UC Merced Update - Launching the future!


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

May 6, 2005



Google's headquarters in Mountain View has been confirmed as the site of our next Board of Trustees meeting on June 22. We're excited to host this meeting at this location and wish to thank Google's Salar Kamangar, son of Trustee Art and Fafa Kamangar, for coordinating the logistics. In between meetings, Trustees also will be invited to tour the facilities of Google and learn more about this fascinating company known for its breakthrough technology and innovation. Our VIP reception will be held just a few blocks away at the Computer History Museum.

Invitations and other informational materials for the meeting will be heading out of our offices very soon. We encourage you all to join us for this very important meeting, which will include our Board of Trustees Annual Meeting when we will elect a new slate of officers.

Please be thinking of corporate, political and community leaders in the Bay Area we should consider inviting to the VIP reception planned for the evening of June 22 at the Computer History Museum. Names and contact information for VIPs can be called in to Events Coordinator Liz Essay at (209) 724-4438, e-mailed to specialevents@ucmerced.edu or submitted on the card that you will receive shortly.



Watch for your letter of invitation containing details about the agenda for the June 22 business meeting of the Foundation Diplomats as well as information about the special tours and reception currently being planned.

Following a working lunch, you'll tour the Mountain View headquarters of Google, which operates what is widely considered the world's largest search engine. You also will have a chance to visit the intriguing Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in nearby San Jose. Then you are encouraged to attend the evening's VIP reception at the Computer History Museum.

For additional information about the Foundation Diplomats, please contact Patricia O'Connor at (209) 724-4401 or by e-mail at poconnor@ucmerced.edu.


We're so pleased with your response during our recent Chancellor's Summit, with its focus on the recruitment of UC Merced's first freshman students and campus opening. The ideas generated to help welcome students and their families to Bobcat Day, the way you have engaged in the recruitment of students and the assistance you've offered with opening day activities are greatly appreciated. In particular, we would like to thank Ambassador David Wood for his help with the freshman admit reception in San Jose and Bobcat Day, Ambassador and Chancellor's Associate Sherrie Spendlove-Gallo for her work at Bobcat Day, and the many other friends who are providing support.

For their presentations at our last meeting we also wish to thank Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey for her State of the Campus Update, Vice Chancellor Jane Lawrence for providing a wrap-up of the Student Think Tank, Director of Admissions Encarnación Ruíz for the update on admissions and Steve Roussos of the Community Partnership Alliance for the briefing on the community's Bobcat Day celebration.

Please note on your calendars that the annual State of the Campus meeting is set for Oct. 13, 2005 and the next Chancellor's Summit is scheduled for April 4, 2006. Both meetings will take place on the UC Merced campus.

For additional information about the Board of Ambassadors, please contact Jan Mendenhall at (209) 724-4407 or by e-mail at jmendenhall@ucmerced.edu.



Please R.S.V.P. if you have not already done so for the annual Chancellor's Associates reception and campus tour on May 18. The scene is changing and developing daily on the UC Merced campus, and this is your chance to get an up-close look. We also encourage members to bring along friends who might be interested in joining the Chancellor's Associates.

Based at Lake Yosemite's Rotary Cove II, this annual event will feature campus tours beginning at 4:30 p.m. and a reception, including a campus update, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Please call Robin McIntyre at (209) 724-4416 or e-mail specialevents@ucmerced.edu for additional information, to R.S.V.P. and submit contact information for prospective members. R.S.V.P.s and contact information also can be submitted on the reply card you have received along with your invitation.

We are honored to welcome Margo Souza as a new member of the Chancellor's Associates and to recognize Joe and Sharon Levy as returning members. Thank you all!

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.


Picture-perfect weather welcomed 132 golfers at Stevinson Golf Club for the 10th Annual Ma Kelly Memorial Golf Tournament last week.

The tournament was originally established by George and Carla Kelley, Kevin and Cindy Kelley, Bob and Carrie Kelley and Bryan Kelley to support the favorite charity of their mother, Ma Kelley. For the 2005 tournament, future students at UC Merced were the chosen beneficiary. Net proceeds from the tournament and the live auction will be used to purchase much-needed recreational equipment.

A final report on the outcome of the tournament and the involvement of our Chancellor's Associates and Foundation Trustees will be included in the June 2005 edition of UC Merced Update.

We'd like to send out another heartfelt round of thanks to the Kelley family for their support of UC Merced and for hosting a wonderful day on the green.


The ultimate goal of $1.365 million is coming closer as we push forward in our campaign to expand the gymnasium in the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center.

Many of you have helped the campaign advance to its current level of $989,000 in funds committed. Of this total, $60,000 has been raised so far as part of the Bleacher Seat Campaign, the final formal portion of our fundraising efforts.

We are grateful for your continued support of this very important effort.

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



Students and Families Gather for Bobcat Day

Leticia Garibay and her mother show spirit at Bobcat Day

Leticia Garibay, a student from Parlier, and her mother show their campus spirit at Bobcat Day. Leticia has committed to enroll at UC Merced this fall for her freshman year. Photo by Roger J. Wyan


An estimated crowd of 3,000, including about 500 students who have been admitted to UC Merced, gathered at Lake Yosemite on April 23 for UC Merced's first Bobcat Day. Students and their families came from all over California – and even from as far away as New York – to learn more about the opportunities available at the new campus, meet with faculty and staff members, tour student housing, enjoy entertainment and socialize. For almost everyone, the day provided their first chance to step foot on campus and to actually step inside a building.

Gathered underneath the huge tent with its view of the campus were a presentation stage, stations offering refreshments and UC Merced gear, 40 booths with information about the campus and community, and hundreds upon hundreds of people at any given time. Marking one highlight of the day, several students took advantage of the occasion to submit their Statement of Intent to Register – in other words, to enroll.

In conjunction with Bobcat Day, the local community also came together to welcome students and their families with a celebration in downtown Merced. Coordinated largely through the Community Partnership Alliance, the festivities helped inform and entertain visitors, as well as introduce them to the amenities of the area.

Thanks to the efforts of many individuals on campus and around town, including several of you, both events experienced great success in showcasing the best that UC Merced and the community have to offer.

2005-06 Budget Update from Sacramento

The California State Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 (Education and Finance) last week voted to approve $24 million in UC Merced funding for the 2005-06 fiscal year. Previously, Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey had met one-on-one with Subcommittee Chair Mervyn Dymally to discuss the critical need for funds to ensure the continued development of the campus.

The recent vote represents the second time this spring that a legislative committee has acted on UC Merced's budget request for the coming year. Last month, a Senate subcommittee also voted in favor of campus funding.

According to Director of Government Relations Larry Salinas, the legislative success to date is cause to be optimistic about how UC Merced's funding request will fare when the May Revise is released on or about May 13. In the meantime, Chancellor Tomlinson-Keasey and Director Salinas will continue working closely with legislators in to secure the funds, which will be used to support faculty and instruction, as well as such instructional support functions as the library and computing.

Academic Exchange Program Established with Chinese University

Liu Jinan and Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey sign a memorandum

Community University of China President Liu Jinan and Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey sign a memorandum of understanding during a recent ceremony at the Mondo Building in Merced.

UC Merced and the Communication University of China recently initiated an academic exchange program that will encourage the flow of understanding, ideas and information between the two universities. This is the first international exchange program established by our campus, with efforts under way to facilitate similar relationships with educational institutions in other countries around the globe.

The initial agreement includes the exchange of students, members of the faculty and teaching staff, books and other academic materials. The accessibility of informational resources will be increased largely through connections made relying on the Internet. In addition, the two universities agreed to collaborate in organizing academic conference on issues of mutual interest and make reciprocal visits during the next three years, after which they can renew the agreement.

Opening up the world of China to UC Merced students, the relationship will help build bridges between the cultures and the universities, highlighting both common interests and different perspectives. Located in Beijing, the Communication University of China was established in 1954 and helps train leaders in the nation's media and other communications industries.

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts Welcomes Five New Professors

A literary scholar, a historian, an economist, a psychologist and a writing director have recently accepted appointments in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (SSHA), bringing the total number of full-time, non-administrative founding faculty members to 39.

"A large number of national and international scholars applied for these positions and these final candidates were selected after a very rigorous process," says Dean Kenji Hakuta. "They are all coming because of the excitement of being able to contribute to the development of exciting programs for undergraduate and graduate students, and to conduct research in an interdisciplinary context."

Expanding the breadth of academic excellence on the UC Merced faculty are the following faculty members:

  • Jan Goggans, whose research and teaching are focused on the literature of America and the literature, history and culture of California, has a specific interest in the history of the Central Valley and Depression-era literature, culture and photography.
  • Sean Malloy is a professor of U.S. history whose expertise will contribute to campus interests in the areas of global conflict and cooperation.
  • Katie Winder, according to Dean Hakuta, "is a very promising labor economist who has studied the impact of childbearing on women's earnings – an issue that's relevant to present-day policy issues and to the Central Valley."
  • Robert Ochsner has been named as the director of the UC Merced Writing Program and will have responsibility for writing instruction provided to students of all levels and in all majors.
  • Evan Heit, whose teaching and research focus on human cognition and reasoning, will join the campus as a professor of psychology.

Sensor Webs Set to Provide Accurate Snow Data for Sierra

Bob Rice

Bob Rice sets a pod in his Sensor Web, hoping to gain more accurate data about snow in the Sierra Nevada. Photo courtesy of Margot Wholey.


When TV news reports two feet of new snow in the Sierra Nevada, you might anticipate a great ski weekend, but it can be 20 to 30 percent off the mark on the actual amount of snow in the mountains. To obtain more precise measurements for hydrologic and climate studies, Professor Roger Bales and postdoctoral researcher Bob Rice are using wireless Sensor Webs developed for Mars exploration by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech.

A Sensor Web is a network of interacting sensor pods that share data wirelessly with all other pods in the network, creating a distributed, embedded sensing presence that can adapt to changing environmental conditions. Bales and Rice are deploying a Sensor Web to record a set of snow properties in the Merced River basin in Yosemite National Park. With this tool, they can take advantage of complex topography to describe the distribution of snow in an area over time by making continuous measurements of precipitation at points with varying slopes, aspects and vegetation.

Professor Rudy Ortiz Studies Kidney Questions

Rudy Martin Ortiz

Kidney function in marine animals is a focus for the research of Professor Rudy Martin Ortiz.


Growing up in the deserts of west Texas, Rudy Martin Ortiz dreamed of the sea. His imagination drew him into college studies of marine biology, and soon his fascination grew into scientific curiosity about the biological functions that allow animals to live in the ocean environment.

"In time, I realized that animals like the elephant seal, which lives both on land and in the water, provide an interesting opportunity to study how organisms can adapt from one environment to another," Ortiz explains. He now studies the kidney function of elephant seals during a unique post-weaning fast period. Someday, this type of research may even contribute to greater understanding of human eating behaviors and obesity.

Kidney research also constitutes what Ortiz calls his more "fundable" work: studying the role of the kidneys in hypertension (chronic high blood pressure). Specifically, he studies the role of the adrenal steroid aldosterone, which damages soft tissue such as the heart in patients with hypertension.

Like many others, Ortiz cites the unique opportunities and challenges of a startup research university as his first motivations for choosing to work at UC Merced.

"Of course it’s challenging building research programs from scratch," he concedes. "But when our work stops challenging us, it becomes boring." With two exciting research avenues to pursue already, Ortiz will not be bored at UC Merced!



Chancellor's Forum Lecture Series Continues

The 2005 Chancellor’s Forum Lecture Series, which aims to promote UC Merced faculty and highlight various university research projects and areas of emphasis, continues in the month of May. Lectures will be held at the UC Merced Center in Bakersfield and at the Great Valley Center in Modesto. The free events are open to the public.

The following lectures are coming up during the month of May:

Tuesday, May 17
Jeff R. Wright, dean, and Thomas C. Harmon, associate professor
"UC Merced Presents High-Tech Solutions to Protecting Water Quality"
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m., UC Merced Center in Bakersfield
R.S.V.P.: rthomas@ucmerced.edu, phone (661) 861-7955

Tuesday, May 24
Jeff R. Wright, dean, and Roland Winston, professor
"Putting Solar Power to Work"
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m., Great Valley Center in Modesto
R.S.V.P.: specialevents@ucmerced.edu, phone (209) 724-4416

This year’s Chancellor’s Forum Lecture Series will be the first of an annual series sponsored by the University of California, Merced.

Bakersfield Forum Spotlights People of the Central Valley

Following on the heels of a successful introductory forum in Fresno, the second in a series of World Cultures Institute forums will be presented from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on May 20 at the UC Merced Center in Bakersfield. Interested readers are welcome to take part in this moderated discussion of "Migration and Transnational Cultures: Understanding the People of the Central Valley in the Context of the World."

Titled "Museums, Parks and Libraries: Supporting Regional Arts and Culture," the final forum will be presented on June 17 at Modesto's Great Valley Center.

The forums are part of the planning process for this signature research institute – the World Cultures Institute, which will be dedicated to the study and exchange of ideas about the range of peoples who have populated California, as well as the politics, economy, environment, arts, history, language and literatures of these cultures. Members of the public – especially representatives of social service and cultural organizations – are invited to participate in the forums.

To R.S.V.P. for either session of the Cultural Research in the 21st Century: Designing the UC Merced World Cultures Institute series, please contact Sandra Mora at (209) 724-4435 or by e-mail at smora@ucmerced.edu.



May 2, 2005
Los Angeles Times
By Rebecca Trounson

A Degree of Isolation at New UC Merced

Renata Santillan looked out across a broad expanse of pasture, dotted with flowering mustard and more than a dozen cows, toward the construction site several hundred yards away.

"Is it going to be ready in time?" Santillan, a 17-year-old high school senior from San Bruno, asked, sounding doubtful. "It's kind of cool, but what would it really be like to go here?"

May 1, 2005
Fresno Bee
By Encarnación Ruíz, Director of Admissions
Letter to the Editor

UC Merced on its way to meeting Valley goals

Recent information in The Bee raises concerns about UC Merced's entering class and our commitment to Valley students. I am happy to provide details about students from our region who have been admitted to UC Merced and the UC system.

Last year, 3,100 San Joaquin Valley students applied to all of the UC campuses for freshman admission. This year, with UC Merced opening, that number grew to 3,668 -- up 18%.

April 25, 2005
Merced Sun-Star
By Rosalio Ahumada

Students, Town Meet: University's officials pull back curtain on campus to entice applicants

Like the other 500 incoming freshman students, 18-year-old Elizabeth Mesghina made the trek into the Central Valley on Saturday to make sure the University of California, Merced, is the right place for her.

April 20, 2005
Modesto Bee
By Melanie Turner

Offers go out for UC Merced

A record 50,017 California residents have received freshman admission offers from the University of California for the fall semester, including 5,958 from UC Merced, the system's latest addition.

UC Merced will be the first new campus to open since UC Santa Cruz made its debut 40 years ago. The university is set to open Aug. 29 with an enrollment of 1,000 freshmen, along with transfer and graduate students.

April 14, 2005
Fresno Bee
By Jim Steinberg

UC Merced joins science team

ATWATER — Engineering professor Valerie J. Leppert describes "small particles" with diameters less than one 1/100 millionth of a meter, but her research at UC Merced is potentially large enough to help treat cancer and explain the origins of life.

This research has brought the University of California at Merced into partnership with UC Berkeley, Caltech and Stanford University. Leppert and colleagues are engineers researching construction of the next wave of machines made of microscopic tubes, disks, wires and other components. They are machines visible only with an electron microscope.

April 6, 2005
Merced Sun-Star
By Rosalio Ahumada

Gym plan for UC Merced gets bigger

With fund-raising teamwork from the community, the University of California, Merced, plans to have a gym with an NCAA-sized basketball court ready for use in its second year.

School officials are aiming to finish the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center by fall 2006.


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