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Celebrating Black Excellence

February 3, 2023

Re: Celebrating Black Excellence

To: All campus


This month we celebrate and lift up those whose stories have all too often been overlooked.


At UC Merced, we are particularly grateful to our Black leaders, pioneers and colleagues whose efforts have shaped this university and its trajectory. Black faculty continue to push the bounds of research and expand the minds of our students. Black staff bring talent and experience that makes UC Merced a dynamic environment to work and learn, and Black students contribute to the intellectual and cultural richness of our campus.

Our Black community at UC Merced is growing, and we continue to envision and promote opportunities that bring young people of color to campus to explore their future, such as the 1300 Campaign, the Brown Youth Academy, the Puente program, and others. Additionally, my Inclusive Excellence Fellowship seeks to recruit the highest caliber graduate applicants whose research will contribute to the representation of Black scholars in academia and beyond.


Throughout the month, we will be highlighting stories of Black excellence, including profiles of some of our campus leaders, like Vice Chancellor of Planning, Operations and Physical Development, Dr. Daniel Okoli and alumna Maxine Umeh-Garcia who developed a passion for cancer research through her undergraduate and graduate studies at UC Merced and is now a postdoctoral fellow and instructor at Stanford in the Department of Neurosurgery. I hope you will visit this site throughout the month to read and celebrate these stories about our colleagues and peers who are leading innovation and disrupting the status quo.


We have made great strides in the struggle to realize true equity and justice in our nation and our world, and though recent events can make our objectives seem like distant mirages on the horizon, we will remain dedicated and focused until they are attained. As the great American writer James Baldwin once said “The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.”




Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Ph.D.


Remarks and Addresses