Letter to Faculty and Staff
Dear Campus Community,
It is a distinct pleasure to be back on campus and officially begin serving as your new chancellor. I've been eagerly anticipating this moment since my introductory visit here in May, shortly after the UC Board of Regents confirmed my appointment. I met so many great people during my brief stay and gained so much respect for what you’ve accomplished that I could hardly wait to get back here to join the team.
Thankfully, the move went well, and I've already managed to find my office and assemble the campus leadership team for our first meeting. I've also had a very productive and informative lunch with Congressman Dennis Cardoza and taken a breathtaking tour of Yosemite National Park, where I saw first-hand some of the extraordinary research projects our faculty and students have under way.
In the coming weeks, I'll meet in an official capacity with the Academic Senate and members of the Staff Assembly and begin sharpening my focus on the most critical challenges and opportunities facing our young campus as we begin the next phase of our development.
Though I've been away from my native state for many years, I am fully aware of the budget difficulties California has been dealing with and the state’s declining financial support for its university systems. While UC Merced has been largely immune from major systemwide budget cuts to date, we cannot assume everything we want to do going forward will be routinely funded.
For example, the $40 million in construction funding we requested for our newest building, the planned Classroom and Academic Office Building, did not make it into Governor Brown’s final 2011-12 budget proposal, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law last week.
Accordingly, one of my top priorities in the coming months will be to ensure both traditional and incremental sources of funding are fully and imaginatively explored. This means meeting with key legislators, other government officials and executives from the UC Office of the President to make the strongest possible case for a secure funding stream while also looking to donors, philanthropic organizations and other outside funding sources for increased support.
Our message will be simple: UC Merced is vitally important to the future of the San Joaquin Valley, and the San Joaquin Valley is vitally important to the resurgence of California. UC Merced is the catalyst that can unlock the Valley's vast untapped potential and trigger the next great wave of invention, discovery and economic growth across the state, the nation and beyond.
As I take this message on the road this summer, I will log many miles to tell UC Merced's story to people throughout the state. When the new academic year begins, I expect to be back on campus more regularly to welcome and help assimilate the largest class of incoming freshmen in our history. I also intend to visit every department and every administrative function I can during the fall semester.
While securing external support is one of my top priorities as chancellor, maintaining strong lines of communication and collaboration with the UC Office of the President is also paramount. In that vein, I am pleased to announce UC President Mark Yudof will visit campus this fall. Though exact dates have yet to be determined, he tells me he is coming to spend time on campus to meet with faculty, students, staff and key constituents. It’s likely he will also visit our research teams and programs based in Yosemite.
I am thrilled by President Yudof's interest in UC Merced and very confident in his support of our campus and its growing contributions to the University of California mission. I'll provide more details on his visit as they become available this fall.
This is a very significant time for our campus. We will top the 5,000-student mark this fall for the first time. Our incoming class of freshmen is not only the largest in our history but also the most selective, indicating a growing awareness and preference for the UC Merced experience among California high school graduates.
Our faculty members continue to secure major research grants and win impressive academic awards, bringing distinction to the university and showcasing our contributions to the world. And campus life will get an exciting boost this year when our Golden Bobcats begin competing in intercollegiate sports for the first time.
None of this would be possible were it not for the dedication, talent and commitment all of you bring to UC Merced every day. You have delivered this campus to the point where we're not just the newest campus in a great university system. We're well on our way to becoming a great campus in a great university system.
I am deeply honored to be taking the helm of the university you've built so skillfully. Thank you for all you've done and will continue to do to make UC Merced a beacon of hope and opportunity for so many. Please accept my best wishes for an enjoyable and uplifting summer season. I look forward to meeting and working closely with all of you in the coming academic year.