A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Chancellor Shares Campus Gifts

December 11, 2013

The winter holiday season is in full tilt, and I am reminded of the many gifts I receive here at UC Merced as your chancellor.

There is the gift of brilliant scholars and researchers whose intellectual curiosity fuels the discovery of new knowledge in fields ranging from applied mathematics to world cultures.

There is the gift of lecturers who teach so many of our undergraduate students and who know how to ignite their interest, hone their analytical, communication and critical thinking skills and impart important subject-area knowledge.

There is the gift of staff members who are deeply invested in supporting the mission of this young university and whose tireless efforts contribute greatly to its operations.

There is the gift of our students, who come here not only to earn degrees and participate in the intellectual and social life of the university but also, through their perseverance, to teach the rest of us about courage and determination.

And finally, there is the gift of our friends, from young alumni to community members, donors and elected officials, who have stepped up to lend support critical to the success of UC Merced.

The path for this young university has not always been an easy one to navigate. From early changes in the siting of the campus to the recent prolonged and deep recession, UC Merced has faced hurdles that might have deterred a less determined and less resilient institution. But the campus persevered, and today it enjoys strong student demand, particularly at the undergraduate level, and a growing reputation for research and educational excellence.

To be sure, significant challenges remain.

Unlike sister UC campuses whose growth benefited from the Sputnik era’s investment by the federal government in scientific research and development, UC Merced is challenged to mature as a research university in an era of declining investment at both the federal and state levels.

We have critical classroom, office and research space needs at a time when the state has severely restricted capital investment. Growth in graduate programs will require new investments in faculty recruitment and graduate student support, even though budgets have not yet fully recovered from the deep funding cuts enacted during the recent recession.

These and other significant challenges will require the continued determination, inventiveness and resiliency that have become part of our campus's legacy.

Thankfully, I see many encouraging signs of a promising and rewarding future. We’ve had broad campus participation in the initial phases of the 2020 project and significant faculty collaboration in the initial phases of the strategic academic-focusing initiative.

While getting our fiscal house in order has been a daunting process, by this time next year we should be well positioned to align fiscal and space planning with academic priorities through 2020. Doing so will ensure we use our limited financial resources prudently and also strategically to support UC Merced’s academic and research priorities.

And so, in this holiday season, I am especially grateful to each of you for stepping up to help us meet our challenges and secure our future. I sincerely thank you, and I wish you a relaxing and rewarding holiday break.


Dorothy Leland