UC Merced Update mastehead


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


May 20, 2008



UC Regents' Committees Authorize UC Merced to Continue Planning for Medical School

Child's health exam
UC Merced's proposed School of Medicine will help meet health-care workforce demands by training physicians through expanded professional training in medical education and research.


The University of California Regents' Committee on Educational Policy and Committee on Health Services recently authorized UC Merced to proceed with the next phase of planning for a School of Medicine.

As a result of the regents' endorsement, UC Merced will establish an office focused on all medical school planning efforts. The next phase of planning for the campus involves developing curriculum, planning for the infrastructure and seeking faculty review and approval of the curriculum and the new school. UC Merced's aim is to submit a full proposal and business plan by the end of 2009.

"This is an exciting day for UC Merced, the San Joaquin Valley and California," said Chancellor Steve Kang. "With the regents' approval, we will continue our comprehensive and consultative process of planning for a research-based medical school at UC Merced. The school is necessary to train physicians to meet the critical need for doctors in the state and medically underserved Valley. I thank the regents for their endorsement and wish to express sincere gratitude to the Valley community, including our elected officials and the Valley Coalition for UC Merced Medical School, for their tremendous support." More

More than 1,000 Freshmen Choose UC Merced

View of campus with students
Student Statements of Intent to register for fall 2008 classes increase by 46 percent compared with fall 2007.


As of May 12, UC Merced has received 1,065 Statements of Intent to Register (SIRs) from first-time freshmen, an increase of 46 percent compared with the previous year.

By this time last year, 731 freshman SIRs had been received. While SIRs are nonbinding, they are generally a reliable indicator of the number of students who plan to enroll in any given year.

In January, University of California officials announced that more than 9,000 freshmen had applied to UC Merced for the fall 2008 semester - the university's largest applicant pool yet.

"We're very pleased to see such an affirming response," Chancellor Steve Kang said. "It's exciting to see so many freshmen around the state choose to join us and become part of building the next great campus in the University of California system."

The priority SIR deadline was May 1 for incoming freshmen, but forms are still coming in. The SIR deadline for transfer students is June 1. So far, 56 transfers have submitted their statements. More

UC Merced Library Lauded in Book by Chapman University Librarian

UC Merced’s Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library has earned its own chapter in “The Library as Place in California,” by Stacy Shotsberger Russo. The book is the result of a lifelong love affair with libraries, Russo writes in her preface. The Chapman University instructional librarian’s passion has manifested itself in what amounts to a tour of the state’s libraries.

Russo applauds the Kolligian Library for its motto: “Not what other research libraries are... what they will be,” and for its welcoming reading rooms, which she believes contributes to it being the heart of campus.



SSHA Professors Publish Books

Sean Malloy


Evan Heit


History Professor Sean Malloy is the newest faculty member in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts to publish his own book.

Atomic Tragedy: Henry L. Stimson and the Decision to Use the Bomb against Japan,” provides a unique perspective on Stimson’s involvement in the nuclear weapons program during World War II.

For Malloy, publishing “Atomic Tragedy” is the culmination of years of research begun while working on his doctorate at Stanford University in Palo Alto. But the founding faculty member doesn’t plan to stop here. He’s working on a historiographical study of U.S. strategic bombing in WWII and also plans to write an intellectual history of the “New Left” and the American foreign policy tradition.

In publishing “Atomic Tragedy,” Malloy has joined a select group of SSHA professors who’ve had books hit the presses since arriving at UC Merced.

Among that group is Evan Heit, a cognitive science professor who published “Inductive Reasoning: Experimental, Developmental, and Computational Approaches” last fall through Cambridge University Press. More



Air Quality/Public Health Student Set to Become First UC Merced Ph.D

Ricardo Cisneros
Ricardo Cisneros is poised to earn the first Ph.D. granted by UC Merced


Ricardo Cisneros is on campus only on Thursdays this semester, for the capstone course in his Atmospheric Aerosols and Public Health fellowship awarded through UC Davis. The rest of the time, he’s focused on completing his dissertation.

Cisneros is poised to become the first person to receive a doctorate from UC Merced.

His Ph.D. research in the Environmental Systems graduate program centers on what he calls a “real-world problem” – air pollution and public health. Specifically, Cisneros studies ozone concentrations in Valley and Sierra Nevada locations, advised by Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies Sam Traina.

“My original hypothesis was that the mountain air would be cleaner,” he said. “We found just the opposite.”

Ozone concentrations in the Valley decrease at night as the toxic combination of three oxygen atoms – which Cisneros said burns the insides of our lungs like the sun burns our skin – breaks down. In mountain locations like Shaver Lake, where he first focused his studies, different inversion and wind effects cause the ozone concentrations at night to stay about the same, resulting in greater overall exposure.

Another surprising find was that ozone was traveling through canyons like the San Joaquin River drainage, landing Valley pollution in otherwise-pristine areas on the east side of the Sierra.

Cisneros now also studies effects of fire – prescribed burns and wildfires – on air quality.

He started his air quality research while employed at the U.S. Forest Service before beginning his program at UC Merced. More



UC Merced’s Relay for Life Team Makes a Difference

Relay for Life event tent
Team UC Merced raised more than $3,000 for the American Cancer Society and captured the Best Campsite Award.


More than 30 UC Merced students and staff members participated in the American Cancer Society's 24-hour Relay for Life on April 26, and raised $3,000 to fight cancer and raise cancer awareness in the community.

The overnight event – which boasted 800 participants and 56 teams – raised $193,300.

Overall, 800 participants and 56 teams raised $193,300

The UC Merced team took home a first place for the Best Campsite, which highlighted Professor Christopher Viney's research on the possible human applications of hippo sweat as an antiseptic, insect- and water-repellent sunscreen.

‘Guys and Dolls’ Cast Includes UC Merced Stars

As yet another example of the campus community integrating with and supporting the local community, a handful of talented UC Merced employees will take part in Playhouse Merced’s rendition of “Guys and Dolls,” which runs from May 30 through June 15.

Regan Pope, who works in Admissions, is cast as the chaste Sarah Brown, the musical’s female lead. As a member of the Save-a-Soul Mission, Brown is looking for love and respectability. The male lead, high-roller Sky Masterson – played by Writing Program lecturer Michael Winder – on the other hand, is looking to win a bet. As luck and love intertwine in this oddball comedy, the pair both get more than they bargained for.

Also cast in the play is Christopher Volkerts, who works in IT and plays gambler Benny Southstreet. Sanjeev Chahal, a junior psychology major who works in Admissions as a senior tour guide, plays the Hot Box M.C.

Tickets for the show are $19 for adults, $16 for students and seniors (60+), and $12 for children 5 to 12 years of age. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays.



Westly Foundation Gift Supports Students, Alumni

A $50,000 gift from the Westly Foundation will help increase access to a college education for financially needy students and establish a class gift-matching program.

The Westly Foundation, a private family foundation that provides education and health care services for children and underserved communities throughout California, has pledged $25,000 to launch the Westly Foundation Class Gift Challenge, and $25,000 to the Westly Foundation Alumni Scholarship Endowment Fund to provide need-based scholarships for UC Merced students. 

“Merced will be the epicenter of the Central Valley’s spectacular growth in the coming decades,” Steve Westly, founder of the Westly Foundation and CEO of the Westly Group.  “We are seeding the intellectual capital of the Valley by funding the higher education of low-income scholars and by encouraging UC Merced alumni to become donors – essentials to the success of a modern research university.”

In an effort to inspire generosity and participation, the Westly Foundation Class Gift Challenge will match every graduate’s contribution toward the class gift dollar for dollar for the next five years.

The Class of 2008 will announce their gift to the university at commencement May 23.

Through the Westly Foundation Alumni Scholarship Fund, the foundation hopes to demonstrate the impact that one gift can make on a student’s collegiate experience.  The scholarship is designated to be awarded annually to an undergraduate student. The criteria for the award will be determined by UC Merced’s Office of Financial Aid.

The Westly Foundation was established in 2000 by former state controller, Steve Westly, and his wife, Anita Yu. The foundation provides support in the areas of education, youth, health care, immigration and global security.



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

Class of 2008 To Give Academic Mace
Each year, UC Merced’s graduating class joins together to raise funds for a class gift that will mark their legacy. The Class of 2008 has chosen to give the university an academic mace.  The academic mace is an historic symbol of the authority of a university to confer degrees and will be used in UC Merced’s future academic ceremonies, including commencement.

To help this year’s class continue the tradition of giving back to the university by making a donation to the class gift, please contact Alumni Affairs Coordinator Stefani Martinez at (209) 228-ALUM.



On June 11, the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees will meet on campus. The day's events will include a trustee-networking lunch, committee, focus area and full board meetings, and will conclude with a reception at 6 p.m.

Foundation Diplomats are encouraged to participate in an afternoon of Asian culture with Mia Kang, including a sushi demonstration and a traditional tea ceremony. For more information, contact Stefani Martinez at (209) 228-2586.

Hotel rooms have been reserved at the Merced Courtyard Marriott at the special rate of $114/night. Please contact (209) 725-1221 and reference "UC Merced Board of Trustees."

More information will be mailed and posted to trustees.ucmerced.edu. Contact Shannon Blackwood at (209) 228-4401 or via e-mail sblackwood@ucmerced.edu for more information.



Chancellor's Associates Members Enjoy Spring Reception


Chancellor’s Associates members enjoyed a beautiful spring evening in the Chancellor Steve Kang’s garden with a private olive oil tasting by Nick Sciabica & Sons.


Chancellor's Associates is a premier group of leadership donors who are recognized for their annual gifts of $1,000 or more to be used to fund the university’s greatest needs. Donations to the Chancellor’s Associates provide 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 Ramakrishna and Sumana Thondapu, Janet Young, Anthony and Donna Allegretti and Kathleen Crookham and first time donors Rudy and Brenda Ortiz.

In order to provide alumni with continued support after graduation and to increase alumni participation, UC Merced has launched a new initiative through the Chancellor’s Associates program called the Chancellor’s Pioneers. A special thank you to our founding Chancellor’s Pioneers Joshua Bolin, Eve Delfin, Adam Clare and Matthew Creeger for their support and commitment to our campus.

For more information on becoming a Chancellor's Associates member, contact Chiara Sill at (209) 205-8753.



Commencement 2008, May 23

Commencement photo
UC Merced is looking forward to more than 100 students taking part in commencement exercises May 23. Syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr., a sought-after expert on ethnicity and national origin, will address the Class of 2008. For more information about Commencement 2008, visit http://commencement.ucmerced.edu.


May 26: Memorial Day (UC Merced is closed)



• Total amount of proposals this month: $3,272,159
• Total amount of awards this month:  $1,884,064
• Total amount of awards from July 1, 2007 to April 30, 2008: $13,134,566


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