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 developments.

October 12, 2005



10th UC Campus Opening Celebrates New Beginnings

Covered wagon symbolizing pioneering spirit

Three UC Merced students ride to the opening convocation in a covered wagon, symbolizing the pioneering spirit of the founding class. Photo © 2007 by Roger J. Wyan
Please click here to see a scrapbook of opening week photos by Gary Kazanjian and Roger J. Wyan.

With 4,500 people gathered under a giant tent, UC Merced officially opened on September 5 with a pomp- and pride-filled ceremony befitting the first UC campus in the San Joaquin Valley and the first new UC campus to open in 40 years.

Featuring a tribute to the 137-year history of the University of California and offering an official welcome to UC Merced's first students, the Opening Convocation and Celebration began with a lengthy procession of students, parents, founding faculty and staff, donors, trustees and UC officials. Former Governors Gray Davis and George Deukmejian were among the current and former elected officials also participating.

Making their approach in a covered wagon symbolizing the pioneering spirit of the inaugural class, three students – a freshman student, a transfer student and a graduate student – started the procession in style.

UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, who has guided development of the new campus since her appointment in 1999, recalled the Gold Rush-era roots of the University of California and the conviction of the state’s early leaders who created a university to serve the people... [more]


SAVE THE DATE! December 14, 2005 is the next meeting of the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees, which will be held at our beautiful new UC Merced campus. It will be the first time the Board will meet on campus, and we are planning an exciting day of meetings and activities including campus tours and lectures. More information is to follow including an agenda and itinerary.

As many of you know, the full Board did not meet last month because of the campus opening celebrations. However, the Executive Committee members met on September 4 at Krishna and Suma Thondapu’s lovely home. It was a brief meeting in advance of the reception at the home of Dr. Hanimireddy and Vijaya Lakireddy that evening – a momentous time to acknowledge the remarkable contributions of the Foundation Board and countless others who believe in the campus and its mission.

A special thanks to Bob Carpenter, Foundation Chair, for all his time, energy and effort over the last decade; and to Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey for her tireless efforts to launch the campus. Again, a warm thank you to the Thondapus for graciously hosting the Committee in their home and for their hospitality.

Most of the University Relations team has arrived on campus; we are located on the third floor of the Kolligian Library in the Gold Wing on the west side of the building. Please stop in and visit!



Complete details will be coming soon in advance of the next meeting of the Foundation Diplomats, to be held on December 14 in conjunction with the Foundation Board of Trustees meeting on the UC Merced campus. Additional details will be coming soon.

For other information, please contact Patricia O'Connor in University Relations at (209) 724-4461 or e-mail poconnor@ucmerced.edu.


The annual Chancellor's Associates holiday party is just around the corner. Arrangements are being made for a special event in early December, with more information to come shortly.

In the meantime, please welcome the following individuals who have recently joined the Chancellor's Associates as new members: Dr. and Mrs. Ronald Brons, Henry and Marie te Velde, Pam Brantley Anderson, Kevin Collins and Moira Irvine, Paul D. Fromson, and Sam and Kathie Tenenbaum. We also gratefully acknowledge the following renewing members: Janet Young, David and Anna Ashley, Frank Baudino and Lorraine Nelson, Curtis and Gaye Riggs, and Kenneth and Betty Jean Robbins.

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


Efforts are under way to reschedule the next Board of Ambassadors meeting, which had to be postponed because Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey is currently in China with UC President Robert Dynes on University of California business. Ambassadors will be notified as soon as a new date is identified. The meeting will focus on identifying ways to engage current UC Merced students as well as help recruit next year's class of students during the upcoming undergraduate application period for the Fall 2006 semester.

For additional information, please contact Director of University Relations/Development Jan Mendenhall at (209) 724-4407 or e-mail jmendenhall@ucmerced.edu.



Recreation Center Officially Breaks Ground

Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center rendering

From athletic events to health services, the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center will offer a variety of resources to serve both the campus community and the public.


Nearly 200 people are expected to turn out for the official groundbreaking of the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center, to be celebrated from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this evening (October 12) on campus with a brief ceremony and reception.

With an initial $2 million in funding provided by the Joseph Edward Gallo family, the facility has received additional donations via a community effort to enhance and expand the gymnasium. Coordinated by The Joseph Edward Gallo Gymnasium Expansion Committee – Sandee Boese, Mike Gallo, Billie Razzari, Ken Robbins, Mike Salvadori and Ralph Temple, the campaign has garnered more than $1.1 million in cash and pledges toward the $1.4 million goal.

The final phase of the funding drive has been devoted to a Bleacher Seat Campaign, in which donors can name gymnasium bleacher seats for $1,000 each. Many community members have already chosen to recognize members of their families and friends in this way. Tonight’s affair also will serve as a fund-raiser for the Bleacher Seat Campaign.

Private support is essential for non-academic buildings such as the recreation and wellness center, which are not eligible for state funding.

The center, which is planned to include a full-size NCAA court, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2006.


Second Phase of Student Housing Earns Regental OK

September 22 was a day for good news as the UC Board of Regents approved the next phase of on-campus student housing for UC Merced.

To be located next to Valley Terraces, which offers 603 beds as the first phase of residence halls, the Sierra Terraces will share the existing dining commons, laundry facilities and mailrooms. The Sierra Terraces will house 400 students and is targeted for completion by August 2007.

With the addition of the newly approved housing units, the University will be able to guarantee on-campus housing for all first-year students. The total cost of the project is $21.9 million and will be funded through external loans.


Research Grants and Contracts Top $15 Million

Technology photo

More than 70 awards contributed toward $5.48 million in expenditures during the 2004-05 fiscal year, funding research, academic programs, equipment and staff members, and helping fuel the economy.

The efforts of UC Merced’s faculty and staff to obtain grant and contract funding are paying off. In its short lifetime so far, UC Merced has brought in more than $15 million in grants and contracts for research and other programs, mostly from federal agencies. The university spent $5.48 million of that money in the fiscal year 2004-2005, bringing in equipment and staff members and helping to fuel the local and regional economy.

More than 70 externally sponsored grants and contracts contributed to the $5.48 million spending total, including projects in all three academic schools. Natural Sciences, which includes the already-thriving Sierra Nevada Research Institute, spent the most – $2.46 million in the ’04-’05 fiscal year.

In addition to research, grants fund programs such as the Parent Empowerment Program and the Gear Up! Program, both run by the Center for Educational Partnerships. These programs help area students prepare for higher education. Another community program, the Small Business Development Center, helps entrepreneurs with tasks like creating business plans and obtaining loans to start new enterprises in the area, creating jobs for others in the process.

“We’re extremely proud of what our faculty and staff brings into UC Merced in research grants and contracts,” said Keith Alley, vice chancellor for research. “The ultimate measure of the university’s positive impact is the role that these dollars have on both students and the local, regional and world communities.”



Award Received for Agricultural Sensor Project

Tom Harmon

Tom Harmon

Professor Tom Harmon, of the School of Engineering, recently received a $41,000 grant from the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund.

The award will support Harmon’s work to create inexpensive, low-powered sensors that can gather data about the chemical stability of agricultural soil.

The project aims to help monitor the problem of increasing soil salinity that threatens agriculture in dry climates throughout the world.

Study of Higher Education Expenditures Funded

Shawn Kantor

Shawn Kantor

The TIAA-CREF Institute has awarded a $30,000, one-year grant to Shawn Kantor, an economics professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, for research on a subject of particular and timely relevance to UC Merced. The funding will support Kantor’s study of public higher-education expenditures across the United States during the past 30 years and his efforts to determine statistically the impact of those expenditures on regional economies.

Kantor, who will deliver the results of his research in August 2006, also serves as a TIAA-CREF Institute Fellow. The institute is the research branch of TIAA-CREF, which is a national financial services group of companies and the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, cultural, medical and research fields.

Grant to Support Research on Light Propagation in Tissues

Arnold Kim

Arnold Kim

Professor Arnold Kim has won a National Science Foundation Grant of $58,389 for a mathematical investigation of light propagation in tissues for physiological monitoring and tissue imaging.

“Laser-based imaging systems offer great potential for safe, portable and economical monitoring and imaging of tissue function and health,” said Kim, a professor in the School of Natural Sciences.

His study will seek mathematical results that will add to the understanding of the complex ways light scatters in body tissue.


"At Work" Exhibition and Lectures Explore History of Labor in California

UC Merced and the California Exhibition Resources Alliance present "At Work: The Art of California Labor," a traveling exhibition exploring the history of labor in California via artists and images. The exhibition is on display in the Kolligian Library through November 5.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a semester-long lecture series will focus on the history of labor in the 1930s, with everyone invited to attend free of charge. This month's lectures will be presented on Thursday, October 13 at 4 p.m. in the California Room, on October 17 and 24 at 4 p.m. in Room 209 of the Kolligian Library, and on October 28 at 5 p.m. in Room 209 of the Kolligian Library.

For a complete schedule, please contact Professor Jan Goggans at jgoggans@ucmerced.edu.

UC Alumnus Astronaut Steve Robinson to Visit on Friday

Steve Robinson, the UC alumnus who recently completed a successful space walk to repair the damaged space shuttle, will visit UC Merced this Friday, October 14.

His presentation at 10:30 a.m. in Room 280 in the Blue Wing of the Kolligian Library will be open to the public along with UC Merced students, faculty and staff. Robinson will also spend time with area elementary school students, UC Merced leadership and prospective UC Merced students throughout the day.

Groundwater Resources Focus of Next Castle Lecture by Martha Conklin

UC Merced engineering professor Martha H. Conklin will deliver the next installment in the Castle Frontiers of Science and Engineering Lecture Series, “Is Groundwater a Limitless Resource?” on Saturday, October 15, at 10 a.m. at the Challenger Learning Center. All are welcome to attend this educational and free program.

Attendees can expect a sneak preview of findings from analyses of Sierra Nevada groundwater, and hear what this data may indicate about the future of the Central Valley’s water supply.


September 14, 2005
Merced Sun-Star
By Rosalio Ahumada

Much of Staff Valley-Grown

Carmen Middleton left her former job after 10 years for better wages, benefits and a family-friendly work schedule.

But that's not the only reason why the 33-year-old Merced resident joined the University of California, Merced, staff.

September 6, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle
By Tanya Schevitz

Green: New construction allowed use of sustainable design from the ground up

UC Merced is a campus of a different color: green.

The University of California's newest campus, which welcomed its inaugural class this morning, has been built incorporating environmental measures that were not even on the horizon when its last campus, UC Santa Cruz, opened in 1965.

September 5, 2005
Sacramento Bee
By Lesli A. Maxwell

Newest UC ready for its debut

MERCED - While Emily McKeighen shopped at an Elk Grove Target store for bed sheets in her college's colors, workers more than 100 miles away carried dozens of black desk chairs into the brand-new dorms where she will live.

While McKeighen stocked up on bottled water, cooks in a gleaming university cafeteria tried out recipes they promise will defy most people's notion of "dorm food."

September 4, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle

Can a campus revive a state's vision?

CONGRATULATIONS, California. After years of planning, four governors and $425 million, the state is opening a new University of California campus.

It's no Berkeley or Westwood, at least not yet. The new Merced campus, plopped on rolling fields outside of the Central Valley town, is still dusty and unfinished with an enrollment no bigger than a medium-sized high school.

September 3, 2005
Merced Sun-Star
By Encarnación Ruíz

Know your options when looking into colleges

As director of admissions for the University of California, Merced, I have spent hundreds of hours talking with San Joaquin Valley students, parents and educators about preparing for a UC-quality education. I did much the same for the prior 17 years of my UC career, most of them here in the Valley.

In the process, I have seen my community's unfamiliarity with the opportunities offered by higher education, its accessibility and the importance it has in the success of individuals and society. It is disheartening to see so many talented people of the Valley limit their options simply because they don't understand the ins and outs of higher education. If our community is to be more than a bystander in this rapidly changing world, we must strengthen our college-going culture here in the Valley.

September 1, 2005
Merced Sun-Star
By Rosalio Ahumada

UC Merced: More than 1,000 supporters attend Wednesday fete

A fireworks show lit up the sky over the University of California, Merced, Wednesday night at the campus' first grand opening celebration.

The event gave UC Merced leaders a chance to thank community members who helped make the first UC campus in the Central Valley a reality.


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