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


October 18, 2006



Board of Trustees members and Foundation Diplomats got a view of UC Merced now and in the future at the quarterly meeting at UCSF Mission Bay on Oct. 11.

Rod Park, acting chancellor, and his wife, Cathy, met with the Foundation Diplomats as part of the larger Board of Trustees meeting. Park shared his background and previous work experience with the Diplomats and talked about his role as acting chancellor. He gave updates on the campus, including enrollment, diversity of the campus community, the accreditation process, the recreation and wellness center, financial aid, faculty research grants and the management program.

Those in attendance also toured the Mission Bay campus and heard a presentation by Regis Kelly, the executive director of QB3, a collaboration between UCSF, UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley that focuses on cutting-edge medical research, prescription drug development and diagnostics.

Kelly talked about the importance of partnerships in the development of the Mission Bay campus and QB3 – seeking and strengthening long-term relationships with cities, other universities, corporations and other supporters.

The theme of this quarter’s meeting was to share the vision of UC Merced’s future while considering the Biomedical and Systems Biology Institute and the emerging medical program.

Besides the various committee meetings held during the daylong gathering, a series of Area Focus meetings gave trustees the chance to learn more about specific emphases at UC Merced, including engineering, the environment and energy; science and medicine; the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts and management; and student support through Student Affairs.



UC President Appoints Roderic Park Acting Chancellor of UC Merced

Roderic B. Park
Roderick B. Park

Acting on the recommendation of President Robert C. Dynes, the UC Board of Regents confirmed the appointment of Roderic B. Park as acting chancellor of UC Merced on Sept. 21. Park’s first day working as chancellor was Sept. 25.

Park, a veteran academic administrator who has served as a vice chancellor at UC Berkeley, interim chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder and senior associate to the chancellor at UC Merced, assumes on an interim basis the responsibilities of former Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey.

"I am delighted that Rod Park has agreed to bring his considerable talents to the challenge of continuing the powerful momentum at UC Merced that Carol Tomlinson-Keasey inspired," Dynes said. "Rod is a tremendously skilled and seasoned academic leader, and he brings to this position a rich knowledge of UC Merced and its development. I know he will work effectively with Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Keith Alley and the rest of the UC Merced community to continue moving the campus forward during this interim period."

Park, 74, is professor emeritus of plant biology and vice chancellor emeritus at UC Berkeley, where he joined the faculty in 1960. He served as provost and dean of the College of Letters and Science at UC Berkeley from 1972 to 1980 and as a vice chancellor of the campus from 1980 to 1990. Park was appointed interim chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1994, a position he held until 1997.

From 2000 to 2001, Park worked to help establish UC Merced as senior associate for academic development. In that role, he worked with the chancellor on the early academic planning and recruitment of senior administrators for the campus.

Park holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and a Ph.D. from Caltech. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1990. He now operates a vineyard in Sonoma County and continues research in plant physiology and molecular biology.

"It is a privilege to be associated with the energy and commitment of the students and faculty at UC Merced as they continue building this new campus," Park said. "The opportunities are enormous, and I share the excitement of the campus community."

Sports Committee Talking Bases, Balls and Backstrokes

Students want sports teams, from basketball and cross country to volleyball, swimming and baseball – and even badminton – at UC Merced.

David Dunham, director of campus recreation and athletics, said the Competitive Sports Committee, made up of students, administrators and community members, began meeting in mid-September, and expects to have a report issued soon to help guide decisions about the campus’s first sports teams.

“The students have been the driving force behind the development of competitive sports,” Dunham said. “They are ready to put on their UC Merced jerseys and represent their campus.”

Club sports are the step between intramural teams and intercollegiate athletics, Dunham said, and are a good way for UC Merced to make the transition to NCAA sports.

Club teams allow students to compete with other college students at any of the UC sister campuses, as well as many of the CSU schools.

Traditionally, club sports would require students to foot the bills. But Dunham said the university is trying to find ways to make its first sports teams less expensive for the students – meaning UC Merced would cover some of the costs.

Dunham said it’s difficult because UC Merced doesn’t have alumni, traditionally large supporters of athletic programs, and doesn’t have a history of sports that would draw donors.

However, he said, he feels sure there are people out there who want to support UC Merced’s athletic development.

Later this fall, another committee – the membership of which has not yet been determined – will begin setting down the roadmap for UC Merced’s Division III sports plan.

Competitive Sports Committee members:
Students: PJ Solomon, Mary Panos, Ruben Rodriguez, Cody Martin, Nadim Fawzy

Community: Greg Bradford, Mike Carpenter, Erin Hamm, Jennifer Euker, Vince Clemons, George Kelley, Corbett Browning, Scott Hunter

Campus: David Dunham, director of recreation and athletics; Mike Campbell, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations; James Ortez, Assistant Dean of Social Sciences, Humanities & Arts

10 + 10 China Trip Yields Connections for Faculty

Staff trip to China photo

UC Merced faculty and representatives from the National Park Service visited China at the end of August to celebrate Sichuan University’s anniversary and work on a partnership with Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve, where many of these pictures were taken. Jiuzhaigou shares many features with Yosemite, such as the clear lakes and mountainous terrain, and people from each park, along with faculty from both universities are working on ways to better manage each. Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Keith Alley and Nikki Nicholas from the Park Service had the chance to try on authentic cultural clothing, and Yosemite Superintendent Mike Tollefson cuddled up with a panda, while Professor Martha Conklin rode a yak.

View a photo montage of the trip



UC Merced Studying Mechanics of Reasoning

Professor’s new grant partners UC Merced with University of Massachusetts

Evan Heit
Evan Heit

Professor Evan Heit and his students want to know the reasons behind reasoning.

Are there two kinds of reasoning? Is it logic vs. intuition? And can people be taught to use logical deliberation, even when it flies in the face of their own long-held assumptions?

Heit and University of Massachusetts Professor Caren Rotello will share a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation over the next three years to find out.

Heit and several undergraduate students will gather and analyze data from 30 experiments over the three years. Heit said the project is a great way to involve undergraduates.

“It really fits what we’re doing here, getting so many students to take part,” said Heit, a founding faculty member who teaches both psychology and cognitive science classes. “There are some things the students just get really excited about,” he explained, and getting involved in research is one of them.

Research experience will also help the students when it comes time for graduate-school applications.

Cross-country collaboration is also part of the program. A University of Massachusetts graduate student will come to UC Merced each year for a month to help with the project.

In the end, Heit, his colleagues and students will have a computer model of how minds work while puzzling out answers to logic questions. Some participants will have lots of time to deduce answers, while others will be asked to give their first “intuitive” responses.

Not all the experiments have been designed yet, but many will involve SAT-type questions or word problems like the ones people might find in puzzle books. Heit said fellow UC Merced Professor Jeffrey Yoshimi, who studies the philosophy of the mind and of cognitive science, will consult on the project.

Students will also be asked to answer questions at the beginning and end of the semesters, and their critical thinking progress can be measured as they take various college courses. Eventually, the research might have applications for tracking the development of thinking skills in high school students and even younger students.

“One of the most interesting things about psychology research is that while you are doing the experiments,” Heit said, “you are learning about yourself, too.”

New UC Merced Professor Debuts European Presentations

Study results interest countries with similar job-training programs

Alexander Whalley
Aexander Whalley

Assistant Professor Alexander Whalley, new to UC Merced this fall, revealed the results of a study on the measurement of job-training effectiveness at a German symposium last month and is traveling back to Europe this month for more presentations.

Whalley’s work looks at how to best measure the success of job-training programs.

According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the 2007 federal budget calls for about $275,000,000 to be spent on U.S. job-training programs, and the government wants to know how well they work. One suggested low-cost approach is to simply ask participants whether they feel the programs helped them find jobs.

However, Whalley’s research shows that’s not the best way to measure success. He said assessment requires rigorous scientific analysis, which can take time.

European countries, which spend more on job-training programs but have higher unemployment rates, are interested in hearing about Whalley’s research. He spoke at the European Summer Symposium on Labor Economics near Munich, Germany, in September, returned to Merced, and in early October, headed to Uppsala, Sweden, to present his work at the Conference on Labor Market Evaluation. He was also scheduled to speak at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, and the London School of Economics and the Policy Studies Institute in London.

Whalley said these kinds of international interactions will help UC Merced become known around the world as a research university, and give professors a chance to learn about new research and make contacts with their counterparts in other countries. That helps them bring a unique perspective back to their students at home.

“There are lots of opportunities for collaboration,” Whalley said.

Professor’s Book Draws European Attention

At the end of September, Professor Gregg Herken attended a science-and-foreign-policy conference in Stockholm, Sweden, and delivered a lecture entitled “Science and the State: The Oppenheimer Legacy.”

Herken based his speech on his most recent book “Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller.” The book was a finalist for the 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Before coming to UC Merced as a founding faculty member, Herken worked as a senior historian and the curator of military space at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. He has written four books, including “The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War;” “Counsels of War;” “Cardinal Choices: Presidential Science Advising from the Atomic Bomb to SDI;” and “Brotherhood of the Bomb.”

Herken, whose research interests include history, American diplomatic history, nuclear history and history of the Cold War, was invited to speak at the three-day event organized by STINT, The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education, which is a government-sponsored institute connected with the Royal Academy of Science and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

For more information on Herken’s book, visit www.brotherhoodofthebomb.com.


Recreation and Wellness Center Nears Completion

Construction on the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center is on track for a late-October finish, said David Dunham, the campus director of recreation and athletics.

Dunham said the center should be ready for move-in by the first week of November, though finishing touches will likely continue into late fall.

Cognitive Science is UC Merced’s Newest Major

Cognitive Science is the study of human thought and behavior, and UC Merced is taking an interdisciplinary approach, combining methods and theories with many disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, linguistics, computer science, engineering, neuroscience and anthropology.

Successful students will get broad knowledge in such areas as language, high-level processing (reasoning, memory and categorization), philosophical foundations, artificial intelligence, cognitive engineering and cognitive science applications that could be used for management.

Cognitive science majors go on to a variety of jobs, from high-tech companies, psychology and computer science to management, neuroscience, architecture, communications and medicine.


The Louis P. and Doris M. Gonella Discovery Room

On Sept. 7, UC Merced held a dedication and reception for the Louis P. and Doris M Gonella Discovery Room, in Kolligian Library 255.

Thanks to Doris Gonella’s $100,000 gift in memory of her husband, the library now has a room to help students learn how to use the library more efficiently and effectively.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Keith Alley, Vice Chancellor for University Relations John Garamendi, Jr., Librarian Bruce Miller and others welcomed Mrs. Gonella and showed her what her gift means to UC Merced.

The Discovery Room is on the second floor of the Kolligian Library, above the newly opened Lantern Café. It will be the primary site for teaching library research skills that will help students in their UC careers and for the rest of their lives. Mrs. Gonella’s gift helped purchase furniture, streaming video equipment, an electronic whiteboard and video displays for instructional use.

The Gonellas, a prominent local business family, always believed in the value of education and worked very hard to help make the UC Merced campus a reality. After Louis Gonella passed away in 2001, his wife wanted to create a memorial to him that would offer a legacy to the students at UC Merced.


Calling All Golfers! Ma Kelley Memorial Shootout to Benefit Campus Recreation

The Ma Kelley Memorial Shootout is planned for Friday, Oct. 27, at Stevinson Ranch Golf Club. The tournament benefits competitive sports at UC Merced and features a three-person scramble, followed by a dinner and live auction. Some of the live auction highlights: A behind-the-scenes tour of Yosemite, including dinner for six at the Ahwahnee and lodging at the Yosemite Lodge, along with amazing golf packages from around the state. For more information, contact the Campus Recreation office at (209) 381-6309, or e-mail David Dunham, director of campus recreation and athletics, at ddunham@ucmerced.edu.

Lecture: Understanding Islam in America

The Muslim Student Association at UC Merced presents "Understanding Islam In America," a lecture by Maha ElGenaidi. The lecture will be held Oct. 18 in the Lakireddy Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free for UC Merced students with a Cat Card. Faculty, staff and members of the community may attend for only $3.

ElGenaidi will speak about terminology, demographics, history, holidays and truth about Islam and Muslims. She is the founder, president and CEO of ING, a nonprofit, educational organization whose mission is to eliminate stereotyping through education about Islam and the Muslim world. She received 1999 Civil Rights Leadership Award, the 2000 Human Relations Award , and the 2002 "Citizen of the Year" Award.

Bobcat Blast Road Race to Benefit UC Merced Student Sports

On Oct. 21, the Merced Running Club, in cooperation with UC Merced, will inaugurate the first edition of the Bobcat Blast, a 2- and 5-mile race starting and ending on the UC Merced campus. Net proceeds from the race will be donated to UC Merced for the purpose of supporting student sports.

Race time is 8:30 a.m. Walkers are welcome in the 2-mile race, and T-shirts are guaranteed to the first 100 entries. Entry forms and details are available at http://www.shadowchase.org/http://ucmercedupdate.ucmerced.edu/update_10182006/images/bobcat_blast.pdf.

Sensor Networks Spotlighted in Next Castle Lecture

Professor Alberto Cerpa of the School of Engineering presents “Sensor Network Challenges in the Twenty-first Century,” the latest installment in the Frontiers of Science and Engineering Lecture Series, on Saturday, Oct. 21. Be in the Challenger Center for Space Science Education auditorium at 10 a.m. to learn about how sensor networks help scientists learn about rivers and other environmental phenomena or regulate heating and energy systems, not to mention what makes these networks challenging and fascinating to study and develop.

Family Weekend Brings Home to Campus

Students’ families are invited to come to the UC Merced campus between Friday, Oct. 27, and Sunday, Oct. 29, to take part in Family Weekend. The weekend includes dinner and a movie, Haunted Halls for Halloween, a barbecue, the drunken-driving obstacle course (sponsored by the UC Merced Police Department, the course simulates drunken driving and gives students a chance to see how impaired they are when they drink and drive).

World Cultures Institute Sponsors Art Show, Performance

Award-winning poet Shailja Patel will perform her one-woman show “Migritude” at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 28, the day after the institute kicks off its monthlong art exhibition featuring the photographs of Enrico Natali and the sculpture of Karen LeCocq. There will be a reception on Oct. 27 from 5-6:30 p.m. to open the art exhibition, and these two events are the first to be co-sponsored by the UC Merced's World Cultures Institute. Patel’s show is also sponsored by the New York-based National Performance Network. Her show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $15 general and $10 for students. Please call (209) 812-1470. Patel, a dancer, poet and yoga instructor, tells the histories of 18 heirloom saris – their travels through Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States over three generations of the Patel family’s migration.


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