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Fall Update From Vice Chancellor and CFO Veronica Mendez

September 20, 2018

Dear Campus Community,

While we are only few weeks into the fall quarter, I want to take a moment to reflect on the tremendous accomplishments we have already made as a campus community. Last month we celebrated the opening of the first three buildings of the Merced 2020 Project. This includes over 700 new student beds, a 600-seat multipurpose dining facility, new classrooms and 940 new parking spaces. Construction continues on the 10 additional buildings that will open over the next two years, which will provide further housing, research facilities and recreational space for students, faculty, and staff.

A Leader for Auxiliary Enterprises and Fiscal Innovation Appointed

Alan N. CokerAs we continue to support student life and academic activities with an emphasis on ensuring excellent customer service, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Alan N. Coker as UC Merced’s first Associate Vice Chancellor (AVC) for Auxiliary Enterprises and Fiscal Innovation.

The AVC for Auxiliary Enterprises and Fiscal Innovation was created to further the development of our campus footprint, service offerings, and diversification of revenue streams. Alan joins the Bobcat family this week, most recently from the University of Idaho, with over 25 years of experience in all facets of university operations within facilities and auxiliaries.

I want to extend my deep appreciation to the AVC Search Advisory Committee for their active participation in the search process for the Associate Vice Chancellor. The Search Advisory Committee was involved in recruiting, screening and conducting interviews with qualified candidates for the position, and Alan stood out as the clear choice to lead our campus in this new stage of growth in retail and auxiliaries. The members of the AVC Search Advisory Committee included:

  • Ed Klotzbier, Vice Chancellor and Chief External Relations Officer
  • Fabiola Elizalde, Director of Talent Management
  • Romi Kaur, Director of Capital and Long Range Planning
  • Martin Reed, Director of Housing and Residential Life
  • Margaret Saunders, Executive Director of Space Planning and Analysis.

I also want to thank the many individuals who participated in the final interview process, especially during the summer months. We owe this successful search in large part to your efforts and dedication.

Alan is an innovative leader in his field with a commitment to collaboration and coalition-building, and he is aptly suited to move UC Merced forward. I'm confident that Alan brings the right combination of skills and experience to our campus at exactly the right time. Please join me in welcoming Alan N. Coker to the Bobcat community as he steps into this important role that ultimately positions us to better serve our diverse campus population.

Dining Services and Retail Opportunities

Many thanks to Chef Mitch Vanagten and the staff at the Pavilion — UC Merced’s new dining center and the centerpiece of the first phase of the 2020 Project — who have worked hard to create an environment that provides good food, creates a sense of community and champions sustainability.

With the completion of new dining facility and the new buildings, we have an opportunity to serve our campus community in new and exciting ways. To do this, we are considering how we can use different spaces, such as the Yablokoff Wallace Dining Center and the Lantern Cafe in the library, to provide a variety of options on our campus. In order to ensure that we are evaluating the best offerings for our community in these places, and others, we are working with a consulting firm to review how we can provide a variety of retail services to our campus. In the coming months, a series of stakeholder engagement sessions will occur with focus groups of faculty, staff and students to capture the types of options that our campus prefers.

As we consider the retail options that best serve our campus, we are interested in partners who will provide part-time jobs, internships, and leadership opportunities for our students and place high value on sustainability and commitment to our mission. We look forward to hearing from our Bobcat community in the weeks and months ahead.


Along with the Dining Pavilion, the first phase of the 2020 Project delivered two new residence halls, Glacier Point and Granite Pass. On behalf of Chancellor Leland and senior leadership, I want to extend our thanks to the many individuals who worked tirelessly over the summer to prepare these spaces for our incoming students. These new residence halls, built above first-floor classrooms and student life space, are the first of more housing to come that will provide opportunities to encourage campus community engagement.

In an effort to further integrate education into the daily life of students, the School of Natural Sciences (SNS) is piloting Living Learning Communities , where students live with others who share their interests or scholarly pursuits. Research shows that such programs improve student retention rates. With 1,000 new beds in the final delivery of the 2020 Project, plans are underway to establish additional living learning communities as we continue to innovate and grow. We anticipate the School of Engineering (SOE) and School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (SSHA) will create additional living learning communities to provide more students the opportunity to participate in programming dedicated to their academic interests.

It goes without saying that UC Merced’s successes are a direct reflection of the energy and commitment of our students, faculty and staff. As this year continues, the Division of Finance and Administration remains committed to ensuring excellence and effectiveness in providing services to the campus community.


Veronica Mendez
Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer