment to diversity initiatives.”

A full list of council members and more information on diversity resources can be found at the UC Office of the President Diversity Web site at universityofcalifornia.edu/diversity/.

Chancellor Kang Receives Inaugural Chang-Lin Tien Award

UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang is one of the first recipients to be honored with the Chang-Lin Tien Education Leadership Award. The award, presented by the Asian Pacific Fund, honors the legacy of Chang-Lin Tien, the first Asian American to head a major American research university. As chancellor at UC Berkley from 1990 to 1997, Tien strengthened undergraduate education, fostered diversity and raised nearly $1 billion for the Berkeley campus. The Chang-Lin Tien Award was created to inspire more Asian Americans to become leaders in higher education posts. Kang was selected for his tenure as dean of the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, where he significantly increased the school’s visibility and secured resources that doubled the faculty size and quadrupled sponsored-research funding.



See Spring views of UC Merced campus

Spring arrived with plenty of flair at UC Merced. Take a look.



Prop 71-funded Stem Cell Research Begins at UC Merced

Michelle Khine



Kara McCloskey



Wei-Chun Chin



Professors Michelle Khine, Kara McCloskey and Wei-Chun Chin have begun the first UC Merced stem cell research project funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

“Our selection for a grant in the first round of CIRM funding places UC Merced among the elite research institutions in California as the state becomes a center for stem cell research,” said Dean Jeff Wright of the School of Engineering. “We are so fortunate to have outstanding young faculty members building a strong foundation for bioengineering research and education. The innovation and discovery that will result from this investigation will improve our understanding of human systems at the cellular level.”

The new project will focus on developing and then using a unique microsystem that can analyze and stimulate cells, monitoring their responses to different stimuli. The research team aims to use this equipment to cause embryonic stem cells to differentiate and become heart cells for potential use in transplantation. McCloskey is a bioengineer specializing in cardiovascular tissue engineering, and Chin specializes in cell signaling. Khine, the principal investigator, describes herself as the “toolmaker” on the project – she develops the instruments used to accomplish the team’s goals. All three faculty members on the team are part of UC Merced’s School of Engineering.

Khine will also likely be a part of transferring research technology like the technology that will be developed for the CIRM-funded project into new businesses for the San Joaquin Valley. She helped start a biotechnology company, Fluxion Biosciences, while she was working on her doctoral dissertation at UC Berkeley.

“The entrepreneurial spirit of a new campus was part of what attracted me to UC Merced,” she said. “You have to have a vision to come here. There are no pre-defined roles, just lots of opportunities to build programs, start classes, form policies and help with recruitment. It’s more dynamic and exciting for me this way.”



UC Merced Students Make a Difference This Spring Break

Student painting house in Yosemite

UC Merced students spend spring break painting a house in Yosemite.


While most of UC Merced’s student body headed home or to sunny vacation destinations, a few students opted to spend their spring break giving back to the community as part of a campus sponsored Alternative Spring Break. UC Merced students Francesca Devlin, Patricia Jean "PJ" Solomon, Kelly Hegland and Andrew Eldon spent their week away from college classes in Yosemite National Park, painting a house that is primarily used by the Park Service to house interns during the summer months.

“The Alternative Spring Break was planned as an option to give students something outside of the traditional spring break,” said David Dunham, director of campus recreation. “Our students have also expressed that they have enjoyed past opportunities to give back to the park, so we felt this was a great combination.”

“Not only did I get to go home and see my family and friends, but I was able to spend four majestic days in Yosemite with friends from school, which is the ideal spring break in my book,” said Solomon, a sophomore majoring in economics.

“Any excuse to go to the park is excuse enough for me,” added Solomon. “This experience offered great relief from all the school work I had to do over the break. I was able to unwind and simply enjoy nature, good company, and have fun painting a house!”

Dunham said this is the first year the university has instituted an Alternative Spring Break program, but he hopes it will be come a permanent fixture of the overall Yosemite Leadership Program next year. Dunham said he feels the program is a win-win for the students and for Yosemite.

“Instead of the Park Service using its limited resources to pay a company to paint their house, we provided the volunteer labor so that their limited resources could be directed to education and park programs,” said Dunham. “I think that the students felt great about the project. They had a real sense of accomplishment and felt proud to be able to work hard and see the fruits of their labor.”



Faculty Videos Debut on UC Merced Web Site

The latest addition to UC Merced’s Web site is a new faculty member video section. The faculty videos give prospective students, educators and the public an idea of the array of research going on at UC Merced. Each of three schools is represented and one video is presented solely in Spanish.

The first professors featured include Peggy O’Day, associate professor, School of Natural Sciences; Cristián Ricci, assistant professor, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts; Robin DeLugan, assistant professor, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts; Arnold Kim, associate professor, School of Natural Sciences; and Michelle Khine, assistant professor, School of Engineering. The goal is to produce and add new videos every few months that show prospective students UC Merced’s innovative programs and dynamic students and faculty. To view the first faculty videos, click here.



Gift from Pellissier Family Launches Distinguished Speaker Series

The Pellissier Family

From left to right: Leslie Phillips, Susie Ficklin, Barbara June Pellissier, Bernie Bernardi, Judy Douglas, Dennis Pellissier, Nanette Rahilly, Nancy Slater, Tim Pellissier, Louise Bernardi, Sally Housepian, Chrissy Talley. Not Pictured: Martha Pellissier.

Alice and Vital Pellissier

Alice and Vital Pellissier


Another new tradition is starting at UC Merced thanks to a generous donation from the Pellissier family. The Vital and Alice Pellissier Family Distinguished Speaker Series will bring its first guest to campus – Nobel Prize-winning chemist Sherwood Rowland, who was honored in 1995 for his work in understanding the formation of Earth’s ozone hole. Rowland is a founding faculty member from UC Irvine, so he’s familiar with the benefits and challenges of a startup research university like UC Merced. His talk will be held on April 16 at 4 p.m. and will be free and open to the public.

The Pellissier family, longtime residents of Merced County, has funded the series with a donation to UC Merced. The family recently sold the ranch on the west side of Merced where grandparents Vital and Alice established themselves, and decided to use part of the proceeds to establish a legacy at UC Merced.

“Because we are losing the physical location and buildings that my grandparents left, we especially wanted to do something to remember them by,” said Dennis Pellissier. “UC Merced presented the idea of a distinguished speaker series, and we could see that it was an immediate need and also an opportunity for the community, including our family, to visit the campus.”

UC Merced plans for the Pellissier speaker series to continue annually, in association with Research Day.



Research Day- April 16

UC Merced Research Day logo

UC Merced celebrates a new tradition of discovery on campus April 16 with the first annual Research Day.

The honored guest of the day, Professor Sherwood Roland, is a member of the founding faculty at UC Irvine and a 1995 Nobel laureate in chemistry. He will deliver a technical seminar at 2 p.m. and a keynote address at 4 p.m., both in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium.

A reception will follow at 6 p.m. on the first floor of the Lantern. If you plan to attend the reception, RSVP to specialevents@ucmerced.edu.

Second Annual Family Art Exhibit Will Showcase UC Merced Talent

Entries for the “Second Ever UC Merced Family Art Exhibition” have all been submitted, and this year’s exhibit promises to showcase some great talent. The show opens Saturday, April 14 – simultaneous with Bobcat Day and the Fairy Shrimp Festival – and runs through May 14. UC Merced students, staff, faculty and relatives of campus employees have submitted a good variety of painting, drawing, sculpture, other visual arts and everyone’s favorite — children’s art!

The exhibition will be shown in the Kolligian Library. Everyone is welcome to view the art during the festival as well as anytime the Kolligian Library is open. For more information, contact gbenedict@ucmerced.edu or mweppler-selear@ucmerced.edu.

UC Merced Robot Expert to Lecture in Castle Series

Stefano Carpin



Professor Stefano Carpin of the UC Merced School of Engineering will provide a look into the world of robots on Saturday, April 21 with his contribution to the Frontiers of Science and Engineering lecture series. Be there at 10 a.m. in the Challenger Center for Space Science Education Auditorium at 3460 Challenger Way in Atwater for Carpin’s free lecture, “Autonomous Mobile Robots: Science or Science Fiction?”

Other events:
April 14: Bobcat Day
April 14: Fairy Shrimp Festival
April 15: Mariposa Symphony Orchestra 2007 Welcome Spring! Concert
April 16: The Chicano/a Literature Series: Merced native Diana García
April 21: The Big Event: Celebrating Community Through Service
April 21: Science Olympiad
April 28: Asian Fest
May 2: The Chicano/a Literature Series: Acclaimed novelist Alejandro Morales
May 4: Cinco de Mayo Celebration
May 18: Commencement
May 28: Memorial Day- (UC Merced closed)


• Total amount of proposals this month: $5,340,263
• Total amount of awards this month: $215,817

• Total amount of proposals from July 1, 2006 to date: $118,664,852
• Total amount of awards from July 1, 2006 to date: $8,449,726


Contact Us

We want to hear from you. Do you have a question or comment about your UC Merced Update? Is there a campus-related topic or issue you’d like us to address? Or would you like to unsubscribe? Please contact Brenda Ortiz by e-mail bortiz@ucmerced.edu or call (209) 228-4302 with your questions, feedback and requests.

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