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December 19, 2012


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Alumni Events

Alumni have many opportunities to reconnect with UC Merced each year through on-campus and regional events. View the events calendar.

Alumni Highlight

UCMAA Board Member James Kirby, ‘10

James KirbyAs manager of the DollarWise Campaign for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, James Kirby’s busy days in Washington, D.C., are spent coordinating efforts to improve the financial literacy of Americans in communities of all sizes. But he’s never been too busy to strengthen the ties to his alma mater or to offer support to fellow alums.

Alumni Relations Director Heather Buckner credits Kirby with driving the creation of the very first UC Merced Alumni Association (UCMAA) Alumni Chapter.

“He set up our first East Coast alumni event this past summer with guest speaker Lacey Kiriakou, who works in the UC Merced Office of Governmental and Community Relations,” Buckner recalls.

A founding member of the UCMAA board, Kirby has helped to create an official process for chapter development and recognition, in addition to coordinating several events in the D.C. area for the growing number of alumni living and working there. And he’s not done yet.

“I care a lot about UC Merced and its continued development,” Kirby said. “Any way we can support that — bringing alumni together, getting our name out there —is rewarding. We hope to be a point of contact when the chancellor visits D.C., provide fundraising opportunities to support not only the chapter and the board, but also the campus. We want to be successful, and we’re serious about this.”

Kirby is also supportive of developing new chapters.

"Establishing alumni groups in different geographical regions gives alums the opportunity to promote their campus on a grander scale, encouraging them to continue support of the university within their respective communities," he said, adding that initiatives such as this are essential for UC Merced’s growth and recognition.


Video: Graduate Studies: A Lifetime of Discovery
Graduate studies video
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Go to events.ucmerced.edu to find out what’s happening on campus now.

University Friends Circle Lunch — Jan. 8

The University Friends Circle meets for lunch at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 8 at the Multi-Cultural Arts Center in Merced. Laura Phillips, executive director of the Merced County Arts Council, will present "The Arts in Merced County." (Note: This lunch is the second Tuesday.)

The cost is $20 for members and $25 for guests. For information on joining the UFC or to RSVP, call 209-384-8811 or email or send an email. The reservation deadline is noon Jan. 3.

The UFC's mission is to inspire and maintain strong relationships between the UC Merced community and the communities of the San Joaquin Valley through activities that promote social and intellectual interaction, programs of service and fundraising initiatives that support UC Merced scholarships.


UC Merced provides unparalleled academic and staff opportunities, as well as opportunities for vendors and contractors who are helping to build the university. Check our online listings often.


Total amount of awards in November:

Total amount of awards from July 1, 2012 to Nov. 30, 2012:



UC Merced Caps Successful Year with an Eye on the Future

campus construction

The campus continues to expand.


Though UC Merced looked back this year to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the campus’s groundbreaking, signs of what the future will hold continue to come into focus.

Those signs include cutting-edge research moving forward in the San Joaquin Valley — the state's fastest growing region — and around the world, the growing campus, and the ever-strengthening bond between the campus and the community.

“This has been an exciting year, with many notable achievements and a milestone – the 10th anniversary of the campus’s groundbreaking,” said UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland. “UC Merced continues to see significant growth in its campus community, including high-achieving new students and stellar new faculty, and we look forward to the positive impact the university will have on the Valley for decades to come.”
[Read more]

New Provost Shares Vision for Campus

Tom Peterson

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tom Peterson has been meeting with staff and faculty since arriving to campus earlier this month.


Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tom Peterson assumed his leadership role at UC Merced on Dec. 3 and has been meeting with various campus groups to learn more about the university.

Before coming to campus, Peterson led the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $7 billion federal agency that invests in the nation’s research and education activities across science and engineering.

Peterson had also been on the faculty of the University of Arizona since 1977 and had served for 11 years as dean of the College of Engineering.
Read Q&A]

Engineering Students Solving a Wild Problem

Setting up wildlife camera

Students work to install a remote camera in the Los Banos Wetlands for a service-learning client.


Students with a variety of skills and perspectives make up a team that’s taking engineering principles into some of the area’s wildlands to further education and promote awareness about the environment.

Candace Sigmond, education coordinator for the Grasslands Environmental Center and Los Banos Wildlife Area Complex, came to UC Merced with a seemingly simple problem: She wanted to find a way to teach area schoolchildren about the wildlife area even if they couldn’t visit the site themselves.

Students enrolled in the Engineering Service Learning class, through the Foster Family Center for Engineering Service Learning, stepped up, taking UC Merced once again into the community to deliver a slice of education some children might not otherwise be able to access.
[Read more]

Professor Looks Inside Trees for Answers

Carolin FrankProfessor Carolin Frank is concerned with the inner lives of trees.

She looks inside them to see whether microbes are part of – and perhaps even critical to – life functions such as growth.

“It’s a pretty new field,” Frank said. “Most people think of bacteria as causing disease, but they can be beneficial. When I look at a forest, I don’t see trees, I see all these fascinating microbes.”

Bacteria, she said, have been found to promote growth and protect plants from stress, and also to fix nitrogen, a critical component of plant health.
[Read more]

Applying Creative Solutions to ‘Impossible’ Problems

Erik RollandThe tougher a problem, the more creative a solution it needs, from the increasing power in orbiting satellites and saving tigers to saving state parks and catching thieves.

And when a problem seems absolutely impossible?

“That’s when you call me,” said Professor Erik Rolland. “I love modeling problems people haven’t been able to model or solve before.”

Rolland, with his varied interests and research, is another example of UC Merced’s wide reach and of all the ways in which the campus and its accomplished faculty members are changing the world.
[Read more]

Donor Highlights

Click here to view photos from holiday reception

View photos from Legacy Circle and Chancellor's Associates holiday reception.


Legacy Circle donors and Chancellor’s Associates enjoyed a festive reception with Chancellor Dorothy Leland at the University House on Dec. 6. Vikram and Priya Lakireddy were recognized as new Legacy Circle members and received their pin along with Carol Bright-Tougas, who represented the Calvin E. Bright Family Foundation and Bright Development.

Note: UC Merced offices will be closed Dec. 24 through Jan. 1. If you wish to make a gift before the end of the year, you may visit makeagift.ucmerced.edu and select “Donate Now.” If you have any questions regarding your year-end gift, please contact Lisa Pollard Carlson at 209-620-7700 or lpollard@ucmerced.edu. In order for your gift to count as a 2012 tax deduction, it must be made online by Dec. 31 or postmarked by Dec. 31.

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