August 14, 2019
Dear Campus Community,
Over my eight years as chancellor of UC Merced, I have written hundreds, if not thousands, of memos, reports, letters, speeches and even tweets.
I’ve shared a lot of good news, but also some disturbing news, as the campus has grappled with tragedy, both locally and more broadly. Acts of violence driven by hatred based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, and immigration status have erupted all too frequently and shattered lives near and far.
Now I must write my final message as your chancellor.
Eight years ago, I arrived here, just as many of our first-year students do, not knowing quite what to expect. What I found was a campus that held the promise for a better future for students who might not otherwise have been given the opportunity to attend the University of California. These students were richly deserving, and their commitments to their families and communities, along with their vibrant diversity, made the campus special.
What I also found were faculty and staff who remained dedicated to the success of these students even as they were building their research programs, developing courses and majors, and creating the systems, processes and functions we needed to grow and thrive as a University of California campus. Building a new campus from scratch is not easy, particularly when that campus is growing at a dizzying pace and hampered by years of funding shortfalls due to a profound economic recession.
But UC Merced persevered, driven, I believe, by the profound commitment of so many of you to its vital role in an economically distressed and educationally underserved region of the state, and by the passion, grit and determination that our students demonstrate and lend to us each and every day. Over the past eight years, we have moved from fledgling childhood through gawky adolescence and now have arrived into early adulthood. The time for a leadership transition is right: With fresh vision and energy, your next chancellor, beginning with interim Nathan Brostrom, will have the opportunity to guide our campus into maturity.
Over the next few years, the focus will necessarily shift from the development of the physical infrastructure to the amazing research and learning that will happen within the new spaces that have been created. Our pace of growth will slow somewhat to provide an opportunity to build on our strengths, enhance our academic and research reputation, increase our graduation rates, work toward enhancing the diversity of our faculty and staff, and celebrate the excellence this diversity will bring.
The focus will shift from the fits and starts of uncertain and insufficient budgets to the beginning of self-sufficiency, financial stability and diversified revenue streams.
And it will shift to further expanding UC Merced’s impact on the Central Valley — its economy, culture, educational attainment and health.
For too long this has been the forgotten California. No more. To paraphrase Merced Mayor Mike Murphy, we are a region on the rise, and UC Merced will continue to play a vital role in this transformation.
I am grateful to have been a small part in this amazing journey.
Chancellor Dorothy Leland